He maintained that he would prefer to avoid going down the path of changing the rules with a simple majority vote, although he expressed the view that precedent exists to do so. Even that is a point of some contention, with supporters of the idea consistently pointing to advisory opinions made by vice presidents, who serve as presidents of the Senate.
Republican aides say the Senate is a continuing body and therefore its rules continue and cannot be changed by a simple majority vote. However, Democrats contend that the Senate has not yet acquiesced to accepting the Senate’s rules from the last Congress.
There’s evidence to support the GOP position because there have been several references to standing rules in the Senate’s actions thus far in the 113th Congress, even as Reid has continued the first legislative day.
Nonetheless, despite GOP opposition, nothing would prevent Senate Democrats from moving forward if they have the 51 votes needed.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters following a vote in the Senate. Gillibrand’s proposal to remove military commanders from the process of reviewing sexual-assault cases was left out of the bicameral deal on the defense authorization bill, but the senator is pushing for a vote on her plan soon.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.