Senate Deliberates a Deal

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WASHINGTON: The doors are shut. Let the real debate begin. The Senate floor turned into a jury room for the night Monday after a motion to hold deliberations in public went down by a 57-43 margin. But TIME Washington correspondent Jay Branegan says that the senators won't be arguing about Robert Byrd's dismissal motion, but about the burning question: How do we get out of this alive? "With the dismissal vote a foregone conclusion, this is an opportunity to continue the negotiations over witnesses and beyond," he says. After Monday, it was obvious they needed a little time to sort things out.

Special Report The day's trial proceedings had to find room between quorum calls (the Senate version of "Take five") and hallway negotiations as what was supposed to have been the easy part -- voting down Robert Byrd's dismissal motion -- was pushed to Tuesday night, only after preliminary debate on whether to allow witnesses. The vote on witnesses, of course, is the Big One, but it is one on which Trent Lott may have already lost his majority. Now the majority leader has to find a plan to placate both restless Republicans and head-hunting ones -- plus enough Democrats to keep the Senate looking nice and bipartisan. Don't be too surprised if he needs another day.

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