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Hillary takes Senate gavel -- for an hour

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For a brief time Wednesday, there was another President Clinton in the nation's capital.

hillary
New York's new Senator presides over the U.S. Senate for the first time on Wednesday  

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the new senator from New York, presided as president of the Senate -- at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House -- for one hour Wednesday afternoon.

It is customary for new senators to preside over the Senate to help them learn parliamentary procedure.

After presiding over an empty Senate chamber for more than 10 minutes, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, came to the floor after addressing the former first lady by her temporary title, "madame president," and welcoming her to the Senate.

Even Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had to address her as "madame president" in order to be recognized on the floor and read the Senate schedule. "Without objection, so ordered," Clinton said.

Although Republicans hold the majority by virtue of Vice President Dick Cheney's ability to cast a tie-breaking vote, under their power-sharing agreement, Democrats are allotted time to preside over the chamber for a limited amount of time each week.

CNN Capitol Hill Producer Dana Bash contributed to this report


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Wednesday, January 24, 2001

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