AFTER 150 YEARS of not being able to do so, members of the House of Representatives soon should be able to mention the word Senate in floor debate. Until now, House rules have required that the upper house be referred to as "the other body." But a rules change, recommended a week ago by the Democratic Caucus, is expected to be approved when the new congress convenes in January.

The prohibition, which incidentally is not reciprocated by the Senate, goes back to Thomas Jefferson's "Manual of Parliamentary Practice" adopted by the House in 1837. Its rationale was that neither house should be influenced by the proceedings of the other. Still prohibited: references to individual senators, expressions of opinion concerning Senate actions or quotations from Senate proceedings.

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