Dems Plan to Stall Seating MA Senator to Pass Obamacare

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Posted: Jan 09, 2010 12:11 PM
Paul Kirk, former aide and confidant of Sen. Ted Kennedy who was handpicked by Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, is winding down his time as a U.S. Senator as the special election to replace Kennedy draws closer.  But when it comes to passing the health care bill, Senate Dems are taking no chances and plan to keep Kirk--a supporter of the Dems' plan--in place until after the measure passes.

At a business forum this morning in Boston, Kirk said that Congress plans to pass the health care overhaul before Obama makes his State of the Union address in early February.  The special election to replace the late Senator Kennedy is scheduled for January 19.  No matter what voters decide in election,  Kirk is pledging to support the bill, even if voters choose to elect Republican Scott Brown who ardently opposes the measure. 

Just a few weeks ago it seemed clear that state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Kennedy family-approved Democrat running for Kennedy's seat would be victorious by a pretty wide margin.  But in the waning days of the campaign, Brown is giving Dems in the state a run for their money.

But if Brown were to pull off the unlikely victory in Massachusetts, there's speculation his swearing-in would be delayed in order for Dems to pass Obamacare.  The Boston Herald reports:
Brown has vowed to be the crucial 41st vote in the Senate that would block the bill.

The U.S. Senate ultimately will schedule the swearing-in of Kirk’s successor, but not until the state certifies the election.

Today, a spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who is overseeing the election but did not respond to a call seeking comment, said certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor’s Council would take a while.

“Because it’s a federal election,” spokesman Brian McNiff said. “We’d have to wait 10 days for absentee and military ballots to come in.”

Another source told the Herald that Galvin’s office has said the election won’t be certified until Feb. 20 – well after the president’s address.

Since the U.S. Senate doesn’t meet again in formal session until Jan. 20, Bay State voters will have made their decision before a vote on health-care reform could be held. But Kirk and Galvin’s office said today a victorious Brown would be left in limbo.

In contrast, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was sworn in at the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 18, 2007, just two days after winning a special election to replace Martin Meehan. In that case, Tsongas made it to Capitol Hill in time to override a presidential veto of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Yesterday, Brown, who has been closing the gap with Coakley in polls and fund raising, blasted the political double standard.

“This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine,” said Brown in a statement. “Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, Deval Patrick, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts. As we’ve already seen from the backroom deals and kickbacks cut by the Democrats in Washington, they intend to do anything and everything to pass their controversial health care plan. But threatening to ignore the results of a free election and steal this Senate vote from the people of Massachusetts takes their schemes to a whole new level. Martha Coakley should immediately disavow this threat from one of her campaign’s leading supporters.”