Can Paul Kirk cast the 60th vote for ObamaCare?

posted at 12:45 pm on January 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Paul Kirk, the appointed interim successor for the late Ted Kennedy in the Senate, has vowed to provide the 60th vote for ObamaCare regardless of whether Scott Brown wins Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat.  But can Kirk vote on any bill after Tuesday?  Fred Barnes reports on GOP lawyers who have checked the law in Massachusetts and the precedent in the Senate, and says that Kirk becomes a lame duck without a vote as soon as the polls close on Tuesday:

Appointed Senator Paul Kirk will lose his vote in the Senate after Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts of a new senator and cannot be the 60th vote for Democratic health care legislation, according to Republican attorneys. …

But in the days after the election, it is Kirk’s status that matters, not Brown’s.  Massachusetts law says that an appointed senator remains in office “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy.”  The vacancy occurred when Senator Edward Kennedy died in August.  Kirk was picked as interim senator by Governor Deval Patrick.

Democrats in Massachusetts have talked about delaying Brown’s “certification,” should he defeat Democrat Martha Coakley on Tuesday.  Their aim would be to allow Kirk to remain in the Senate and vote the health care bill.

But based on Massachusetts law, Senate precedent, and the U.S. Constitution, Republican attorneys said Kirk will no longer be a senator after election day, period.  Brown meets the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in the Constitution to qualify for the Senate.  “Qualification” does not require state “certification,” the lawyers said.

In this case, we can play a non-corruption game of “follow the money.”  The pay date for a new Senator who wins a special election starts the following day after the polls close.  Republican John Tower of Texas and then-Democrat Strom Thurmond are both precedents for this action.  In both cases, their terms started on the day after election, even though it took weeks for their certification by the state.  It’s not clear from Kristol’s article whether they were allowed to cast votes in the Senate, but what is clear is that they were recognized as occupying the seat — and that is an exclusive occupation.  Their appointed predecessors could not possess the same seat at the same time, and therefore were excluded from Senate business.

The same would be true if Martha Coakley wins the election, although it won’t present a problem for Democrats in that instance.  As soon as the election concludes, the presumption is that the voters of Massachusetts have chosen their Senator.  At that point, the rights of the appointed interim Senator conclude.  In the case of a Coakley win, that just means a few days of delay for any vote of consequence.  In the case of a Brown win … it means the end of a 60-vote supermajority on ObamaCare and other items on the radical Democratic agenda, starting on Wednesday.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Can Paul Kirk cast the 60th vote for ObamaCare?

Sure, since when has law/regulation/precedent/rule kept them from doing what they want? Those things are for the prols, not the chosen people.

jnelchef on January 17, 2010 at 3:20 PM

PLEASE SEND $$$$$$$$$$ TO SCOTT BROWN!!

OmahaConservative on January 17, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Buy Danish on January 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM

That first article is from October 31st, before any of us knew about Scott Brown and when he was down in polls by 30 points.

Knucklehead on January 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

OT: Judas Nelson

OmahaConservative on January 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM

OmahaConservative on January 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM

tee hee
can’t a man just eat his pizza :-)

cmsinaz on January 17, 2010 at 3:30 PM

The bill that Obama wants, the bill that he is pushing, is the bill that already passed the Senate. There is no need for that bill to ever return to the Senate. If the Democrats want to put a Health Care Reform bill on the president’s desk, they can do it one day. They just need to take a straight up and down vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate Bill. If Nancy Pelosi can get 218 of the 256 Democrats in the House to vote for it, it is done.

mw on January 17, 2010 at 3:00 PM

But they have already struck a deal (unconstitutional, but a deal) with the unions. If they could have passed the Senate bill in the House, they would have done that by now.

pedestrian on January 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

pedestrian on January 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

oh what a tangled web they weave…

cmsinaz on January 17, 2010 at 3:35 PM

. . If Nancy Pelosi can get 218 of the 256 Democrats in the House to vote for it, it is done

If 3 votes switched it would go down in HOR. 1 yes vote is retired and seat is vacant and 1 is a Catholic Republican, who I believe voted for Stupak which is not in Senate bill. That leaves 1 person who could switch to no or hold firm. Lot of pressure.

txmomof6 on January 17, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Chances are Brown will lose by a slight margin as the thugs at SEIU and ACORN are on the case now.

If by chance Brown pulls out a victory it will be contested by the dems and it will keep kirk in the seat until they can find enough votes in car trunks to change the outcome and he will tow their line the whole time, voting against the mandate of the voters of Mass.

Anyone catchJuan Williams on Fox this morning saying how all of America loves entitlements? This is going to pass . Its not about, and never has been, about healthcare. Its a powergrab that will undo the present meaning of the US Constitution.

Sic semper tyrannus!

blaque jacques on January 17, 2010 at 3:55 PM

. . If Nancy Pelosi can get 218 of the 256 Democrats in the House to vote for it, it is done

She barely got enough votes to pass their own House version – no way can she get enough votes to pass the Senate version the way it is, especially if Brown wins.

PatMac on January 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM

That first article is from October 31st, before any of us knew about Scott Brown and when he was down in polls by 30 points.
Knucklehead on January 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Is that Mitt’s fault?

Buy Danish on January 17, 2010 at 4:30 PM

I’d like to see the Dems try this.

Bring it on!

PattyJ on January 17, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Any of you pathetic Mittbots that think Brown winning makes Mitt look great for POTUS are simply in fantasyland.

GO BROWN!

Sapwolf on January 17, 2010 at 5:50 PM

“But I will predict to you, any effort to block the people of Massachusetts from having the senator they elect, will lead to such an explosion across the whole country that the — it would be — it would be ungovernable.”

http://newt.org/tabid/102/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4729/Default.aspx

diogenes on January 17, 2010 at 7:13 PM

Paul Kirk cast the 60th vote? Nope. And time to Change.

Yellowdog12 on January 17, 2010 at 10:37 PM

Ditto diogenes, as a matter of fact if the change doesn’t go the “right way” pretty soon this country will be ungovernable.

Dr Bob on January 17, 2010 at 11:42 PM

If you think the peasants (“teabaggers” per Schumer, Matthews, CNN-whathisname, etc.) are pissed now, wait ’til you see how pissed they get if Liberals pull shenanigans to pass Socialized medicine. There will be many many more Democrats feeling the same wrath Senator Nelson is feeling now.

olesparkie on January 18, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Comment pages: 1 2