Unclear if victor will have health-care vote
U.S. Senate Democrats will decide when the new Massachusetts senator will be sworn in - possibly setting up an explosive clash between the will of Bay State voters and the health-care reform agenda.
“It’s a matter for the U.S. Senate and what they consider a proper credential to swear in a senator,” Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said yesterday.
The special election to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is Jan. 19, and the Senate returns to formal session the next day.
If Republican state Sen. Scott Brown pulls off a longshot victory, he would have a chance to be the 41st vote in the Senate needed to block national health-care reform. But that would require him to be swiftly seated by the Senate, controlled by the majority Democrats.
On Friday, interim U.S. Sen. Paul Kirk said he plans to cast a “yes” vote on health-care reform even if Brown is elected and waiting to take office.
“It would be my responsibility as United States senator, representing the people and understanding Sen. Kennedy’s agenda,” Kirk said. “I think you’re asking me a hypothetical question but I’d be pleased to vote for the bill.” [What an idiot...make that traitor!]
Brown said Kirk’s remarks made him “sick to my stomach.”
“That’s not what the people want,” he said yesterday during a campaign stop in South Boston.
“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,” Brown said Friday in a statement.
In 2007, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas’ was sworn in just two days after winning her election - and in time to override a Bush veto of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“The House is far less formal than the Senate,” Galvin said.
Galvin said the election will not be considered complete by his office until Jan. 29, when 10 days have been allowed for absentee and military ballots to arrive.
But, he added, “We will do whatever the clerk of the Senate tells us. We’re not going to make any effort to delay the election.”
Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee who has vowed to vote for health-care reform, said yesterday the new senator should be sworn in as soon as the law allows, no matter who wins.
“The law is the law in terms of what’s required by way of certification (and) sending that certification to the Senate,” she said. “Whoever wins on Jan. 19 should go down to Washington as soon as possible.”
Kyle Sullivan, spokesman for Gov. Patrick, agreed.
“We expect the winner to be sworn in as soon as possible,” he said yesterday.
Reid’s office did not immediately return a call requesting comment.Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1224468