Ed Driscoll

Why Is Scott Brown's Predecessor Still Voting on Legislation?

The Boston Herald reports that the GOP’s Scott Brown, Massachusetts’ newest senator, is scheduled to be seated by February 11th:

U.S. Sen.-elect Scott Brown is expected to be seated in the U.S. Capitol by Feb. 11 despite past precedent that had U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) seated within two days of her election.

Brown isn’t concerned about the sluggish approval process because Washington, D.C., pols have promised not to try and ram through health-care reform before he’s officially sworn in.

“Scott appreciates that both President Obama and (Senate) Majority Leader (Harry) Reid (D-Nevada) have said that no major action will be taken on health care until he is sworn and seated,” said Brown’s campaign manager, Eric Fehrnstrom.

OK, fine. But at Big Government, SusanAnne Hiller asks, so why is Paul Kirk, his liberal predecessor, still voting in DC?

The Senate has voted on three pieces of legislation today that required 60 votes–to raise the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, to reduce the deficit by establishing five-year discretionary spending caps, and Ben Bernanke’s confirmation–all of which interim Senator Paul Kirk (D-MA) has voted on. In addition, there have been other Senate votes since Scott Brown was elected as Massachusetts senator that Kirk cast a vote.

The main question here is: why is former Senator Kirk still voting on these legislative pieces? According to Senate rules and precedent, Kirk’s term expired last Tuesday upon the election of Scott Brown. Furthermore, Massachusetts law can be interpreted, according to GOP lawyers, as:

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.

Additionally, as reported in the Weekly Standard and investigated and confirmed by GOP lawyers:

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.

As Hiller asks, “Why is the GOP allowing the Democrats to blatantly violate Senate and election rules and laws? Where is the GOP leadership? Will Kirk’s votes stand?  Massachusetts voters deserve an explanation as does the rest of the country for this blatant abuse of power.”