Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top Story

Today's biggest news? It's the weather in Massachusetts, and it's not good: rain, snow, and cold.

That's bad news for Martha Coakley, and it's just the latest in a string of bad, bad, bad news she's been getting. She's not out of the race, but she needs a big turnout to win, and bad weather depresses turnout. The unbelievable may happen today: a Republican taking over Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

Does that mean the end of the health care bill? Not exactly. The winner of today's election can't take his or her seat until the election is certified, which should take at least ten days or so. In the meanwhile, Senator Kirk would continue to occupy the seat and vote in the Senate. There's nothing wrong with that; lame ducks always vote in a post-election period.

So even if Brown wins, Democrats would continue to have 60 votes in the Senate for a precious few days, and if they could get the health care bill through during that period, it's a law like any other. But boy, the Republicans would stage the filibuster to end all filibusters. The clock would really mean something.

Would it be dastardly and underhanded for the Democrats to push the health care bill through as fast as possible while Kirk is still in office? I would say no. First, as noted above, lame ducks get to vote until their term is over; that always happens. Second, remember that Democrats have a big majority in the Senate, even if Brown wins! They just wouldn't have enough votes to defeat a filibuster on their own. But as I've observed repeatedly, the filibuster is an absurd impediment to democracy anyway. It's hard for me to see what's so underhanded about saying, "we got a bill through the properly apportioned House of Representatives, and now we'd like to move it through the Senate, where we legitimately control at least 59% of the vote."

It sounds like democracy to me.

1 comment:

Peter said...

It not only would be dastardly, it would be foolish. Regardless of its legality, it would destroy the Democrats in 2010 and, perhaps, beyond.