It sounds like the change to the 2004 Massachusetts law regarding the filling of vacant Senate seats is more of a tweak than a complete 180 degree turn around. The proposal does not call for scrapping the special election process in favor of an appointed successor to serve what remains on the term. Rather, it addresses only the roughly 5-month timeframe before that election takes place.
Unfortunately, the very nature of our election cycles means that the window of opportunity to move major legislation through Congress is very short – making the proposed tweak on the table seem quite rational. The fate of Congressional legislation aimed at addressing critical global and national issues rests on this little vote in Massachusetts.
I haven’t researched the 2004 legislative history myself, but I understand that for democratic legislators who were in office in 2004, a vote for the Kennedy proposal would be a full 180, because they all specifically voted against a Republican amendment to the 2004 legislation which mirrored the present Kennedy proposal. (Further, they did so at Senator Kennedy’s general direction of that time.)
That doesn’t affect me because I wasn’t there, but it makes it hard for a lot of legislators.
The other thing is: It may really not be true that health care hangs on Ted’s missing vote to end a filibuster. The most recent rumor that I have is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t even have 50 votes for the present health care bill — in other words he’s not close to the 60 he needs.
Still listening though and I appreciate your weighing in.
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