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Franken expects no delay in Brown's seating

Republican U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown holds up a copy of the Boston Herald announcing his victory on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Adam Hunger
Republican U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown holds up a copy of the Boston Herald announcing his victory on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Al Franken is advocating using the Golden Rule when confronted with the sticky issue of when to seat Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Some conservatives fear Democrats might seek to delay Brown's seating until late February or early March in order to pass health care reform before the 41st vote against it arrives in the Senate. The person currently holding that seat, Democrat Paul Kirk, was appointed to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Kirk is seen as a guaranteed vote for health care reform legislation, but his term expires as soon as Brown is certified as the winner.


Yet despite the fact that he waited eight months and three days after Election Day to be sworn in, Franken wants Brown seated as soon as he's officially certified the winner in Massachusetts.

"Sen. Franken has every expectation that Brown will be seated as soon as the proper paperwork is filed, and he plans to continue keeping his focus on representing the people of Minnesota," Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said.

Sen. Al Franken
REUTERS/Jason Reed
Sen. Al Franken

Of course, there is a precedent for lengthy delays in seating a senator. Minnesota had just one senator for the first half of 2009, while recounts and subsequent court cases between Franken and former Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, dragged on. While Franken was ultimately seated on July 7, some Republicans, like Texas Sen. John Cornyn, were willing to see the seat stay vacant for "years" until all potential legal challenges were exhausted.

With polls tightening in the days leading up to the election, both parties had girded up for a protracted Franken-Colmanesque legal fight — with Democrats sending Franken recount lawyer Marc Elias to lead their possible fight — though such a battle seems unlikely given that Coakley conceded and that the margin between her and Brown isn't close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

Under Massachusetts law, cities and towns must wait 10 days for absentee and overseas ballots before certifying their own results. Working at breakneck speed, it's possible Brown could be sworn in as early as Jan. 29, though the Boston Globe estimated that Feb. 3 is a more likely date.

Derek Wallbank is MinnPost's Washington, D.C., correspondent and can be reached at wallbank[at]minnpost[dot]com.

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Comments (4)

I predict escalating partisan rancor.

Oh wait, sorry, that was my prediction from the last dozen elections. This time I'm predicting exponentially increasing partisan rancor.

Someone will notice that the Republicans are exactly as capable of filibustering with Brown in the Senate as they were with Kennedy's ghost in the seat.

the first, and now it seems the second scoott heard around the world happened in massachusetts.
if the election in massachusetts does not wake up senators franken and klobuchar then they have witnessed their own future in november.

The Golden Rule? Oh, please.

By all means, go ahead and stall the seating and shove Obamacare through.

Brown should be seated according to normal rules. As soon as the election is certified by the State of Massachusetts, he should be sworn in. There is no reason for a delay, and there is no reason for rushing it or bypassing existing rules.