Why Hasn't Scott Brown Been Seated? UPDATE: Brown Requests to be Seated Immediately
1:06 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democrats still have a supermajority in the Senate, despite the election two weeks ago of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. I called a Senate source, familiar with the Senate procedure, to ask for an explanation.
Here's what would need to be done, in order for Scott Brown to be seated: Brown would first need to show up to the Senate. With him present, any U.S. senator could ask for unanimous consent for him to be sworn in. Once granted, Brown could take the oath of office and officially become a United States senator. That's the entire procedure.
In an article in Congressional Quarterly about the Democratic push to get things done while they still have a supermajority, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is quoted as saying, "We'd be happy to have him as soon as he can get here."
The same article goes on to report, "A McConnell spokesman said Republicans are willing to move up the Feb. 11 date if certification in Massachusetts makes that possible. 'When they're ready, we're ready,' the spokesman said. The timing of Brown's certification and swearing in briefly received intense attention when it appeared Senate Democrats might try to move a healthcare bill while appointed Sen. Paul Kirk, a Democrat, could still vote. Once Democrats dropped that idea, urgency on both sides of the aisle dropped off. But the Senate has nevertheless taken significant votes in which Brown might have made a difference. The pay/go and federal debt limit increase, for example, both passed by the minimum, with Kirk getting Democrats to 60 votes."
These measures that the GOP has objected to could have been stopped if the Democrats had one less vote in the Senate. Of course, it could be that unanimous consent is not then granted, in which case he might have to wait until he is officially certified. But it would be political dangerous for any senator to object on any grounds, since the Massachusetts law states that an interim senator's term expires when the newly elected senator becomes qualified--not certified--to serve.
Update: While Brown had planned on being seated on February 11, he has sent a letter to Gov. Patrick requesting that he may be seated immediately in light of a number of votes scheduled this week.