Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Massachusetts Senate Passes Interim Appointee Bill

Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald reported that the Massachusetts State Senate passed the bill that will allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint an interim senator. The bill passed by a vote of 24-16 and barring any parliamentary delays in the enactment of the new law, Patrick should be able to send a temporary senator to Washington in time to vote on health care reform. The interim senator will likely play a crucial role in the health care battle where reform proponents are trying to scrape together a filibuster-proof 60 votes.

So is the new law a flip-flop by a politically motivated body looking out for its own interests? Of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do. Massachusetts should have two senators representing their interests in Congress. Massachusetts Democrats may deserve chastisement for manipulating the political process, but not for this month's actions. Their transgression was five years ago when they changed the law in a transparent ploy to prevent Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican interim senator. The current effort to reverse the law may be motivated by party interest, but it is still a correction of a past mistake.

Give the legislators some credit. At least they removed the provision that would have required the interim senator to be a member of the party of the previous occupant. Such a requirement would have been a maneuver almost as self-serving and disingenuous as the 2004 law that prevented the Republicans from slipping into the Massachusetts Senate seat for a few months.

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