Thursday, February 04, 2010

One point five for three

On January 14th, I wrote:

- The earliest the governor of Massachusetts can certify the results of a special election is on the seventh day following the vote, or January 26th (General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 54, section 116).

- Of course, he can't certify those results until he receives the local certifications of Massachusetts's cities and towns. Those election authorities have 15 days to certify their own totals and forward them to the Secretary of State (op. cit., Chapter 54, Section 112), who in turn conveys them to him.

- In other words, it could be February 3rd before the certifications even reach Governor Deval Patrick's desk, and it could be later than that before he acts on them.

Patrick certified the election results this morning, and Brown was sworn in today.

The Democrats delayed his seating (in precedent, a clear election result and a letter from the state's election authority is usually enough to get a new Senator seated), just like I said they would. That delay wasn't accompanied by as much tumult on the Hill as I expected. We'll get to why in a moment.

Also as I predicted (implicitly here at KN@PPSTER and explicitly in comments at Patterico's Pontifications), temporary appointee Paul Kirk continued to vote in the Senate until his replacement was sworn in. Once again, this didn't prove as controversial as I expected. Once again, more on that in a moment.

Finally, I predicted:

If the day ever comes when Scott Brown's ass warms a seat in the US Senate chamber, that day will come after the reconciled ObamaCare bill has been passed and sent to the White House for signature.

I got that one flat wrong.

Two out of three ain't bad, but I really consider it 1.5 out of three for the simple reason that I over-estimated the controversy that would arise from the results that I correctly predicted. Although some conservative pundits pounded the "seat him now, don't let Kirk vote" drum, Senate Republicans (i.e. the ones who could have forced the issue into conflict and spotlight) didn't get particularly agitated about the whole thing.

Why? Simple -- because I was wrong on item #3 above.

If it had looked like the Democrats were about to steamroll ObamaCare through in some way, Senate Republicans would probably have forcefully argued for seating Brown and against Kirk continuing to have a vote on the Senate floor.

But ... the Democrats either couldn't get their act together, or else they didn't want to.

There were various talks about how to get the bill passed, but nothing happened that a) looked likely to get it done and b) would have been prevented by getting Brown's ass into that chair.

Having the House pass the Senate version of the bill so that it could go straight to President Obama was discussed. If that had happened, Brown's seating would have been immaterial to it.

Another process discussed ("reconciliation") only requires 51 votes in the Senate. Once again, it didn't matter whether or not Brown took his seat if they went that route.

As long as Brown wasn't going to be Vote #41 to block passage of ObamaCare, and as long as the delay wasn't clearly a matter of Harry Reid lording it over them, Senate Republicans were content to let the matter slide, at least to some reasonable point in time. Yesterday marked that point. It was the date by which the local election authorities in Massachusetts had to certify their end of the returns, to that Patrick could do his bit.

I didn't see that happening. But hey, I've batted lower than .500 before.

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