Kirk Is Still Voting

( – promoted by Garrett Quinn)

To protect the sensibilities of Simple Festus I will attempt to keep this post hyperbole free.

Back when our appointed Senator Paul Kirk floated the idea of passing a health care bill before Scott Brown could be seated, republicans made the following points:

“Based on Massachusetts law, Senate precedent, and the U.S. Constitution, Republican attorneys said Kirk will no longer be a senator after election day, period. Brown meets the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in the Constitution to qualify for the Senate. “Qualification” does not require state “certification,” the lawyers said”


“Appointed Senator Paul Kirk will lose his vote in the Senate after Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts of a new senator and cannot be the 60th vote for Democratic health care legislation, according to Republican attorneys.”

The Senate precedent they cited:

“The Senate subcommittee and committee concluded, based on its hearing and review, that “the term of service of a Senator appointed to fill a vacancy in an unexpired term ends on the day when his successor is elected by the people.” 1939 Congressional Record, p. 998. There was evidently no controversy among either the subcommittee or full committee regarding this legal conclusion, and the committee then presented a resolution to the Senate for adoption, expressing the view that Berry’s term of service expired on November 8, 1938, the date of the special election. As Senator Connally, a member of the subcommittee, explained to the Senate, the fact that the Tennessee statute purported to extend Berry’s term until the qualification of his successor was of no force because the statute was “plainly in conflict with the provisions of the seventeenth amendment.” Accordingly, the Senate adopted the proposed resolution without dissent. 1939 Congressional Record, p. 1058.

Based on this authority, it would appear that a valid point of order could be raised as to Senator Kirk’s participation in Senate proceedings after January 19, 2010″


Yesterday Senator Kirk voted to raise the national debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion dollars to the astronomical(sorry sf)level of $14.3 trillion. This measure required 60 votes to pass and did so along party lines 60-40.

My point in bringing this up is that if established law precludes Sen. Kirk from voting after January 19th then he broke the law and if challenged this measure will be deemed null and void. Which means that any spending that occurs in this debt window will be “fruit of the poisoned tree” and illegal. The results from a successful challenge of this vote would not be pretty.

Where’s Sen. McConnell on this? Where’s Scott Brown? Regardless of the gentleman’s agreement not to vote on health care, the law needs to be respected.

From a political perspective, this is another example of Republican leadership engaging in business as usual. They would rather go along to get along than fight for the taxpayer. They could have insisted on some real spending reforms(defunding earmarks) for their vote to raise the debt ceiling, but instead they allow a potentially illegal vote to be cast so they can claim that the Democrats voted to raise the debt.

If Mitch McConnell believes that the independents, Tea Party folks, working class Democrats that helped elect Scott Brown to the Senate are going to show up and vote for business as usual Republicans in November he’s delusional. The American people know the difference between a party that believes in a limited, efficient government and a bunch of posers who profess to believe in small government.  

About Paul Breau