Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to seat a new Massachusetts senator as soon as results of a January 19 special election are certified and Vice President Joseph Biden is available to administer the oath of office, a Reid aide told the News Service Monday.
Under that process, the winner of the special election between Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley, Republican state senator Scott Brown, and Independent Joe Kennedy won’t take the new job until at least January 29, when local and state officials stop accepting overseas and military ballots and finalize the results.
Although in 2007, special election winner Niki Tsongas was rushed to Washington and sworn in despite the lack of formal certification, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin said the Senate would not permit such a move. At the time, Mr. Galvin sent a letter to the House asserting absentee ballots wouldn’t change the outcome of the election and that Ms. Tsongas could therefore be seated immediately.
An aide to the Secretary of the Senate said the Senate requires official certification unless members vote to waive the rule, a move she called “very unusual and very rare.”
But a campaign spokesman for Mr. Brown said that what worked for Tsongas should work for the winner of the Senate’s special election.
Mr. Kirk has indicated that he expects the Senate to take a final vote on a compromise health care bill before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, slated for either late January or early February.