We, and others, have been talking about the significance of the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress for months now, ever since it was becoming clear that the Democrats were going to be taking a drubbing in the 2010 mid-terms, potentially losing control of both the House and the Senate. We won the House, of course, and are looking forward to the elevation of Speaker Boehner (and the firing of Nancy Pelosi) and expected Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The Dems held on to the Senate, but lost a couple votes, including that of Roland Burris, who of course is to be replaced by Mark Kirk as a result of the court-ordered special election.
It appears that, unlike a few other states where 'replacement' elections were held, it may take a while for Mark Kirk to be sworn in and seated, due to the paperwork delays that are inherent in the Illinois system (recall that Burris' appointment by Blago was held up for some time when SOS Jesse White initially refused to sign off). Once the paperwork is in, the Dem-controlled Senate is in control of when Kirk actually is sworn in and seated. It's clear that Kirk will miss at least the start of the lame-duck session, which begins November 15th, so we will have to deal with almost-ex-Senator Burris for a few more weeks yet.
I was looking forward to a swearing-in on November 29th, which is the first session day after the deadline for getting the Illinois paperwork in. However, one source, namely Politico, is now projecting that it may not be until December 3rd or so before Kirk takes his seat. It's unclear why Politico thinks it may take that long, but I wonder if the Dems are planning to delay seating Senator Kirk (love saying that) due to his expected vote AGAINST many of the bills that have been expected to make an appearance in the lame-duck session, including but not limited to DADT and the so-called DREAM Act. There is also the little matter (cough, cough) of extending the Bush tax cuts, and the White House has signaled that it may be open to compromise. The notion of a $500,000 income ceiling, which may be on the table, is much better for many two-income families than $200,000 or $250,000.
One would expect that Kirk's seating would be less controversial than Scott Brown of Massachusetts, as the Dems no longer have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But if the goal is to put enough votes on some of these bills to pass, and it appears to be close, I wonder if the temptation to hold off on seating a relaible "no" vote will be too much for the Dems to resist playing some games and delaying Kirk's rightful place in the Senate.