Saturday, November 6, 2010

Will Democrats Play Games In Seating Senator-Elect Mark Kirk for Lame-Duck Session?

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.


Anonymous said...

I think we can safely say that Durbin and his buddies in the Senate want to drag their collective feet before seating SENATOR MARK KIRK. What would the reasons be for waiting until December 3? I think our country has had enough of the games these Democrats are playing with our nation. Alexi congratulated SENATOR KIRK, they shared a beer and a burger, so what's with Durbin? The people of IL have spoken. It's sad that Durbin and the IL Democrats are deaf.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone surprised? I'm not. The democratic leadership in this state is only interested in power and their agenda. But then again the people of this state re-elected them. Thank God the majority had the sense to elect Senator Mark Kirk (boy, that feels good to type)!

Baxter and Beau's Mom

Anonymous said...

Gosh... Senator Mark Kirk. That is so fun to type. I don't begrudge the new junior Senator from IL a few days vacation after that campaign, but I do hope that Kirk's staff and Mitchell McConnell, etc. highlight the IL Dems' little games and demand that IL voters get the representative that they voted for in the special session.

Anonymous said...

the congressman's life is going to be unpleasant for the next several months so if you are close to him or the staff, give them a hug. they have to be out of their house office by end of next week. they lose their blackberries the same week and as of thanksgiving the kirk congressional operation will be a phone and a desk in the basement of the us capitol. The house evacuates members very very quickly, and be happy he isn't team bean or foster because they're unemployed as of next friday-along with pup and alexi.

the senate is another matter. burris while no longer in office will not lose his office space for another few months. First they have to move all of his teams stuff out. Then the incoming senators have to do the office shuffle-senators are in for 6 years so there's not a lot of urgency. Then they have to repaint offices, move stuff in, ect. the kirk senate office will probably exist in the basement of dirksen which is disgusting for the next few months. On the plus side if you are going to dc, as of a month from election day, the congressman will now hold weekly coffees on thursday mornings where I'm sure disgusting vermin like lee goodman,, codepink and catwoman if she's not retired from politics will show up to ask nasty questions but where the congressman will hold forth with senator durbin.

I think the congressman would benefit greatly by putting youtube tapes of these things online as a free and easy way of reaching out to the state he now represents since they are on the record and usually covered by the chicago dc press corps.

The other issue is which committee assignments he'll get. Durbin is already on appropriations so that's off the table. He won't get judiciary because that's a social conservative only committee. My guess is we'll see him with something like what he had during his first term in the house:

senate foreign relations or armed services (I see the ceo of boeing weighing in on this as the pentagon budget is a fat target for cuts and boeing could be in the crosshairs)

veterans affairs-makes sense given his background. It's a backwater (they put burris on it), but it's a good way to solidify the base of the party.

agriculture-he needs to build ties downstate and show he's the senator from illinois not just chicago and the north shore.

the budget-shows his fiscal credentials.

intel-if he doesn't get veterans affairs.

There are other possibilities like education/health-porter was big on these issues and it would play well with suburban and women voters, but the committees he gets will give you a good idea of what his priorities will be as a senator, the legacy he wants to build and what areas of his reputation and political coalition he wants to solidify (i.e. ag helping downstate).

for those with long memories-chuck percy-also a new trier us senator was foreign relations chairman. small world.