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EDITORIAL: Seating Sen. Brown

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 3, 2010

During the Massachusetts special election, some Democrats briefly raised the possibility of delaying the seating of Scott Brown if he were to win. Democrats quickly backed down and disavowed this threat, realizing that a backlash was building against their heavy-handed tactics. Until yesterday, it looked clear that Democrats were indeed doing just that - delaying Scott Brown's appointment as long as possible while Senate Democrats rushed through legislation and nominations in the last hours they controlled a filibuster-proof majority. Assuming no last-minute problems, that should end today.

When Sen. Edward Kennedy won a special election in 1962, he was seated the next day. In 2007, Democrats also immediately seatedRep. Niki Tsongas after a special election to fill a vacant House seat. While Democrats could have immediately seated Mr. Brown given his clear margin of victory, to ensure that all overseas ballots have been counted, town clerks in Massachusetts are given at least 10 days to formally certify the vote. But they can't wait more than 15 before delivering a final tally to the secretary of state. The 10-day deadline passed on January 29. The 15-day deadline gave Democrats until yesterday, Feb. 3. Now supposedly Mr. Brown will get the last approval he needs from the Democratic governor.

Democrats have already used the delay in seating Mr. Brown narrowly to approve a huge increase in the federal debt ceiling, despite anger over the Obama deficits. There was not a vote to spare. If the new senator had not finally demanded to be seated, Democrats were content to ignore the will of Massachusetts voters,planning on rushing through even more important votes before Mr. Brown was seated.

Until now, Gov. Deval Patrick and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin have ignored Mr. Brown's request to follow Massachusetts law and certify his election. Mr. Brown was most patient, assuming that the Democrats would act in good faith. That should be Mr. Brown's first lesson in what Democrats mean by bipartisanship.

Democrats may have backed away from their initial threats to delay seating him, but they sure managed to stretch things just about as far as they could. Presumably they think that Massachusetts voters and American voters generally will forget their shenanigans nine months from now. Not likely. Arrogant abuse of power is what cost them the Kennedy family Senate seat. It will cost them more in November.