Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Senate Democrats May Try To Seat Franken

Jan. 5, 2009 – 1:55 p.m.

Senate Democrats may try to seat Al Franken this week, assuming he is declared the winner of his hotly contested election battle with GOP Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota

Franken inched closer to an official victory Monday when the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected Coleman’s plea for an emergency order to count additional absentee ballots previously rejected. That left Franken with a 225 vote lead in the long-running recount.

Senate Republicans are gearing up to block any attempt to seat the Democrat until Coleman’s continuing legal challenges are resolved. That could spark the first filibuster of the 111th Congress.

Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., said Monday that there “likely will be an attempt to seat [Franken] this week.”

A senior Democratic aide confirmed that Senate Democrats hoped to swear Franken in Tuesday, along with the rest of the freshman senators.

Manley declined to comment on why Reid would support an attempt to swear in Franken even before his election is certified by Minnesota’s secretary of state and governor — a process that will not be completed for at least seven days under state law.

That is at odds with Reid’s refusal to seat former Roland W. Burris of Illinois, appointed last week by embattled Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich , on the grounds that Burris’ appointment has not been officially certified. The Illinois secretary of State has refused to sign such a certificate, given the federal corruption charges lodged against Blagojevich.

An aide to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., said the issue of whether to seat Franken should be “moot” because “he doesn’t have a certificate.” He suggested that any move to seat Franken this week would be resisted by Republicans.

The state Canvassing Board, which oversees statewide elections, will declare Franken the winner when it meets Monday afternoon. Coleman then has seven days to challenge that outcome in court. A winner cannot be certified until all election contests are resolved.

For a full version of this story and the latest coverage, please visit CQ Politics.

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