Manchin Will Name a Byrd Replacement by Friday EveningJuly 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw
MSNBC is reporting that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (pictured) will appoint an interim replacement for Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] by Friday at 5 p.m. ET. Previous reports suggested that he might wait until Sunday to do so.
This means that Senate Democrats could — if they choose — keep the Senate in session over the weekend, swear in Byrd’s replacement right away and begin voting on the unemployment insurance extension bill as soon as she is seated. This is all at the discretion of Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV]. He makes the ultimate decision about when the Senate adjourns for the week, or when they work through the weekend. If he really wants to get the ball rolling on the unemployment extension, he will set the procedure in motion on Thursday by filing a petition on invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill. Cloture motions are not “ripe” for voting until one hour after the second day the Senate reconvenes, so filing on Thursday would set up a Saturday morning vote. Theoretically, they could even get the interim senator to Washington by Friday evening, swear her in, adjourn for a few hours, reconvene at the stroke of midnight and vote on the cloture motion at 1 a.m. Friday night. That would technically be one hour after reconvening on the second day.
Let’s suspend our disbelief for a second and say they do that, and that cloture on the motion to proceed passes late Friday night. In that case, Reid would file for cloture on the bill itself on Saturday. That motion would ripen Monday morning, at which point the Senate would vote on cloture again. After that, a final vote would have to take place within the next 30 hours, so Tuesday at the latest. Under that scenario — which is the absolute fastest this could possibly be done — the bill could be law mid week and state labor agencies could start implementing it right away. In all likelihood, things won’t happen this quickly. The Senate will probably adjourn for the weekend and wait until Monday to swear in the new senator. But the fact is that they don’t have to and they could stay in session and get this done quickly if they decide that is what they want to do.