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Meet Sen. Byrd's Replacement

July 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Associated Press is reporting that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin will appoint his former chief legal counsel, Carte Goodwin [D], to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] for the rest of this session. Manchin is scheduled to make an official announcement on the appointment later this afternoon.

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With all the work that's been going on in the Senate this week on financial reform, the small business lending bill and other things, it may seem like the Democrats are doing nothing on the unemployment insurance bill while they wait for an interim senator from West Virginia to be announced. But that's not the case. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Senate Dems executed two important procedural actions that will ensure that when the new senator is seated and they can take up the bill, they can take the quickest route possible under Senate rules to get it passed.

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Politico reports:

“If Governor Manchin does what he has indicated to me he will and we’ll have a new senator to replace Senator Byrd, then we’ll vote Tuesday morning sometime on the unemployment extension,” Reid said.

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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 to -- 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.

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Congress and the 99ers

July 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The 99ers are the true victims of the jobless recovery. Yes, millions of people who have been out of work for months are struggling right now because Congress has let the extended benefits period expire, but a couple weeks from now that will be extended and those people will see their benefit payments return, including retroactive reimbursements for any payments that were put on hold. If they can find a job before the 99-weeks-max benefit period expires under the currently-pending extension (H.R. 5618) on November 30, 2010, in a sense, the system will have worked at helping them weather this crisis. But for those who are not able to find a job by then, they will join the ranks of the 99ers who, so far, have seen nothing but neglect from the people in charge of U.S. economic policy.

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Apparently West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's chat last night with election attorneys in his state didn't convince him to go ahead with appointing an interim replacement for Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] before the legislature meets on Thursday. Here's the latest on the situation, from the AP:

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The Week Ahead in Congress

July 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As Congress returns from their week-long vacation this afternoon, all the big items on the Democrats' legislative agenda remain stuck in the Senate where the Democrats are one vote short of overcoming Republican filibusters due to the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV].

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The two big items in the Senate right now -- the unemployment insurance extension and the financial reform bill -- are basically on hold until West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin appoints an interim replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV]. The Democrats need a senator voting from Byrd's seat in order to reach the 60 votes they need to break Republican-led filibusters of these measures.

But it's sounding like the Dems will not have a replacement for Byrd when they come back next week. This afternoon on MSNBC, Gov. Manchin said that he will wait until after a special session of the West Virginia state legislature clarifies the law in regards to the next election to fill Byrd's seat before he appoints an interim replacement. Transcript and video are below.

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Congress reconvenes from their July 4th recess on Monday and one of their first orders of business will be extending unemployment insurance benefits for the more than 2 million Americans who have had their benefits cut off over the past month due to congressional inaction. Here's a step-by-step rundown of what to watch for over the next several days as the pieces fall into place for getting the extension out of the Senate and signed into law so that millions of unemployed workers can finally get some relief.

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Replacing Byrd

July 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: Good news for all of you waiting for Congress to pass the unemployment insurance extension -- the AP is reporting that West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has issued the ruling that Gov. Manchin requested on whether he could hold a special election for Sen. Byrd's seat on the 2010 ballot. Manchin had said he would wait on the ruling before appointing an interim senator to fill the seat. As I reported below, the ruling wasn't expected until some time next week.

Now that the ruling is in, it's possible that Manchin will appoint a replacement before the end of the week so they they can be sworn in to the Senate on Monday. The interim senator is expected to give Senate Democrats the 60th vote they need to overcome a Republican filibuster of the unemployment insurance extension and move it forward towards becoming law.

 

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Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) died today, ending the longest ever career in the US Congress.  He was 92 years old. 

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The budget reconciliation circus we've been blogging about for months begins in earnest today.

According to the Democrats' calendar, the Senate convenes at 2:15 p.m. ET and will immediately start debating the Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill contains about 120 pages of fixes to the health care bill -- reconciling differences between the versions of health acre passed by the Senate and House -- plus some unrelated legislation to end a program that subsidizes student loan companies.  This is the bill that was passed by the House on Sunday night right after they passed health care reform.

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The Pitfalls of Budget Reconciliation

March 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

It's looking likely that, if health care reform is going to get finished, a package of compromises between the Senate and House bill is going to have to be passed first using the budget reconciliation process. But that leaves the bill vulnerable to the Byrd Rule, which will allow Republicans to object to individual sections of the bill and try to remove them.

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