Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will get the opportunity to appoint an interim successor to the seat left vacant by the recent death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
After several hours of debate, the state House of Representatives voted 95-58 to give Patrick, Massachusetts’ first African-American governor, the right to make the appointment. The measure must now pass muster in the state Senate, where Republicans are threatening to delay a vote for several days. A vote could take place as early as today.
If the measure clears the next hurdle, Patrick has said he will make the appointment within days. This selection could be pivotal in getting a health care bill through the U.S. Congress. Without the appointment, Senate Democrats could be short the 60 votes necessary to pass the legislation and thwart Republican attempts to filibuster.