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Massachusetts House approves bill allowing governor to fill vacant US Senate seat

[JURIST] The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 95-58 [roll call] Thursday in favor of a bill [text, PDF] to allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacement for the late Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on the US Senate [official websites]. The bill would allow Governor Deval Patrick [official website] to appoint an interim senator to serve until a special election scheduled for January 19. The bill originally included a provision requiring that the appointee be of the same party as Kennedy, but that provision was removed [Boston Globe report] after strong Republican opposition. The bill will now go before the Massachusetts Senate, where supporters hope it will be approved next week.

Kennedy passed away late last month, leaving his Senate seat vacant. Democrats hope to fill his seat with another Democrat as soon as possible in order to regain 60 seats, making them filibuster-proof. This is viewed as particularly important in the ongoing health care reform debate.

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