Vice President Joe Biden swore in Paul Kirk as the junior senator from Massachusetts on Friday to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy, giving the Democrats the filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes.
The appointment – which was announced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick last Thursday – is expected to make it easier for the Democrats to pass comprehensive healthcare and financial regulation reforms.
Governor Patrick explained he moved ahead with the appointment because "the issues before the Congress and the nation are simply too important to Massachusetts for us to be one voice short."
For some time, the confirmation was up in the air as the Massachusetts GOP filed a lawsuit seeking to block the appointment alleging Patrick had no legal authority to do so, but it was dismissed by a Massachusetts court.
Jennifer Nassour, the state GOP chairwoman, commented that "from President Obama to Senate Majority Leader [Harry] Reid to Governor Patrick, Democrats have mounted a campaign to change Massachusetts election law for their own political expediency," quoted by TheHill.com.
She added that the party’s lawsuit managed to expose them as purely partisan.
The Republicans have also pointed out that in 2004 the Democrats spearheaded the effort to remove the power of gubernatorial appointment at the time when the state was run by Republican Mitt Romney.
Kirk will not run in the special elections held on January 19, 2010, to choose someone to serve the remainder of Kennedy’s term.