Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Kirk Is Sworn Into Senate, as Kennedy Family Looks On

By Paul Kane
With one hand on a Bible, Paul Kirk (D-Mass.) was sworn in Friday afternoon to the Senate seat previously held for nearly five decades by Edward M. Kennedy.

"Congratulations, senator," Vice President Biden said to Kirk after completing the oath of office.

Friday's ceremony marked the final step in a month-long process set in motion by Kennedy's Aug. 25 death. And a number of Democratic luminaries, as well as Kennedy family members, showed up to watch Kirk -- a close family friend and former senior staffer to Kennedy in the 1970s -- recite the oath of office.

Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), stood at the Democratic leader's podium next to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

In the first row of the gallery sat Vicki Kennedy, the late senator's wife, who burst into tears and hugged Gail Kirk, the new senator's wife, upon Biden's salutation. Also sitting with the two spouses were Edward M. Kennedy Jr. and Kara Kennedy, the late senator's other two children, along with their stepbrother, Curran Raclin.

Most of the late senator's staff will stay on with Kirk, and many of them sat on benches that ring the Senate floor to watch their new boss take the oath. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ushered Kirk down the aisle to meet Biden, and the first senators to congratulate Kirk were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Afterward, Kirk told reporters he was experiencing "a combination of emotions," including the "profound absence of a friend," but also a "full understanding of his devotion and understanding of public service."
Asked whether he would play a role in the health-care debate, Kirk said, "I hope I can. I'm aware that I'm the freshman in the class."

Outside the chamber, Kerry said that Kirk was prepared on the issue of health care. Asked whether Kirk would have the same influence Kennedy had on the issue, Kerry said "nobody around here -- with the possibility of the majority leader -- has that natural [influence.]"

Kerry, Biden and McCain were among those who spoke at the wake for the late Kennedy, which was held at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Kirk served as the master of ceremonies for the wake, and he has been chairman of the JFK Library Foundation for years. (The Associated Press has a quick look at Kirk's biography here.)

His appointment came after Massachusetts Democrats pushed through this week a new law that allowed Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to appoint an interim successor to Kennedy. State Republicans protested the move as a power play designed to give Senate Democrats an extra vote immediately, and pointed to the Democratic-led effort in 2004 to change the law then -- when Kerry was potentially going to win the presidency and create a Senate vacancy -- to strip the power of gubernatorial appointment because Republican Mitt Romney ruled Beacon Hill at the time.

The state GOP lost a court challenge Friday morning to block Kirk's seating, based on a Massachusetts law that said most laws take 90 days to take effect. Patrick declared an emergency to institute the law right away, and Senate Republicans declined to protest Kirk's seating, instead welcoming him with both arms.

In this odd year, Kirk becomes the sixth senator so far in 2009 to take his seat through appointment. And he's the fourth to agree to serve essentially as a caretaker, along with Sens. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and George LeMieux (R-Fla.). Burris had initially sought to run for a full term to succeed President Obama, but his involvement in the legal scandal of former governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) led to political problems and his decision to accept caretaker status until a permanent replacement is selected in November 2010.

On hand for Kirk's swearing-in, Burris joked with The Washington Post beforehand that so many new appointees have been sworn in since he took office Jan. 15, he has already climbed the seniority ladder in the chamber.

"I'm trying to figure that out now. I must be 92 or 93 now," he said.

In fact, Burris is now 95th in seniority. He could be considered the dean of the appointee caucus, with one more day of seniority than Kaufman.

By Paul Kane  |  September 25, 2009; 4:59 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: House Votes to Fund Government Through October
Next: Progressive Groups Target Baucus with Ad Backing Public Option


And we sneer at the politics in countries like Zimbabwe and Libya?

Posted by: GodBless1 | September 25, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Hip hip hooray and a little Hallelulah!! This is the closest we can come to having Senator Kennedy on the floor himself and advocating for his cherished goals. He wanted this for those whose need was greater than his own, or different than his own. Come what may, his voice has representation in this way. His brand of brother's keeper liberal politics has a seat at the table.

Posted by: GaiasChild | September 25, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

@GaiasChild - It's the way to try to stack the deck against the public will, and shove ObamaCare and "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" down our throats. (Don't worry folks, they're coming.)

Posted by: GodBless1 | September 25, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, because popularly-elected representatives changing the law is exactly like a dictatorship. Particularly when the polls have shown that a majority of Bay Staters favour a temporary appointment.

And, for the record, look up how the Alaska Republicans have handled Alaska's Senate appointment process in the past before you complain.

Posted by: SeanC1 | September 25, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

What a sham! Even in death,Kennedy controlled the outcome of his successor. What is wrong with the people in Mass?

Posted by: tonybill | September 25, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Most of the time majority rules, except in the U.S. Senate where minority obstructs, delays, opposes, and controls the majority agenda until it fails.

Posted by: cy31b | September 25, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

May God Bless Sir Ted Kennedy and his surviving family. I am so delighted that Paul Kirk has been sworn in and the Kennedy family was able to be present for the event! Senator Paul Kirk is on board and will do the right thing following in Sir Ted's foot steps. GO Senator Kirk GO!!!!

Posted by: merf-1 | September 25, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

GaiasChild, igonore the negative rhetoric as this is all the taliban neo-cons know!!! Your post was great! Oh, by the way, the taliban neo-cons are a dying breed!

Posted by: merf-1 | September 25, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Justice is served. May the Massachusetts minority like their kissing cousins the Congressional Cockroaches lick the floors Sen. Kirk walks on.

Posted by: AppDev | September 25, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

The channel reported polling numbers of 90%(+) opposed to Gov. Deval Patrick appointing a hand picked Kennedy toadie.

However, so what? The goes ahead and picks Paul G. Kirk, a Kennedy toadie who is also:
1. Lobbyist
2. Pharmaceutical giant Aventis made $14 Billion worldwide at the last count: Wonder how much Senator Kirk pocketed?
3. Kirk is the Director of Hartford Financial which provides healthcare to seniors! Kirk got $106,000 in salary and $142,117 in stock awards and the stock options extend into 2014.
4. Owns a Consulting firm, Kirk & Associates which brings a neat profit thanks to his many years in Washington at Kennedy's side. This Senatorial annointment or is it appointment? Well, anyway it means a lifetime of access to the Senate floor of the House.

No wonder his wife was crying tears of joy!

Anyone still thinking that Obama is going to bring a change in how politics operate in the old boy's club?

Posted by: Cantabrigian | September 25, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

It is the people of Massachusetts who have a right to gripe and moan if they want to. They don't get a choice as to who my senators are.

Why should people in Texas or New York or working at Fox News get to select who becomes a Massachusetts Senators? If somebody outside Massachusetts wants a say, move to Massachusetts.

Posted by: MarkofLewiston1 | September 25, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

-And there is not a goddamn thing the filthy republicans can do about it!

Posted by: kase | September 25, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I am so thrilled that through Senator Kirk's appointment Senator Ted Kennedy's vision & legacy lives on .. ALL the DEMS in both the House & US Senate must unite and pass this healthcare bill is their duty and obligation to the citizens of the USA ... Ted Kennedy cared about the common man and although he was born to wealth.. he never ever forgot the little man.... GOD BLess Ted Kennedy and his family .. he will never be forgotten..

Posted by: whatbull | September 25, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Senator Kennedy is deeply missed but, thanks to Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts legislature, Massachusetts will be fully represented in the Senate for the next 4 months and by a man who is likely to vote as his dear friend Senator Kennedy would have voted on vital issues such as health care reform until such time as the voters of Massachusetts pick a successor.

Posted by: speedylegs | September 25, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Ill say it again! Those legislators in Mass are officially the E.T. for their temerity.

Paul Kirk! Spawn of the E.T.

Cheech and Chong version. Not the Steven Spielburg one.

Posted by: Homunculus | September 25, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

OK, but that was the second time the laws were changed by Democrats to support Democrats. This is hypocritical and damages their integrity and their image. They are the ones that had a return to honesty and accountability in their campaign platform. Do they not keep their word? I am shocked....!

Posted by: DL13 | September 25, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

A moonbat sickeningly opines: "Kennedy cared about the common man and although he was born to wealth.. he never ever forgot the little man...."

But here's the priceless part:

"Posted by: whatbull"

Posted by: thebump | September 25, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh quite your whining! You republicans would have done exactly the same thing had you had a republican majority in the Mass. legislature and a republican governor. Believe me. Mitch McConnell would have been pushing this so he could have enough votes in the Senate to obstruct the progress that polls show the public wants on health care reform ... a public option to compete with the true dictators in this country ... the insurance companies.

You whiny republicans didn't cry dictatorship when you guys stole the 2000 presidential election ... in a state of the president's brother! Talk about a dictatorship!

So please ... just get over it! The people of Mass. are just fine with the ability to have a voice in the U.S. Senate during this critical period.

Posted by: dlpetersdc | September 26, 2009 5:59 AM | Report abuse

I love how they exchanged one maggot for another maggot... Remember when Kerry was running? They used the same law/same loophole to disadvantage his run... then change the law back less than a month after kennedy dies. Scumbags.

Posted by: _trooper_ | September 26, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

What's notable is that corruption is no longer even acknowledged. It's simply business as usual.

Another SainTed Kennedy...You liberals could really show some compassion and give us a break.

Posted by: elgropo1 | September 26, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Now that the Democrats have a majority, let's hope they show some gumption and get somethings done. Not only do we need healthcare approved, we have lots of unfilled positions in the judiciary. Let's get them filled NOW.
It is clear that we cannot expect bi-partisan cooperation so let's just accept that we are in charge and take charge.
We should have learned this from the last 8 years of GOP majority.

Posted by: kay6 | September 28, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

if my memory serves me, paul kirk worked in the d.c. office of my senator back in the 70s. thank you to gaias child for the support...and to god bless1 and all the other kennedy haters.....there will come a day when you rue your cruel heartless hatred. and i hope some one points out all the areas that senator kennedy worked to make better for all u.s. residents...starting with the minimum wage age act(raising the minimum wage up to 5.50 an hour). good luck to PAUL KIRK! it still galls me that john kerry is now the senior senator from massachusetts

Posted by: dmhousandyahoocom | September 28, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I am sure he will stay away from any bridges near Chappaquidick.

Posted by: commenywontmatteranyway | September 28, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

dmhousandyahoocom | September 28, 2009 2:59 PM ...i hope some one points out all the areas that senator kennedy worked to make better for all u.s. residents
Yes of course. We will forever be in his debt for The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which caused our 1965 population of 200 million to mushroom to its current number of more than 310 million, degrading the quality of life in this country for all but the rich--like the Kennedys.

Posted by: GodBless1 | October 2, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company