The voters of the ultra-Blue state of Massachusetts have decided to elect Scott Brown, a conservative Republican to the Senate in a special election. With the election of a Republican senator from Massachusetts, the Democrats' so-called "filibuster-proof" majority in the Senate is officially dead.
As the election neared, it became increasingly likely that a disappointed and unmotivated progressive base of Democrats and progressive-minded Independents would not turn out to vote in numbers large enough to counter the smaller but more committed conservative base.
Now that Democratic candidate Martha Coakley has conceded the race, this appears to be what happened.
The loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat sends a clear message that the Senate health care bill does not go far enough. Sign our petition telling President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid that the Senate must use reconciliation to pass a better health care bill with a strong public option.
While the message might be lost on the power brokers within the Democratic Party, the message of the Massachusetts special election is clear. Voters did not elect President Obama and a Democratic supermajority in the House and the Senate so that health care reform could be written by the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson.
Progressives have been told for months that we must accept a mediocre bill in order to overcome a filibuster. The fact of the matter is Senator Harry Reid and President Obama took reconciliation off the table even though it represented our best chance to get an up-or-down vote on real reform.
The reconciliation process is a way for the majority of the Senate to pass items that affect the budget under rules that prohibit a filibuster.
With the election of Scott Brown, the Democratic Caucus in the Senate will account for only 59 votes, one short of the 60 votes required to stop a filibuster. It's hard to imagine a single Republican senator voting with the Democrats to stop a filibuster, so now the Democrats have an incentive to do the right thing and pass a stronger bill via reconciliation.
Sign our petition telling President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid that the Senate must use reconciliation to pass a better health care bill with a strong public option.