Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lorimer Passes Key Senate Vote

Yesterday afternoon, the United States Senate voted against the resolution by Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge to unseat Republican Illinois Senator William Lorimer, 40-46.  The vote was the result of a senate investigation into Lorimer's protracted election by the Illinois legislature in 1909.  Four legislators were accused accepting bribes from three other legislators in return for their votes for Lorimer.  However, Lorimer, a powerful Chicago politican, has denied all knowledge of corruption in his election.  In addition, according to an account of a speech on the Senate floor by Senator Simmons of North Carolina in yesterday's evening edition of the Washington Times, three of the four men who provided testimony in the case received immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony and another sold his story to the press.  Despite the arguments put forth by outgoing Senator Beveridge and a war of competing telegrams brought by pro- and anti-Lorimer senators, the majority of the Senate agreed with this assessment and permitted Lorimer to keep his seat.

This vote comes just two days after the Senate failed to pass a constitutional amendment, which would have have changed the way we elect senators.  Rather than senators being elected by state legislators, the amendment would allow for the direct election of senators by the electorate.  Several western states already to do this effectively.  However, despite support from many western senators, enough southern and New England senators voted against it for the measure to fail by four votes from the 2/3rds super-majority needed to pass it.

With these votes, we are now only two days away from the end of the current session as well as the current congress.  Several big votes remain including possible bills to bring Arizona and New Mexico into the Union (the only remaining territories in the contiguous United States), tariff reform, and Canadian reciprocity.  But with the Lorimer vote out of the way, hopefully at least some of the storm clouds have lifted from the gloom that had covered the Senate in recent days.

Link: Senate Vindicates Lorimer by 46 to 40 [The Washington Times]
Link: Popular Vote Measure Loses by Four "Nays" [The Bisbee Daily Review]

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