Jason Kander explains why Mitch McConnell must immediately seat Doug Jones

The results of an election should not be ignored.

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. CREDIT: AP Photo/Holly Ramer
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. CREDIT: AP Photo/Holly Ramer

It’s unclear just how much Alabama and the Senate’s Republican leadership can drag their feet to delay actually seating Senator-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) after his victory in Tuesday’s special election. But if Republican lawmakers try to force through the tax cut bill without letting Jones have a say, they will be diverging from a tradition of respecting the results of elections — and their own rhetoric after Republican victories in special elections.

Jason Kander, who previously served as Missouri’s Secretary of State, highlighted the way that he, as a Democrat, certified a special election quickly enough for Republican Jason Smith to be sworn into the House of Representatives “less than 18 hours after Missouri polls closed.” He called on Alabama “to do the same.”

Several sitting Democratic senators echoed Kander’s point, calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to seat Jones before any vote on the tax plan.

Another clear comparison would be the 2010 special election in which Scott Brown (R-MA) was elected while Senate Democrats were considering the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans were insistent that no vote on health care take place until Brown was seated.

Them-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declared that the Democratic leadership would not “rush into anything” after his election. “We’re going to wait until the new senator arrives until we do anything more on health care,” he said at the time. Brown later tried to rewrite history, claiming his seating was delayed.

McConnell’s own actions could also create problems. He delayed consideration of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, for a full year to give voters a chance to weigh in. “You don’t fill Supreme Court vacancies in the middle of a presidential election,” he said at the time, inventing a rule that didn’t exist. “Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy,” he insisted.

The people of Alabama have spoken. If McConnell forces the tax vote without letting Jones represent them, it will be the clearest sign yet that McConnell  changes the rules to suit his political needs.