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Former Massachusetts Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown took a stroll down memory lane Monday while talking about the health care law with Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson.
Brown, who is now a Fox News contributor, claimed the architects of Obamacare delayed Brown’s swearing-in in 2010 to help "ram" the law through Congress.
"They rammed it through before I got there, knowing I would be there in a week or two," Brown said on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson. "They delayed my swearing-in here in Massachusetts for a couple weeks so they could ram it through and did not pass one amendment to make it better for the American people, and they should be held accountable."
As Brown finished his point about his swearing-in, people watching could hear Carlson say, "I remember."
But did she remember right?
Brown was elected in a 2010 special election to finish the term of the late-Sen. Edward Kennedy. When Kennedy died on Aug. 25, 2009, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed a Democrat, Paul Kirk, to hold his seat. State law requires a special election for federal seats to be held between 145 and 160 days of when the vacancy occurred -- or in the case of Kennedy’s seat somewhere between Jan. 17, 2010, and Feb. 1, 2010.
Massachusetts’ election was Jan. 19, 2010, the first Tuesday in that window. Brown, who had campaigned on being the 41st vote against the health care legislation, defeated Democrat Martha Coakley by a vote of 52 percent to 47 percent.
Brown’s victory did not mean he could just move to Capitol Hill and start casting votes the next day. Brown was sworn in Feb. 4, 2010, 16 days after his election.
Was his swearing-in ceremony delayed?
Cities and towns in Massachusetts have 15 days to send final results to the Massachusetts Secretary of State, including a 10-day window for counting absentee and overseas ballots.
"It wasn’t delayed," said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin. "This process had to be done."
In fact, Brown was sworn in a week earlier than he had planned, according to media reports. After receiving criticism of his "three-week victory lap" from a newspaper columnist, he wrote state officials asking for his election results to be certified immediately. The results were certified by the governor’s council and sent to the U.S. Senate "as soon as the ink was dry," McNiff said.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill
So if anything, Brown’s swearing-in actually came a week earlier than originally planned. But what about the Democrats in Washington? Did they scramble to pass health care reform before Brown took his seat?
Weeks before Brown’s election, the Senate had already passed its version of health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, on Dec. 24, 2009, on a 60-39 vote. (Kirk voted yes.)
But the legislation needed to pass the House, and House Democratic leaders wanted to make changes that echoed their priorities. Problem was, any big changes to the Senate bill would send it back to the upper chamber for final approval, where the 39 Republicans and the newly elected Brown could now filibuster the bill.
Top Democrats wondered what to do. One option widely reported before Brown’s election was to pass the health care law before Brown took his seat. But on Jan. 20, 2010, the day after Brown’s election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., took that plan off the table.
"We’re going to wait until the new senator arrives until we do anything more on health care," Reid said.
In the end, the House passed the Senate bill on March 21, 2010. On that same day, the House passed a slew of their own measures in a separate bill, which the Senate passed March 25, 2010, through a filibuster-proof process known as reconciliation.
One last point: Brown’s 16-day wait from election to swearing-in is in line with other recent Senate special elections. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was elected after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg on Oct. 16, 2013, and sworn in 15 days later on Oct. 31, 2013. And Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey won the special election to replace John Kerry on June 25, 2013, and did not take the oath of office until July 16, 2013 -- 21 days later.
Brown said, "They delayed my swearing-in here in Massachusetts for a couple weeks so they could ram (the health care law) through."
We never heard back from Brown, but the record is pretty clear on this. His swearing-in wasn’t delayed, and the Senate did not "ram" the health care law through in the time between his election and his taking the oath of office.
We rate his claim False.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, Scott Brown, accessed Nov. 10, 2013
CNN, "Democrats consider backup plan for health care reform," Jan. 17, 2010
New York Times, "Democratic defeat imperils health care overhaul," Jan. 21, 2010
The Hill, "Scott Brown to be sworn into office Thursday as Massachusetts senator," Feb. 3, 2010
The Huffington Post, "Scott Brown demands to be sworn in Thursday, a week earlier than planned," Feb. 3, 2010
CNN, "Timeline of the health care law," June 28, 2012
PolitiFact, "Reid says Republicans have used reconciliation more than Democrats," Feb. 25, 2010
Interview with Brian McNiff, Massachusetts Secretary of State spokesman, Nov. 12, 2013
POLITICO, "Harry Reid: We’ll wait on Scott Brown for health care vote," Jan. 20, 2010
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