Kentucky Republicans Pass Bill Stripping Dem Gov Of Power To Temporarily Fill Vacant Senate Seats

The Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill Thursday that strips Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of the power to temporarily appoint people to vacant U.S. Senate seats.

Kentucky’s senior U.S. senator is currently Mitch McConnell, aged 82, who has announced his intention to retire from the Senate in 2027 when his current term expires. On Thursday, the Kentucky Senate passed House Bill 622, which would prevent the governor from making a temporary appointment to fill McConnell’s seat should he resign, be expelled or die in office — sending it to Beshear’s desk for his signature.

The legislation would require that a special election be held to fill any Senate seat vacancies.

“It would be a direct voice of the people determining how the vacancy is filled — not an appointment of any individual with any criteria set by the legislature,” said Kentucky Senate President Robert Striver, a Republican, in remarks about the bill, according to the Kentucky Independent. The bill was passed by a vote of 34 yeas to 3 nays, with some Democrats voting in favor of the bill.

Read the bill here:

Kentucky House Bill 622 by Daily Caller News Foundation on Scribd

The U.S. Constitution’s 17th Amendment establishes that state legislatures may empower their executive authorities to make “temporary appointments [to the Senate] until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.” The provision exists to ensure that no state is deprived of equal suffrage in the Senate in the period between a vacancy and its subsequent special election, ensuring that the state remains fully represented during critical votes.

“[Governor of both parties have had the] type of authority that they’re trying to tear away from me in my time as governor,” Beshear remarked in response to the bill’s introduction, the Kentucky Independent reported. “​If we are just dominated by trying to create a result of what letter someone would have behind their name if appointed, then we are not performing or engaging in good government.”

Beshear, a Democrat, has served as the governor of Kentucky, a Republican-leaning state with a Cook Partisan Voting Index Score of R+16 since 2019, after defeating then-incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in 2019’s election as well as former Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron in 2023’s election. He is the son of former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky.

Beshear’s popularity as a Democrat has caused concern among Republicans that he could succeed McConnell in an election. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, McConnell’s colleague and the state’s other representative in the Senate, echoed this sentiment on Fox News in February, adding that he could win by a large margin.

McConnell’s retirement announcement came after several public health episodes that raised concerns about his fitness to remain in office. On at least two occasions, he froze while speaking at press conferences and to be led away by aides and colleagues, and separately suffered a concussion after a fall.

Beshear has not indicated if he’ll veto the bill. Republicans have a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly, enabling them to override his veto.

The Office of the Governor of Kentucky did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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