(CNN) - The Massachusetts Senate is scheduled to consider a measure Friday that would allow the governor to appoint an interim U.S. senator to serve in the four month stretch of time before a special election is held to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat.
The measure easily passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a 95-58 vote Thursday night. While the bill will be brought to the floor Friday afternoon in the state's Senate chamber, Republicans are expected use a procedural motion to delay a vote until next week, said Dave Falcone, a spokesman for the state Senate Majority leader.
State Democrats are strongly pushing the measure to ensure Massachusetts has two votes in the U.S. Senate during the battle over health care reform. With the now-vacant seat, Democrats only have 59 votes in the U.S. Senate - one short of preventing a likely Republican filibuster against a Democratic health care bill.
But Republicans in Massachusetts argue it was Democrats who changed the Senate succession rules in 2004 to prohibit an interim appointment. At the time Democrats wanted to prevent then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, from handpicking a replacement for Sen. John Kerry if the Democratic presidential nominee won the White House that year.
While state Democrats have a clear majority in the Senate (35-5), it remains "speculative" whether there are enough votes to pass the bill, Falcone said.
Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick has stated he supports the rule change and would sign the bill if it passes the Senate. Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis is reportedly on the top of the list to be named to the seat should the measure pass, according to the Boston Globe.