March 5th, 2009
02:01 PM ET
11 years ago

Hearing set to ban appointed senators

Sen. Russ Feingold is sponsoring an amendment to ban governors from appointing senators.

Sen. Russ Feingold is sponsoring an amendment to ban governors from appointing senators.

(CNN) – In the wake of a series of controversies surrounding Senate appointments, several lawmakers are trying to put an end to the practice of allowing governors to hand-pick senators to fill vacant seats.

The Senate and House Judiciary Committees will hold a joint hearing on March 11 on a proposed constitutional amendment to make states hold special elections to fill Senate vacancies, instead of the tradition of allowing governors to choose their successors. Democrats Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan will preside over the hearing.

The bipartisan bill doesn’t have a lot of support so far, with only two cosponsors in the Senate and six in the House. Feingold first proposed the amendment at the end of January.

The issue over how to fill Senate vacancies has gotten more attention this year, after the November 4 election and subsequent administration appointments left four open seats. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached over allegations that he auctioned off President Obama’s former Senate seat and New York Gov. David Paterson faced intense criticism over the way he handled filling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vacant spot.


Filed under: Congress • Russ Feingold
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    This amendment shoud have been in place a long time ago.

    March 5, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. ran

    Yes! This the best way to proceed. Let the people decide who they want to represent them.

    March 5, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. R in Maine

    Recent experience seems to confirm the faults of the appointment system.

    March 5, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Agreed. This is a matter that should be left up to the people. I bet you that the people who are against this proposal are old, rich, white guys. All these old farts in congress are no better than the freaks at Merrill Lynch: corrupted by money, greed, and power.

    March 5, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Jackie in Dallas

    How do we know this is a good bill? Because the majority of members of Congress don't support it. Call your representative and Senators and tell them you'll vote them out if they don't for it!

    March 5, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Matt

    Please add to your bill the end of pay raises for all of congress by law, add term limits and remove the pension for one term congress members.

    March 5, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. JOSE IN NORTHRIDGE

    GREAT,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,PEOPLE,,,,,,,,,,,SHOULD,,,,,,,,,,,PICK,,,,,,,,,,,,THEIR,,,,,,,,,

    SENATORS,,,,,,,,,,,NOT,,,,,,,,,,,PARTY,,,,,,,,,,BOSSES

    March 5, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. walleye

    What took them so long to figure this one out. OH, maybe they were too busy getting their palms greased.

    March 5, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Lisa C.

    Thank you! Needed it long ago, but better now than never.

    March 5, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. David

    As long as the people are willing to foot the bill for special elections, let there be special elections.

    March 5, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. too late, Blago already did his damage

    how about an amendment to ban Burris?

    March 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Obama 2.0

    I agree, return it to the people.

    March 5, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  13. 2young2vote-OR

    eh, at least let state senates vote for replacements, no single person should have so much power, not even the pres. can do that.

    March 5, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. Kent

    This will cost the states some money they don't have. It would be much less expensive to require that these appointments be confirmed by the state legislatures. That still requires a constitutional amendment.

    March 6, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |