Kentucky lawmakers overrode a veto from the state’s governor on Monday on a bill that will give party leaders power in the process of choosing someone to temporarily fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate.
The power, which originally was solely the governor’s, will now be shared because of the GOP-backed legislation that had the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Should a U.S. senator from Kentucky leave their seat, whether through death, resignation, or other circumstances, leaders from the political party of that senator will send three replacement options to the governor. The governor will then have the power to choose from the three options.
The bill also creates new rules on when a special election must be held, but the times differ based on how soon a regular election would occur following the vacancy.
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed the bill, arguing that it violated the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that “When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to the governor’s office to ask whether he plans to pursue legal action against the measure.
“The governor still appoints and under this bill we get to a special election even quicker than we would under current law,” Republican Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy said about the legislation.
Though some speculated that McConnell might step down early, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers says that is not the case.
“Let me make this definitive statement: He is not sick, he is not leaving — maybe to some people’s chagrin — but he plans to be there,” he said at a hearing for the bill.
McConnell, 79, was elected in November to serve another six-year term. The Senate is currently split 50-50, leaving Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker.