WASHINGTON – It's no joke: Senate Democrats are moving toward letting comedian Al Franken join the chamber while Republican Norm Coleman's election lawsuit is pending.
"We're going to try to seat Al Franken," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Wednesday, a few hours before he posed with Franken for photos just off the Senate floor. "There's not a question in anyone's mind, an assertion by anyone, that there's been any fraud or wrongdoing in this election."
Coleman's lawyers are challenging the results of the election and the re-count in a trial set to begin in state district court on Monday. A three-judge panel that will hear the case is considering Franken's argument to dismiss it altogether.
Franken finished the re-count ahead by 225 votes. But Coleman's campaign said it will push for a review of all 12,000 absentee ballots that were not counted in the race. Coleman's attorneys said the new proposal could bring as many as 7,000 ballots to the race.
Reid did not say when Franken would be seated provisionally, but he said the two were meeting to hash out the agenda and Franken's committee assignments.
Not so fast, said Republicans.
"If Al Franken truly believes he won this election, he should respect the laws of his state and allow this legal review to be completed," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Luke Friedrich, spokesman for Coleman, said Reid and Franken would "ignore the will of Minnesota voters" if they try to seat Franken before the election is fully resolved. "Maybe Al Franken and Harry Reid should spend a little time reminding each other how they used to want every vote counted," Friedrich said.
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