By Perry Bacon, Jr.
Washington Post staff writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2010; 3:10 PM
The Senate Democrats finally have their 59th vote.
Carte Goodwin was officially sworn into office Tuesday, replacing Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) who had served in this seat from 1959 until his death last month. The arrival of the 36-year-old, who will become the youngest member of the Senate, was much anticipated, as Democrats expect Goodwin to help break a month-long impasse between the two parties on extending unemployment benefits.
With the votes of Goodwin and a pair of Republicans, Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Democrats are likely to pass a provision that would extend unemployment benefits to people out of work through November, at a cost of more than $30 billion. Republicans have said Congress should offset this spending to avoid increase the deficit, while Democrats argue the high unemployment rate constitutes effectively a national emergency and should not have to be offset.
Goodwin is unlikely to make much of an impact in the Senate beyond this vote. He was tapped essentially as a placeholder, as West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced on Tuesday he would seek election in November to fill the remainder of Byrd's term, which ends in 2012.
Goodwin, who served as general counsel to Manchin from 2005 to 2009, ruled out a run for himself on Friday when he was appointed.