...the Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate--on paper. But if Kennedy couldn't even attend his sister's funeral in Hyannis this month then it's doubtful that he could have made it to Washington to vote on health care legislation. So that made the real number 59. Now if Robert Byrd is too sick to vote that makes the current number only 58. Even with a replacement appointed to fill Kennedy's seat the real number is still only 59--one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority. Michael Grunwald writes in Time magazine:
Democrats on Capitol Hill might be better off keeping Kennedy's seat empty — and then using the sympathy generated by his death as an excuse to ram through health-care legislation by majority vote.