Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) watched one of his state's Senate seats, long held by the Democrats, won by Republican Scott Brown during a special election on Tuesday.
Afterward, Frank issued a statement expressing disappointment and conceding that the party's approach to health care "is no longer appropriate."
I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results.
If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate healthcare bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate.
I am hopeful that some Republican senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of healthcare reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the healthcare status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a healthcare bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened.
Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the healthcare bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of this process.