West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has appointed Carte Goodwin (pictured), the 36-year-old scion of a prominent West Virginia political family, to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, whose death last month complicated the Democrats' legislative agenda.
The move appears to give Senate Democrats the 60 votes they need to defeat a GOP filibuster and pass an extension of unemployment insurance for the more than 2 million people whose benefits have expired.
Goodwin is expected to be sworn in next Tuesday, before a planned vote to send the jobless extension to the floor for a final vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement Friday saying Goodwin will allow Democrats to move forward with several economic priorities, including the unemployment extension.
"When we swear in Senator-designee Goodwin next Tuesday, we will continue to move forward on many important policies to help middle-class families, including creating jobs, extending unemployment insurance and strengthening small businesses," said Reid in a statement.
Republicans Oppose Extension
Senate Republicans have threatened to block the measure from reaching an up-or-down vote because, they say, it would add $34 billion to the budget deficit.
Democrats say the measure is the right thing to do at a time of sky-high unemployment not only for humanitarian reasons, but also because people will quickly spend the money on essentials like food and rent, which will help stimulate the economy.
Goodwin says he won't support Democrats' energy bill, however, because it might threaten jobs in a state heavily dependent on coal production.
Goodwin, Governor Machin's former general counsel, will hold the seat until November, when West Virginia officials hope to have a special election to choose someone to serve the final two years of Byrd's term. Manchin has indicated that he is interested in running for the seat.
Carte Goodwin Appointment Gives Democrats Path to Unemployment Extension