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Alabama's Doug Jones may not take office until 2018

Doug Jones was projected the winner of the Alabama special election Tuesday and he is sure to shake up the Senate, ea...

Posted: Dec 13, 2017 10:40 AM
Updated: Dec 13, 2017 10:40 AM

Doug Jones was projected the winner of the Alabama special election Tuesday and he is sure to shake up the Senate, eating into Republicans' slim majority ... but probably not before the new year.

Alabama's special election votes will have to be certified over the next few weeks before the winner can take the oath of office.

Winner will have to be certified over the next few weeks

Senate is expected to adjourn by December 22

This means Democrats looking to stop the tax bill making its way through Congress now won't be able to count on Jones to vote against it. Republicans will have current Sen. Luther Strange still in office. Strange will remain in the seat until the new senator is sworn into office.

Republicans currently hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate and after Jones is seated that will drop to 51-49. Vice President Mike Pence can cast tie-breaking votes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated that timeline to reporters Tuesday, saying, "Sen. Strange is going to be here through the end of this session."

Alabama election: Doug Jones scores stunning win over Moore

Why the delay?

Each of the 67 counties will have until December 22 to report the results to the Alabama secretary of state's office.

After receiving the results, the State Canvassing Board -- which includes the governor, secretary of state and attorney general -- will have until January 3 to certify them. Alabama law requires at least two of the three members to be present for the certification.

The secretary of state's office told CNN before the election they expect to certify the results between December 27-29. That is contingent upon every county reporting their results on time. The office noted that a delay from one of the 67 counties could delay final certification.

Assuming all results are reported on time, Alabama can notify the Senate immediately, which would allow the winner to be sworn in at that time.

The governor and secretary of state must sign and send the secretary of the Senate a certificate of election for the new senator, according to rule two of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

Unfortunately for Jones, the Senate should be out of session at that point. It is expected to be in recess on December 22 or earlier -- depending on how it handles the tax bill and funding for the federal government. It is scheduled to reconvene on January 3 -- the last day the state has to legally certify the results.

The one caveat is if congressional negotiators fail to reach a deal on government spending and Congress is forced to stay in session between Christmas and New Year's Day. While that is a possibility, chances are greater that Congress would agree to keep the government funded until sometime in early January, allowing lawmakers and their staffs to be home over the holidays.

The vice president, in his role as president of the Senate, typically swears in new senators. A surrogate can be designated, should he become unavailable to perform this duty. He will administer the oath, in which the senator-elect promises to "support and defend the Constitution."

Once the oath is taken, Jones will officially be a senator.

Note: An earlier version of this story was published before the election Tuesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 513622

Reported Deaths: 10264
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34892556
DeSoto33234432
Hinds32638641
Jackson24854389
Rankin22507403
Lee16337242
Madison14922283
Jones14113247
Forrest13766259
Lauderdale12270324
Lowndes11305193
Lamar10659140
Pearl River9719244
Lafayette8846143
Hancock7836132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7210138
Monroe7010179
Pontotoc6990109
Warren6863178
Panola6759134
Neshoba6730210
Marshall6678141
Bolivar6445151
Union638297
Pike5928156
Alcorn5879107
Lincoln5530136
George510180
Prentiss503884
Tippah491482
Itawamba4844107
Scott477899
Adams4768125
Tate4756116
Leflore4729144
Copiah456495
Yazoo456491
Simpson4546117
Wayne443072
Covington433695
Sunflower4299106
Marion4277112
Coahoma4237109
Leake413990
Newton395781
Tishomingo383593
Grenada3777109
Stone365866
Jasper340666
Attala338290
Winston317892
Chickasaw315467
Clay312278
Clarke301195
Calhoun285049
Holmes271889
Smith269052
Yalobusha243947
Tallahatchie231553
Greene224749
Walthall221666
Lawrence218740
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster205348
Noxubee188742
Montgomery181657
Carroll174541
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152939
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134338
Humphreys131239
Franklin125529
Quitman107628
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65221
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845284

Reported Deaths: 16116
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161552006
Mobile742111380
Madison53307732
Shelby38338368
Baldwin38085589
Tuscaloosa36022641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25562263
Calhoun22586518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20018517
Marshall18782316
Houston17731425
St. Clair16884358
Limestone16148218
Cullman16054303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14989306
Talladega14196299
DeKalb12972269
Walker12030380
Blount10717192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10162194
Coffee9417192
Colbert9342208
Dale9020191
Tallapoosa7256201
Russell708165
Chilton7018170
Escambia6957143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5406130
Dallas5285209
Pike5119109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369580
Butler3435100
Marengo342493
Monroe337266
Randolph334867
Pickens333188
Fayette330385
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317863
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244864
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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