Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yielded to Republican threats and agreed on Monday not to immediately seat fellow Democrat Al Franken, whose razor-close victory in Minnesota faces legal challenges.
Senate Republicans had planned to disrupt the opening of the new Congress on Tuesday by blocking Franken's swearing-in.
And in another ugly fight, Senate Democrats vowed to block, at least for now, the seating of fellow party member Roland Burris whose appointment by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich carries a whiff of political scandal.
The 57-year old Franken, who gained fame as a writer and performer on the satiric Saturday Night Live television show, on Monday officially was declared the victor by a 225-vote margin by Minnesota state officials from nearly 2.9 million votes cast.
But lawyers for incumbent Republican Norm Coleman complained the recount was conducted unfairly and promised a court challenge that could take weeks to resolve.
"Shortly after Election Day, Coleman criticized Mr. Franken for wanting a recount and wasting taxpayer money. Now that it is clear he lost, Coleman should follow his own advice and not subject the people of Minnesota to a costly legal battle," Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid of Nevada, said in a statement.
"However, there will not be an effort to seat Mr. Franken tomorrow," Manley said.
If both Franken and Burris were sworn in, the Democrats' majority in the normally 100-member Senate would swell to 59 -- their biggest margin in 30 years and just one short of the needed 60 votes to end Republican procedural roadblocks.
Al Franken as Senator of any state is a joke, literally and figuratively, but then Minnesota is the same state that not too long ago elected a wrestler to be their governor. Judging from all the money Franken's rapid left-wing supporters have poured into this recount fiasco and all these court decisions that continue to go against Norm Coleman, something is obviously amiss here. Credibility alone says that this race shouldn't have even been close and thus, Norm Coleman needs to keep fighting, use all available legal options and take it up to SCOTUS if he has to, because there'll be too much at stake if he concedes this farce of an election to a sanctimonious blowhard like Franken.