WASHINGTON – Sen.-elect Scott Brown came to Congress Thursday, proclaiming Washington needs help in solving U.s. problems because “we’ve sort of lost our way.”
Still basking in the glow of his stunning victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election, Brown said he looks forward to getting to work. “I plan to look at every bill and make a rational decision,” said Brown, speaking to reporters outside a Senate office building after he arrived in Washington.
For all the hubbub, Brown said he held great respect for Sen. Edward Kennedy, the man who held the seat from his election in 1962 until his death in August from brain cancer.
“I’m stepping into shoes that are very, very big,” Brown during a meeting with Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the late senator’s son.
The pickup truck-driving candidate who caught the imagination of Massachusetts voters called Washington “the best place in the world when it comes to solving problems,” if the system is working properly.
He immediately went to visit Sen. John McCain, a Republican and a staunch campaign supporter, and also had visits scheduled with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican Massachusetts Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Paul Kirk. Kirk has Temporarily filled Edward Kennedy’s seat. Kerry will be Brown’s partner in policy affecting Massachusetts.
Asked to say precisely what he hopes to accomplish here, Brown replied, “I’m certainly not in favour of higher taxes and cutting Medicare half a trillion.” Medicare is the government-funded health care plan for the elderly.
Inside McCain’s office, Brown said he expects to be sworn in sometime next week.
Surveying the crush of cameras and reporters, Brown said, “It’s a little overwhelming seeing you all here. I understand it will calm down and we can all get to work.”
He added: “People want good government. They want transparency, they want us to solve problems.”
Kerry, who is recovering from hip replacement surgery, joked that he wanted to compete in a triathlon with Brown. Kerry said he doubted that the bitter Senate race in Massachusetts would prevent the two men from working together.
“I look forward to having a good, working, friendly relationship,” Kerry said.
The timing of Brown’s swearing-in remained in question. While Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin sent a letter to the Senate clerk Wednesday declaring him the unofficial winner of the seat, senators had to decide whether they were going to waive a waiting period for absentee ballot arrivals.
There was almost a movie-like quality about Brown as he reflected earlier on his win. Not only did he beat a better-known rival, but he also did so in one of the most Democratic states in the country and in a battle over the seat Kennedy held for nearly a half-century.
The victory will give the Republicans the 41st Senate vote in the 100-member Senate they need to use parliamentary tactics to block legislation, while it will cost Obama the 60-vote supermajority he had been counting on to power through his health care overhaul and the remainder of his agenda.