By Frank James
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) officially ended the Democratic supermajority in the U.S. Senate Thursday when Vice President Joe Biden swore him in to fill the seat previously held for 47 years by political and Democratic icon Sen. Edward Kennedy.
If Brown, whose election a few Tuesdays ago remade the political terrain in the U.S., making it mandatory for Democrats to get at least one Republican vote in order to move any controversial legislation in the Senate and refocusing them on independent voters, had a message, it was that he was all about the business of being a senator. Indeed, in a brief press conference following his swearing in he said in some form that it was time to get down to work:
For instance, asked why he arrived to officially take his seat a week earlier than he had previously led reporters to believe he would, he said:
SEN.-ELECT BROWN: Well, there was no rush. We always were looking at the 11th as a date based on what the secretary of state was indicating. But he finished his certification earlier than expected, and as a result, you know, it's time to get to work.
Another message Brown that wanted out there: he's his own legislator, a maverick, if you will.
Asked if he would be a vote against some of President Barack Obama's nominees who've been opposed by other Republican senators, Brown said:
You know, I'm an independent voter and thinker. I always have been. I'm going to spend some time this weekend looking at everybody's qualifications. And I'll make my decision known when I -- when I vote.
And if there was any doubt about his independent bona fides, he made it clear he wouldn't mind being judged by the company he keeps. He referred to the senate's most famous maverick as his guide.
All I can tell you is that I've had no contact with the leader's office or anyone else. I've spoken to Senator McCain a few times, only because he's somewhat of a mentor and he's been helpful getting the office set up.
Another unmistakable message: he will be a thorn in the side of the Obama White House and Senate Democrats and will no doubt have them soon longing for the days before he became the 41st Republican no vote in the Senate.
Asked about his priority he said:
Well, obviously it's jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Try to figure out how we can get the economy moving again. We have a budget where we have to rely on 40 percent -- we have to borrow 40 percent to even make it work. And that's troubling. So we need to look at the budget, try to figure out how to, you know, get the economy moving again.