WASHINGTON — It’s a sign of the partisan tensions in the U.S. Senate that moments before Ed Markey was sworn in, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell walked up to the podium and told Vice President Joe Biden that he’d come up there to talk to him, but joked that he didn’t think the two of them ought to be seen in public together.
Accompanying Markey on the Senate floor were Sen. Elizabeth Warren, interim Sen. Mo Cowan, Gov. Deval Patrick and Markey’s House colleagues, Reps. Jim McGovern and Niki Tsongas. In the gallery were 100 Markey guests, including Massachusetts treasurer and candidate for governor Steve Grossman.
Once Markey was officially sworn in, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a tentative deal had been worked out with Republicans over their use of the filibuster. Reid gave the credit to Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, for working out the deal in a series of negotiations that culminated in a four-hour meeting the night before. Democrats agreed to preserve the filibuster, and Republicans agreed to confirm some of President Obama’s appointees.
Ultimately, Republicans joined Democrats in confirming Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That vote was Markey’s first official act as a U.S. senator.
After his ceremonial swearing-in, Markey told reporters he was optimistic that he and his fellow senators would be able to accomplish more than his former colleagues in the House.
“Hopefully we can make the Senate work so that the Senate can work in a way that the House is not working,” Markey said. “That’s my hope.”
Markey told Gov. Patrick and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he would be sitting next to Warren in the Senate, he the most junior member, and she the fourth-most-junior.
“Elizabeth Warren and I are replacing John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and their seniority, which was 75 years,” Markey explained. “So we’re going to partner now to ensure that Massachusetts has the highest quality representation which is humanly possible. We will be the hardest-working delegation in the United States Senate.”
Warren and Markey are the most junior Massachusetts delegation since 1789, when the Senate first convened.