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Sen.-elect Scott Brown is poised to become Sen. Brown late Thursday afternoon.
A 5 p.m. swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for the Massachusetts Republican at the U.S. Senate after Gov. Deval Patrick officially signed and certified Brown's special election victory on Thursday morning. Brown resigned from his state Senate seat an hour later.
A Timetable Change
The sudden seating comes as a surprise. Brown had previously agreed to be sworn-in a week later, on Feb. 11. On Wednesday, however, counsel for the senator-elect sent a letter to the governor and Secretary of State William Galvin requesting immediate certification to accommodate the moved-up timetable.
Reached on the phone, Brown told WBUR simply, "I want to do my job, and it's been two weeks."
There has also been pressure on Brown from talk radio pundits and right-leaning groups, who have pushed for the senator-elect to be seated now, rather than take three weeks off following the Jan. 19 election. One commentator even chided him for a "three-week victory lap."
Brown's new-found urgency could also be due to the Senate's proposed calendar. The Wednesday letter said Brown “has been advised there are a number of votes scheduled prior to that (Feb. 11) date.”
Right now, the most important vote on the calendar is one to confirm Craig Becker, an Obama administration nominee for the National Labor Relations Board. Senate Republicans have been trying to block this appointment because they believe Becker, an AFL-CIO lawyer, is biased toward unions. Brown becomes the Republicans' 41st Senate vote, denying Democrats of a filibuster-proof majority.
Another significant schedule consideration is President Obama's jobs bill, which is expected to come before the Senate next week. The proposal is slated to include tax credits for hiring small businesses and infrastructure spending, and Republicans are watching to see that it is not just what they call, "another big government spending bill."
Brown has said that he does not favor secondary stimulus because, he said, the only thing the first bill stimulated was big government. On the other hand, Brown said he would favor the tax credit idea for small businesses.
Building A Staff
In part, the original swearing-in date was designed to give Brown enough time to build his staff. The Republican has 28 positions to fill in Washington and eight to fill in Boston. Thus far, it has been reported that Brown has hired three staff members, most notably his chief of staff.
Brown has named Steven Schrage, former Deputy Secretary of State under Colin Powell, as his chief of staff. Schrage will oversee the Senate offices in Washington and Massachusetts, Brown's campaign office announced in a statement Thursday.
Brown has also named a communications director, Gail Gitcho. While she might not be familiar to Massachusetts residents, Gitcho is very well-known in national Republican circles, as she was the national press secretary for the Republican National Committee and was a regional press secretary for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. It appears that Romney's people are working closely with Brown to make staffing decisions.
Brown has also said he would consider retaining some of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's staff, and he's already announced he is keeping Kennedy's immigration expert. But many of the Kennedy staffers have indicated they are retiring or moving on to other jobs.
The Kennedy Seat, Not The Desk
For a short time, Brown will retain one further aspect of Kennedy's — the Democrat's expansive office.
After being sworn-in, the new senator will occupy Kennedy's space, which is very close to the Senate chamber, until November's general elections. At that point, he will be entered into a lottery and get bumped as a result of existing hierarchy.
The office, however, will come without Kennedy's desk. That is being claimed by Massachusetts' new senior senator, John Kerry.
Kerry will also play a role in Thursday's ceremony, as tradition dictates that Kerry escort his new colleague down the Senate aisle, where Vice President Joe Biden will administer the oath. The rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation — all Democrats — should also be in attendance.
Click "Listen Now" to hear the full conversation with Brady-Myerov.
This program aired on February 4, 2010.
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