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The new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, already has celebrity status in Washington. Republicans filled the Senate chamber for his swearing-in Thursday and are hoping he uses his 41st vote to block some of the Democratic agenda.
Democrats in the Massachusetts delegation pledge to reach out to the lone Republican from the commonwealth — in what, at least for now, is a congenial show of support for the new senator.
Most of the Senate’s Republicans watched from their desks as Scott Brown was escorted up the aisle to the front of the chamber by Democratic Sen. John Kerry and former interim Sen. Paul Kirk. When Brown raised his right hand to take the oath of office from Vice President Joe Biden, he held his daughter’s two Bibles in his left hand.
Brown’s wife, Gail Huff, looked on from the gallery, but his two daughters could not attend because of commitments at college. After Brown took the oath and signed the ledger that every U.S. senator has signed, he was congratulated by the four members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in attendance.
Republican colleagues shook his hand and slapped him on the back. Sen. John McCain gave him a bear hug.
Following the ceremony, Brown faced dozens of reporters who wanted to know his priorities, his view of the president’s budget and whether he will support Republican filibusters. Brown offered few specifics and said he would consider each vote individually. His top priority, he said, would be creating jobs and cutting taxes.
"People back home, I can tell you, were very upset at the amount of spending, not only in Massachusetts," Brown said. "You couple that with the amount of tax dollars that are being spent and sometimes wasted — people are fed up.
"They want the ability ... for people to stop working behind closed doors, have some transparency, to try to solve these very real problems."
Kerry said he hopes to work with Brown on a jobs bill, which Senate Democrats are expected to unveil next week.
"We gotta put people to work, and we're coming up with a jobs bill," Kerry said. "We need to finish health care in the right way, and we need to do these things. So hopefully we'll have a new partner in helping to do these things."
Although both agree that jobs and the economy are their highest priority, it was clear there is a chasm between Brown and his Democratic colleagues. They will have fundamentally different views on many issues. Take the stimulus package, for example. Brown was skeptical another stimulus would create jobs.
"The last stimulus bill didn't create one new job, and in some states the money that was actually released and hasn't even been used yet."
Gov. Deval Patrick’s office says Brown is wrong, that the first stimulus package created thousand of new jobs in the state. Brown says tax cuts are the way to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Although it has been more than 30 years since Massachusetts has had a Republican in Congress, Rep. Ed Markey said he knows how to work across the aisle.
"I was here when Sen. Brook represented Massachusetts. I had the honor of serving with him when I was a young congressman," Markey said. "I hope we can continue that tradition that we identify those issues that are bipartisan, nonpartisan, and we work together."
Rep. Stephen Lynch said he’s already working with Brown, giving him advice on temporary housing in the capital.
"I came in on a special election, as well, and it's a little bit more hectic, because normally you would come in with a whole class and there would be this whole effort, you know, to get people places to live," Lynch said. "But when you come down by yourself in a special election, you're sort of by yourself."
But the next Republican rock star, as one Capitol Hill watcher called Scott Brown, seems comfortable being the new guy in town. People already recognize him in the hallways of the Capitol, and next week he'll be even more at home when he brings the truck down to Washington.
This program aired on February 5, 2010.
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