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Massachusetts Senator-elect Comes to Washington

  • Cindy Saine

Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown was greeted with a rock star's welcome at the Capitol Thursday by curious congressional aides and a throng of reporters. Two days after his stunning election victory in the heavily-Democratic state of Massachusetts, Brown met with several Republican and Democratic senate leaders, while President Barack Obama tried to explain the upset victory that has altered the political landscape.

Reporters were waiting for Senate-elect Scott Brown outside the Capitol when he arrived.

Brown said voters in his state of Massachusetts were angry about a lack of transparency in Washington and what he described as "backroom deals" on health care legislation.

"This is the best place in the world when it comes to solving problems, and we've kind of lost our way," said Scott Brown.

Brown's first meeting was with Republican Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Asked if he could find common ground to vote with Democrats on some issues, Brown responded cautiously.

"I'm sure there's things," he said. "I don't want to be premature and say that I am going to be for them on this and that. I obviously want to get here and I want to get a staff, I want to get an office, get a business card and then look at the information and make a proper decision based on the facts."

Brown indicated that the sweeping health care reform legislation backed by President Obama is not one of those common ground issues, saying it is bad for his home state. Brown's election ended the Democrat's control of 60 votes in the Senate, meaning they can no longer pass legislation without opposition Republicans' being able to block it with delaying tactics.

The first casualty of the altered balance of power is likely to be the Democrats' health care reform legislation. Democrats passed bills in both the Senate and the House, over united Republican opposition, but now the two bills have to be merged into one and re-approved in each chamber. Since Democrats' bullet-proof 60-seat majority is now gone in the Senate, some lawmakers have suggested that the House of Representatives should pass the Senate version and send it to President Obama for signing. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected that idea, saying the votes are simply not there.

"In its present form, without any change I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill in the House," said Nancy Pelosi.

Senate-elect Brown also met with the other senator from Massachusetts, Democrat John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004. Kerry said he hated to admit it, but he was not shocked by Brown's victory.

"I saw it coming," said John Kerry.

Senator Kerry said that Brown had been able to tap into voter anger against those in power, and Democrats now hold the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress.

In an interview on ABC News Nightline with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama was asked if the White House was partly to blame for the Democrat's defeat in Massachusetts. Mr. Obama admitted he has made some mistakes.

"If there's one thing that I regret this year, is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us, that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," admitted President Obama.

Democratic politicians across the country are re-grouping in the wake of the Scott Brown surprise, unsure how to move forward on health care, and realizing they need to come up with a new strategy to win over voters between now and mid-term congressional elections in November of this year.

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