WASHINGTON – Scott Philip Brown was sworn in to become the 55th US senator from Massachusetts this afternoon, completing a dizzying several weeks in state and national politics to assume a legendary seat and immediately rejigger the national political climate.
Brown, who is filling the last two years of the late Edward M. Kennedy's term, gives Republicans the 41st vote they would need to block Democratic proposals and nominations, some of which could come within days. Brown was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden.
"Congratulations, senator," Biden said, shaking his hand. Senators stood and gave Brown a round of applause.
Brown, who abruptly changed course on Wednesday, was sworn in a week earlier than even he had been planning. After gaining certification papers this morning from Governor Deval Patrick, Brown flew into Washington and headed for Capitol Hill, carrying suitcases and planning to stay for a while. He was delivered to the Capitol in a Cadillac Escalade, but planned to return to Massachusetts to get his trademark pickup truck and bring it to the capital next week.
Democrats are scrambling to prepare a jobs package that would need bipartisan support to pass next week. Now that Republicans have a 41st vote, they have a hand in shaping it and the direction of the legislation and it will prove to be the first major test of the new dynamics in Washington.
Republican senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa were working with Democrats on a number of proposals that could gain bipartisan support.
Democrats held a news conference today to tout the "Democratic Jobs Agenda," even as they acknowledged they had not yet reached any agreements with Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced there would a vote on a jobs bill on Monday, news that Republicans said came as a surprise to them.
Paul G. Kirk, Jr., who was temporarily appointed to fill the seat, delivered his final remarks today, calling on his colleagues to adopt a more bipartisan tone. He also warned Republicans against misreading the Massachusetts election as a mandate for more partisan combat, and said voters wanted the parties to work together.
Kirk's staff was also packing boxes, making room for Brown's staff to move in. Brown will occupy the same office that Kirk -- and before him, Kennedy -- had been in, at least until office space at the US Capitol is reshuffled according to seniority following November's midterm elections.
Senator John F. Kerry requested to take the desk in the Senate chamber that for nearly half a century belonged to Kennedy, and before that to his brother, President Kennedy when he was a senator.
Brown waited in the Russell Senate Office Building prior to his installation ceremony on the Senate floor.
Earlier in the day, Brown's election was officially certified in a brief procedural hearing at the Massachusetts State House, clearing the way for Brown to go to Washington to take the oath of office.
The independently elected Governor's Council voted 6-0 to accept the official results, which showed that Brown won last month's special election by 107,317 votes.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.