Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) delivered a stinging rebuke of partisanship and Capitol Hill gridlock on the Senate floor today that seemed squarely aimed at an election 13 months away.
Emphasizing that Members of Congress are “Americans first,” as opposed to Republicans or Democrats, Brown called for bipartisan jobs legislation that could be passed by both chambers and signed into law.
He questioned how any Senator could always vote on the party line and bemoaned the practice of forcing votes on bills that lack the support to ever become law.
“Governing wisely doesn’t mean spending all of our time politicking” or forcing “uncomfortable votes, putting those votes in the bank for more petty attacks during the election,” Brown said.
“But why else would we spend hours and days trying to ram through one-sided bills that can’t pass, simply to highlight our differences?” he asked rhetorically.
Brown voted with the GOP 78 percent of the time in 2010, according to numbers compiled by Congressional Quarterly.
He faces a tough re-election landscape in Democratic Massachusetts and is working to position himself as an independent voice for the Commonwealth.
Brown also appears to be attempting to tap into Massachusetts voters’ substantial dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C., and the country’s direction.
Noting the responsibility that constituents have given each of the Members, he said the partisanship and gridlock was letting folks back at home down.
“With every petty attack, they get more cynical and expect less and less from the people who serve in this great and historic chamber. And while Washington bickers, their faith in our democracy is waning,” he said.
The late September poll of 1,005 Bay Staters showed Brown almost neck and neck with Harvard University professor Elizabeth Warren, the frontrunner in the Democratic contest to take on Brown. Warren pulled 38 percent of registered voters, while Brown took 41 percent.
In a key metric of Brown’s ability to pull in enough voters to win in November 2012, 50 percent of those polled said they thought “Scott Brown has been an independent voice for Massachusetts.” That’s a number to watch over the coming months.
In late 2010, the most recent statistics available from the Massachusetts secretary of state, just more than half of registered voters were unenrolled with either party. Thirty-six percent were registered Democrats and just 11 percent were Republicans.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee knocked Brown’s attempt to paint himself as an independent.
“It’s going to be a rude awakening for Scott Brown when he tries to put his barn coat back on and finds he’s got an extreme Republican record in Washington to wear as well,” DSCC spokesman Shripal Shah said. “Brown may pretend he’s a moderate, but the fact is he puts oil company CEOs and wealthy special interests ahead of middle-class families.”
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.