Reid Vows to Seat Brown as Party Expresses Disappointment

Posted January 19, 2010 at 9:50pm

Facing pressure from at least one moderate Democrat to suspend work on his massive health care reform bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed Tuesday night to seat state Sen. Scott Brown (R) “as soon as the proper paperwork has been received— to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).Reid’s promise to install Brown — who defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in Tuesday’s Massachusetts special election — appeared to put to rest any suggestion that Democrats might try to stall until after they finish health care reform. Brown’s victory gives GOP Senators 41 votes, enough to sustain a filibuster.At least one Democrat — Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) — rejected that strategy outright Tuesday and urged Reid to postpone health care votes until after Brown is sworn in.“In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Sen.-elect Brown is seated,— Webb said in a statement.Reid acknowledged in a statement of his own that the chamber’s “political math— may have changed, but he argued that Republicans will now be forced to work with the majority.“While Sen.-elect Brown’s victory changes the political math in the Senate, we remain committed to strengthening our economy, creating good paying jobs and ensuring all Americans can access affordable health care. … There is much work to do to address the problems Democrats inherited last year, and we plan to move full speed ahead,— Reid said.“Regardless of the size of their minority caucus, Senate Republicans have always had an obligation to join us in governing our nation through these difficult times. Today’s election doesn’t change that; In fact it is now more important than before for Republicans to work with us rather than against us,— he added.Other Democrats expressed their disappointment.“It goes without saying that we are disappointed in tonight’s result. There will be plenty of time to dissect this race and to apply the lessons learned from it those to come this fall — but in the meantime we will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the American people and we will redouble our efforts to lay out a clear choice for voters this November,— Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said.