Is Scott Brown a "different kind of Republican" as he claims or will his Senate service be just another lockstep member of his political party?
That's the question the junior Senator from Massachusetts faces as the Republican takes the seat long occupied by Democratic political icon Ted Kennedy.
Vioe President Joe Biden issued the oath of office to Brown Thursday, giving Republicans 41 votes in the Senate and ending the veto-proof Democratic lock.
Brown says he is an independent but his first comments after officially becoming a Senator was standard Republican rhetoric, reciting party line attacks against the economic stimulus program.
Special legislative favors, especially one designed to secure a Nebraska senator's vote for the embattled health care package, ignited so much public outrage that President Barack Obama is calling them a mistake and House leaders say the bill can't be resurrected unless such sweetheart deals are scrapped.
Obama says Americans were understandably upset by the backroom dealmaking that he called ugly. In a cruel twist, the reaction helped elect a Republican senator in Massachusetts last week, putting the health legislation in peril.
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat, said Tuesday the House may be able to pass the Senate health bill — and salvage Obama's top domestic priority — if the offending items are deleted.
"We've got to get rid of that Nebraska stuff, we've got to get rid of the Louisiana stuff," Clyburn said, referring to provisions inserted to help secure the votes of holdout Democratic senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Congressional leaders are taking health care legislation off the fast track as rank-and-file Democrats, wary of unhappy midterm election voters, look to President Barack Obama for guidance in his State of the Union address.
House and Senate leaders said Tuesday they need time to determine the best way forward on health care in the wake of last week's special election loss in Massachusetts, which cost Democrats their filibuster-proof Senate majority.
Obama is not expected to offer a specific prescription in Wednesday night's speech, but Democrats want to hear him renew his commitment to the health care overhaul he's spent the past year promoting as his top domestic priority.
Sen. John McCain says he will support President Barack Obama's effort to cut federal spending, but that it won't work unless Obama shows a willingness to veto pork-barrel spending.Read More
Amid indications the administration will announce plans this week to cut domestic spending in its budget proposal, McCain said "we need to do so."
But in his appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," the Arizona Republican said that Obama "has got to veto bills that are laden with pork-barrel spending, earmarks." He also said he's determined to vote against another term for Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, "because I believe he was the captain of the ship when it hit the iceberg. He was there at the casino when all the gambling went on and he didn't do anything about it."
The Senate is likely to reject a White House-backed plan to establish a bipartisan task force to recommend steps to curb the deficit, even as lawmakers digest the news that President Barack Obama wants a three-year freeze in the domestic budgets they control.
Fresh numbers arriving Tuesday morning from the Congressional Budget Office are expected to bring continued bad news on the deficit, keeping the pressure on Obama and congressional Democrats to demonstrate they're serious about taking on the flood of red ink.
Buoyed by a big Senate win in Massachusetts and gains in Governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans beat the bushes for new candidates to run for the ever-growing list of competitive seats in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Polls show increasing voter dissatisfaction with the policies of President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership of Congress and Republicans hope to capitalize on that anger.
GOP strategists see growing opportunities for major gains in both the House and Senate, aided by missteps by Obama and Democratic congressional leaders.
Democrats, forever oblivious to the will of American voters, continued to try and save their hopelessly-damaged health care non-reform bill Thursday but any hope for a deal is vanishing into the thin air of political stupidity.
Yet the clueless leaders of the party of the jackass persist.
Republicans, embolded by the upset victory in the Massachusetts special election to fill the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy and polls showing the majority of American people think the bill is a joke, have stepped up their attacks on the bill and Democrats admit privately that they have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to health care and other failings of their Congressional leadership and the faltering agenda of President Barack Obama.
Democrats on Capitol Hill fear the light at the end of the tunnel is the light from a runaway locomotive called voter anger.
The loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat held for so long by Sen. Ted Kennedy has shaken the party of the jackass to its roots. The same voter backlast that put Democrats into control of Congress in 2006 and Obama into the White House in 2008 has turned against them.
They're the party in power now and things haven't changed in Washington. They've gotten worse.
Voters still want to throw the bastards out. Only now the bastards are Democrats.
So doom and gloom roam the halls of Congress.
A panicky White House and Democratic allies scrambled Sunday for a plan to salvage their hard-fought health care package in case a Republican wins Tuesday's Senate race in Massachusetts, which would enable the GOP to block further Senate action.
The likeliest scenario would require persuading House Democrats to accept a bill the Senate passed last month, despite their objections to several parts.
Aides consulted Sunday amid fears that Republican Scott Brown will defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's seat. A Brown win would give the GOP 41 Senate votes, enough to filibuster and block final passage of the House-Senate compromise on health care now being crafted.
Members of the U.S. Congress begin 2010 scrambling to reduce the double-digit U.S. jobless rate, knowing their own jobs will be at stake in the November election if they fail to deliver.
With about one in 10 Americans out of work, the highest percentage in 25 years, President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats -- who control the Senate and House of Representatives -- are making job creation their top priority.
"Americans have a lot of angst, a lot of anger, a lot of fear," said House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer. "Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, all polls show that jobs are the major issue."