Brown elected to Senate seat previously held by Democrat Ted Kennedy
By Chase Stevens ’12
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown was sworn in on the floor of the Senate by Vice President Joe Biden Feb. 4.
Jan. 19 was the day that Senator Brown became the first Republican senator from Massachusetts since 1972.
He announced his intentions to fill the slot of the late Ted Kennedy on Sept. 12, 2008, which was coincidentally his 50th birthday.
Brown won the longtime Democratic stronghold Senate seat on Jan. 19.
With the arrival of a Republican in the Senate and with the loss of a Democrat, the Republicans now have the ability to filibuster bills they do not like.
A bit of political background is necessary to fully understand the terms used.
A filibuster is a political strategy used to indefinitely lengthen debate over a bill.
There are no time limits for speeches given by senators, so they can speak for a long as they want. The longest speech in a filibuster was given by Strom Thurmond, who spoke for over 24 hours.
If a senator can speak long enough, there cannot be a vote on the item.
There is another political move, designed to counter things such as filibusters, called a cloture. When a cloture is enacted, debate on a bill ends within the next 30 hours. In the United States, cloture requires a three-fifths vote.
Senator Brown took the 41st Republican seat in the Senate, meaning that the Democrats no longer have the ability to cloture. This allows Republicans to filibuster bills that they do not want to pass.
While it may seem like a huge blow to the liberal agenda, in reality it is not that damaging. The Democrats still have a big majority in both the House and the Senate.
Not only that, but the United States has a Democrat president.
In addition, filibusters are not always effective.
As stated, Strom Thurmond gave a 24-hour speech during the Republican filibuster of the Civil Rights Bill. As we all know, that obviously still passed.
Sen. Brown is rather overrated.
The media may be having a field day over the fact that the Republicans can filibuster, especially in regard to a health care bill, but filibustering is not that damaging.
Also, Sen. Brown only serves for the rest of the late Ted Kennedy’s term.
Come Nov. 4, 2010, Brown will have to be reelected in order to stay in his senate seat.