Republican Scott Brown on Thursday took over the Senate seat long held by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts as lawmakers from both parties were cautiously optimistic that his supermajority-busting victory could lead to some bipartisanship after months of a politically bruising health care overhaul battle.
One of Mr. Brown’s first votes is likely to be cast in coming days on a procedural motion to start work on a jobs bill that could generate support from lawmakers of both parties.
The swearing-in was moved up one week at Mr. Brown’s insistence, once the vote tally was finalized in Massachusetts, and gives Republicans the 41st vote they need to block legislation.
“There are a lot of votes pending that I would like to participate in,” Mr. Brown, 50, said of his request, shortly after he was sworn in on the Senate floor by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“And even more importantly,” Mr. Brown added, these “are urgent times for our nation.”
Democratic leaders have not released the details of what the jobs bill would include, but Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee were working together on it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said early in the day Thursday that Democrats would pursue their own bill if they couldn’t come to agreement with Republicans.
“We do believe very emphatically that we are going to be able to have a bipartisan bill here Monday,” said Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat. “If not, we’re going to have one that we come up with ourselves.”
Democrats did not introduce a bill before they recessed for the weekend on Thursday evening, putting that timeline in question.
Nevertheless, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Democrats have issued an “open invitation” to Republicans to work on a jobs bill.
“We think that we have three or four areas that most people agree will create jobs quickly - good-paying jobs right here in America,” he said.
The bill - or package of bills - is expected to include tax incentives to companies that hire and funding for infrastructure projects, among other measures designed to create jobs, as well a provision extending unemployment insurance.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and member of the Finance Committee, suggested that the bill could generate Republican support.
“I think my colleagues should support it,” he said.