President Obama has a new foe for his Democratic Party-led national health care reform agenda as Massachusetts voted on Tuesday to elect the Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate.
Obama issued a congratulatory statement to the winner last night, vowing to work with him on the state's economic woes. With the victory, however, Senate Democrats lose a 60 vote majority in the 100 member chamber which had defended against attempts to block bills with filibusters.
Brown, who came from behind to score a surprising victory, will replace the late Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy, who had championed the health reform changes favored by the President.
The top priority on Brown's agenda during the campaign included strong opposition to Obama's proposed health care reforms currently being considered in Congress. He has vowed to vote against it, saying that while he favors expanding health care coverage, he opposes raising taxes and government spending to achieve it. He is seeking to improve health care in the U.S. by supporting measures that would strengthen the private market system and lower costs.
While separate versions of a health bill have already been approved by the Senate and House of Representatives, both chambers must still vote for a final, reconciled version, before it can be sent to the President for his signature so it can become law.
The President did not did not mention health care in his congratulatory remarks.
The President told Senator Brown that he looks forward to working with him on the urgent economic challenges facing Massachusetts families, chief White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a released statement Tuesday evening.
However on Wednesday, Obama urged lawmakers not to rush any legislation before Brown could be seated as his state's new senator.
Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated, Mr. Obama said during an interview with ABC News.The people of Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process.
Brown's opponent, Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakley, had favored the President's health care agenda as a top priority. She lost but a sizable lead to Brown, conceding victory to her rival last night.
She was urged by the President on Tuesday to continue her advocacy on behalf of working people.
Last updated 5:39 p.m.