The Senate cleared the way for passage of a $15 billion jobs bill on Monday, securing a legislative accomplishment for Democrats. Notably, five Republican Senators joined in voting to proceed on the bill, including the newly elected Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Meanwhile, state-level Republicans are clamoring for funding from the jobs bill and from the Democrat-championed stimulus. And retiring Senate Democrat Evan Bayh has launched a crusade to end the filibuster. No one is seriously suggesting that Congress is about to transform into a friction-free land of bipartisanship, but could Republicans be inching away from their strategy of steadfast obstructionism?
- Brown Brings Change to Congress The Washington Post's Dana Milbank muses that Brown's election "was supposed to bring a seismic change to national politics. It did just that Monday night, but not in the way Republicans had hoped." Milbank thinks Brown could lead other Republicans across the sharp partisan divide that has prevented the GOP from joining Democrats. He quotes Brown, who said after his vote, "I'm not from around here. I'm from Massachusetts."
- The GOP Senators Who Will Vote Democratic Nate Silver foresees a new coalition of four Republican Senators who will reliably join Democrats. "I can't help but wonder if someone like [moderate Republican Senator] Olympia Snowe is going to be more inclined at the margins to support Democratic pieces of legislation when she knows they can't pass without her support and that it will no longer suffice simply to blame Democrats for their own problems." With Delaware Republican Mike Castle likely to join the Senate in November, Silver suggests Castle, Brown, and the two Maine Republicans could be counted on.
- Return of Republican Moderates The Associates Press's Andrew Taylor says they're back. Unlike their hard-line counterparts in the South and West, Republican Senators from New England and the Rust Belt could be courted by Democrats to occasionally join on such measures as the jobs bill or infrastructure spending.
- Could Be One-Time Thing The New York Times' Carl Hulse writes of the jobs bill, "With the midterm elections already revving up and the parties facing deep ideological divides over a host of issues, there was no evidence that Monday's vote was the beginning of a trend." However it is an important symbolic victory for Democrats, especially President Obama. "Facing an erosion of support for Mr. Obama among independent voters who say they are not seeing the change that the president promised to bring to Washington, the White House has been looking for opportunities to show that the president can help transcend partisanship."
- Brown Still Welcome in GOP Conservative blogger Dan Riehl writes, "When Scott Brown starts crafting national health care legislation, or sounding like the liberal lion of the Senate, get back to me. Until then, it's Massachusetts. We're still a long way ahead on the deal. Winning the seat was more than worth it."
- Will Tea Party Turn on Brown? Charles Johnson, a formerly conservative blogger, thinks that the Tea Party movement that helped launched Brown to office could turn against the new Senator if he continues to join with Democrats. The "Tea Party Honeymoon Is Over," he writes. "Oops. Scott Brown voted the wrong way on the Senate jobs bill, and now he has tea party heartache."