By Mike Lillis - 11/05/11 10:00 AM EDT
Amid a tough battle for reelection, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) used the Republicans' weekly radio address to tout his bipartisan credentials and bolster his image as an anti-Washington maverick.
"When the citizens of Massachusetts sent me to the United States Senate last year, they expected me to work with anyone in any party for the good of our country," Brown said. "And that’s what I do each and every day."
Brown's message struck a much different note than most of this year's Republican radio addresses, which have largely hammered the Democrats on jobs and the economy while drawing sharp lines of distinction between the parties on those issues. Brown's speech, by contrast, was more personal, seeking to distance himself from even leaders in his own party.
"Working to create jobs is one of those challenges that tests us here in Congress," Brown said. "It shows us who we really serve – the party leadership on Capitol Hill, or the people who elected us in the first place, and my attitude is, I answer to my conscience and to my constituents, period."
In another break from the year's endemic partisan bickering, Brown also focused on Congress's few legislative victories – including recently passed trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama – and the bipartisan cooperation they could usher in.
Brown shocked the political establishment in early 2010 when he won a special election to replace the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democratic icon, in the true-Blue state of Massachusetts. Next year, he faces a tough reelection against Elizabeth Warren, a liberal academic who rose to prominence with her push for more consumer protections in the financial services industries.
The Cook Political Report, a well-respected campaign handicapper, rates the Brown-Warren contest a "toss up."
Not that Brown's message Saturday was all a shower of post-partisan flattery. The Massachusetts Republican also pressured Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to repeal a looming requirement that governments withhold 3 percent of their payments to contractors.
Brown, the bill's sponsor, said the measure is a "job killer" that will "take more money out of our economy" amid a fragile recovery when the country "can least afford it."
"As a result, businesses will have less money to hire and pay new workers," Brown said. "The costs of enforcing this unfunded mandate will actually be higher than the revenue it raises by almost eight to one; now only in Washington does this make sense."
Adopted in 2006 by Republicans under George W. Bush, the 3-percent requirement was designed to prevent government contractors from evading their taxes. Amid an outcry from business leaders, however, the rule has been delayed several times and is currently not scheduled to take effect until 2013.
The proposal to repeal the requirement – which the House passed overwhelmingly last month – is supported by President Obama, but Senate Democratic leaders have been reluctant to endorse its offset provision, which would affect Medicaid.
Sen. Richard Durbin (Ill.), the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said Thursday that Democrats hope to alter the funding mechanism and bring the measure to the floor as early as next week.
"The decision pretty much rests with Majority Leader Harry Reid. Are we going to do something for the American people, or are we going to let politics win out again?" Brown said.
"One breakthrough has a way of leading to other breakthroughs. One show of good will has a way of spreading good will," Brown added. "This jobs bill, if we move it forward, can be followed by many more that can do even greater good. So hey, let’s start here. Let’s get this economy creating jobs once again, and show that we can come together when it’s needed most."
On Thursday, the Senate shot down a $60 billion jobs package designed to bolster the country's crumbling transportation infrastructure. The bill represented a portion of President Obama's sweeping $447 billion jobs proposal, which Senate Republicans – citing a tax hike on America's richest people – blocked last month.
Joining GOP leaders, Brown voted against both proposals.