As Ronald Reagan might have said, prepositions are stupid things. And one of them got Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) into a heap of trouble after he told local business leaders in Massachusetts last week that he would vote “for” the House-passed GOP budget when it hits the Senate floor.
After a week’s worth of blowback, his staff now says he meant to say he will vote “on” that budget — but he hasn’t yet figured out how.
“He was making the point that political games are being played in Washington, but was not saying how he would vote on the bill, which, as you know, has not come up for a vote in the Senate and is not scheduled to anytime soon,” Brown spokesman Colin Reed said, according to the Newburyport Daily News.
Here’s what Brown told a local chamber of commerce meeting. “The leaders will bring forward [the House GOP] budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail. Then, the president will bring forward his budget, and it will fail. It will be great fodder for the commercials.”
Separately, in remarks that were caught on camera by a Democratic tracker, Brown also said, “Finally we had Congressman Ryan come forth with a budget proposal, thank God, because we haven’t had one in a couple years and that now has forced the debate and forced the President actually to come forth with his budget proposal.”
When the plan was first unveiled, Brown was non-committal, but said “everything is on the table” in deficit negotiations.
“It’s quite confusing how Brown could thank the lord for a plan to end Medicare and then take 7 days to realize he ‘mispoke,’” says Eddie Vale, spokesman for Protect Your Care, a new advocacy group dedicated to fostering support for universal health care. “Seniors deserve a straight answer on if he’s going to end Medicare.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would like to bring the budget to the floor for a vote next week. Aware of how politically toxic a vote in favor of that plan would be for marginal members like Brown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not whipping it.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.