Senate committee assignments excite Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren
BOSTON -- Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren says she's "tickled pink" about her committee assignments and is working to build a statewide organization that will let her respond quickly to the concerns of Massachusetts residents.
Warren said Thursday she's excited about getting the chance to tackle big issues like education, health care and the nation's financial challenges after she is sworn into office early in January. She was appointed Wednesday to the committees on banking; aging; and health, education, labor and pensions.
"I'm tickled pink," she said. "These are terrific committees, and they'll give me a chance to serve the people of Massachusetts and the country."
Warren, who defeated Sen. Scott Brown in last month's election, also said she supports a mix of additional tax revenues and spending cuts to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."
"We need a balanced approach, cut spending and raise revenues. Everyone knows this, so it's time to stop the politics and get it done," she said. "Everyone sees what the path is. It's not a problem of not understanding the economics. It's a problem of politics."
Much has been made of Warren's appointment to the Banking Committee, given the Harvard Law School professor's outspoken support of the Obama administration's newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
But Warren said she doesn't necessarily see her role on the committee as inherently confrontational.
"No one doubts where I stand. I believe in transparency and accountability and I hope we're going to see more of both," she said. "There are a lot of different tools in the toolbox for the Banking Committee. I want to learn the most effective ways to help use each of them."
Warren said she's equally excited about serving on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, calling health care and education "two of the principle drivers of the Massachusetts economy."
She pointed to the state's ongoing efforts to curb the spiraling cost of health care, which she said could offer lessons for other states and the nation.
Part of that new model includes rewarding doctors and other health care providers for helping keep people healthy rather than paying them piecemeal for every operation or treatment.
"We are doing cutting-edge research here in Massachusetts, delivering state of the art health care and breaking new ground on the best ways to reduce costs and get better outcomes for people who are sick," she said. "Our biotech industry is the envy of the world."
Massachusetts also provided the blueprint for President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.
Warren said her first job as senator is building what she called her Massachusetts office to respond to the concerns of local residents.
She said she already has a state director and is concentrating on hiring the people she needs to provide direct services to constituents.
Warren also said she has already learned from her time in Washington before jumping into the Senate election that there are a variety of ways to be effective.
"Sometimes it will mean working quietly in the shadows, and other times it will be speaking up forcefully," she said. "I'm willing to do either. I just want to find the way to get things done."
Earlier in the day, Warren attended the opening of the Joint Force Headquarters of the Massachusetts National Guard at Hanscom Air Force.
Gov. Deval Patrick also attended the opening and said the new headquarters will help strengthen the partnership between the National Guard and the Air Force.
The opening comes on the 376th anniversary of the creation of the Massachusetts National Guard in 1636, when it was originally founded as the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Militia.