Massachusetts Message: Republican Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate seat of Edward Kennedy. His victory reduces the Democratic majority to 59, just short of 60 needed to break a filibuster, and puts health care reform in jeopardy. House Democrats indicated they would not quickly approve the Senate’s version of the bill without changes, The New York Times reports.
Debt Panel: Congressional Democrats and the White House have tentatively agreed to create an independent budget commission and to put its recommendations for reducing federal debt to a vote in Congress by the end of the year, the Washington Post reports. The 18-member panel will have broad authority to propose changes in the tax code and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Open Trials: The National Law Journal’s Tony Mauro reports on a U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that strengthened the right to public criminal trials. In a Georgia case, the high court in an unsigned 7 – 2 ruling held that jury voir dire proceedings should be open to defendants and to the public.
On the Hot Seat: The Justice Department has opened a preliminary investigation into actions by Sen. John Ensign (R – Nev.), who arranged to provide money and career assistance to the husband of his mistress, the Washington Post reports.