Sen.-elect Warren, Gov. Patrick meet at Statehouse
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts U.S. Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren sat down with Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday as she prepped for her new job in Washington, but was tight-lipped when as quizzed by reporters after the meeting.
Warren declined to say what Senate committees she would like to be assigned to after taking office in January,
She also offered few details about her preferred approach to avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff" facing the nation.
Speaking after a press conference, Warren indicated that some of her reluctance to go into details was out of deference to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who assigns senators to committees.
"I'm still talking to the leader about it because it's the right thing to do," she said.
Asked again about possible committee assignments, she said, "I'm going to make sure it works for Massachusetts and works for the issues we talked about. I'm going to Washington to fight for working families."
Warren is replacing U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who serves on the Armed Services, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Veterans' Affairs and Small Business committees.
Warren also conceded that she's trying to show more restraint in talking about some issues now that the election is over. She said she also tried to show some discretion, even as a candidate.
"Listen, all I can say is I was a lot more discrete as a candidate than I was in real life," she said.
Warren declined to offer many details during the press conference about what she would support to avoid the "fiscal cliff" — a one-two punch of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and major across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs.
"Right now, I think the parties are involved in negotiations," she said.
Warren said she didn't think across-the-board spending cuts to the military was a good idea, and said the nation has an opportunity to reshape military spending, cutting in some areas while spending more on research and development and cybersecurity.
"Here in Massachusetts, we do more of the latter," she said. "I think it's important that we take a national strategy that's good for the country, but I think that's going to be good for Massachusetts, as well."
Warren talked about being one of 20 women who will be sitting in the Senate in January.
"Let's get serious here, this is 2012 and we're talking 20 percent of the United States Senate is female. That's not an overwhelming number yet," she said.
She also outlined the qualities she's looking for as she builds her Senate staff.
"I am looking for people who are smart, who are thoughtful, some should have experience within government and some not," she said. "I think that diversity in building a staff — in every meaning of that word diversity — is a strength."
Warren hasn't always been as reticent about talking about ways to solve the nation's fiscal troubles.
Talking to reporters outside the Broadway MBTA stop in South Boston the morning after her historic win, Warren vowed to tackle the nation's debt by pushing a "balanced approach" of spending cuts and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Warren said agricultural subsidies are among the spending cuts she'd support. She also said that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the nation should use some of the billions it's been spending on those conflicts to bring down the debt.
During the campaign, Warren said she would extend the so-called Bush-era tax cuts that expire on Dec. 31 for middle-income taxpayers, but wants the cuts to expire for those with annual incomes of $250,000 or more. She also supports the so-called Buffett rule, which would require those earning $1 million a year or more to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. Warren supports the rule.
During her Statehouse visit, Warren also met with House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, state Auditor Suzanne Bump and state Treasurer Steven Grossman.
Warren then visited Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who threw his support behind her candidacy and helped her run up big victory margins in the state's largest city.
That meeting took place at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where Menino is recuperating from a viral infection and a compression fracture in his back.