WASHINGTON — US Senator William “Mo” Cowan thanked his staff and the residents of Massachusetts for entrusting him to represent them for five months on Wednesday, and said it was an honor to serve in the upper legislative body as one of eight African-Americans in US history.
The Bay State Democrat was picked by Governor Deval Patrick to fill the seat vacated by John F. Kerry and will make way next month for Senator-elect Edward J. Markey, who won the seat on Tuesday.
Cowan, in what was billed as his final floor speech, praised the Senate, which he said is working well. And Americans who think Congress is broken are wrong, he said.
“If I have been asked any question more frequently than “what are you going to do next, Mo?” it has been, “Is our system of government broken? Is Congress broken?” he said. “No. Our system of government is the greatest ever known and the best example of democracy in human history.”
He then recounted examples from his brief stint.
“In April, I experienced the very best of this body’s character in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings,” he said, “when members from every corner of this nation extended their sympathies, their prayers, and pledged their assistance and support to the city of Boston, and to all those affected by that tragedy. In the aftermath, we all came together as Americans to honor those killed and to support the wounded.”
He continued: “Through the joint leadership of the Gang of 8 we are debating a workable approach to Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We confirmed five Cabinet secretaries.”
He also voted — often.
“And in what will remain the most memorable all-nighter of my Senate career, through a marathon session and more votes in one night than most interim Senators take in the entirety of their tenure, the Senate passed a budget and now anxiously awaits the urgent opportunity to conference with House,” he said.
On a more personal note, he highlighted the many relationships he has built with colleagues in both parties, from Kentucky Republican and Tea Party darling Rand Paul, who he said he swapped stories with about Duke University, to South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, with whom he “discussed the comedic genius of Will Ferrell.”
The back-slapping was returned by fellow lawmakers.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada took the floor after him to recount what a great send-off Cowan received in a meeting of Democratic senators on Tuesday.
“He got two standing ovations,” Reid said. “That’s rare.”
Massachusetts’ senior senator, Elizabeth Warren, who served with Cowan for four of his five months in the Senate, then offered her praise.
“He worked tirelessly to ensure the interests of the people of Massachusetts are represented,” she said.
Now it is Markey’s turn.
“After 37 distinguished years in the House,” Cowan said, “Senator-elect Markey now has the opportunity to offer his voice, wisdom, accumulated experiences, humor, esprit de corps, and tireless commitment to justice and equality to the United States Senate.”
Obama wants chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff to stay
WASHINGTON — President Obama said Wednesday that he is reenlisting Army General Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The president also said he has asked Admiral Sandy Winnefeld to serve another term as Dempsey’s vice chairman.
Obama said Dempsey and Winnefeld are superb officers who have led with ‘‘great distinction, deep conviction, and absolute integrity’’ during the past two years. He said they have earned his trust and that of the American people.
Obama called on the Senate to swiftly reconfirm them. The Armed Services Committee scheduled a hearing on the nominations for July 18.
The president announced his intention in a White House statement issued as he flew to Senegal aboard Air Force Once.
Weiner pulls into lead in race for mayor of New York City
NEW YORK — New Yorkers appear ready to give former US representative Anthony Weiner a second chance as he pursues the Democratic nomination for mayor. Weiner, whose congressional career was derailed two years ago amid a sexting scandal, has pulled ahead of his Democratic rivals in a Wall Street Journal, NBC New York, and Marist survey. Among those he leads is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was ahead of Weiner 24 to 19 percent only last month in another Marist poll.
Twenty-five percent of registered Democrats said they would vote for Weiner, compared with 20 percent for Quinn, according to the poll released Tuesday night.
Trailing were Bill Thompson with 13 percent, Bill de Blasio with 10 percent, and John Liu with 8 percent. Twenty-four percent of those polled said they were undecided.
The Democratic primary is Sept. 10.
To win the nomination in the heavily Democratic city, a candidate must secure 40 percent of the vote or face a runoff.