Sherrod Brown is a Democrat, is the senior United States senator of Ohio, which means… he is the longest serving of the two senators from Ohio (every state gets two senators). As a custom, the senior senator has more importance and more power (which means… precedence over other senators, which means… the rank for dibs at committee membership or chairpersonship) than the junior, but of course if the junior belongs to the majority party and the senior is in the minority party, the junior will have far more real, actual power than the senior. In this case, Sherrod is not only the senior, he belongs to the majority party, and that has paid off with a significant role in the Senate.
Sherrod chairs two subcommittees and is a member of 3 committees. Subcommittees report to committees and the committees generate legislation that goes before the senate. Some committees are more important than others, and I would think Appropriations is quite a powerful one, and he is member of that, Veterans Affairs and the Select Committee on Ethics. I suppose committees are formed a number of ways, but they hold hearings to establish a need for legislation, conduct investigations to generate important reports and engage in negotiations to determine how far a proposed measure should go.
Sherrod Brown voted against bills authorizing war in Iraq as a Representative and any funding for it, caving as a Senator when extending unemployment compensation and educational benefits for veterans hinged on passage of a war funding bill.
Sherrod Brown is for LGBT rights. In 1996 as a Representative he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was championed by then-President Bill Clinton, a fellow Democrat. As a senator, he voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), a move championed by fellow Democrat President Barack Obama. It was originally put into place in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton.
Sherrod Brown is for direct assistance spending. He argued that extending unemployment benefits generates $190 of economic activity for every $100 spent.
For healthcare issues, he voted for the health care package under Obama. Under Bush, he co-sponsored with senator Sam Brownback, Republican from Arkansas, an incentive package to get U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers to develop cures to diseases found in the tropics, like African Sleeping Sickness, malaria and tuberculosis. Both bills became laws with the signature of the respective acting Presidents.
What made Sherrod Brown a newsmaker with the right wing press is a speech he made on the Senate floor against the Republicans at the state level stripping union rights from employees of state government. He noted that dictators always outlaw independent unions, citing how Hitler and Stalin, and Hosni Mubarak, banned them, as one of their first acts of absolute power. Sherrod Brown apologized for his speech, admitting that being anti-union isn’t nor ever has been limited to famous dictators.
The Republican push to strip union rights of state employees in states they won majorities in and governorships of at the state level in the recent mid-term election has been big news for all of March of 2011.