Arizona Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly was sworn into the Senate on Wednesday, narrowing Republican control of the chamber and underscoring his state’s shift from red to blue.
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Kelly, 56, defeated GOP Sen. Martha McSally in last month’s election, making her one of only three incumbents to lose. By taking office, he has reduced the Republican edge in the chamber to 52-48.
That will have scant impact on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s control over the chamber for the final month of this congressional session. But it sets the stage for two pivotal Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections in Georgia.
If Democrats win both, they will command the 50-50 chamber for the new Congress that begins in early January because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast tie-breaking votes.
Kelly was sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence, and both men wore masks and bumped arms in congratulations when the oath was over. Arizona’s senior Senator Krysten Sinema joined Kelly for the ceremony on the Senate floor.
Among those watching from the visitors’ gallery were his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who arrived with him at ther Capitol, and Scott Kelly, his twin brother and fellow retired astronaut.