With the start of the Second Session of the 115th Congress, Republican control of the U.S. Senate shrunk to a narrow 51-49 margin on Wednesday with the swearing-in of Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama, as Democrats again celebrated their upset victory in the Yellowhammer State, which prevented controversial Republican Roy Moore from going to Capitol Hill.
Signaling the importance of the victory to Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden – who served in the Senate – escorted Jones to his swearing-in.
Jones replaced Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who lost to Moore in a hotly contested GOP primary runoff, giving Democrats an unexpected chance at a special election victory in December.
Along with Jones, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D-MN) officially became a Senator today; she was appointed by the Governor of Minnesota to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who left under a cloud over sexual misconduct allegations.
Smith’s arrival means there are now 22 women in the U.S. Senate, the largest number ever in the history of that legislative body.
Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath to both new Senators, as the ceremonies brought out two former Vice Presidents as well.
Both Biden and former VP Walter Mondale served in the Senate; their time overlapped for a few years in the 1970’s, before Mondale served as Vice President to President Jimmy Carter.