WASHINGTON - Congress convened Wednesday to welcome a pair of new Democratic senators – Alabama’s Doug Jones and Minnesota’s Tina Smith. They were sworn in just after noon.
Jones, a former federal prosecutor, became the first Democratic senator to represent Alabama in 25 years. He beat former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore by more than 20,000 votes in a result certified by officials last week.
Jones’s victory came after multiple women accused Moore, who was considered a favorite to replace Sessions, of sexual misconduct. Several women told reporters that they were teenagers when Moore made inappropriate sexual advances toward them.
Moore has denied the allegations.
Jones was sworn in to replace Luther Strange, who took office in February 2017 after President Donald Trump chose then-Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton named Smith as Al Franken’s replacement last month after the congressman announced his intent to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women. Smith served as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor before Wednesday, a position she had held since 2015.
Franken said last month that Smith would “be an effective senator who knows how to work across party lines to get things done for Minnesota.”
Franken announced last month that he would resign after multiple women accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior. Several women told reporters Franken groped them as they posed for photos with him, and at least two women alleged he forcibly kissed them.
Many of the alleged incidents happened before Franken became a senator in 2009, although at least two were alleged to have happened after he was sworn in.
He was one of at least four federal lawmakers who announced plans to leave office amid sexual misconduct allegations as the “#MeToo” movement encouraged women to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault.
Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations and said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announced last month that he would not seek re-election after the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into allegations that he made explicit remarks to a former aide and retaliated against her for complaining, according to the Austin American-Statesman. A week earlier, reports surfaced that he settled he settled a lawsuit the aide brought against him with $84,000 of taxpayer money. Farenthold has since said he will pay back the Treasury with his own money.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last month that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.
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