By Ramsey Cox
Cory Booker (D) was sworn-in by Vice President Biden on Thursday as the new senator from New Jersey.
“I trust that serving in the United States Senate will be one of the most rewarding things in his life,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. “I feel so elated that he will be serving here. ... We're so fortunate to have him here.”
Booker, who served as mayor of Newark, N.J., defeated his Republican opponent Steve Lonegan earlier this month, giving Democrats back a seat in the Senate. They now have a total of 55.
He will be a critical “yes” vote when the Senate is expected to take up a same-sex rights bill next month. It’s unclear if Democrats have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which bans workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Booker will meet with President Obama at the White House later this afternoon.
Booker’s mother was in the gallery watching her son's swearing-in. Reid pointed out that the newly-installed senator's father recently died during the campaign.
Reid listed Booker's political and academic achievements but joked that his athletic accomplishments are equally great.
"For me, a frustrated want-to-be-athlete, his most impressive qualification was he was a tightend for one of the great Stanford football teams," Reid said.
Biden was also caught accidentally calling Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who escorted Booker to the gavel, "Frank."