It’s official: Franken makes 60 for Dems

Former comedian Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenVirginia can be better than this Harris off to best start among Dems in race, say strategists, donors Virginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message MORE officially became Minnesota’s junior senator on Tuesday, continuing his policy of silence and seriousness but giving the Democratic Party a critical 60-seat Senate majority.

Franken was sworn in twice by Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenHarry Reid says he won’t make 2020 endorsement until after Nevada caucus Hillary Clinton met with Biden, Klobuchar to talk 2020: report The Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down MORE, first officially in the Senate chamber and then again in a mock ceremony down the hall in the Old Senate Chamber for photographers. He was accompanied by his wife, Frannie, his son Joe, his daughter Thomasin, his brother-in-law Neal, sister-in-law Carla, fellow Minnesota Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHarry Reid says he won’t make 2020 endorsement until after Nevada caucus Gillibrand to appear on Fox News Monday night Overnight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run MORE (D) and former Vice President Walter Mondale (D). Minnesota Reps. Jim Oberstar (D) and Collin Peterson (D) also made brief appearances.

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Wearing a dark suit and a dark red-striped tie, Franken played it straight and avoided his trademark humor — leaving comic relief to Biden. Several minutes late to the swearing-in ceremony, the vice president said loudly upon entering the Old Senate Chamber, “It’s Schumer’s fault,” referring to Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.).

Franken did not speak to reporters, but ate lunch with his new Democratic colleagues and has an open-house event for Minnesota constituents planned for Wednesday. He is eligible to vote on Senate business immediately.

As expected, Franken has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee, Indian Affairs Committee and Aging Committee. He will also sit on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee once the panel finishes marking up the healthcare reform legislation.

Mondale, who in 2002 briefly ran for the seat that Franken wrested from Republican Norm Coleman after an eight-month legal battle, told The Hill that Franken will be a “very strong, very smart” senator.

“This two-year campaign, as tough as it's been, has made him tougher and more ready to get started here,” he said. “He and Amy will make a great team.”

Asked if Franken may have to struggle for legitimacy because of his background as a comedian, Mondale simply noted that celebrities are no strangers to the Senate.

“The details are different, but there’s a lot of them here,” he said. “Are they here to repeat an old career, or are they here to be senators? I don’t think Franken has left any doubt that he’s here to be a serious senator. That will be accepted.”

Klobuchar, who was Minnesota’s sole senator during the past eight months, also said Franken isn’t in the Senate for laughs.

“He’s going to buckle down and get back to work. That’s what he’s told me, and you can already see it happening,” she said. “If people from the national media expected some laugh riot, that’s not how he’s been through the campaign, that’s not how he’s been the last six months. He’s just going to get to work.”