Sen. Mark KellyMark KellyOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Arizona attorney general asks for restraining order to block federal vaccine mandate Our military shouldn't be held hostage to 'water politics' MORE (D-Ariz.) was sworn into his Senate seat by Vice President Pence on Wednesday, becoming the first of a new crop of senators set to be sworn in.
Kelly was escorted to the front of the chamber by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Dozens of senators, including Republicans and Democrats, were in the chamber for his swearing-in.
His wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), was in the gallery overlooking the chamber during the ceremony, along with his children and Scott Kelly, his brother.
Mark Kelly won election last month after defeating GOP Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyKelly raises million in third quarter Ruben Gallego is left's favorite to take on Sinema Texas not hiring private contractor for election audit MORE (Ariz.), who was appointed to the seat. President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Dems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing MORE congratulated Kelly on becoming a senator in a tweet Wednesday.
Congratulations to the newest United States Senator @SenMarkKelly. I know he’ll serve the people of Arizona well, and I look forward to working together to build this country back better.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 2, 2020
Kelly is the second Democrat to win a Senate race in Arizona since the mid-1990s. His ascension to the Senate represents the first time Arizona has had two Democratic senators since the early 1950s.
He's also the fourth member of a small group of astronauts-turned-politicians, the first being John Glenn in 1974. Kelly was selected by NASA in 1996, traveling to space four times before he retired as of October 2011.
Kelly's Senate swearing-in means Republicans' 53-47 majority is now narrowed to 52-48 for the rest of the 116th Congress. Which party will control the chamber next year is still in limbo and will be decided by the two Georgia runoff elections.
If Democrats win both races they could force a 50-50 tie, otherwise Republicans will hold 51 or 52 seats.
Kelly's ascension also likely squashes the GOP effort to confirm Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board.
An attempt to confirm Shelton before the Thanksgiving recess ran into a roadblock because of GOP opposition and coronavirus-related absences.
Because three GOP senators — Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (Tenn.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyIn Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line Trump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government MORE (Utah) — oppose Shelton, she does not have the votes to be confirmed unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) can get one of the senators to change their votes or take advantage of a Democratic absence.