Alabama's Doug Jones sworn in after historic win

Doug Jones | Photo: MGN Online

The Republican majority in the Senate narrowed to 51-49 on Wednesday as two new Democratic senators were sworn into office, complicating GOP efforts to advance the party's legislative agenda before the 2018 midterm elections.

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 2:31 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican majority in the Senate narrowed to 51-49 on Wednesday as two new Democratic senators were sworn into office, complicating GOP efforts to advance the party's legislative agenda before the 2018 midterm elections.

The current vice president, Mike Pence, administered the oath of office to Doug Jones from Alabama and Tina Smith from Minnesota. Two former vice presidents were there to support the Senate's newest members.

Jones, the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in a quarter century, was escorted to the Senate chamber by former Vice President Joseph Biden, who had headlined Jones' campaign kickoff rally. Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special election rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore.

Smith, the former lieutenant governor of Minnesota, was appointed to replace Al Franken following the Democrat's resignation over accusations of sexual misconduct. She becomes the 22nd woman currently serving in the Senate, a record.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., escorted Smith into the chamber, recalled that he "went through something like this in the good old days." In 1964, Mondale was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy created when Hubert Humphrey was elected vice president.

Jones, 63, will represent one of the most conservative states in the nation and is stressing his desire to work with both parties. He will be under pressure to find some areas of agreement with Republicans and has cited the funding of infrastructure improvements as one possible avenue.

Democrats voiced hopes that the narrowing of the GOP majority would lead to more bipartisanship in dealing with issues.

"We are moving closer and closer to parity, closer and closer to one another, and I hope closer and closer in solving problems," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "I think that was a message of the Alabama election, among other things. The American people want to see us work together."

Jones will take the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Before Sessions, the Senate seat belonged to the man Jones considered his mentor, the late Sen. Howell Heflin. Jones worked for Heflin as a staffer after graduating from law school in 1979. Heflin was the last Democrat to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

During the swearing-in, Jones wore a pair of Heflin's cufflinks. Jones plans to place one of Heflin's cigar boxes in his office.

"To be able to have done the things I've done and end up back here is just a remarkable thing," Jones said in an interview before taking the oath of office. "I am looking forward to getting my feet wet and getting to know my colleagues and jumping into the action."

Jones said he is hopeful that he comes to the Senate with a "little bit of a voice" because of the attention on the Alabama race.

"There are a lot of people who didn't vote for me, and I hope they will keep an open mind because I am going to try to be the best senator I can for the state to try to move the state forward as a whole and not just one particular group or philosophy," he said.

Jones made it clear during the campaign that he was opposed to the GOP's efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act. He said the efforts would drive up costs and lead to the closure of more rural health care facilities in the state. "That is a nonstarter," Jones said.

Smith, 59, served as chief of staff to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton before becoming his No. 2 when the previous lieutenant governor declined to seek a second term.

Smith is known largely as a liberal Democrat who has maintained connections to the state's large and politically powerful business community.

Once the senators took the oath of office, they repeated the event at a ceremony with family and friends in the Old Senate Chamber, once the home to the U.S. Senate and later to the U.S. Supreme Court from 1860 to 1935.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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