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Mark Kelly Joins the Senate

Retired astronaut sworn in by Mike Pence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2020 4:03 PM CST

(Newser) – There is an astronaut in the Senate again. Sen. Mark Kelly, who flipped the Arizona seat held by Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a special election last month, was sworn in Wednesday to serve the remaining two years of late Sen. John McCain's term, CNN reports. He was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence at a ceremony attended by his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in 2011. He was also joined by their two daughters and his twin brother, fellow NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. Arizona now has two Democratic senators for the first time since 1953. Kelly, 56, will be able run for a full six-year term in 2022. The GOP's Senate majority has been reduced to 52-48 for the rest of the lame duck session.

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In remarks earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the chamber's newest senator, Politico reports. "It may not be the role he expected for himself earlier in his life," Schumer said. "As Mark likes to say, his wife Gabby was already the member of the family in Congress. But tragedy upended both of their lives, and changed so many of their plans." Kelly tweeted Tuesday that his family had paid their respects at McCain's grave that morning, the Washington Post reports. "Senator McCain has been a hero of mine since I was a young pilot," Kelly said. "He left a legacy of service to Arizona and country that can’t be matched, but that we should all strive towards." (Read more Mark Kelly stories.)

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