Mark Kelly Sworn In to Senate, Shrinking GOP Majority

Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly was sworn in to the U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon, shrinking the Republican majority and likely dooming President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve.

Republicans now hold a 52-48 majority in the chamber. Since three Republicans oppose Shelton and no Democrats support her, any hope of confirming her this year depends on enough of those senators being absent. Trump could nominate Shelton again next year, but the new Congress would have just a few legislative days to act before Trump leaves office Jan. 20.

Mark Kelly Sworn In to Senate, Shrinking GOP Majority

Kelly, a former astronaut and combat pilot, defeated Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat formerly held by Republican John McCain, who died in 2018. McSally had narrowly lost the state’s other Senate seat to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

Kelly’s win was a rare bright spot for Senate Democrats who had hoped to flip enough seats to take back control of the chamber they lost in the 2014 election. Democrats still have a chance to gain the majority if they defeat two Republican senators in Georgia’s unusual double runoff elections next month. That would give them 50 votes with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to cast tie-breaking votes after she takes office Jan. 20.

Kelly become a national advocate for gun safety measures after his wife, former Democratic Representative Gabby Giffords, was shot in the head in 2011. He will serve out the remaining two years of McCain’s six-year term and face voters again in 2022, when the state will once again be a likely electoral battleground.

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