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Astronaut Mark Kelly is sworn in as Arizona senator with wife Gabby Giffords at his side

Astronaut Mark Kelly is sworn in as Arizona senator with wife Gabby Giffords at his side – narrowing Republican senate majority to 52-48

  • Mark Kelly was sworn in as Arizona’s new Democratic senator by Vice President Mike Pence at the Capitol Tuesday
  • He won a special election last month against Republican Martha McSally and will serve out the rest of late Senator John McCain’s term in 2022
  • His swearing-in narrows the Republican Senate majority to 52-48 
  • The former astronaut was joined by wife Gabby Giffords, who served as a Democratic congresswoman for Arizona’s 8th congressional district
  • Giffords resigned in 2012 following a sever brain injury as the result of an assassination attempt

Mark Kelly was sworn in as Arizona‘s new Democratic senator Wednesday and will serve out the rest of the late Republican Senator John McCain’s term – decreasing Republicans‘ majority to 52-48.

The once-astronaut who’s married to former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords, won the Senate special election last month and will have to run again in 2022 to keep his seat.

Giffords joined her husband for the swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

The former congresswoman resigned from office in 2012 after suffering a sever brain injury following an assassination attempt in the form of a mass shooting during an event with constituents of Arizona’s 8th congressional district.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly (left) was sworn in as Arizona’s new Democratic senator by Vice President Mike Pence (right) at the Capitol Tuesday. He was joined by wife and former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords 

Pence made small talk ahead of the ceremonial swearing-in, where he made reference to Kelly's work as an astronaut and congratulated him on his Senate victory

Pence made small talk ahead of the ceremonial swearing-in, where he made reference to Kelly’s work as an astronaut and congratulated him on his Senate victory

Kelly was a Captain in the U.S. Navy and NASA astronaut since the mid 1990s

Kelly was a Captain in the U.S. Navy and NASA astronaut since the mid 1990s

Here Kelly (right) is preparing for a third spacewalk while station on the International Space Station

Here Kelly (right) is preparing for a third spacewalk while station on the International Space Station

Back at the Capitol: Giffords served as the Democratic congresswoman for Arizona's 8th congressional district from 2007-2012

Back at the Capitol: Giffords served as the Democratic congresswoman for Arizona’s 8th congressional district from 2007-2012

Giffords and Democratic Senator Doug Jones greet each other

Giffords and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow exchanged words

She was welcomed back to the Capitol, safely by touching elbows, by several Democratic lawmakers present for the swearing-in

Kelly and Giffords were joined by their daughters Claudia and Claire Kelly and Kelly's identical twin brother Scott Kelly (left speaking with Pence), who is also an astronaut

Kelly and Giffords were joined by their daughters Claudia and Claire Kelly and Kelly’s identical twin brother Scott Kelly (left speaking with Pence), who is also an astronaut

The couples arrives at the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony

The couples arrives at the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony

Stay Safe: Kelly and Senator Cory Booker touch elbows outside the Capitol in the new way of greeting each other in the midst of the coroanvirus pandemic

Stay Safe: Kelly and Senator Cory Booker touch elbows outside the Capitol in the new way of greeting each other in the midst of the coroanvirus pandemic 

Giffords made her first major public remarks since her injury at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Kelly and Giffords stopped at John McCain’s grave to pay their respects before heading to Washington, D.C. for the swearing in.

Shortly after Kelly was officially sworn-in on the Senate floors, he and his family gathered in the Old Senate Chamber and were joined by Pence for the ceremonial swearing-in.

Pence made small talk about Kelly’s military service as a combat pilot before saying, ‘This is an honor for me. Congratulations.’

‘You’ll be an invaluable voice building on the progress we’ve made,’ Pence said in reference to Kelly’s astronaut background. ‘We’ve gotten the human space exploration back rolling where it needs to be.’

Giffords, who served in the House with Pence for a few years, made a brief, celebratory ‘woo!’ sound and arm movement after the ceremonial swearing-in.

While leaving Capitol Hill, Kelly answered his first press question as a senator in claiming it’s important to pass the next coronavirus stimulus before January.

‘Compromise is always a positive thing and we need a bipartisan approach to this. I don’t think it should wait till January,’ he said. 

Kelly defeated Republican Senator Martha McSally, who served in the interim between McCain’s death and the special election. Beforehand, McSally served as a congresswoman for Arizona’s 2nd congressional district.

The Arizona Senate seat is one of the two Democrats were able to flip in the November 3 elections.

Before heading to Washington D.C., Kelly and Giffords stopped at late Senator John McCain's grave to pay their respects before the swearing-in ceremony

Before heading to Washington D.C., Kelly and Giffords stopped at late Senator John McCain’s grave to pay their respects before the swearing-in ceremony

Control of the Senate now entirely relies on the two Georgia runoff elections next month where both Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will face off against Democratic challengers.

If Democrats win both elections, the Senate will be split 50-50 with the tie-breaking vote coming from Democrat vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

Should Republicans hold onto just one of those two seats, they will maintain their slim majority.

Senator-elect John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, also flipped a Colorado Senate seat blue by defeating Republican Senator Cory Gardner in November’s election.

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