Franken, Minnesota's newest senator, takes oath of office
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Al Franken became Minnesota's second U.S. senator today, his hand holding the Bible that Paul Wellstone used when he was twice sworn into the Senate.
Vice President Joe Biden swore in Franken 246 days after the Nov. 4 election and 183 days since the 2009 Senate convened. The scene was in front of the U.S. Senate chamber.
Accompanied by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former senator and vice president Walter Mondale, Franken looked up at Biden and with the words "yes, I do" accepted the oath and became senator. He had nothing else to say.
The Senate chamber erupted in applause and Franken shook hands with his new colleagues, and received hugs from some, a ritual interrupted when he was called to return to the front of the chamber to briefly sign paperwork.
The oath, at 11:15 a.m. Minnesota time, ended the longest election effort the state has experienced. After the Nov. 4 election, all 2.9 million ballots were recounted. Then Norm Coleman challenged the recount in court.
A week ago today, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Franken ruled Franken won the election by 312 votes.
Klobuchar, who has served as Minnesota's only senator since early January, welcomed Franken to the Senate, saying that while he is known for being a comedian, he took his campaign seriously and will do the same in his new job.
Klobuchar thanked her staff for dealing with twice the work after Coleman's term ended. "They never complained."
Minnesota's senior senator declared: "Al Franken is ready for this job."
She said that in the manner of Wellstone, who died in a plane crash shortly before the 2002 election, Franken will serve Minnesota well and treat people with dignity.
Franken will serve the remainder of a six-year term that began Jan. 3.
Republicans were tame in their reaction to the Franken swearing in, after more than a year of fierce attacks.
"Al Franken has the opportunity to erase the asterisk by his name by standing up for hard working Minnesotans against the liberal big spenders in Washington who are leaving future generations with crippling debt," Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said. "At a time of great economic anxiety, we hope Al Franken will oppose future tax and spending increases and refuse to march in lockstep with those who continue to push us towards socialism."