Vice President Joe Biden administers the ceremonial swearing for the newly-elected Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) as his mother Carolyn Booker holds a Bible at the U.S. Captiol. Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June at the age of 89.
Booker's election has returned the Democratic Senate majority to 55-45, notes Reuters.
And it puts them a bit closer to the 60 votes that are routinely needed to clear Republican procedural roadblocks against much of the president's agenda. Minutes after being sworn in, Booker cast his first vote - to end one of these roadblocks against Obama's nomination of Melvin Watt as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Democrats fell short, 56-42.
Booker becomes the first Black U.S. senator from New Jersey and the first Black elected to statewide office from that state. The pro-labor and pro-LGBT Booker now joins extremist and anti-gay Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina as the nation's only two Black senators. Only nine Blacks have served in the Senate. Booker is only the fourth to have been elected to office.
"I urge my fellow senators, Democrats and Republicans, to get to know this good man," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). "We are fortunate to have him here."
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