WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Former Rep. Mark Kirk was sworn in as U.S. senator from Illinois Monday, increasing the number of GOP Senate seats to 42 for the lame-duck session of Congress.
Kirk, who defeated Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias in the Nov. 2 election, takes over the Senate seat held by Barack Obama before Obama was elected president in 2008. He was administered the oath of office twice Monday by Vice President Joe Biden -- once on the Senate floor, where photographers are banned, and a second time in the Old Senate Chamber, where photography was permitted but reporters were not allowed to ask questions, The Hill reported.
He did not deliver any remarks but said in a statement his priorities are to fix the economy, cut federal spending and put an end to the use of congressional earmarks, The Hill said.
The Senate will have 56 Democrats, 42 Republicans and two independents who caucus with Democrats for the remainder of the session. Kirk succeeds Roland Burris, a Democrat who was appointed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill out much of the remainder of Obama's term.