Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Sen. Jon Kyl is back on the Senate floor representing the state of Arizona for the first time since 2013.
The appointment by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey puts the Senate at full strength again. It also puts the Republican majority back at 51-49.
"I'm accepting this appointment to fill the seat vacated by the passing of my dear friend because of my sense of duty to the state I love and the institution of the Senate, which I served for 18 years and because the governor asked for my help," Kyl said at a news conference.
One of his first acts will be to consider President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kyl, a Republican, has been seen accompanying Kavanaugh to his hearings with senators. The 76-year-old Kyl served 18 years in the Senate before retiring in 2013.
Kyl has said he will keep McCain's seat at least until the end of this year, but didn't commit to serving the full term to 2020. If he left before then, Arizona would hold a special election to fill the remainder of McCain's term.
"Jim Inhofe filled in for Sen. McCain during a difficult year. He rose to the occasion and helped lead the committee in passing crucial legislation that honored the example of his predecessor and the volunteers who defend our nation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.