WASHINGTON - Arizona Republican Jon Kyl rejoined the Senate on Wednesday, taking the seat long held by the late senator John McCain and restoring the GOP’s 51-to-49 majority.
Vice President Pence administered the oath of office to Kyl, prompting applause from Republicans and Democrats in the Senate chamber. The swearing in came about 24 hours after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed him to succeed McCain. Kyl has committed to staying in the Senate through at least the end of the year.
In Kyl, Ducey selected a replacement who was close to McCain but has also forged some ties with the White House.
Kyl, 76, served in the Senate from 1995-2013. In recent years he has worked as a lobbyist, and this summer he helped shepherd Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., welcomed Kyl’s return.
"I’m really glad that we’ll have Jon back with us," McConnell said in remarks before the swearing in. "He has great judgment and an even keel. He’s a team player, a true friend, and an inspiring example of what a senator can and should be."
McConnell added that the Senate - with Kyl - would face critical votes in the coming weeks on spending bills to keep the government open, Kavanaugh’s confirmation and on other Trump nominations.
In addition to Kyl joining the Senate, lawmakers tapped Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to replace McCain as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
McCain died Aug. 25 after battling brain cancer. He had been absent from the Senate since December as he underwent treatment in Arizona.