Longtime Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey was sworn in as junior senator on Tuesday amid ongoing negotiations to avoid the “nuclear option” as Republicans decided to allow several executive-branch nominees to advance towards confirmation.
After defeating Republican Gabriel Gomez in a June special election to fill in the seat left by Secretary of State John Kerry, Markey took his oath of office in the Senate chamber to fill out the remainder of Kerry's term. "John Kerry served here for 28 years, and for me to follow in his footsteps is a great honor," the junior senator said after the ceremony.
Vice President Joe Biden delivered the oath to the new senator with Senator Elizabeth Warren and William “Mo” Cowan by his side. Cowan served as the interim senator after President Obama nominated Kerry to become the country's top diplomat.
"Been an honor to serve MA as Senator," Cowan tweeted Monday after serving four months as a senator.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Reps. Nancy Pelosi and James McGovern of Worcester also attended Markey's swearing-in.
Despite taking a cut in seniority as the Senate's most junior member, Markey said he was ready to leave the "dysfunctional" House and saw "reason for optimism" about joining the upper chamber. "My decision was to come to the Senate in order to be in the majority and to make government work for every family in our country," Markey said.
"The House of Representatives is broken," Markey also told reporters. "This is a bookend day, and I will be working today to make sure the Senate does work, that we break the gridlock, that we not allow the president’s nominees to be blocked from putting in place."
The rookie senator's swearing-in ceremony was brieftly postponed as Senate leaders struck a deal on Tuesday to avoid the "nuclear option," approving one of the president's nominees, Richard Cordray, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
After a week of threatening to change chamber rules governing President Barack Obama’s executive nomination, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also had to delay offering Markey public praise that is usually pronounced for new senators.
Markey said he will continue to support Reid's effort to change Senate filibuster rules "to ensure that the Republican obstructionists cannot paralyze the Senate as the Republicans have paralyzed the House of Representatives."
Markey was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and was the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.