Several new members of the Senate on Sunday were sworn in for the 117th Congress.
The new members include Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).
Tuberville defeated former Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat; while Hickenlooper defeated former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). Marshall succeeded former Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Hagerty succeeded former Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Lummis succeeded former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).
“To say the 117th Congress convenes at a challenging time would indeed be an understatement,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement after the senators were sworn into office. “From political division to a deadly pandemic to adversaries around the world, the hurdles before us are many and they are serious.”
“But there’s also plenty of reason for hope,” McConnell added, saying that optimism is “one of our country’s most distinctive calling cards since our very earliest days. And with safe and effective vaccines rolling out across our nation every day, I’d say 2021 looks bright already.”
Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) are embroiled in a contested runoff election for their seats. Perdue is facing off against Democrat Jon Ossoff, and Loeffler is being challenged by Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock.
“We gavel in today like 116 prior Senates have gaveled in before us, with plenty of disagreements and policy differences among our ranks, but all, all swearing the same oath,” McConnell also said in his statement on Sunday on the floor.
The House and Senate opened at noon, as required by law, with strict COVID-19 protocols. Elbow bumps replaced handshakes as senators took the oath of office. Fewer family members than usual joined lawmakers at the Capitol.
A dozen Republicans bound for the new Senate, led by Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and even more in the House have pledged to challenge the electoral vote on Wednesday during the Joint Session of Congress.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.