Kelly Loeffler is officially a U.S. senator

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa observes as U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence. Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa observes as U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence. Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.

WASHINGTON -- Kelly Loeffler cast her first vote in the U.S. Senate today shortly after she was sworn into office.

Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office around 5 p.m Loeffler responded “I do” while resting her hand upon a red family Bible.

Soon after, she participated in a procedural vote to advance an appointment to the Small Business Administration. That made Loeffler the first woman from Georgia to cast a vote in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue was scheduled to escort his Georgia colleague during her swearing-in at the Senate chamber, as is custom. But he is ill today.

Instead, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa was Loeffler’s guide.

Loeffler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier that she is looking forward to getting to work on the four committees she has been assigned. That includes seeking additional aid for farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael through the Agriculture Committee and improving mental and physical health programs for veterans in her role on the Veterans’ Affairs panel.

“I was appointed one month ago this weekend, and the first couple of weeks I spent time getting on board in Washington so that I could hit the ground running starting today,” Loeffler said.

She is replacing U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired at the end of 2019 due to declining health. Loeffler said part of her Washington orientation included sitting next to Isakson during a Senate luncheon, where he introduced her to colleagues.

She also spent the past two weeks crisscrossing the state to meet with conservative voters whose support she will need during a 2020 special election if she hopes to serve the final two years of Isakson’s term.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Gainesville Republican, is still considering whether he will file to run against Loeffler as a more conservative option.

“I think I can be a new voice for Georgia,” Loeffler told the AJC. “And I think that’s very important to our party, not just in Georgia but across the country.”

She said voters have told her what they care about most is growing the economy and creating jobs. Health care and the rising costs of prescription drugs are another theme.

She said she also believes that people want the Senate trial regarding the impeachment of President Donald Trump to be conducted quickly. Voters are ready to move on, Loeffler said.

Although she is the first woman to serve in Washington as a U.S. senator from Georgia, Loeffler is not Georgia's first female U.S. senator. That title belongs to Rebecca Latimer Felton, who served only 24 hours in a political stunt orchestrated in 1922 by Georgia Gov. Thomas Hardwick. The Senate was not in session at the time.

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