Democrat Doug Jones was sworn in Wednesday as Alabama’s newest U.S. senator, reducing the Republican advantage to 51 to 49 and giving his party more room to impede President Trump’s 2018 legislative agenda.
Jones took his oath of office alongside former vice president Joe Biden, a longtime friend who had urged him to run last year. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) was also sworn in Wednesday to replace former senator Al Franken; she was joined by former vice president Walter Mondale.
The arrival of Smith and Jones on Capitol Hill highlighted the extent to which the #MeToo movement has swept over Washington. Jones defied the political tilt of his state by defeating Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Smith’s predecessor, Franken, resigned under pressure from fellow Democrats after allegations emerged that he had touched women inappropriately.
Even before it was clear what committees Jones would serve on, the Alabama Democrat was already playing an outsize role. His presence allows Democrats to block any Trump nominee, or any legislation, by winning just two Republican defectors. Vice President Pence can break 50-to-50 ties.
Senate Republican aides privately conceded that Jones’s vote will make it nearly impossible to take another run at repealing the Affordable Care Act and may quiet talk of a push for a major entitlement overhaul this year.
The Alabama Democrat says he’ll be an independent voice but will bolster his party.