Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Senator Mark Kirk Takes Oath of Office, and Gets Right to Work

Last night's swearing-in ceremony for now-Senator Mark Kirk was a truly amazing experience.

The evening began with a small group of about 100 of Senator Kirk's family, friends and die-hard supporters waiting anxiously in the U.S. Senate Gallery for the typical tardy appearance of Vice President Joe Biden who was to administer the oath to Mark. I had a few bad moments when I wondered if Biden was going to show, since that afternoon, Senator Al Franken was the designated senator presiding over the Senate, and I sure as heck didn't want to see Mr. Franken administer the oath (!) Former State Senate candidate Keith Gray and I had wandered over to the Capitol earlier in the afternoon and managed to get passes to see the Senate in action, and we were able to witness former Presidential candidate John Kerry give a speech supporting the START nuclear arms treaty. Franken looked extremely bored throughout his entire time on the dais, and I really wondered why he'd wanted to be become a U.S. Senator in the first place (actually, we know why - it's a very powerful position if you want to inflict your liberal agenda on the rest of the country). But I digress.

Kirk appeared on the floor of the Senate as VP Biden called the Senate to order, and Mark walked to the front of the room accompanied by Senator Dick Durbin, the Senior Illinois Senator, and Peter Fitzgerald, who was the previous Republican to hold the seat. The Bible used is an 1827 Bible used by Admiral David Farragut, who was the Navy's first admiral (his famous quote was "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"). The Bible had arrived courtesy of the Navy in the keeping of two high-ranking officers with an awful lot of gold braid on their sleeves. Kirk took the oath, and received a lengthy standing ovation from the Gallery crowd, and then shook hands with the assembled Senators, including John McCain.

You can see ABC-7's video recap here:

After a brief re-enactment of the swearing in for the camera, Kirk arrived at the Russell Office Building to an enthusiastic crowd of at least 300 assembled in one of the main meeting halls. I stood outside the room and watched Senator Kirk make his entrance and then got on the phone to call in to Kerry Lester at the Daily Herald to give her an update.

I then took this picture from all the way in the back of the room, which will give you some idea of the size of the crowd:

Reader Daniel Wein from George Washington University sent in this picture (as well as the top photo above), and he was a little closer to the action:

Mark then addressed the crowd, and gave a great speech in which he told how humbled and honored he was to have been elected to the Senate, and that he pledged to work hard every day for the people of Illinois and the country. Kirk called on the family of fallen Marine Lance Corporal James Stack of northwest suburban Arlington Heights, who was killed in action on Nov. 10 in Afghanistan, and reaffirmed his commitment to support the nation's military, and protect its veterans, to the obvious delight of the many Navy personnel and other military types gathered in the room. There was a lot more, but as I commented to the Sun-Times' columnist and DC correspondent Lynn Sweet, who I was standing next to, the only thing you really needed to remember was Kirk's pledge to 'pay our bills,' reduce the size of government and grow the economy. She gave me a little smirk, so who knows if she'll actually print that (ha ha).

I saw a lot of people at the reception that I hadn't seen for a while, including Kirk's ex-wife Kimberly, many current and former Kirk staffers that I've known over the years, and lots and lots of folks from back in the 10th District like Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne, who came out with his whole family. Congressman Bob Dold, who succeeded Kirk in his 10th District Congressional seat, was also there.

We then proceeded to a little after-party at Dubliner's Irish Pub, which went on long after Mark left. The only picture I decided to share from that was this shot of Mark and Campaign Chairman Mike Morgan, so you can see how excited and happy everyone was. Sorry, but the rest of the pix are all highly classified...

It was truly a historic campaign and a great victory. Now it's time to go on to the real work. Senator Kirk plans to get right down to it, and his first bill will be a “budget control bill” aimed at helping the federal government find ways to cut costs by developing expert recommendations on eliminating waste and creating strenuous oversight of spending. Kirk's “Spending Control Act of 2011” would re-establish the Grace Commission of the 1980s to investigate government waste and identify programs that could be eliminated with an up or down vote of the full House and Senate.

I also want to wrap up by adding that given the tensions in North Korea and other international problems, I could not be more pleased and confident that someone of Mark's qualifications and caliber is now serving us in the U.S. Senate.

My work here is done, so it's back to sunny Chicago!


A. Bees said...

Thanks for the terrific coverage of Mark's first day as a member of the US Senate. It just makes the day a little brighter knowing he is officially in this position.

Anonymous said...

Good to see. Porter looks well in those pictures. I especially liked the picture of buriss in the trash can in the last scene of the abc clip. I wasn't in the gallery but on cspan it looked like most of the congressional delegation short of comrade jan (wonder why) came as well as some other folks like elliot engel, democrat from new york.

You and baxters mom didn't leave contact info so unless you're still in dc, we'll set up a future endeavor. Dubliner is good. I hope you had a few too many.


Anonymous said...

Hey Foklaes, I asked you on this blog to name a time but you didn't give one. TA and I were walking around trying to figure out if you were at the reception. I was wearing my signature red/white/blue Kirk pins from the very first Congressional campaign but with so many people there it was impossible to find anyone.

The swearing in was so emotional for at some of us. We started crying as soon as the door opened and the Senator elect walked in with Senators Durbin and Fitzgerald. I think I stopped "puddling" up when I got back to my hotel.

Our new Senator was a little late getting to the reception (wall to wall people) because he was casting a vote. Following his reception speech back to the floor for another vote and today he's presenting a bill. This very exceptional man is so hardworking and dedicated I know we will see great things from him. In the smaller atmosphere of the world's most exclusive club he will stand out. Now I wonder what I'll do until the next campaign. Having been involved one way or another for the last 5 campaigns I'm going through withdrawal now.

It was wonderful to see Congressman Porter and Congressman Elect Dold at the swearing in and reception. I even bit the bullet and shook Senator Durbin's hand. Being the extreme partisan I am I should be commended!

The after party at the Dubliner was fun and light and happy. No pictures should be classified as everyone behaved as befits a US Senator. I am honored to call this exceptional man friend.

Some of us may be back in DC for the January swearing in so we will be sure to set up a time and place and hopefully meet you - we promise to keep the secret of who you are!

Baxter and Beau's Mom

Anonymous said...

Baxters' mom,

Great work, but I disagree. I'd rather the congressman have a life and be able to focus on his work than having to deal with political dogfights 24/7. I'm sure mrs. team america and baxter and beau will like having their pals around more often.

The congressman sounded a lot more confident and less stressed on tv and the radio this morning than I've seen from him in several years.

With John Warner retired, Dick Lugar fading, John McCain in the twighlight of his career, bush administration officials discredited, hoekstra and duncan hunter out of congress, and no other rising stars in the party on the defense ledger, the senator has a rare chance to skyrocket into the national spotlight for his foreign policy chops and my suspicion is that we'll start to see him on tv shows a lot and mentioned as a possible future secretary of defense or state. He put on a clinic this morning on don wade and roma.

I also think the tea party's takeover of the party will be a huge boon to him because it makes thte party's focus economic rather than social issues which will spare him a major trap and allow him to be be square with the base. Backyard conservative was talking him up yesterday which hasn't always been the case.

After a decade of storms, it's a quiet peaceful happy night in Kirkland and hopefully soon for the country.