Illinois has a new U.S. senator. Republican Mark Kirk was sworn in Monday evening by Vice President Joe Biden. After administering the oath of office, Biden embraced Kirk and said, "Congratulations, senator. Welcome."
With that, Kirk - a five-term member of the U.S. House from north suburban Highland Park - ascended to the upper chamber. Kirk was joined on the Senate floor by Illinois' senior senator, Democrat Dick Durbin, along with former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, who was the last Republican to have represented the state in the Senate.
On November 2nd, Kirk won a full six-year term, and also a special election to replace Sen. Roland Burris for the final weeks of the 111th Congress.
A spokesman for Kirk said, by the end of the week, the new senator expects to take over the office space held by Burris.
Kirk's presence in the Senate may be felt almost immediately. Burris was in favor of repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gay service members, and supportive of immigration legislation known as the DREAM Act. Kirk has said he opposes those efforts at this time. Both issues are expected to come up for votes during the lame duck session.