Al Franken headed to U.S. Senate

Nearly eight months after Election Day and coming at the end of a dizzying series of lawsuits, the Minnesota Supreme Court today ruled that Al Franken defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and can now claim his seat. Franken will be the 58th Democratic U.S. Senator. Counting Franken and the two Independent Democrat-leaning members of the Conference, the party will now enjoy a filibuster-proof majority of 60, a fact that fueled the heated contest in Minnesota from the minute the polls closed in November. The court declared Franken won by 312 votes.

During a press conference outside his home just an hour ago, Franken told reporters he was “pretty staffed up” and that the magic number 60 may have been oversold during the recount and legal battles that have defined his political life in the last half year.

“I really see myself also as a 100th senator. I’m going to be junior to 99 other senators. I’m actually going to be entering with a great deal of humility and a lot to learn…As far as the 60 is concerned. Sixty is a magic number, but it isn’t,” he said, noting that members often cross party lines. “It’s not quite as magic a number as some people may say. I hope that we do get President Obama’s agenda through.”

Reporting for the Washington Independent, Mike Illis previews the action Franken will be met with as soon as the action in Minnesota ends and he takes up residence on The Hill.

[T]he soon-to-be-sworn-in freshman is slated to take seats on both the Senate Judiciary and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees — the two panels that just happen to be on the front lines of the Democrats’ priorities for the rest of the year.

First, there’s the thorny debate over health care reform, which the HELP committee has already officially begun — but which also remains a long way from over. Then there’s the process to seat Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, which will launch in the Judiciary panel. And finally, there’s the ideologically charged battle over the labor-friendly Employee Free Choice Act, a fight set to begin this summer in the HELP Committee.

Franken will also sit on the Special Committee on Aging and the Indian Affairs panel.

Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut are the Democratic-leaning members of the Conference.

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