Democrat Franken sworn in as Minnesota senator

WASHINGTON -- Eight months after voters narrowly elected him into office, Al Franken officially became the second U.S. senator from Minnesota on Tuesday.

In front of a packed audience that included his wife Franni, the former comedian — who was locked in a protracted legal battle with former Republican Norm Coleman over the second Senate seat — said "I do" after Vice President Biden read him the oath of office.

Biden replied, "Congratulations, senator" amid a standing ovation and roaring applause that lasted several minutes.

The swearing-in ended an eight-month struggle and gives the Democrats 60 votes to thwart possible Republican filibusters.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Franken's favor after a protracted recount. Coleman then conceded.

Franken took the oath on a Bible that belonged to the family of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.

Franken appeared on the Senate floor shortly before he was scheduled to be sworn in, exchanging handshakes and even hugs with senators, including Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Franken was escorted down the Senate floor by former vice president Walter Mondale and fellow Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who praised Franken and his readiness to work before Franken was sworn in.

"He believes his job is very serious," Klobuchar said. "I know he's taking his new job as senator very seriously."

Franken's official committee assignments were announced, which include the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

He will also join the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, but not until the markup on the current health-care legislation is completed.

Though his office is not releasing his schedule for Tuesday, Franken will be heading to a reception at the Hart Senate Office Building later in the afternoon. He also will be welcomed at an AFL-CIO reception tonight at the union's Washington offices.

Contributing: Associated Press

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