Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Senator-elect Al Franken made his first official appearance on Capitol Hill moments ago, appearing briefly (and quite sedately) with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement to reporters.
Speaking before a bank of microphones in the ornate hallway just off the Senate floor, Franken gave no hint of his former incarnation as a comedian and political jokesmith. Wearing a dark suit with a conservative navy-and-white striped tie, Franken spoke seriously as he delivered a shortened version of his stump speech.
"A lot has been made about this number '60,' but the number I'm focused on is the number 2," Franken said. "I see myself as the second senator from the state of Minnesota."
He called Minnesotans "practical people" and said they want decisions from Washington that make sense back home on health care, the economy, energy, and education.
"I am going to work day and night to make sure that our kids have a great future and that America's best days are ahead," he said. "I'm ready to get to work."
And he's got his work cut out for him. In addition to setting up offices in Washington and Minnesota, he's got some cramming to do for next week. As the newest member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he'll participate in questioning Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings, starting next Monday.
Before then, he'll need to brush up on health care. In addition to the Judiciary Committee, Franken will join the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, one of the two panels that's already started drafting health care reform bills for the Senate to consider this month.