WASHINGTON — Illinois Republican Mark Kirk is the newest member of the Senate.
A five-term congressman from the Chicago suburbs, Kirk was sworn in Monday by Vice President Joe Biden on the floor of the Senate.
Kirk is replacing Roland Burris, who had been appointed to fill the remainder of President Barack Obama's Senate seat.
Illinois voters in November elected Kirk to fill out the remainder of Burris' term and for a full, six-year term after a tight race with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias (jeh-NOO'-lee-ehs).
Republicans will now have 42 votes in the Senate – a number that will rise to 47 in January.
Being sworn in now gives Kirk a small, but important, seniority advantage over other incoming senators, who won't be sworn in until next year.