Local News

Swearing-In Ceremony Begins Busy Day For Dole

Posted January 8, 2003 6:11 a.m. EST

— Newly-elected U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole was sworn into office Tuesday, part of a Republican majority that puts the party in control of both chambers of Congress.

Dole, one of 11 new senators, had a busy day.

After the noon swearing-in ceremony, the Senate approved a five-month, $7 billion extension of emergency federal unemployment benefits by unanimous consent motion.

Dole later attended an Armed Services Committee meeting, held interviews with the media and was scheduled to attend two parties for supporters and staffers.

"We've had the office full of North Carolina folks," she said. "A lot of people have come up for the celebration."

Dole begins her Senate term as a familiar Washington insider, having served as a cabinet secretary in both President Reagan and the elder President Bush's administration.

Her husband, Bob, represented Kansas in the Senate for two decades.

Before her election, she already knew many of her future colleagues.

"A lot of them I have worked with in the past," she said. "I think that is certainly a big help."

But just like the other 10 freshmen, Dole said she will have to get used to the formal Senate rules and procedures, learning the ropes of the legislative process.

"It is going to be a very interesting education," she said.

Dole's election helped Republicans regain control of the Senate, lost after Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont left the GOP to become an independent in 2001.

Republicans have a 51-48-1 majority and also enjoy a 24-seat margin in the House.

Dole said the majority will allow Republicans to move legislation which they see as critical, including an economic stimulus package.

"I think there is a real opportunity to move a lot of important legislation, in sync with the House," she said.

Dole will serve on the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture and Banking committees, addressing issues that she said are critical to the state.

"Serving on the Armed Services Committee is so very important to North Carolina," she said. "There is the possibility that we will move into the Iraq situation. Obviously, the president is doing every thing he can to avoid that."

Dole became North Carolina's 52nd U.S. senator and its first female senator, replacing Republican Jesse Helms following a 30-year career in the chamber.

Helms decided in 2001 that he would step down after completing his sixth term in office.