State News

Hagan, Kissell sworn in Tuesday

Posted January 6, 2009 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— The newest members of North Carolina's congressional delegation are officially beginning their work in Washington.

Sen.-elect Kay Hagan and Rep.-elect Larry Kissell were sworn in Tuesday.

Hagan and eight other new senators took the oath of office Tuesday in the front of the Senate chamber, with Vice President Dick Cheney presiding over the event. She embraced fellow U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., after accepting the oath.

"I'm very excited still," Hagan told WRAL News in an interview Tuesday afternoon after meeting with constituents. "It was a very humbling experience ... just to be in the Senate chambers, and you look around and you see all these senators I've seen on TV for years."

Burr and Twelfth District Congressman Mel Watt stopped by her new basement office to congratulate her.

"My advice to her is take 48 hours to enjoy becoming a United States senator (and) enjoy the fact that family and friends are here," Burr said. "That's going to be over, and it's going to be a tough grind after that."

Hagan said she's already working, co-sponsoring a bill that will be introduced soon.

A proposed $800 billion economic stimulus package is the top priority for Congress, and for Hagan and the rest of the North Carolina delegation, that means securing as much money for the state as possible.

"I know there's a lot of people unemployed in North Carolina. A lot of people are hurting," she said. "I want to be sure we can do whatever needs to be done to turn this economy around. I will be their voice here in Washington."

Kissell, who represents the Eighth District, also was sworn in Tuesday, along with 52 other freshmen members of the U.S. House.

"I am going to work to bring jobs to the district and help lessen the tax burden placed on working families," Kissell said in a statement. "Unfair trade deals and high energy costs have combined to erode the American dream for many families in our district, and I am going to work hard to turn the tide away from the special interests and toward the interests of people who work hard and play by the rules."

Hagan and Kissell ousted Republican incumbents in November, adding to the Democratic majority in both chambers. North Carolina now has nine Democrats and six Republicans representing the state in Washington.