BY JORDAIN CARNEY – 02/09/17 03:36 PM EST
Luther Strange, a former Alabama attorney general, was sworn in Thursday to succeed GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the longest-serving Republican senator, administered the oath to Strange on the Senate floor, with GOP leadership and Sessions also in the chamber.
Vice President Pence then took part in a mock swearing in with Strange, jokingly asking if there was a “box to stand on” as he took photos next the newly minted six-foot-nine-inch senator.
Strange’s swearing in comes after the Senate voted largely along party lines to confirm Sessions to be President Trump’s attorney general on Wednesday evening.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) praised Strange on Thursday, noting that they had known each other for 35 years and pledging his Alabama colleague will “hit the ground running.”
“I believe this was a great appointment by our governor,” he said. “He’s going to be a team player. He’s going to work with us in the Republican caucus and work for what’s in the best interest of the state of Alabama and the nation.”
Some argued that Strange wouldn’t be picked for the seat because of a sex scandal involving Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R).
The state Ethics Commission is reportedly wrapping up an investigation into Bentley, who has been accused of misusing state funds and having an affair with a former aide.
In 2016, Strange asked Alabama’s House Judiciary Committee to end its investigation into impeaching the governor because of “related work” in his own office. He later clarified that his office never said it was investigating the governor.
Bentley has denied the allegations of wrongdoing, but appointing Strange to the Senate seat will allow him to tap the state’s next attorney general.
Strange will have to run in a special election in 2018 to keep the seat.