Friday, January 18, 2019

NEW: Arizona Gets Federal Go-Ahead To Impose Work (etc.) Requirements To Receive AHCCCS Benefits, Starting In 2020

AHCCCS (aka Arizona's Medicaid program) today received approval from the federal government to begin adding work requirements in 2020 to able-bodied individuals who receive the health insurance benefits. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS"). In 2016, under the previous Administration, CMS had rejected a similar Arizona request. "However, given the potential benefits of work and other forms of community engagement, we now believe that state Medicaid programs should be able to design and test incentives for beneficiary compliance with community engagement requirements."

Governor Doug Ducey celebrated the approval: "This approval from CMS will allow Arizona to implement a community engagement requirement for able-bodied adults on AHCCCS, much like the work requirements that already exist in other state benefit programs. Employment and community engagement are proven to have a positive effect on overall health and well-being. By aligning educational and employment incentives, and providing robust job search support services and educational opportunities, Arizona can create pathways toward better health outcomes and employment opportunities for our citizens.”

Arizona Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) was quick to blast the approval, stating: “This decision by CMS will leave thousands of Arizonans facing unnecessary red tape to access affordable health care they are entitled to by law. It will cost Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars to implement, and will result in more uncompensated care in our hospitals. As we are seeing in Arkansas, which implemented similar requirements, hardworking families including veterans will lose their benefits and costs will skyrocket. This is a devastating decision for rural communities, and as a Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I will fight it."

CMS did reject Arizona's proposal that able-bodied individuals between the ages of 19-49 also have a five-year lifetime cap on AHCCCS benefits if they fail to comply with "AHCCCS Works". Instead, CMS and AHCCCS agreed to a two-month suspension for failure to comply. Compliance entails 80 hours/month of work, "job training, education, or volunteer service experience."

Arizona had requested that Native Americans be exempted from the AHCCCS Works requirements. That raised issues, and CMS eventually approved narrower language stating that members of a federally-recognized tribe are exempted. (The issues appeared to be related to whether it was a racial exemption or an exemption for persons who are part of another sovereign nation.)

(Updated at 3:32pm with quote from O'Halleran.)



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Thursday, January 17, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Rep. Schweikert Added To The Trade and Tax Subcommittees

5:10pm: Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) is on the Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday, he was named to the Tax and Trade Subcommittees. Schweikert said he is looking forward to both subcommittees, especially because "trade is particularly important for our state."

4:30pm: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD2) was named to the Appropriations Committee earlier this week. Today, she learned that she will also sit on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. An Arizonan has not been on the powerful Appropriations Committee during the last two Congresses (since the late Ed Pastor retired).

4:05pm: Not surprisingly, Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally split their votes this afternoon on a bill to ban federal funding for abortion services. The vote was 48-47, and it needed 60 votes to close debate.

Two Democrats (Manchin and Casey) did vote for cloture, while two Republicans (Murkowski and Collins) voted to kill the bill.

Today's vote was largely symbolic, in advance of tomorrow's March For Life in Washington. The landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case legalizing some abortions was decided on January 22, 1973.

Text of the failed bill can be found here.


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BREAKING: Reps. Biggs, Gosar, Lesko Vote To Approve Easing Russian Sanctions (READ Resolution)

Three of Arizona's four Republicans in the U.S. House voted this afternoon against a resolution disapproving of President Trump's recent move to ease sanctions on some Russian entities. The resolution was overwhelmingly approved by both Democrats and Repubicans and passed 362-53.

However, Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4), Andy Biggs (R-CD5) and Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) joined 50 other Republicans in refusing to disapprove of Trump's December action. Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) was the only Arizona Republican joining the majority.

The text of the resolution is simple enough that it can be captured in a single screen shot (below). The Senate voted on the resolution earlier this week, but the 57-42 majority failed to reach the 3/5 necessary; both of Arizona's Senators voted their disapproval of easing sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The three have not yet released statements explaining their vote. Arizona's Politics will update as necessary.




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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

BREAKING, READ: Mike Liburdi, Gov. Ducey's Counsel, Nominated For Federal Judgeship

The White House announced tonight that it was nominating Mike Liburdi to fill one of the (two) judicial vacancies for the U.S. District Court in Arizona. Liburdi was Governor Ducey's General Counsel for the past four years. 

Here is the White House's announcement
Michael T. Liburdi of Arizona, to serve as District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.  Michael Liburdi is a shareholder in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Greenberg Traurig, L.L.P., where he serves as Chair of the Phoenix Litigation Practice.  His practice focuses on complex commercial and constitutional litigation, as well as campaign finance and election procedure compliance.  Mr. Liburdi also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he teaches Election Law.  Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig, Mr. Liburdi was General Counsel to Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey, advising the Governor and his staff on legal policy and compliance matters.  After graduating from law school, Mr. Liburdi served as a law clerk to Vice Chief Justice Ruth McGregor of the Supreme Court of Arizona.  Mr. Liburdi received his B.S., summa cum laude, from Arizona State University and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

There is still one District Court vacancy for Arizona, and Arizona is also the only District for which the Administration has not nominated a U.S. Attorney. Further, the Administration had nominated Phoenix Magistrate Bridget Bade for a judgeship on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year, but that nomination was not approved by the Senate before the end of the year. She will now have to be re-nominated.

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BREAKING, READ: Sinema Part of Bipartisan Group Urging Trump To Re-open Govt Before Considering His Appropriation Requests

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is part of a bipartisan group of Senators telling President Trump that they will promise to consider his border-related appropriations requests if he first agrees to reopen the government. While not part of the seven Senators listed as drafting the below letter, Arizona's other Senator, Martha McSally, is likely being asked to add her signature.

Politico reports that Sinema is part of the group along with Repubicans Collins, Graham, Alexander and Portman, and Democrats Manchin and Coons. They are hoping to get at least five more Republican Senators (and, a similar number of Democrats) to sign on to convince the White House to take the proposal seriously.

The letter does not promise any specific result, just to put the Administration's requests through "regular order", and to "working to advance legislation that can pass the Senate with substantial bipartisan support."

Arizona's Politics has reached out to both Arizona Senators for comment, and will update as necessary.



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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

ARIZONA POLITICAL SHORTS: McSally Votes Against Trump Adm Lifting Some Russia Sanctions

4pm: This evening, Arizona Senator Martha McSally joined with the Democrats and 10 of her GOP colleagues to  advance a resolution disapproving of the Trump Administration's December decision to end sanctions against several Russian entities.


The GOP-led Senate first moved to table S.J.Res.2, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). That move failed, 42-57, with both McSally and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) voting "nay". A motion to proceed to a vote was then held, and all Senators held their same positions.




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Monday, January 14, 2019

THIRD TIME'S NOT THE CHARM: McConnell Again Tries To Ignore Shutdown, Sinema 1 of 3 Dems Sticking With Him

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to ignore the government shutdown again tonight, forcing Senators to again vote on closing debate on S.1 - a measure that weaves together various Mideast-related measures. Each of the three times, he has fallen farther short of the 60 votes needed to move to a vote; each of the three times, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has been one of the handful of Democrats to vote with the GOP.

Tonight, the cloture motion failed, 50-43 and Sinema was joined by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Doug Jones (D-AL). (Menendez switched his vote to "nay.") The first two votes last week - and the text of the bill - are here.

Besides bucking a Democratic call to not proceed with other legislative business until McConnell allows a new vote on measures to fund the government (without funding President Trumps border wall), Sinema has angered some supporters because S.1 includes an anti-BDS measure that Palestinian supporters and the ACLU oppose. Sinema told Arizona's Politics last week that "I support these bills, and I believe most Arizonans do, too."


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ARIZONA LEGAL SHORTS: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Reinstate Arizona's "No Bail" Law For People Charged With Sexual Assault

The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear Arizona's appeal from a decision finding the state's "no bail" law for rape suspects unconstitutional.

In May, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled 4-3 finding that the statute prohibiting bail for those suspected of sexual assault - without considering any factors that could justify bail in a particular case. AG Mark Brnovich appealed the opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that court today refused to consider the matter.

The issue arose after the state charged Guy Goodman in 2017 for an assault that took place in 2010. The Superior Court held a bail hearing despite the fact that voters had approved the "no bail" provision in 2002 (Prop. 103). While the no bail provision was being considered in the courts, Goodman did plead guilty to the non-consensual assault while he was an overnight guest in the victim's  house; the Arizona Supreme Court decided the bail issue was still important enough to decide.

A 4-3 majority (Timmer, Bales, Brutinel, Pelander) ruled that it was a violation of the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause (U.S. Constitution). Justice Bolick, writing for Justices Gould and Lopez, specifically appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule his colleagues' decision, writing that there should be a distinction between how individuals charged with sexual assault and those charged with sexual conduct with a minor are treated. (Full opinion is below.)

Brnovich took Justice Bolick's advice and appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court today signaled their disagreement.




Arizona attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.

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BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Will Conference This Week On President's Transgender/Military Policy AND Mystery Mueller Case

It will be an interesting Friday conference at the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Justices will consider BOTH the "mystery Mueller case" and President Trump's policies regarding transgender individuals serving in the military.*

The orders were not included as part of the group release of determinations as to which petitions for writ of certiorari are granted or denied, or other routing decisions. However, both were noted as "DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 1/18/19" on their court dockets.

More information on the mystery Mueller case can be found here, at Politico.

The Administration's Petition for Writ of Certiorari (ie asking the Supreme Court to hear the case) is here.




*It will be interesting to learn whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be able to participate in the conference.

Arizona attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

BREAKING, WATCH: Arizona Rep. Gosar Tells President To Throw *Brushback* At Dems, And Using Nogales Sewage Issue As Example For Border Emergency To Build More Wall In Southern Arizona

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar has spoken with "high ranking officials in the Trump Administration" about about throwing a fastball "to brush the Democrats off the plate" by using the Nogales sewage issues as justification to declare an emergency and "redirect money from the Army Corps of Engineers' from other projects to southern Arizona."

Gosar (R-CD4) appeared on C-Span's Washington Journal to talk about the border wall and the government shutdown. Press Secretary Melissa Brown confirmed to Arizona's Politics today that the Congressman has had those conversations and has pointed to the transnational sewage issue in the Nogales, Arizona (and Sonora) area "as additional justification." (Full statement below.)


Gosar's comments came after he indicated that he believed President Trump's prime time address about the border moved public opinion in his favor. As evidence, he cited the tele-Town Hall he conducted the next evening. He did not think that anyone in Congress was swayed, however.

Gosar took questions and comments from viewers for approximately 30 minutes.


Statement to Arizona's Politics by Melissa Brown:
"He has spoken with high-ranking officials in the Trump Administration about utilizing the Army Corps of Engineers to construct a significant portion of Trump’s wall on certain federal lands along the Southern Border. The Administration already has the authority to declare an emergency and direct the Corps, but Rep. Gosar has also pointed to the Nogales example and the open sewage running into Arizona as additional justification."

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

UPDATE: "Radical" Sinema Sides With Republicans In Her First Senate Vote

(UPDATE, 1/10, 12:25pm: In a 2nd failed attempt to proceed to a vote on S.1, Sinema again voted with Republicans and 3 other Democrats. Bringing it to a vote appeared to be a show of stubbornness on the part of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as he likely knew that he had not changed enough votes to alter the outcome. The tally was 53-43 and a 3/5 majority was needed. Most Democrats have demanded that McConnell bring the House-passed bills to re-open the federal government before proceeding to other business.)

(UPDATE, 1/9, 1:30pm: Article updated to include Sen. Sinema's response to Arizona's Politics, and to add the text of the bill. Also, changed "SB1" to "S.1".)

After spending most of last year trying to brand Kyrsten Sinema as a "radical" leftist who possibly committed treason, some Arizona Republicans must be confused by her first rollcall vote as Arizona's senior Senator. Sinema joined with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and all of the Republican Senators to try to proceed to a vote on the Republicans' S.1.

The motion to invoke cloture failed, 56-44, as it needed 60 votes. Sinema was also joined by three other Democratic Senators (Manchin, Menendez and Jones), while the other Democrats apparently have banded together to block any votes on bills until after the Senate votes to end the partial government shutdown.

The shutdown - now in its third week - is over the President's refusal to sign funding bills without funding for his border wall.

Although it is not really relevant at the present moment, the Republicans' S.1 is about U.S. policies in the Mideast, with provisions about Syria, Israel and Jordan. (text below)

Sinema does support the substance of S.1, and tells Arizona's Politics that "I support these bills, and I believe most Arizonans do, too."




GUNS AND ABORTION: Arizona's Congressional Delegation Commemorates Different Dates With Very Different Legislation

Arizona's Members of Congress are marking two dates on the January calendar with very different pieces of legislation. One sings the praises of a (private) consortium of clinics opposed to abortions and the other would impose background checks on all gun purchasers.

Arizona's five Democratic Representatives all announced* today that they are co-sponsoring the background check bill on the anniversary of the mass shooting in Tucson that claimed the lives of 6 and wounded 19, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The text of HR8 is published below.

Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5) has sponsored a resolution in advance of this month's commemoration of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Biggs is asking that the House of Representatives praise a new consortium of medical clinics that is being described as "sort of like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the pro-life medical community." The Pro Women’s Healthcare Centers certifies centers that meet their high, life-affirming standards. (Clinics in Gilbert and Tempe are among the nine centers across the U.S. listed.) Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) is among the three co-sponsors. The text of H.Res.16 is published below.

Biggs has sponsored 23 bills this past week. No other member of Arizona's House delegation is currently listed as a primary sponsor of a bill in this new Congress.




*Arizona's Politics has not yet found any statements from Arizona's four Republican lawmakers about the bill, although Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) did announce that the entire delegation would be commemorating the shooting with a moment of silence on the House floor.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

UPDATE: Appeal Of Arizona Minutemen Murders Death Sentence May Continue With Partly-Sealed Request, Says U.S. Supreme Court

The Arizona death sentence of Minuteman murderer Jason Eugene Bush is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, the highest court in the land allowed Bush's attorney to partly seal his petition.

Bush's death sentence was upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court in August. He was part of a group of Minutemen border militia members in 2009 who decided to try to fund their organization by robbing and killing drug smugglers. They pretended to be immigration officials and entered the Arivaca home and killed 29-year old Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year old daughter Brisenia.

The Arizona Supreme Court's opinion was also newsworthy because of the concurring opinion by Judge Larry Winthrop. Winthrop agreed there were no reversible errors but penned an opinion saying the death penalty should not be imposed because it is "unconstitutionally cruel" and "unconstitutionally unusual."

Today's order allows the supplemental appendix to Bush's appeal petition to be filed under seal.

Arizona's Politics has asked Bush's attorney about his (now-granted) motion and his soon-to-be filed petition for writ of certiorari, and will update this article as necessary.

Benjie Sanders/Arizona Star
This article was contributed by Arizona attorney Paul Weich.

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BREAKING UPDATE: Sen. Kyl Re-Joins Lobbying Firm After 4-Month Hiatus

That did not take long. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is back to his lobbying job after his 4-month vacation in the U.S. Senate. The large law and lobbying firm Covington & Burling confirmed the news today with a release (and Arizona's Politics emails to his Covington address are no longer getting kicked back, as they were on Friday and before*).

Friday, Arizona's Politics reported on Kyl's after the fact Senate Financial Disclosure Statement, which indicated not only that he had earned a healthy income at Covington (nothing wrong with that), but also that he earned a healthy income ($128k over less than two years) from Arizona State University (maybe something wrong with that), and that he had shadow-lobbied for APS and several other clients that had not been previously disclosed (with 9 other clients still not disclosed).

The Covington release expresses its "delight" at having the two-time ex-Senator back working with its clients, although it does not mention that he has a new two-year cooling off period on disclosed lobbying. This does not prevent him from doing non-disclosed consulting (aka shadow lobbying); as Kyl described it in his new disclosure statement - "legal/advocacy services and advice".


We continue to reach out to Senator Kyl for responses to questions about his lobbying, and will update this article as necessary.

(h/t to Politico's Theo Meyer for first reporting the Covington statement.

*His email address at ASU was not inactivated during his recent Senatorial stint.


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Friday, January 4, 2019

BREAKING/IN-DEPTH SPECIAL REPORT: NOW (MOST OF) IT CAN BE TOLD: Kyl Lists ASU Part-Time Compensation, Honeywell Subsidiary Board, (Some) Non-Disclosed Advocacy Clients; Increased Net Worth 7X

It came the week after he left the U.S. Senate, but Jon Kyl has now filed the financial disclosure statement that all candidates and officeholders generally file before serving the public. In it, he discloses that: (1) he had been involved with many companies that do significant business with the federal government, (2) his salary as a part time ASU professor averaged $64,000, (3) he provided previously undisclosed legal/advocacy services for APS, SRP and others, and (4) non-Senate life increased the Kyls' net worth by more than seven fold.

There had been much speculation in the media that Kyl was trying to avoid filing a financial disclosure statement at all, although Arizona's Politics recently pointed out he was still obligated to file the report by the extended deadline even though he would not be in office. Sure enough, the report was filed late yesterday evening.

The eye-popping numbers come on the first page of the report (below) when the Senator lists his income sources for the past two years*. His averaged annual compensation for his lobbying position with Covington & Burling is $930,000. In addition, he received approximately $128,912 during the period for teaching at Arizona State University - undergraduate and law school.

The ASU part time salary will undoubtedly attract more attention as a result of the attention given by Gov. Doug Ducey's reelection campaign to the amounts paid by ASU to the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee, David Garcia. (Arizona's Politics has requested details on the number of classes and students taught.)

Also of interest is that Sen. Kyl received $26,000 compensation for being on the Board of Managers for Sandia National Laboratory. The NTESS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell, operating for the U.S. government.

As noted, Senator Kyl provided lobbying and legal services as a Senior Of Counsel at the large law firm of Covington & Burling. Some of his lobbying clients had been previously disclosed and covered by Arizona's Politics. Among the most significant of these was his work lobbying for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of the dark money Judicial Crisis Network. He also lobbied for "Big Pharma" (Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America), Facebook, Qualcomm and others; a number of these clients receive federal monies and/or have business in front of Congress.

Among the 23 "legal/advocacy" clients he has disclosed in this new report are several not previously disclosed. Among those are APS/Pinnacle West, MGM Resorts, Republic Services and SRP. Arizona's Politics has reported extensively on APS' involvement in Arizona politics, including on behalf of Gov. Ducey.** (Please note, lobbying disclosure laws have been left purposefully vague as to what activities are required to be publicly disclosed, and related revolving door laws permit Kyl to now resume some "legal/advocacy" activity.)

Interestingly, even with these newly-disclosed lobbying clients, the public does not have a complete picture of who Sen. Kyl advised before Ducey appointed him to (temporarily) fill the late Senator John McCain's Senate term. The new report notes that "the identity of 9 clients is withheld" due to ethical rules. Thus, it is not known whether any of those clients had business before the Senate during these past several months nor whether Sen. Kyl took any actions on their behalf. It is, of course, possible, that Sen. Kyl separately disclosed those clients to the Senate's Ethics Counsel; however, that seems unlikely because he probably would have noted that in this report.

Of final note is that the new report indicates that Jon and Caryl Kyl's net worth increased more than seven fold in the 5 1/2 years between his Senatorial stints. In 2011 - after he announced that he would not run for reelection in 2012 - Arizona's Politics examined his previous financial disclosure statements. With a median calculated net worth then of just over $600,000, Kyl was one of the less wealthy members of the Senate. (And, in fact, his net worth had increased approximately 1.1% annually while he was in the Senate.)

Many speculated then that he would use his national stature to increase his net worth substantially after leaving the Senate. Those people were correct. In 2012, the Kyls' net worth was estimated to be approximately $694,000.*** In the new report, their net worth is estimated to be $5,168,500.

Senator Kyl has been asked for his comments on the specific items raised by his report and this article. Arizona's Politics will update this article as warranted.









Thursday, January 3, 2019

(WATCH) Alphabet Be Damned: McSally Sworn In 1st, But Sinema Remains Arizona's "Senior Senator"

It's official - Arizona now has two new Senators. And, although the Senate followed protocol and swore in all 34 Senators in alphabetical order, Kyrsten Sinema will be Arizona's "Senior Senator" while Martha McSally will be the "Junior Senator."

Sinema (D-AZ) defeated McSally (R-AZ) in November's election to replace the now-retired Sen. Jeff Flake*, and Governor Doug Ducey (R) appointed McSally to replace the re-retired Sen. Jon Kyl. Ducey announced at that time that Sinema would be sworn in first and have the seniority between the two.

However, the Senate had a different idea, and proceeded to swear in 34 Senators - new, returning, elected, appointed - in groups of four, alphabetically. Thus, technically speaking, McSally was sworn in before the woman who narrowly defeated her in November.

After publicly noting the apparent swearing-in snafu, Arizona's Politics contacted Ducey Communications Director Pat Ptak. He indicated that Ducey's office did "work with Senate leadership staff to confirm" that Sinema has seniority.
"Kyrsten Sinema is Arizona's senior senator and the first woman senator from Arizona. The election canvass that took place Dec. 3, prior to Martha McSally's appointment, is the deciding factor. Order today was done alphabetically but does not determine seniority."
He acknowledged that the Senate could have "avoided confusion" by swearing in McSally after those who were elected, "but the end result is the same."

While most of the Senators sworn in were accompanied by their states' other Senator, Sinema and McSally did not have that option. McSally was presented by Iowa Senator Joni Ernst**, and Sinema was presented by Flake. (As we know, Sen. Kyl was in Phoenix yesterday.)

McSally has already filed a statement indicating that she will be running in the 2020 special election to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain's term.

Here is the Arizona portion of today's swearing in:

*Flake also switched from "Junior" to "Senior", upon John McCain's passing, and Kyl was "Junior" for all of his two stints in the Senate.
**h/t to eagle-eyed Brahm Resnik, KPNX.



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