Louisiana got a new U.S. senator on Tuesday when the 114th Congress got underway.
After a December runoff during which republican Bill Cassidy defeated incumbent democratic Senator Mary Landrieu by a huge margin, Cassidy,the former congressman for the Louisiana's 6th Congressional district gained a new title during a brief swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill.
On the eve before he took the oath as a senator Cassidy stood in the marble-filled Russell Building rotunda and talked about his excitement over the chance to serve as Louisiana's junior U.S. senator.
"What an incredible honor to represent the people of Louisiana," said Sen. Cassidy.
With Cassidy joining republican Senator David Vitter, it is the first time in more than a century that Louisiana will not have a democrat among the nation's 100 senators.
"Mary Landrieu was the last of the last, she was the last white Democrat from the deep-south in Congress," said Tulane Political Analyst Mike Sherman.
Landrieu failed to hang on in Louisiana which has becoming increasingly "red."
"This is a historic moment, Louisiana has done what the rest of the deep-south has done which is solidly republican at the state level, and at the national level," Sherman added.
The 114th Congress ushered in the GOP's total control of the house and senate. Cassidy says his priorities include fighting to increase revenue sharing dollars for Louisiana from drilling in the outer-continental shelf.
"Under our state's constitution it goes to coastal restoration, so not only does it create jobs and diversify the United States energy portfolio, but it rebuilds our coastline," Cassidy stated.
He will also vote again to repeal the president's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, and Cassidy will vote in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline when it comes up for a vote again in the senate. When Landrieu finally landed a vote on the issue in the waning days of the campaign, the measure failed.
"We really need to tee this up and get it passed creating the 40,000 jobs for working families," said Cassidy.
But not long after the new senate was sworn in, the White House made it clear that President Barack Obama would not sign legislation approving the pipeline. Obama has said estimates of jobs tied to the pipeline that would extend from Canada to some gulf states are bloated and the pipeline would help Canadian oil companies, but not be a huge benefit to Americans.
Clearly the American people want members of Congress to work together to get things done and republicans have said they understand they must prove that they can govern.
But Sherman is not convinced much will change in terms of progress on key issues.
"People love their congressmen, but they hate Congress as a whole, Congress' approval ratings are at record lows, so for those who love the dysfunction and the stagnation, they're going to get a lot more of it, the fundamentals haven't really changed, in essence, this is a probably more partisan Congress than we've ever seen where the members are more on the extremes of their parties," he said.
Cassidy is hopeful.
"So that now that republicans control the senate I am more optimistic, President Obama is still the president, so we'll have to overcome his veto at times, but we're a lot further along than we were before, so that gives me optimism," he said.
Sherman added that republican Whip Steve Scalise will be under a lot of pressure given the new congress and the role he plays.
"Steve Scalise must be feeling a lot more weight on his shoulders. He's the man in Congress right now who has the most power from our state who can really drive the agenda. He's in that closed door room of leadership members," said Sherman.
Garrett Graves was also sworn in as the new congressman for the 6th District in Louisiana.