Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., center, participates in a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Thursday, April 11, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Earlier Kelly was officially sworn in on the House floor. She takes over the seat held for 17 years by scandal-tarnished Jesse Jackson Jr. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Illinois state Rep. Robin Kelly was sworn in Thursday as the newest member of the House, taking over the seat held for 17 years by scandal-tarnished Jesse Jackson Jr.
Kelly, in remarks made after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, administered the oath of office, stressed her commitment to combating gun violence, passing immigration reform, creating jobs and improving the health care system.
Kelly scored an easy special-election victory Tuesday over a Republican opponent in the heavily Democratic 2nd District, which includes part of Chicago's South Side and south suburbs.
During the February primary and the election, Kelly concentrated on guns and violence, issues of keen interest in her district as Chicago struggles to reduce its high murder rate. Her campaign received $2 million in backing from the political action committee of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leading gun-control supporter.
"I ran for Congress so that I could work to bring about a safer, less violent and more prosperous future, one in which our children can grow up without the fear of gun violence," she said on the House floor after taking the oath of office.
"I look forward to working with you to protect our children from criminals and protect our Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens, because we should and can do both," she said.
Shortly after Kelly took the official oath, Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill to preside over a second ceremony. The vice president's office said Kelly had asked Biden to perform a ceremonial swearing-in.
Jackson, son of human rights leader Jesse Jackson, resigned in November after citing health concerns and acknowledging he was under federal investigation. He pleaded guilty in February to spending $750,000 in campaign money on personal expenses.
With Kelly's addition, the lineup in the House became 232 Republicans, 201 Democrats and two vacancies.