TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - US Senator-elect Mark Kelly told KOLD News 13 that controlling the pandemic is job one right now.
“We’ve got to tackle this problem in a thoughtful way,” he said. “We’ve got to stop this, listen to science, we need a national plan.”
But he doesn’t believe the plan will arrive under the current administration.
“I don’t think we’re going to get one until after January 20th," he said.
Jan. 20 is the day President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office.
Kelly beat Republican Martha McSally, who finally conceded defeat, on Nov. 13 following our interview with Kelly.
For Kelly, it was his first run for office following a career in the Navy and as an astronaut.
He spent part of the week being introduced to the parliamentary procedures and protocols in the United States Senate.
“It’s very abstract as you are a candidate and suddenly a week later, I find myself sitting there in the Senate chambers,” he said. “That’s when it becomes kind of real.”
Kelly says he will govern in a bipartisan manner because he believes the nation’s problems are too big for one party to solve.
“It’s only by compromise and working across the aisle that we’re going to be able to address these concerns,” he said. “Bipartisanship is the only way to solve these problems.”
As a former astronaut, Kelly believes being a space shuttle commander and now a US Senator have a lot in common.
“You’re in space, you have to do the job, you want to do it safely and efficiently, you want it to be successful, the mission is really important, same as being elected to the US Senate,” he said. “All this stuff behind us, campaigning, election, that doesn’t matter. Now what matters is how effective you can be doing the job, solve the problems.”
He added “the parallels are kind of strange.”
He feels it’s important to pass a new stimulus bill because people are hurting, but he doesn’t believe it will be done before the end of the year.
“We’ve got 440,000 Arizonans who are trying to get by on $240 a week on unemployment benefits,” he said. “That doesn’t work for any family.”
Kelly is married to Gabby Giffords, a former Congresswoman who was shot in the head during a Congress on Your Corner event on Jan. 11, 2008.
They have been invested in gun control measures since, including forming the organization “Americans for Responsible Solutions” which lobbies on gun control measures. It is now known a “Giffords.”
“The issue Gabby and I have worked on, it’s very personal to me, the issue of gun violence and gun safety,” he said. “It affected Gabby in a very personal way.”
But he points out he is a gun owner and a “staunch” supporter of the Second Amendment.
“I think we can respect the rights and traditions on gun ownership,” he said. “But communities can be safer from gun violence.”
Kelly will be sworn in during the first week of December, ahead of the rest of the class, because he ran in a special election to finish out the term of the late Senator John McCain.
“After I’m sworn in, in the beginning of December, I’ll be encouraging both sides to work together to come up with something because families and businesses are struggling,” he said.