News roundup: Kennedy sworn in as US senator … Baker Donelson, Ober|Kaler complete merger … Republican US senator introduces Obamacare repeal resolution

    In office: Louisiana’s newest U.S. senator, Republican John Kennedy, has taken the oath of office today as the latest term of Congress began. As The Associated Press reports, Kennedy, who had been Louisiana’s treasurer, defeated Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell for the Senate seat, getting 61% of the vote. He has taken the seat previously held by Republican David Vitter, who didn’t run for re-election. Kennedy resigned as treasurer midday Monday. An Oct. 14 special election will be held to fill the position. Ron Henson, Kennedy’s top assistant, is leading the agency until a new treasurer is elected. Also sworn in today were two new U.S. House members for Louisiana’s delegation: Republicans Clay Higgins in the southwest Louisiana-based 3rd District and Mike Johnson in the northwest Louisiana-based 4th District. All three won runoff elections last month.

    Larger than ever: Law firms Baker Donelson and Baltimore-based Ober|Kaler have completed their previously announced merger. The combined company will maintain the Baker Donelson name and will create one of the 50 largest law firms in the country with more than 800 attorneys and advisers across 25 offices in 10 states and in Washington, D.C., according to a news release. There also will be 380 shareholders and nearly 1,600 total employees. There were no layoffs at either firm as a result of the merger, the news release says. The merger also creates Baker Ober Health Law—the third largest health practice in the country. It also will strengthen Baker Donelson’s presence in Baltimore, Washington and Nashville. Baker Donelson Chair and CEO Ben Adams and President and COO Jennifer P. Keller are maintaining their leadership positions in the combined agency. Read the full release. 

    In motion: Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi today introduced a resolution allowing for the repeal of Obamacare. Reuters reports the move by the Senate’s budget committee chairman on the first day of the new Congress set in motion the Republican majority’s promise to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act—as the law is more formally known—as its first major legislative item. Republicans have said the repeal process could take months and that developing replacement health insurance plans could take years. Republicans are using a budget resolution to provide for Obamacare’s repeal, allowing them to act without any Democratic votes. Budget resolutions require a simple majority to pass in the Senate, instead of the 60 votes normally required to clear procedural hurdles. There are 52 Republicans in the 100-seat chamber. Read the full story. 

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