RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Aaron Rouse was sworn into the Virginia Senate Wednesday, filling an open seat that gives Democrats a 22-18 majority in the chamber.

State Sen. Rouse (D-Virginia Beach) defeated Republican Kevin Adams in a Jan. 10 special election for the state Senate seat once held by Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Va.) before her congressional victory in the 2022 midterms.

In an interview after he was sworn in, Rouse told 8News he’s focused on addressing public education during the shorter legislative session. Rouse added that he’s proud his place in the chamber ensures Virginia’s abortion laws won’t change despite Republicans’ pursuit of passing a 15-week ban proposal backed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

With Rouse now in office, the Virginia Senate is back to having 40 members. The Democrats’ slim majority raised the stakes of the special election between Rouse and Adams.

Much of the focus centered on abortion access, with Democratic state Sen. Joe Morrissey (Richmond) signaling he would consider Republican efforts to pass restrictions.

“The brick wall is stronger than ever,” state Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), the president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, said after exiting the chamber Wednesday.

But Rouse’s victory not only gives Democrats a comfortable margin on those proposals, it also eases the party’s concerns of Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears breaking ties on other key measures.

Rouse, a former Virginia Beach City councilman, handed out gifts to his new colleagues after the swearing-in ceremony.

According to Rouse’s staff, he is set to serve on several state Senate committees, including the local government panel and general laws and technology committee.