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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from her Senate seat on Monday, two days before a historic inauguration where she and President-elect Joe Biden will take over the reins from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
The decision was confirmed by Harris aides, according to The Associated Press.
Harris informed Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom of her decision, which paves the way for the appointment of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who the governor nominated in December to fill the remaining two years of Harris’s seat.
Padilla, 47, will be California’s first-ever Latino senator, a milestone achievement in a state that is roughly 40% Hispanic.
The arrival of Padilla, along with Harris’s continued role in the Senate as the chamber’s presiding officer, is part of the calculus for the Democratic Senate majority in the 117th Congress. Once Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, fresh off their 2021 runoff election victories, are sworn into office, the party will have 50 seats in the upper chamber and Harris’s tiebreaking vote will be pivotal in moving along Biden’s legislative agenda and judicial nominees.
Harris, who won her first Senate race in 2016 to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, will become the first female, first Black, and first Indian-American vice president in history when she is inaugurated on Wednesday.
The vice president-elect is one of just three Black senators currently in the chamber, along with Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Tim Scott of South Carolina. She is currently the only Black woman in the Senate and only the second Black woman ever elected to the upper chamber — the first being former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, who served from 1993 to 1999.
When Warnock is sworn in, the number of Black senators will remain at three.
During her tenure, Harris, a former San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General, became known for her sharp questioning of Trump administration officials. An exchange with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a 2017 Judiciary Committee hearing went viral.
On Wednesday, when Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a new chapter in her relationship with the Senate will begin.
“This is not a goodbye for Vice President-elect Harris, as she resigns from the Senate, she’s preparing to take an oath that will allow her to preside over it,” a Harris aide said. “And as vice president, she will work tirelessly … and in a bipartisan fashion to really achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s legislative agenda.”
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