Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat on Monday, two days before she and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated
Aides to the California Democrat confirmed the timing and said Gov. Gavin Newsom was aware of her decision, clearing the way for him to appoint fellow Democrat Alex Padilla now California’s secretary of state, to serve the final two years of Harris’ term.
Padilla will be the first Latino senator from California, where about 40% of residents are Hispanic. Newsom announced his choice in December, following intense lobbying for the rare Senate vacancy from the nation’s most populous state.
Padilla’s arrival, along with Harris becoming the Senate’s presiding officer when she’s sworn-in as vice president, is part of Democrats’ upcoming Senate majority. But the party still needs Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia to be certified as victors in their Jan. 5 elections and then be sworn in.
Harris will be the first Black woman and first woman of South Asian descent to serve as vice president, but her Senate departure leaves the chamber’s roster without a Black woman. Harris was just the second Black woman senator, winning her California election 17 years after Democrat Carol Moseley Braun finished a single term representing Illinois.
Among many potential successors to Harris, Newsom passed over at least two prominent Black women, U.S. Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee. Bass also was among Biden’s finalists for running mate.
Democrats were in the minority during Harris’ four years on Capitol Hill. Perhaps her biggest mark came as a fierce questioner of judicial nominees and other witnesses as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.