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.
Harris will give no farewell Senate floor speech. The Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday, the eve of Inauguration Day, two weeks after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting to affirm Biden’s election victory.
That siege, Harris said in an interview broadcast Sunday, “was seismic. It was an inflection moment. You know, sometimes we think an inflection moment is the bringing of something that is positive. No. It was in many ways a reckoning. It was an exposure of the vulnerability of our democracy.”
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 is the first woman ever elected vice president — and the first Black woman and first woman of South Asian descent to serve in that office. But her Senate departure leaves the chamber’s roster without a Black woman. Harris was just the second Black female senator, winning her California election 17 years after Democrat Carol Moseley Braun finished a single term representing Illinois.
Harris’ early departure from the Senate has multiple precedents.
Biden was the last sitting senator to be elected vice president. He resigned his Delaware post on Jan. 15, 2009, five days before he and Barack Obama were inaugurated. Obama, a senator at the time of his election, had resigned his Illinois seat two months before Biden.
Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, have enjoyed conversations and debates over how Emhoff should be addressed when Harris takes office.
During their joint interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” Harris joked that some of Emhoff’s friends suggested he could be dubbed the “first dude.” Emhoff added there were other ideas “I can’t repeat on national television.”
Vice presidents’ spouses — all of them wives before Emhoff have at times been called the “second lady,” a nod to the “first lady” being the president’s wife.
All kidding aside, Emhoff told CBS’ Jane Pauley, he would be the first “second gentleman” in US history.