Wilimington (Delaware): US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat on Monday, two days before she and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated.
Harris has notified California Gov. Gavin Newsom that she will step down from her California Senate seat effective Monday, two days before she and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated. Newsom named fellow Democrat Alex Padilla California Secretary of State Alex Padilla who will serve out the final two years of Harris' first term.
Padilla will be the first Latino senator from California, where about 40 per cent 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.
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.
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.
Harris was viewed as a future presidential candidate almost immediately upon joining the Senate in 2017. She announced her White House bid in January 2019 but dropped out the subsequent December after a lackluster campaign and before the ballots were cast in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. Biden, himself a former senator, invited her to join the national ticket in August.
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.
(From PTI with edits)