Politics & Policy

Kamala Harris Sworn In as Vice President

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Reuters)

Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president on Wednesday, just before Joe Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president.

The former California senator, 56, makes history as the first woman and black vice president as well as the first person of Asian descent to fill the position. Harris is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court’s first Hispanic justice, administered the vice presidential oath of office to Harris. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, held a Bible upon which Harris placed her left hand as she raised her right.

Harris ran against Biden in the Democratic presidential primary in 2019 before dropping out of the race at the end of that year. Biden tapped her as his running mate in August, and she resigned her Senate seat on Monday, just two days before the inauguration.

Governor Gavin Newsom will appoint California secretary of state Alex Padilla, another Democrat, to serve out the last two years of Harris’s Senate term.

Harris now becomes the Senate’s presiding officer as vice president and is expected to be the deciding Democratic vote in a 50-50 split Senate, provided Democratic Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia are certified in their election victories.

Biden said Thursday that his first legislative priority once he takes office will be a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes a second round of direct payments to Americans.

Harris served in the Senate for four years of her first and only term. She was the first black woman to serve as a senator from California. Prior to her election to the Senate, she had served as California attorney general since 2011. She started her political career in the Senate in 1984, when worked a summer internship with then-Senator Alan Cranston of California.

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