Kamala Harris resigns from US Senate ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) resigned from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday as she prepares to be sworn in as vice president this week.

The Hill confirmed Monday that Harris had submitted her formal letter of resignation to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). She and President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

A look ahead

According to the Associated Press, Newsom has already tapped Harris’ replacement: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Padilla will be traveling to Washington himself on Wednesday to be sworn in as California’s junior senator, the Los Angeles Times reports.

His predecessor, meanwhile, is preparing to move her office from the Capitol to the White House. Over the last several years, Harris went from no-name politician to one of the most influential figures in the Democratic Party — despite being thoroughly rejected by Democrat voters in the presidential primaries — and she’ll have a big role going forward.

A big job

After the 2020 elections and a pair of subsequent runoffs in Georgia left the Senate tied with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, it will be up to the vice president to break any ties in the upper chamber.

“As senator-turned-Vice-President Walter Mondale once pointed out, the vice presidency is the only office in our government that ‘belongs to both the executive branch and the legislative branch.’ A responsibility made greater with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate,” Harris wrote in an op-ed on her resignation this week, according to The Hill.

“Since our nation’s founding, only 268 tie-breaking votes have been cast by a Vice President,” she added. “I intend to work tirelessly as your Vice President, including, if necessary, fulfilling this Constitutional duty.”

Harris went on: “At the same time, it is my hope that rather than come to the point of a tie, the Senate will instead find common ground and do the work of the American people.”

A message of unity?

The message of unity expressed in Harris’ statement has been echoed throughout Biden’s campaign and transition process — but it seems the country is more divided than ever. The House voted to impeach President Donald Trump a second time last week and now, lawmakers are teeing up a trial in the Senate, as NPR notes.

Meanwhile, recent polls have shown a sharp fissure among voters on whether removing Trump — and potentially barring him from running for office again — is actually the right call. According to Vox, less than half of respondents to a PBS NewsHour/Marist poll said Trump should be forced out before the end of his term, and just 50% told YouGov the same.

If Biden and Harris want to bring the country together, they might want to stop the rest of their caucus from pulling Americans further apart.

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