Kamala Harris, just the second Black female United States Senator in American history, will resign her Senate seat Monday, two days before she achieves another historic milestone: her swearing-in as Vice President of the United States.
Harris will be the first Black, female, and person of South Asian descent to serve as vice president in U.S. history.
After serving as California's Attorney General, Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, replacing longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Harris' aides 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.
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.
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.
The wins by Ossoff and Warnock in Georgia ensured a 50-50 Senate, positioning Harris as the tie-breaking vote for Democratic control. But Ossoff and Warnock cannot join the chamber until Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certifies the final vote tally. Raffensperger, a Republican, has said he could act as soon as Tuesday, conceivably allowing Padilla, Ossoff and Warnock to join the Senate together as early as that afternoon's session.
But Republicans will maintain a narrow majority until all three take office and Harris sits in the presiding officer's chair.
It was also announced that Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice.
Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to a person familiar with the decision. She’ll also use two Bibles for the swearing-in, one of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.
The news of Harris' choice of Sotomayor was first reported by ABC News.
Harris has expressed admiration for both Sotomayor and Marshall. She and Sotomayor share experience as prosecutors, and she once called Marshall — like Harris, a graduate of Howard University — one of her “greatest heroes.”
The vice president-elect said in a video posted to Twitter that she viewed Marshall as “one of the main reasons I wanted to be a lawyer,” calling him “a fighter” in the courtroom.
And this will be the second time Sotomayor takes part in an inauguration. She swore in President-elect Joe Biden as vice president in 2013.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.