Just hours after making history by becoming the first woman, first Black, and first person of South Asian descent to become vice president, Kamala Harris got straight to work in her new role. After the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural events faded, Harris retired to the Senate on Wednesday where a humorous and "very weird" moment played out as she read her own name while introducing her replacement.
The former California senator officially resigned from her Senate seat Monday, just two days before her swearing-in ceremony, with her first order of business after taking the oath of office being swearing in her replacement, newly designated Sen. Alex Padilla. Padilla was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. As she read the formal legislation stating Padilla was being sworn in as California's next senator in order "to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California," the moment didn't go amiss by Harris, who burst into laughter and admitted, "Yeah, that was very weird." Others in the chamber also found humor, though they took a moment to applaud the new madam vice president.
“Yeah, that was very weird.”😆 pic.twitter.com/mWSLjn4wrA— Maya Harris (@mayaharris_) January 20, 2021
The moment quickly went viral on social media as Americans across the country celebrated Harris' history-making inauguration, with her sister, Maya Harris, sharing the clip to Twitter. One person said watching the video made them cry, writing, "seeing the happiness, the realism that a woman is in that position and a woman who seems like she's someone we could just talk to and she would hear us. Her laugh is just infectious and lightens my heart so much." Another wrote, "I burst out laughing at that. I love that we have a VP with a sense of humor."
Padilla was not the only person to be sworn on Wednesday afternoon. Harris also administered the oath of office to Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who won in the Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections in Georgia. Like Harris, they also made history, with Warnock becoming Georgia's first Black senator and just the 11th in U.S. history, and Ossoff becoming the state's first Jewish senator. Padilla, meanwhile, became California's first Latino senator.
The swearing ins cemented a 50-50 split in the Senate. This means that Harris, as vice president, has the tiebreaking vote, all but giving Democrats control of the Senate. Sen. Chuck Schumer is now the Senate majority leader, with Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday officially becoming the minority leader. NPR reports Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. became the new president pro tempore of the Senate, placing him third in the line of succession to the presidency.