Kamala Harris hopes not to be the Senate tie-breaker

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris; photo credit: https://buildbackbetter.gov/

Indian American VP-elect hopes split Senate “will instead find common ground.”

As she prepares to be sworn in Wednesday as America’s first woman, first black and first Indian origin vice president, Kamala Harris hopes she would not have to serve as a tie-breaker in the Senate.

Harris, who formally resigned from her California Senate seat Monday ahead of her inauguration, hoped the Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, “will instead find common ground and do the work of the American people.”

California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has chosen California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Harris, making Padilla the first Latino to represent the state in the US Senate.

Harris, only the second Black woman ever to serve in the US Senate, discussed her future role as Senate President in an op-ed in The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

“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.

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

“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.”

In a separate address to her now-former constituents in California, Harris said serving in the position “has been an honor” — and acknowledged the challenges that came along with it.

“The past four years have tested us as a nation. Even before I was sworn in we knew that foreign adversaries had interfered in the 2016 election,” she wrote in part.

“Soon thereafter, families were being separated at the border, and our work to combat climate change was being dismantled. Since then, three Supreme Court nominees have come before the Senate Judiciary committee on which I have sat. Wildfires have ravaged our state, racial injustice continues to plague our nation, and COVID-19 plagues the world.”

Despite these hardships, Harris went on to highlight the progressive legislation she was able to pass during her time as Senator.

“From helping seniors navigate the Medicare system to helping veterans get the benefits they are owed, from securing funding for families to rebuild after the wildfires to working to get small businesses what they need to stay afloat — my team heard you, we saw you, and we fought for you,” Harris said, thanking her team for “working tirelessly” for Californians over the past several months.

Harris later released a video message thanking Californians “for the honor of representing the place of my birth as a proud daughter of California.”

In her resignation letter, Harris said she is confident Padilla “will carry on this work” on behalf of the people of California.

Still, Harris wrote, her letter was not a farewell, saying: “Today, as I resign from the Senate, I am preparing to take an oath that would have me preside over it.”

“Change is possible. For that, I am grateful and ready to get to work,” Harris concluded. “Thus, as I leave the United States Senate, this is not goodbye. This is hello.”

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