Kamala Harris’ first duty as vice president on Wednesday was to swear in three new senators: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff from Georgia and Alex Padilla from California.
All Democrats, these three senators shift the balance of power in the upper chamber, giving each party 50 representatives with Harris acting as the tiebreaker in her role as president of the Senate who presides over proceedings.
Padilla formerly served as California’s Secretary of State. He was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to take over the seat held by the newly inaugurated vice president and serve the remaining two years of her term. Padilla will be the first Latino senator in California, a state where nearly 40 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic.
Warnock and Ossoff won in a heavily contested runoff election in Georgia earlier this month, edging out two incumbent Republicans.
Georgia hasn’t had a Democrat serve as senator in 20 years. Now, it has two.
Warnock is the first Black senator to represent the state, and only the 11th in the history of the Senate. He’s also a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
In another historic first, Ossoff, 33, is the youngest senator by eight years, as well as the newest Jewish member of Congress.