(AP) – Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first Indian-American senator Tuesday. She is also the first Black woman to represent California in the U.S. Senate.
“It is a great honor to serve the people of California in the Senate, and I look forward to the work ahead.” Harris said. “There is no doubt that our country is at an inflection point in our history, one where we are challenged to stand up for the ideals of our nation. My message to those who are uncertain about the future is this: I intend to fight for our state and all our families. I’ve got your back.”
Her comment echoes what she told immigrants in Los Angeles days after Donald Trump became president-elect. Harris has said one of her first actions in Congress will be to cosponsor a bipartisan bill to protect young DREAM Act immigrants from being targeted for deportation by the incoming administration. The bill would need to pass through a Republican-majority House, Senate and White House.
Harris was one of seven new members of the Senate who joined those who won re-election in receiving the oath of office from Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday. Biden is the president of the Senate until Donald Trump becomes president Jan. 20. Then Mike Pence will take over.
There are two new Republican senators and five Democrats. The Republicans are Indiana Sen. Todd Young and Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy. The Democrats are Harris, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
Duckworth, a double-amputee Iraq war vet, walked to the dais and stood for the oath.
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown nominated Xavier Becerra to replace Harris as California’s next attorney general, beginning what is likely to be a smooth confirmation for the longtime Democratic congressman who has taken a combative stance against President-elect Trump. Becerra has represented parts of Los Angeles as House representative for the 34th District.
The state Legislature will have 90 days to confirm Becerra.