Kamala Harris is now the vice president of the United States after swearing in on Wednesday, making her the first woman to serve in the role, the Washington Examiner reports.
The promotion brought the Democrat a step closer to realizing any lingering presidential ambitions she may have after her own White House bid fell apart during the primary season.
A new administration
Harris, who is also the first South Asian American and first Black American to serve as VP, took the oath of office dressed in purple in honor of the trailblazing Black politician Shirley Chisholm, the Examiner reported. Harris took the oath, which was administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on two Bibles, one of which was owned by Thurgood Marshall.
As vice president, Harris is also the president of the Senate, which allows her to break ties. It’s a role that she may invoke more frequently than usual, as there are currently 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the upper chamber.
In one of her first acts as VP, Harris swore in Alex Padilla, who took her California Senate seat by appointment, and Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who both won recent runoff elections in Georgia, The New York Times reported.
Harris has come far since little over a year ago, when her White House campaign imploded after an initial splash of media fanfare failed to materialize into a popular following.
Her now-boss was then a primary competitor who Harris infamously accused of being racist on the debate stage, a moment that was arguably the peak for her presidential candidacy.
What a difference a year makes: Harris is now first in line to the presidency, a scenario that led to speculation and morbid jokes on the campaign trail about her personal ambitions, as Biden, who is 78, faced questions about whether he was fit for office.
A former prosecutor, Harris has cultivated a hard-nosed public persona that critics find grating. She has often been characterized as a cynical careerist, and recently came under scrutiny for apparently plagiarizing a story from Martin Luther King, Jr.
In her first speech, Harris called on Americans to “unite” and dream big.
“This is what President Joe Biden has called upon us to summon now — the courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good, to unite, to believe in ourselves, believe in our country. Believe in what we can do together,” she said, according to Newsweek.