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Politics

Harris Quits Senate, Clearing Way for Padilla: Inaugural Update

Updated on

Harris Quits Senate, Clearing Way for Padilla: Inaugural Update

  • Check here for live updates on the presidential inauguration
  • Republican musician Garth Brooks will play at inauguration
Temporary security fencing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. 
Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris officially left the Senate. Musician Garth Brooks will play at the inauguration. And a largely virtual protest will call for more progressive policies.

There are two days until President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing in.

Harris Steps Down, Padilla Appointed to the U.S. Senate

Kamala Harris is no longer a senator but she’ll get to swear in her replacement.

Harris officially stepped down from the Senate Monday, and California Governor Gavin Newsom signed paperwork to appoint Secretary of State Alex Padilla to her seat.

Padilla will be the first Hispanic senator from California and the first man to represent California in the Senate since 1993. Newsom, who faced criticism for not appointing a woman, also named state lawmaker Shirley Weber as the first Black woman to serve as California Secretary of State.

Newsom said it was “fitting” to announce the nominations on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Padilla said that he may be sworn in as soon as Wednesday. As vice president, Harris would be the one to swear him in. -- Ryan Teague Beckwith

Country Star Garth Brooks to Play at Inauguration (2:29 p.m.)

Country music superstar Garth Brooks may be a Republican but he said he considers it the honor of a lifetime to play for Biden’s inauguration.

In a call with the Presidential Inauguration Committee on Monday, Brooks said he supports Biden’s commitment to forging unity in the country.

“As long as you have people like the Bidens who are hell bent on making things good, that makes me feel good because I want to spend the next ten years of my life not being divided,” he said. “I’m so tired of being divided.”

This will be Brooks’ second inauguration performance, having played at President Barack Obama’s in 2009. He was asked to perform at President Donald Trump’s but could not due to a pre-scheduled event. Brooks will play at the inauguration itself, not in the virtual concert afterward featuring artists such as Bruce Springsteen and John Legend.

The committee also announced three virtual events slated for Tuesday celebrating the country’s diversity ahead of the inauguration. The events include virtual balls focusing on Asian, Black and Latino Americans, beginning at 7 p.m. -- Emma Kinery

Inauguration Protest Will Call for More Progressive Policies (12:52 p.m.)

The National Park Service granted a permit for an inauguration protest at Columbus Circle in Washington, D.C. -- but the activists sharing their views on a 9 foot-by-12-foot video screen won’t be there to support outgoing President Donald Trump.

Instead, the Working Families Party and DC Action Lab told the park service they plan to “call on President Biden to hold more progressive policies.” Their 24-hour looped video is meant to replace speeches, and only five participants are expected to be on site.

At least one other group, made up of Trump supporters, had sought permission to hold a rally backing the president during this week’s inaugural festivities.

The “Let America Hear Us, Roar for Trump” action would have involved as many as 300 participants and sought to gather at Lafayette Park near the White House, according to an application filed with the park service. But “the permit was not issued as the permittee did not respond to our multiple attempts to contact them,” the service said.

The park service said it was still processing a separate application, by the ANSWER Coalition, a mainstay in D.C.’s protest scene, for a “demonstration demanding urgent action to save the environment, end war and militarism,” and “prioritize money to meet people’s needs.” If approved, that action could take place through Thursday around the Washington Monument Grounds, the Navy Memorial and other sites. -- Jennifer A. Dlouhy

Bidens Volunteer on National Day of Service (11:52 a.m.)

The Bidens volunteered in Philadelphia as part of the National Day of Service held Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The president-elect and his wife, Jill, worked at Philabundance, a community kitchen that provides food to the needy.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bidens, along with his daughter Ashley and granddaughter Finnegan, assembled boxes of canned goods, apples and oranges for distribution.

The tradition of volunteering before inauguration began under President Barack Obama in 2009, when then-Vice President-elect Biden helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity. -- Jennifer Epstein

Rehearsal Evacuated Due to Fire Near Capitol (10:40 a.m.)

A rehearsal for Wednesday’s inauguration was evacuated by security officials Monday morning after a fire broke out near the Capitol, according to the Associated Press.

An alert was sent to Capitol Hill staffers telling them not to enter or exit the building and to stay away from windows due to an “external security threat” near a bridge on Interstate 295. An order to “shut the perimeter” went out on police radio as officials sought to clarify the seriousness of the situation.

The Capitol lockdown was lifted before noon and the rehearsal resumed.

A Twitter account for Washington D.C. firefighters soon said that they had been called to an outside fire in the 100 block of H Street SE that has since been extinguished.

“This accounts for smoke that many have seen,” according to the tweet.

Capitol Police said in a statement that “members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident is being investigated.” -- Ryan Teague Beckwith, Todd Shields, William Turton

Harris Hopes to Avoid Tie-Breaking Votes (9:50 a.m.)

One of the few duties of the vice president spelled out in the Constitution is breaking ties in the Senate, but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris hopes she doesn’t have to do it much.

In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle published Monday, the vice president-elect noted that there have been only 268 tie-breaking votes cast by a vice president in history.

“I intend to work tirelessly as your Vice President, including, if necessary, fulfilling this Constitutional duty,” she wrote. “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.”

The Senate will be evenly divided, 50-50, between Democrats and Republicans after Georgia’s new senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are sworn in this week. That means one of Harris’ first duties as vice president will be to break the tie to put Democrats in charge of the upper chamber.

Harris officially resigned from the Senate Monday, and will be replaced by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who will be the state’s first Hispanic senator.

Vice President Mike Pence cast 13 tie-breaking votes in office, including confirming several judges and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But Biden cast no tie-breakers during his time as vice president. --Ryan Teague Beckwith

— With assistance by Ryan Teague Beckwith, Jennifer Epstein, Todd Shields, William Turton, Jennifer A Dlouhy, and Emma Kinery

(Updates previous item with rehearsal resuming)