On Tuesday (Australian time), Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will officially resign from her US Senate seat, two days ahead of being inaugurated as the first female, first Black and first South Asian VP.
In the last few days, she has notified California Gov. Gavin Newsom of her intent and sent her formal indications to resign.
The former Californian attorney general won her seat four years ago, beating Republican Loretta Sanchez and making history by becoming the first Black woman in California to serve as a senator.
Typically, an existing Senator delivers an in-person speech to farewell her Senate seat, but Harris will not be doing this due to fears about the potential for violence enacted by domestic extremists as Trump’s final days as President draw to a close.
Incoming White House Communication Director Kate Bedington, told US broadcaster ABC that the inauguration will be held on the steps outside the US Capitol building because holding the inauguration on the steps of the building that was attacked has “symbolic value.”
“I think that will send an incredibly important visual image to the world about the resilience of American democracy,” she said.
“Our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible, with his family, outside, on the west side of the Capitol.”
“There is no question, we are in a volatile time, unfortunately you just have to look at the chatter on social media to see this.”
“We’re working to ensure we are prepared and we have full faith in the U.S Secret Service and their partners on the planning that this event is safe.”
Since the Capitol Hill riots earlier this month, more than a dozen US states have been on high alert, as ongoing security threats continue to spread online.
Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, will take on Harris’s Senate seat and serve the final two years of her term.
In November, after Joe Biden won the US presidential election, Harris used her victory speech to highlight the trailblazing women who have come before her.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
She also spent time paying respects to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a biomedical scientist who emigrated to the US to study at the University of California, Berkeley.
“When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment,” she said. ”But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
“And so, I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
“With a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.”
According to an aide who works for Harris, she will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was the first Hispanic and Latina ever to be sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court.
Harris will take her oath of office using two Bibles; one which previously belonged to a former neighbour and family friend of Harris, Regina Shelton, (a woman who Harris said “Without This Woman, I Wouldn’t Be The Senator I Am Today”) and the other formerly belonging to the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court, Former Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.
In the last week, the FBI have issued warnings of “online chatter” of potential attacks by Trump supporters, with governors across the country calling in additional security forces to increase safety.
The incoming White House Chief of Staff, Ronald Klain, told CNN they are “concerned certainly about these threats,” but will ensure the Secret Service and troops “will keep the inauguration itself safe.”
Joe Biden’s inauguration will take place at 12pm on Wednesday — 4am, Thursday morning for those on the east coast of Australia.