The Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were sworn into the United States Senate, after Wednesday’s inauguration. On Jan. 5, both Democratic candidates won their races thus flipping the balance of power in Congress’s upper chamber.
Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and Ossoff were sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Additionally, Alex Padilla was named to Harris’s former Senate seat by California Governor Gavin Newsom. The swearing-in of the three new senators was groundbreaking. Warnock and Ossoff are respectively the first Black and first Jewish senators representing Georgia, while Padilla is California’s first Latino senator. Padilla will finish the remainder of Harris’s term.
Ossoff, 33, is also the youngest senator in the chamber, and the youngest Democrat to serve in the Senate since President Joe Biden, who was sworn into the chamber at the age of 30 in 1973. Ossoff is an investigative journalist and a former intern and aide to the late U.S. Rep John Lewis.
All three new senators unanimously confirmed President Joe Biden’s Department of National Intelligence nominee, Avril Haines, a former CIA deputy director. Haines will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the 18 agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10.
“Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.”
Tuesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the results of Georgia’s twin U.S. Senate runoff elections. Official results from the secretary of state show Warnock beating Loeffler by about 93,000 votes out of nearly 4.5 million cast or about 2 percent, while Ossoff beat Perdue by about 55,000 votes or 1.2 percent. Both margins are larger than the .5 percent required to ask for a recount under Georgia law.
Shortly after certification, Gov. Brian P. Kemp signed off on the ruling.
Both Ossoff and Warnock ran as a firewall seeking to demolish the obstructionist natures of Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
Although both Republicans conceded shortly after the Jan. 6 declarations, Loeffler shared parting shots for the news media in her farewell speech. She said she believed the “mainstream media” and “cancel culture” derailed her hopes of retaining her seat.
“In all of the events of recent weeks, I want to urge my colleagues to remember why we’re here, who you serve, and to recall the greatness of the American experiment, as well as the fragile nature of our freedoms,” Loeffler said.
“As a Republican, a conservative American who still believes in the Constitution and the core principles on which our country was founded, I refuse to be intimidated by the cancel culture, and its dangerous narratives,” she continued. “However, not every American feels free to speak up. Their voices are being lost.”
In a nod to history, Warnock said that Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with King in the Civil Rights era, were “smiling in this moment.”