See Vice President Kamala Harris swear in Laphonza Butler as California’s newest senator

Gillian Brassil/

Sen. Laphonza Butler was sworn in to succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein Tuesday. She’s the first Black lesbian serving openly in Congress and only the third Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman to represent California in the Senate, swore her in. Butler’s wife, Neneki Lee, held the Bible her during the ceremonial swearing in in the Old Senate chamber.

Butler, 44, was president of EMILYs List, which works to get Democratic women who support abortion rights elected. At different points, she led California’s largest labor union, was an adviser to Harris, and advised tech giants Uber and Airbnb as part of a prominent California political consulting agency.

She has not said whether she will run in either the special or general election to finish the end of Feinstein’s term or one of her own to start in Jan. 2025.