"What a tremendous opportunity, and a tremendous responsibility to bring my voice to the deliberations of the United States Senate."
Hours after being sworn in as California’s newest Senator, and the first Latino to hold the position since the state was admitted in 1850, Alex Padilla spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson about the emotion of the moment, as well as the work ahead.
"Honestly, it’s been mixed emotions," Padilla said."We’re hopeful with the beginning of a new administration, and the hope and optimism that the Inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris represent, but sobered by the task at hand, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic."
Padilla’s talk of that sobering task comes as, on Friday, President Joe Biden, warned that the surging pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of some 410,000 Americans, is expected to kill more than 600,000 before all is said and done.
"It continues to ravage communities throughout California, throughout the country," Padilla stressed. "And even once we start turning the corner on that, [we’ll have] to revisit issues of underlying inequity in education, in health care, in the economy, and so much more."
"So we have a lot of work to do," California’s former Secretary of State continued. "But if we can capture just some of that energy and optimism from this week into the weeks and months ahead. hopefully, we can make a lot of progress."
Padilla’s hope for legislative progress, which, as he told Michaelson in December, also includes "expanding health care access to include everybody… tackling climate change, a true existential threat… making our economy and our democracy much more inclusive than it’s been," now appears far more possible, given the new Democratic control of the Senate.
That control coming as a result of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff claiming victory in two Senate runoffs earlier this month in Georgia, unseating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively, and creating a 50-50 Senate presided over by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Warnock, Ossoff, and Padilla, himself appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill the seat of the state’s former Senator, and now Vice President, Kamala Harris, were sworn in on Wednesday, in a ceremony presided over by Harris.
Not in attendance for the swearing-in were Padilla’s family.
"As proud as I know my family is, it frankly broke my heart to not be able to have my wife and my children with me on this historic day," Padilla told Michaelson. "Between traveling cross country, given the risks of the pandemic, and the security situation at the Capitol, we decided they stay back. So I had them with me in spirit, my brother, my sister, my dad, and to honor my mom, the Bible I was holding when I raised my hand to take the oath, was my mom’s Bible, and prayer card from her funeral, so the Padilla family was definitely strong in spirit."
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Padilla also discussed his experience witnessing at the Inauguration, the troubled roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine in California, and reading the US Constitution with his children.
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.