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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Historic Swearing In Of Laphonza Butler As Senator For California

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the swearing in of Laphonza Butler as Senator for California. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Let me be the first [as] Majority Leader to welcome our newest colleague to the United States Senate: Senator Laphonza Butler, sworn in moments ago as the next Senator from California.

I can’t help but think how proud Senator Feinstein would be seeing someone as brilliant, as accomplished, as history-making as Laphonza Butler take her place. I know that our old colleague is looking down at this moment with pride, now that her seat is in good hands.

Congratulations to Senator Butler on this immense honor. This is a historic moment for the Senate, for California, and for the entire country.

Senator Butler is only the third Black Woman in American history to serve in the United States Senate.

She’s the first openly lesbian Senator from California.

And she’s the first openly LGBTQ Senator of color to serve in this body.

Today, the Senate takes another step towards fully reflecting our vibrant democracy.

Now, Laphonza’s life story can be summarized in two words: serving others.

By her own telling, service was practically a dinner table conversation growing up in Magnolia, Mississippi. After losing her father to illness, Laphonza watched her mom sacrifice everything to put her kids first, working night shifts as a nurse, as a security guard, a classroom aid, anything to help her kids have a better life.

No surprise: that example left a mark on Laphonza for the rest of her days. Following in her mom’s footsteps, Laphonza has dedicated her entire career to fighting for others: fighting for women, fighting for working families, and fighting for the cause of justice. I know she’ll do the same here in the Senate. 

So again, this is a proud moment for all of us. And I know this must be a proud moment for Laphonza’s family.

I know you’re not supposed to address members of the Senate gallery, but let me say this to everyone who had attended here and who’s still here: we’re all very happy Laphonza’s family could join us, to share in this special day. We share in their joy too.

Finally, to our colleague Laphonza: I know these last few days have felt like a whirlwind. I know it seems like there’s a million things to do, and so little time to do them.

But rest assured we are here to help you. I spent a great half hour, 45 minutes, talking to Laphonza and she is going to be one great Senator. We are ready to work with her.

All of us who have stood where Laphonza stands now felt the awesome weight of holding this office, and we are ready to help her. I urge her, if she permits me, to never let the sense of duty disappear, for in our hands rest the trust, the wishes, the hopes, and the burdens of the American people.

So to Senator Butler, congratulations on this honor, and welcome to the Senate. Today is a day of celebration.

And as we celebrate, we also remember and give thanks for our late colleague and friend, Senator Feinstein.

For the information of Senators, the floor of the Senate will close so members can attend the memorial service of Senator Feinstein in San Francisco this Thursday. On that day, it will be my honor to speak at Senator Feinstein’s memorial, to give thanks for all she did for this country, and to honor the legacy she leaves behind.

I hope all my colleagues who worked with her all these years are able to attend, so we can say a final goodbye to one of the greatest public servants to serve in this chamber.