Sens. Kamala Harris And Cory Booker Make History By Joining Senate Judiciary Committee

"I will continue my determined efforts for broad scale criminal justice reform."

Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) made history on Tuesday, Jan. 9, when they were both named to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Their respective appointments to the esteemed panel marks the first time in the committee's history that there will be two members of color.

HuffPost reports the dual appointments occurred because Democrats needed to fill two vacant seats on the committee following the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and the surprise victory of Doug Jones in Alabama's special Senate election last month. 

Per The Associated Press, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was expected to nominate Harris at the urging of The Congressional Black Caucus, and ultimately nominated Booker as well. Harris will be the second woman of color to serve on the committee following Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), who was a member in the 1990s, while Booker's appointment marks the first time a man of color will have such a distinction.

In a statement released on Twitter on Tuesday, Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) made it clear he was pleased with the appointments. "The Congressional Black Caucus could not be more proud of both of our Senate members and know the experience and expertise they bring to the Committee will be beneficial for all Americans, especially those disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system,"  he said, noting Harris and Booker are both former attorneys dedicated to fighting for criminal justice reform.

Also pleased were Harris and Booker themselves, who understand the historical significance of their elevated new roles within the Senate and took to social media to reflect on what they hope to accomplish as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Harris vowed to "continue the fight for justice, equality, and be a voice for the vulnerable."

The reactions even spilled over onto Instagram, where both Harris and Booker reaffirmed their dedication to the American people. As Booker put it, "I will continue my determined efforts for broad scale criminal justice reform. We can not be driven backwards on issues of justice and fairness. I believe we as a nation are called to make real our collective pledge: to be a nation of liberty and justice for all." ⠀

He also expressed joy that he gets to serve alongside Harris, calling her a "friend and colleague."

Harris struck a similar chord in her own Instagram post, also referring to Booker as a "friend."

She added, "I look forward to continuing the fight for justice, equality, and defending California against this Administration's attacks on our values."

As The Hill notes, the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is now made of 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans) is in charge of conducting hearings prior to the Senate votes on confirmation of federal judges (including Supreme Court justices) nominated by the president, as well as presidential appointments in the Department of Justice. It is also one of multiple congressional committees conducting separate investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

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