WASHINGTON: Kamala Harris will make historical past on Wednesday when she turns into the nations first feminine vice chairman and the primary Black girl and the primary girl of South Asian descent to carry that workplace. But thats solely the place her boundary-breaking position begins.
With the confluence of crises confronting Joe Biden’s administration and an evenly divided Senate wherein she would ship the tie-breaking vote Harris is shaping as much as be a central participant in addressing all the pieces from the coronavirus pandemic to prison justice reform.
Symone Sanders, Harris’ chief spokeswoman, mentioned that whereas the vice president-elect’s portfolio hasn’t been absolutely outlined but, she has a hand in all facets of Biden’s agenda.
There are items that Biden might particularly ask her to champion, however exterior of that she is on the desk for all the pieces, concerned in all the pieces, and giving enter and suggestions and being a supportive accomplice to him on all items,” she mentioned.
People working intently with Harris on the transition resist the concept of siloing her into any particular difficulty early on, as a result of the sheer variety of challenges the Biden administration faces means it will likely be all arms on deck throughout their early months. They say she’ll be concerned in all 4 of the key priorities theyve set out: turning across the financial system, tackling COVID-19, and addressing local weather change and racial justice.
She has a voice in all of these. She has an opinion in all these areas. And it can most likely get to a degree the place she is concentrating on a number of the areas extra particularly, Sanders mentioned. But proper now, I believe what have been confronted with on this nation is so huge, its all arms on deck.
Harris has been intently concerned with all of Bidens largest choices since successful the election in November, becoming a member of him for each one among his key conferences targeted on Cabinet picks, the COVID-19 aid invoice, safety points and extra. The two speak over the telephone almost on daily basis, and she or he travels to Delaware typically a number of instances per week for transition occasions and conferences.
Those concerned within the transition say each have taken critically Bidens insistence that he needs Harris to be the final voice within the room on key choices. Biden is understood to show to Harris first throughout conferences to ask for her opinion or perspective on the matter at hand.
Biden and Harris knew one another previous to the 2020 presidential marketing campaign partly by means of Harris friendship with Bidens deceased son, Beau. But they by no means labored intently collectively.
Since becoming a member of the ticket, and significantly because the election, Harris has made efforts to deepen their relationship and is in frequent contact with the president-elect, individuals near Harris say. That private relationship, in accordance with presidential historian Joel Goldstein, can be key to their success as working companions.
The relationship of the vice chairman to the president is crucial relationship. Establishing mutual understanding and belief is mostly a key to a profitable vice presidency, Goldstein mentioned.
Goldstein pointed to Biden and President Barack Obamas relationship as a possible mannequin for the incoming workforce.
Biden and Obama have been from equally completely different backgrounds and generations and in addition entered the White House with a comparatively contemporary working relationship. But their relationship and mutual understanding grew all through the presidency, and Obama trusted Biden with a few of his administrations largest endeavors, just like the implementation of the 2009 Recovery Act and the troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Harris is claimed to be taking a look at Bidens vice presidency as a information for her personal.
But not like Biden throughout his first time period, Harris will face fixed questions on her political future. While Biden has skirted questions on whether or not he plans to run for reelection, at 78 hell be the oldest president in historical past, leaving questions on whether or not he’ll retire on the finish of his time period. That would make Harris the quick frontrunner in any 2024 Democratic presidential major.
Early within the vice presidential vetting course of, her potential presidential ambitions gave some Biden allies pause. But since her choice, Harris has confirmed a loyal accomplice to Biden, not often if ever contradicting him publicly.
Still, California Rep. Barbara Lee, who was the primary Congressional Black Caucus member to endorse within the major when she backed Harris, mentioned the vice president-elect isnt afraid to talk her thoughts.
Shes no shrinking violet,” Lee mentioned. “If she believes that one resolution ought to be made versus one other shes gonna weigh in and provides her ideas and opinions.
Biden has a private affection for the work of diplomacy and deep relationships with international leaders that Harris can’t match. But aides say she’ll be deeply concerned within the administration’s diplomatic priorities merely due to the sheer quantity of points that can take up Biden’s time. She might also be given a selected side of the administration’s coronavirus response to supervise.
One of her foremost priorities early on is definite to be the passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid invoice that Biden introduced Thursday. Those working with Harris on the transition say that whereas Biden can be intimately concerned with ushering the bundle by means of the Senate due to his longstanding relationships with longer-serving lawmakers, Harris is aware of the newer members and can assist construct contemporary relationships in Congress.
The first few months of the Biden administration can be targeted on COVID-19 and the financial system. But Harris is definite to face scrutiny and stress from advocates to make sure the views of Black and brown Americans are mirrored in these insurance policies and the Biden White House’s priorities.
Leah Daughtry, a former chief of employees on the Democratic National Committee, mentioned Harris will make a distinction just by being within the room.
The undeniable fact that Kamala Harris is a Black girl, is a girl of Indian ancestry, is a girl, mechanically makes her completely different from each different vice chairman this nation has ever seen, she mentioned. That mixture of experiences brings a set of values and lived experiences right into a room the place they haven’t beforehand existed. And that may solely be good for this American democracy.
But as South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn put it, There can be quite a lot of weight on these shoulders.
Those of us who come to those positions, we come to them understanding full nicely that we now have a burden to guarantee that we do it in such a method, that there can be individuals coming behind us, he mentioned.
Clyburn additionally acknowledged that Harris may be a flashpoint for controversy among the many portion of President Donald Trumps followers who’re motivated by racial animus, which Clyburne mentioned contributed to the lethal assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Theyre nonetheless holding on to quite a lot of animus about Barack Obama, and theyre gonna switch it to her, identical to they transferred it to others right here on this constructing,” Clyburn mentioned. “And theyre by no means gonna get past that.
But Harris allies say as a toddler of civil rights activists, and a Black girl whos spent her life confronting and making an attempt to deal with racism and inequality, navigating these pressures as vice chairman will come as second nature for her.
Kamala Harris didnt simply fall out of the Harvard Law School like Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz or any individual like that, mentioned Bakari Sellers, referencing two Republican senators who objected to the congressional certification of Bidens win. (Hawley graduated from Yale Law School.)
Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker and an early Harris endorser, likened her to different civil rights trailblazers.
She comes from the identical lineage as Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm and Ella Baker, he mentioned. I imply, shes constructed for this.
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