When the Biden administration announced Gene Sperling would oversee the execution of its coronavirus relief plan, an issue was asked among Democrats: Why wasn’t it Kamala Harris?
After all, when Joe Biden was Vice President , he had an identical role for the Obama administration, overseeing the 2009 stimulus bill’s passage and implementation during the downturn referred to as the good Recession.In the first two months of the administration, Harris has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 rescue plan and may be a constant fixture at Biden’s side, during speeches, executive order announcements and rollouts.
But she has yet to carve out a selected policy role at the White House, and a few were surprised she didn’t get Sperling’s responsibilities.“I think it took tons of Democrats all of sudden ,” said one Democratic strategist on the brink of the White House. “And it made tons of individuals question what exactly her role is as vice chairman .”
“It looks like tons of individuals are asking that question,” said one Democratic donor who expressed concern that Harris isn’t yet building her own brand. “She has the unique ability to require on her own portfolio and highlight her strengths so why not maximize that?”
On Friday, Harris appeared alongside Biden in Atlanta, where the 2 met with state legislators and advocates from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community following the killing of eight people, including six Asian women.Harris is that the first Black vice chairman , and therefore the first Asian American vice chairman .
They also visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where they received an update from doctors on the pandemic. They also were side by side in meetings with Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the Democrats whose victories in Georgia meant Harris would be the Senate’s tie-breaking vote for her party, and with voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who was widely credited with Biden’s win in Georgia and therefore the Democratic Senators, also as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
During the visit, Harris delivered remarks introducing Biden and condemning the recent surge in violence against Asian Americans.“For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans, people with the most important pulpits spreading this type of hate,” Harris said, a remark clearly directed toward former President Trump, who repeatedly labeled the coronavirus because the “China virus.”
“Ultimately this is often about who we are as a nation, this is often about how we treat people with dignity and respect,” she said. “A harm against anybody folks may be a harm against all folks . The president and that i won't be silent, we'll not stand by, we'll always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination wherever and whenever it occurs.”
Harris’s biggest and most vital role thus far within the new administration could also be within the Senate.She has cast three pivotal tie-breaking votes within the 50-50 Senate, and will be the deciding vote on pivotal legislation over subsequent two years.
She’s also taken a far off policy role, making calls to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.The trip to Georgia, the Senate votes and every one of Harris’s work points to a busy agenda, albeit she isn't spearheading one policy area.
Asked last month in an Axios interview what her signature issue would be within the administration, Harris replied that her focus would be “making sure Joe Biden may be a success.”Still, Democrats say it might be good for her to develop a portfolio, especially if she wants to require the reins from Biden in 2024. That’s considered a robust possibility as long as Biden is 78.
“The challenge for Kamala Harris is that she doesn't have a well-defined brand,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “Her challenge is to place more definition round her so people know what they’re getting."“Right now people consider her as a competent, smart lawyer prosecutor but she has got to define herself around a group of issues,” Simmons added.
Harris also finds herself during a delicate situation given the likelihood Biden could only serve one term. To make certain , Biden has not ruled out running again, meaning the vice chairman has got to not get before Biden on the problems of the day albeit she keeps an eye fixed on her own next steps Politicaly.
“This may be a unique situation,” said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist. “Joe Biden has acknowledged the transitional nature of his presidency which creates expectations for Kamala Harris that we just haven’t seen for a contemporary vice chairman . Normally a vice chairman isn’t brooding about their future in such an acute way at now ."
Harris’s allies say any talk about her lack of a portfolio is unfair.“Biden and Harris took office within the midst of historic public health and economic crises,” one ally said. “Ending the pandemic and boosting the economy are far and away the public’s top priorities immediately . It wouldn’t be good for her, the president, or the country if she was off doing other things when everyone else was rightly focused on those issues.”
Cal Jillson, a professor of politics at Southern Methodist University, said he also doesn’t find it surprising that Harris doesn’t have an outlined portfolio of responsibility so early within the administration.“Biden seems to love and respect Harris, but he has vastly more political experience and policy experience than she does,” Jillson said. “So she is shadowing as she becomes conversant in a broad and sophisticated terrain.
“She is additionally being prepared, brought along, and she or he seems clever enough to understand and appreciate it,” he added. “If someone is taking you where you would like to travel , just devour your feet.”
[ News source THE HILL ]