WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his operating mate, there have been whispers about her ambition — would a former rival be a loyal soldier to a president she so sharply criticized on the marketing campaign path?
Fueling these whispers was their relationship — whereas cordial, it was initially not notably shut.
However 100 days into Biden’s time period, issues look very totally different. Harris has grow to be one of many administration’s most distinguished advocates for Biden’s agenda, standing alongside him at most of his main bulletins and constructing a relationship that aides say is nearer than most presidents had with their seconds-in-command.
Harris has taken on one of many administration’s hardest duties — addressing the basis causes of migration to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America. The issue has bedeviled presidents from each events for years and has no simple options.
Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of workers, stated the vp has “taken it on with gusto.”
“She has stated to me, ‘While you determine you’re going to run for workplace and your title is on the poll, subsequent to it aren’t two bins that say, ‘simple work’ and ‘laborious work,'” Flournoy stated.
Of the laborious issues, Flournoy added: “Are we presupposed to ignore them as a result of they’re laborious? Or are we supposed to actually dig in and attempt to repair them?”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the administration’s biggest problem throughout its first 100 days. The general public well being and financial disaster of historic proportions has pressured the White Home to work otherwise from Day Considered one of Biden’s tenure.
The pandemic sharply restricted journey by the president and vp, which has had a minimum of one silver lining: As a result of Harris hasn’t been on the transfer as a lot as previous vice presidents early on, she’s spent extra time with Biden, serving to to cement their relationship. The 2 have had lunch each Friday, and on a typical day could spend 4 to 5 hours in conferences collectively, which ensures that her voice is heard and her fingerprints are left on main coverage selections, aides say. They level to the enlargement of the kid tax credit score and little one care funding as examples of her priorities.
Harris had a task in creating Biden’s agenda and “additionally the technique of promoting it, each to the American folks, and on the Hill,” Flournoy stated.
Aides say Harris has additionally proven enthusiasm for some less-glamorous points of the administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan as she’s been selling it — akin to water points, with which she had expertise throughout her time as a U.S. senator for California, broadband entry and provisions increasing electrical automobile use.
Being the nation’s first Black, South Asian and feminine vp informs her workplace in methods each massive and small. And she or he can have a distinguished place behind Biden on Wednesday as he addresses a joint session of Congress for the primary time.
Harris has chosen to champion points which have been prime priorities for a lot of her profession and replicate her personal lived expertise. She advised aides on her first day in workplace that she wished to concentrate on reduction to small companies. She’s additionally centered on insurance policies that have an effect on ladies and youngsters, together with Black maternal mortality. And she or he has homed in on the disproportionate influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and sluggish financial system on ladies and folks of shade.
Harris has adorned her workplace with small nods to her historic function: a bust of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, donated by her alma mater, Howard College, together with the shoulder bars from the primary Black feminine brigade commander on the U.S. Naval Academy.
Her assist for the president and his agenda could have strengthened their relationship, however it’s left some advocates wanting extra from her on two main points — legal justice reform and immigration.
On legal justice reform — one in all her marketing campaign priorities — Harris has hardly been out entrance. Whereas she’s spoken alongside Biden in response to latest mass shootings, and at an occasion saying his govt orders on weapons, the administration as an entire hasn’t made a major public push on the difficulty.
Andrea James, govt director and founding father of the Nationwide Council for Incarcerated and Previously Incarcerated Ladies & Women, stated that contemplating Harris is “a lady of shade, her historical past, her pleasure and talking about her mother who was a courageous and brave lady and fought obstacles due to the colour of her pores and skin,” they anticipated to see extra from her talking out on the difficulty.
Aides say Harris is making calls to Capitol Hill and dealing on the legal justice challenge behind the scenes.
On immigration, Harris has been hammered from the left and proper as she’s taken on her new function addressing the basis causes of migration on the southern border.
Whereas Republicans have criticized Biden and Harris as absent on the difficulty as a result of they have not visited the border but, progressive immigration teams complain the administration hasn’t performed sufficient to push for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Lorella Praeli, president of Group Change Motion, stated Harris was a “true champion for immigrants” as a senator and it was vital that she now “lean in and he or she assist to hold this challenge.”
A few of Harris’ allies have expressed issues that the issue is so amorphous and intractable that there’s no clear resolution, and that Harris will likely be judged harshly even when she makes progress.
The priority arises partly from a want to guard Harris’ political future. Whereas Biden insists he plans on operating for reelection, many political observers imagine he’ll determine in opposition to it, clearing a path for Harris.
Consultants and advocates centered on immigration say it’s too early to evaluate the result of her work there. Harris has to date had conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala, and is planning her first journey to the area in June.
Dan Restrepo, a senior fellow on the Middle for American Progress who’s been in conferences on the difficulty with Harris, stated “she asks excellent questions” and her early transfer to deliver collectively consultants on the migrant disaster “is a extremely encouraging signal.” He additionally pushed again in opposition to criticism that Harris doesn’t have the expertise to deal with the difficulty.
“I feel the ability set that she brings to the desk, as a profitable politician and someone who will get folks, might be an important translatable ability,” he stated.
That human method, aides say, shapes her method to the whole lot from coverage to diplomacy.
“She is going to emphasize that we have to communicate straight with the American folks, that she doesn’t wish to simply give rhetoric,” stated Rohini Kosoglu, Harris’ home coverage adviser.
When Harris is briefed earlier than calling or assembly a overseas chief, she needs extra than simply the political topline, asking in regards to the chief’s hobbies and pursuits, ”so she has an actual sense of the particular person,” Flournoy stated. When she spoke with the Japanese prime minister earlier this month, she wished to find out about his love of baseball.
And when she swears in new Cupboard members at her ceremonial workplace within the govt workplace constructing throughout from the White Home, Flournoy says, Harris asks them to take a second to be current, and tells them to consider “all the explanations you’re right here and all of the work you’re going to do.”
Then she brings them out on her balcony to take a look at the American flag flying excessive over the West Wing.