Harris still struggles to define himself 1 year as VP
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President Joe Biden threw the full weight of his presidency behind action on suffrage last week, heading to Capitol Hill to push Democrats to change Senate rules to pass legislation.
Vice President Kamala Harris – whom Biden tapped to lead the passage of voting rights legislation in June – was not there.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Harris aides didn’t have a clear answer when asked why the vice president didn’t join Biden at the meeting.
It was yet another example of the difficulty Harris faced throughout her first year in office, as she struggled to define herself and her role.
Harris has grappled with an extensive portfolio of tough assignments, fielded questions about his relationship with the president and faced what allies say will be unprecedented scrutiny for a vice president — without, a some concern, adequate support from the White House.
And she navigated it all within the confines of a global pandemic and having to act as the deciding vote in an equally divided Senate, both of which limited her ability to travel beyond Washington.
“It’s hard for a vice president to shine, even in the best of times. And it’s not the best of times,” said Roy Neel, who served as former vice president Al Gore’s chief of staff. . “You not only serve at the pleasure of the president, for all public activities, but there is a limit to what you can do to assume the lead role on whatever major issue of the day it is, and to come out and look like you’re killing him.”
Indeed, Harris aides say privately that the vice president is careful not to outrank the president, never wanting to take credit for the administration’s successes. She will also often say that while she offers her candid opinions to the president in private, her public role is to ensure that he succeeds.
But it has left some Harris supporters, who have welcomed her as an open progressive voice in the Senate on issues ranging from police reform to voting rights, frustrated by what they see as her absence on key issues. . During a recent interview with media personality Charlamagne Tha God, when Harris ditched his usually pleasant demeanor and strongly defended Biden, Charlamagne took notice.
“This Kamala Harris? This is the one I love,” he said. “He’s the one I’d like to see here more often on these streets.”
Many problems on Harris’ plate don’t have a clear solution or immediate outcome. She was tasked with promoting broadband access, leading the Space Council, pushing through the Voting Rights Bill and addressing the root causes of migration to the southern border of United States. Republicans in particular have targeted Harris for her work on immigration, blaming that she hasn’t done enough as a significant increase in border migrants has plagued the administration.
She has also drawn criticism from the left for her work on immigration. “Don’t come” to the United States, she told migrants during her trip to Guatemala and Mexico last year. In response, progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City tweeted that Harris’ comments were “disappointing to see.”
Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said he wanted to learn more about the former progressive senator on the trip, calling it “a day late and a dollar short”.
“She’s been to Central America; she hasn’t had any meetings with any community groups or civic groups involved in the issue. And so it’s almost like they don’t have a sounding board, and they’re fumbling in the dark to find a solution,” he said.
Harris, who declined to be interviewed for this story, dismissed questions about the difficulty of her portfolio, insisting that she enjoys taking on tough assignments. But privately, some of her allies have complained that the vice president not only has some of the most thankless jobs in the administration, but also hasn’t received enough support or resources from the House. Blanche to accomplish them.
And the office grind has clearly taken its toll. Harris has made headlines in recent weeks for an exodus of key aides, including his former communications director and former chief spokesperson, with unnamed aides complaining of a difficult work environment and a boss. too hard.
Factors limit activities
Still, some of Harris’ biggest constraints are beyond his control: the pandemic and the demands of his time as the deciding vote in the Senate. Harris hasn’t been able to hold as many in-person public events as she and her aides would like because of the pandemic, and she’s only done a fraction of the typical international trips for a vice president, which which has reduced its diplomatic engagements to virtual meetings or phone calls.
She is also tethered to Washington due to the unpredictability of the Senate schedule. Harris has cast 15 deciding votes so far, the most of any modern vice president, and must remain in Washington most weeks in case a nomination comes up for a vote.
“She’s really not a source of power or influence, because really all she does is vote the administration line,” said vice-presidential historian Joel Goldstein. “It’s really a constraint, because it limits his ability to do other things.”
At the start of the year, it looked like Harris was a bigger target for Republicans than Biden. Now it is less the case. A Gallup poll in December showed that 44% of Americans said they approve of the way Harris carries out her job as vice president, and 54% disapprove. It was similar to Biden’s note in the survey.
Harris aides say she played an active role in some of the president’s toughest policy choices, including his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
They also argue that some of her diplomatic work has not received the credit it deserves, pointing to the early investments she secured from companies in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as part of her work. there, as well as a no-nonsense trip to France. aimed at smoothing relations with the nation earlier this year.
They tout the ways in which her perspective as the first black and Indian American woman and person in the role helped bring up issues they say wouldn’t typically get the attention of the White House, like the maternal mortality. And they say she was also helpful in keeping key members of the Congressional Black Caucus on board during infrastructure negotiations.
But his allies say his historic position has also brought him scrutiny and sometimes distorted coverage of his accomplishments.
“There has been an unprecedented level of interest and excitement for her as a historic first. She is the first vice president to have such a large press corps,” said Democratic strategist Karen Finney, a Harris’ ally.
Finney, who is black, said there was a level of ‘sexism and racism’ in Harris’ coverage, particularly pointing to stories that focused on when Harris laughed when asked questions in interviews.
“The cover focuses on style rather than substance,” she said.
Harris still struggles to define himself 1 year as VP
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