Kamala Harris, between Joe Biden’s caution and the American left

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When asked Kamala Harris what would be your priority as vice president of the USA, in an interview with the news website Axios in her early days in office, she replied: “Make sure Joe Biden be a success”. To a large extent, this is the keynote in this month and a half term: Harris is on Biden’s side. In speeches, in the signing of decrees, in important decisions. An unknown role for a woman accustomed to being in charge as a senator for California and, previously, as attorney general of that state. But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t build, little by little, your own way.


Vice President Kamala Harris in a virtual session with African American mayors on February 10.


© SAUL LOEB (THE COUNTRY)
Vice President Kamala Harris in a virtual session with African American mayors on February 10.


Biden made it clear that he wants the relationship model between president and vice president to be a replica of the one that Barack Obama kept with him for eight years. Biden likes to remember that he told Obama, when he chose him as a running mate, that he wanted to be “the last person in the room before he made the important decisions.”

During these weeks, according to different reports from White House officials, Harris was the last person in the room. And also the first. The president and vice president spend several hours a day together. They usually start the day listening to the daily presidential report, a global risk assessment and highly secret projects, classified and prepared by the CIA together in the Oval Office. THE ex-presidente Donald Trump, breaking with tradition, I did not used to listen to the daily information session.

In mid-February, Harris also began to meet separately with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. She wants these meetings to take place regularly. As vice president, Biden had a important role in foreign policy, and in these early weeks Harris is also making diplomacy one of the cornerstones of his position.

She has talked independently with at least six foreign leaders, according to the White House, an unusually high number for a vice president. He dispatched alone with the leaders of Canada, France, Denmark, Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia and Israel. And also with the director general of the World Health Organization. In addition, Harris took an active part in making two important foreign policy decisions: that of responding to the attack by pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, and that of not adopting sanctions against Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The vice president’s solo public appearances were rarer, concentrated mainly on the great theme of pandemic, and related to their historical condition of first woman and first person of black skin to occupy the vice-presidency. So he met virtually with African-American mayors to discuss the economic stimulus package that Congress passed on Wednesday, the first major victory for his administration. It also launched initiatives to combat mistrust of vaccines among the black population, and participated in the formation of the work team that the White House created to combat racial inequalities aggravated by the pandemic.

U.S U.S, who holds the position of vice president also holds the presidency of the Senate, an honor that for most of Harris’s predecessors was little more than liturgical, but which, with a Upper House divided into 50 senators from each party, wins a very real importance. Thus, it is the vice-president who undoes any draws in the votes, a role she has already played on three occasions.

Precisely as a constitutional president of the Senate, several progressive leaders asked him to intervene on a sensitive subject. The lawyers of the Upper Chamber removed a proposal to increase the minimum wage from the big rescue plan, considering that this proposal cannot be processed through a project that requires only a simple majority to be approved. As president of the Senate, leftist leaders argued, Harris had enough power to reject that technical decision, rescue the minimum wage increase and become the savior of a struggling working class. But that would have meant face the president.

This is the delicate balance in which the vice-president moves. Many progressives want to see Harris as their advocate for a White House run by a 78-year-old white man surrounded by veteran advisers, and this puts Harris in a position to build bridges between the government and a new, more diverse generation of Democrats. As a possible successor to a president who has already signaled that he may not run for re-election in 2024, Harris is caught between the restless bases, crucial to his presidential aspirations, and the more cautious president it serves.

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