We the people: as vice president, Kamala Harris faces a difficult balancing act


Each week, The Spokesman-Review examines an issue of the naturalization test that immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens.

Question of the Day: What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?

President Joe Biden walked into Vice President Kamala Harris‘s West Wing office on Wednesday and handed her a bouquet and a framed photo of the two strolling through the White House rose garden, laughing.

It was Harris’ 57th birthday, and a brief respite from a busy schedule that took the Vice President of Colorado’s Lake Mead on Monday to a YMCA in the Bronx on Friday to promote the House’s “Build Back Better Agenda.” White social programs and measures to combat climate change.

“No matter what happens, you are always filled with joy, love and smiles,” Doug Emhoff, Harris’ husband and the country’s first second gentleman, wrote on Twitter, with a selfie of the smiling couple.

But the vice president’s first nine months on the job have been seemingly short of glee, in part because Biden has asked her to tackle some of the more politically sensitive issues the administration is in the business of. taken: a diplomatic effort to discourage migration from Central America. , and an effort to counter Republicans‘ efforts to restrict voting in GOP-controlled states, which the federal government has limited tools to stop.

That wallet made Harris a favorite target of Republicans, who criticized her relentlessly for not making a trip to the US-Mexico border despite her interest in immigration. The White House insisted its role was to focus on the factors that push migrants to leave the “Northern Triangle” countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, but Harris eventually visited the southern border in June.

The vice president’s assistants contend that she faces an additional degree of scrutiny and criticism as the first woman, first Black American, and first person of South Asian descent in the role.

Harris’s job is made more difficult by the fact that while she is expected to run for president, she faces pressure not to eclipse Biden or even appear focused on her own future. Politics.

Biden, who turns 79 in November, became the country’s oldest president when he was inaugurated in January. While he hasn’t ruled out running for a second term, Harris is widely seen as the Democratic Party’s most likely standard bearer if Biden chooses to retire in 2025.

Yet as Harris has been tasked with chunks of the White House agenda that carry big risk and little political benefit, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg – his former and possibly future main Democratic opponent – has walked through the country by praising the administration’s popular efforts to improve roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Her party’s slim majority in the Senate, where she spent four years representing California, forced Harris to play another important role as a tiebreaker in the upper house, where Democrats and Republicans each control 50 seats and the vice-president holds the title of president of the Senate.

On her birthday, Harris took to Pennsylvania Avenue to cast her 11th deciding vote in just nine months.

When not leading the administration’s efforts on high-risk, low-reward issues, Harris has spent much of her time traveling across the country making appearances at the kind of benign events that the vice-presidents have been relegated.

On Friday, the White House announced another trip for Harris that promises much the same: She will travel to France in November for a Veterans Day event and to try to mend an awkward relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron, whose government was outraged when Australia withdrew from a $ 66 billion deal to buy submarines from France in favor of a deal to get nuclear-powered submarines from the United States and United Kingdom.

Her political future may still be bright, but if she ever wants to occupy the Oval Office, Harris will undoubtedly need to forge her own political profile while enduring more difficult assignments first.


About Therese Williams

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