Originally Published in Marie Clair
Katherine J. Igoe - August 13, 2020
Senator Kamala Harris made history as Joe Biden's 2020 vice presidential pick,but Harris has an impressive track record in her own right. A former presidential candidate herself, not to mention a former prosecutor, San Francisco's district attorney, California attorney general, and current senator, Harris has had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate where she stands on key issues and policies. These will absolutely come into play as the Biden-Harris platform continues to develop, particularly in regard to where their plans and policies differ. Consider this your guide to Harris' views on the biggest issues facing the nation today, including policing, immigration, the climate crisis, and more.
In May, Harris put forth the COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act, which is a task force to address racial disparities, since Black people are disproportionately affected by the virus and the Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Pacific Islander communities all face barriers to equitable health care. The task force would use data to, in turn, advise on funding and policy decisions in the national response. This is just one of many proposals Harris has either put forth or supported in regard to the coronavirus, including monthly relief for struggling families, a ban on evictions and foreclosures, and grants to small businesses.
In her first joint appearance with Biden as his VP running mate, Harris criticized the current administration's mishandling of the pandemic. "This virus has impacted almost every country, but there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start...an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds."
Harris has been vocal about Black Lives Matter and supported the movement's call for justice and police reform, including writing about the issue and marching with protesters:
It's worth noting here that Harris' stance has evolved over time. The New York Times piece goes into significant detail, but argues that the changes Harris made were incremental, and that she often “avoided intervening in cases involving killings by the police.” This work will likely come up during the campaign.
When she was a presidential candidate, Harris put forth a comprehensive climate plan:
Along with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Harris also proposed developing an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability to ensure low-income communities would benefit from legislation.
Based on her responses at the presidential debates and in later statements, Harris would take direct action: If Congress didn't act within 100 days, her plan would include a ban on assault weapons, mandatory background checks, and closing of loopholes, amongst other things. Harris is herself a gun owner and has said that she believes there's a balance between protection of Second Amendment rights and preventing gun deaths.
Biden also has a strong stance on gun control, and the announcement of Biden-Harris has been met with support from gun control advocates.
Harris is herself the daughter of two immigrant parents, and she was the first Black person and first woman to become San Francisco's attorney general. She's been outspoken on the proposed U.S.-Mexico wall, saying, "Because I was a prosecutor for many years, including the Attorney General of California, I specialize on trans-national criminal organizations. That wall ain’t gonna stop them.”
Harris has been called "the most outspoken ally of immigration activists" and put in place programs in California to protect and empower immigrants in the state. She supports DREAMers and DACA; In 2019, she unveiled an immigration plan that would remove the threat of deportation from undocumented immigrants via executive action and expand deferred action immigration programs.
Beyond her plans for the economy with regards to climate change, and the work she's done in favor of working families and individuals during the pandemic, Harris has been an advocate for increasing child care to six months. This "Children's Agenda" would "put children at the center of her decision-making and treat their needs with the same urgency and importance as we treat any other national priority." It would be available not just to full-time workers and would create a dedicated Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave.
In a larger sense, Harris' proposed the 21st Century SKILLS Act would allow workers to obtain money for training, particularly in specialized fields, to address the increasing challenge of automation in the workforce and the threat that poses to jobs. The program is flexible and covers costs like transportation and child care.