Kamala Harris entered the White House with a desire to resize the power of the US vice presidency. Also during the campaign, she warned Joe Biden that her desire was to go beyond the symbolism of being the first black woman of Asian descent to hold the post.
In recent weeks, Kamala has catapulted this business. In the biggest test of his public life, he amassed leadership in some of the US government’s most sensitive negotiations, with decisive effects on his ambition to run for the US presidency.
Since March, Biden has been appointed vice president to deal with at least three issues critical to his administration: immigration, access to voting and broadband network expansion in rural areas of the country. Of these, only the latter is of bipartisan interest – even though it is an infrastructure package already dehydrated by more than 20% by the president in an attempt to attract support from the opposition. The other two issues are crystallizing as the great challenges for Democrats so far.
The lack of border control is the government’s main crisis, as Republicans’ onslaught to make it difficult for black and vulnerable people to vote affects the constituency that gave Biden victory over Donald Trump last year.
Kamala’s conduct of the negotiations is closely watched by the left wing of the Democratic Party, which does not display the same flexible posture adopted by the group under the Obama administration. Counselors at the acronym in Congress say it is no longer enough to strive to deliberate on these issues, now they must be resolved once and for all.
If he performs well in the face of the challenges, analysts believe, Kamala would be able to build a strong political platform and profit from the dispute in the White House. Failing that, her credentials as a good articulator will likely be called into question and the plan to occupy the Oval Office could be scrapped again.
At 56, Kamala is currently Biden’s natural successor for 2024 or 2028. During the campaign, the Democrat signaled he would be a transitional president – he will be 82 when his term ends – but recently he did not rule out standing for election. re-election when questioned by journalists.
Until then, Kamala knows he has to occupy the space, without losing his political relevance, and has become something of a White House firefighter in negotiations with Congress.
Democrats have a tight majority in the House – of the 435 seats, 222 are held by Biden supporters and 212 by Republicans. The Senate, in turn, is split into two – 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans – with the tiebreaker right in Kamala’s hands.
However, many bills need 60 out of 100 senators to pass, and two moderate Democrats have voted, in Biden’s words, much more with the opposition. They are: Joe Manchin, West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, states with strong Republican roots and traditions.
Despite being a traditional politician with 40 years of Senate experience, Biden never sat on the floor around the same time as Manchin and Sinema, unlike Kamala, who served as a senator alongside them from 2017 until at the start of this year.
On Tuesday, for example, Biden announced that Kamala was to organize efforts to pass bills in Congress to protect access to the vote. The vice president’s challenge was to convince Manchin to sign the Democratic bill called “People’s Law,” which, among other measures, would remove many of the restrictions that exist on the act of voting.
Seen as pivotal in the pendulum of Senate Democrats, Manchin calls the legislation partisan and too broad because it would also change the way constituencies are divided and control campaign donations.
This Sunday (6), the senator buried Democratic hopes by writing an article for a local newspaper in his state saying he would vote against the law. According to him, the mechanism “would destroy the already weakened means of our democracy”. Manchin has also said he will not support an end to the Senate filibustering because he wants to be part of the Democratic Party, which would make it difficult to advance Biden’s more ambitious legislative goals.
According to White House advisers, Kamala will continue parliamentary dialogue, but given the obstacles, he will also launch an attack on the private sector to pressure Congress to support broader laws that overturn restrictions on access to vote.
As a black woman, Kamala wants to be the face of the White House’s response to Republicans who have passed state legislation to make it harder for blacks and the poor to vote in a move seen by experts as the more dangerous since the so-called Jim Crow, who legalized racial segregation at the end of the 19th century.
Among the measures approved in Georgia, for example, a state in which 32% of the population is black and which gave victory to Biden last year, is the requirement of a document with a photo for those who vote by correspondence, in addition to reducing the time and the number of polling stations where these ballots can be cast.
In the United States, voting is not compulsory, and Americans who choose to participate in the process can go to the polls on election day, vote in person in advance, or vote by mail.
No less difficult, the immigration crisis has also become a big deal for Kamala since late March, as criticism from the Biden administration in this area soared.
The daughter of an Indian researcher and a Jamaican professor, the vice-president is responsible for overseeing diplomatic efforts related to the Mexican border, in the face of the greatest migratory flow observed in the United States for two decades.
This Sunday, Kamala will make his first international trip as Vice President precisely as part of this challenge. She is traveling to Mexico and Guatemala, according to advisers, to study the situation and gather information before announcing a broader strategy to try to resolve the immigration crisis.
On this front, however, the political costs may be even higher as the crisis has been slow to subside, and the framework for criticism of government performance is home to even prominent White House allies.
Biden has come under heavy attack – also by Democratic activists and lawmakers – for restricting access to the press to monitor the work of border patrols with Mexico, for example, and for the high volume of unaccompanied children. who remain in detention centers for more than a year. per year than the 72 hours permitted by law.
Also in the campaign, he promised more humanitarian treatment to foreigners trying to enter the United States undocumented and to facilitate access to American citizenship for 11 million immigrants, but the lack of border control has overshadowed measures already in place, such as the one intended to reunite families separated under the Trump administration.
As Obama’s deputy, Biden was responsible for several Latin American policies and he followed with interest relations with the so-called North Central American triangle, which encompasses El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. . At the time, the White House developed strategies to try to improve the quality of life in the region and deter immigration to the United States, but it was also the subject of a deluge of criticism.
Without much progress, Biden tries to repeat the script, now under Kamala’s leadership. Behind the image of the deputy, teams from the State Department and the National Security Council, among other technical assistants, are working on the development of programs likely to strengthen the politico-managerial upholstery she needs.
Kamala is trying to rebuild her image after criticism from activists and the Democratic Progressive wing of her failure to reform the penal system when she was a California lawyer from 2004 to 2011. Since joining the Senate, she has been on the left. , taking tough positions against Trump, but still beckoning to the center, with proposals for lower taxes for the middle class, for example.
The pragmatic mix was one of the main recipes for Biden’s victory last year and, with the most active MP post, seems to be the leaven of the road Kamala must travel if he is to become the first woman to be be elected President of the United States.