Assigned to resolve some of the nation’s most difficult challenges, Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday dismissed speculation that the White House set her up to fail.
On Harris’ to-do list are such controversial tasks as voting rights, which have hit a wall in the Senate, and immigration policy, which remains a daunting issue, amounting to what a CNN analyst called a “trash portfolio” earlier this year.
“I don’t believe I’m being set up to fail,” Harris said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “More important — I’m the vice president of the United States, anything that I handle is because it’s a tough issue. And it couldn’t be handled at some other level.”
Harris skirted a question as to whether she feels she gets extra scrutiny because she is a woman with a minority background.
“I’ll leave that for others to deal with. I, you know … I have a job to do,” the veep said.
She insisted voting rights legislation isn’t dead, although she shied away from supporting one possible route to passing it — abolishing the Senate filibuster.
Harris also stood by her controversial comments made in June, telling migrants in Latin America: “Do not come.”
“The vast majority of people, wherever they are from, don’t want to leave home,” she said. “They don’t want their family members to leave.”
Harris voiced hope that Democrats can still pass the sweeping social and climate spending plan called Build Back Better, one of President Biden’s top priorities.
Last week, Democratic moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia appeared to torpedo the bill in the evenly divided Senate. Later, however, he said the legislation should go through the lengthy committee review process, suggesting there’s room for Dems to earn his support.
“I was in the Senate for four years before I came here, and I have seen the ups and downs in terms of legislation,” Harris said. “I’m not giving up, the president’s not giving up, and frankly, the stakes are too high.”
While Manchin’s maneuvers have enraged many Democrats, Harris avoided criticizing him.
“I think the stakes are too high for this to be in any way about any specific individual,” she said.
The interview came at the end of a challenging first year for the Biden administration, which faced strong criticism for the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Inflation grew at the fastest rate in three decades, and the pandemic hasn’t relented.
Harris stuck to the White House talking points on Afghanistan, where the Taliban toppled the U.S.-backed government with stunning swiftness in August when American troops were withdrawn.
“I fully supported the president’s decision to [withdraw] after what was taking on the fact of being an endless war,” she said.
Asked about Afghan women’s rights, which have suffered a severe reversal under Taliban rule, the vice president pointed to ongoing efforts to work around the strict, conservative regime.
“We are working through the UN and doing what we need to do through our friends to provide humanitarian assistance, bypassing the Taliban to make sure that we are supporting women and girls there,” Harris said.
As to the pressing issues of inflation and the pandemic, the vice president tried to strike an optimistic note.
“What I can say is that we have the power today to have an impact on tomorrow, and we can’t shortchange the significance of that,” she said.
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