$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan ’our highest priority’: Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Taking oath, she would be thinking about her India born ‘mother looking down from heaven.’

Kamala Harris, set to become the first woman and first woman of color to serve as the US vice president, is determined like President-elect Joe Biden to move forward with an ambitious legislative agenda.

“It’s our highest priority,” Harris told NPR in an Interview Thursday, to get a $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan’ unveiled by Biden passed amid a second Senate impeachment trial of outgoing President Donald Trump.

The rescue package among other things proposes to expand unemployment benefits, issue another round of direct stimulus payments and spend billions on coronavirus vaccination and testing efforts, besides raising the federal minimum wage to $15.

“We know how to multitask there,” Harris said. ”We have to multitask, which means, as with anyone, we have a lot of priorities and we need to see them through.”

“Let me be very clear that the president-elect and I know this is not going to be easy, but we are putting everything we’ve got into this, and to deal with it as soon as possible,” she said.

That “is why we’re prepared right now to, on day one, push through and get this package, so that it hits the ground and hits the streets and we get relief to the American people.”

“We can’t tell you that it’s all going to be over on a certain date,” she said. “But I can tell you this, on January 20th, we’re hitting the ground running.”

READ: List of Indian Americans in the incoming Biden administration

Asked how quickly would the rescue package get passed given Democrats’ narrow majorities in both chambers, Harris said, “Well, let me tell you, it’s our highest priority. It is our highest priority.”

“And the reality of it is that this pandemic, we all know, does not see political lines,” she said. “It does not … care about who you voted for in the last election. In that way, it is an equal opportunity offender.”

“And we intend to work across party lines to do what is necessary to get this passed,” Harris said hoping “we will work at the kind of compromise and collaboration that is necessary to get this pushed through, because it’s just the right thing to do.”

Harris also argued that it is crucial for her and Biden to continue the inaugural tradition of being sworn in on the West front of the Capitol, despite heightened security threats ahead of next week’s ceremony.

“I think that we cannot yield to those who would try and make us afraid of who we are,” she told NPR. “We are a nation that was founded on very important principles and guided by extremely important ideals.”

“We cannot abandon the appreciation that we should all have for the traditions that are symbolic of our commitment to our democracy, which includes a peaceful transfer of power.”

As she often does, Harris again fondly recalled the contribution of her India born mother in her rise to the second highest office in the US,

“There will be a lot of thoughts going through my mind at that moment. I will be thinking about my mother, who is looking down from heaven,” she told NPR  when asked what she was going to be thinking about while taking the oath of office.

“I will be thinking about all of the people who are counting on us to lead and are counting on us to see them and to address their needs and the things that keep them up at night,” Harris said.

“And I’ll be thinking about the fact that we have to hit the ground running immediately.”

Asked what specifically was she going to be focusing on as Vice President, Harris said, “Let me tell you something, on every decision that we have made as an incoming administration, we’re in the room together, Joe and I, the president-elect and I.”

“And on every, you know, I can’t even tell you how many meetings we’ve been in together that range from this to many other topics that are priorities for us,” she said.

“And so all of the priorities are going to be a priority for me and for the president-elect, obviously. And we’re full partners in this process.”

Harris also spoke about the Jan 6 rampage of the US Capitol by Trump supporters parading the Confederate flag through the Senate’s hallways and the undercurrents of hate and racism it represented.

“It was the same thing that went through my mind when I saw Charlottesville. I mean, it’s the same thing that went through my mind when I saw a picture of Emmett Till,” she said.

“Sadly, it is not the first time I have seen a demonstration like what you are describing in the history of our country,” she added. “And and it is — it is a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do.”

Describing last week’s attack on the Capitol as “horrific”, Harris said, “It was a day that wherein we witnessed an assault on America’s democracy, a day when we witnessed the terror that a few can wreak on so many.

“And it was probably, you know, it will be in history recorded as one of the worst days in terms of an attack on the integrity of our democracy.”

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