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Kamala Harris’ role: Biden says he will assign his vice president the ‘urgent need of the moment’

John T. Bennett
·3-min read
<p>President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris discussed their visions for her role once they take office.</p> (REUTERS)

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris discussed their visions for her role once they take office.

(REUTERS)

President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for his soon-to-be vice president’s role, saying Kamala Harris will be asked to take on “the urgent need of the moment” rather than pursue her own policy agenda.

“I headed the [2009] recovery act not because that’s what I said I wanted to do,” Mr Biden said Thursday night of his tenure as vice president – but because then-president Barack Obama instructed him to be the lead negotiator with Congress.

“There are so many things that are going to land on this president’s desk,” he said, referring to himself, during an interview with CNN. “I have confidence in turning to her” to handle the “urgent need of the moment.

“There’s not a single decision I’ve made yet … that I haven’t discussed it with Kamala first,” the incoming president said.

Of her expectations, Ms Harris described the duo as “full partners in this process.”

“The president-elect has been … very clear to me that he wants me to be the first and the last [one] in the room,” she said during their first joint interview since election day. “On every issue that impacts the American people, I will be a full partner to the president. … I will be there to support him … and the American people.”

On the remainder of his cabinet picks, CNN anchor Jake Tapper pressed the duo on whether the ongoing era of “Black Lives Matter” and racial inequality outcries means they should pick a black person to be attorney general.

Mr Biden noted he is meeting with NAACP officials soon, and claimed his cabinet picks so far are the most diverse in US history.

The incoming leaders also were pressed on Covid-19 relief legislation. Talks have been stalled in recent months as the economy tries to come back after this year’s pandemic and lockdown, but negotiations are warming up.

A bipartisan group of senators this week rolled out a $900m proposal, but it lacks another stimulus check to help Americans buy food and pay bills.

Mr Biden formally endorsed that package, saying: “I think it should be passed.”

But he again described it as a bridge to a larger stimulus measure he intends to send Congress shortly after taking office on 20 January.

Though he claimed “20 to 22” Republican senators oppose passing any additional Covid relief, the longtime Delaware Democratic senator predicted if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the group’s compromise measure on the floor, “it would pass.”

Governors and mayors have warned him they will “need a fair amount of money” but “help is not getting there” currently, with new patients “overwhelming hospitals.” That means “more financial assistance” is needed from Washington, the president-elect said.

“We’re going to need a lot more,” he said, adding of distributing a vaccine: “It will cost billions of dollars to get this done.”

The virus has infected over 140,000 Americans and killed over 1,800 on Thursday alone, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Does Mr Biden want Donald Trump to attend his swearing-in ceremony? He smiled before saying he would, but not for “personal reasons." Rather, he thinks the “peaceful transfer of power” should be display for a divided country, with the two “shaking hands and moving on.”

“It’s totally his decision. Of no personal consequence to me," Mr Biden said. "But for the good of the country.”

In a light moment, Mr Biden explained to Mr Tapper how he suffered a hairline fracture while playing with one of his German Shepherd dogs. He said, after exiting the shower, one of his pets wanted to play with a toy ball. As they made their way down a nearby hallway, the dog slipped on a “throw rug,” causing him to trip on that small carpet, Mr Biden said, calling it a not-so-exciting tale.

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