Kamala Harris embarked Monday on her first official trip as vice-president to promote the just-signed $1.9tn stimulus law, a two-day swing that doubles as a chance to boost her own profile.
She’s traveling to Nevada and Colorado, both important presidential election states where Democratic senators are defending seats in next year’s midterms. The trip is part of a cross-country blitz planned by President Joe Biden and top administration officials to sell the relief package and ensure Democrats get credit for it from voters.
Since taking office in January, Harris has been under scrutiny as she carves out a role for herself as vice-president – an office with few specific responsibilities that a former occupant, John Nance Garner, once called “a spare tire on the automobile of government”. Gaining important duties will be crucial for Harris, 56, should she choose to run for president again in the future.
With this week’s trip, Harris is developing a role as a key promoter for the stimulus, the first major legislation Biden signed into law. The White House views the plan as central to defeating the pandemic and engineering a strong economic recovery. Much of Harris’s focus has been on how the rescue package could help small businesses and women in the workforce.
A White House official downplayed the notion that the trip is intended to build Harris’s profile. The vice-president sees it as a chance to encourage Americans to get a Covid-19 vaccine, the official said, especially people of color who are more likely to be hesitant.