US VP Harris Lashed Over Migration After First International Trip

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, on June 8, 2021. – (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AE / AFP)

 

 

Back Wednesday from her debut international mission as US vice president, Kamala Harris caught flak from Republican critics accusing her of not taking the migration crisis seriously enough, but also from vocal progressives frustrated about border policy.

The two-sided pile-on reflects the protracted and difficult nature of America’s immigration problem, which has vexed US administrations for decades.

But Harris’ trip to Guatemala and Mexico, during which she appeared to flippantly respond to questions about why she has yet to visit the southern US border for an on-the-ground assessment, marks her biggest stumble yet since she became President Joe Biden’s deputy.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, described her trip as a “missed opportunity.”

“She is avoiding the point of failure in our immigration system, which is at the border,” Cornyn told AFP Wednesday in the US Capitol.

Less than a decade ago then-president Barack Obama faced a humanitarian crisis at the border, and struggled to apply the most effective response to thousands of people — including unaccompanied minors — fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.

His successor Donald Trump famously vowed to build a border wall, and earned opprobrium from critics for controversial detentions.

Now Biden has faltered on handling illegal immigration, and critics smell blood in the water — particularly after a series of Harris responses to questions about why she has yet to visit the US-Mexico border since the president tasked her with the immigration portfolio.

In Guatemala she said she would remain focused on addressing the root causes of illegal migration — poverty and crime — rather than the “grand gestures” of a hypothetical border visit.

In an interview with NBC things grew tense. When Harris said “we’ve been to the border,” the reporter noted that she had yet to visit in person as vice president.

“And I haven’t been to Europe,” she retorted, before breaking into a nervous laugh. The exchange brought fierce criticism from Republicans.

– ‘Opposite’ messaging –
Detentions of undocumented travellers along the US-Mexico border, including unaccompanied minors, hit a 15-year high in April.

Nearly 180,000 people were intercepted — more than 80 percent of them coming from Mexico or the so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Harris arrived Sunday in Guatemala, where she levelled a firm warning to would-be migrants: “Do not come” to the United States.

But she also brought the Biden administration’s pledge of a more humane immigration policy — in stark contrast with Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach which is favored by Republicans.

“Everything Joe and Kamala have done has sent exactly the opposite message” from Harris’ “do not come” remark, Republican Senator Ted Cruz told Fox News on Tuesday.

“We’ve seen in the five months they’ve been in office, an absolute disaster unfolding at the border” with no willingness to fix the problem, the senator from Texas said.

He noted the surge in undocumented arrivals, Biden’s ending of his predecessor’s “Remain in Mexico” program, and the refusal to stop the practice of catch and release for low-risk migrants allowed to stay in the United States pending immigration hearings.

Harris “literally flew twice over our southern border,” another Republican, Senator James Lankford, lamented to AFP, saying the vice president should have stopped “to get a read on the ground of what’s actually happening.”

While Harris urged migrants against making the perilous journey northward, Biden’s “policies have spoken the opposite,” Lankford noted.

But those same “do not come” remarks by Harris antagonized those on her party’s left flank.

“Disappointing” is how liberal House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described Harris’ warning.

“This whole ‘stay there and die’ approach is not how our country will promote a more humane and just immigration system,” congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeted.

The White House meanwhile offered Harris its languid support, saying her trip to the Northern Triangle to address root causes of illegal migration was “exactly what the president asked her to do.”

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who chairs the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on Foreign Relations, said it was “really important” that Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico as a way to show the administration’s commitment to tackling illegal immigration.

Kaine downplayed the criticism of Harris, who once served as California’s attorney general, as unfair opportunistic denunciations.

“I imagine she knows a lot more about the border than some of the folks that are criticizing her,” Kaine said.

Biden To Visit Pentagon Amid Worries About Racism, Extremism

US President Joe Biden speaks about the Covid-19 response before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2021. MANDEL NGAN / AFP
US President Joe Biden speaks about the Covid-19 response before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2021. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Joe Biden will make his first visit as president to the Pentagon Wednesday as the US military seeks to address far-right extremism and racism among its troops.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will cross the Potomac River to the iconic seat of the Department of Defense in the early afternoon where they will be greeted by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and top generals and civilian officials, the White House said.

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during her swear-in as the 49th US Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP)

 

Austin, a retired general and former US Middle East commander, is the first African American to hold the position.

He has set his priorities on combatting Covid-19 in the US forces to preserve readiness, on supporting Biden’s national 100-day plan to get the virus under control, and to root out racism and related extremism in the more than two million uniformed service members.

READ ALSO: Prince Charles Receives First Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine

Issues of racism and extremism have always challenged the force, but came to the fore after hundreds of extremist supporters of former president Donald Trump, some of them embracing white supremacy ideology, stormed the US Capitol on January 6.

Biden has set a theme for his administration of advancing greater opportunities for minorities across the entire government.

To make the point, Biden will visit a Pentagon exhibit portraying the history of African Americans in the military.

The visit could also set the tone for the US defense stance as Biden reviews Trump’s push to remove nearly all US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan after nearly two decades of war.

On Tuesday Defense Department Spokesman John Kirby said the two aims of Biden’s visit were to talk to senior leaders on foreign and defense policy and then to address the huge Pentagon workforce.

AFP

Biden Talks The Talk In First 10 Days — But Can He Deliver?

US President Joe Biden speaks about the Covid-19 response before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2021. MANDEL NGAN / AFP
US President Joe Biden speaks about the Covid-19 response before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2021. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Normal is the new extraordinary under President Joe Biden.

“It’s been a busy week,” he said in the Oval Office on Thursday.

Biden was referring to the cascade of executive orders he has signed since taking power on January 20, overturning rules enacted by Donald Trump on everything from immigration to health care.

But Biden’s most dramatic achievement in 10 days has simply been to remind Americans of a White House where nothing unexpected happens.

— No Twitter rages. No branding journalists enemies of the people. No demonizing the opposition party.

— Daily, detailed, fact-filled, even dull briefings by experts on Covid-19, the economy and more.

— A president appealing for unity and appearing often in public — but always carefully stage managed and never for too long.

— A secretary of state, Antony Blinken, reassuring the world’s diplomats that the United States they thought was gone is back.

It adds up to major change. Yet none of it is remarkable.

As late night show host Stephen Colbert quipped about the main difference between Biden’s coronavirus plan and Trump’s version: “There is one.”

– It’s the virus, stupid –
What will happen when Biden’s slickly run messaging operation hits harsh reality?

To misquote a famous line about the economy from Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, everything now boils down to “the virus, stupid.”

Covid-19 is on track to kill half a million Americans.

And data Thursday showing the sharpest economic contraction since 1946, with GDP shrinking 3.5 percent in 2020, illustrated the financial impact of all those shuttered restaurants, empty airliners and laid-off workers.

So Biden’s presidency could hinge on what happens next.

Get Americans vaccinated, then ride the economic revival and Biden could turn disaster into triumph. Fail and he may carry that to the end of his term.

“The success of everything else really hinges on that,” said Mark Carl Rom, who teaches politics at Georgetown University.

With Biden predicting mass vaccinations by summer, Rom says the president will soon face a simple, visible test.

Can ordinary people “go to the beach and not worry about getting sick and dying?” Rom asked.

“That would be an enormous step.”

– Desperately seeking unity –
Biden’s other mega challenge is to restore unity in a country that Trump’s presidency split down the middle.

The Democrat has spoken almost daily about this mission, often movingly. And he has taken steps to cool the temperature after an election season that ended with Trump’s supporters storming Congress.

For example, when asked repeatedly for an opinion on the coming Trump impeachment trial, Biden and his press secretary Jen Psaki refuse to take the bait, saying the matter is for lawmakers to decide.

Biden also declined to get involved in an ugly fight in the Senate when some Democrats tried to get rid of the filibuster — a rule effectively forcing Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass bills. The rule remained in place.

But America remains in turmoil, not least because of hyper-partisan media outlets and disinformation-filled social media.

Biden did not appoint any high profile Republican in his cabinet, as some had predicted he would.

And he is taking flack for all those executive orders, which bypass Congress altogether and critics see as overreach. Even The New York Times editorial board chided him Thursday, saying “this is no way to make law.”

Pressured by the left to push hot-button issues — like the federal funding for abortion counseling that he authorized Thursday — and by the right to remember that Trump won 74 million votes, Biden is in a tough spot.

His biggest next test will be getting bipartisan Senate support for his signature opening bill — a gigantic, $1.9 trillion Covid economic relief package. So far the signs are not good.

But the White House insists that Biden, a longtime former senator, is uniquely placed to get the two sides talking.

“Unifying the country is addressing the problems that the American people are facing, and working to reach out to Democrats and Republicans to do exactly that,” Psaki said Thursday.

And for now, Biden has the wind in his sails.

Fifty four percent approval in a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday might not sound like much, but anything north of 50 is not to be sniffed at these days.

Trump’s final Gallup poll on leaving office? Just 34 percent.

Help Nigeria Fight Terror, Remove Travel Restrictions, Atiku Urges Biden, Harris

Supreme Court To Hear Atiku's Appeal August 20
A file photo of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday asked newly inaugurated US leaders – Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – to support Nigeria’s fight against terror and remove all travel restrictions imposed on Nigerian citizens by the Donald Trump administration.

Since 2009, Nigeria has battled an insurgency across its northeast region and bandit attacks have increased in recent years.

The Trump administration, in a four-year crackdown on immigration into the US, also passed policies that restricted Nigerians and other countries from pursuing long-term visits to the world’s largest economy.

In a tweet, Atiku said Nigeria has enjoyed good relations with the US since 1961, and US support will help nurture the nation’s democracy.

READ ALSO: Biden To Reverse Trump Policies, Remake US Role In Climate Crisis

“As @POTUS, @JoeBiden begins his tenure as the 46th President of the United States of America, I am confident that this new era will mark America’s regeneration and her reaffirmation as the beacon of democracy to the world,” Atiku said.

“As I congratulate President Biden and @VP, @KamalaHarris, I urge them and their administration to strengthen US-Nigeria ties, and help our beloved nation’s war on terror by providing every type of support required to win our war against the insurgency we face.

“I also look forward to the removal of every travel restriction on Nigerian citizens, in keeping with the good relations that has existed between our two nations beginning with the July 27, 1961 state visit of our first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, to President John F Kennedy, and continuing over the decades since then.

“As the playwright, George Bernard Shaw once said, America and Nigeria are two nations divided by a common language. And millions of Nigerians and I wish to see that relationship sustained to the mutual benefit of both our democratic nations.

“Congratulations once again and may God bless both our nations and bring about a beneficial tenure for your administration.”

We Look Forward To Working With Joe Biden And Kamala Harris – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said his government is ready to work with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and hopes that a strong point of cooperation and support for Nigeria as well as the African continent will be marked. 

President Buhari in a communique by his special media aide – Garba Shehu, congratulated the leaders, and the entire country on the successful transition, which marks an important historical inflection point for democracy as a system of government and for the global community as a whole.

READ ALSO: Joe Biden Becomes 46th US President

“We look forward to the Biden presidency with great hope and optimism for the strengthening of existing cordial relationships, working together to tackle global terrorism, climate change, poverty and improvement of economic ties, and expansion of trade.

“We hope that this will be an era of great positivity between our two nations, as we jointly address issues of mutual interest,” the President added.

President Buhari and all Nigerians rejoice with President Joe Biden, sharing the proud feeling that the first woman elected Vice President of the United States has African and Asian ancestry.

Biden Plans Immediate Orders On Immigration, Coronavirus, Environment

US President-elect Joe Biden (L) greets former US President Barack Obama, with a fist bump during the inauguration of the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL / AFP)

 

US President-elect Joe Biden plans to kick off his new administration Wednesday with orders to restore the United States to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, aides said.

Biden will sign 17 orders and actions just hours after being sworn in as US leader to break from policies of departing President Donald Trump and set new paths on immigration, the environment, fighting Covid-19 and the economy, they said.

In first-day moves, he will end Trump’s much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, the aides said.

He will also set a mask mandate on federal properties to stem the spread of Covid-19; restore protections of valuable nature reserves removed by Trump; and seek freezes on evictions and protection for millions behind on their mortgages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also plans to send a bill to Congress to revamp immigration policies and give millions of undocumented migrants living inside the country a path to citizenship that the Trump administration denied.

Biden’s staff said he wanted to hit the ground running given the deep health and economic challenges facing the country.

Biden “will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” the aides said in a statement.

“These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president.”

– New approach to Covid –
Many of the actions will take government policies back to where they were on January 19, 2017 — the final day of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden administration, before Trump entered office and took a wrecking ball to many of their initiatives.

Jeff Zients, the new president’s point-man for fighting the pandemic, said Biden would start by establishing an office of Covid-19 response inside the White House.

A 100-day “masking challenge” will be led with a presidential order for wearing masks in all federal properties and activities, setting the standard for private companies, individual states and communities to follow suit, Zients said.

Wednesday “starts a new day, a new, different approach to managing the country’s response to Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

That includes reversing Trump’s decision to leave the World Health Organization.

To underscore Biden’s decision, Zients said, leading US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci will lead a delegation to take part in the WHO Executive Board meeting on Thursday.

“America’s withdrawal from the international arena has impeded progress on the global response and left us more vulnerable to future pandemics,” he said.

Gina McCarthy, the new administration’s chief climate advisor, said returning to the 2016 Paris accord was essential to making fighting climate change a central tenet of Biden administration policy.

Biden will reverse Trump decisions to ease emissions and efficiency standards, and rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a large project that would bring relatively high-polluting Canadian oil into the United States.

“The day-one climate executive orders will begin to put the US back on the right footing, a footing we need to restore American leadership, helping to position our nation to be the global leader in clean energy and jobs,” said McCarthy.

Other actions by the new president will require a government-wide, proactive equality effort for minority groups, in hiring, contracting, and service.

“The President-elect has promised to root out systemic racism from our institutions,” said Susan Rice, his Domestic Policy Council director.

Joe Biden Becomes 46th US President

Joe Biden (L), flanked by incoming US First Lady Jill Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP

 

Joe Biden on Wednesday became the 46th president of the United States, vowing a “new day” for the United States after four years of tumult under Donald Trump who in an extraordinary final act snubbed the inauguration.

Two weeks to the day after Trump supporters violently rampaged at the US Capitol to overturn the election results, Biden took the oath on the same very steps alongside Kamala Harris, who was sworn in moments earlier as the first woman vice president.

Biden, putting his hand on a family Bible, repeated after Chief Justice John Roberts the presidential oath — that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“It’s a new day in America,” Biden wrote on Twitter before the inauguration as, in a sign of his push for unity, he prayed alongside congressional leaders at a Roman Catholic church.

 

US President Joe Biden delivers his Inauguration speech after being sworn in as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP

 

Biden, who at 78 is the oldest president in US history and only the second Catholic, took office amid enormous challenges with the still-raging Covid-19 pandemic having claimed 400,000 lives in the United States.

Central Washington took on the dystopian look of an armed camp, protected by some 25,000 National Guard troops tasked with preventing any repeat of the January 6 attack that left five dead. The Supreme Court reported a bomb threat Wednesday morning.

Read Also: Kamala Harris Sworn In As US Vice President

Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, became the highest-ranking woman in US history and the first person of color as the nation’s number two.

She and her husband Doug Emhoff — America’s first-ever “second gentleman” — were escorted to the inauguration by Eugene Goodman, a Black police officer at the Capitol who lured the mostly white mob away from the Senate chambers in a video that went viral.

 

Kamala Harris is sworn-in as vice president of the United States on Wednesday, the first woman ever to hold the post.

 

Unprecedented atmosphere

With the general public essentially barred from attending due to the pandemic, Biden’s audience at the National Mall instead was 200,000 flags planted to represent the absent crowds.

“It’s a day a lot of us have been trying to visualize for a long time. We couldn’t have guessed that the visual would be quite like this,” Pete Buttigieg, the former presidential contender tapped by Biden as transportation secretary, told reporters.

Biden nonetheless brought in star power — absent four years ago with Trump — as Lady Gaga sang the national anthem and Tom Hanks prepared for a televised evening appearance with the new president.

Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama and first ran for president in 1987, plans to kick off his tenure with a flurry of 17 orders to turn the page on Trump’s divisive reign.

Officials said Biden will immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord and stop the US exit from the World Health Organization and set new paths on immigration, the environment, Covid-19 and the economy.

He will also end Trump’s much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, the aides said.

Many overseas leaders breathed a sigh of relief at the end of Trump’s hawkish, go-it-alone presidency, with Biden’s team pledging greater cooperation with the rest of the world.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, called Biden’s inauguration “a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy,” as well as “the resounding proof that, once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House.”

 

Trump vows to be back

Outgoing US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump address guests at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. President Trump and the First Lady travel to their Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and will not attend the inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden. ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

For the first time in 152 years, the sitting president did not accompany his successor to the inauguration after Trump for two months falsely alleged that fraud cost him a second term.

Several hours before the inauguration, Trump, 74, and first lady Melania Trump walked a short red carpet on the White House lawn to the Marine One helicopter, which flew near the inauguration-ready Capitol before heading to Andrews Air Force Base on Washington’s outskirts.

“This has been an incredible four years,” Trump told several hundred cheering supporters in a campaign-style event before flying off for the last time in Air Force One en route to his Florida resort.

“We will be back in some form,” vowed Trump, who retains a hold on much of the Republican Party despite being the first president to be impeached twice.

Trump did not address Biden by name but, in a rare hint of graciousness, wished the next administration “great luck and great success.”

Read Also: Trump Arrives At Home In Mar-a-Lago

A spokesman said Trump maintained one tradition by leaving a letter for Biden, although the contents were unknown.

Mike Pence, the outgoing vice president who clashed with Trump in his final days by acknowledging he could not overturn the election, was attending the inauguration alongside former presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and their wives — including Hillary Clinton, for whom Biden’s victory was especially sweet four years after her narrow, surprise defeat to Trump.

Last-minute Trump pardons

In one of his last acts before departing the White House, Trump issued scores of pardons to people convicted of crimes or facing charges, including several key allies.

Influential former Trump aide Steve Bannon — charged with defrauding people over funds raised to build the Mexico border wall, a flagship Trump policy — was among 73 people on a list released by the White House.

Trump also at the last minute ended a ban on his administration’s officials serving as lobbyists — an order he had issued with fanfare at the start of his presidency as he vowed to “drain the swamp” of Washington.

However, neither Trump nor his relatives enjoyed pardons, amid speculation he could use the legally dubious tactic of a preemptive pardon to fend off future charges.

Trump will still be in focus at the Capitol as the Senate considers convicting him after he was impeached for inciting the mob earlier this month.

The spectacle will clash with the opening days of Biden’s tenure, as the new president seeks to swiftly confirm his Cabinet picks and push through ambitious legislation — including a $1.9 trillion rescue package.

Kamala Harris Sworn In As US Vice President

Kamala Harris (L) flanked by US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, is sworn in as the 49th US Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP

 

Former California Senator Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president of the United States on Wednesday, the first woman ever to hold the post.

Harris, 56, took the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a ceremony at the US Capitol.

She is the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to become US vice president.

Biden’s Inauguration Day: From Oath-Taking To Honouring COVID-19 Victims

US President-Elect Joe Biden speaks at Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard /Reserve Center in New Castle Airport on January 19, 2021, in New Castle, Delaware, before departing for Washington, DC.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Joe Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, during a day steeped in tradition and ceremony that nonetheless has been altered due to the pandemic and tight security after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: A tent is seen outside of the Blair House, where President-elect Joe Biden will stay the night before this week’s inauguration on January 17, 2021
Sarah Silbiger / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Night at Blair House

Biden and his wife Jill will spend Tuesday night in the lavish Blair House, located opposite the White House on Lafayette Square, that the US government uses to host special guests and visiting dignitaries.

Religious services

On Wednesday morning Biden, a devout Catholic, will attend Mass at St Matthews church in Washington, and has invited Congressional leaders from both political parties.

Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Kevin McCarthy will represent the Republicans, while Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will also attend, sources have told AFP.

Taking the oath

Biden will then travel in a motorcade to the Capitol, the site of the January 6 riot by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, where the inauguration ceremony gets underway at 11:00 am (1600 GMT).

He will be sworn in after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes her vow, then will give his inaugural speech, during which he is expected to outline his vision to tackle America’s multiple crises and his plan to “build back better.”

The National Mall that runs from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial will be closed due to Covid-19 fears and because of tight security stemming from the January 6 attack.

Lady Gaga is due to sing the national anthem, while Jennifer Lopez is also set to give a musical performance.

As is custom, the newly inaugurated 46th US president will then dine with members of Congress in the Capitol building.

Arlington National Cemetery

In the afternoon, Biden will head to Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Trump, who is shunning the day’s events, will not be there.

 

Members of the National Guard gather near the US Capitol, ahead of the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Washington, DC on January 19, 2021. .
Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

White House

From Arlington, Biden will travel by motorcade to the White House and is expected make the last part of the journey on foot and enter his new home surrounded by a military cordon.

Biden is due to sign his first executive orders shortly after arriving.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: Members of Florida National Guard stand guard at the Lincoln Memorial on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Honoring the pandemic’s victims

At 8:25 pm, Biden and Harris will give a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, honoring the 400,000 people that have died from Covid-19 in America.

Shortly after, actor Tom Hanks will host a show called “Celebrating America” that will be broadcast on all major US networks.

Jon Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Luis Fonsi are among the guests expected to perform.

AFP

Trailblazer Kamala Harris: America’s First Woman Vice President

FILES) In this file photo taken on January 4, 2021 US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff take a selfie with the owners of Floriana, an Italian restaurant that has been in business over 40 years, during a visit to support the local establishment amid the Covid-19 pandemic, near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.
Eric BARADAT / AFP

 

Kamala Harris will shatter one of the highest glass ceilings Wednesday when she takes the oath of office as America’s first woman vice president, blazing a trail in the most diverse White House ever.

As running mate to incoming president Joe Biden, she helped bring Donald Trump’s turbulent rule to an end, rapping him during the campaign for his chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, last year’s unrest over racial injustice and his crackdown on immigration.

Harris, 56, enters the post already forging a unique path, as California’s first Black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.

As vice president, she will be a heartbeat away from leading the United States.

With Biden, 78, expected to serve only a single term, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, giving her a shot at more history-making — as America’s first female president.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” Harris said in a speech on November 7, her first after US networks projected Biden and Harris as the winners over Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump bitterly contested the results, peddling the lie that the Democrats only won due to massive election fraud.

During the campaign he routinely attacked Harris, branding her a “monster” after her October vice presidential debate with Pence. When asked about it my reporters, Harris curtly dismissed the president: “I don’t comment on his childish remarks.”

While Harris pushed back fiercely during the campaign, in the past two months she rose above the fray, pivoting to plans she and Biden are unveiling to help struggling families and fix a reeling economy.

“The first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration will focus on getting control of this pandemic — ensuring vaccines are distributed equitably and free for all,” she tweeted Tuesday.

 

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks after US President-elect Joe Biden nominated their science team on January 16, 2021, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. 
ANGELA WEISS / AFP

– The decider –

While the vice president’s job is often seen as ceremonial, Harris will also be thrust into the powerful role of ultimate decider in the US Senate.

Thanks to two shock Democratic run-off victories this month in Georgia, the Senate will be evenly split, 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.

That means Harris may spend considerable time on Capitol Hill acting as the tie-breaking vote on legislation on anything from judicial nominees to Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

Harris was born to immigrants to the United States — her father from Jamaica, her mother from India — and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.

She was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism.

Her diploma from historically Black Howard University in Washington was the start of a steady rise that took her from prosecutor, to two elected terms as San Francisco’s district attorney and then California’s attorney general in 2010.

However, Harris’s self-description as a “progressive prosecutor” has been seized upon by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed certain reforms in California, like a bill requiring that the attorney general probe shootings involving police.

Yet Harris’s work was key to molding a platform and profile from which she launched a successful US Senate campaign in 2016, becoming just the second Black female senator ever.

Her stint as an attorney general also helped her forge a connection with Biden’s son Beau, who held the same position in Delaware, and died of cancer in 2015.

“I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision,” Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as running mates.

 

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – JANUARY 16: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an announcement January 16, 2021 at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. President-elect Joe Biden has announced key members of his incoming White House science team. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP
ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

– ‘I’m speaking’ –

Harris oozes charisma but can quickly pivot from her broad smile to a prosecutorial persona of relentless interrogation and cutting retorts.

Clips went viral of her sharp questioning in 2017 of then-attorney general Jeff Sessions during a hearing on Russia, and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh the following year.

Harris also clashed with Biden during the first Democratic debate, chiding the former senator over his opposition to 1970s busing programs that forced integration of segregated schools.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”

That showdown did not stop him from picking Harris, who brought that feisty energy to Biden’s carefully stage-managed campaign.

During her only debate against Pence, Harris raised her hand as he tried to interrupt her.

“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking,” she said with a glare.

Harris has no children of her own. But she claims the role of “momala” to the son and daughter of her husband Doug Emhoff.

Emhoff, a lawyer, will become the first-ever US “second gentleman,” and the first Jewish spouse of a US vice president.

As for her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a scientist born in India who immigrated at 19, “maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment,” Harris said in her November speech.

“But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”

-AFP

Kamala Harris Receives COVID-19 Vaccine On Live TV

Registered nurse Patricia Cummings administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris December 29, 2020 at the United Medical Center in Washington, DC. Alex Edelman / AFP
Registered nurse Patricia Cummings administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris December 29, 2020 at the United Medical Center in Washington, DC. Alex Edelman / AFP

 

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her Covid vaccine live on television Tuesday and urged public trust in the process, while her choice of hospital highlighted the plight of the hard-hit African-American community.

A mask-wearing Harris received the first of her two shots at United Medical Center, located in an area of Washington, DC with a large African-American population.

African-American communities nationwide have seen disproportionately high levels of death and illness related to the Covid-19 pandemic, while polls have also indicated they are among the most reluctant to get vaccinated.

“So I want to remind people that right in your community is where you can take the vaccine, where you will receive the vaccine by folks you may know,” she said after receiving the vaccine manufactured by US firm Moderna.

“So I want to remind people that they have trusted sources of help and that’s where they will be able to go to get the vaccine.”

Harris will become the first Black and Indian-American vice president when she takes office on January 20, as well as the first woman in the role.

Her husband Doug Emhoff was also to be vaccinated.

A string of public officials have been vaccinated before cameras as part of efforts to overcome public skepticism and convince those in doubt that the immunizations are vital to returning to a semblance of normality in the months ahead.

President-elect Joe Biden was vaccinated live on television on December 21.

Outgoing President Donald Trump, who was hospitalized with the virus in October, has not committed to being vaccinated.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the dangerousness of the virus and urged business and school reopenings despite its surge nationwide.

The United States has registered some 19.3 million cases and more than 335,000 deaths related to the virus, both the world’s highest,according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

 

AFP

Harris Vaccinated On Camera, Urges Public To Trust Process

Registered nurse Patricia Cummings administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on December 29, 2020 at the United Medical Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Edelman / AFP)

 

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her COVID vaccine live on television Tuesday and urged public trust in the process, while her choice of hospital highlighted the plight of the hard-hit African-American community.

A mask-wearing Harris received the first of her two shots at United Medical Center, located in an area of Washington, DC with a large African-American population.

African-American communities nationwide have seen disproportionately high levels of death and illness related to the Covid-19 pandemic, while polls have also indicated they are among the most reluctant to get vaccinated.

“So I want to remind people that right in your community is where you can take the vaccine, where you will receive the vaccine by folks you may know,” she said after receiving the vaccine manufactured by US firm Moderna.

“So I want to remind people that they have trusted sources of help and that’s where they will be able to go to get the vaccine.”

Harris will become the first Black and Indian-American vice president when she takes office on January 20, as well as the first woman in the role.

Her husband Doug Emhoff was also to be vaccinated.

A string of public officials have been vaccinated before cameras as part of efforts to overcome public skepticism and convince those in doubt that the immunizations are vital to returning to a semblance of normality in the months ahead.

President-elect Joe Biden was vaccinated live on television on December 21.

Outgoing President Donald Trump, who was hospitalized with the virus in October, has not committed to being vaccinated.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the dangerousness of the virus and urged business and school reopenings despite its surge nationwide.

The United States has registered some 19.3 million cases and more than 335,000 deaths related to the virus, both the world’s highest, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.