“Even in dark times, we not only dream, but we see. We not only see what it was, we see what it can be,” she said. “It’s an American aspiration.”
The president and his number two had lunch together on Friday, and Biden wrote on Facebook, “new administration means new lunch partner.”
The development of this relationship will be crucial as the couple progresses on their path to governance over the next four years. While Biden spent more than four decades in congressional halls and the White House, Harris, who has served in the Senate for four years, is a relatively newcomer to Washington’s energy corridors.
People close to the historic vice president say that she is orienting herself in this new reality, getting acquainted with the rhythm of the western wing and the executive government, but willing to help solve the numerous crises in the country.
“She wasn’t joking when she said, ‘It’s time to get to work,’ one White House official told CNN.
Breaking the mold
On his first full day at the White House on Thursday, Harris sat in his office in the middle of the morning to read a letter left by Vice President Mike Pence. Assistants declined to give a detailed description of the contents of the letter, calling it private. But Harris and her predecessor enjoy a slightly more cordial, though still delayed, relationship than Biden and Trump.
Harris and Pence spoke on the phone a week before taking office and again on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday after a peaceful transfer of power. The two have left open the opportunity to speak in the future, an administration official said, similar to Biden’s conversations with Pence when Pence first took on the role of vice president.
But Harris’ relatives say she will rely on Biden himself as a plan for how to get the job done.
“It’s not difficult for President Biden because he’s experienced it himself and he knows the value of it. He knows he’s brought value to President Obama in many ways and will want that from Vice President Harris,” said Jay Carney, who once was Biden’s vice president of communications.
So far, Harris spends most of his time outside his office in the West Wing. While Biden’s Oval Office is fully decorated, officials say Harris is still in the process, missing sentimental relics and busts, but equipped with a deep navy blue wall and a handful of framed photos of his mother, husband, sister, niece. and one of her and Biden.
The former prosecutor will adjust to this new working life, as her own is in a state of turmoil. Instead of moving to the vice president’s official residence at the Naval Observatory, Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, temporarily moved to Blair House on Thursday night, just across the street from the White House. It’s a shorter commute to work, but one employee cited increased security as a major benefit – an upgrade from the hard-to-build mega-unit building that Harris occupies in DC.
Among the updates to the Vice Presidential House at the Naval Observatory are the replacement chimney and other household support that would be “easier to do with an unoccupied home,” according to White House officials.
A White House spokesman said the navy was in charge of the decades and ordered maintenance.
Other possible updates may eventually include the kitchen, a source said. A self-proclaimed supporter of cooking, Harris shared recipes and cooking videos during the campaign. The new vice president said he looked forward to returning to dinner Sunday night with his family in an attempt to create some kind of normalcy.
Officials and people close to Harris say her portfolio and how it will be defined over time are directly linked to the pandemic and economic crises facing the Biden administration during its first term. At least initially, it will not have a specific portfolio, as the duo develops which issues should be given priority. This is an early agreement that allows her to be involved in everything from the beginning.
“She is focusing on how her office can support and strengthen the administration’s agenda,” said Simon Sanders, a senior adviser and chief spokesman for Harris.
Harris has also undertaken several independent ventures, including contact with foreign and local allies. On Friday, she spoke at a meeting of the SEIU executive board, according to a source, a private call was stopped by her official daily orientation schedule. The day before, she spoke with the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreesus, a call that confirmed that she was eager to improve her foreign policy experience.
In the days before Biden unveiled his huge $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Harris was sent to call mayors across the country to review the legislation.
“Currently, the president has posed four major challenges that require everyone to present their best thinking to the table, and it is committed to being the best partner it can be for this president,” said Minion Moore, the political veteran who led Harris’ transition. he told CNN in an interview.
As the new White House focuses on the complexity of Covid-19, Harris is not expected to make foreign travel in the first six months of the new administration, an official said, but domestic travel may come sooner.
Harris could also become a common face on Capitol Hill, as she bears the Senate title for breaking the weak Democrats by a 50-50 majority. She was vocal, hoping not to vote, instead of pursuing a “common ground” on legislation through bipartisanship.
“The goal is not to have to accept everything with 51 votes,” the source added. “If they will be votes in the Senate, where the result is unknown … In principle, it should remain in DC. International travel, national travel to small business or anywhere – this can not really happen, which is a new dynamic that they will have to deal with. “
Another source talks about this on a more personal level.
“You know, it doesn’t help her make friends in the long run. If she’s thinking about (applying) in 2024 or 2028, she has to think about what senators she will need,” the source said.