Kamala Harris is a barrier-breaking, first-term senator from California, a former district attorney and state attorney general, a devoted fan of Converse sneakers, and the co-founder of a dance group in high school called “Midnight Magic.”
Harris is just the second African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She sits on the powerful Senate Judiciary and Intelligence panels. If elected, she would be the first woman to win the White House, as well as the first black female president and the first president of Asian descent.
Here is where Harris stands on key issues in the 2020 presidential election.
Climate change: Supports Paris climate accord. Believes action is need to combat climate change.
As California’s attorney general, Harris launched an investigation into Exxon Mobil in 2016, after reports that the oil and gas giant lied for decades about the risks of climate change. Harris criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Additionally, Harris opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to reverse Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. Harris voted against repealing regulations on methane emissions, and has a 100 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, which tracks lawmakers’ voting records on energy and environmental issues.
Education: Free tuition at four-year public colleges for most Americans. Create national prekindergarten program.
Harris would enact the “College for All Act” proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. That would create a government funding program that would pay for tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for students with incomes of $125,000 a year or less. This would be funded by a fee on Wall Street firms of 0.5 percent per stock trade. She supports expanding Head Start and Early Head Start, and would create a “national universal prekindergarten,” though she has not yet offered specifics for that plan.
Guns: Ban assault weapons and sale of high-capacity magazines. Support laws blocking some advertising by gun stores.
A self-described “good marksman,” Harris is also a vocal supporter of increased gun control. She co-sponsored a bill to ban assault weapons and the sale of high-capacity magazines, defined as those which can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading. As California’s attorney general, Harris defended a state law that blocked gun dealers from displaying signs that show or describe handguns. (The law was later overturned.) She also launched a statewide sweep to capture firearms from anyone illegally possessing them.
Health care: Move to universal, government-run health care, or “Medicare for All.”
Harris backs the “Medicare for All” bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. That bill would establish government-run health care system that allows every American to have access to care and end private health insurance as it currently exists. The bill would pay for that system in part with a 6.2 percent charge on employers, a 2.2 percent fee on most families that would vary at some income levels, increased marginal tax rates for incomes $250,000 and higher, increased taxes on capital gains, and an increased estate tax for the wealthiest. Harris has also introduced bills to increase access to mental health care and address high maternal mortality rates for black women.
Immigration and border security: Wants to “re-examine” ICE. Supports DACA. Opposes a border wall.
Regarding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Harris believes it’s time to “re-examine” the agency and “probably think about starting from scratch.” She has not joined other Democrats — including 2020 rivals Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand — in explicitly calling for ICE to be abolished. Harris was a vocal opponent last year of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their families at the southwest border. Harris co-sponsored the “REUNITE Act,” legislation that aimed to reunite families separated at the border.
Also, Harris introduced a bill to improve oversight at immigration detention centers, and a bill to strengthen protections for unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody. Harris supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era program protecting young undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. She opposes Trump’s border wall proposals, and has called on the White House to end the shutdown and agree to reopen the government.
Social Issues: Abortion and same-sex marriage should be legal. Transgender people should use the bathroom of their choice. States need not necessarily pay for sexual reassignment surgery.
A supporter of abortion rights, Harris voted against a bill that would limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. As California state attorney general, she launched an investigation of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, whose undercover videos later sparked charges of breaking privacy laws. His supporters said Harris’ relationship with Planned Parenthood was a conflict of interest.
On gay rights, Harris refused to defend California’s law banning same-sex marriage while she was attorney general. She believes same-sex marriage should be legal and filed a court brief supporting transgender people’s position that they should have access to the bathroom of their choice. She does not support states necessarily paying for gender reassignment surgery of transgender inmates, and once filed a court motion seeking to block the procedure in California.
Tax Cuts: Reverse some measures in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Instead, create new direct tax breaks for middle and lower classes.
Harris has proposed the LIFT the Middle Class Act, which would give a $3,000 refundable tax credit to individuals making $50,000 or less and $6,000 for married couples earning under $100,000. She would pay for the multitrillion-dollar plan by eliminating some of the tax cuts put in place by the Republican-sponsored Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and by creating a new tax or fee on some banks and financial institutions.
Trade: Opposed TPP. Opposes Trump administration tariffs and trade policy.
As a Senate candidate in 2016, Harris opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, arguing that the proposed trade deal with 11 Asian countries didn’t do enough to protect workers and environmental regulations. (Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact shortly after taking office). Harris has opposed the Trump administration’s tariffs and escalating trade dispute with China. Last year, she supported a bipartisan, non-binding resolution in the Senate that rebuked the Trump administration over its tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Harris also co-wrote a letter with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer opposing U.S. tariffs on Chinese electronic goods, saying the tariffs would hurt California’s economy.
Afghanistan: Wants a “political solution” to end the war, bring troops home.
After a trip to Afghanistan last month, Harris said she supports a “political solution” to the war that would allow U.S. troops to return home. She has not taken a public position on Trump’s planned U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria.