California Senator and former Presidential candidate Kamala Harris was, on 11 August 2020, tapped by Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden to be his running mate.
While it is unlikely that defense or national security policy will be a significant feature of the Vice Presidential debate schedule on Wednesday, 7 October, Senator Harris’ views on national defense are a matter of public record. A tidy checklist of her recent votes on defense issues can be found here — https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/120012/kamala-harris/22/defense. These votes include:
- A “no” vote in July 2020 on the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (S.4049) that passed the Senate 86-14)
- A “yes” vote in May 2020 on joint resolution to direct the removal of the U.S. military from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress. The Joint Resolution passed Congress.
- A “no” vote in July 2019 against the Senate Confirmation of Dr. Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense. (Mr. Esper won confirmation by a vote of 90-8.)
Following are some of Senator Harris’s recently expressed views related to defense, national security, and foreign affairs. DSJ will update this report moving forward.
July 22, 2020 – Statement on NDAA Amendment Vote
“As a member of the Senate Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, I’m keenly aware of the global threats facing our country. I’m honored to represent a state with the most service members and military families in the country, and I take seriously my responsibility to do what’s best for them. I’ve had conversations with people in California and across the country, and I have heard the pride with which Americans speak about our brave service members and agree that the United States military should always be second to none.
“I applaud Senator Sanders and am grateful for all the work that he’s done on this amendment. I unequivocally agree with the goal of reducing the defense budget and redirecting funding to communities in need, but it must be done strategically. I remain supportive of the effort, and am hopeful that with the benefit of additional time, future efforts will more specifically address these complicated issues and earn my enthusiastic support.”
“Congress must finally make smart investments in American communities during this crisis. People across the country are hurting. Parents can’t find work, kids can’t go to school, and sick people can’t afford the health care they need. Now more than ever, we must find ways to reinvest in families and communities, which is why I have introduced the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act with Senator Sanders and the Saving Our Street Act with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). Congress has a responsibility to do more—much more.”
November 16, 2019 – 5th Democratic Candidates Debate
“The Commander-in-Chief has as one of her greatest priorities and responsibilities to concern herself with the security of our nation and homeland. I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I have, over a period of time, received classified information about the threats to our security and hot spots around the world. What has happened in Syria is yet again Donald Trump selling folks out. And in this case, he sold out the Kurds, who, yes, fought with us and thousands died in our fight against ISIS. And let’s be clear. What Donald Trump has done, because of that phone call with Erdogan, is basically giving 10,000 ISIS fighters a “get out of jail free” card. And you know who the winner is in this? There are four: Russia, Iran, Assad, and ISIS.”
”This is a crisis of Donald Trump’s making. And it is on a long list of crises of Donald Trump’s making. And that’s why dude got to go. And when I am commander-in-chief, we will stop this madness.”
“Donald Trump got punked. He was — he has conducted foreign policy since day one born out of a very fragile ego that fails to understand that one of the most important responsibilities of the commander-in-chief is to concern herself with the security of our nation and homeland.”
“And to do it in a way that understands that part of the strength of who we are as a nation — and therefore, an extension of our ability to be secure — is not only that we have a vibrant military, but that when we walk in any room around the globe, we are respected because we keep to our word, we are consistent, we speak truth, and we are loyal. What Donald Trump has done from pulling out of the Paris agreement to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal to consistently turning a back on people who have stood with us in difficult times, including most recently the Kurds, points out that Donald Trump is the greatest threat to the national security of our nation at this moment.”
25 July 2019 – Speech to the 2019 National Urban League Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana
“It is a fact Russia interfered in the election of the President of the United States. [Kremlin operatives then] started figuring out well, how can we get those people, the Americans, going at each other, losing confidence in the system. You know the number one thing that attracted heat? Race. [They] exposed America’s Achilles heel. So guess what? All of a sudden race has not only become a civil rights issue, [but also] a national security issue. We are going to have to respond immediately because people are going to be duped into believing things that are not true.”