US Vice-President Kamala Harris found herself in a position where she had to state that Joe Biden, and not she, is not only the nominal but also the real president of the United States. She was asked during the interview also whether Sen Joe Manchin was the president of the country, as Biden’s agenda remains partially stalled because of the West Virginia Democrat.
“So, who is the real president of this country, is it Joe Manchin or Joe Biden, Madam Vice President?” Charlamagne tha God asked Harris on Comedy Central‘s programme “Tha God’s Honest Truth,” in a clip released ahead of the interview set to air Friday.
“C’mon Charlamagne. C’mon, it’s Joe Biden,” Harris said to the late-night talk show host. “I can’t tell sometimes,” he protested before Harris cut him off.
“No, no, no, no. It’s Joe Biden. It’s Joe Biden. And don’t start talking like a Republican about asking whether or not he’s president, it’s Joe Biden and I’m vice president. My name is Kamala Harris,” she said.
Harris recalled a list of accomplishments she believed the Biden administration had achieved but acknowledged the “frustration” felt among Americans who said that the list of achievements was not enough.
“Ok, so I hear the frustration, but let’s not deny the impact that we’ve had and agree also that there is a whole lot more work to be done and it is not easy to do. But we will not give up and I will not give up,” Harris said.
In another clip released from the interview, the vice-president said it was a mistake to blame only Democrats for not passing the president’s priorities, instead of putting the onus on Republicans. “I think it’s a mistake to try and think about this only through the lens of Democrats versus Democrats when the fact is Republicans are consistently and unanimously standing in the way of progress,” Harris said.
“So, let’s put the emphasis where it really needs to be, which is how is it that today and in this year of our Lord 2021 in America and on some basic issues like upholding our democracy, we can’t get bipartisan support,” the vice-president said.
Facing a number of sticking points on Biden’s sweeping social safety net expansion that remains unresolved, Democrats are hoping for a breakthrough that will allow them to pass the legislation known as “Build Back Better” in the new year.
The Democratic leadership had initially pushed for a Senate vote on Build Back Better before Christmas, but action on the legislation has been delayed for a variety of reasons. Earlier this week, CNN had reported that critical talks between Biden and Manchin, a critical swing vote, remained far from a resolution on a series of issues. Legislators are grappling also with possible ways to resolve policy disputes such as how to deal with a controversial state and local tax deduction and legislative text is not yet finalised.
On 16 December, Biden implicitly acknowledged in a lengthy statement that ongoing negotiations with Manchin and procedural steps would cause Democrats to miss the self-imposed Christmas deadline for Senate passage of the package. “My team and I are having ongoing discussions with Senator Manchin; that work will continue next week,” Biden said in the statement.
“It takes time to finalise these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote,” he said. “We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; Leader (Chuck) Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.”
The president reiterated, however, that he still believes the bill will eventually pass.