“Even in dark times, we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be,” she said. “This is American ambition.”
The president and his No. 2 ate lunch together Friday, with Biden writing on Facebook, “a new administration means a new lunch partner.”
Developing this relationship will be key as the couple creates their path of government over the next four years. While Biden spent more than four decades in the halls of Congress and the White House, Harris – who served in the Senate for four years – is a relative newcomer to Washington’s power corridors.
Those close to the history-forming vice president say she is navigating the new reality and familiarizing herself with the rhythm of the Western wing and the executive government, but eager to help resolve the country’s more crises.
“She was not kidding when she said, ‘It’s time to get to work,’ a White House official told CNN.
Breaks the shape
In his first full day at the White House on Thursday, Harris sat in his office in the middle of the morning reading the letter left by Vice President Mike Pence. Assistants refused to specify the contents of the letter, calling it private. But Harris and her predecessor have had a slightly more cordial but still delayed relationship than Biden and Trump have.
Harris and Pence spoke by telephone the week before the inauguration and again on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday after the peaceful transfer of power. The two have left the opportunity to speak in the future, an administration official said, similar to the conversations Biden had with Pence when Pence first took over the role of vice president.
But those close to Harris say she will lean on Biden herself as a plan for how to do the job.
“This is not hard for President Biden to do because he has lived it himself and he knows the value of it. He knows he brought value to President Obama in several ways and he wants it out of Vice President Harris, “said Jay Carney, who once served as Biden’s communications director for vice president.
So far, Harris has spent most of his time working out of his West Wing office. While Biden’s oval office is completely decorated, officials say Harris is still missing sentimental relics and busts, but equipped with a deep navy blue wall and a handful of framed photos of her mother, husband, sister, niece and a her and Biden .
The former prosecutor will adapt to this new working life as her own is in a kind of upheaval. Instead of moving into the official vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory, Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff temporarily moved into the Blair House Thursday night just across the street from the White House. It’s a shorter commute, but an official mentioned increased security as the biggest benefit – an upgrade from the hard-to-fortify apartment building with mega units Harris occupied in DC.
Among the updates to the vice president’s home at the Naval Observatory is a replacement of chimney lining and other household maintenance that “could be more easily performed with the home unoccupied,” according to White House officials.
A White House official said it was the Navy that managed the decades-old property and ordered maintenance.
Other possible updates could eventually include the kitchen, a source said. A self-proclaimed cooking, Harris shared recipes and cooking videos during the campaign. The new vice president has said she looks forward to returning to host Sunday night dinner with her family in an effort to create normality.
Definition of role
Officials and those closest to Harris claim that her portfolio and how she will define herself over time are directly linked to the pandemics and economic crises facing the Biden administration in his first term. At least initially, she has no specific portfolio as the duo figure out which issues to prioritize. It is an early event that allows her to have a hand in everything from the start.
“She has focused on how her office can support and strengthen the administration’s agenda,” said Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Harris.
Harris has also made some solo ventures, including outreach to foreign and domestic allies. On Friday, she spoke at a SEIU board meeting, according to a source, a private call revealed her official daily guidance plan. The day before, she spoke with the World Health Organization’s Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a call confirming that she is eager to improve her foreign policy experience.
In the days before Biden introduced its massive $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Harris was deployed to call mayors across the country to see the legislation.
“Right now, the president has put four major challenges that require everyone to bring their best thoughts to the table, and she’s committed to being the best partner she can for this president,” Minyon Moore, the political operative veteran who ruled Harris’ transition, CNN said in an interview.
As the new White House navigates the complexity of Covid-19, Harris is not expected to travel abroad within the first six months of the new administration, an official said, but domestic travel could come sooner.
Harris could also become a frequent face back on Capitol Hill, as she holds the title of Senate tie-breaker against the weak 50-50 majority Democrats. She has been loud that she hopes not to cast any votes, but instead aims for “common ground” on double-party legislation.
“The goal is not to have to pass everything with 51 votes,” a source added. “If they become votes in the Senate, where the result is not known … She must basically stay in DC. International trips, national trips for small businesses or anywhere – it can not really happen, which is a new dynamic, they become have to tackle. “
Another source spoke about it more personally.
“It does not help her make friends in the long run, you know. If she’s thinking about (running into) 2024 or 2028, she has to think about which senators she needs,” the source said.