News broke this week that Vice President Kamala Harris is poised to take control of the leadership of the National Space Council, a Cabinet-level advisory body, and if her handling of another high-profile role to which she was previously named is any indication, this could be an ill-fated move, indeed.
Harris acknowledged her new responsibilities Saturday via Twitter, saying that she was “honored” to accept the role and that, “In America, when we shoot for the moon, we plant our flag on it.”
Politico reported that Harris plans to put her personal “stamp” on the agency charged with coordinating “national security priorities, civilian exploration and the growing private economy of space” and initiatives that include “supporting sustainable development of commercial space activity, advancing peaceful norms and responsible behavior in space,” among other things.
Leadership of the Space Council is the latest in a growing list of assignments for the vice president, an agenda that includes combating COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, increasing broadband internet access, helping women return to the workforce and assisting Black-owned business harmed during the pandemic.
Perhaps the most significant responsibility delegated to Harris by President Joe Biden this year, however, is that of serving as his point person for responding to the crushing migrant influx at the country’s southern border, a role he assigned to her back in March.
Harris’ performance in that role, however, has been the subject of intense criticism, as she has thus far failed to visit the border to confer with enforcement officers on the ground or personally survey the overcrowded detention centers that even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has described as “horrifying” and “inhumane,” according to the New York Post.
Amid Harris’ apparent inaction with regard to the border, the White House has attempted to shift its characterization of her true role, suggesting that she is focused more on the “root causes” of mass migration and forging diplomatic solutions over time.
As such, the vice president has held virtual meetings with government leaders from Guatemala and Mexico, explored climate change as a key driver of migration, and announced plans to visit Central America in June. Such relatively meek efforts prompted GOP Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) to bring to the Capitol a milk carton depicting Harris alongside the words, “missing at the border” as a way to bring attention to her apparent disinterest in the topic, as The Hill reported.
Considering the vigor – or lack thereof – with which Vice President Harris has thrown herself into other high-profile assignments since taking office in January, the Space Council may soon find itself wishing for someone else to take the helm.