Apr 17, 2019

Harris regrets "unintended consequence" of truancy law she championed

2020 Democratic candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris expressed regret that some California district attorneys “criminalized" the parents of children who had too many consecutive, unexcused school absences, under a controversial 2011 law she helped move forward as the state's top prosecutor.

"My regret is that I have now heard stories where in some jurisdictions, DAs have now criminalized the parents. And I regret that that has happened and the thought that anything that I did could have led to that because that certainly was not the intention, never was the intention."
— Harris told "Pod Save America" in an interview aired Wednesday

Why it matters: Since joining the increasing large 2020 Democratic field in January, Harris has grappled with questions about her complex criminal justice record as San Francisco district attorney and California's attorney general.

  • Criminal justice reform will almost certainly be a big issue in the primary, and some critics say Harris has been too close with law enforcement during her political rise.

Details: In Wednesday's interview, she explained that her intent with the truancy law was not to punish parents, but to send a warning. She also noted that as San Francisco's district attorney, her office never jailed any parents and the policy resulted in the increase of school attendance by more than 30%.

"My concern was if we don’t take seriously the need that we as a society should have to ensure that our children are receiving the benefit of an education, we will pay the price later. And those kids will pay the price, which is that they will end up in the criminal justice system, and that’s what I wanted to avoid."
— Harris said

Go deeper: Kamala Harris: Everything you need to know about the 2020 candidate

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post on Feb. 28, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health