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Kamala Harris on the issues, in under 500 words

Kamala Harris behind a podium at her campaign announcement
Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Democrat Kamala Harris is a California senator who came to office at the start of the Trump presidency and has become one of the most vocal foils for Trump's nominees through her heated questionings of them in confirmation hearings.

Key facts about Kamala Harris:

  • Current position: Senator from California — 2 years served
  • Age: 54
  • Born: Oakland
  • Undergraduate: Howard University
  • Date candidacy announced: Jan. 21, 2019
  • % of votes in line with Trump, per FiveThirtyEight: 17.0%
  • Previous roles: California Attorney General (2011-2017), San Francisco District Attorney (2004-2011), prosecutor
  • Harris has has a considerable social presence, dominating the conversation on social media.

Kamala Harris' stance on key issues:

  • Green New Deal: She's among the list of 2020 hopefuls who signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.
  • Medicare for All: She co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders' bill.
  • Marijuana legalization: She's declared her support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level, admitting in an interview that she had smoked a joint "a long time ago." Signed on as a cosponsor of Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act to legalize weed at the federal level.
  • Teacher pay: Announced in March a plan to give the average teacher a $13,500 salary increase, which would cost an estimated $315 billion over 10 years.
  • Taxes: Last October, she introduced the LIFT the Middle Class Act which, Vox's Dylan Matthews explains, was basically an expansion of the earned income tax credit. Earlier that year, she proposed the Rent Relief Act, which would offer tax credits to help with rents.
  • Sex work: Harris told The Root that she supports decriminalizing sex work, saying "we can't criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed."
  • Death penalty: Harris has called for a national moratorium on the death penalty.
  • Guns: Harris is proposing banning the importation of AR-15-style assault weapons. She also suggested executive orders requiring background checks, closing the "boyfriend" loophole, and repealing a law that doesn't allow victims to hold gun manufactures responsible.

Key criticism of Kamala Harris:

  • Harris has faced criticism because of cases she argued and policies she put in place as California's attorney general.
    • She defended the death penalty as attorney general, despite being personally against it.
    • She stayed silent on a number of criminal justice reforms championed by progressives.
    • She didn't take a position on California Proposition 47, which was approved by voters, that reduced some felonies to misdemeanors.
    • She opposed a bill that would've required her office to investigate police shootings.

1 fun thing about Kamala Harris:

  • She is the first senator of Jamaican or Indian ancestry.

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