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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

Kamala Harris' stance on key issues:

  • Green New Deal: She signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.
  • Medicare for All: She co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders' bill.
  • Marijuana legalization: She supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level, admitting in an interview that she had smoked a joint "a long time ago." Signed on as a co-sponsor of Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act to federally legalize weed.
  • Teacher pay: Has a plan to give the average teacher a $13,500 salary increase, costing an estimated $315 billion over 10 years.
  • Taxes: Introduced the LIFT the Middle Class Act which, Vox's Dylan Matthews explained as an expansion of the earned income tax credit. She also proposed the Rent Relief Act, which would offer tax credits to help people pay rent.
  • Abortion: Proposed a plan to require states that restrict abortion access to clear new reproductive health laws with the DOJ.
  • Sex work: Harris told The Root she supports decriminalizing sex work.
  • Death penalty: Harris has called for a national moratorium on the death penalty.
  • Guns: Proposes banning the importation of AR-15-style assault weapons. She also suggested executive orders requiring background checks, closing the "boyfriend" loophole and allowing victims to hold gun manufactures responsible.
  • Slow the spread of HIV: Released a plan requiring private and public insurance plans to cover Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) without copays, along with any corresponding tests. The bill would also create a grant program to increase access to the drug for Americans who don't have insurance.
  • Income inequality: Proposes investing $100 billion in black homeowners to close the racial inequality gap.

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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