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 took office at the start of Trump's presidency and has become one of the most vocal foils for Trump's political nominees during heated questioning in confirmation hearings.

Key facts:

  • Current position: California Senator — 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

Stance on key issues:

  • Green New Deal: Signed as a co-sponsor of the bill.
  • Medicare for All: Co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders' bill.
  • Drug prices: Would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to determine a "fair price" for drugs meeting certain conditions, per the Washington Post.
  • Marijuana legalization: Supports legalizing marijuana federally, signing as a co-sponsor of Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act.
  • 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 requiring 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 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 have 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.
  • Domestic terrorism: Wants to limit gun access with the creation of a federal "red flag" law and background checks.
  • Climate: Wants a new "climate pollution fee" on the industry, and to incorporate her "climate equity act."

Key criticisms:

  • Based on 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.
    • Stayed silent on several criminal justice reforms championed by progressives.
    • She didn't take a position on California Proposition 47, approved by voters, that reduced some felonies to misdemeanors.
    • Opposed a bill that would've required her office to investigate police shootings.

1 fun thing:

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

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 candidates

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