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Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE

Kamala Harris unveiled a $1 billion plan on Thursday to fully eliminate states' rape kit backlogs if elected president.

Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits are estimated to be sitting around in police stations around the U.S.

By the numbers: The proposed $1 billion would not only aid states to analyze their backlogged rape kits within four years, but also help them implement a plan to prevent untested kits from accumulating en masse in the future.

  • Harris' program would cost approximately $100 million annually, though her team didn't share details on how she would pay for it.
  • One rape kit costs about $1,000 to $1,500 to test, per End The Backlog.

Between the lines: Under this plan, states can either ask for federal funding to process the rape kits on their own or work directly with the FBI to eliminate the backlog.

  • They'll also be required to do things like report the number of untested rape kits annually; implement a "short time frame" for submitting and testing new samples; make these kits available statewide, even in remote areas; track rape kits; and give patients the option to be updated on the status of their rape kit processing.

As California’s attorney general, Harris implemented a program to clear a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits around the state. "We need the same focus at the national level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable," she said in a statement.

The big picture: Don't expect this to become a dominant issue in the 2020 presidential election — unless candidates start addressing it themselves on the national debate stage.

  • Earlier this year, Joe Biden, who wrote the first rape kit backlog law, tweeted: "An untested rape kit means a survivor without justice. ... [T]esting kits can identify men who have committed multiple rapes — and might again. Test every kit. Every single one."
  • There have been zero questions asked about policies to address sexual harassment at presidential primary debates between 1996-2016, per a Time's Up study.

Go deeper: Kamala Harris on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) forced Senate clerks to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, which took nearly 11 hours and lasted until 2:05 a.m. Friday. The Senate then adjourned and is expected to reconvene at 9 a.m. to debate the bill before considering amendments.

1 hour ago - Health

Cuomo advisers reportedly altered July COVID-19 nursing homes report

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Seth Wenig/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's advisers successfully pushed state health officials to exclude certain data on the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths from a July report, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.

Why it matters: The changes resulted in a "significant undercount of the death toll attributed to the state’s most vulnerable population," the WSJ wrote.

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.