News India Times – that’s all you need to know Cover Story News India Times October 15, 2021 5 -WASHINGTON A my HagstromMiller, the founder of abortion providerWhole Woman’s Health, worried that she was overstepping when she vented to Vice President Kamala Harris re- cently about the war of attrition facing her Texas clinics, even if they win their legal battle against a new state law that outlaws abortions after six weeks. “This is the third time I’ve experienced an abortion ban in the state of Texas where I’ve had to close clinics, cancel appointments, go through the fear on my staff’s part about being laid off or losing their jobs, and all because of politics,” Miller said she told Harris during an emo- tional meeting Harris held with abortion providers. Miller said she appreciated Harris’s response, particularly her willingness to “talk straight to the extreme politicians in this country,” something that could be important in the battles to come. “When you hear her talk about [Republican Texas Gov.] Greg Abbott, man, that swagger is welcome,” Miller said. “I think when we can follow the leadership of a Black woman in the United States, it’s going to lead us in the right direction.” When Harris became an administra- tion point person on abortion this month, many operatives in both parties viewed it as yet another example of President Biden’s saddling her with a thankless task on an explosive subject he was eager to avoid handling. Biden had already as- signed Harris to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, amid a chaotic influx at the southern border, and to take the lead on voting rights, as Republican-led states began passing restrictive voting laws. All are volatile social issues that many politicians would see as offering little benefit as policy assignments. But behind the scenes, Harris has been quietly seizing the opportunity to build a liberal national network of dedicated activists that is con- vinced she embraces its causes. If Harris has a path to the presidency, it is likely to run through an energized lib- eral base - not, as it did for Biden, through blocs of centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans. “It is unlikely that Kamala Harris will ever be broadly popular and loved by the center of the American electorate,” said MatthewWilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “You can get elected president without being loved by the center of the American electorate. For evidence of that, ask Donald Trump. But her political future probably lies with becoming the champion of a base cause.” Lost in the eye-rolling over Harris’s role as ambassador of no-win political causes is that the task allows her to establish in- dependence from a Biden administration that has disappointed many activists. During her nearly nine months in of- fice, the vice president has met with small interest groups dozens of times - first in virtual sessions, as travel was limited by the coronavirus pandemic, and later in trips across the country or in meetings with advocates invited to theWhite House campus. They span a range of issues. In March, Harris met with female leaders, including Mary Kay Hagan, who heads Service Em- ployees International Union, one of the country’s biggest and most diverse labor groups and a Democratic power broker. In April, she spoke with philanthropic leaders focused on immigration. In one week-and-a-half stretch in July, she held a half-dozen sessions with voting rights activists. Also that month, Harris met with a group of “dreamers” after a court ruling threatened DACA, the program benefit- ing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. By Cleve R.Wootson Jr. Vice President Kamala Harris hosts a roundtable on reproductive rights on Sept. 9, 2021, in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, D.C. From Left: Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota speaks with Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington (seated) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan (laughing) before the State of the Union address before members of Congress in the House chamber Feb. 4, 2020. Washington Postphoto byDemetrius Freeman Washington Postphoto by Jabin Botsford - Continued On Page 6 - Continued On Page 7 Powerhouses Two Indian-American women are becoming a force to be reckoned with on the national scene -WASHINGTON T hree months ago, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., put Democratic House leaders and theWhite House on notice: Liberals will vote against an infrastructure bill prized by moderates unless a deal is sealed on legis- lation expanding the social safety net. The leader of the Congressional Pro- gressive Caucus (CPC) didn’t portray it as a threat, but simply the reality of the situ- ation as roughly three dozen liberal House Democrats were not going to budge. After weeks of negotiations, ultima- tums and wheel spinning, that reality ar- rived on October 1 as Democratic leaders work furiously to save the party’s agenda, which is tied up in two bills that would provide massive investments in bridges, roads and railroads as well as improving health care access, expanding education programs and fighting climate change. The coming days will also prove a test of whether the hard stand Jayapal has tak- en for months will spur the deal she and her colleagues seek - or sink it. Heading into one of the most consequential weeks for Democrats in more than a decade, the third term lawmaker insists she and her allies will not back down as they push policies they have long advocated and believe are close to becoming a reality. If anything, her resolve is building as she says the number of lawmakers who will oppose the infrastructure bill set for floor consideration this week if it is not paired with economic spending bill fa- vored by liberals has grown to about 60. “I’m a dog with a bone. If I have an idea that I think is the right idea, I will keep pushing it,” she said in an interview at her Capitol Hill office. Jayapal has emerged as the most powerful House liberal by aggressively representing the priorities of her caucus and pushing leaders not to acquiesce to the demands of moderates in politically competitive districts whom liberals argue too often stand in the way of progress. She also has the advantage of fighting for the agenda President Joe Biden has said he wants rather than playing the role liberal leaders have in the past of urg- ing the party to go further than it feels comfortable on policies to expand the government’s role in areas such as health care, climate change and education. This dynamic was brought home to Jayapal at the end of a meeting with the president in the Oval Office in the last week of September when she said Biden pulled her aside and handed her a speech he delivered in April endorsing all five planks of the CPC’s economic priorities By Marianna Sotomayor Assigned To Tackle Volatile Issues, VP Kamala Harris Quietly Builds A Network Rep. Jayapal Has Emerged As A Forceful Leader Of House Liberals [News India Times Editor’s Note: Pramila Jayapal proved her political might on October 1 when President Joe Biden gave in to her demand and put his $1 trillion infrastructure bill on hold and scuttled Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s compromise plan to get moderates on board by having it voted first and then to follow it with a vote on the larger bill that was to provide for social programs and could cost $2 tril- lion. Jayapal had insisted that the two bills be voted on simultaneously. Since the article was written Sept. 29, Biden in a switch from his earlier position agreed with her and her Congressional Progressive Caucus, reinforcing the point in the article about her power.]