Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris sat with students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities for a virtual Q&A hosted by BET on National Voter Registration day. Five students were selected to ask questions directly to Harris around topics including education, the digital divide and the economic impact of Black graduates seeking employment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Harris answered each question by offering specifics on policies a Biden-Harris administration would propose in hopes of solving some of the inequities these students and their peers face as young people in America. The final question of the virtual session hit right to the heart of not only the Biden-Harris platform, but also what policies their administration would prioritize during their first 100 days in office.
Second year student Donovan Thomas is the Editor-In-Chief of The Hilltop, Howard University’s student newspaper. Thomas, who represents Harris' alama mater asked, "What does the Biden-Harris administration hope to accomplish within the first 100 days in office?"
Harris responded, saying containing the coronavirus pandemic would be the "first and foremost" priority of the Biden administration, and immediately criticized President Trump on his response to the pandemic. The California senator asserted she and Biden would listen to scientific experts, unlike the current administration.
"Donald Trump knew how bad this was," Harris said. "He knew that back in January and as recently as February he's been tape-recorded saying he knew that it was lethal, knew that it was airborne. But still he's been trying to tell people that they don't need to wear a mask."
According to the National Urban League with data supported by Johns Hopkins University, Black people are three times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white residents and twice as likely to die from the virus. Citing these statistics, Harris continued that "getting the virus under control" and ending this "crisis" was a day-one priority.
Getting economic relief to small businesses and working people would also be part of a first-day priority, according to Harris. The CARES Act was passed earlier this year offering $1,200 checks to individuals and $2,400 checks to families. However, since then, Congress has been deadlocked in trying to pass a second round of economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the economy.
Harris continued with first-day priorities which would include a series of executive orders to help the economy. They plan to do this by strengthening “buy American” rules to support American products and to invest in education, healthcare, homeownership, and access to capital for entrepreneurs in what Harris called "healthy communities."
"Healthy communities are safe communities," Harris said. "When we look at wealthy communities we know they are healthy and it's because they have resources. We need to put those same resources into all communities."
Lastly, Senator Harris indicated criminal justice and police reforms are also a day-one priority. Specifically, Harris said a Biden-Harris administration would eliminate cash bail, shutting down private prisons, creating a national use of force standard for police, and banning choke holds and carotid holds. On June 16, President Trump signed an executive order banning choke holds, unless an officer's life is at risk.