Joe Biden has placed Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of leading America’s civilian policy in outer space.
In keeping with tradition, Harris will chair the National Space Council, the White House announced this weekend, according to the Washington Examiner. The administration was characteristically heavy on buzz words and light on detail, leaving Harris’ exact role somewhat murky, however.
Harris at the helm
According to a senior White House official, Harris will put “her own personal stamp” on the council, with a new emphasis on “diversity,” while maintaining what the Biden team inherited from President Donald Trump.
She will also focus on “sustainable development of commercial space activity” and climate change, the official said.
“The council’s basic objectives — national security, basic science, technological development, contributions to U.S. economic growth, and the commercial sector — will all be maintained,” the official added, according to the Examiner.
The National Space Council was first established by President George H.W. Bush and brought back under President Trump, who added a whole new military branch, the Space Force, according to the New York Post. Under the order that created the council, the vice president is required to chair it, Politico notes.
Despite mocking the Space Force, the White House had already said in February that they planned to keep it, along with NASA’s Artemis mission to send Americans back to the moon, the Examiner said.
“Getting things done”
Announcing the latest news, the Biden administration couldn’t resist taking another potshot at Trump, saying Harris will focus on getting “the job done” over “big displays.”
But as far as “getting the job done” is concerned, Harris has already faced some tough questions. Many have criticized her no-show approach to the border crisis after Biden chose her to respond in March, as reports note.
The vice president still has not been to the border, opting instead to focus on deeply entrenched “root causes” of immigration from Central America. Harris is inheriting the space role from Mike Pence, who led weekly calls with governors as head of the coronavirus task force that Harris has not continued.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that Biden is giving Harris plenty of work to do. The big question seems to be how much of it is substantive.
“In America, when we shoot for the moon, we plant our flag on it,” Harris tweeted on Saturday. “I am honored to lead our National Space Council.”