The Washington Free Beacon reports that the White House is “sending Vice President Kamala Harris to space,” despite her lack of experience in that realm.
Politico first reported Monday that President Joe Biden had opted to keep the National Space Council alive after it was first reestablished in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump. By law, the Cabinet-level group is to be headed by the vice president. But not everyone agrees that Harris is the right choice for the job.
Harris takes on space?
The National Space Council had existed in some form as far back as 1958, but was dissolved in 1993 before being revived by Trump during his first year in office.
According to a statement from then-acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the “high-level group” is meant to advise the president on issues pertaining to space, including “national security, commerce, international relations, exploration, and science,” and “comprises the leaders of government agencies with a stake in space, including the NASA administrator, the Secretaries of State, Commerce, Defense, and others.” The group is chaired by the vice president.
But critics argue that Harris, for her part, isn’t up to the task of leading the agency.
“I just don’t think at least [so far] in her career that this is something that Harris has been focused on,” Republican Rep. Michael Waltz (FL) said, according to the Free Beacon.
Getting her priorities straight
Waltz’s remarks came days after President Biden announced he was tasking Harris with leading his administration’s efforts to curb a surge in migration at the southern border. Harris has also reportedly been involved in a number of other diplomatic efforts during her short time as vice president, prompting some — including Waltz — to question whether she can really commit to ensuring America reigns supreme in space.
“It’s still unclear how much of a priority [the National Space Council] is going to be for Vice President Harris given she was just announced to lead the disaster that is the southern border right now,” Waltz told the Free Beacon.
Pressed during a Tuesday press conference on the topic, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki demurred.
“Vice President [Mike] Pence had a pretty public-facing role with National Space Council,” one reporter said, according to a White House transcript. “He was, kind of, involved with policy-making. I know it’s a new — new thing here, but will Vice President Harris have a similar involvement with the Space Council on her end?”
Psaki merely responded that she’d “have to talk to [the vice president’s] team about her public-facing role, and I’m happy to do that.”
In the meantime, threats to America’s supremacy in space remain, including most notably in the form of increasing numbers of satellites from China. With that and other concerns growing, it’s clear that leading the National Space Council is a big job. The question is: Can Harris handle it? Only time will tell.