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Moderate or liberal? Harris co-sponsored single-payer healthcare, Green New Deal, reparations bills

Harris also voted against bills to ban abortions after 20 weeks and prohibit federal funding of abortion services.

Published: August 13, 2020 5:16pm

Updated: August 14, 2020 11:30pm

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, has co-sponsored a host of controversial bills in the U.S. Senate in areas including health care and environmental policy.

Harris, who is in her first term as a senator, co-sponsored Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for all" single-payer health care bill in 2017 and 2019. Opponents of the bill, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, argue that it would eliminate the existing private health insurance system. 

In 2019, Harris was also a co-sponsor of Sanders' Green New Deal, which is estimated to cost $16 trillion over 10 years. She recently introduced a climate equity bill incorporating elements of the Green New Deal with New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Harris co-sponsored a bill with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker to set up a federal commission to study providing reparations to African-American descendants of slaves and "make recommendations on reparation proposals for the descendants of slaves."

Harris also supports the Marijuana Justice Act of 2019, which "removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who imports, exports, manufactures, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute marijuana."

The former California attorney general is a co-sponsor of a bill introduced by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey that would "authorize the admission of climate-displaced persons" from other countries into the U.S.

Harris is listed as a co-sponsor of the Save Voters Act, which would prevent states from purging from voter files the names of individuals who are inactive or have changed addresses. The bill was introduced before the coronavirus pandemic, but if it were signed into law, ballots could be sent to inactive voters at the wrong addresses, given that some states are automatically mailing ballots to registered voters due to the pandemic.

Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also supports a bill to "prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for any violation of federal law and for other purposes." Under its terms anyone "sentenced to death before enactment of this bill must be re-sentenced."

During the course of her first term in the Senate, Harris has voted against bills including the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would establish "requirements for the degree of care a health care practitioner must exercise in the event a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion."

In addition, Harris cast a no vote on legislation to amend "the federal criminal code to make it a crime for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more."

She also voted against legislation that would prohibit "the use of federal funds for abortions or for health coverage that includes abortions.” During the presidential primary debates, Harris slammed Biden for supporting the Hyde Amendment during his Senate career. The Hyde Amendment is included in appropriations bills to prohibit federal funds from going toward abortion. 

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