Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday will travel to North Carolina, a state President Biden lost in the 2020 election, to give her first major economic address as vice president and promote a $20 billion investment the administration is proposing to convert the country’s entire fleet of gasoline and diesel-powered school buses to electric vehicles.
In a wide-ranging economic speech at Guilford Technical Community College, she is expected to promote the administration’s infrastructure plan as the “largest jobs investment our country has made since World War II,” according to aides.
“I believe you shouldn’t have to work more than one job to pay your bills and feed your family,” she is expected to say, according to early excerpts from her speech provided by her office. “One good job should be enough.”
As a senator representing California, Ms. Harris introduced the Clean School Bus Act to assist school districts in replacing diesel school buses with electric buses, her aides said.
The speech will help position Ms. Harris as one of the main faces advocating the American Jobs Plan, which so far has been handled mostly by five cabinet secretaries tasked with selling the president’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. Administration officials said she would travel the country in the coming weeks to continue promoting the plan.
Selling a plan that enjoys broad bipartisan support across the country — if not in Congress — is perhaps a less onerous task for the administration’s No. 2 than her main portfolio: leading a diplomatic effort with Mexico and Central American countries to address the root causes of migration as well as the crisis at the border. That portfolio offers Ms. Harris both an opportunity and a risk: If she appears to take on a hard problem and make progress, she would impress critics who do not see her as a policy heavyweight in the White House. But it also puts her at the forefront of one of the most difficult issues before the administration.
As the administration approaches 100 days in office, Ms. Harris, the first Black woman to be vice president, still appears to be figuring out how she wants to function in a historically frustrating role.
For now, her appearances are tied to policies she championed as a senator. Her speech on Monday follows an appearance last month in Oakland, Calif., where she visited a water treatment plant and underscored the infrastructure plan’s $45 billion in funding to eliminate all lead service lines and to reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child care centers.
As a representative from a state that suffers from droughts, water policy is of great interest to her, officials said, noting that she also introduced the Water Justice Act, which included emergency funds for communities and schools to test for and remediate or replace toxic infrastructure for drinking water.