Here's Where Kamala Harris Stands On Key Issues Like Paid Leave, Child Care & More

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With the 2020 election well underway, Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris will face off against Mike Pence in the year’s first — and only — vice presidential debate. In naming Harris as his running mate, Democratic nominee Joe Biden made his bid for the White House truly historic as Harris is the first Black woman and first individual of Indian descent to be nominated on a major party ticket. But Harris is more than an ethnic first. With roughly four years of experience in Congress, and more than a decade of experience as a district attorney, she has a history of prioritizing issues that focus on children, families, and working parents. So, ahead of the vice presidential debate, where does Harris stand on family issues like paid leave, child care, education, and Black maternal health?

In announcing Harris as his VP pick, Biden described her as "a fearless fighter for the little guy." It's true that Harris has, over the years, developed something of a reputation for being a fierce political fighter. Throughout her time in public office, she's positioned herself as an advocate for immigrants, families, the LGBTQ+ community, and working Americans. In fact, she even clashed with Biden during the Democratic primary debates over his busing record and past work with segregationists.

But in joining Biden's campaign, Harris not only demonstrates that there's no ill will between the two politicians but also becomes the first woman of color to be nominated to a presidential ticket backed by a major political party. If elected in November, she will be the country's first female vice president.

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But how exactly might Harris' stance on the issues impact children, working parents, and families? Here's where Harris has said she stands on paid leave, child care, education and more:

Paid Leave

While campaigning for president in October 2019, Harris rolled out what was reported to be "the most generous paid-leave proposal" of any 2020 presidential candidate. In it she vowed to guarantee up to six months of paid family and medical leave for all workers, including independent contractors, part-time and self-employed workers. Under Harris' proposal, workers who earned less than $75,000 a year would be eligible to receive a full replacement of their wages while on leave, according to CNN.

Child Care

Included within the Children's Agenda Harris unveiled during her presidential campaign were efforts to make child care more affordable for families. Her proposal called for capping child care costs at 7% of a family's income.

In 2019, Harris also co-sponsored the Child Care for Working Families Act, which supports universal access to high-quality preschool programs. Like Harris' Children's Agenda, the Child Care for Working Families Act also calls for capping child care costs at 7% for any family whose income falls under 150% of their state's median income. However, families whose income falls below 75% of their state's median income would be provided with free child care.

Although Harris ended her presidential campaign in December, she's not stopped fighting for child care access. Early in the coronavirus pandemic, Harris joined 21 other senators in urging the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Child Care to expand child care options for frontline workers while ensuring care providers have received appropriate guidance on how to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at their facilities.


Harris introduced the Family Friendly Schools Act, which would extend children's school day to better align with parents' workday, in November 2019. The bill aimed to close the gap between when the school day ends and when the average work day ends, thus alleviating parents' need to leave work early or pay for after-school child care. The bill would also invest in summer learning programs that would see schools remain open for the work day in summer months. At the time, Harris said she'd been inspired to draft the bill after years of watching her mother attempt to juggle her own job with her responsibilities as a parent.

While campaigning for president, Harris proposed raising the average teacher salary by $13,500, or roughly 23%, according to CNN. Under Harris' plan, the federal government would provide the initial 10% of required funding and incentivize states to provide the rest. She also said she planned to make community college free for all students and make four-year public universities debt-free.

Health Care

While Harris was a co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Act, she later released a health care plan that differed slightly while campaigning for the Democratic nomination. In Harris' plan, Medicare would be expanded to provide comprehensive coverage for all within 10 years. However, according to CNBC, Harris' plan would allow private insurers to remain in the health care marketplace as long as they abided by a new set of rules regarding cost and benefits.

Abortion Access

During the Democratic presidential primary, Harris unveiled a plan to protect abortion access by requiring states with a demonstrated history of curtailing abortion access to obtain a preclearance from the Justice Department prior to enacting new abortion laws. Under Harris' plan, anti-abortion laws that were not given preclearance would be legally unenforceable, according to Politico. As a U.S. senator, Harris has consistently received a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Equal Pay

In May 2019, Harris included a proposal aimed at closing the gender pay gap in her presidential campaign by holding companies publicly accountable. According to Reuters, her proposal would have required companies to disclose their pay data and obtain an "equal pay certification" or face fines. It effectively called for shifting the burden of proving equal pay onto employers rather than leaving employees to prove pay discrimination in complaints to the EEOC.

Black Maternal Health

Harris introduced the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act in both 2018 and 2019 after research repeatedly showed Black women were three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. If passed, Harris' bill would establish a $25 million grant program geared at fighting racial bias in maternal health care by supporting evidence-based implicit training for providers. The bill would also allocate $125 million in funding to identify high-risk pregnancies and provide culturally competent care. Unfortunately, the bill has yet to be voted on.

Rising Costs of Living

In 2018, Harris put forth the Livable Incomes For Families Today (LIFT) the Middle Class Act, which aimed to provide middle and working class families with a tax credit to address the rising cost of living among stagnant wages. Under the legislation, families with a yearly income of less than $100,000 would have receive a refundable tax credit of up to $500 a month or $6,000 a year while single filers earning $50,000 or less would receive up to $3,000 a year. When announcing the legislation, Harris said it was designed to ensure families have the necessary funds to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills, car repairs, or child care.