Kamala Harris appointed chair of National Space Council; southern border still chaotic

Vice President Kamala Harris announced Saturday she has been appointed to chair the National Space Council, inviting a rash of criticism about her lack of credentials for such a post, as well as her failure thus far to bring order to the chaotic southwestern border after being tapped to lead that effort in March.

“As I’ve said before: In America, when we shoot for the moon, we plant our flag on it. I am honored to lead our National Space Council,” Harris wrote on Twitter.

During former President Donald Trump’s administration, his VP, Mike Pence, led the council after the then-president restored it; Biden appears to support keeping it intact. The commission was created by President George H. W. Bush but disbanded a short time later.

According to Axios, a senior administration official told reporters that Harris “intends to put her own personal stamp on the council,” emphasizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), climate change, and “sustainable development of commercial space activity.”

A president assigning his vice president with multiple tasks is not an oddity — Pence primarily led the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response efforts, for example, which produced tangible results. But Harris has yet to even visit the chaotic border, which immigration officials and lawmakers who have gone say is worsening by the day; as such, her appointment drew plenty of criticism online.

Regarding the border, Harris and other members of the administration have said she is focused on diplomatic solutions to the migrant crisis, with Biden saying March 24 when he appointed her that Harris would “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle.”

The Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — have seen an increase in migrant traffic to the U.S. in recent years. But critics of Harris’ diplomatic approach say that it is first necessary to get an in-person assessment of what’s occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“You can’t talk to Northern Triangle countries, or to Mexican officials, without understanding the pressures and the situation and atmosphere on the border,” former DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in recent weeks, Fox News reported. “The two are so linked, you can’t do one without the other.”

So far, Harris has only met virtually with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala. She is planning a visit to the latter country in the coming months to meet with President Alejandro Giammattei.

Republicans have been critical of Harris for failing to make a trip to the border. They have also blamed the historic rise in illegal crossings in recent months on Biden’s immediate cancellation or reversal of Trump-era border enforcement policies as the primary reason for the massive uptick in illegal trafficking.

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Jon Dougherty

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