Harris to Host Women’s Event to Boost Support For Virus Relief

Vice President Kamala Harris plans to meet with a group of female Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups on Thursday as part of the White House’s push to build support for its $1.9 trillion virus relief bill.

The virtual meeting will focus on the economic struggles women have faced as a result of the pandemic and how President Joe Biden’s proposal would address them, according to Harris’s office.

Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro will participate, as will Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Representative Barbara Lee.

Harris to Host Women’s Event to Boost Support For Virus Relief

The meeting comes as the White House redoubles efforts to pass its stimulus following the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which had largely consumed the Senate’s agenda. Harris has helped Biden sell the plan to lawmakers and the public, and has also been vocal about ensuring that relief targets women and minorities in particular.

Republicans have objected to the size and scope of Biden’s proposal, offering a $600 billion plan instead. But the president has signaled he is not interested in a smaller package and indicated he’s willing to pass the bill with only Democratic votes using a procedure called budget reconciliation.

The groups participating in the Thursday meeting with Harris are mostly left-leaning. Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry and Tina Tchen, CEO of the anti-sexual harassment group Time’s UP, are expected to join, as are nine other leaders of organizations representing Black women, Native Americans, mothers and female business owners.

Harris plans to highlight how the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on women. Nearly 2.5 million women have dropped out of the workforce since it began, her office said. Job loss, closures of small businesses and lack of childcare options have hit women particularly hard.

The vice president’s office says several provisions of Biden’s plan would aid women, including $3,000 direct payments to parents for each child, a $40 billion investment in childcare and $15 billion in grants to small businesses.

Harris’s efforts to promote the rescue package through television interviews and public meetings have boosted her profile in the early days of Biden’s presidency.

But her efforts haven’t always been smooth. An interview with a West Virginia news station was criticized by Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has yet to endorse Biden’s stimulus. Manchin said he had not been informed about the interview ahead of time; the White House later said it was in touch with the West Virginia senator and called him a “key partner” on its agenda.

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