A couple of weeks ago, there was one of those insiderey anonymously sourced articles about the supposed troubles Vice President Kamala Harris is facing. Rafia Zakaria does a good job showing how Harris has been placed in a no-win situation (several of them actually). When I first heard that immigration was made part of Harris’ portfolio, I failed to see how that would help her: there’s no way to not end up with a bunch of people–maybe most of them–pissed off at you with the issue of immigration. I also think there are some Buttigieg supporters doing the whole knives in the dark thing (which is perfectly in character based on Buttigieg’s presidential campaign), which certainly doesn’t help matters.
But there is one thing Harris has: she, at any time, can be the presiding officer of the Senate. Usually, that’s either ceremonial or used to break a tie, but Harris also has the power to overrule the Senate parliamentarian: if the Senate parliamentarian makes a ruling that disfavors Democrats*, Harris can choose to ignore it.
For example, when progressives tried to get a $15/hour minimum wage into the COVID relief bill, and the Senate parliamentarian said that wasn’t allowed, Harris could have overruled her. Not doing so probably cost Senator Warnock of Georgia his seat in 2022. But while Harris could have done that, she didn’t, in no small part because some Senate Democrats didn’t want her to do it (of course, Republicans were their usual actively malevolent selves and opposed it completely). It wasn’t just the usual Democrat suspects either, Co-President Joe Manchin and Manic Pixie Dream Senator Sinema. There were likely five or ten other Senate Democrats who really didn’t want to support that policy (regardless of whether they opposed it publicly or not). So that was a real lost opportunity–of course, the most tragic thing was the lost wages, but that would have raised Harris’ star.
Really, if the White House wants to cut this crap off–and perhaps they don’t–then they need find a way for her to pick a fight with the Senate parliamentarian. Of course, what that fight would be is difficult, because it would have to be one the usual suspects truly want.
*Only New Democrats, the Party of Hall Monitors™, would give a flying fuck about rulings from an unelected Senate parliamentarian appointed by Republicans in 2001. Dorks.