Vice President Kamala Harris said in a wide-ranging television interview Sunday that worries about the state of American democracy keep her up at night.
Harris, in an interview on CBS’ "Face The Nation," said "the integrity of our democracy" ranks as a top threat to national security. She cited state laws around the country that challenge Americans' ability to vote and the failure of Congress to bolster voting rights, noting "voting rights lead to every other right."
"This is literally about our standing in the world, it's about the integrity of our democracy," Harris said. "…When our kids look back five-ten years from now at this moment, it will be on our watch that we either stood for and fought for our democracy or not. And that I think that is all at stake right now."
Harris, who also called the climate crisis another major national security threat, defended the administration’s record on major events in its first year, including the pandemic, inflation, the American military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the failure to pass the Build Back Better bill. She also signaled an interest in finding ways to relieve student loan debt.
As the omicron variant has derailed holiday plans, Harris said in the pre-recorded interview, the country's health care system is prepared to take on the ongoing COVID-19 surge, which has led to increased hospitalizations and broken daily records for positivity rates in New York and nationwide.
"We have the tools now to really keep ourselves safe" compared to last winter, Harris said.
Vaccines and boosters, which are now widely available, "are safe and they'll save your life," Harris said, noting they reduce the chance of hospitalization and death.
As for the Build Back Better plan, Harris said she is "not giving up" after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) doomed the measure last week by saying he would not support it because of concern about inflation, among other objections. The plan, known as a "human infrastructure" bill, would need 50 votes in the Senate to pass.
Congress must "find common ground" to pass the bill, which would improve the economy, battle climate change and "bring down the cost of living for real Americans, working people," she said.
Harris said she "fully supported" Biden’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in August to avoid continuing an "endless war." She said the administration followed an agreement brokered by the Trump Administration.
"…Right now I strongly believe that had we broken that agreement, we would be talking about the war in Afghanistan, and American troops in Afghanistan, and we're not talking about that. I don't regret that," Harris said, adding that the United States is providing humanitarian aid and support through the United Nations.
Asked about the 100,000 Russian troops stationed at the country's border with Ukraine, Harris said the U.S. is "prepared to issue sanctions like never before" if Russia invades the former Soviet republic.
After nearly a year in office, Harris said her biggest failure was "to not get out of D.C. more" to meet people directly impacted by issues.
Referencing reports of high turnover in Harris' office and an agenda that may be impossible to accomplish, CBS' Margaret Brennan asked, "Is the fact that you're a woman and the fact that you are a minority in this office part of why there is such scrutiny?"
"I'll leave that for others to deal with," Harris replied. "I have a job to do. And I'm going to get that job done."