Why Biden can't get rid of Harris


Questions about Vice President Kamala Harris’s political future reached a boiling point this week, sparking discussion of the most extreme and least likely method of dislodging her from President Joe Biden’s orbit.

Fox News's Chad Pergram reported receiving a tip that he should "start to familiarize” himself “with the confirmation process not just in the Senate, but in the House, for a vice president."

Such a process exists, but there are huge logistical hurdles to overcome in executing it under the current political conditions. Biden cannot fire Harris, who is an elected constitutional officeholder in her own right rather than an appointee who serves at the pleasure of the president. She would have to resign and has little incentive to do so.


A vice presidential vacancy would immediately bump both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president pro tempore of the Senate, currently retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, up in the line of presidential succession. Both officeholders, no matter which party controlled the Senate, would be older than Biden, the oldest person to be president.

The Senate is split 50-50. During any period where the office of vice president was vacant, the Democrats would be without Harris’s tiebreaking vote, which they are counting on to pass their sprawling spending bill next month and which is needed to even control the Senate.

Those same margins would become a problem in attempting to confirm Harris’s replacement if her resignation could somehow be secured. Democrats could not confirm a new vice president without Republican votes, much less those of centrist Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona within their own party. A bipartisan nominee could be necessary for Senate confirmation.

A bipartisan nominee would not be satisfactory to large factions of Democrats in the House, which also must vote to confirm a new vice president. Harris is the first woman and minority, being black and Asian American, to serve as vice president. Her ouster would not please the Congressional Black Caucus or the Congressional Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus, among other groups.

Civil rights groups have been sensitive to even the perception that Harris is being marginalized within the Biden administration, with the Rev. Al Sharpton saying last month that he wanted to discuss her role directly with the president.

It would be even more complicated than the delicate dance Democrats have been performing on their social welfare spending bill and infrastructure. Absent Republican defections, a vice presidential nominee would have to be ideologically satisfactory to both Manchin and the left-wing Squad. There would also be an expectation that the nominee represent the diversity that contributed to Harris’s selection in the first place. There is no unifying choice, such as the late former Secretary of State Colin Powell, waiting in the wings.

This leads to the problem of optics: An old white man would be attempting to replace a woman of color for having somewhat worse poll numbers than his, political conditions white men such as former Vice Presidents Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney survived. That would presumably not sit well in the modern Democratic Party.

Spiro Agnew was replaced as vice president in this fashion after his 1973 resignation. But that was prompted by a criminal investigation for which he was subsequently prosecuted. No one is alleging any crimes against Harris. Agnew’s confirmed successor, Gerald Ford, assumed the presidency when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 and won the confirmation of Nelson Rockefeller as his own vice president.

The worst thing that was ever suggested in the cases of Quayle and Cheney was that they be dropped from the ticket in the next election, something that last happened when Ford booted Rockefeller in 1976 in favor of Bob Dole, though he served out his term as vice president.

This is ultimately why Harris’s poor polling and early missteps are seen as an emergency by some Democrats: Many in the party do not think Biden will run again in 2024, making this solution unavailable to him. Harris would then likely become the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and some in the party no longer view her as a clear upgrade. The fear is that Harris, who briefly served as acting president on Friday as Biden underwent a colonoscopy, doesn’t have time to recover.


However real these political concerns might be, Biden is stuck with her. In the current political environment, any “talk on Capitol Hill about the mechanics of a confirmation hearing to fill a VP vacancy” is unlikely to rise above a whisper.

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Comments / 282

John Bender

it's not just Harris or just Biden, they all need to go because even if Harris is replaced the agenda from the far left still remains... his whole administration needs to go

Gypsy Loomis

She can BE IMPEACHED according to the CONSTITUTION! This news station or paper is wrong! She can not just leave on her own accord. By rights there needs to be a 2/3 vote to have her IMPEACHED! They NEED TO IMPEACHED BIDEN as well but they are going to make too much money off these BILLS they just passed. These F🤬CKING DEMOCRATICS are rich enough off our MONEY...even the POOR are getting poorer but YET they want more for those illegal immigrants for them bringing in more diseases, drugs and crime. Why should we pay for illegals, refugees? We should be paying for our OWN PEOPLE, VETS, CHILDREN, MOTHERS IN NEED! Why are we helping them instead!?

Clifton Cribb

how many times does the Washington examiner have to be told, Harris is not black. she's just a smiling 🐫 toe carrying a set of knee pads.


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