Vice President Kamala Harris paid a visit to Charlotte Thursday to discuss the Biden administration’s affordable broadband internet access program and access to abortion.
Her appearance took place on the same day that President Biden tested positive for COVID-19. Harris, who was last with the president on Tuesday, tested negative and wore a face mask during most of her time in the Queen City. She tested positive for COVID-19 in April.
Harris toured a computer lab at the Carole Hoefener Center in uptown to discuss the Affordable Connectivity Program. The program results from a bipartisan infrastructure law recently signed by Biden.
The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Harris later joined Gov. Roy Cooper; a group of lawmakers, including Sen. Natalie Murdock, D- Durham; Calla Hales, co-owner and executive director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center in Charlotte; and Jenny Black, president of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, for a roundtable discussion on abortion.
“If we do not elect more pro-choice Democrats this November, North Carolina will become the next Texas, passing extreme legislation that will roll back reproductive rights, justice, and abortion access,” said Murdock.
“Madame vice president, I know you hear the resolve and determination at this table,” said Cooper. “That same resolve and determination is found throughout our communities in North Carolina. We know you are a champion for women and reproductive rights, and you know this is a fight.”
Cooper and Democrats jumped at the chance to fundraise off Harris’ visit, despite her 37% favorability rating. On Friday, the day after her visit and discussion of the state’s abortion laws, Cooper sent out a blast text to North Carolina cell phones, pushing out a link to donate to Democrats.
“My veto power is the ONLY thing stopping N.C.’s far-right GOP-controlled legislature from enacting an extreme ban on reproductive rights,” Cooper’s fundraising text read. “N.C. Republicans need to flip just three seats in the state House and two in the state Senate to solidify a supermajority and override my veto …. can you donate to power our work? – Thanks. RC”
Cooper took executive action on abortion rights on July 6 when he signed Executive Order 263, which directs cabinet agencies under the governor’s control to “coordinate with each other and pursue opportunities to protect people or entities who are providing, assisting, seeking, or obtaining lawful reproductive health care services in North Carolina.”
Cooper’s order would apply only to Cabinet agencies under the governor’s authority. It would not apply to other state agencies, such as those controlled by the elected members of the Council of State, the General Assembly, state courts, or local governments. The action came after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24.
“The United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that had been guaranteed and recognized from the people of America, the women of America,” Harris said. She urged state legislators to support Cooper, whose veto power allows for an override of any legislation that places limits on abortion.
Harris said that with the Supreme Court’s decision, certain principles are now at stake, including a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her body without government interference. She said supporting a woman’s right to choose doesn’t require anyone to abandon their faith or beliefs but to agree that a woman has the right to do what she wants.
Harris repeated a talking point heard often from Democrats in the wake of the Dobbs decision – that the ruling indicates the rights to contraception and same-sex marriage are also threatened. She called for Congress to codify the protections of Roe at the national level, rather than leave the decision rights to states.
On Thursday, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein said he is refusing to take action to have the state’s 20-week abortion ban reinstated.
Stein, a Democrat, released a statement on July 21 saying that he would not seek to have the injunction lifted in the Bryant v. Woodall case that had stalled the state’s ban on most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Both of North Carolina’s top legislative leaders— House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham — vowed to fight to reinstate abortion laws that have been blocked by federal precedent in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Before leaving Charlotte, Harris attended the 2022 Omega Psi Phi 83rd Grand Conclave convention, a yearly meeting of the historically black fraternity.
She encouraged attendees to vote for two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, Cheri Beasley in North Carolina and John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Fetterman squares off against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Beasley faces Republican Rep. Ted Budd in the November general election.
David Bass and David Larson contributed to this article.