- Vice President Kamala Harris recalled a testy exchange she had with Mike Pompeo back in 2017.
- During Pompeo’s confirmation hearing, she asked him if he believed in climate change.
- Harris was speaking about the Biden administration’s climate policies at the Aspen Ideas conference in Miami.
MIAMI BEACH, Florida – Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday took a swipe at another Republican weighing a 2024 White House bid, following her remarks in January bashing GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Speaking about her time in the Senate, Harris recalled the “heat” she took after an exchange she had with a Trump appointee about climate change during a confirmation hearing.
Harris didn’t mention the official by name, but it was clear from the context that she was referring to Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing to become CIA director in 2017. Harris, who was then fresh off her election to represent California, asked Pompeo whether he believed in climate change.
Conservative pundits panned her line of questioning, wondering why Harris would ask about climate change during a hearing aimed at grilling the future leader of a spy agency.
“Basic fact: humans need to eat food,” Harris said Wednesday, elaborating on her line of questioning during the hearing. “If you cannot grow food where you live, you will move somewhere else. And invariably it is very possible that communities of people will move to places that speak a different language and pray to different gods, which will result in conflict.”
Harris was speaking at the Aspen Ideas: Climate conference, where she sat down for a session with Miami singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan and took questions about the Biden administration’s work to combat the climate crisis.
During the 2017 confirmation hearing, Pompeo told Harris that he would rather not get into a debate about climate science, though he promised to gather information on all threats to US security, including climate-related threats.
“My role is going to be so different and unique from that,” he said. “It is going to be to work alongside warriors keeping Americans safe.”
Harris’ remarks on Wednesday, before activists, public officials, and businesspeople, come as Pompeo — who went on to become Secretary of State — is openly considering a presidential bid. Harris herself is expected to mount a reelection run with President Joe Biden.
The vice president delivered an optimistic message to her audience as she touted the Biden administration’s investment to combat the climate crisis through the Inflation Reduction Act, which invested $370 billion into climate-related projects. Harris also touted the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provides tax credits for electric cars and helps pay for wind and solar energy.
Since last summer, Harris has been a key surrogate for the Biden administration on water policy, including its goal to remove all toxic lead pipes. The latest appearance is among a string of events Harris has headlined on the climate crisis all over the world. Miami, in particular, is vulnerable to climate-related disasters, from rising sea levels to hurricanes.
“After living in Miami Beach for 38 years, we see the changes,” Estefan said. “Our bay, our coral is dying. We have major fish kills. Living on the bay, I’ve seen the water rising to an alarming degree.”