Sen. (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that busing should be one method school districts consider to integrate de facto segregated schools, but suggested it may not need to be federally mandated, comments that come not long after her attack on former Vice President over the issue.
Harris during last week’s Democratic debate in Miami launched an attack on Biden for voting against federally mandated busing. Biden said he supported busing as a decision left to local districts, but Harris suggested it’s the federal government’s job to make sure schools aren’t segregated.
“That’s where the federal government must step in,” she said at the debate, in what turned out to be a breakout moment for the candidate.
But Harris’s comments on Wednesday, made while on the campaign trail in Iowa, suggested her position may be more in line with Biden’s than she previously indicated.
“I think of busing as being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America’s schools,” Harris said, according to The Associated Press report.
When asked to clarify if she supports federally mandated busing, Harris reportedly replied, “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.”
The Hill has reached out to the Harris and Biden campaigns for comment.
Spokespeople for the campaigns have been sparring on Twitter since the candidates clashed on the issue in the fiery debate moment.
The Harris campaign has yet to fully explain where her position lands on busing or how it differs from that of Biden.
The issue stemmed at the debate following Biden’s previous remarks touting a cordial, working relationship with segregationists in the Senate.
Harris had a commanding moment onstage at the debate when she asked to speak on the subject of race, as the “only African American onstage.”
“I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” she told Biden. “But I also believe, and it’s personal and I was actually very — it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”
She went on to call out Biden’s record opposing busing, saying she was bused to school as part of the second year of integrated classes at a Berkley, Calif., school.
Biden attempted to defend his record on civil rights, before cutting himself off for reaching his allotted time.