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What Kamala Harris thinks about Florida issues: Cuba, disaster funding and the AIDS epidemic

Here's how she responded to our questionnaire during the Democratic presidential primary

Former Vice President Joe Biden has his running mate: It’s California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Harris was one of Biden’s chief rivals during the Democratic presidential primary. Most notably, Harris pressed Biden on his past opposition to school busing during a debate, giving her campaign a short-lived boost. She bowed out in December, before the first nominating contests, and endorsed Biden in March after his promising Super Tuesday performance.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times sent all the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, including Harris, a survey of Florida-specific questions written by staff and readers. Here is how Harris’ campaign responded.

In recent years, natural disasters have occurred more frequently and caused more damage and it often takes an act of Congress to unlock needed funding. How do you propose we change disaster relief funding to adjust to this new normal?

Senator Harris firmly believes we are in the middle of a climate crisis and we need to act with urgency to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and address climate change. One part of that is to drastically increase funding for communities devastated by disasters. It’s why she co-sponsored legislation to provide additional disaster-recovery assistance to Puerto Rico with respect to infrastructure, health care, agriculture, education, economic development, and environmental remediation.

Would you end or continue the trade embargo with Cuba?

Senator Harris believes we should end the failed trade embargo and take a smarter approach that empowers Cuban civil society and the Cuban American community to spur progress and freely determine their own future.

Reported cases of HIV and AIDS are on the rise in Florida. The Miami area — where 1 in 1,000 people have HIV — has the highest rate of new diagnosis of any metro area in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What would your administration do to address the AIDS/HIV epidemic?

Senator Harris believes we can end AIDS as an epidemic in the U.S. and globally. As president, she will fight to pass her newly introduced PrEP Access and Coverage Act, legislation that would require public and private insurance to cover PrEP and to make sure people without insurance can access PrEP. Senator Harris will also fight to expand access to quality, affordable health care through Medicare for All; increase HIV treatment worldwide, through programs like PEPFAR; and repeal President Trump’s dangerous “Global Gag Rule,” which takes live-saving HIV prevention and treatment funding away from NGOs that provide or promote safe abortion.

What specific steps would you take to increase our society’s accessibility for people with disabilities?

As president, Senator Harris will fight to increase accessibility and economic opportunity for people with disabilities. She will work to aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, eliminate the sub-minimum wage, fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and pass Medicare for All to ensure Americans with disabilities can access long-term services and supports in home- and community-based settings.

Do you support a universal basic income or universal living wage?

Senator Harris’ first priority as President will be to pass the LIFT Act - legislation that would put up to $500 a month in the pockets of working people who earn less than $100,000 a year. For 183 million Americans, that means an extra $6,000 each year. That would allow families to no longer put off repairing their car or worry about paying for their next prescription or student loan payment. This would lift up the standard of living for 1in 2 Americans, 2 in 3 children and 1 in 7 students eligible for Pell Grants.

Can you please define “middle class?”

Did not respond.