The White House Blog: The Vice President

  • Vice President Biden: No One Who Works 40 Hours a Week Should Live in Poverty

    Vice President Joe Biden at L.A. Baking Company

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a minimum wage roundtable with Mayor Eric Garcetti, at the LA Baking Company, in Los Angeles, California. October 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    "No one in America should be working 40 hours a week and living below the poverty level. No one. No one."

    -- Vice President Biden, October 7, 2014

    Yesterday, Vice President Biden stopped by the L.A. Baking Company in Los Angeles to talk with Ron Ballesteros and other local business owners about the importance of raising the minimum wage.

    Ron Ballesteros was born in Nicaragua and moved to Los Angeles in 1978 where he opened up the L.A. Baking Company in 1991. Today, Mr. Ballesteros employs 27 people with starting salaries of approximately $9.50 per hour. He supports increasing the national minimum wage to $10.10 because he knows that paying a good wage is good for business.

    That's why many Members of Congress, business owners, governors, and mayors like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are fighting to give employees in their communities a raise. 


  • Vice President Biden at the Reopening of Joplin High School: “We Never Stop. And We Always Rebuild.”

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Joplin High School dedication ceremony

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Joplin High School dedication ceremony in Joplin, Missouri, October 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    The tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011 lasted 32 minutes and caused damage for 13 miles. At its widest point, the path of the tornado stretched a full mile. The EF5 Tornado — the most destructive on the Enhanced Fujita Scale — left a city nearly destroyed. More than 15,000 vehicles were carried away, nearly 7,000 homes were completely destroyed, and 161 people lost their lives.

    The destruction of Joplin High School took place just minutes after a graduation ceremony for seniors. The ceremony was held off campus, at Missouri Southern State University. When the tornado hit, around 150 people were still in the arena, and Dr. Kerry Sachetta, the high school principal, led those individuals into the basement. But others were already on the road or back in their homes. The tornado claimed the lives of seven students (including one of the graduates) and one high school staff member.

    Despite the destruction, Joplin’s citizens showed a tremendous resolve to rebuild, and through the efforts of volunteers, neighboring cities and states, the government, and most importantly, the people of Joplin themselves, the community has made a dramatic recovery.

    Last week, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, returned to Joplin to celebrate the reopening of Joplin High School.


  • Community Colleges: The Secret Sauce

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor blog. See the original post here.

    Motlow State Community College in Tennessee is working with Bridgestone Tire Company and other employers to expand their mechatronics program, creating a training facility on-site at Bridgestone to prepare students to move quickly into high-skill jobs.

    Estrella Mountain Community College is leading a consortium of five Arizona colleges to develop the workforce and talent pipeline required by the region’s energy and mining industries.

    Bellevue College in Washington state, together with eight other schools, is launching a program to train veterans and their eligible spouses in the high-demand, high-wage field of health information technology.

    All three of these efforts – and many more – are the result of a bold, unprecedented investment the Obama administration has made to expand job-driven training at community colleges nationwide.

    The program is called TAACCCT -- that stands for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training. As acronyms go, I’m not going to say it’s our very best work. But as a commitment to building a 21st century workforce, as a tool to prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow, it is second-to-none.


  • West Wing Week: 09/26/14, or "Stronger When We Stand United"

    Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    This week, the President unveiled the "It's on Us" campaign, signed the America's Promise Summit Declaration, and headed to New York City for the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. That's September 19 to September 25, or "Stronger When We Stand United."

    Watch on YouTube


  • President Obama Launches the "It's On Us" Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campus

    Watch on YouTube

    Today at the White House, President Obama joined Vice President Biden and Americans across the country to launch the “It’s On Us” initiative -- an awareness campaign to help put an end to sexual assault on college campuses. 

    It's On Us asks everyone -- men and women across America -- to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to campus sexual assault. 

    "An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years -- one in five," the President noted. "Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished." 


  • Vice President Biden: "20 years ago today"

    Today, the following message was sent from Vice President Biden on the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to those signed up to receive updates from the White House.

    Didn't get the email? Make sure you're signed up to receive updates from the White House and senior Administration officials.


    Twenty years ago today, the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law. It remains my proudest legislative achievement -- but it didn't happen because of me.

    It happened because, at a time when kicking a woman in the stomach or pushing her down the stairs was not taken seriously as a crime -- and at a time when domestic violence against women was considered a "family affair" -- something remarkable happened.

    Incredibly brave and courageous women began speaking up.

    Women like Marla, a model whose face was slashed by two men because she'd refused her landlord's entrees, and who was questioned for 20 minutes during the trial about why she was wearing a miniskirt. As if she had asked for or welcomed this repugnant act of violence. Marla spoke out.

    Women like Christine, who was raped in a dorm room by a friend's boyfriend. Christine said she hadn't even known she'd been raped, because she'd known the man. But Christine added her voice.

    There were so many more. Women who had their arms broken with hammers and heads beaten with pipes, who were among the 21,000 women who were assaulted, raped, and murdered in a single week in America at the time.

    All of these women are victims. But they're also survivors.


  • Continuing the Conversation: VAWA at 20

    President Barack Obama signs S. 47, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013,” March 7, 2013

    President Barack Obama signs S. 47, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013,” (VAWA), which reauthorizes several Violence Against Women Act grant programs through FY 2018; and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through FY 2017, in the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Today is the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  On Tuesday, I had the incredible privilege of attending a commemoration of this milestone held at the National Archives. During the program, I learned more about the history of VAWA – stories recounting the long road leading up to its passage, its victories and challenges over the years, and the lives it has and continues to change. One survivor vividly shared her account of abuse, near death, plans of escape, and eventual freedom from her husband’s victimization. 

    Vice President Biden then delivered a powerful address, using the lens of VAWA to chronicle our nation’s evolution surrounding the dialogue on domestic violence and our treatment of women and girls; how this kind of violence no longer represents a “family affair,” but rather behavior that should be exposed to the “sunlight” for the injustice that it is. While I was only in junior high when VAWA first emerged, now as a physician and advocate for women’s health, I recognize the positive impact VAWA has had on the patients and communities I serve. Nevertheless, since joining the Office of the Vice President as a White House Fellow, I am also quickly learning how much more we all still have to do.


  • "We Will Only Grow Stronger": President Obama Commemorates the 13th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

    President Obama, Defense Secretary Hagel, and Gen. Martin Dempsey listen to the national anthem, Sept. 11, 2014

    President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, listen to the national anthem during the September 11th Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Va., Sept. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Thirteen years ago today, our nation was irrevocably changed by horrific acts of terror that took the lives of thousands of innocent people. Across the country, Americans pay tribute to their memories and honor all those who have made great sacrifices in service to our country. 

    At 8:46 a.m. ET this morning, the time that the first plane hit the World Trade Center, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden joined Americans in observing a moment of silence:


  • "Even One Case Is Too Many": Vice President Biden Marks the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act

    Vice President Biden on the 20th Anniversary of VAWA

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks on the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, at the National Archives, in Washington, D.C. September 9, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Twenty years ago this week, President Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) -- a landmark law that empowered women and children to expose and prosecute domestic violence. The signing of the law marked the end of an arduous road to pass the legislation and put our society on the path toward effectively combating such heinous abuses. Vice President Joe Biden, then a U.S. Senator, not only authored VAWA, but helped drive it through Congress and deliver it to the President's desk. 

    Today, standing in front of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives, Vice President Biden reflected on how far we've come in our ability -- and willingness -- to address domestic violence:

    Even just 20 years ago, few people wanted to talk about violence against women as a national epidemic, let alone something to do something about. No one even back then denied that kicking your wife in the stomach, or smashing her in the face, or pushing her down the stairs in public was repugnant. But our society basically turned a blind eye. And hardly anyone ever intervened, directly intervened -- other than my father and a few other people I knew.

    And no one -- virtually no one called it a crime. It was a family affair. It was a family affair. Laws -- state laws when we attempted at a state or a federal level to design laws to prevent actions that were said that we now are celebrating, we were told, I was told, many of us were told that it would cause the disintegration of the family. That was the phrase used. It would cause the disintegration of the family.

    "This was the ugliest form of violence that exists," he said, and though many wanted to see these crimes remain hidden in the shadows, the Vice President was committed to bringing them out into the light. "We had to let the nation know," he said, "because I was absolutely convinced -- and remain absolutely convinced -- in the basic decency of the American people, and that if they knew, they would begin to demand change."


    "The only way to change this culture was to expose it . . . the best disinfectant is sunlight."



  • Weekly Address: Time to Give the Middle Class a Chance

    Vice President Biden Delivers the Weekly Address

    Vice President Joe Biden tapes the Weekly Address in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Sept. 5, 2014. September 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, the Vice President discusses our continued economic recovery, with 10 million private sector jobs created over 54 straight months of job creation. Yet even with this good news, too many Americans are still not seeing the effects of our recovery.

    As the Vice President explains, there’s more that can be done to continue to bolster our economy and ensure that middle class families benefit from the growth they helped create, including closing tax loopholes, expanding education opportunities, and raising the minimum wage.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3