The White House Blog: The Vice President

  • President Obama Attends Transfer of Remains Ceremony for Diplomats Killed in Libya

    Marines During the Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Sept. 14, 2012

    Marines carry the flag draped transfer cases during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya. September 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On Friday afternoon, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton were at Andrews Air Force Base for the Transfer of Remains Ceremony which marked the return to the United States of the remains of the four brave Americans who were killed this week in Benghazi, Libya.

    At the solemn ceremony that honored the fallen diplomats - Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens -- President Obama paid tribute to four patriots who served their country and shared a “fundamental American belief that we can leave this world a little better than before.”

    The President promised the families and colleagues of the fallen heroes that their sacrifice would never be forgotten. He also noted the outpouring of sympathy from the people of Libya, who called Ambassador Stevens a friend: 

    That’s the message these four patriots sent. That’s the message that each of you sends every day -- civilians, military -- to people in every corner of the world, that America is a friend, and that we care not just about our own country, not just about our own interests, but about theirs; that even as voices of suspicion and mistrust seek to divide countries and cultures from one another, the United States of America will never retreat from the world.  We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every person deserves, whatever their creed, whatever their faith. 

    That’s the essence of American leadership. That’s the spirit that sets us apart from other nations. This was their work in Benghazi, and this is the work we will carry on. 

  • West Wing Week: 09/14/12 or "Eleven"

    Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President and his administration commemorated the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and addressed the attack on the American  embassy in Libya. We also took the Rhodes Traveled for a look back at the meaning of honoring 9/11. That's September 7th to September 13th or "Eleven."

    Watch the West Wing Week here.

    Tuesday, September 11th:

    • Dr. Biden made an early visit to Fire Station #206 in Alexandria, VA, to thank the First Responders on the scene in the aftermath of the attacks on the Pentagon 11 years ago.
    • White House staff were joined by President Obama and the First Lady for a moment of silence on the South Lawn at 8:46 am, the moment American Airlines Flight #11 struck the North Tower on September 11, 2001.
    • The President and the First Lady traveled to the Pentagon for a wreath-laying ceremony with members of the military and Americans who lost a loved one in the attack on the Pentagon.
    • The President and First Lady also visited Section 60, the area of Arlington National Cemetery, where fallen soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are laid to rest.
    • Vice President Biden was joined by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in Shanksville, PA, at the Flight 93 National Memorial, to honor the heroes of United Flight 93.
    • The Vice President also met with family members of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, and joined them at the impact site for a moment of remembrance.
    • Dr. Biden stopped by the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to wish World War II Veteran, Alyce Dixon one of the first women and one of the few African-American women to serve overseas in the European theatre, a happy 105th Birthday.

    Wednesday, September 12th:

    • The President and Secretary Clinton spoke about the tragic deaths of US Embassy staff in Benghazi, Libya.
    • The President sat down with Steve Kroft of 60 minutes in the Blue Room, for an in-depth interview that will air later this month.
    • Ben Rhodes hosted us for a look back at 9/11, for our latest installment of "The Rhodes Traveled."

  • Advocates and Athletes Join the Vice President for the Launch of the 1 is 2 Many PSA

    As we wrap up our summer of interning in the Office of the Vice President, one highlight of our experience that really stands out was helping with the launch of the Vice President’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) that speaks out against dating violence.

    In the PSA, President Obama, Vice President Biden, David Beckham, Jeremy Lin, Evan Longoria, Eli Manning, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Torre, and Andy Katz ask all men to step up, speak out, and help end the violence.   The PSA is part of the 1 is 2 Many campaign the Vice President started last year, which seeks to raise awareness and end violence against women. 

    Advocates and athletes came to the White House to join the Vice President for the launch event on June 21. Many young people in the audience that day enthusiastically welcomed the PSA’s message. “I am so glad that there is a 1 is 2 Many campaign because I learned at the event that despite the decrease of domestic violence, teenage domestic violence is on the rise,” said Amber, 16, an advocate from Girls, Inc. who attended the announcement. We were so inspired by all of the young advocates joining with the 1 is 2 Many campaign that we decided the Vice President’s Office should hear their feedback on this important issue.

  • Vice President Biden Speaks to the Disabled American Veterans

    Vice President Biden Speaks to the Disabled American Veterans

    Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Disabled American Veterans convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. August 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Saturday, Vice President Biden spoke with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at their 91st National Convention in Las Vegas.

    The 1.2 million-member DAV is made up exclusively of men and women that have been wounded while defending the nation. This group is dedicated to one, single purpose – building better lives for all our nation’s disabled veterans and their families.

    The Vice President thanked the men and women for their service and sacrifices and for continuing to serve by supporting their fellow disabled veterans. He also encouraged them to continue fighting for the benefits that they have earned, need and deserve.

    During his address to a crowd of almost 4,000 disabled veterans, Vice President Biden stressed, “Let me be crystal, absolutely crystal clear: we’re going to keep our commitment to American veterans, no matter what happens.”

  • An Issue Beyond Debate: Congress Should Act Now to Protect Women

    Ed. Note: This op-ed was first published by the McClatchy Newspapers.

    I've spent a lot of years in Washington, and in the past, I had always found that even when partisanship was at its worst, there were still certain issues that rose above the normal course of politics. These days, unfortunately, even that precept is being challenged.

    Protecting victims of domestic violence, an issue that has always enjoyed bipartisan support and should be well beyond debate, has become the center of one in Congress. And women across the nation are now at risk.

    Let me explain what's happening:

    In 1994, I wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which established several critical new protections: first, it provides law enforcement with new tools to prosecute domestic violence crimes and put offenders behind bars. Second, it helps victims find safe places to stay so they don't have to choose between living on the streets or living with someone who is hurting them. And third, it gives women a crisis hotline they can call when they need immediate help.

    We've made a lot of progress as a nation since the act first became law. Annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. The national hotline has answered more than 2 million crisis calls, directing victims to life-saving assistance.

    But make no mistake, this violence still happens every day.

    We need to continue these programs and we need to add improvements. For example, we now know that new screening tools can help law enforcement and the courts reduce domestic violence homicide rates, helping them to step in before abuse becomes murder. Such tools might have saved Sarah Rosio, a 24-year-old Wisconsin woman who was strangled to death by her boyfriend after having been abused many times before her death. Two weeks before her death, Sarah was denied a protective order against her abuser. Sarah is gone now, tragically, but we can help others avoid her terrible fate.

    To do so, Congress must make the protections in the Violence Against Women Act available to every person in this country who may ever need them. This simply cannot be up for debate in a civilized society like ours.

    Every few years, the Violence Against Women Act needs to be reauthorized. And in the past, Congress has worked cooperatively to reauthorize, improve, and expand the reach of the law. Up until now.

    Earlier this year, the Senate passed the bill, and they did it with both Democratic and Republican support. Unfortunately, the House did not follow this broadly bipartisan path; Republicans there passed a much weaker version of the bill. While the House bill contains some of the important provisions of the Senate bill, it lacks key improvements - like protecting more victims and requiring dating violence and sexual assault prevention programs on campus - and, in some cases, it actually rolls back current protections for victims of domestic violence.

    Support for the Violence Against Women Act runs broad and deep. It includes law enforcement, prosecutors, victims' advocates, faith groups, and Democrats and Republicans alike. So this should be easy - and beyond politics. Instead, the clock is now running out for the more than 23,000 women who call our national domestic abuse hotline every month and for all women who may one day be the victims of violence.

    Congress should pass the bipartisan version approved by the U.S. Senate.

    I know there are fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans, and I don't expect those to disappear. But on this issue of basic decency, where there remains so much agreement between us, Republicans and Democrats ought to leave politics at the water's edge. Because women everywhere are counting on us, and they can't wait any longer.


  • Taking in Team USA

    President Obama attends the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team's game against Brazil (July 17, 2012)

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, with granddaughter Naomi Biden, attend the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team's game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., July 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    In the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics, the USA men's basketball team last night played an exhibition game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

    President Obama was on hand, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden.

    The Obamas and company watched Team USA take on a talented and experienced Brazil squad, also featuring multiple NBA starters. Led by 30 points, six rebounds, and four steals from LeBron James, the Americans forced 23 turnovers to capture an 80-69 win.

    Earlier, the USA women's team routed their Brazilian counterparts, 99-67 -- led by 21 points from the three-time WNBA All Star Lindsay Whalen.

    President Obama met with both teams to offer some words of encouragement before the players and coaches head to the United Kingdom to defend their gold medals. The Olympics start on July 28, and the First Lady will help to lead the U.S. delegation.

    We managed to grab some behind the scenes video from the night. Check it out below.

    Earlier, we talked with Alonzo Mourning, a gold medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Team USA, about the challenges this year's squad will face in London. Watch Alonzo Mourning talk about Team USA basketball.


  • Vice President Biden Speaks To Seniors About Retirement Security

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Seniors Issues July 16, 2012

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a White House Community Leaders briefing on Seniors Issues, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House, July 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today, the Vice President spoke to more than 100 community leaders from across the country representing over 60 seniors groups that are part of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. He told the audience that when it comes to Social Security and Medicare, “the question is what are we going to do to strengthen and sustain these programs now and for the future.” In contrast, Congressional Republicans are trying to weaken or dismantle these programs.   

    Last year, Congressman Paul Ryan proposed to end traditional Medicare. His plan, which was embraced by his Republican colleagues, would give seniors a voucher to buy private insurance and hold them responsible for any costs that exceed the value of the voucher. As a result, the typical 65-year-old’s out-of-pocket health care costs would double over time. While Congressman Ryan introduced a revised plan this year, it still relies on a voucher system that would increase the financial burden on seniors. 

    President Obama and Vice President Biden want to strengthen Medicare and secure the program for the future. Our health care law extends the life of Medicare by eight years by taking smart steps like cutting waste and fraud and creating incentives to cut down on hospital readmissions. These steps will save seniors in traditional Medicare an average of $160 on premiums and copays in 2012 alone. In addition, the law has already saved 5.3 million seniors an average of $600 on prescription drugs by closing the “donut hole,” and has ensured that over 30 million have access to free preventive services like cancer screenings and annual wellness visits. 

  • The Vice President and Dr. Biden Visit U.S. Vets in Las Vegas

    On Tuesday, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden visited the Las Vegas branch of the non-profit United States Veterans Initiative (U.S. Vets). With a mission to help homeless and at-risk veterans find jobs, U.S. Vets provides comprehensive support that includes housing, counseling, and career development programs. The Las Vegas group alone works with more than 160 veterans every day.   

    At the organization’s career center, the Vice President and Dr. Biden joined a life skills workshop, where they met with veterans who are either currently working or searching for work.

  • Vice President Discusses College Affordability with College and University Officials

    Vice President Joe Biden holds a meeting on transparency in college costs (June 5, 2012)

    Vice President Joe Biden holds a meeting on transparency in college costs with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and college presidents, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today, Vice President Biden met with the presidents and senior officials of ten colleges, universities, and state systems of higher education from across the country to discuss the importance of providing students and families with transparent information about the cost of attendance and financial aid. Secretary Duncan, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray, and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz also participated in the discussion.

    Post-secondary education is a valuable investment – more than 60 percent of new jobs in the next decade will require a credential beyond a high school diploma. But before settling on a school and signing any loan agreements, students and their families need easy-to-understand information regarding how they will finance their education. Colleges and universities already provide some statistics about the cost of attendance and available financial aid, but that information is often not clearly presented to students and their families in a way that facilitates easy comparison among schools. Further, schools usually do not provide important information including an estimate of students’ future loan payments, or data about the likelihood of graduation or loan default.

  • Vice President Biden at West Point

    • Vice President Joe Biden Arrives at Military Academy

      Cadets from the class of 2012 line the road as Vice President Joe Biden's motorcade pulls in, the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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    • Female Cadet sits in Front row at Commencement

      A female cadet sits in the front row at the 2012 commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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    • Vice President Joe Biden Delivers the Commencement

      Vice President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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    • Vice President Joe Biden Delivers Diplomas

      Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands and delivers diplomas during commencement ceremonies at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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    • Hats in the Air

      Newly commissioned 2nd lieutenants throw their hats in the air during the 2012 commencement at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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    • Exuberance

      Newly commissioned 2nd lieutenants hug after the 2012 commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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    Last weekend, Vice President Biden delivered the commencement address to the graduating seniors at U.S. Military Academy.

    He told the Class of 2012 that they are joining a proud tradition:

    West Point has prepared you to lead us to face these new challenges, some of which we have yet to even contemplate, let alone encounter.  Because as I said at the start, you are not only strong and committed, you are also some of our nation’s sharpest minds, with the training to take today’s missions -- counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, training foreign armies -- and the minds to adapt to tomorrow’s horizons, from cyberspace to outer space.

    There is such a proud history here. Such a proud tradition. And I have no doubt that many of you in this class are not only going to make extraordinary contributions to the military but also to civilian life because West Point is in the business of producing -- not only great officers –- it produces great leaders and great Americans.

    As President Theodore Roosevelt said, upon West Point’s Centennial, 110 years ago next month, he said: “Your duty here at West Point has been to fit men to do well in war.  But it is a noteworthy fact that you also have fitted them to do singularly well in peace. The highest positions in the land have been held, not exceptionally, but again and again by West Pointers.” West Pointers who have risen to the first rank in all occupations of civilian life.

    Were he here today he’d only alter that quote slightly –- young men and women are prepared to do that. 

    Read the Vice President's full remarks here.