The White House Blog: The Vice President

  • Celebrating Congresswoman Gabby Giffords

    Yesterday, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced that she would step down from her seat in Congress to focus on her recovery.

    Both President Obama and Vice President Biden issued statements voicing their well wishes and celebrating her career of public service.

    President Obama said:

    Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be.  She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology – a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union.  That’s why the people of Arizona chose Gabby – to speak and fight and stand up for them.  That’s what brought her to a supermarket in Tucson last year – so she could carry their hopes and concerns to Washington. And we know it is with the best interests of her constituents in mind that Gabby has made the tough decision to step down from Congress.

    Vice President Biden said:

    I spoke with Gabby’s husband Mark today and told him that the most important thing is Gabby's recovery. We fully support their decision. I know that Gabby will continue to make significant contributions to her state and country, and I stand with her in whatever endeavor she decides to pursue. Jill and I wish Gabby and Mark all the best as they embark on the next phase of recovery.

    "I am getting better every day. My spirit is high," Rep. Giffords said in her announcement. "I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country."

     


  • First and Second Families Participate in a National Day of Service

    President Obama at Browne

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Browne Education Campus in Washington, D.C., before participating in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service event with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia, Jan. 16, 2012. January 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama, the First Lady, and Malia Obama volunteered at a local elementary school as part of a national day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King, who devoted his life to helping others, once said that “everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”

    Before pitching in to help clean, paint, and organize the school’s library, the President spoke to other volunteers from Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Greater DC Cares gathered for the event:

    There’s nobody who can’t serve. Nobody who can’t help somebody else. And whether you’re seven or six or whether you’re 76, then you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community.

    The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also joined the millions of Americans participating in service events around the country. They traveled to Philadelphia to take part in the 17th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in the nation.

    Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden participate in MLK Day service event

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend the 17th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service at Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 16, 2012. January 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

     
    Read more about how the Obama Administration is honoring Dr. King's legacy through service:


  • Higher Education and the Middle Class Bargain

    The Vice President visited high schools in Columbus, Ohio and Doylestown, Pennsylvania this week to highlight our Administration’s efforts to make college more affordable for all Americans. He was joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and by Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller in Pennsylvania. 

    Speaking at Lincoln High School in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, the Vice President called for the “bargain with the middle class” to be restored: “There was a bargain in place for last 50 years that if you worked hard, you played by the rules, you helped increase productivity in America, you got a piece of the action.  You benefited.”               

    President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that making college affordable is an essential part of restoring that bargain. Our Administration has increased the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $800 and created the $2,500 per year American Opportunity Tax Credit. Even with more generous grants and tax credits, most college students borrow money to pay for school, so we are also limiting federal student loan payments to 10% of discretionary income. 


  • Homecoming for the Final U.S. Forces Iraq Troops

    20111220 United States Forces-Iraq colors

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden greet Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, Commanding General of U.S. Forces – Iraq, and deplaning troops during a ceremony marking the return of the U.S. Forces – Iraq Colors, and the end of the war in Iraq, at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2011. Greeters include from front left: Mrs. Deanie Dempsey, wife of Gen. Martin Dempsey; Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Ashton B. Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Five days ago, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was on hand in Baghdad to bring the mission in Iraq to its official end. The United States Forces-Iraq colors were lowered and flown out of the country in the official casing ceremony.

    Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden were there as the colors returned home.

    They were joined by General Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and some of the families of the final returning service members from Iraq.

    One of those the group welcomed home was General Lloyd Austin, III -- the final commander of the U.S. in Iraq.

    General Austin spoke at the ceremony, thanking the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians who served in the nearly nine year mission.

    “I am truly humbled by your service and your many, many sacrifices,” he said.


  • A White House Hanukkah Celebration

    20111209 Hanukkah at the WH

    President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Officially, Hanukkah doesn't begin for another 11 days -- but last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to kick things off a little early with a celebration of the holiday at the White House.

    They were joined by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance, along with Israel's Ambassardor to the United States Michael Oren, the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, and a large group of faith and community leaders.

    Hanukkah, the President said, is "an opportunity to recognize the miracles in our own lives:"

    Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today. Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world. Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.

    This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.

    Watch.


  • The Vice President Talks College Affordability in Florida

    20111209 VPOTUS FL Education

    Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hold town hall on college affordability at Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Florida, December 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    This week, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Florida to talk to students and their parents about college.  President Obama and Vice President Biden have focused on making college affordable for middle-class families since the day they took office. We increased the value of the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $800 and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is worth up to $10,000 over four years for tuition and other expenses. Even after grants and tax credits, most students still need to borrow money for school. That’s why we are allowing borrowers to cap federal student loan payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income.

    The Vice President reminded the audience of all these accomplishments, but he didn’t stop there. As proud as we are of this Administration’s record, increasing student aid is just one part of keeping college affordable. State higher education leaders and individual schools must also do their part. On Monday, the President gathered a group of college presidents at the White House to talk about rising college costs and strategies they can pursue to reduce these costs. In Florida, the Vice President argued that colleges "can cut cost and limit student debt without in any way compromising the quality of an education." He acknowledged that "it won’t be easy" but forcefully concluded that "there is no excuse for complacency."

    Finally, the Vice President assured students who might be concerned about rising tuitions and debt loads that going to college is an excellent investment. College graduates earn more money and have a significantly lower unemployment rate than high school graduates with no post-secondary degree. And as the Vice President told the audience, "having a college degree is about a lot more than how much money you make. It’s about the independence it bestows upon you, the significantly broader range of choices it gives you…it’s about your sense of self-worth…it’s about being able to fulfill your potential."

    Brian Levine is Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President


  • Vice President Biden Welcomes Home the USS Gettysburg

    Vice President Joe Biden and Rear Admiral Nora Tyson welcome home the USS Gettysburg

    Vice President Joe Biden and Rear Admiral Nora Tyson welcome home sailors from the USS Gettysburg following its return to Mayport Naval Base, Fla., Dec. 8, 2011. The Gettysburg, a guided missile cruiser, was part of the carrier strike group supporting the USS George H.W. Bush on its first deployment since being commissioned. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Yesterday morning, Vice President Biden made a surprise visit to Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida to welcome over 300 sailors home from a seven month deployment to the Middle East. 

    The sailors serve on the USS Gettysburg, which was returning to its homeport in Mayport. The Gettysburg deployed last May – along with helicopters and crew from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 (the “Spartans”, based at nearby Naval Station Jacksonville) – as part of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group. 

    As the Gettysburg slowly made its way into port, the Vice President said a few words to the hundreds of family and friends gathered to welcome home their loved ones. He was joined by Rear Admiral Nora Tyson, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 2 – the first woman in U.S. Navy history to assume command of a carrier strike group. The Vice President thanked the families for the sacrifices they have made while their loved ones served overseas. “They also serve who only stand and wait,” he said, quoting poet John Milton. 

    He also recalled his own son Beau’s homecoming after serving a year in Iraq. 

    “I learned early, early on,” the Vice President said, “if anyone got - no matter who it was, the president, the Lord almighty - got between his mother and him or his wife and him as he was getting off that bus, they would have been trampled.” 

    “I promise I'm not going to get between you and that ship coming in here,” he told the crowd. 


  • From the Archives: Vice President Biden Pays Respects at Pearl Harbor Memorial

    In August, Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Pearl Harbor after his trip to Asia to pay his respects at the USS Arizona Memorial -- a 184-foot structure that rests atop the midsection of the sunken World War Two battleship.

    Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona, one of 21 battleships attacked on December 7th, 1941, is the final resting place for 1,177 American crewmen. It represents the greatest loss of life on any ship that day and about half of the total number of Americans killed in the attack.

    The Vice President, his daughter-in-law Kathleen, and his granddaughter Naomi visited the memorial at sunset, and had the opportunity to reflect on the overwhelming loss of life in the memorial’s sanctuary, where 1,177 names of the fallen are etched in marble on the wall.

    After laying a wreath at the foot of the wall, the Vice President and his family silently sprinkled flower petals into the sea -- a symbolic tribute to all those lost in the attack.

    Vice President Joe Biden pays his respects at the USS Arizona Memorial

    Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Willard, pay their respects at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Wednesday, August 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)


  • Vice President Biden Checks Out Istanbul's Samatya Square

    Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with a fish monger in Istanbul

    Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with a fish monger in the Samatya Square neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey, December 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Vice President Joe Biden had one last stop to make in Istanbul earlier today before departing for Athens - the last leg of his trip through the region.

    Samatya Square -- a traditional neighborhood in the Fatih district of Istanbul -- is home to all sorts of vendors and food stands carrying local specialties.

    The neighborhood is said to represent a "mosaic of life" in Istanbul, having been home to Turks and various minority groups for centuries.

    Vice President Biden walked through the cobblestone streets stopping in stores and picking up a few things. On the Vice President's shopping list: oranges, tangerines and other fruit as well as olives and cheeses.

    Related:

    See a slideshow of the Vice President's trip to Turkey
    Vice President Biden Visits the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Vice President Biden Attends Summit in Turkey to Champion Entrepreneurial Spirit 


    Vice President Joe Biden visits a shop in Istanbul

    Vice President Joe Biden visits a shop in the Samatya Square neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey, December 4, 2011. (by David Lienemann)


  • Vice President Biden Visits Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul

    Vice President Joe Biden lights a candle  at the Church of St. George at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul

    Vice President Joe Biden lights a candle with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Church of St. George at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey; December 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

     
    This afternoon in Istanbul, Vice President Biden met with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    Following their meeting, the Vice President and the Ecumenical Patriach were joined by members of the Holy Synod, Metropolitans, and Greek community leaders for continued discussions - not to mention an abundance of the local dessert of choice, Turkish Delight.

    Vice President Biden then had the opportunity to tour the Church of St. George at the Patriarchate with His Eminence Archbishop Demitrios Trakatellis, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, with whom the Vice President recently met in New York City. A beautiful day in Istanbul, the tour included a stroll through the Church's mosaic adorned courtyard. It was a special honor to later light a candle at the Church with the Ecumenical Patriarch.