The White House Blog: The Vice President

  • West Wing Week: 11/22/13 or "A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama!"

    This week, the Vice President traveled to Houston and Panama, the President honored the legacy of John F. Kennedy, this year's Medal of Freedom Winners and Nobel Laureates, and attended the Wall Street Journal's CEO Summit. That's November 15th to 21st or "A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama!"


  • Vice President Biden Celebrates Citizenship at King Center Naturalization Ceremony

    Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas stand for the National Anthem

    Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas stand for the National Anthem at a naturalization ceremony at the Martin Luther King Junior Center, in Atlanta, Georgia, November 14, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a naturalization ceremony at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He welcomed 104 newly naturalized citizens, representing 50 countries. This ceremony is one of 120 naturalization ceremonies held throughout the nation and overseas in the last two weeks to welcome approximately 8,000 new U.S. citizens.

    At the ceremony, the Vice President thanked the new citizens for pursuing American citizenship. “Thank you for choosing us - thank you for concluding America was worthy of your aspirations,” he said. “The truth of the matter is you’ve been Americans for a long time, long before you raised your right hand today, because you’ve all adhered to the idea of America.”

    The event highlighted the Obama Administration’s celebration of citizenship and across the board commitment to passing commonsense immigration reform that includes a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S. today.

    The Vice President recognized that immigration makes us stronger, and that if we want to keep attracting the best and brightest talent the world has to offer, then we need to do a better job of welcoming them. He called for reforms to our immigration system that will help harness the talent and ingenuity of all those like them who want to work hard and find a place here in America.


  • President Obama Commemorates Veterans Day

    This Veterans Day, the President honored those, past and present, who put on the uniform of the United States military and put their lives on the line.

    President Barack Obama greets Richard Overton

    President Barack Obama greets Richard Overton, with Earlene Love-Karo, in the Blue Room of the White House, Nov. 11, 2013. Mr. Overton,107 years old and the oldest living World War II veteran, attended the Veteran's Day Breakfast at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    On Monday morning, the President hosted a breakfast in the East Room of the White House for veterans and their families. In attendance was Richard Overton from Austin, Texas. Richard is the oldest living World War II veteran. The President honored the veteran in his remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, and thanked Richard for his selfless dedication and his courage when he faced adversity.

    That’s what we owe veterans like Richard Overton, who served in the Army in World War II. He was there at Pearl Harbor, when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa.  He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, “I only got out of there by the grace of God.”

    When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race.  And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home.  But this veteran held his head high.  He carried on and lived his life with honor and dignity.  


  • Insurance Companies Now Must Cover Mental Health Benefits at Parity with Medical Benefits

    Today, as part of the President and Vice President’s continuing efforts to increase access to mental health services, the Administration issued the final rule implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

    Today’s action means that for group and individual market health plans, insurance companies must cover mental health and addiction benefits at parity with medical and surgical benefits. In January, the Department of Health and Human Services also released a letter to State health officials clarifying that Medicaid plans must also comply with parity requirements.

    Parity is not just a buzzword. It has a real impact for the millions of people who are experiencing or will experience mental illness or addiction. In fact, parity works to break down two key barriers that too often prevent these individuals – our friends, our family, our neighbors – from seeking help. First, it breaks down the financial barrier by generally prohibiting health plans from placing more restrictive monetary requirements (for example, co-pays) or treatment limitations (for example, covered visits)  on mental health and substance abuse benefits than on comparable medical and surgical benefits.  Second, parity reduces the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction by reaffirming that illnesses of the brain should not be treated differently than illnesses of the body.


  • The Time is Now: President Obama Meets with Business Leaders on Immigration Reform

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with business leaders to discuss immigration reform to bolster U.S. economic growth

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with business leaders to discuss immigration reform to bolster U.S. economic growth, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, I joined the President, Vice President and senior Administration officials for a meeting at the White House with a group of top U.S. business leaders to discuss the importance of commonsense immigration reform to bolster U.S. economic growth, and improve the climate for business, and job creation.  These leaders shared with the President their desire to see our broken immigration system fixed, both because it is the right thing to do, and because it will be good for the U.S. economy.

    In addition to the 7.5 million jobs we have created in the U.S. over the past three and a half years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), over the next two decades, the bipartisan bill that has already passed the Senate would grow our economy by an additional $1.4 trillion, and shrink our deficits by nearly $1 trillion.  The Senate bill would modernize our legal immigration system. 

    With common sense immigration reform, American colleges, universities, and businesses can attract the brightest minds in the world to our shores to start new businesses, and spur economic growth for all Americans.  And, reform would also make sure everyone plays by the same rules, providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows, including passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and getting in line behind everyone else.


  • Vice President Meets with Disabilities Leaders on the Administration’s Strong Support for the Disabilities Treaty

    Vice President Joe Biden meets with disability advocates in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

    Vice President Joe Biden meets with disability advocates in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Nov. 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today, Vice President Biden met with the leaders of 20 disabilities and veterans advocacy groups at the White House to discuss the Disabilities Treaty. In the coming weeks, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin considering the Treaty, and the Vice President’s meeting served as an opportunity to explain the Administration’s strong support for ratification of this important Treaty and to discuss next steps in the ratification process. The Vice President was joined by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Judith Heumann, the State Department’s Special Advisor for International Disability Rights.

    The group met in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office, where Vice President Biden discussed his longtime personal commitment to ensuring that Americans with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities as their fellow citizens to live, work, and travel overseas. He made the case that ratifying the Disabilities Treaty is important because many countries around the world don’t have the same high standards as the United States. In many countries, wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters, service animals, and other accommodations are the exception, not the rule. That makes it more difficult, or even impossible, for people with disabilities – including our veterans and wounded warriors to work, study, and travel abroad.


  • Vice President Biden Visits the National Domestic Violence Hotline

    Yesterday, Vice President Biden visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

    Vice President Biden created the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 (VAWA) and has long championed the cause of ending domestic violence. The Vice President was accompanied by actress Mariska Hargitay, a key advocate working against abuse.  Together Vice President Biden and Mariska toured the Hotline, met with frontline advocates, and observed these life-saving services in action.

    Vice President Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay watch as an advocate demonstrates the new web chat feature, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline

    Vice President Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay watch as an advocate demonstrates the new web chat feature, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in Austin, Texas, Oct. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    The Hotline -- which provides around the clock services in 170 languages -- answered its 3 millionth call this summer. Today, the Hotline receives an average of 22,000 calls a month, and serves as a critical lifeline for women and men experiencing violence. The Hotline can connect callers directly to domestic violence shelters, help victims find legal services, and provide the comfort and support needed in a time of crisis. The Vice President announced the Hotline’s expansion to new digital services that will allow victims and survivors to reach out for help through online chatting. This new service helps survivors reach out for help in the way they feel the most comfortable.  One chatter said: “I feel so much better now…I wish everyone knew about you.” We hope that because of the Vice President’s visit, more women will reach out for help online. Visit www.thehotline.org for more information.

    Vice President Biden also announced a grant of $500,000 from the Department of Justice for the National Dating Abuse Helpline, also operated by the Hotline. The Helpline is geared towards teens and young adults, and is available 24/7 by text, chat, and phone.  Two years ago, the Vice President kicked off the Helpline’s text messaging services, and last year, the Helpline was contacted by nearly 40,000 teens and young adults seeking information and support. During his visit, the Vice President met with the peer advocates working on the Helpline, and thanked them for their incredible work.


  • Vice President Biden Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act

    Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Wednesday evening as part of The Kennedy Forum’s event commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act.

    The Vice President was there to reaffirm the Administration’s commitment to increasing access to mental health and substance abuse treatments, eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness, and supporting research to better understand the functioning of the human brain.

    He highlighted a recent proposal by the Obama Administration to dedicate $100 million to jump start an initiative to map the human brain.

    “It’s truly amazing what we don’t know, and it’s even more astounding what we might learn.”

    The Vice President also stressed the need for continuing a national effort to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness:

    “There are treatments and therapies available to help those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse that go unused. Too many people in this country still suffer silently. Too many mental health problems, for which there are treatments, are left untreated.”


  • West Wing Week 10/18/13 or, "The Shutdown Edition: The End"

    This week, the government shutdown came to an end, and the nation averted default. That's October 11th to October 17th or "The Shutdown Edition: The End"


  • Vice President Biden Welcomes EPA Employees Back to Work

    With government back open for business this morning, Vice President Biden stopped by the Environmental Protection Agency to greet employees as they returned to work. 

    Watch the video here: