The White House Blog: The Vice President

  • Vice President Biden Honors Fallen Firefighters in Arizona

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a memorial service for the 19 firefighters who died while fighting the Yarnell Wildfire,

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a memorial service for the 19 firefighters who died while fighting the Yarnell Wildfire, in Prescott Valley, Arizona, July 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Vice President Biden traveled to Prescott Valley, Arizona yesterday to deliver remarks at a memorial service for the nineteen firefighters who died last week fighting the Yarnell Hill fire. The Vice President honored the firefighters, calling them “heroes long before we knew their names.”

    We teach our children that these qualities – courage and resolve and perseverance – these qualities are ingrained in our national character as Americans. And I believe they are.  I believe they animate our national identity.  And I believe America will continue to be defined by the example of the 19 ordinary men who did extraordinary things.”

  • Fair Labor Standards Act Anniversary Reminds Us Why We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage

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    In his State of the Union, President Obama laid out a simple principle: “in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.” Today, we came together with Vice President Biden to commemorate an important milestone in upholding that principle – the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act – while making clear what we still need to do to make it a reality.

    We can thank the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt, for several of the most important protections in place for workers today. The FLSA created the minimum wage, put in place restrictions on child labor, and required that when employees work more than a standard workweek, they get paid overtime.

    But a look back at history also serves as a call to action. Over the past three decades, the minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation – eroding its value for working families. A full-time worker making the minimum wage now earns only $14,500 a year – leaving a family with two kids below the poverty line even once tax credits are taken into account. That’s why in February, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage – including for tipped workers – bring it back to the value it had at the beginning of the Reagan Administration, and permanently index it to inflation. 

    Today, we heard from workers making the minimum wage from across the country – from a call center worker from Indiana to a valet attendant from Denver  – who spoke about how important a minimum wage increase can be for their families. As President Obama has said, for these families, a minimum wage increase “could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead.” Indeed, for a typical working family making $20,000 to $30,000 a year, a minimum wage increase could provide enough to cover six months of housing or their entire budget for groceries in a year. What we also heard from these workers is that they are proud of their work – and they want the dignity that comes with supporting their families with their work.

  • Vice President Biden: The Fight to Reduce Gun Violence Is Far From Over

    A little more than six months after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Vice President Biden said yesterday that he and President Obama have not given up the fight to reduce gun violence.

    In January, the Vice President said, “the President and I stood in this very room, joined by the victims of gun violence, parents, teachers, members of law enforcement, and many others, as we made a simple promise to the American people. We said we will do everything that we can, everything in our power to reduce gun violence in this country."

    And although a minority of the Senate voted down common-sense legislation that would keep our kids and communities safer, President Obama has "moved forward on what was within his power, what executive actions he could take," the Vice President explained. "Today, I can report that he announced 23 executive actions; 21 of them have been completed or there has been major progress made toward the total completion and that we’re on track to finish the job."

  • West Wing Week: 06/07/13 or “Cooler at Night"

    This week, the President urged Congress not to let student loan rates double and to confirm three judges for the federal appeals court in Washington, held bilateral meetings with the NATO Secretary-General and the President of Chile, kicked off a National Conference on Mental Health, honored the Super Bowl champions, and announced a major new initiative called ConnectED, while the Vice President wrapped up a weeklong trip to South America. That's May 31st to June 6th or, "Cooler at Night."

  • Being Biden Vol. 8: Remembering Senator Lautenberg

    In the latest installment of Being Biden, Vice President Biden remembers his friend, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

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  • Vice President Biden Discusses the 'Start of a New Era of U.S.-Brazilian Relations'

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    Later today, Vice President Biden will return from Brazil, the final stop on a three-country trip focused on reinforcing partnerships in the Americas.

    During his visit, he delivered a speech in Rio de Janeiro about the promise of a strong U.S.-Brazil partnership. “President Obama and I believe that the times present an incredible opportunity for a new era of relations between the United States and the Americas,” the Vice President explained. “But none -- no partner is more significant in this endeavor than Brazil.”

    The United States and Brazil represent two of the largest, most innovative, dynamic economies in the world today. It is true both of us can continue to prosper whether or not we deepen our economic relations. But imagine, just imagine what these two dynamic economies could do with greater trade and investment for our people, for the hemisphere, for the world. 

    In addition to strengthening the economic relationship between our two countries, the Vice President also discussed other areas where we can work together, including energy, global development and people-to-people ties.

  • Vice President Biden Visits Trinidad and Tobago

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    After stopping in Colombia on his three-country trip to reinforce partnerships in the Americas, Vice President Biden traveled to Trinidad and Tobago, where he met with President Carmona and Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar and participated in a meeting and working lunch with a number of other Caribbean leaders.

    In that series of meetings, leaders discussed regional efforts to promote economic growth, citizen security and energy, among other issues.

    “I'm here because President Obama wanted me to have an opportunity to dialogue with all of you and because our country is deeply invested and wants to become more deeply invested in a partnership with all the nations of the Caribbean,” the Vice President explained.

    Our search for growth, jobs and affordable supplies of energy, our fight against transnational crime, and the protection of our climate and our environment -- all of these issues, all of these issues have no respect for borders and they affect all of our borders. They directly affect the people of my country and each and every one of yours.

  • Vice President Biden Travels to Colombia

    Marking his fourth visit to the region since taking office, Vice President Biden left D.C. on Sunday for a trip to Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. Following President Obama’s recent visit to Mexico and Costa Rica, the trip is the latest demonstration of the United States’ commitment to reinforcing partnerships in the Americas.

    The Vice President began his trip in Bogota, where he held a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and highlighted the country’s remarkable progress on security issues as well as the importance of our economic relationship.

    Since our free trade agreement went into effect a little over one year ago, "United States exports to Colombia are up 20 percent,” the Vice President said.

  • West Wing Week: 05/24/13 or “Justice for Everybody”

    This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigration reform advocates and DREAMers themselves, and Gershwin Prize winner Carole King and friends to the White House, and delivered a major counter-terrorism speech at the National Defense University. 

  • Being Biden Vol. 7: Gems of Wisdom

    A class of third graders from North Philadelphia recently wrote to Vice President Biden about reducing gun violence. This week, the Vice President sat down to share some of these children's words with you — and an expression that belonged to his mom: "out of the mouths of babes come gems of wisdom." Take a listen.

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