11:18 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So let me begin today by saying thank you to all of you. You are courageous leaders and you’re American patriots.
And so, I’m very pleased to welcome you — and for many of you, welcome you back — to the White House to have yet another very important conversation, and this time about one of the most important pillars of our democracy, which is about the fundamental right to vote.
And when we look at what has happened in Texas, we look at what’s happening around the country, I think it’s important to remember: We talk about the right to vote, and the right to vote is a given. All citizens have the right to vote. Constitutionally, it is their right.
What we are seeing are examples of an attempt to interfere with that right and attempt to marginalize and take from people a right that has already been given. We are not asking for the bestowal of a right; we are talking about the preservation of a right that is the right of citizenship. And it’s that fundamental. It is that fundamental.
And so, when I look at that and the fact that Americans are at risk of losing their access to their right — they still have the right, but losing access to that right — we know we have a great challenge in front of us, and therefore, a fight, which is to fight for every American’s right — meaningful right to vote.
And so that’s where we are. And, of course, since 2013 and the gutting of Shelby — in the Shelby v. Holder case, we have seen exactly what we fear when that case came down in 2013. Because that case was an opening of a door to allow states to do what otherwise we have protected against, which is states putting in place laws that are designed, in many cases quite intentionally, to make it difficult for people to vote.
And so this is what we’ve seen over and over again, and what’s happening right now in Texas is, of course, a very clear and current example of that. So, to the — to the point of what we must do collectively to ensure that every American retains their right to vote, our administration — President Biden and myself and our administration are here to make very clear that we will do everything in our power as an administration to lift up the voices of those who seek to preserve the right of the people to vote.
We’re not telling people how to vote. And, frankly, this is not a Democratic or a Republican issue; this is an American issue. This is an American issue.
When we look at these attempts to infringe on people’s access to voting, we know that it is going to impact people — Americans with disabilities, seniors, students, people of every walk of life.
When we look at these laws that are designed to interfere with poll workers — well, let’s think about that for a moment. I have voted and been — and visited with these wonderful American volunteers, the poll workers, when I’ve gone to vote at the local elementary school, when I’ve gone to vote at the local church. This is who we’re talking about, and interfering with them in what they are doing as part of their civic duty.
These are some of the issues that are at play. And so, I welcome you. I welcome you on behalf the President and myself. As you know, he’s in Europe right now. But we wanted to greet you here in the Roosevelt Room as an extension of the importance of the work you are doing, not only on behalf of the people of Texas, but the people of our country and our nation as a whole.
And while we will meet, we will also talk about the administration’s absolute commitment to seeing Congress — the United States Congress — pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and to pass the For the People Act to, again, put back in place the protections that existed before and to ensure, as we go forward, that as there are new attacks on the access to the polls and voting, that we head them off in a way that ensures again that the people retain their right to vote however they choose, but unimpeded.
So with that, I want to thank all of you, and we will talk about Senate Bill 7 and how it clearly has been written in a way that will make it difficult for people and what you all are doing as courageous leaders that, again, speak up for the people. And that is what you are doing.
So, thank you all, and I look forward to our discussion. And let us begin. Let us begin. So, thank you.
11:24 A.M. EDT