South Court Auditorium

2:32 P.M. EDT
     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good morning — or good afternoon, everyone.  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon. 
     So, we are here today with a bipartisan group of mayors to discuss the challenges that we face as a country, but also the solutions that are at hand. 
     And I want to particularly thank the mayors of America.  We have met many times over the course of this year, and I will repeat myself in saying that you all are the leaders on the ground.  You make things happen.  You are the face of government, often, for the families, for the children, for the people of our country.  And you make things work.  You pull it together.
     And during the course of this year, you’ve had many challenges.  And through your commitment, your leadership, your courage, and your ingenuity, you still have been able to make things work, even when things were not as supportive of you as they needed to be because we just had so many challenges. 
     It is because of your leadership that we passed the American Rescue Plan, which, as you know, early in the stage of this pandemic, allowed us to get $1,400 checks to folks who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own. 
     It was through your leadership on the ground that we were able to pass the Child Tax Credit, in terms of expanding it.  And we’re on the verge of doing even more. 
     But a large part of the success I anticipate we’ll have in extending it is due to the work that you did initially to show how it would uplift and help our families. 
     So, that is the work you’ve been doing every day.  And I therefore want to start my comments by thanking you and thanking your colleagues across this country. 
     Today, we have an opportunity to finish what we started, I believe, or at least to take it to the next step — and that is the work that we can do to build upon the success of the American Rescue Plan with the bi — Build Back Better Agenda. 
     And as you know, today our administration announced the framework of the Build Back Better Agenda.  And Build Back Better is essentially about doing a better job in combating the climate crisis; it’s about creating better jobs; it’s about doing the work of helping our families; it’s about doing better in terms of the access to healthcare for the American people. 
     That’s the agenda.  That’s what we have — in our hands right now, within our grasp — the opportunity to do with the Build Back Better framework, coupled with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.
And I’m so proud that mayors from around the country, regardless of party affiliation, have seen and have really been leaders in understanding that this really is not about partisanship in terms of what we need to do to fix our roads and bridges; what we need to do to bring childcare — affordable and accessible childcare to working families; the work that we need to do to address the climate crisis, understanding that, within the midst of the crisis, there are also great opportunities to create jobs — good union jobs, good-paying jobs — for workers and upskill and invest in their skills. 
This is the — this is the work that we have within grasp that we will be able to do when we pass the Build Back Better framework, coupled with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. 
So, I want to thank you all.  I do believe that there is a unique urgency to this moment.  You all know, because you’re on the ground, that we cannot afford to be incremental.  America and the world has gone through a profound crisis, including a profound amount of loss — be it loss of life, loss of income, loss of jobs, loss of normalcy. 
And in the midst of this crisis, the fractures, the failures, the fissures of our system have become quite apparent.  And then, in the midst, there is this opportunity to fix these things — and not incrementally, but substantially — in a transformative way that, again, is about jobs, it’s about health, it’s about families, and it’s about our climate.
So, again, I want to thank you all.  I’m looking forward to this discussion.  And we have the opportunity to really uplift and strengthen our economy and the American family, and I look forward to continuing in our partnership.
So, again, thank you all, and I look forward to our conversation.  And with that, I’m going to pass it to Julie Chávez Rodríguez.
                          END                 2:37 P.M. EDT

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