Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office

5:00 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’m meeting this afternoon with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.  I have met with them before.  They are extraordinary leaders in their states and national leaders.  And we have many important topics to discuss. 

But before I address what we will discuss this afternoon, I want to thank President Billy Mitchell for your leadership, and President-Elect Laura Hall.  It is my great honor to be with you and to do the work that I know we will continue to do together.

As I said when I addressed your annual leadership council, you all are on the ground doing extraordinary work during very difficult times, in particular over the last two years, and you continue to persevere and to show us what we are capable of when we know what is possible.

I do want to take a moment to address two key issues that I know are at top of mind for — for many people: That’s the issue of Ukraine and also the Supreme Court. 

On the issue of Ukraine, as we know, we have imposed significant costs in response to Russia’s reinvasion of Ukraine.  And we are working closely with our Allies and our partners in that regard.

The threat of a full-scale attack on Ukraine remains.  And so we will remain vigilant in watching what is happening there and in close coordination with our Allies and our partners around the world. 

If Russia goes further, we will impose more costs, which will continue to be swift and severe.

On the issue of the Supreme Court of the United States, the President of the United States will announce soon a most eminently qualified, extraordinary lawyer and jurist who will have a record of excellence and who will happen to be a Black woman to be the next justice on the United States Supreme Court.  And she will be, without any question — (applause) — without any question, she will be the first, but not the last.

So, with that, let me say to this august group of leaders that I fully appreciate — the President sends his greetings — for all the work that you do every day.

One of the areas that I know you are focused on and have been is the issue of voting rights.  And so that’s a subject that I’ll address briefly, and then we can discuss about in more detail. 

As we know, we are, at this moment, faced with probably an unprecedented fight to preserve and protect the right for all people who are eligible to vote to be able to vote unencumbered. 

We are also looking at an unprecedented assault on the freedom to vote in our country.  In many of your states, we have seen legislation that has been passed or is attempted to be passed that will have as its, I believe, direct intention the goal of making it more difficult for people to vote — with the hope and expectation that when it is more difficult for people to vote, people won’t vote.

So, it is our collective responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that those laws are not passed and that we speak using the full voice given to us through the bully pulpit we have to let folks know that they have a right and that we will fight for that right for all eligible voters to be able to vote.

We, of course, here in Washington, D.C., have fought –through our administration and along with many of the leaders here — to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. 

Sadly and unfortunately, there were not the majority of legislators who had the ability to pass that legislation present to weigh in.  But we are not going to give up, because we fully realize that if we are to comprehensively address this issue, we need federal legislation.

That being said, there is still work to do at the state level, and that is where your leadership kicks in, in a very fundamental and a very important way. 

And so, I look forward to our conversation and the work we will do together. 

I will tell you as a point of privilege, last night I was speaking with the president of the National Baptist Association, the convention, Reverend Jerry Young.  And Reverend Young said to me, “Well, you know, I’ve got a saying.”  He said — and I told him that I was going to share with you what he said.  And his saying is, “No vote, no voice, your choice.”  (Laughter.)

And that is a message that he is sharing through the National Baptist Convention and through his role of leadership.  And I shared with him that — that some of us may echo that — that same message.  

But with that, I want to thank again the National Black Caucus of State Legislators for your work, for this visit, and for the work we will continue to do together.  

So, thank you and welcome.  Thank you.  Thank you.

5:06 P.M. EST

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