Remarks by Vice President Harris at the DNC Winter Meeting
The Washington Hilton
12:41 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone! (Applause.) Good afternoon, Democrats! (Applause.) Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Please, have a seat. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Good afternoon.
Jaime, thank you for those kind words and for your continuous leadership. You’ve done such an outstanding job.
And on behalf of the first Second Gentleman of the United States and myself — (applause) — (laughs) — I want to say thank you to everybody in this room. It is wonderful to see this group of friends in person.
This, of course, is the first time that we have been able to get together in person since the President and I were inaugurated. And I can just feel the energy in the room, which, of course, is reflective of the extraordinary dedication, commitment, and work that each of you have been doing over the course of the last couple of years, which presented, of course, many challenges because of the pandemic.
But for so many of you, this is part of a lifetime of commitment to extraordinary work on behalf of so many people in our country. So thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.
And thank you for the work that you did to get us into the White House — (laughs) — (applause) — and to win control of the Senate, and to keep control of the House! (Applause.)
You all did that work. And, you know, sometimes you make it look easy, but it’s not. It’s hard work. It’s difficult work. It’s around-the-clock work. It’s work that requires great sacrifice in terms of the other commitments in your lives.
And you do this work on behalf of people sometimes that you meet, on behalf of people that you don’t meet. You do this work on behalf of people that may never know your names, may never know my name, but will be forever impacted and, to our mission, uplifted because of the work of the people in this room.
And so when I think about where we are, based on the work that has already happened to get us here, I know it has been hard work and good work.
I also want to give a special shout-out to the Californians in the room — (applause) — because how could I not.
But to everyone: Thank you again.
So I just returned this morning from Poland and Romania. And I’ll tell you that everything that you were watching on television I know makes you understand and feel the importance of this moment on many levels.
When I was meeting with our allies, I emphasized that the greatest strength that we share is unity, especially at this moment, as we stand together in defense of democracy and stand together in defense of each other. (Applause.)
And that unity and — to our collective resolve has been strengthened, of course, since Russians’ reinvasion of Ukraine and Putin’s war.
Russia’s invasion threatens not just Ukraine’s democracy, it threatens democracy and security across Europe. And by extension, when democracy is threatened anywhere, it threatens us all. And the ocean that separates us will not leave us untouched by this aggression.
So I will say what I know we all say, and I will say over and over again: The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people [and] in defense of the NATO Alliance. (Applause.)
And I’ll tell you, while I was — while I was there these last couple of days, I met with the presidents of both nations, and I — and I met with refugees from Ukraine, some of who are Ukrainian citizens, others who were students studying in Ukraine from other countries.
And, you know, they feel very alone, of course, because of the experience they’ve been having. One of them was a 22-year-old student from Morocco who fled by himself, doesn’t know anybody.
And because of the experience they’ve had, they’ve, of course, not been in a room like this among the population, the multitude of people who support them. And I told them — and so what you did to stand and applaud them in this point means a lot. I told them people around the world stand with them, and they are not alone.
When I was there, I met with a group of American troops who are there with a group of troops from Poland, working together, training together — attempting to understand each other’s language, but yet speaking the same language — in their fight for what is important about this moment.
So, again, I thank you all.
Days before I traveled to Poland, with many of you, I was in Selma to commemorate the 57th anniversary — (applause) — of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, that historic place which is a stark reminder that we must always remain vigilant to safeguard freedom and democracy. Because we all know, in this room, neither is assured without our vigilance. And defending democracy, then, takes all of us.
As I said last week about the great Congressman John Lewis — (applause) — this fight for democracy, for freedom, for equality, for justice requires of all of us, like John Lewis modeled — it requires from all of us a clarity of purpose and a determination and diligence to always keep our eye on the ball, understanding that in this fight for democracy, we must appreciate its character and nature.
We must understand that when we have a democracy that reflects its values by treating people with a sense of equality and fairness and justice, we can see, when it works, it possesses great strengths.
And we must always remember the duality of a democracy in that, yes, there is strength. But a democracy by its nature is also fragile, meaning it will only be intact if we fight for it and never take it for granted and be vigilant with a sense of clarity every day. (Applause.)
And that’s what we in this room stand for — all of us fighting and marching and pushing forward together to reach our ideals in the constant effort to create a more perfect union.
You know, when the President and I took office, our country was facing the aftermath of a reckless president, the COVID-19 pandemic, and questions about America’s leadership on the world stage. We had a plan to get America back on track with the support of the American people and the leaders in this room.
We knew, all of us, our election should herald a change in direction, not just a change in management. And President Biden and I, then, with your help and leadership, chartered a new course for our nation’s future. And we rebuilt relationships with our allies. And the results of that effort are clear as we stand together in this unified rebuke of Russia.
The President and I also proposed, with your leadership, with your help, the American Rescue Plan — (applause) — to fight through the impact of COVID. And since that plan was enacted last year, we went from 2 million people vaccinated to over 215 million vaccinated in our country. (Applause.)
Businesses are back open, and 99 percent of our schools are no longer remote. We went from 60,000 jobs created each month to 678,000 jobs created last month — (applause) — and over 7 million total jobs created since we took office.
Unemployment is down 3.8 percent. Black unemployment is at an all-time low, and Hispanic unemployment has fallen by historic amounts. (Applause.)
The Child Tax Credit cut childhood poverty for the children — the children — (applause) — Latino children, Black children, poor children, Appalachian children — by 40 percent. (Applause.)
Because of your work, and with your help, we passed a once-in-a-generation infrastructure law. (Applause.) And it will create more jobs, it will rebuild communities. I’m sorry, it will create more jobs, including good union jobs. (Applause.) That’s right. That’s right. Because we’re clear on who helped build the middle class of America. We’re clear on that.
So, yes, it will create more jobs, it’ll rebuild communities and do so much more to help America’s families.
For example, just last week, we announced nearly one and a half billion dollars in grants to help cities and towns electrify their fleet of public buses, build infrastructure to support their fleet, and train workers.
Thank you, again, for all of the apprenticeships run by our unions that are training these workers — (applause) — with extraordinary skills to actually do the work.
And think about it on the issue of public transit: So, this will make public transit more reliable, more affordable, and more efficient. So imagine, if you will, a mother or a father trying to get out of the house during the week, in the morning, trying to get the kids to school and get to work.
And then imagine for that parent, one of them kids don’t want to put on their shoes. Familiar experience. And so that parent misses the bus by just a few minutes. If the bus only comes by once an hour, those kids are going to be late for school, mom or dad is going to be late for work.
And that might mean having their pay docked or potentially even losing their job.
Public transit: Working people in America, in so many places in our country, rely on it for all of their essential needs. This is about to change with an investment of billion dollars — in billions of dollars in public transit.
So when we look at this issue, it is one of many.
But we’re not going to stop there, and we didn’t stop there. More than 70 percent of the judicial nominees we have appointed are women. (Applause.) More than 70 percent.
And, of course, the President recently nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. (Applause.)
And I’ll share with you guys — going off script — I’ll share with you guys: So, the President and I were there at the White House for the day of the — of the — that he announced his nomination, and many of you may have watched it on television. And so we were in the back before we went out. And before we walked out, I just looked at our President and I said, “You’re again making history. You’re again making history.” Think about that.
You know, when we — when we look at the job we have in the coming months, and people will look at all of us as leaders and they’ll say, “Well, why should I vote? Why does it matter?” There’s so much we have to talk about. We have collectively, on many levels, achieved historic feats. And let’s be proud of that — knowing, of course, that there is still more to do. Let’s be proud of that. Be proud of that. (Applause.)
And so, on the issue of Judge Jackson, she will make an outstanding and extraordinary jurist. And if confirmed, of course, she will be the first Black woman on the highest court in the land. (Applause.)
And — don’t let this be lost in terms of this point in history: And for the first time in history, four women will sit on the United States Supreme Court at the same time. (Applause.) How about that? How about that?
So there’s a whole long list I could go through, but you all know it. And, you know, I know you’ve been meeting for a couple days, so I’m not going to do that to you. But I will say that, together, we have accomplished so much. And, of course, yes, there is more to do.
As the President laid out in his State of the Union, it’s time to bring down costs — the cost of living — even more. It is time to create more union jobs. It is time to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed. It is time to defend our democracy and be vigilant in its defense, and to safeguard our planet for generations to come. It is time to do so much more.
And over the past year, I have traveled our country, talking with many leaders including those from, of course, this room, those from the Latino community, the Black community, AAPI community, LGBTQ+ community, the disability community, all around our country.
And we have talked about many of the issues that I know over the last couple of days this group has addressed. We have talked about one of the most urgent issues as well, in terms of how the clock is ticking on a purposeful attack against our democracy being waged in states around our country. And that is on the attack on the freedom to vote.
And we have talked about what we must do, us as leaders, all of us, understanding the intentions that are at play, which are to make it more difficult for people to vote — certain populations in particular — with an expectation that if you make it more difficult, then people won’t vote.
We have discussed together our frustrations and fears. We’ve talked about the rights that we fought so hard to win and how they could be lost.
But I will say, as we talked about last week in Selma: We must fight on, because we know all of our rights and all of our progress depends on the freedom to vote — workers’ rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights.
All of the rights that we hold so dear flow from the right to vote.
So the DNC, of course, has taken on a role of leadership on this issue, as well as all the others, and in this fight making substantial investments — and thank you — in organizing, in strengthening state party infrastructure and protecting voters.
Last summer, I was proud to announce that the DNC would invest $25 million in its I Will Vote initiative to make voting more accessible and to fight back against Republicans’ unprecedented voter suppression efforts.
As the tiebreaking vote in the Senate — I am the President of the Senate — I know, as you do — (applause) — I know, as you do, that protecting our majorities on Capitol Hill is critical. And that is why President Biden announced that the DNC will transfer $15 million to the DCCC and the DSCC. (Applause.)
So, the work ahead is not going to be easy. Everybody knows that. That’s why you all are here, knowing the work that must be done, knowing it’s not going to be easy, but knowing we are under one roof together, in solidarity, in our commitment to seeing this through.
I know, and I believe we know, when we show what we have accomplished just in a year, and when we show it as because the American people voted, I believe we will meet the moment again. But that is our task. Our task is to show people that, in many ways, they got what they ordered. Right? (Applause.) They said this is what they wanted. They stood in line. They took time from work. It was difficult. And a lot of what they demanded, they got.
And so let’s get out there, as we do, and remind them of that. Because we know that they will show up again and they will say, “Yes, we want better jobs at higher wages.” They will say yes to extending the Child Tax Credit. They will say, “Yes, we must fight climate change.” They will say, “Yes, I wanted and got and want more diversity on the Court.” They will say, “Yes, we must fight to protect reproductive rights.” (Applause.)
We have faith in what they want and how much they want it and what they are prepared to do to get it.
So our job is the job of just supporting the people, supporting their voices, supporting their will and desire of what their government has a responsibility to deliver to uplift our nation and to strengthen it. That’s at the core of the work we do.
When we fight for social justice, when we fight for equal rights, when we fight for all that is on our list of priorities, that’s our mission: to strengthen our nation — so that when I go overseas, when the President goes overseas, when you talk to folks, and we say, “America is a beacon, it is a model,” that we can actually back that up. That’s what we’re doing. (Applause.) That’s what we’re doing.
We are, as Democrats, continuing to own the responsibility that comes with being a role model, which is, as a democracy, to take care of its people — to see them, to hear them, and to be reflective of their priorities and their needs.
So, DNC, we will keep working the phones, and we will keep registering the voters, and we will keep getting the souls to the polls. (Applause.) And we will keep doing all that is necessary to fight for the best of who we are.
Thank you, DNC. (Applause.) Thank you for your leadership. Thank you all.
END 1:05 P.M. EST