Remarks by Vice President Harris at a Political Event with Governor J.B. Pritzker
University of Illinois Chicago
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, Chicago! (Laughs.) Good evening. Good evening. Can we give it up for your governor, J.B. Pritzker? (Applause.) You guys got to send him back to the statehouse. We’re counting on him to be there. We’re counting on him.
Well, it is so wonderful to be back in Chicago. (Applause.) It really is.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, and all of the leaders gathered here: I thank you. I thank you for your service to the people of Illinois and, by extension, to the people of America.
And as it relates to your governor, J.B. Pritzker, let me tell you something: He has been an extraordinary leader. You know, I talk with him on the phone, even when I don’t see him, and we talk about you. And we talk —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, we do. And we talk about you, and we talk about what’s at stake. And what you all are doing here in Illinois really is providing a model for the rest of the country about giving voice to the people, putting the power in the people, and then with a governor doing the work of leading in a way that is defined by strength and compassion.
And I’ll say about your governor: He’s the same person whether the cameras are on or the cameras are off. He is always fighting for the people. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, Kamala! (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Thank you all. Thank you all.
So let’s talk about where we are today. What we are looking at right now is — is the fact that there are 53 days to go until this November’s election. Fifty-three days. That’s a long time and a short time. And we have got to make every one of these 53 days count.
So, as you know, Governor Pritzker is on the ballot. Juliana Stratton is on the ballot. Your members of Congress are on the ballot too. And we need you. We need you to send them to the positions of leadership that they have so rightly earned to do what we need to get done.
Because here’s the thing, Chicago: You know how to get Democrats elected. You do. This is the home of Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth — (applause) — who we must reelect.
This is the home of Harold Washington and Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama! (Applause.)
This is the home of hope and change.
And so we need you to get the vote out this November. Because truly — truly, this election, I do believe, will determine the future of not only your home state but our home country.
Over the past 20 months, we as Democrats have proven that when the people put Democrats in charge, we know how to deliver results for the people.
Think about it. At the height of the pandemic, we got relief to the American people. Our administration partnered with Governor Pritzker to put billions to work right here in Illinois and keep schools and small businesses open.
Just last month, we passed the Inflation Reduction Act to lower energy costs, to lower healthcare costs, to lower prescription drug costs. (Applause.)
And here’s the thing on that — on the prescription drug cost: For years, Big Pharma tried to pocket bigger profits by stopping Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices. Well, we got in power thanks to you, and we said “Enough.” And now Medicare has the power to negotiate drug prices on behalf of millions of seniors — because we believe, Democrats believe, people must come before profits. (Applause.)
Since we got in office, we have expanded background checks for gun purchases. We have canceled student debt. (Applause.)
We have made the largest investment to combat the climate crisis in history. (Applause.)
And let us not forget about our judiciary. We are ensuring that our judiciary looks like America. And, yes, we have confirmed more women to the federal courts than ever before at this point in a presidency — (applause) — including to the highest court in our land. And her name is Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.) Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)
And because of you, we also led the way to the largest investment in our nation’s infrastructure in generations. This year alone, we’re investing $3.4 billion in Illinois — in the public transit and airports of Illinois; in roads and bridges like this Cicero Avenue Bridge in Illinois.
We’re also investing $288 million to replace lead pipes and upgrade water systems across this country and this — and across the state. (Applause.)
We know that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each of them unique. And our administration wants to see all of them thrive. From Austin to Chapman, from Little Village to Lake View, our investments will benefit neighborhoods across Chicago.
So, Illinois, we have delivered all of this. And do note, in the process, we did not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. (Applause.)
We delivered all of this, and we reduced our national deficit. (Applause.) And, you know, the interesting point on that is: I’m sure over the years you’ve followed how Republican Party leaders, they will talk about fiscal responsibility. Well, Democratic leaders know how to be fiscally responsible. (Applause.)
So this year, the election is so important and the stakes could not be higher. And I know we say that every election cycle, and it is true. But what is at stake this year in these midterms is so apparent. And I do believe that when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for.
So think about it: Right now, extremist, so-called leaders trumpet the rhetoric of freedom while they take away freedoms. The United States Supreme Court just took away a recognized constitutional right from the people of America, from the women of America.
And now, so-called leaders — extremist so-called leaders are passing laws to criminalize healthcare providers and punish women around our nation. They are calling for a nationwide abortion ban that would include Illinois.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They believe that government should be making decisions for the women of America — personal decisions, decisions about heart and home. They believe the government should make decisions for women about their own bodies. Well, we do not. We trust women! (Applause.)
And an important point needs to be made: You do not have to abandon your faith or your beliefs to agree the government should not be making decisions for her. (Applause.)
There are extremist so-called leaders who claim we should return this issue to the states.
Now, check this out. Remember, when the Dobbs decision came down? They said, “Oh, let’s return it to the states.” But watch. Because some of the same people who were saying that are passing laws, making it more difficult for people in those states to vote — laws that limit drop boxes and restrict early voting, laws that make it illegal to give food and water to people who’ve been standing in line for hours. Undemocratic laws. Un-American laws.
And, you know, if you take a look at which states we’re seeing this from — states that attack the freedom to vote and attack LGBTQ rights and attack women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies — well, you would not be surprised to know that some are doing all three. Florida. Georgia. And Texas.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Those states aren’t lucky enough to have a governor like J.B. Pritzker. (Applause.) And we need more Governor Pritzkers and to elect more around the country to make sure that we protect these rights. But elections matter. Who is your governor matters. What is happening in these other states also matters.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You got it, Kamala!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We all matter. (Laughter and applause.) We all matter.
And so, you know — I mean, Governor, you were talking about it — your opponent. So I’ve been traveling the country, and I can tell you, from everything I know about your opponent, he is one of the most extreme anti-choice candidates in the country.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And, you know, as I travel the country, I’ll tell you another thing. Folks know that in this election coming up in 53 days, the stakes are so high. And as it relates to the election, got to pay attention to everything up and down the ballot. Up and down the ballot.
Because when we travel the country and we see what’s going on, doctors are being criminalized. What does that mean? Pay attention to who your prosecutor is and who you elect for DA and who you elect for state attorney. Pay attention to those county prosecutor races. (Applause.)
As big lies are being perpetrated, pay attention to the secretary of state races around the country. In fact, I’ll tell you, you don’t have that problem here; you got an incredible candidate. But in 11 states in the United States of America — in 11 states, Republican candidates for secretary of state denied the results of the 2020 election.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So, consider what this means, though. Consider what it means. The very people who don’t trust elections want to be responsible for running them.
I did an interview earlier, and the journalist asked me, essentially, does this represent an emergency as it relates to our democracy?
And I think we all know we are witnessing a potential significant crisis in terms of putting in place office holders who do not agree with the fundamental principles behind the Constitution of the United States and our democracy, which includes fighting for fair and free elections.
And then let’s pay attention to what’s happening in Washington, D.C. We need to and we will hold on to the United States House of Representatives and expand our majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
So let me lay out — let me lay out two very real scenarios for you in that regard.
First, imagine it’s a — it’s something we don’t want to imagine, but imagine that we lose our majorities in Congress. Okay? I’ll remind you that when the United States Supreme Court decided Dobbs, Republican Party leaders started by saying “let the states decide,” but then just this week introduced a nationwide ban on abortion. Not — not — not states. Now they’re talking just in 12 weeks — the Dobbs decision was just 12 weeks ago. Now they’re talking about nationwide. Okay? So they’re already moving the goalpost. Check that out. Watch what’s happening. They’re already moving the goalpost.
So what’s next? Well, Justice Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud. In the Dobbs decision, his piece of it
was to say, basically, marriage equality is on the line, contraception is on the line.
So see what is happening and what is at play here. See it clearly. We’ve got to hold on to our numbers in the House and the Senate, because without Democratic majorities in Congress,
the writing on the wall seems to be pretty clear about what other rights they’ll also come after.
Now imagine a better scenario. Imagine what we can do if we defend the five seats we need to hold on to our majority in the House of Representatives. Imagine that. (Applause.)
Imagine what we can do if we protect or better yet expand our majority in the Senate. Imagine. We can then fight for every worker to have paid family leave. (Applause.) We can fight for every family to have affordable childcare. (Applause.) We can fight for a ban on assault weapons finally. (Applause.)
So we still have work to do, these next 53 days, to see all of that through.
And we just need two more seats in the Senate. If we hold on to what we’ve got and get two more Democrats into the United States Senate, we can codify — which means put into law — the protections of Roe v. Wade. Two more seats. (Applause.)
With two more seats in the United States Senate, we can pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. (Applause.) Two more Senate seats — just two more seats.
So our job is clear. And President Biden has been clear. He said he’s not going to allow archaic Senate rules to stand in the way of protecting these two freedoms. So that’s the job before us.
You know, as Vice President, I’ll tell you, I’m also the President of the Senate. And — (applause) — and so for all the historians in here and the history buffs — you might know this already — but our first year in office for me as Vice President: I actually broke John Adams’s record of casting the most tie-breaking votes in a single term. (Applause.) How about that?
This kid born in Oakland, California, just hit that record. (Applause.)
And I will tell you then, I cannot wait to cast the deciding vote to break the filibuster on voting rights and reproductive rights. (Applause.) So help me do that. Help me do that.
So here’s the good news, Illinois: We have momentum on our side. I know you all have been tracking what’s going around around the country. So, momentum.
Look, for example, at what just happened in Kansas. (Applause.) Right? The people there joined together and prede- — protected reproductive rights in their state. They said, “We’re not having that.” We know that we stand with the majority of Americans in saying we need to stand up for that basic fundamental right.
Look what happened in New York’s Hudson Valley. So in that race — it was a House race — pundits predicted — until the last hours, they predicted — there was no question, there was going to be a Republican victory. But the people there elected a Democrat to Congress. Right?
And look at what happened in Alaska. (Applause.) Mary Peltola is now a member of the United States House of Representatives and the first Native Alaskan to hold that seat. (Applause.)
And it’s the first time — momentum — it’s the first time a Democrat has won that seat in 50 years. (Applause.) Momentum.
So, from now until November 8th, it is up to all of us to build on the momentum. And over these next 53 days, let us say, if you believe in the promise of America, if you believe in freedom, equality, justice, then vote for Democrats. (Applause.)
If you believe we are stronger when we stand together than when we pull apart, vote for Democrats. (Applause.)
If you believe women’s rights are fundamental to America, that immigrant justice is fundamental to America, that LGBTQ rights are fundamental to America, vote for Democrats. (Applause.)
And in this union town, if you believe workers’ rights are fundamental to America, vote for Democrats. (Applause.)
If you believe responsible policing makes America safer, vote for Democrats. (Applause.)
If you believe investments in small businesses make America more prosperous, vote for Democrats. (Applause.)
If you want to expand opportunity and rights for every American, who do you vote for?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) So I’ll close by just saying this — it’s something I quote a lot of time and I paraphrase, but it’s the — it’s the admonition given to us by Coretta Scott King. I talked about it all the time. Many of you have heard me speak before and heard me say this. But she famously said, “The struggle is a never-ending process and freedom is never really won. You earn it and you win it in every generation.”
So today though, I’m going to add this: You can earn it and you can win it in every election also. (Applause.)
So voting in Illinois starts in two weeks, and you can request your ballot today. And in 53 days, we will determine our future. So in these next 53 days, let’s fight like we know how to do, because when we fight we win. (Applause.)
Thank you all. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)