Remarks by Vice President Harris in a Keynote Address at the 2022 Texas Democratic Party Johnson-Jordan Reception
Hyatt Regency Austin
5:44 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good evening. (Applause.) Good evening, Texas Democrats. Oh, it is good to be with you. Have a seat. Have a seat. It is good to be with all of you. Thank you all for what you are doing.
I — you know what, Chairman, I had to come here and just personally be on the ground with you to thank you, because you all are doing some heavy lifting. And we need you, and we’re counting on you. And you inspire us — and by “us” I mean all over the country — because we know what you’re dealing with here in Texas, and we know you stay committed and you keep fighting for the best of who we are as a nation.
And so, first and foremost, I want to say thank you, Texas Democrats, for all you do. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
And, Chairman, you have been extraordinary. We had a chance to just catch up a little bit earlier. And, you know, these are the moments where, when we look at what we are up against, where — it really does reveal the leaders among us. And you have been an extraordinary leader here. And I thank you for your partnership and all that you do.
So, it is a good day to be in Texas. And — (applause) — and I’m told an even better day to be a Longhorn. (Applause.) (Laughs.) So, congratulations. And it’s good to be with you.
So let’s get right to business. As the Chairman said, 31 days — 31 days until this November’s election. And as we know, which is why we are here together, we need to make each and every day count. And we need to remind people here in Texas that this Tuesday is the last day to register to vote. Right?
And we need to remind people — and I’m saying this because I would say this anywhere in the country — we need to remind people that Texas Democrats are Texas tough. (Applause.) You are Texas tough. Tough like Texan President Lyndon B. Johnson — (applause) — whose family is here with us. Luci Baines Johnson — I spent time with them earlier at the library — a leader in her own right, who reminds us every time that President Johnson, he never backed down from the hardest fights. Against fierce opposition, he worked beside leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, the labor movement, mobilizing Americans to enact the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid. (Applause.)
Think about how tough he and you were to understand the odds against getting any of that done — the inability of a lot of people to be able to see that it was possible. But you and he did.
Let us remember another great Texan, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan — (applause) — who, through toil and triumph, showed our country the true meaning of courage. And when I think about those two Texans and the legacy that they left, I know that, like all of you, I stand on some really broad shoulders. And I look out then, also, at this crowd tonight and I’m reminded of June 2021.
So, June of 2021, when your governor and other extremist so-called leaders were pushing S.B. 1, a full-on attack on voting rights, Democratic members of the Texas legislature left this state in principled protest. (Applause.) And I’m sure they’re out campaigning right now, but I want to say that those legislators came to the White House because they knew — and if any of you are here, you knew — that this is not only a Texas fight, this was a national fight. Right. (Applause.)
And I met with the group in Washington. And even though S.B. 1 passed, they and you demonstrated the grit that real leaders in Texas are made of. And I would like to ask them — (applause) — to always be acknowledged for the courage that they show because, I’m going to tell you, people from around the country met with them when they arrived and were so inspired by their courage and their compassion.
So as we move forward, I will say that when we look at where we are today, there is a lot that we need to deal with. And I believe that when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for. (Applause.)
That’s the kind of toughness we saw from LBJ, from Barbara Jordan, and now from all of you — the same spirit that led Joe Biden and me to receive the largest vote in Texas of any Democratic presidential ticket — (applause) — because of you — the largest in half a century.
And you all know, because you were so much a part of it, in 2020, people here and across our nation put their trust in Democrats. We knew what we stood for, so we knew then what to fight for. And as the Chairman said, over these last 20 months, Democrats have delivered. Actually, I will say, over these last 20 months, Democrats have delivered big time. (Applause.)
Just reflect: At the height of the pandemic, Democrats stood for and delivered relief to the American people, because when we stand up, we say, “Nobody should be able to fight alone. We got to fight with them.” When people are suffering, we stand up and say, “Not on our watch. We’re going to help people out.”
And so what did that include? It included a tax cut for working families so parents had more money to pay for food and medicine and school supplies for their children.
Just two months ago, we passed the Inflation Reduction Act to lower energy costs, to lower healthcare costs, to cap the cost of insulin to $35 a month. (Applause.)
We made the largest investment to address the climate crisis in history — (applause) — because of what y’all did in 2020.
Democrats also — what we’ve been able to accomplish, long overdue, is to take on Big Pharma and give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices on behalf of 60 million Americans. (Applause.) And by the way, we are paying for this by making corporations pay their fair share. (Applause.) And you know what? Not one Republican in Congress voted for any of that.
Democrats expanded background checks for gun purchasers, because we stand with the incredible families of Uvalde who channeled their anguish into advocacy to demand action and to save lives. (Applause.)
We are fighting for immigration reform and will continue to defend DACA and stand with DREAMers because America is their home. (Applause.)
We are canceling student loan debt. More than — (applause) — right. More than 3 million students and borrowers here in Texas are now eligible to have up to $20,000 in debt canceled. And nationally — and nationally, we will wipe out all loans for a quarter of Black students and almost half of Latino students in the process. (Applause.)
Since our administration took office, unemployment reached its lowest level in 50 years. (Applause.) And yesterday — just yesterday, Hispanic unemployment hit its lowest level in history. (Applause.)
And President Biden appointed and confirmed the most diverse group of judges in our history, including the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)
And speaking of the system of justice, we are also changing — y’all might have heard that this week — the federal government’s approach to marijuana. (Applause.) Because the bottom line there is: Nobody should have to go to jail for
smoking weed. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We (inaudible)!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) And on our nation’s infrastructure, we made the largest investment in a generation. And in Texas, that means $8 billion creating jobs in big cities and small towns and in the Texas Hill Country; investing in critical projects like $25 million to install bike lanes and new sidewalks on Telephone Road in Houston; and thirty —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. (Applause) And $30 million to expand the Barbara Jordan Terminal at Austin-Bergstrom. (Applause.)
And so, what all of this tells us is that we, as Democrats, have shown what we have always known: We stand for the middle class. We stand for working families and for equality and equity for every American. We fight, then, for good jobs. We fight, then, for affordable healthcare and opportunity for all. And it tells us, when Democrats are in charge, well, we deliver. We deliver. (Applause.)
But, Texas, our work is indeed, as we all know, far from finished. The United States Supreme Court just took a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America — from the women of America. And while extremist so-called leaders trumpet the rhetoric of freedom, they attack the very foundations of freedom. And one of those people is the governor of this very state.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Even before the Dobbs decision, he and other governors passed some of the most radical, most anti-women laws in our country, with no exceptions even for rape or incest. They criminalize healthcare providers for simply doing their job. And now, many of these extremist so-called leaders are calling for an abortion ban nationwide.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Nationwide. They believe government, not women, should make decisions about their own bodies. Well, we do not. (Applause.) We do not. We trust the women of America. We trust the women of Texas. (Applause.)
Recall — because there are so many ironies and hypocrisies in all of this as well, right? Recall: When Dobbs was decided, these so-called leaders said, “Well, we should return this issue to the states.” These same folks are the ones who are passing laws making it more difficult for people in the states to vote — (applause) — laws like S.B. 1 — undemocratic laws, un-American laws.
And where do we think this is heading? Well, just as Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud, contraception is on the line. Marriage equality is on the line. With Republican Party leaders in charge, healthcare is on the line. Social Security is also on the line.
So, Democrats, I say what we all know, what the Chairman just said: The stakes are high, and the stakes are high up and down the ballot. Because think about it, as doctors are being criminalized, pay attention to those local prosecutor races. As big lies are being perpetrated, pay attention to those secretary of state races. And as state leaders are undermining rights, elect Beto O’Rourke as your next governor. (Applause.)
And let’s hold on to the U.S. House of Representatives. (Applause.) And let’s expand our majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.) Because here’s the thing: We just need two more seats in the United States Senate. Okay? The stakes are high. We need two more seats. Because here’s the thing: With two more seats, we can codify Roe v. Wade. (Applause.) Two more seats. Two more seats. With two more seats, we can pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. With two more seats, we can pass the Freedom to Vote Act. (Applause.) And with two more seats, we can pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. (Applause.) Just two more seats.
And President Biden has been clear on that point. We will not allow archaic Senate rules to stand in the way — it’s called a filibuster — of protecting these two freedoms.
And I’ll tell you, so in addition to being Vice President, you all know I’m also the President of the Senate. (Applause.) And so, as President of the Senate, I have the distinction of having broken John Adams’s record of tie-breaking votes so far. (Laughs.) (Applause.) So far. And let me just tell you, I cannot wait to cast the tie-breaking vote to pass voting rights and reproductive health rights. (Applause.) Cannot wait.
So this is where we are. We have momentum on our side. Right here in Texas, you all here have registered more than 300,000 new voters since the Dobbs decision came down — 300,000. (Applause.) Think about that.
In Kansas — oh, Kansas. Man, Kansas. Kansas. Kansas voters turned out in record numbers to protect reproductive rights. (Applause.)
And think about Alaska. Democrats are winning, in places like Alaska, momentum. And it’s no wonder, then, that these extremists are so scared to let Americans vote. So let’s just build — let’s continue to build on our momentum.
And over these next 31 days, let us make clear: If you believe in freedom, if you believe in equality and justice, then vote for Democrats. (Applause.) If you believe that women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights are fundamental to America, vote for Democrats. If you believe immigrant justice is fundamental to America, vote for Democrats. If you want to bring down healthcare costs, if you want to protect Social Security, if you want to expand economic opportunity to support the middle class, then who do you vote for?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Democrats.
And in closing then, I will paraphrase the words of a great American leader, Coretta Scott King, who said: The struggle for justice is a never-ending process. And freedom is never really won; you earn it, and you win it in each and every generation.
So, we are picking up the movement that was started here in Texas and so many other places, inspired by leaders like LBJ and Barbara Jordan, understanding we are the leaders of this generation and this moment.
And so, I would just add one thing to what Mrs. Coretta Scott King said: You earn it and you win it in each generation, and you earn it and you win it in each election. (Applause.)
So, in the next 31 days, Texas Democrats, let us fight like we never have before, because when we fight, we win. Thank you all. May God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 6:06 P.M. CDT