Remarks by Vice President Harris At a Democratic National Committee Finance Event
Studio City, California
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. (Applause.) Oh, it’s good to see all the friends. Please have a seat. Please have a seat.
Well, I do want to applaud the first Second Gentleman of the United States. (Applause.) It ain’t easy being the first, is it? (Laughter.)
But in front of all the friends, because there’s so many real friends here who have known us and worked with us and been with us for a long time, Doug really is doing an extraordinary job. I know you all have watched it. You have seen it.
But he’s bringing a very new perspective to how we should be thinking about gender, how we should be thinking about the role of these offices, how we should be thinking about our country and its future. And so, thank you, Mr. Second Gentleman, for that extraordinary introduction. Thank you. (Applause.)
And to everyone here: It’s great to be back in L.A. It’s great to be home. And there’s so much to talk about, but I do want to start by, as Doug did, thanking Liz. (Applause.) Yes.
And I was listening on the other side of the door, and he really said it so well, Liz. You really work so hard. And I’ve seen you in all these different rooms around the country working on behalf of the DNC, working on behalf of Democrats, working on behalf of candidates — some who are just starting out, it’s their first race; others are holding on to a seat that’s so critical to everything that we want to accomplish. You really are tireless and selfless in the way you do that. And so I want to thank you in front of everyone, because it really makes a difference. (Applause.) It really makes a difference. It does.
Twenty-two days to go. (Laughter.) Twenty-two days. So that’s a long time and that is a short time, given what we must accomplish.
And as we all know, because so many here have been doing this for so long in every cycle — and for that, I thank you, for, as Doug said, being true patriots, fighting for the ideals of our country.
What happens every election cycle, we know because we engage in these conversations, is we will ask people to vote and they will look at us and ask a very righteous question, “Why should I vote?” And here’s the thing, we’ve got a lot of good material to answer that question. Because let’s reflect.
As Doug was outlining why we needed, with the American Rescue Plan to address the height of the pandemic and what that moment meant, think about it: All of the hard work that all of you put into 2020, from the fundraising to the organizing to the — just the emails and the texts and the phone calls, talking to perfect strangers.
We asked people, in the midst of the height of a pandemic, to vote. And they did in record numbers.
We had a historic turnout of young voters. And to the high school students — who are — you — where are you? Raise your hand. Hello. Because we’re counting on you. And they turned out in record numbers.
And the way I think about it then is, when we talk with people about the next 22 days, yes, we’ve got a lot to say. Because first, we’re going to thank everyone and express our gratitude for them making that effort and doing that — and then we are going to acknowledge the order they put in — this is how I think of it — the order they put in when they went to vote. And they put in an order. They said, “We want you to deal with the issue of child poverty in America.”
And because they voted in 2020, we were able to extend the Child Tax Credit such that, in the first year, we reduced child poverty by over 40 percent. They put in their order. (Applause.)
And they said, “Pay attention to parents and people who are parenting children, because it’s tough out there.” And because they voted, we created a tax cut for the expenses of raising a child of up to $8,000 more in someone’s pocket for the cost of food and medicine and school supplies. They put in their order.
They said, “We want you to address the cost of living in all of its ways. And we appreciated what you all did, starting in 2008, for eight years to reform the healthcare system, but we want to see more.” And they said, “We still need to bring down the cost of healthcare in America.” They put in their order.
And because of that, in the Inflation Reduction Act, we capped insulin at $35 a month, which means that instead of so many, in particular, of our seniors, who for years have had to make a decision about whether they either fill their prescription as prescribed by a doctor to save their life — making a decision about whether they fill their prescription or buy food or pay rent. People put in their order.
They said, “We got to have a system where we can negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies to bring down the cost of lifesaving medication.” And for the first time ever, Medicare will now be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for — on behalf of 60 million Americans to bring down the cost of healthcare. (Applause.)
People said — you know what? — people here in L.A. said, “Fix these roads.” (Laughter.) People all over the country: “Fix these roads and bridges.” We really don’t have a big bridge issue here, but we got some road issues, right? They said, “What is this ‘Infrastructure Week’ business? Just fix it.”
Well, because people stood in line for hours in 2020, we passed an historic infrastructure law that is going to result — I’ve got the numbers here — L.A. is going to get, for LAX, $50 million; for L.A. trains and buses, $200 million. (Applause.)
And then, for the issue in California of lead pipes, which, by the way, is an issue in our state, which is that children are drinking toxic water from lead pipes, which is having a direct impact on their health and their learning abilities — $3.5 billion from that bill will go to get rid of these lead pipes. (Applause.) People put in their order.
People said that they want to see solutions instead of a whole lot of folks who constantly talk about problems, but don’t offer solutions. And by that, I mean there is empirical evidence, which is everything that I just mentioned, with the exception of the infrastructure bill. Not one Republican voted for it. Bringing down the cost of insulin, not one voted for it.
So we’ve got a lot to talk about in terms of what we do as Democrats, in terms of offering solutions. And also, we have a bit to talk about in terms of the contrast here and the choices that voters will have. Because we are in that season now where those are exactly the choices that voters are going to be making.
And when I think about it in terms of what we’ve done, we’ve delivered on so many issues that have been longstanding issues in our country.
To the students, one of the issues for so many of your peers around the country is wondering whether they will be able to afford to go to college. Because I’ll say to some of the young leaders — but not that young — the other young leaders who are here, you know, the whole loan program, in terms of college loans, has changed since many of us were in college. It’s gotten much more expensive. Tuition has gotten a lot more expensive.
And so young people, when they turned out in record numbers in 2020, said, “Do something about student loan debt because I can’t afford to start a family or think about buying a home or even paying rent because of the burden and the weight of that debt.”
And so, we have canceled $10,000 of that debt, and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients — of which the majority of HBC students are — in a way that will alleviate that debt. (Applause.)
People put in their order. People said — and I believe — nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed. (Laughter.) People put in their order. And that’s what the President recently declared.
People said, “We want to deal with the fact that our highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court, needs to reflect the people of America.” And they said, “There needs to be a Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.” (Applause.) And now we have Ketanji Brown Jackson — Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
So, we have a lot of material. And I could go on and on down the list of what we accomplished, based on what the people demanded — not only asked for, but they righteously demand it.
And so, the work that we have to do — the leaders who are here — is the work of reminding people that their vote really does matter.
We also have to remind people of not only what happened when they voted last time, but what is at stake this time.
So earlier today, I was downtown. I did an event — well, close downtown. I did an event on the post-Dobbs decision — right? — which is this: We are now in a moment in time where the highest court in our land, 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 what this means around our nation is that laws that are being promulgated and passed in states around our country are going into effect that will criminalize healthcare providers — doctors, nurses, and others; punish women; create no exception for some of the most horrendous, violent acts anyone could survive — absolutely immoral, the way they are doing this.
And we are left, then, with an election in 22 days that could help us push back against these abhorrent efforts to restrict the constitutional — because I still do believe it is within the right of privacy — the right of all people to make decisions about their own body and not have their government tell them what to do. (Applause.)
And so why does the election matter? How does it relate to that issue? Well, here’s the thing. As the students here know, we have a government that is divided into three coequal branches, and one of them is the United States Supreme Court that just took this right. The other that can balance that out and then create protections is the United States Congress.
So, the people who are in the United States Congress, we need, on the Senate side, just two more senators. If we maintain the numbers in the Senate and add two more senators, our President, Joe Biden, has said he will not let the filibuster get in the way of signing into law the Women’s Health Protection Act. (Applause.)
We just need two more senators. Two more senators. If we hold our numbers and two more senators, it means that he signs that into law, which will render null these laws that are being passed in the states to punish women and criminalize healthcare providers. Twenty-two days to see that through and get that done.
And I don’t need to remind anyone here: When we’re talking about these congressional seats, we’re talking about two-year terms and six-year terms. Women are getting pregnant every day in America.
What this will mean every day that we do not have these protections in place, it’s extraordinary in terms of the impact.
Joe Biden has said — our President has said he will not let the filibuster get in the way of him signing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. (Applause.)
Well, why is that necessary? Because the United States Supreme Court, in 2013, with a case called Shelby v. Holder, took the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act. Then couple that with what the state started doing, in particular after the 2020 turnout.
Because, you see, the 2020 turnout scared some folks. All those young people voting, all those people standing in line in the middle of a pandemic voting scared — but then what we accomplished as a result of it.
So, you know what ended up happening. They ended up pushing laws that, like in the state of Georgia, make it illegal to give people food and water for standing in line for hours. Banning or attempting to ban drop boxes, early voting — making it more difficult. Restricting rights.
The progress of our nation — the trajectory had been, up until now, about an expansion of rights. And now we’re seeing concerted, intentional efforts to restrict rights on the issue of voting, on the issue of choice.
Twenty-two days before this election. Two more Senate seats. Hold on to the house. And we can correct this trajectory. Elections matter.
So, we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. And I know who is here. I know what you do every cycle, every year. And I just want to thank you. Because we cannot afford to be tired or overwhelmed.
And let us understand: What’s at stake here are these particular issues and so much more.
As your Vice President, I have now met, in person or by phone, with 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, kings.
And the thing about those meetings is that we, representing the United States of America, walk into those rooms — chin up, shoulders back — with the authority to talk about the strength of democracies, the importance of rule of law, human rights. We hold ourselves out to be a model and have been perceived as such.
However, here’s the thing about being a role model — and this is a tent full of role models. Here’s the thing about being a role model. People watch what you do to see if it matches up to what you say.
And in that way, then, believe me, people around the world are watching what’s happening right now in our country. And my fear is that autocrats around the world now have some material to be able to say to their people, “You want to talk about the standard being the United States? You want to say this is what a democracy looks like and demand your rights based on what they do? Well, look at what just happened.”
And in that way, what we do now not only impacts the trajectory of our country, it impacts people around the world. All of this is at stake. All of this is at stake.
But here’s the other deal. We have momentum on our side. Think about it.
Kansas. I mean, did you check that out? (Laughter and applause.) It was extraordinary. And it was organic. Those folks just organized. I encourage you, if you didn’t go online and look at their commercials, I — you know, being who I am, I was like, “Let me see the…” They did — they were so succinct. They were so tight. They just — they just said, “Government mandate.” So good.
Upstate New York. In that race — that congressional race, it was a special race — the pundits were so clear, “No, that’s over. That’s going to a Republican.” That’s not what happened.
Look at Alaska. First Democrat in 50 years and a Native Alaskan. Right? (Applause.)
So, we have momentum on our side, and we have 22 days to go. And as everyone here knows, each one of these days matters. And you know that. And I know you know it, because that’s why you’re here.
And so, I’ll end where I started: by saying thank you. Everything you have done and everything you are doing is having a profound impact on people, by the way, that most of us will never meet; having an impact on people who will never know our names. But because of your work, their lives will forever be improved.
And so, I thank you all for all that you give. And let’s just keep up the fight. Twenty-two days to go. Thank you all. (Applause.)