Remarks by Vice President Harris at a Democratic National Committee Finance Event
San Francisco, California
5:08 P.M. PDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That was the best introduction ever! (Laughter and applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Now — yeah, now, give the child some sugar. (Laughter.)
Gretchen, I want to thank you, Andrew, your whole family for supporting us and for hosting us today. And to everyone that you — I just see so many longstanding friends, supporters from the very beginning. And I just want to thank all of you for all that you have done for so many years to really not only support me personally in these offices, but to stay engaged in our democracy and to care and to invest your time and your thoughts and your — your hearts and your souls to the issues that have always been and continue to be so front and center, and — and given so much that is at stake.
One would think, given the incredible participation that I’ve seen from you over all these years, that you might be tired — (laughter) — but you’re not. You’re not. And you’re — you’re just — you’re without any ability to slow down or to stop because you care so much about our country. And so, I want to thank you all, as your Vice President — (applause) — for all of that.
And — and I want to recognize our city attorney, David Chiu, who is here. (Applause.) And State Senator Scott Wiener is here. (Applause.) And then, of course, our most beloved Lieutenant Governor for all that she is and does as a friend and as a leader. So — (applause) — oh, yes. Yes.
Twenty-one days to go! Twenty-one days. Twenty-one long days. (Laughter.) And 21 short days. And so much is at stake.
And so, because this is a group of folks who have been engaged for so long and continue to be so passionate about what must be done, we know that we’re in that period of time where we’re going to do everything we each possibly can do to remind folks of what is at stake. And we will then ask them, “Please vote.”
And so we know, because we’ve done this so many times, that when we ask people to vote, they will present us with a very righteous question: “Why should I vote?” Happens every time. It is a legitimate question.
And here’s the thing: We got lots of material. (Laughter.) We got a few things to talk about.
Because, think about it: In 2020, in the height of a pandemic where we saw untold, still, loss of life of — of people’s jobs, of normalcy — in 2020, in the height of a pandemic, we saw historic voter turnout, historic turnout among young voters.
And so when we talk with them over the next 21 days — our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, perfect strangers that we will treat as a neighbor and a friend — and they ask us why should they vote, we will remind them that when they stood in line for hours in 2020; when — during all of the burdens that people faced as individuals trying to teach their children online, trying to figure out how to make ends meet; that when they took the time and made the incredible effort to vote, we will remind them that they essentially put in an order. They said, “There are certain things I want.”
They went and voted because they said, “We need you all to address the issue of child poverty in America.” So we extended the Child Tax Credit and reduced child poverty in America by over 40 percent in the first year.
They put in their order, and they said, “Pay attention to the demands and the challenges of parenting children.” And so we passed a tax cut for people who are parenting children, giving them up to $8,000 more dollars for the expenses of food and medicine and school supplies.
They put in an order. They said, “You all did well, starting in ‘08 and dealing with the healthcare system, but there’s still more work to be done. Because of the cost of healthcare, we’re still seeing families going bankrupt or overburdened with medical debt.” So they put in their order, and they said, “Deal with the fact that people shouldn’t be paying, in some cases, $1,000 a month for insulin.” And we capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
And do know — (applause) — do know Latinos are 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. African Americans, 60 percent more likely. We see a correlation between diabetes and people who are living in low-income communities. They put in their order, and they said, “Deal with it.”
They put in their order, and they said, “Hey, it’s been too long that the pharmaceutical companies, almost unilaterally, are dictating the cost of prescription medication — medication prescribed by a doctor because it is intended to relieve an individual of pain and improve their quality of life.” So they put in an order and said, “Can you deal with that?” And what has happened for the first time now is, because people voted in 2020, we are going to let Medicare negotiate drug prices for 60 million people in America. (Applause.)
They put in their order. They said, “We need to deal with infrastructure, because in so many places working people have to drive over roads and bridges that are falling apart. And people been talking about ‘Infrastructure Week,’ but we haven’t seen it.” People stood in line in 2020 for hours and said, “Can you finally deal with this?”
And we got a bill passed that now will put billions of dollars in communities around our country to address this issue — communities of working people who otherwise have to drive over failing roads and bridges. You know what that means? That means flat tires. Insurance doesn’t cover a flat tire. You’re talking about hundreds of dollars for a working family that they have to pay out of pocket because of the failure of an infrastructure that was built 150 years ago. But because people stood in line in 2020, we’re dealing with that.
Communities said for years — the grandmothers, the grandfathers of those communities — “Can you deal with these lead pipes, because our children are drinking toxic water?” And so we are now putting an investment through the Infrastructure Law into eradicating and removing those service lines. And all of them –on the path we are on, will be done in the ne- — within the next 10 years.
This is about saving communities in terms of extraordinary public health impacts that include the impact on children, as it relates to learning ability, when they’re drinking lead that is poisoning the water coming out of their kitchen tap.
People put in their order in 2020. They said, “Hey, don’t you think it’s about time that we have a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court?” (Applause.) And because they stood in line for hours, we now refer to her as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)
These are just some of the things that you helped accomplish because of the kind of work you are doing right now of reminding people what is at stake and helping them — us to communicate with them in a way we are listening as much as we are talking.
(A handheld microphone is brought to the Vice President.) Good. I wanted to move around. (Laughter.)
This is what we did. I just — I did an event just before I came here talking about what we have done with the Inflation Reduction Act, investing three hundred and se- —
Is it on?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. Oh, there it is now.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We can hear you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Investing in the — investing in the climate crisis. Three hundred and seventy billion dollars we got in the Inflation Reduction Act to deal with an issue –(applause) — that is long overdue in terms of that kind of investment.
And you do know, as it relates to the Inflation Reduction Act — on the issue of what we did in terms of healthcare; on the issue of prescription medication, insulin; what we did in terms of an investment in the environment, $370 billion, an investment that will be focused on resilience and adaptation — not one Republican in Congress voted for it. Not one. Not on the House side, not on the Senate side. Not one.
So, in the next 21 days, as we are reminding people about what’s at stake and we are asking them again to take time out of their busy lives, we have a lot to talk about to remind people of what is accomplished and can be accomplished when we participate. We got some good material.
And then there is a few other things that are now at stake that we weren’t talking about in 2020 but is front and center in terms of what we know is at stake right now. And by that, I mean that 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 we all know what this means. It means that people in places like Texas and Florida and around our country can then get away with passing laws, proposing laws that criminalize healthcare providers — doctors, nurses, healthcare providers. They can get away — try to get away with punishing women with no exceptions for some of the most violent acts that can happen to any individual.
And we are looking at a situation, then, where the Court has now acted — three independent, coequal branches of government. The executive branch, the President, our administration has done what we can through executive order, but now we need Congress to act. Because the Court took that right away, but Congress can turn that right into law. (Applause.) Right.
So, there is a bill. It’s named the “Women’s Health Protection Act.” And our President, Joe Biden, has said he will not allow the filibuster to get in the way of signing that bill into law. Here’s the thing: We need two more Senate seats — two more. Twenty-one days; two more Senate seats. Hold on to our numbers in the Senate and two more Senate seats, and President Biden can sign that bill into law.
By the way, our President has also said he will not allow the filibuster to get in the way of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. (Applause.) Two more Senate seats. We need two more Senate seats and the President can sign that into law.
You know, I also — I find it interesting that after the Dobbs decision came down, you know, all these proponents of that decision said, “Oh, well, you know, we’re just sending the issue to the states.” Right? “Let the voters in the states decide.” Well, except that it’s some of those very same people that are the ones passing laws and pushing laws to make it more difficult to vote.
The connection between these two issues is profound. The connections between all these issues are profound when you think about the fact that Justice Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud in his concurring opinion, when he said, “Well, what’s next? The right to access contraception, the right to marry the person you love.”
Very much at stake. In fact, I asked my team so — so some of you have known me forever, and you’ll know that I love Venn diagrams. (Laughter.) I just do love Venn diagrams. I think just those three circles — just put them up there and just see where the things overlap. Right?
And so, I asked them, “Please do a Venn diagram for me and show me from which states are we seeing attacks on voting rights, women’s reproductive health, LGBTQ rights.” You would not be surprised at the overlap.
And then, if you think about it also from the — which states are we also seeing obstructionism around smart climate policy, it — you just would not be surprised.
But the other aspect then of the intersection between these issues is one of the things that the Bay Area has always done so well, which is the opportunity for coalition building, the opportunity to bring folks together — the people who have always been fighting for and championing what we need to do around reproductive care, bring together with the folks who have been fighting forever on voting rights; some of the — the leadership that, you know, for all of these issues, so much of it was born right here in the Bay Area around what we need to do on those issues, on the le- — bringing the leaders together that got us to the point where we now are where we have marriage equality, but we still have much more work to do in terms of transgender and other LGBTQ rights.
Let’s bring everybody together and build up the momentum that we know we are going to need for this moment. And momentum, I do believe, is on our side.
Did you see what happened in Kansas? (Applause.) Kansas — those folks organically organized. Those folks understood, “When I go to vote, I may not talk with you about what I care about, but I know what I care about.” And they defied the punditry around that issue and, some would say, defied the odds of what the outcome of that election could have been.
Take a look at what happened in that race in Upstate New York, where all the pundits said, “Oh, no, that’s going to a Republican.” And it didn’t.
Alaska, right? (Applause.) First Democrat in 50 years, and a Native Alaskan at that. (Applause.)
Momentum is on our side, and the stakes are high. And when we then talk with folks about not only what they achieved because of what they did in 2020 but what’s at stake now, we also must acknowledge that on the ballot are these issues — so many of them — and democracy is on the ballot.
So, here’s the thing: As your Vice President, I have now met with — and my team has told me; they’ve been counting — 100 world leaders, by person or on the phone — presidents, prime ministers, kings, chancellors — in person or by phone — discussing a variety of issues.
And here’s the thing we all know: When we, as Americans, walk in these rooms, we walk in these rooms, chin up, shoulders back, with a certain level of authority to talk about the importance of the strength of democracies, to talk about the importance of rule of law and human rights. And we hold ourselves out to be a role model.
But the thing about being a role model is people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. And they are watching closely what’s happening in our country.
And so, consider — and it is a fear of mine — autocrats around the world who are looking at their people and saying, “You want to talk about democratic principles and democracies and hold up the United States? Well, look what they just did on women’s rights.”
I had a — I — one of the first meetings that I had at where we now live temporarily — (laughs) — it was when then Angela Merkel was — was in office. It was one of the first meetings. I had her — I had her over for breakfast. She’s fabulous, by the way. She was really — you know, the way they portray strong women, it’s just — she’s funny. She has a sense of humor. She’s warm. And after we talked about a number of issues that related to world affairs, she leaned across the table, and she said to me, “Tell me, what’s going on with voting in your country?” (Laughter.) And she had details.
People around the world are watching. And then, we understand what we do in these next 21 days will impact not only the people of our country, but potentially people around the world.
So the stakes are high. But I am convinced that we were made for moments like this, because I know who this is. I know who this group is. We don’t give up. We understand the realities of a moment, and we rise to meet it.
And ultimately, we are fueled by so much that — yes — is about defending our democracies as an extension of our love of country and our willingness to fight for it. And that is where I believe we are today.
And we could not be able to do any of the work that we are doing — and I know the DNC folks — I think Michael talked with you about the particular work of the DNC. But this work really does matter. And your support of all of it I’m just so grateful for, on behalf of all the people I meet around the country who look to us to ensure that we are upholding our values and our principles.
And so with that, I thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
END 5:31 P.M. PDT