THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. (Applause.) And let’s give it up for the Second — the first Second Gentleman of the United States. (Applause.) Please have a seat. Please have a seat.
Dallas is hot. (Laughter.) I checked the little phone. It’s like 107, feels like.
But let me just start by thanking everyone. It is — Jill, where — it is — and Randy, Rachel, it’s so good to be back here. This family is an extension of my family, and I have stood in this very living room so many times where you all have been so supportive throughout this journey.
And so I just want to say in front of all the friends: Thank you. I love you. I lovely — thank you for hosting us. Thank you. (Applause.)
And I know that Jill talked a bit about our sorority. One of my greatest joys, I must admit — I’ll tell you as a point of personal privilege — was to be able to host our — I don’t know what the new terms are for it; can we still say “line”? Okay. Okay. (Laughs.) But those of us who joined the sorority together — at the Vice President’s residence, because we were all in college together. There were 38 of us. And — and I just want to say, as a point of personal privilege, that one of the real blessings for me is the circle of life and how, you know, things may change, but they stay the same.
So, thank you all very much, again. (Applause.) Thank you.
And I know we introduced and recognized all of the electeds who are here, and I want to thank each of you. Eddie Bernice, for all the work that you have done in Washington, D.C. — I have witnessed it firsthand. Thank you for that.
And to everyone, thank you for being here, and for so many of you, for your lifelong commitment to our country. Because being active in this process is about loving our country. It really is. It is about being willing to put yourself out there in spite of or in addition to all of the demands on your life, all of the priorities that you have, to come out and to stay engaged.
And I think that this is one of the most critical times in the history of our country, where none of us can afford to be passive and passive bystanders, because everything that is at play involves us and will impact us so directly, and will impact the standing and the strength of our country.
So I thank you all. I thank you also for what you did in 2020. (Applause.) I mean, let’s just take a moment to reflect. Let’s reflect on the fact that, in 2020, we were at the height of a pandemic, an historic pandemic, extraordinary loss of life, loss of normalcy. People lost their jobs. And in the midst of that, you in this room believed in reaching out to your neighbor, reaching out to friends and family, and reminding them: We can’t give up. We’ve got to get out there.
And because of your activism, because of your commitment to our country, we had an historic number of people turn out to vote, an historic number of young people turn out to vote. Historic. And when I think about it, people stood in lines, and, you know — I mean, this state hasn’t been exactly helpful to voters to make it easy to vote, right? And so that made your job even more difficult. More difficult.
But you gave people a sense of optimism that, “Okay, it’s all right. You might have to put in an extra effort to vote, but your vote will matter.” And because of that, Joe Biden was elected President of the United States. I was elected Vice President. And here’s what we accomplished together, all of us. We accomplished things like this:
Knowing that so many of us have family members and friends who have diabetes, I’d ask — raise your hand if you have a family member who has diabetes. There you go. Seniors who have been making decisions about whether they could afford to fill a doctor’s prescription, which will save their life, or put food in their fridge, or pay their rent. And people stood in line and voted and said, “That’s not right. We need to do something about this.”
And because you were so active, because people voted, we have now capped the cost of insulin for seniors at $35 a month. (Applause.) We have now done what many people said should be done but had not accomplished, which is we are going to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the American people so that we can cap the cost of prescription medication at $2,000 a month. This is a big deal. (Applause.)
Because you voted, because you were active, people said, “You know, it — driving over these roads and bridges that are in disrepair is wrong.” It’s not right that people have to live in a country where the infrastructure was built about 150 years ago. In a first-class country, we deserve first-class infrastructure.
Many people talked about it. Remember “Infrastructure Week” that never happened? (Laughter.)
But because you voted, because you were active, we now passed an historic investment in America’s infrastructure. And I want to remind you of what that means. Think about the fact that so many people in our country can’t afford to live where they work. Okay? And — you know, but I know this family can afford to keep the lights on. (Laughter.) It might be cooler. That’s okay. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: LED!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But people — people said, look, they have to — a lot of people have to commute hours to get to work.
Why don’t we just leave it, guys? Don’t worry about it. (Laughter.)
And what ended up happening is: By passing this infrastructure law, we were dealing with the fact that when people are driving over a bridge that’s torn apart, potholes, they’re getting a flat tire. You know how much it costs to repair a tire, to replace a tire, and your insurance does not cover it? And most Americans are a $400 unexpected expense away from bankruptcy.
Think about what this means to real people to deal with an infrastructure issue. Think about what it means for real people.
When we said we are going to deal with the fact that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we should not be looking at child poverty. And we were able then to extend the Child Tax Credit in the first year, reducing child poverty in America by over 40 percent. (Applause.)
Because you were active — because you were active, we dealt with the reality, which is that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. We had an administration before, which was in abject denial, pulled us out of the Paris Agreement, didn’t want to deal with the reality of it.
Because you all activated, because people then voted, we have, by my calculation, between the Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, we are dropping about $1 trillion over the next 10 years on the streets of America to invest in a clean energy economy. Understand what that means.
It’s about building up our resilience and adaptation. Equally, it’s about jobs — good-paying jobs: pipe fitters, electricians, the building trades, the folks who are going to build back up an infrastructure around resilience and adaptation, because you all were active. And I could go on and on down the list.
Because you all were active in the midterms — you remember they said there was going to be this red whatever they called it? Didn’t happen, because you weren’t willing to give up on our country and what we stand for and our values and our ideals.
And so, we have a good track record of knowing what to do and seeing it through to great impact. And that’s how I look at the election coming up. And I know we feel the same way.
Because right now — and I don’t need to tell Texans — right now, we have so-called leaders — extremist so-called leaders who are on a full-on attack against hard-won freedoms. And we must stand up for what we believe in as a country.
You know, one of the attributes of our strength, I believe, is we are a nation that has been committed to understanding the strength that comes from an expansion of rights. But now we are looking at so-called leaders who have as a national agenda the objective of restricting rights in America. Think about it.
Here, places like Florida, restriction of voting rights; Georgia, passing a law that would make it illegal to offer someone food and water while they’re standing in line for hours. What about “love thy neighbor”? Passing laws that would, in this year of our Lord 2023, ban books. Anybody remember reading “1984?” Welcome to 2023. (Laughter.) Passing laws saying, “Don’t say gay.”
Let me tell you, I was proud, back in 2004, as District Attorney of San Francisco, to perform some of the first same-sex marriages. 2004. Next year will be 20 years from now. I’m looking at these young teachers in Florida, who are in their 20s, who are afraid to have a photograph up of themselves with their partner for fear they will be fired, will be separated from, I think, what is a calling, which is anybody who decides to dedicate their life to teaching our children.
All this is happening in 2023.
And then, of course, a font- — front-and-center issue that we are going to also acknowledge in four days, which is that the highest court in our land just took a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the women of America.
And here’s the thing on that subject: One does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body. (Applause.)
We are talking about foundational principles such as freedom — the freedom to be, the freedom to teach, the freedom to love, the freedom to make decisions about your own body and the future of your family — under attack.
And the other thing about this all, this national agenda, is the sense that we are getting — and that is pretty much clear — that they would deign to suggest that the measure of strength is based on who you beat down instead of what we all know, which is that the measure of your strength is based on who you lift up. (Applause.)
So this is the environment in which we come together. This is the environment in which we live and are prepared to fight for all that is right.
You know, as Vice President, I have now met with over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. And I’ll tell you something about what it means to walk in these rooms. Walking in these rooms representing the United States of America, we walk in those rooms chin up, shoulders back, with the authority, then, to talk about issues like democracy, the importance of rule of law, human rights. We have been held out and hold ourselves out as a role model.
Well, this is a room of role models. Here’s the thing about being a role model: When you’re a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. And a great fear of mine is that in the midst of all of the injury to the American people, this has an impact on people around the world — people who are fighting for rights, individual rights; women who are fighting for rights in their country, where some dictator or autocrat will look at them and say, “You want to hold out the United States? Look at what they’re doing. You be quiet.” Understand the implications.
All of this is at stake. But here’s the thing: We’re up for this fight because we understand what’s at stake. And we love our country. And if you look at our track record from 2020 to the midterms to now, we actually know how to deal with this. We know what to do in these moments. (Applause.) It’s about organizing. It’s about bringing folks together. It’s about understanding the strength of the coalition. It’s about reminding people they are not alone.
There is so much about these issues that is trying to make people suggest or think that they’re somehow outside. But we know how to bring people together and stand for our country based on our love of our country.
So, with that, I thank you all for all that you do, all that you have done, and all that we have yet to do.
Thank you. (Applause.) END