THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Madam Secretary.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Madam Secretary.  Thank you.

Let me — I just want to first acknowledge the Secretary because, for those of you who know her work and her background, she is one of the most dedicated public servants I know.  And on this issue of what we must do to invest in the talent and the resources and the capacity of Puerto Rico, you have been just absolutely relentless and tireless in doing what we know is achievable, especially when we have a sense of urgency about our goals.  So, I credit and thank you for your work.

Madam Deputy Secretary, I look forward to, at the end of today, calling you Acting Secretary of HUD. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I want to thank you for all the work and the partnership between these important and critical agencies to do the kind of work that we see behind us.  So, thank you for that.

And, Governor, it is good to see you again.  I thank you for greeting me at the tarmac when I got off of Air Force Two today.  But last time I saw you was at the White House in Washington, D.C.  You and I and the President were having an extensive conversation about the importance of your partnership with the President and with our administration and how that partnership makes all of this work real.

So, I thank you for the warm welcome but, in particular, for your leadership on such important issues that have such profound impact. 

I also must thank the matriarch of the family, María.  (Applause.)  I was able to spend some time with her.  And like all of the matriarchs in our families, we know where the power base is, right?  (Laughter.)  We’re talking about energy and solar.  That’s where the power is, right there.

And — but she had tears in her eyes explaining what it was like before this work happened.  And she described to me the — the fear that she had that was so fundamental.  It really was a matter of safety as well as dignity as well as quality of life.  We are talking about people’s homes, not only in terms of a structure but the community and, of course, the island and what we must all understand should be a priority for restoring not only the beauty but the infrastructure that then houses so much good and important work.

I think it’s critically important to remember this island is home to some of the most talented and innovative people in our nation.  Puerto Rico was a growing leader and continues to be a growing leader on biotechnology.  So much extraordinary work was happening, and then, Maria, of course, had the impact of slowing some of that down.

I was here shortly after Maria, and I saw the devastation that occurred.  But what we also know is a community and a society that is in an upward trajectory — when these types of climate disasters occur, they don’t lose their grit.  They don’t lose the ambition.  They don’t lose the momentum.

What we all need to do, then, is just supply the community and the talent here with the capacity and the resources.  And so, President Joe Biden and I have been very intentional about what we are doing for the leaders and the people and the families of Puerto Rico. 

So far, our administration has invested over $140 billion in Puerto Rico.  And that work that has redu- — has been a result of that investment spans the gamut but includes what we are doing to help upgrade homes and facilities; what we are doing — again, with the leadership of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary — to install solar panels, which are on top of this house, and to do it in a way that we learned the lessons from Maria. 

Solar panels were here before Maria, but part of what we realized is they were not hurricane-resistant.  So, the innovation that has happened has also been about upgrading the technology, knowing how it has affected an island like Puerto Rico and what we must do to be smarter.  Puerto Rico has taught us some lessons in that regard. 

So, we have hurricane-resistant technology; a water source that is reliable and consistent; hot water, reliable and consistent, because it’s not requiring electricity but is depending on the solar technology to heat the water.  What that means for a family — a multigenerational family, which you see behind me, is extraordinary in terms of the quality of life.

Part of the challenge that Puerto Rico has faced has been what we know is — is intermittent electricity and energy sources because of these extreme weather occurrences.  The installation of this smart technology, including the solar panels, will allow for more consistent energy sources for the families that are here, which, again, is about an upgrade on quality of life and just the wellbeing and the dignity of each family to be able to satisfy their basic needs.

So, I, again, want to thank everyone.  I will say that the work that we have done includes an investment of $20 billion, yes, to — to work on projects like this, in terms of homes and the infrastructure that is about private infrastructure. 

It also includes public infrastructure.  The investment that we have made thus far includes $3 billion for re- — reliable energy sources, including rooftop solar, and then over $2 billion that we have been investing in the small-business owners and entrepreneurs of Puerto Rico.

And all of that work together creating the synergy that will continue to do and achieve the governor’s aspirations and plan for the people of Puerto Rico. 

And together, through our partnership, I see that we are making a difference.  There is still more work to do.  We are ambitious.  Yes, we are impatient.  We know what is possible.  And we are doing it with a sense of urgency and optimism and inspiration because of families like the one behind me.

So, I thank you.  And I thank everyone for your attention to this matter.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Stay Connected

Sign Up

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Opt in to send and receive text messages from President Biden.

Scroll to Top Scroll to Top