Training Recreation Education Center

Newark, New Jersey

11:48 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Governor Murphy.  And it is wonderful to be back in New Jersey, the home state of my husband and a place where I have spent a good amount of time over many years.

I want to thank you, Governor, for your role of leadership.  You and I talked when you greeted me on the tarmac, but your signature on legislation to remove all lead pipes from New Jersey over the course of 10 years — which is a relatively short amount of time, given how long this issue has been an issue — is extraordinary and is part of the role model of how we are looking at what we can do as a nation.

So, thank you for the warm welcome always.

Mayor, I thank you.  Newark, New Jersey, is such an important place in our country for so many reasons, in terms of its history, in terms of its vitality, in terms of its contribution to who we are as a nation.  And this has been a longstanding issue. 

And you came in, cut through red tape, made this a high priority, and have now made it such a role model that for the Administrator and I, who have taken to — a road show to talk about the importance of removing lead from pipes and paint — we came here at the beginning of this tour to highlight what you have accomplished here in Newark as an example and a role model of what cities around our country are capable of doing.  I thank you for that.  

MAYOR BARAKA:  Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I thank you for that.  (Applause.)

MAYOR BARAKA:  Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We purposely designed this visit today to hear from our community leaders, but we know that — the work that can be done as a nation on eliminating this lead, which is having a profound impact on our children, on our most vulnerable communities.

We came here because these are community leaders who are also role models for the nation, where we have met many community leaders, Administrator, around the country who have been the voice of conscience, with clear purpose and commitment and courage, to propel this issue in a way that we would act, and act in a way that was not incremental but about achieving what we know is possible, which is to get rid of this problem.  It’s hurting our babies. 

     Over half of the children of our nation who are under the age of six are at risk on this issue.  It is well-documented and, at this point, without debate what this does in terms of impeding the God-given capacity of our children to learn and to thrive.  

It is a public health issue.  It is an equity issue.  It is an issue of education.  It is an issue of whether we are willing to invest in our future in terms of investing in our communities.

All that is what is present on this topic.

So I thank the community leaders.  I thank the elected leaders.  I see my dear friend, Senator Cory Booker, here, and Senator Bob Menendez, the Chairman of a most important committee, especially at this point.  And I want to thank you too because I have served with them in the United States Senate, and I know, based on personal experience and as a witness of what they did in the Senate to make sure that federal dollars would come to New Jersey with speed and priority to address this issue. 

So I want to acknowledge and thank the senators for your role of leadership.  You deserve a lot of credit for that.  (Applause.)

Chairman Pallone, Congressman Donald Payne — we have talked about all these issues so many times.  You are incredible advocates for this state, for this district, for the district you represent.  And I appreciate you always reminding the President and me of what is at stake on the ground, on this and so many other issues.  So thank you for that.

And again — (applause) — I want to thank the community members.  We’ll get into a more in-depth conversation.  I’m about to pass the microphone over to the Administrator.  But I cannot tell you enough how important your roles of leadership have been to remind community leaders around the country that when you speak up, often with great frustration but with great purpose and courage, it matters and it makes a difference. 

You all are role models for community leaders around the country who may have — through their frustration and pain with this issue have thought that — and wondered whether it makes a difference.  You all are proof that it makes a difference.  It makes a difference.

So I thank you for that.  And with that, I will now pass the mic over to the Administrator of the Environmental and — Protection Agency for all of his work in pushing this through our administration.  Michael Regan.  (Applause.)

(The roundtable discussion begins.)

(The roundtable discussion concludes.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I — you know, just briefly, because so much has been said that needs to be said.  This is about a matter of great urgency and, obviously, a matter that is about our children and investing in their health and wellbeing.  So that makes this a public health issue — a public health crisis, dare I say. 

This is an issue that is about community leadership.  And on any issue that we face as a nation — certainly any issue that reaches crisis proportion — let’s use this as an example of where community leadership always leads us in the right direction.  Let us think of this as an issue that is, yes, Ms.  Carter, about — it’s about education, and then the intersection that always exists between public health and education, because that’s always a link.  Where you see a public health matter that, in particular, affects children, you will find an educational issue. 

This is an issue that is about America’s workforce and the excellence of that workforce, because we have created structures that allow for incredible training and skills development.  And when we do the partnership between elected leaders and governments — and, in particular, on this issue, our building trades, the workers who have the skill to get the job done — then we see that the job actually gets done. 

So, all of these issues come together around not only the crisis, but really we are here to not talk about the crisis as much as the solution.  The solution is evident.  And so, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan is about using this as a model of what we will do around the country. 

And for that reason, I thank everybody, because it’s not — difficult to be a role model because you got to kind of create it on your own, but you guys did that.  And now other cities and other families and children around our country will benefit from the work you did right here.  So, thank you all. 

Governor, again, thank you for the warm welcome. 

Mayor, thank you for your extraordinary leadership.

To the members of Congress, the senators, the Congress members: I thank you all.   (Applause.)

                         END                 12:21 P.M. EST

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