VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS’S FIGHT FOR OUR FREEDOMS COLLEGE TOUR
Protecting Our Rights | Using Our Voices | Determining Our Future
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As students head back to the classroom, Vice President Harris is launching a month-long “Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour” across America to mobilize young people in the ongoing fight for fundamental freedoms and rights. She is set to visit at least seven states to hold a whirlwind of high-energy, large-scale campus events at around a dozen schools – including historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and four-year state schools. The Vice President’s flurry of tour stops will bring thousands of students together around the critical fights for reproductive freedom, commonsense gun safety laws, climate action, voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality, and teaching America’s full story.
As the Vice President officially kicks off her college tour at Hampton University today, the White House is highlighting how the Biden-Harris Administration has consistently engaged with, partnered alongside, and delivered for young people across the nation.
President Biden and Vice President Harris Are…
Investing in our Schools and Colleges
President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that investing in education is investing in America’s future. To ensure that every young American has the opportunity for a strong start in life, the Biden-Harris administration has:
- Secured a historic $130 billion for America’s K-12 schools, which they are using to hire teachers, improve student achievement, and provide mental health support.
- Funded 14,000 additional mental health professionals to work in America’s schools
- Created a new program to feed low-income children during summer break.
- Invested $39 billion in colleges and universities, including more than $25 billion to historically Black colleges and universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions, which they are using to support students at risk of dropping out.
- Clarified how colleges and universities can continue to promote opportunity and diversity after the Supreme Court effectively ended the use of affirmative action in college admissions.
Supporting Student Borrowers
The average young adult (18-24) with student loans owes more than $14,000. President Biden and Vice President Harris are doing everything within their power to fix problems in the student loan system, provide debt relief to borrowers, and make college more affordable. The administration:
- Has already approved more than $117 billion in targeted relief for 3.4 million student loan borrowers, including borrowers with total and permanent disabilities, those cheated by their colleges, those in public service, and more.
- Is continuing to fight for student debt relief after the Supreme Court blocked their plan.
- Already enrolled 4 million student borrowers in the most generous repayment plan ever, making many borrowers’ monthly payments $0 and saving others more than $1,000 per year.
- Stopped borrowers’ balances from growing because of runaway interest under their new income-driven repayment plan.
- Capped undergraduate student loan payments at 5% of discretionary income starting next summer.
Expanding Health Care Access
Young adults are more likely to lack health insurance than any other age group. President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and they are taking action to expand access to these essential services:
- The Biden-Harris Administration lowered the cost of health insurance, saving millions of families more than $800 on premiums each year.
- More Americans have health insurance today than ever before. Since President Biden and Vice President Harris took office, 6.3 million Americans have gained insurance coverage, including 1.8 million young adults (18-34) and nearly 700,000 people under 18
- The Biden-Harris Administration proposed a new rule that would improve insurance coverage for mental health and substance use treatment.
- All three of the nation’s leading insulin manufacturers lowered prices following President Biden’s call for them to do so during his State of the Union.
Supporting Mental Health
Our nation’s young people are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis. Rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among youth have been on the rise, and young people face increasing isolation and impacts of social media. Last year, almost a third of young adults didn’t get the mental health care they needed even though they had insurance. To address this crisis, the Biden-Harris administration has:
- Launched the National Mental Health Strategy, with ongoing investments to strengthen the mental health workforce and system capacity including integrating peer-to-peer support; connect Americans to care; and create healthy and supportive environments.
- Provided historic levels of funding to address youth mental health, including $2 billion to create safe, inclusive learning environments for students and hire and train more school-based mental health professionals.
- Launched the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline—a 24/7 confidential call/text/chat line—and invested over $1 billion to strengthen and scale operations to ensure all Americans can reach confidential care. To date, 988 call centers have responded to over 5 million contacts.
Vice President Kamala Harris knows that young leaders are taking mental health seriously and she is calling on them to be engaged, including by participating in peer-to-peer support and considering a career in a mental health profession.
Making the Economy Work for Workers
Today, three years after the 2020 recession, the economy is starting to work for young people, thanks to President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’s efforts.
- Earlier this year, youth unemployment hit the lowest level seen in 70 years.
- Pay for young workers is growing at its fastest rate since 1998.
- The Biden-Harris Administration has recovered more than $675 million for 430,000 workers whose employers were breaking overtime rules, denying workers tips, or paying less than minimum wage
- The Administration’s historic investments in clean energy, infrastructure, and semiconductor manufacturing will create millions of good jobs, including union jobs, with fair pay and safe working conditions.
- The Department of Labor created the WORK Center to support young workers in forming unions, providing information on organizing and collective bargaining
Lowering the Cost of Living
Almost 10 million young adults (18-34s) say they are “very worried” about not having enough money to pay their monthly bills. President Biden and Vice President Harris understand young people are facing an affordability crisis, and they are taking action to respond by:
- Expanding childcare assistance for more than 80,000 low-income families, helping them save up to $3,000 each year.
- Leading a crackdown on rental housing junk fees, including by working with online rental platforms to show the full cost of rent up front so that renters can easily compare options.
- Making homeownership more affordable by reducing mortgage insurance costs, saving 850,000 homebuyers an average of $800 each year.
Standing up for Reproductive Rights
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, nearly 28 million women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban. These extreme and dangerous abortion bans have an outsized impact on young people, three-quarters of whom believe that abortion should be legal. To ensure all women, including young women, can access the health care they need, the Biden-Harris Administration is:
- Defending FDA’s approval of safe and effective medication abortion.
- Strengthening access to affordable contraception, including through private and public health insurance as well as at clinics and pharmacies.
- Ensuring that all patients, including pregnant women who are experiencing medical emergencies, can obtain emergency medical care.
- Supporting women’s ability to travel for reproductive health care.
- Strengthening privacy protections for patients and students.
- Partnering with state leaders fighting extreme state legislation and those advancing proactive policies to protect access.
- Calling on Congress to restore the protections of Roe in federal law so women in every state can access the reproductive health care they need.
Preventing and Addressing Gender-Based Violence
Young people are disproportionately impacted by gender-based violence. To prevent gender-based violence and increase support for survivors, the Biden-Harris Administration has:
- Signed into law legislation that strengthens the Violence Against Women Act, which provides legal protection and increases services and support for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including those from underserved and marginalized communities, LGBTQI+ people, and people living on college campuses.
- Issued executive orders implementing bipartisan reforms to the military justice system that strengthen how the military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
- Launched a Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse to promote accountability and support survivors of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
Taking Action to End Gun Violence
Gun violence is the largest killer of children in America – more than cancer and car accidents. More than 20 million young Americans (18-29s) say they are afraid of experiencing a mass shooting. To take action on gun violence, the Biden-Harris Administration:
- Signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years, which expands the use of state red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, strengthens background checks for young people under age 21 trying to buy a gun, narrows the “dating loophole” to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and includes funding to hire or train more than 14,000 mental health professionals to work in schools and help young people deal with the trauma resulting from gun violence.
- Announced dozens of executive actions to reduce gun violence, including actions to combat trafficking of firearms, hold gun dealers accountable, promote safe storage of firearms, rein in the proliferation of ghost guns, and reduce the percentage of guns sold without background checks.
- Secured confirmation of Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – the first confirmed director since 2015
Yet President Biden is the first to say that this is not nearly enough to address this public health epidemic. That’s why he will continue to take action and call on Congress to act, including by banning assault weapons and requiring universal background checks.
Tackling the Climate Crisis and Advancing Environmental Justice
One in three young people (18-24) say that climate change is their top personal concern. President Biden and Vice President Harris are listening to these young people and taking unprecedented action through the most ambitious climate, conservation, and environmental justice agenda in history:
- Securing the largest investment in climate action in world history through the Inflation Reduction Act, which puts us on a path to achieve the President’s goal of cutting emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030.
- Since President Biden and Vice President Harris took office, American clean energy opportunities have surged, including announcements of dozens of new factories to produce enough solar panels to power 12 million additional homes and enough batteries to power 10 million electric vehicles each year, while creating more than 170,000 jobs nationwide.
- Protecting nearly 1.5 million acres of public lands as new national monuments – an area almost the size of the state of Delaware – and delivering on an unprecedented commitment to conserve and restore 30% of lands and waters by 2030.
- Taking strong executive action to reduce pollution across every sector – including electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, and lands and agriculture – while creating good-paying jobs and boosting community resilience to extreme weather
- Protecting communities from pollution, especially underserved communities, by replacing lead pipes, purchasing zero-emissions school busses, and more.
Strengthening Civil Rights and Voting Rights
Today’s young people are America’s most diverse generation yet. Almost half of 18-29 year-olds identify as Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander, and one in five Gen Z Americans identify as LGBTQI+. President Biden and Vice President Harris are working to live up to the promise of equal rights for all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. That’s why they:
- Issued a Day 1 executive order on equity that charged the entire federal government to take action to support underserved communities and advance racial justice, leading to more than 300 actions to address issues like wage theft and maternal mortality that disproportionately affect people of color.
- Clarified and strengthened protections against discrimination in housing, health care, education, employment, family planning programs, and homeless services to ensure LGBTQI+ Americans cannot be denied services just because of who they are or whom they love.
- Appointed leaders to the Department of Justice with expertise in defending voting rights. The Department has doubled its voting rights enforcement staff to protect the voting rights of all Americans.
- Signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law and reversed the ban on transgender troops serving openly in our military.
- Are encouraging colleges to make voter registration forms accessible on campuses.
Addressing a Failed Approach to Marijuana
The criminalization of marijuana possession has upended too many lives—for conduct that is now legal in many states. While white, Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are more likely to be in jail for it.
- The President announced a full, unconditional, and categorical pardon for prior federal and DC simple marijuana possession offenses.
- This pardon lifts barriers to housing, employment, and educational opportunities for thousands of people with prior convictions under federal and D.C. law for simple marijuana possession.
- The President also called on every state governor to follow his lead, as most marijuana prosecutions take place at the state level.
- And because this Administration is guided by science and evidence, he asked the Secretary of HHS and the Attorney General to begin the administrative process of reviewing how marijuana is classified under federal law and undertake it expeditiously.
Advancing Safe, Effective, and Accountable Policing
George Floyd’s murder exposed for many what Black and Brown communities have long known and experienced — that we must make a whole of society commitment to ensure that our Nation lives up to its founding promise of fair and impartial justice for all under the law.
- President Biden signed a historic executive order to advance effective, accountable policing and strengthen public safety.
- It requires federal law enforcement agencies to: ban chokeholds; restrict no-knock warrants; mandate the use of body-worn cameras; and implement stronger use of force policies, among other things. Over the past year, the Administration has been actively implementing the order.
- The President cannot mandate changes at the state and local level, but is using every available tool to encourage reform and calling on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to his desk.