Remarks by Vice President Harris at a DNC Finance Reception | Los Gatos, CA
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Shannon, for all that you are, for the work that you are doing, for the work that everyone here is doing to fight for so much of what is right now at stake.
Kevin, Coco, to your whole family: Thank you for hosting us. And to everyone here, I see some longstanding friends, and we’ve been in this fight together, many of us — I’m a proud Bay Area kid — (laughs) — (applause) — we have been in this fight together, so many of us, for quite some time.
And I think sometimes, because we are so committed, it can feel as though this is never going to end. Will we ever get there, the place we are determined to go? And if we get there, how long can we be there before things erode or turn back? And it can be extremely dispiriting. It can make us sad. It certainly can make us angry.
But, you know, many of you have heard me say this — many years I’ve been saying this. And it’s to paraphrase Coretta Scott King. And she famously said: The fight for civil rights — which of course is the fight for equality, for freedom, for liberty, for justice — the fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation.
And I think she had two points in mind when she said that. One is that it is the very nature of this fight that we collectively have been in on the variety of issues that Shannon just articulated and more.
I mean, I just — I was telling Kevin and Shannon and Coco, I just, very proudly, held as the Vice President of the United States of America, at the official residence of the Vice President of the United States of America, a Pride reception at the house — (applause) — where we talked about our trans kids, where we talked about what is happening in terms of “Don’t Say Gay” in Florida and all over this country.
But all of that to say, this fight that we have been in, so many of us for so long, what she said — Coretta Scott King — is that it must be fought and won with each generation, because she understood it’s the very nature of this fight that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent. It’s the nature of it. It’s the strength of it in that we know when we do it, it empowers, it uplifts. But there is also, coexistent with the strength of it, fragility — meaning that if we are not vigilant, we certainly can’t take it for granted; we must be vigilant.
And so the second point, I think, of her admonition is then: Understanding it won’t be permanent, understanding we must be vigilant, understanding it is the nature of it — point number two — do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not give up. It’s just the nature of it.
I look at my friend, our Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis — (applause) — who is an extraordinary fighter. She’s here with us today. And I think about all the warriors that we have. All of us, we’re built for this. We’re built for this.
But I too — you know, we read and — we read — many of us read the leaked opinion. And then, when it happened — you know, when you know something is going happen and then it happens, it’s just a different thing altogether.
I was actually on Air Force Two, flying from Washington, D.C., to go to Illinois — Aurora, Illinois — to meet up with Lauren Underwood, a member of Congress — (applause) — who I worked with when I was in the Senate, when, in the Senate, I sponsored the Maternal Health Act and the Momnibus that is all about recognizing the fact that in this nation of ours, we have the distinction — the sad distinction of having one of the highest rates of maternal mortality of any so-called developed nation.
So, Lauren and I, for years, have been working on this issue. And I’m very proud that as Vice President, I’ve been able to, for the first time in the history of our country, put this issue on the stage of the White House — this issue of maternal mortality — to say: States, instead of two months of Medicaid coverage for postpartum, it should be 12 months; to say — (applause) — that we need to recognize the bias that is in the healthcare delivery system, which results in the fact that Black women are three times more likely to die in connection with childbirth, Native women twice as likely, rural women one and a half times likely. And so let’s deal with that.
All of this stuff we’ve been working on.
So I was on Air Force Two to go meet Lauren. In my plane, I had Dick Durbin, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a great longstanding fighter. And I guess, as fate would have it, this was who I was with and this is where I was when on the TV, on the plane, they announced that the Court had made the decision on Dobbs. The irony of it, right?
And like all of us, it was — it knocked the wind out of us
that the United States Supreme Court would, for the first time in our nation, in the history of jurisprudence, take a constitutional right that had been recognized and take it from women.
I know we all feel so strongly about this. You know, my mother — many of you knew her — was — she had two goals in her life: to raise her two daughters and end breast cancer. My mother was a researcher, a scientist. She fought for women’s health her entire life. I grew up, from a young child, listening to her battle to ensure the dignity of women in the healthcare delivery system.
And we look at what just happened, and we understand what it means not just theoretically, not just in the context of history, but as Shannon and I have discussed just before we came out, rightly, in the context of all these young women, girls — women — who are in a state of utter fear right now, feeling alone and isolated, not to mention what is happening with these proponents of these pieces of legislation in that decision who are daring to insinuate that there would be some righteous judgment associated with the predicament and the decisions women must make.
I gave a speech when we first heard about the leaked opinion. I was at EMILY’s List. And I said, and I’ll keep saying: How dare they. How dare they. (Applause.)
So, we must fight.
You all probably heard that the President, rightly, today said the filibuster will not stand in the way of what we need to get done. (Applause.) And so that is part of it.
And then part of it is what we need to do in terms of the assistance and the care that we will give those who are in need. We, as Californians, luckily have leadership who understand the crisis and the issue and the need for all of us to step out and be there for those in need.
But we’re also going to have to focus on what’s happening in these other states — not one part of our battle to the exclusion of the other.
And that brings us to part of why we are here today, which is to support the DNC and its work, because elections matter. Elections matter. Federal elections matter. Who’s in Congress, if we’re going to get the Women’s Health Act passed, if we’re going to pass voting rights — that matters. (Applause.)
If we’re going to pass, now that the Court came down with this decision in terms of the EPA — if we’re going to get meaningful legislation passed on greenhouse gas emissions and what we know is an absolute crisis in the world. Elections matter.
State elections matter. Who is governor, who is lieutenant governor, who is attorney general, who is secretary of state — that matters.
Local elections matter. In these states that are talking about criminalizing women and their care providers, who is DA matters; who is sheriff matters; who is mayor who appoints the police chief matters.
So we got a lot of work to do.
But I want to stress that in the midst of these crises, we really do have to remember that we are up for this fight. Because the alternative is not an option. It is truly not an option to be overwhelmed.
We have to be unified and stand together, understanding what we stand for as Democrats. Because I do believe, when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for. (Applause.) Yes.
So we stand — we stand for equality. We stand for unity. We stand for freedom. We stand for extending the Child Tax Credit, which, in its first year, brought child poverty down by at least 40 percent in our country. (Applause.)
We stand for a childcare tax cut that we got passed in the ARP, the American Rescue Plan, which is an $8,000 tax cut to help families pay for school supplies and medication for their children. We stand for that. (Applause.)
We stand for building up infrastructure, which is why we got the first, in generations, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed. Do you know what that does? I’ve been traveling around the country in places like Michigan — I mean, all over the country — dealing with the fact that, in particular, in poor communities and communities of color, our babies, our children are drinking water out of lead pipes. We got that bill passed. We’re putting billions of dollars to eradicate and get lead out of pipes within 10 years. (Applause.)
We got extreme amount of funding put in on the issue of high-speed Internet. Well, why is that important? The pandemic highlighted the fact that we have vast disparities in this country based on the access to meaningful education for the children of America. And among the inflection points on that issue, one of them is access to high-speed Internet and affordability of high-speed Internet. So we have done that now, where we will be able to ensure that all families have access and affordable high-speed Internet, in particular for their children.
These are some of the things that we have accomplished. And there is more.
Did y’all see somebody get sworn in today? (Applause.) (Laughs.) Her name is Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson! (Applause.)
I’ve been traveling around the globe. I met with President Zelenskyy two days before Russia, in an unprovoked hostile act, invaded Ukraine. I have spent time with President Macron. I have hosted Angela Merkel while she was chancellor, and sat down to meet with Chancellor Scholz.
I just recently convened, at the Summit of the Americas, the prime ministers and presidents of the Caribbean nations.
We have raised $1.2 billion to focus on the northern Central American countries of Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador, investing, in particular, in women in those countries to address the needs that they have there so people don’t feel they have to flee their home.
Because if President Joe Biden weren’t there, I promise you — because I have witnessed it — I do not believe NATO would have come together as it did, that we would have been able to convene the EU, as we did, to make a statement about a collective priority around international norms and rules that must be maintained, including the international rule and norm of sovereignty and territorial integrity that no nation can use violence to change the borders and invade another country.
Elections matter. (Applause.)
And there is more work to do. We’re still fighting to get affordable childcare. We have been proposing working families shouldn’t spend more than 7 percent of their income in childcare.
We saw how many millions of women during the pandemic had to leave the workforce. Direct connection between availability and affordability of childcare and women in the workforce.
We still have work to do. We need paid family leave. (Applause.)
We need paid and affordable homecare. So many, in particular women, but individuals who are in what we call the sandwich generation, raising their children and taking care of their elderly parents and trying to pay the bills.
We still have work to do. We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. (Applause.)
We have work to do.
I was one of the authors of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
We have more work to do. (Applause.)
And then, by my count, if I’m correct, Jaime — 131 days
we will have a midterm election. And on every level we have just discussed, the outcomes may be determined.
Now, I know some people are saying, “Stop talking to us about the elections. We know.” Don’t trivialize the significance of it. We can’t afford to. We cannot afford to. We got a lot we need to get done. There is no question. That is not the only thing, and it is not the elixir.
But I am, as the Vice President of the United States, the President of the Senate. And I will tell you, I run back and forth from my office in the West Wing to the Capitol to break tie votes. Why? Because we have a 50-50 Senate — 50 Republicans and then fif- — well, 48 Democr- — she thought I was going to say something else. (Laughter.) No, two in- — two independents who caucus with the Democrats. (Laughter.) Forty-eight plus two. (Laughter.) And we — we believe we can actually change those numbers in this election. (Applause.)
A hundred and thirty-one days, we’re looking at the House. We have to, at the very least, hold on to the numbers there.
But I was also — Jaime, I was looking at — and you’ll correct me — but I just did a quick review and jogged my memory about even just — you remember the 2010 midterms? And we all remember that. By my count, there were, I think — what was it? — something like 60 seats that were in a toss-up. And this time, I think we have about 20. Something like that. It’s a much smaller number.
So one could argue, I think fairly, it’s very doable.
It’s very doable. Because all the resources have to go into fewer races.
And, you know, I was — I was talking again, before we came in, about this dynamic. So, you know, the question then becomes how are we going to win. Right? And I think part of it is to make clear, again, what we stand for as Democrats and, therefore, what we fight for.
But also, just check this out for a moment: The American Rescue Plan — okay? — height of the pandemic. We come in as an administration. People are out of work. Small businesses are folding. Right? The childcare piece — the Child Tax Credit, child poverty — that bill, which the President eventually was able to get through, you understand that not one Republican voted for it. Not one. Child Tax Credit — tax cut — $8,000 tax cut — child tax cut for childcare expenses.
The — I sat there. I presided. It was very important to me to, again, leave the White House and go to the Senate, even though, you know, we knew it was probably not going to work out, to preside over the vote on the Women — Women’s Health Act. Not one Republican voted for it.
You can go down the list and see that they don’t only obstruct and not support what is helpful. They actually don’t have a plan. And, you know, while we talk about the things we need to do more, we also have to see what we’re up against.
There — there’s no bipartisanship, except for the infrastructure, that’s happening on things that should be non-debatable.
I asked my team to do a Venn diagram and — and show me the states where we’re seeing legislation come out that is anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-voting rights. It’s an interesting diagram. (Laughter.) It tells you a whole lot.
The intersection on voting rights and abortion — I think there were at least 11 states clearly. Right? So they say, “We’re going to send it to the states, and then the states and then the people in the states can vote for what they want. Oh, but meanwhile, we’re making it more difficult for you to vote.”
They talk about liberty and freedom — freedom of choice, freedom to marry, freedom to make a decision about contraception.
So there are clear choices in this election coming up — very clear choices. We have to stay active. We have to demand the most and the best from ourselves. And we have to see the power that we have right now, at the very least over the next 131 days, to change the outcome of this election in a way that can have impact.
I know every year, every election we say this is the biggest one. But, man, I mean, this Court just took a constitutional right from the women of America.
So with that, I say: Let’s fight. We know what we have to do. Let’s stand together. We are of common purpose. We know what we stand for, and we know what we’re fighting for. Because, ultimately, we’re not fighting against anything, we’re fighting for something.
And truly, if you were to pull out on a macro level, we are fighting for the democracy of America. (Applause.)
So with that, I thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)