Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Meeting with the National Governors Association

January 31, 2022

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. Welcome, everyone. I trust you had a wonderful evening last night. I heard stories.

But I want to thank you all, in particular for the work that you have dedicated your lives to and the work specifically over the last two years.

For so many of you, these last two years have presented probably some of the greatest challenges of your career -- moments where our constituents, where the American people doubted what each day would bring, whether it would bring a sense of optimism or despair.

During these days, you have held the trust of the people you represent. You have worked in creative ways even when the resources were not there. You have inspired confidence in the people of your state to have some sense of optimism that things will get better.

You have had to look in the eyes of people who have lost family members because of this pandemic, people who have lost their jobs. And all the while, you have not relented, you have not given up. You are leaders who don't throw up your hands. Instead, you have all rolled up your sleeves.

And it is historically a very important relationship between any presidential administration, regardless of party affiliation, and the governors of the states that bring that kind of sense of surety and stability to the people we represent as a country.

And this organization in particular conducts itself in a way that has always been about the highest ideals of partnership between local, state, and federal government and bipartisanship.

And as you all know, the President and I come from a background of local and state government, so we know the work that you do every day and how you are on the ground, always accountable to the people you represent.

I was thinking about the historical relationship between governors and presidential administrations, and remembering it was in the Clinton administration that the -- that CHIP, the Child Health Insurance Program, was passed. And it was the governors of the states who made it real and ensured that the children of our nation would have and receive the kind of protection they deserve.

I was reminded that it was when President Bush was in office and had to endure and deal with the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and realized that we, as a nation, had to be stronger -- needed to be stronger around coordination between local, state, and federal government. And it was the governors of our country who then helped break through the silos to ensure that we could do the work that is one of our highest purposes and responsibility, which is to protect our national security.

I'm reminded of the work that happened during Hurricane Sandy, when, in the Obama and Biden administration, working together with the then-governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, in the height of a very contested presidential election, broke through that and worked in a bipartisan way to bring relief to the people of that state and, by example, set a tradition that I know this organization cares about deeply, which is showing that when we, in particular, face crises, we come together, regardless of party affiliation, to do the work that must be done.

And so, we are looking at historic challenges and new challenges that range from the climate crisis, to COVID, to cybersecurity. And together we will continue to work together as we have over the last 12 months.

And with that said, I would also like to ask that in the spirit of bipartisanship, that we think about our partnership in the context of our states being laboratories of our democracy -- and, in particular, on the issue of voting.

I believe that, regardless of who we voted for in the last election, we all, as leaders of our nation, understand the importance of ensuring that all people who are eligible to vote have an ability -- and a meaningful ability -- to vote and access to the ballot.

So, I would ask that in this coming year, we work together to ensure that all Americans who are eligible to vote actually have meaningful access to the ballot.

And with that, I want to thank you all again for your work and the work we will continue to do together. And I will now introduce the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Meeting with the National Governors Association Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354328

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