Remarks by the Vice President on Rebuilding Our Infrastructure and Creating Good-Paying Jobs in Chicago, Illinois
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. Please have a seat. Good afternoon. Good afternoon.
Chris, thank you for that introduction, and thank you for all the work you've been doing. He and I talked backstage about the 100th anniversary is coming up and the whole history of the work that has happened here that really is America's history. And -- and I'm very honored to be with you today and everyone here. We have so many leaders.
So I want to thank you all for the work you do. And I want to wish you a happy new year.
UAW Local 551, thank you for all that you do and for being an incredible model of the work that is happening around the country. The work you do here is to build Ford cars. And it's here -- right here on the South Side. And there are generations of people in this community and across our country who have benefited from your work.
I want to thank my longstanding friend, Senator Dick Durbin, for your leadership, for your friendship, and for what you do for the state of Illinois and the people of our country. Thank you, Dick.
And, Mayor Lightfoot, thank you for the warm welcome always, on the tarmac, and for your leadership in Chicago.
And, Mayor Prince, thank you -- from Gary. I talked with you about my previous visits there. And Gary really is part of the history of our country as well. So thank you for your leadership and being here.
And, of course, Cook County Board President Tony Pre- Preckwinkle, thank you for your work and for your leadership. And, of course, among the people that must be thanked, first and foremost, is our President, Joe Biden. (Applause.)
So when President Biden and I took office, we made a promise. We vowed to fight for every person in our nation -- every American, in every community, in every corner of our country.
Because, you see, the President and I, and we all here, we believe in America's greatness. And we know that greatness is powered by the incredible ambition and aspiration of the American people. We see what can be, unburdened by what has been.
We see, as Americans, opportunity where others might see obstacles. We don't just shoot for the Moon, we plant our flag on it -- especially when we fight not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans for our shared future and our common destiny.
That is how we best meet every challenge and overcome every obstacle. And that is how we build a future where everyone has the tools and the support they need to live a life of possibility, prosperity, and most importantly, dignity. After two years in office, I can say with confidence we are building that better future. We are building an economy, as President Biden often puts it, from the bottom up and the middle out -- and, I'll add, from the outside in.
With your help, we capped the cost of insulin at $35 per month for our seniors. (Applause.) That's about dignity. And it's about understanding that also allows our seniors to have more money in their pockets to pay for their retirement.
We invested billions of dollars to make semiconductors right here in America so that factories like Ford, and the plant here on the South Side, can use American-made parts to keep assembly lines open and make supply chains more resilient. We will remove every lead pipe in our nation. Why? So that our children can drink clean water and grow up healthy to fulfill their God-given potential. (Applause.)
And all of this brings me here today: the largest investment in our roads and bridges in 70 years of America's history. (Applause.)
So just look at the 95th Street Bridge behind me. For many years, this bridge and three more nearby have served a critical role for communities in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
People across this bridge every day have traveled on their way to work or taking their children to school. For thousands of truck drivers, this is a part of their daily route.
And dozens of times a day, these bridges are raised so that ships can travel from Lake Michigan all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Millions of Americans who have never heard of this bridge and will never cross it rely on products like meat and eggs that cargo ships bring across it or drive a Ford car whose parts pass through here and was built by UAW 551. (Applause.)
These products are made in America. This bridge is how they are delivered to America. But for decades, there's been underinvestment in our infrastructure, which caused Americans to feel the consequences in ways big and small.
Take the 95th Street Bridge, which was built in 1958. It has not had a major repair in decades. The result: detours and delays for families on their way home for dinner, ambulances and firetrucks delayed when they respond to emergencies. And it means backups and load limits that waste fuel, increase pollution, raise delivery costs, and disrupt supply chains.
It means supply chains that are disrupted so much so that the result is empty shelves and higher prices at the grocery store for families, delivery delays for small businesses, suppliers that cannot fill their orders, and factories that run fewer shifts, which leads to cuts to hours and wages.
The consequences of infrastructure underinvestment have been a familiar story in cities and states across our nation.
About 43,000 bridges, almost 1 in 10, show signs of severe distress in our country.
And, you know, for years, people talked about this problem. But now, I am proud to say, we will finally fix this problem. (Applause.)
Earlier today, our President, Joe Biden, traveled to the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Ohio and Kentucky, to announce the first round of some $12.5 billion to replace, rehabilitate, and improve some of the busiest and most important bridges in states across our country, including the Gold Star Memorial Bridge in Connecticut, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and these four bridges across the Calumet River here in Chicago.
At these bridges, we will build dedicated bicycle lanes and better sidewalks so that people in South Deering and East Side can walk or bike to work instead of drive, if they wish, which saves them money and is better for our planet.
We will eliminate load limits for trucks and improve the bridge raise process so that more boats can carry goods up and down this river and so businesses can ship more products to more markets.
This is also about jobs. We will put thousands more Americans to work in good-paying union jobs. (Applause.) Jobs for laborers, operating engineers, carpenters, and ironworkers who will repair, weld, and restore these bridges. Jobs for Teamsters who will drive their trucks over these new bridges. Good jobs at good wages. Jobs people can take pride in as they build America's future.
So, I'm here today because this bridge represents a very simple point: When we invest in our infrastructure, we invest in our economy, we invest in America's future -- a better future for workers, businesses, families, and communities.
It's all connected. And so, as the days go by, you will see it in a new coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations, or a new wind turbine or cutting-edge solar panel that will cut energy costs and protect our planet, or a new water heater in your home that lowers both your electric bill and pollution.
The bottom line is this: President Joe Biden and I are making this better, brighter future real. And everyone here is an integral part of that.
I thank you all. May God bless you. And may God bless America.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President on Rebuilding Our Infrastructure and Creating Good-Paying Jobs in Chicago, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/359281