Remarks by the Vice President at the 2022 Democratic National Committee Summer Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Jaime, you give me hope. (Applause.) It is so good to see all of these leaders under one roof at one time. I see so many friends.
I want to thank you all. And, Jaime, I want to thank you. You've been such an incredible leader at a very, very significant and important time in our country. And thank you for the passion and the drive and the inspiration that you give to this position and to all of us as Democrats. Can we hear it up for Jaime Harrison? (Applause.) Thank you.
So I do want to say that when we think about where we are today -- and, to the DNC members, I want to thank you all, because you are the leaders who are making our promise real in this country. And so, I thank you for that.
To the elected leaders who are here and the elected officials, especially the state and local officials, thank you for lifting up our communities.
As Jaime said, I've been traveling the country, convening in particular our Democrats at the state level, because with so much of what has happened recently, their leadership is as, if not more, important than ever, in terms of you being on the ground -- a recognizable face in the community -- to remind people of all that is at stake and to give them a sense of optimism about our future.
To the young leaders who are here, I thank you. You talked about a Harry Styles concert; that would be fun. (Laughter.) But thank you for all that you are doing. I've met with so many of you, and you really are role models of what it means to understand the role of leadership that we all were born with, but it's a matter of when you decide to turn it on. And you all are doing that work.
And to our labor leaders who are here, thank you for fighting on behalf of working people every day. (Applause.) As you know, I head up the Labor Council with Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor. And Joe Biden and I are very proud that we will be the most pro-union administration in the history of our country. (Applause.) Indeed.
So, as Jaime said, we've got 59 days to go -- 59. And our work, your work is going to make all the difference because we know, Democrats, the stakes are so high.
As the President -- as our President made clear in Philadelphia last week, the threats we face as a nation are great: threats to our freedom, threats to our very democracy. And we need to speak truth about that.
And so, today, we all, by coming together, reaffirm that we refuse to let extremist, so-called leaders dismantle our democracy. (Applause.)
We convene today to recommit to the fight for freedom. Democrats, we here rise to meet this moment. And we've done it before. It wasn't very long ago: 2020. Under extremely difficult circumstances, the American people stood for their country and our democracy in one of the greatest expressions of patriotism: They voted.
They dropped off their ballot with their kids in the backseat. They took time off from work. They found childcare in order to stand in line for hours.
Democrats, in 2020, you reminded American voters of the stakes and, so importantly, you reminded -- you reminded them that their vote matters and that they matter.
And because of your work, more Americans voted than ever before, including a record number of younger voters.
Because of your work, the American people delivered a Democratic Congress and sent Joe Biden and me to the White House. (Applause.)
And so, all of our progress since has proven that your work mattered. In 2020, the American people put their trust in Democrats. And over these last 18 months, Democrats have delivered.
Let me rephrase that. Over these last 18 months, Democrats have delivered big time. (Applause.)
And if there was any question about whether there's a difference between the parties, well, over the last 18 months, it has become crystal clear: There is a big difference.
We all know that American families have been struggling. But while Republican Party leaders have gone on TV to opine about the situation, Democrats actually did something about it. (Applause.)
Think back, at the height of the pandemic, when Democrats provided emergency relief to the American people. You know, not one Republican in Congress voted for the bill.
We extended the Child Tax Credit; brought down, in the first year, child poverty in America by 40 percent. We gave parents a tax cut of up to $8,000 for the cost of raising a child: medical supplies, school supplies. And not one Republican in Congress voted with us.
Just last month, when Democrats brought down healthcare costs, energy costs by passing the Inflation Reduction Act, again, not one Republican in Congress voted for the bill.
For years, Big Pharma tried to pocket bigger profits by stopping Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices. Well, Democrats -- we said, "Enough." Because we know that it is not right in a civil nation that people go broke or bankrupt just to be able to get the prescription medication they need to live.
And because of us, Democrats, Medicare now has the power to negotiate drug prices on behalf of 60 million Americans. (Applause.) Because we don't put profits before people.
And of course, Republican Party leaders strongly opposed us when we cancelled between $10,000 and $20,000 in student debt for millions of Americans. (Applause.) But we know what's the right thing to do.
They say they care about crime. Well, it was us who expanded background checks and passed the most significant gun violence law in 30 years. (Applause.)
They made promise after promise about investing in infrastructure. You remember "Infrastructure Week." (Laughter.)
Well, it was us -- we led the way to the largest investment in our nation's infrastructure in a generation. (Applause.)
They downplay -- even deny -- the impact of climate change as communities are literally on fire. We made the largest investment to combat the climate crisis in history and deliver on environmental justice for people everywhere. (Applause.) And, yes, not one Republican voted with us.
We have paid for all of this without raising taxes on working people. (Applause.)
And, you know, it's interesting. Republican Party leaders -- well, they like to talk about fiscal responsibility. We have done all of this and brought down the deficit by a record amount. (Applause.)
And let us not forget about our judiciary. We are ensuring that our judiciary looks like America. (Applause.) Yes.
We have confirmed more women to the federal courts than ever before -- (applause) -- including to the highest court in our land. (Applause.) Her name is Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)
So, Democrats, you know, I believe that when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for. So, let us remind the American people what Democrats stand for. Let us remind the American people that we, as Democrats -- we fight for the people, all the people. Let us remind them, in this moment, that the stakes could not be higher.
You know, right now, extremist so-called leaders are trumpeting the rhetoric of freedom while they restrict and systematically attempt to take away freedoms.
The United States Supreme Court just took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America. And now, these extremist, so-called leaders are passing laws to criminalize healthcare providers and punish women.
They believe that government should make personal decisions for women -- that government should make decisions for women about their own body.
Well, we do not. We trust women. (Applause.)
And an important point to be made on that subject is on the subject of choice and what the Dobbs decision has done and what it means. It's an important point to acknowledge that you don't have to abandon your faith or your beliefs to agree that the government should not be making that decision for her. (Applause.)
And thank you, Kansas. (Applause.) You guys are here.
Those extremist, so-called leaders claim we should return this issue to the voters in the states. Well, isn't that ironic? Because some of the same people are the ones passing laws that intentionally make it more difficult for people in those states to vote, passing laws that ban drop boxes and restrict early voting -- laws that make it illegal to give people food and water when they've been standing in line for hours; undemocratic laws; un-American laws.
So again, in this moment, the stakes could not be higher. And take a look -- because I have -- at which states -- from which states are we seeing attacks on the freedom to vote, attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, attacks on women's rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Take a look at from where these attacks are happening, and you will then not be surprised to know that there's quite a few of those states that are doing all three at the same time: Florida, Georgia, Texas.
And this November, those governors -- well, they're going to have to answer to the voters. (Applause.) As I travel to visit with all of you -- travel all over our country, let me tell you: Folks know -- they also know that elections matter up and down the ballot. Right?
Because think about it. As doctors are being criminalized, pay attention to those local county prosecutor races. As big lies are being perpetrated, pay attention to those Secretary of State races. In fact, in 11 states right now -- in 11 states, Republican candidates for Secretary of State deny the results of the 2020 election. Just consider: The very people who don't trust elections want to be responsible for running them.
And then, there's D.C., where we need to hold on -- and we will -- hold on to the House of Representatives and expand our majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
And -- and on that point, allow me to lay out two very real scenarios for you. First, imagine -- I don't want to, but imagine if we lost our Democratic majority in the Congress.
Republican Party leaders have made it clear: They want to ban abortion nationwide. And they won't stop there. Justice Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud: Marriage equality will be on the line. Contraception will be on the line. Without a Democratic majority in Congress, who knows what other rights they will come after?
Now, imagine a better future. Imagine what we can do if we defend the five seats we need to hold on to the majority in the House. Imagine what we can do if we protect and, better yet, expand our majority in the Senate. Imagine. (Applause.)
We can then fight to ensure every worker has paid family leave. We can fight to ensure every family can afford childcare. We can fight to ensure every childcare provider is paid fairly also. (Applause.)
Because, you see, we have done a lot over these last 18 months, but we still have a lot more work that we're ready to do.
And, Democrats, with just two more seats in the Senate, we can codify Roe v Wade. We can put the protections of Roe into law. (Applause.)
With two more seats in the United States Senate, we can pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. (Applause.) Two more seats. (Applause.) That's right. Two more seats.
And, you know, our President -- our President, Joe Biden, he's been clear. He's kind of done with those archaic Senate rules that are standing in the way of those two issues. He's made that clear, and has said that that -- he will not allow that to obstruct those two issues.
And, you know, for me, as Vice President, I'm also president of the Senate. And -- (applause) -- and in our first year in office, some of the historians here may know I actually broke John Adams's record of casting the most tiebreaking votes in a single term. (Laughs.) How about that? (Applause.) How about that?
And so, that being the case, I cannot wait to cast the deciding vote to break the filibuster on voting rights and reproductive rights. I cannot wait. (Applause.) Fifty-nine days. Fifty-nine days.
And here's the good news -- you all know it; I can feel the energy in the room -- we've got momentum on our side. Because again, if I may ask the Kansans in the room to stand so we can applaud what you did. (Applause.) Yeah. Momentum.
Look what happened in Kansas. The people there -- these leaders and so many joined together and protected reproductive rights in their state.
Look what happened in New York's Hudson Valley. Remember, the pundits predicted a Republican victory, but the people elected a Democrat to Congress. (Applause.)
Look what's happening just last week in Alaska. (Applause.) How about that? Mary Peltola is on her way to the United States House of Representatives. (Applause.) And by the way, it's the first time a Democrat has won that seat in 50 years. (Applause.)
So, in the next 59 days, it is up to all of us here to build on this momentum. And each and every one of these days counts.
And know that the majority of Americans are with us on so many of these issues. Because we stand with the people, and we fight for the people, and we are committed to leading our nation forward, not back.
So, to every American, let us say: If you believe in the right to privacy, in the promise of freedom and liberty, in the ideal of self-determination, then stand with Democrats. If you believe in the promise of America, then stand with us.
Because, you see, we do believe fundamental to America is to protect women's rights. Fundamental to America is to protect LGBTQ rights. Fundamental to the strength of America is to fight for workers' rights. Fundamental to who America has always been and will be is to fight for immigrant justice. Fundamental to having responsible policing is the point that if we want to be safer and treat all as equals, this is what we do.
If we as a nation want to invest in small businesses that make America stronger, stand with us.
If you want to build the middle class and expand opportunity for every American wherever they live -- be it a big city, a suburb, or a small town -- stand with us.
This is a pivotal moment in our nation's history. And make no mistake: This election is how we rise to meet it. (Applause.)
You all have heard me paraphrase Coretta Scott King so many times, and I'm about to do it again. (Laughter.) She said, "Struggle is a never-ending process, and freedom is never really won. You earn it, and you win it in every generation." And today, I'm going to add a piece: and you earn it and you win it in every election. (Applause.)
So, in 59 days, we will determine the future of our nation. And in these 59 days then, let's leave it all on the field. Because when we fight, we win. (Applause.)
God bless you all. God bless America. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at the 2022 Democratic National Committee Summer Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/357776