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Remarks by the Vice President on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal in Columbus, Ohio

November 19, 2021

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Have a seat. Have a seat, please.

Well, it is good to be in the house of labor. It is good to be with all of you.

Thank you, Secretary Marty Walsh -- my friend, an incredible union man. And the President and I and our administration are very fortunate that you decided to take on yet another role of public service. And thank you for your leadership.

You know, as the Secretary mentioned, the two of us lead our administration's Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. And I'm going to tell you something about Marty. I'm going to talk to you -- talk about you in front of your face. Solidarity is in Marty's blood; it is his life's work.

And I see him every day there in the Department of Labor but in the halls of the White House. I've seen him with members of Congress. I've seen him with business executives and CEOs. He's always fighting for the working people of America. He understands what it means to work hard. He understands and fights for the dignity of work. And it is so my great honor to be a partner with you in the work that we are doing together.

I also -- where's Tim? Oh, Tim -- and Andy [Addie] -- is Andy [Addie] with you? Good. Hi, Andy [Addie].

Tim brought his daughter Andy[Addie]. I can't walk to talk with you.

Mayor, where are you? And Claire[Clara]. There you are. Thank you, guys.

I love it when these incredible leaders bring their incredible young leader daughters with them, so I want to thank you for that, because that's what this is all about.

And it is great to be back in Ohio. And it is great to be here to celebrate the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

So, on Monday -- just a few days ago -- I stood next to our President, Joe Biden, as he signed this historic bill into law.

And there at the White House, we were surrounded by some of the greatest leaders and members of the American labor movement: plumbers and pipefitters, iron workers and auto workers and laborers and electricians and teachers. Workers from every industry -- every industry -- who are impacted by this law were there.

They helped inform it, and they helped pass it.

We were also surrounded by several members of Ohio's Congressional Delegation. I want to mention Chairwoman Joyce Beatty who was there and has been an extraordinary leader in front of the camera, behind the camera, behind the scenes bringing folks together to get this passed. Her leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus was critical to the passage of this bill.

I want to thank my friend -- I served with him in the Senate -- Chairman Sherrod Brown, who was there and who was always fighting for working people. I've spent a lot of time in Ohio with him, talking about the dignity of work.

I want to thank Senator Rob Portman, who was the lead Republican negotiator on the bill. And I appreciate the work he did to make clear that certain things shouldn't be partisan, in particular when we're talking about supporting working men and women of America.

Without these leaders, the President and I would not have been able to turn the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Because of their work, and because of our work together, America is moving forward.

And, ultimately, that is what infrastructure is all about: It's about getting our nation moving.

And the way I see it -- my definition of infrastructure -- I tell people, "You know what I think infrastructure is? Infrastructure gives people what they need to get to where they need to go." Right?

And so that's, yes, about roads and bridges, it's about broadband, it's about making sure our babies can drink clean water, and so, getting the lead out of those pipes. And it will be, when we pass Build Back Better, about childcare and eldercare and what we need to do to support families to raise their children and take care of their relatives.

Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make the most significant investment to fix our roads and bridges in 70 years. (Applause.) And the impact will be generational.

And here in Ohio -- I don't need to tell you -- here in Ohio, there are nearly 5,000 miles of highway that need to be repaired -- highways like Interstate 70 and 71. I know what I'm talking about. (Laughter.)

And you know what it means -- we all know what it means -- when our roads are in poor condition.

Let's break this down: What does it mean? Well, it means you got to drive over potholes. It means that your car gets a flat tire. You know how expensive it is to have to replace a flat tire? Insurance don't cover that.

So, when we think about the needs that we have, this is just some basic stuff, not to mention what the repair to this will mean for the jobs that we create and lifting up the working people of America through that process.

So this law, yes, it will fix our roads, but it's going to do a whole lot more than that.

This law will also modernize our ports and our airports, which will build on the improvements that we were already making to reduce the supply chain bottlenecks. It will expand broadband so that every American can get an affordable high-speed Internet connection.

And I don't need to tell the parents here, I don't need to tell small business owners what that means in terms of your ability to get through the day, if you have or if you don't have access to high-speed Internet.

What we have done, what we have accomplished together will invest in carbon capture projects, bringing clean energy jobs to the Ohio Valley. And it will replace, as I said earlier, lead service lines and pipes so that Americans can get clean drinking water. And that's about -- plumbers and pipefitters, we're going to need you to do that work. (Applause.)

So, here's the deal: Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will put millions more Americans to work in good union jobs.

Americans like Jovan Johnson, a carpenter I met in Nevada, who told me that she has built her career on infrastructure and fed her family on infrastructure. Well, every worker deserves that opportunity, men and women alike.

There's Jeff Bird, a line design technician I met with in New Hampshire. He attaches fiber to keep up with the demand for high-speed Internet.

There's Walter Coty, construction inspector with whom I met, who is working to get clean water to families in California.

There's a fella I met by the name of Orlando King, who Senator Brown and I visited with in Cincinnati who has been a Metro transit operator for 28 years.

We talked about how people -- working people -- rely on fast and frequent public transit and skilled public transit workers to get to work and school and to get there on time, which means no time for that bus to break down. No time, if you're running two minutes late, to wait for an hour for the next bus or train to come. We need to put more out there and we need to make it better. That's what all of this is about.

And, of course, there's all of the union members who are here with us today and the work you do every day that makes real what we have the capacity to do when we support it and put resources into it.

So, this law will put more Americans to work in good union jobs. And the President and I, like the Secretary said, are determined to be the most pro-union administration in America's history, and we are proud of that. (Applause.) We like to say "labor unions." That rings true -- as the President likes to say: Labor unions built the middle class of America.

And when we talk about being strong, when we talk about being productive, when we talk about reaching our capacity and our potential, we know where to look. Always look to unions, to the working men and women of America, to see the potential of our nation.

And we also know: When workers are heard, when unions are strong, our economy is strong and America is strong.

So, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will spark a nationwide infrastructure effort, the likes of which we have not seen in at least a generation. It will make our country more competitive. It will make sure no one in our country is left behind. And together with our Build Back Better Act, it will deliver on our administration's commitment to equity.

As I said at Monday's bill signing: As significant as it is, as historic as it is, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is part one of two.

We are determined to lower the cost of living for working people in America. (Applause.) And to lower the cost of living means taking serious, serious care of paying attention to the cost of childcare, the cost of healthcare, the cost of housing, the cost of prescription drugs. And so, that's what our Build Back Better agenda is about: lowering the cost of childcare, eldercare, housing, prescription drugs, because those all add up to the cost of living.

And when you are working hard every day, you should be able to satisfy those basic needs. Mayor, I see you over there. You should be able to satisfy those basic needs. That is all about what we say when we talk about the dignity of work; that at the end of a long, hard working day, that you have the ability to know that all your basic needs and a little more at least are handled.

So, to strengthen registered apprenticeship programs, like the ones here, so that more workers can have access to good union jobs to strengthen our entire economy, we must also pass the Build Back Better Act.

And the House, this morning -- talked to Nancy Pelosi and congratulated her and Joyce Beatty and so many others -- the House passed the bill just this morning. (Applause.) And they had a long night. (Laughs.)

And the President and I -- I'll tell you, we are confident -- and I just talked to him before I came to Ohio -- we are confident that the Senate will do the same. So, we're determined to get it done.

And I'll conclude my comments with this: In many ways, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law embodies our character as a nation. Our character -- who we say we are, who we believe ourselves to be. And it demonstrates exactly who we are.

Because we are believers through and through. We're believers. We have the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been.

We are as bold as we are determined to do big things, even when it is difficult -- especially when it is difficult. And -- (applause) -- that's right.

And think about it in the context of history. Think about it in the context of history: In the middle of the Civil War, we started construction on the transcontinental railroad. In the middle of the Great Depression, we finished construction on the Hoover Dam. We created the Interstate Highway System in the middle of the Cold War.

And now, thanks to the hard work of so many folks, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has become law.

And the point there: In America, we have the courage to see beyond the crisis, to believe that the future and a future we imagine is possible, and then to build it.

So, as we move forward from here, let us continue to believe in our people, believe in our country, and believe in what we can do when we work for it together.

I thank you all. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal in Columbus, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353499

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