Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting

February 23, 2024

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everyone. And I want to thank NGA Vice-Chair Polis for the introduction and for your friendship, and it really has been my joy and honor to work with you. And I send best from Doug as well. And I thank you for your principled and powerful leadership in Colorado.

And to all the governors here today, thank you for your work and for continuing to uphold important traditions, including the important tradition of us working together across party lines. I think this is one of the few remaining professional organizations among elected leaders where there is meaningful bipartisan work that is happening, and I thank you for that.

As demonstrated by our administration's record over the past three years, there are few leaders as committed to bipartisan collaboration than Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden knows how to work across the aisle and across every level of government to make progress. Globally and domestically, he has a bold vision for our future. And he has the strength -- and I see it every day -- and the skill and the courage and the determination to make that vision real.

We are here today because we are all united by a common and collective purpose: to create opportunity, prosperity, and progress for the American people.

As a former statewide elected leader -- the Attorney General of California for two terms -- I know firsthand the importance of state and federal collaboration. And as Vice President, I have worked closely with many of you on issues like infrastructure, emergency response, and clean energy, and on two issues that I will address briefly today, access to capital and maternal mortality.

So, first, access to capital for small businesses.

I don't need to tell the governors and the leaders here America's small businesses employ tens of millions of workers and generate trillions of dollars for our economy every year. And their strength, then, is essential to a broad-based economic policy of growth -- growth which benefits businesses of all sizes.

Small-business owners are business leaders, and they are civic leaders. And so, building on work that I helped lead in the United States Senate, we have increased access to capital for the small businesses of America.

President Biden and I are giving a total of $10 billion to states across our nation to invest in small businesses.

And as Vice President, I have had the honor of visiting almost half the states that are represented here today, and I've seen firsthand the vitality of small business and knowing that that is essential to the vitality of our communities as a whole, not to mention how the growth of these small businesses generate tax revenue, which makes up, of course, a significant portion of the annual revenue of your states.

So, for these reasons, our focus has been to nurture the ambition and ans- -- aspirations of everyone from young entrepreneurs to multi-generational families to help them with their success. And since taking office, we have seen a record number of small businesses in terms of their growth -- the most small businesses ever created, in fact, in any three years in history -- which is indicative of the overall growth of our economy.

In addition to access to capital, together, we have also taken on the issue of the maternal mortality crisis. It is something we cannot talk about enough, in terms of the significance of this crisis.

For years, federal public policy has not adequately addressed that before, during, and after childbirth, American women die at a higher rate than in any other wealthy nation in the world. The women of America die at a higher rate than the women of any other wealthy nation in the world.

Over the years, I have spoken with too many people who have suffered because of this crisis -- mothers who have lost babies, men who have lost their spouse, children who have lost a parent.

And of the many factors that contribute to this crisis, one of the most significant is that millions of women in America -- in particular, in low-income communities -- do not have access to adequate postpartum care.

In fact, when we took office, the vast majority of American women on Medicaid were only entitled to two months of coverage for postpartum care -- meaning two months after giving birth, she could lose access to lifesaving care, such as cardiac screenings, mental health counseling, and vaccinations.

When the President and I took office, only three states offered 12 months of care. And so, I issued a challenge to every state in our nation: Extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 2 months to 12 months.

And thanks to the leaders in this room, the governors in this room, so far, a total of 44 states have answered that challenge -- (applause) -- yes -- including, as of today, Alaska. And two more states are in the process of extending coverage. And so, we -- we call on the remaining states to please do the same.

In closing, these two seemingly unconnected issues, through the collaboration between our administration and the governors who are here, have contributed to the overall strength of our nation and the well-being of millions of Americans. And I thank you for your work.

And now, I will welcome a leader who has been a great partner on maternal mortality and mental health, the Chairman of the NGA and Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/369720

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