Remarks by the Vice President on the Progress Made During the First 100 Days in Office in Baltimore, Maryland
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you all. You know, I -- as Chris Van Hollen was saying, together with the Governor and Dr. Fauci, we were walking around downstairs and meeting with all the folks, our members of the National Guard, all the frontline workers.
And I said, you know, I do believe, in moments of crisis, that they reveal the heroes walking among us, the angels walking among us. And I would say Melissa Wesby is one of those individuals. Thank you, Melissa, for that incredible introduction. (Inaudible.) (Applause.) There you are.
So, to the governor, Larry Hogan, thank you. And Team Maryland -- Mayor Brandon Scott, to General Janeen Birckhead, thank you for the warm welcome and for all the work you do.
And it is certainly a point of personal privilege, for me, as the President of the Senate, to acknowledge some folks that are my friends. And I worked with them both over the four years I was in the Senate. And that, of course, is Senator Ben Cardin and Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Senator Cardin -- (applause) -- I will tell you -- I mean, I've seen them both -- I just have to tell you, Maryland, you got some real leaders on your hand in the United States Senate. They represent Maryland, but they are also national leaders.
Ben, I've watched him do exceptional work for Maryland's businesses as the Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee. And, of course, Chris, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, has brought critical resources to Baltimore, in terms of housing infrastructure and water infrastructure and so much more. So, it is wonderful to be with you both.
I also want to thank Congressman John Sarbanes and Congressman Kweisi Mfume, who I've known for years. Thank you both for your leadership.
And it is always a wonderful day to spend time with Dr. Anthony Fauci. And thank you always, Dr. Fauci. (Applause.)
So, it is wonderful to be back in Baltimore, and especially on this, our 100th day of our administration. I would say, today is a good day, Baltimore.
You know, 100 days ago, just after President Joe Biden and I were sworn in, I stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial. And I talked about what I call "American aspiration." American aspiration.
I talked about how, in America, we not only dream; we do. We not only see what has been; we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it.
So, for a minute, let's go back to where our nation was 100 days ago. About 2 out of 330 million Americans, at that time, were fully vaccinated. More than 10 million Americans were out of work. Schools were closed. Businesses were closed. And beyond the pandemic, our democracy was under assault. And our Capitol had just been attacked by insurgents.
All of that was going on when the President and I took our oath of office. But as daunting as these challenges were, we were not deterred. And our nation was not deterred.
We had a plan to get America back on track. We had faith
that the American people, when given the opportunity, would come together and would rise to meet the moment. And you have. You have.
And because you have, American aspiration has defined these first 100 days. American aspiration is how we got to more than 200 million shots in arms in less than 100 days.
In fact, just this morning, we got new data on how the economy did in the first quarter of this year. And things are looking up. America is once again on the move. And that's, in big part, thanks to the exactly what's happening here in this stadium, which is this vaccination effort. And I thanked the National Guard earlier; I will thank you again.
And Baltimore -- Mayor, look at what you are doing here. People can walk right into this stadium and get vaccinated. And this is happening around the country.
I have visited a local pharmacy in Southeast D.C., and a Community Health Center right outside of Denver, and a vaccine distribution site at the university -- a university in Las Vegas. I've been to a site in Chicago run by union members, and another site in Jacksonville run by military members.
And, America, you must know: The people working to administer vaccines are heroes. And so, too, are -- just like those folks we visited with downstairs -- so too are the Americans who sign up for that appointment, make the time, and step up and get the shot.
And if you haven't been vaccinated yet or if you know somebody who hasn't, please ask folks to just roll up their sleeves. It's time for each one of us to do our part. (Applause.) Yes.
And we have also seen American aspiration in our effort to deliver relief directly to American families. The pandemic has taken a toll on families -- on their physical health, their mental health, ability to pay the bills. And the President and I, we knew that before we took office.
So, we developed a plan called the American Rescue Plan. And it was designed and intended to help people out. And it was a big plan to tackle a big crisis. And some said it was too big, but we went for it anyway. And the American people rallied around it. Across our country, Democrats and Republicans alike voiced their support.
And on day 50 of our administration, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. (Applause.)
And as I said then, President Joe Biden, well, he had a clear vision and clear purpose.
And let me tell you something: He never forgets who we are doing this for. It is for the American people. It is for the American people that we have delivered relief checks to 160 million folks. It is for the American people that we have lowered healthcare premiums. It is for the American people that we have cut taxes for families with children. And it is because of this law that we are lifting half of America's children who are living in poverty out of poverty. (Applause.)
Think about that. Think about that: Half of America's children that are living in poverty will be lifted out of poverty. So that, folks, is what I call American aspiration.
And we have also delivered support directly to small businesses because, of course, small businesses are part of the fabric and the culture of a community. Baltimore knows that well. Our small businesses employ about half of America's workers. And making sure small businesses has -- and have access to capital is a big part of the work that I've been doing. I am proud to report that we have provided relief to 4 million small businesses in our country, which brings me then to jobs.
In 100 days, we have created more new jobs than any other administration in history. (Applause.) And, Baltimore, we are just getting started.
Right now we have two more plans that we are working to get past. The first is the American Jobs Plan. It will be the largest job investment that our nation has made since World War Two. Because the fact is, too many people, including too many people right here in Maryland, are still out of work. So while we have made significant proce- -- progress on the jobs front, there's so much more to be done.
We are going to put Americans to work -- fixing the roads you drive on every day, getting rid of the lead pipes that poison our children, and expanding broadband so that every American has access to high-speed and affordable high-speed Internet.
In the 21st century, broadband is critical infrastructure. You know, last week, I was in New Hampshire. I was visiting an -- a site in the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op. And I was there because we were remembering that in 1936 -- Ben Cardin and Chris, you'll probably remember -- Congress -- and together with Congressman Sarbanes and Mfume -- in 1936, the United States Congress said, "You know what? We got this thing called electricity, but there are folks that are being left out. And that's not going to be right because they will be left behind."
So, in 1936, there was the Rural Electrification Plan.
And on that basis, our federal government invested to make sure all Americans had access to electricity.
Well, fast forward to the year of our Lord 2021; we got this thing called "broadband." We have this thing called the "Internet."
And let's think about it: Over the past year alone, which really highlighted the importance of it, a lot of people -- the only way they could work, if they had the ability, was to work online. Our children had to go to school online. Seniors and others -- the way they could see their doctor: telemedicine -- online. Small businesses -- how are they going to connect with their customers? How are they going to move their product? Online. How did so many of us connect with our families? Folks otherwise we might see at a family reunion or a holiday or a birthday -- online -- if we had access and if it was affordable.
So too many people either -- in this period of time, it has been highlighted -- don't have Internet access or cannot afford a broadband bill.
And let's be clear: When we connect Americans to affordable and accessible broadband, we are connecting our children to education. We are connecting our seniors to telemedicine. We are connecting families to each other. And we connect Americans to economic opportunity. And at the same time, we build up our broadband infrastructure such that we create good jobs -- good union jobs.
And as I have said it before -- I will say it again -- the best path to a good job is through a strong union. So the American Jobs Plan -- (applause) -- so the American Jobs Plan will put America to work. And the second plan is the American Families Plan, which will make it possible for people to work.
So what am I talking about? Well, the President -- in his speech last night, he talked about this -- this plan that will establish universal pre-K and lower the cost of childcare, making childcare affordable and accessible, which has been a priority for so many of us.
Just think: Nearly 2 million women have been forced out of the workforce in just the last year, and the lack of childcare is often the reason why.
You know, I'll tell you my personal story on this. You know, when my mother, who raised my sister and me -- Dr. Fauci knows this. I'm very proud to say that my mother used to go to this place, Governor, when we were young. Mommy was going always to this place called Bethesda. She was going to the Bethesda, I learned later, because a place called NIH is in Bethesda. Because, you see, my mother was a breast cancer researcher, and she had two goals in her life: to raise her two daughters, and -- and breast cancer. And so she used to go out to NIH to help do some of the work that happens there.
And so when my mother, though, on a daily basis was at work every day -- long hours; she worked on weekends. And when she was at work and it was after school, often, my sister and I, we would walk two houses down to the home of Mrs. Regina Shelton, who was a second mother to us, and she was a lifeline for our mother. And here's the thing I know: She would talk, on a daily basis, about how but for Ms. Shelton, she could not have done the work that she did.
Every working mother needs that support. Every working parent needs that support. (Applause.) And a competitive economy requires it. A competitive economy requires a skilled workforce too, which is why we will also create more opportunities for education after high school.
So let's think about that. Twelve years of education is the norm -- has been the norm, but in today's world, 12 years of education is just not enough. So let's invest in education after high school, understanding that we also must invest in opportunities for folks about which path of education after high school they want to take, that they choose to take. Let's think about what we need to do -- education after high school -- to invest in apprenticeships.
We will give every American, with this plan, two years of free community college, and we will make college more affordable for millions of students. Because there shouldn't only be one educational path to success.
The American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan -- this is what Americans deserve. And this is what our future depends on.
And we must also be clear-eyed: These last 100 days haven't only been defined by progress. There have been too many days when we woke up to news of another mass shooting; another Black or brown person shot by the police; another act of hate against Asian Americans; another law designed to make it harder for people to vote. These are reminders that we still have so much more work to do in the fight for reasonable gun laws, in the fight for racial justice, the fight for voting rights.
And some days I know it feels exhausting, but we cannot give up and we will not give up. Because here is the truth: American aspiration is about the courage to see beyond crisis and to build beyond crisis. It is about our endurance. It is about our perseverance. It is about our ability to keep pushing forward.
American aspiration is what drove our nation to build the railroad from coast to coast in the middle of the Civil War. It is what drove our nation to bring electricity to every household in the middle of the Great Depression. It is what drove our nation to race to the moon in the middle of the arms race.
American aspiration is what will continue to drive all of us to keep reaching high even when we know it may be difficult,
especially when it is difficult.
So, I want to end with one more story. So, about a month ago, I met this little girl. Her name is Galya and she's five years old. And so, I walk into the classroom, and she's there. This -- this little one -- I mean, she is really something. Okay. So, I walk into the room, and she introduced me to everybody in the classroom. Knew everyone. Five years old. And immediately came glued to my side the whole time I was in the classroom; introduced me to everyone in the classroom, by name, including her teachers. She just self-appointed to do this, by the way. It was not the plan.
And at one moment, I went down to -- I kneeled to speak to her, and I said to her -- I said, "Galya, you can be anything you want to be." And this little one looked at me in my eyes, and do you know what she said? "I want to be everything." (Laughter.) "I want to be everything." (Applause.) Right?
So that is the spirit of American aspiration. That is the spirit which, at that moment, was wrapped up in the little body of a five-year-old. And moving forward, that is the spirit we must summon.
So, thank you, Baltimore. Thank you, Maryland, for making these 100 days what they have been -- as so many of you have spoken and said, "where we see light at the end of the tunnel."
Thank you for marking these 100 days with the President and with me. And please know that the President and I are grateful for your trust, and we will never ever take it for granted.
My God bless you, and may God bless America. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President on the Progress Made During the First 100 Days in Office in Baltimore, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/349728