Speeches and Remarks

Remarks by President Biden at the White House Conservation in Action Summit

2 hours 55 min ago

Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

1:40 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Please, please have a seat.  Thank you very, very much.

Chairman Williams, thanks for that introduction and for your leadership of Fort Mojave Indian Tribe.  You know, it was great to meet you last week in Nevada. 

And thank you, Secretary Haaland, for hosting this White House Conservation Summit here.  You know, and I want to thank you for — all your fellow Cabinet members and the federal employees across agencies to carry out this historic conservation plan across our nation, because it is a big deal. 

We’re grateful to have incredible partners, including members of the Congress, Tribal leaders, conservation advocates all here today. 

And, folks, my first week in office, I issued an executive order establishing the country’s first-ever National Conservation Goal.  And we called it the “Americ-” — “America the Beautiful.”  And it’s a nationwide campaign to protect and conserve by 2030 at least 30 percent of the lands and waters that support and sustain our nation. 

And last year, on Earth Day, I signed an executive order to protect America’s forests and to harness the power of nature in the fight against climate change.  I’m here today to talk about the incredible progress that we’ve made.

You know, in my first year in office, we protected more lands and waters than any American President since John Kennedy.  And — (applause) —

And with — with the help of members of Congress here today, I signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the — the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate and environmental justice and conservation ever anywhere in the world.  (Applause.) 

Over the past two years, these investments have helped protect our iconic outdoor spaces, preserve our historic sites, and make our nation more resilient to the devastating impacts of climate change. 

We also relied on important partners to help us meet the — meet these goals. 

Farmers and ranchers have implemented critical conservation and stewardship practices across 50 million acres in private land in areas the size of the state of South Dakota. 

In Alaska, we protected the Tongass National Forest and the salmon Bristol Bay — of Bristol Bay.  (Applause.) 

And we — we restored the protections and status that the previous administration rolled back in Bears Ears National Monument — (applause); the Grand Staircase Escalante; and North — the North East Canyons and — and Seamounts of — the marine monument. 

Last year — (applause) — last year, I had the honor of visiting Camp Hale Continental Divide in Colorado — (applause) — and adding that to the list of national monuments for the first time to be added in my administration.  

It matters.  This matters, because when we conserve our country’s natural gifts, we’re not just protecting the livelihoods of people who depend on them — like the family farms, outdoor recreation businesses, rural communities welcoming visitors across — from all across the country and around the world that matter.  We’re protecting the heart and the soul of our national pride.  We’re protecting pieces of history, our — telling our story that will be told for generations upon generations to come. 

You know, our natural wonders are literally the envy of the world.  They’ve always been and they always will be as central to our heritage as a people and essential to our identity as a nation. 

That’s why the budget I released earlier this month includes new funding to increase access to our natural areas for Americans from all backgrounds.  And we’re going to continue to take aggressive steps toward conservation with the big actions I’m announcing — about to announce today.

First, I’m proud to use my authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the — and I — I want you to know it’s a big deal — the — (laughter) — Havina Kwa’ May [Avi Kwa’ Ame] — I — I’m having trouble —


THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible)!

THE PRESIDENT:  I got it.  (Laughter and applause.)  I just know it as “Spirit Mountain” — (applause) — in Nevada. 

It’s one of our most beautiful landscapes that ties together one of the largest contiguous wildlife corridors in the United States: 500,000 acres.  (Applause.)  It’s breathtaking.  Breathtaking deserts, valleys, mountain ranges.  Rich in biodiversity.  Sacred lands that are central to the creation story of so many Tribes who have been here since time immemorial. 

Look, you know, it’s a place of reverence.  It’s a place of spirituality.  And it’s a place of healing.  And now it’ll be recognized for the significance it holds and be preserved forever.  Forever.  (Applause.)

And I look forward to visiting myself. 

I want to thank my friends in Congress who fought so hard for this day to become possible: Senators Jacky Rosen.  (Applause.)  Catherine Cortez Masto.  Representatives Susie Lee, Dina Titus.  (Applause.)

And a special thanks to you, Mr. Chairman, for your partnership.

Look, second thing we’re doing is we’re protecting the Castner Range in Texas as a national monument.  (Applause.)

Thank you, Veronica Escobar, Representative, for your leadership in this.  (Applause.)  Now, I hope you’ll still have reason to call me, because you called me a lot on this one.  I — (laughter) —

This is managed by the United States Army at Fort Bliss, and it tells the story of the Tribal Nations who lived there and the members of our Armed Forces who trained on those lands. 

It’s also a place of incredible beauty.  And right now — right now, as winter gives way to spring, Mexican gold poppies are bursting into bloom.  You see — I wish I — what I wanted to do was have all this in a video behind me here because — (laughter) — because when you see it, it’s just breathtaking.  Transforming desert plains and hills into a sea of vibrant yellow and oranges, framed with the rugged mountains and the blue sky.

The people of El Paso have fought to protect this for 50 years.  Their work has finally paid off.  (Applause.)  And now we’ll clear the area of old munitions, create access to the outdoors for communities and parks, and we’re going to — green spaces that — they’re harder and harder to find.  And importantly, Castner Range will be preserved for future generations. 

Folks, the third thing we’re doing today — I’m — I’m issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Secretary of Commerce to immediately consider designating 777,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii as a new — (applause) — as a new — new national marine sanctuary.

You know — (applause) —  that’s an area larger than Alaska and Colorado put together and three times the size of Texas.  That’s no small amount of land.  (Laughter.)  (Inaudible.)

It would make it the largest ocean area on the planet with the highest level of protection.  (Applause.)  And it will help us meet our goal of conserving — the goal I set when I got elected — of protecting and conserving 30 percent of our oceans.  (Applause.) 

It’s a network of islands and reefs where waters are filled with the — most of the diverse — the most diverse marine on the plan- — marine life on the planet: sharks, rays, marlins, tunas, turtles, whales, ancient coral forests — many that are threatened and endangered right now but won’t be.

And I want to thank Brian — Senator Brian Schatz and Mazie — Mazie, where are you?


THE PRESIDENT:  There you are.  (Applause.)  There — I want to say — (applause) — Mazie —

Representative — and Representatives Ed Case and Jill Kotuda [Tokuda] — (applause) — and many — and many Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander leaders — you know, look — who have worked tirelessly to protect our oceans.  I want to thank you. 

I mean, I genuinely mean it.  Thank you.  It wouldn’t have
happened without you. 
And that’s not all we’re doing today.  Earlier, you heard Secretary Haaland announce that she’s taking steps to modernize the management of America’s public lands to put conservation on an equal footing with development, to safeguard more places for people to hike, hunt, camp, and fish. 

And we’re going to be moving her- — ahead today with a strategy to conserve — to conserve the wildlife corridors across agencies and across our entire landscape. 

Whether it’s the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service or private landowners, we need to be coordinated to make sure that habitats we’re conserving along migration routes, no matter where or who’s in charge of that land. 

And today, we’re releasing the first-ever United States Ocean Climate Action Plan to harness the tremendous power of the ocean to help in our fight against climate — the climate crisis. 

We know — (applause) — we know and you well know we can reduce emissions by building offshore wind farms, better protect our coastal and fishing communities from worsening storms, changing fish- — changing fisheries, and other impacts on climate change. 

And — and I’m also committed to working with the Tribal leaders here — as well as Senator Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Representative Mike Simpson — to bring healthy and abundant salmon runs back to the Colorado [Columbia] River system.  (Applause.)

Let me close with this.  Our country’s natural treasures define our identity as a nation.  They’re a birthright — they’re a birthright we have to pass down to generation after generation.  They unite us. 

That’s why our conservation work is so important.  It provides a bridge to our past and to our future — not just for today, but for all ages. 

Rachel Carson, an environmentalist and — and author, wrote, quote, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” 

I share with all of you here today the enduring reverence for the power and the promise of the country’s extraordinary natural wonders.  And they are extraordinary.

When I was Vice President, I went to most of the national parks, and I brought my family because I wanted them to see them.  Going down the Colorado River, the Snake River.  Just incredible, incredible, incredible places.

But we got to keep it going.  We got to keep the faith.  We got to remember who we are.  We’re the United States of America.  And we owe to our children, our grandchildren, our great-great-grandchildren, and all to come what we have and what we can preserve.  There is nothing beyond our capacity if we work together. 

So, God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.) 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Joe!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  It’s a good day.  (Applause.)  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

1:52 P.M. EDT

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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by NEC Director Lael Brainard on the Economic Case for Junk Fees Policies

6 hours 13 min ago

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s panel discussion on the economic case for why the President is taking on junk fees on behalf of working Americans.  Excited to hear from our great group of panelists.

Junk fees are those sneaky fees that are hidden from consumers when they are shopping for the best price, and sneak up on them when they have already made up their mind and are about to make payment.  Each year, “junk fees” cost Americans tens of billions of dollars. Junk fees hit the most vulnerable Americans the hardest.

They can take hundreds of dollars a month out of the pockets of hard-working families and undercut honest transparent price competition in many markets. That’s why the President has called for action to crack down on junk fees in his State of the Union address and at the Competition Council over the last 12 months.

According to recent surveys, junk fees is an area where 75 percent of the American people regardless of party lines want us to act

But junk fee regulation isn’t just popular, and it isn’t just a real cost savings for millions of families at a time when every dollar counts – it’s also smart economics.  Regulating junk fees by leveling up the playing field has a strong foundation in decades of economic scholarship.  Junk fees weaken competition, penalize honest businesses that want to be transparent up front about the all-in price, and lead to a race to the bottom.

I cannot think of a better set of panelists to explain the economic case against junk fees.  They have written some of the central papers on deceptive pricing and how junk fees harm competition – and have real world experience in trying to price in a fair and transparent manner while others are hiding the ball and in leveling up the playing field so businesses who are doing the right thing are not undercut.

We’ll hear from David Laibson, a renowned economist, on how junk fees undermine markets by weakening and distorting competition, imposing the largest burden on the most vulnerable households.  

We’ll hear from Vicki Morwitz, an eminent psychologist and behavioral scientist, on how common pricing practices – such as drip pricing and partitioned pricing – deceive and confuse consumers about the actual cost of what they’re buying.

We’re joined by Bill Kovacic who was a member and Chair of the Federal Trade Commission during the George W. Bush Administration and Chair. He will speak to the long bipartisan history of scrutinizing junk fees, including at the FTC during the administration of President Bush.

Finally, we’re going to hear from Laura Dooley from Stubhub, who will speak to her company’s efforts to introduce up front, all-in ticket pricing in 2015, breaking away from the industry standard of dripping in those fees through the purchasing process. She’ll explain how her company lost out when they acted alone, and how government junk fee regulation can solve this collective action problem by creating one standard and a level playing field for the ticket seller industry.

I am pleased that a number of businesses are already taking action to provide customers with transparency and get rid of junk fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau increased its oversight of banks’ reliance on junk fees in late 2021, leading 15 of the 20 largest banks to end bounced check fees.  This month, the Department of Transportation launched a dashboard comparing family seating fee policies of major airlines.  I am pleased to see that United, American, Alaska, and Frontier airlines have all made commitments to provide fee-free family seating.

Many of you have played an integral role in these actions and are doing more work to address some of the most pervasive junk fees in your sectors.

We have representatives in the room today from sixteen agencies, including The Department of Transportation, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and Department of Housing and Urban Development. I want to say thank you for all the work you’ve been doing to crack down on junk fees in your industries and excited for this conversation to provide us all with more information to be maximally creative and forward thinking as we work on this issue.

And with that, I will pass it off to Michael Negron and Neale Mahoney who have been leading this work at the NEC to facilitate the panel discussion.


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Remarks by President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at Nowruz Reception

Mon, 03/20/2023 - 16:51

East Room

1:13 P.M. EDT

THE FIRST LADY:  Hello.  Welcome to the White House.  And E- — (applause) — and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak!  (Applause.)

“For the feeling of peace
for the sun after these long nights…
for women, life, and freedom
…freedom, for freedom, for freedom.”  (Applause.) 

Those lyrics are so powerful, aren’t they?


THE FIRST LADY:  When I first heard “Baraye,” I was stunned by the courage of this song and the women it lifts up.

Shervin Hajipour was arrested, but not before his video was seen 40 million times in two days.  (Applause.)  Not before his music became an anthem for freedom, sung in the streets.

And that’s why, in February, I was so honored to announce that Shervin had won a Grammy.  (Applause.)

And earlier this month, here in this room, we recognized the bravy [sic] of — bravery of Iranian women and girls fighting for freedom at the International Women of Courage awards.  (Applause.) 

Today, as the battle cry of “women, life, freedom” continues to reverberate around the world, we cannot celebrate the renewal of spring without thinking of them.  This new year, they, too, should be surrounded by support and kindness.

So, to the girls and women of Iran, I want to say: Your song sings in our hearts.  We see your struggle, and we stand with you.  You are not alone.  (Applause.)

Their courage is reflected in everyone who celebrates this holiday.  And so, together, we plant our hopes on the Haft-Sin table, weaving them among the sprouts of wheat or lentils, watering them with visions of victories we seek this new year.

Like seeds breaking through the earth, our hopes reach towards each shining sunrise, nourished by the healing that we find together, our love for one another, the wisdom gained from the year now finished, and the patience we learn from our ancestors.

Even as we are renewed, we are rooted in the history that lives inside of us, the families who shaped us, and the shoulders on which we stand.

History lives in this house as well, hammered into the beams of these walls and swirling in the marble of each fireplace.  It tells the stories and legends of where we’ve come from and who we’ve — who we’ve been.

And yet, standing here in front of a beautiful Haft-Sin; hearing music by DJ Danny — (laughter); and as we eat incredible food prepared by Chef Nasim Alikhani — (applause) — where are you?  Where are you, Chef?  I met you earlier.  She must be here.  Ah, somewhere?  Well, you’ll eat her food a little later.  (Laughter.)  

We know that the White House, too, can grow and evolve and begin something new.  With our unique talents and traditions, with our love and laughter, with our faith in the future that we want, we breathe new life into these halls.

This is an historic house, but you make it a home, alive with purpose and possibility.  So, let us begin once again, be reborn in hope and healing, wisdom and love.

And now, it is my pleasure to introduce astronaut and future commanding — commander of our next mission to the International Space Station, Lieutenant Colonel Jasmin Moghbeli.  (Applause.)

LIEUTENANT COLONEL MOGHBELI:  Thank you so much, Dr. Biden. 

Wow.  Never as a kid standing around the Haft-Sin for the Sal Tahvil could I have imagined I would get to say these next words right here in the White House: Nowruz Eide Shoma Mobarak.  (Applause.) 

Nowruz means “new day.”  It is the celebration of the arrival of spring and all the hope that comes with it.  It is a holiday full of symbolism, with each element of the Haft-Sin — or seven S’s — being representative.

Growing up, my brother and I took part in preparing the Haft-Sin.  We would help grow the sabzeh, a symbol of rebirth and growth, which often came in the form of a chia pet in our household.  (Laughter.)  The goldfish, a symbol of progress, was often one that my brother or I had won at a school fair.  The ayeneh — or mirror — that we used, a symbol of self-reflection, was the same one that had been used at my parents’ wedding, would eventually be used at my wedding, and now sits at my family’s Haft-Sin table.

And this year, for the first time, my daughters were able to participate as well by decorating the eggs and growing the sabzeh at our Haft-Sin. 

Last week, I went back to my elementary school and spent some time with the young students there.  I remember when I was a student, my mom would come in each Nowruz and speak to the — my classmates about the holiday and our culture.  It was at that same elementary school that my dream of someday becoming an astronaut began.

While visiting, one of the students asked me, “Are you going to be the first woman to walk on the moon?”  They’re referring to NASA’s Artemis program, which just last year completed its first test flight, Artemis 1, and will soon return astronauts to the Moon, paving the way for future human missions to Mars.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

I answered simply and honestly, “I don’t know.  But I could be.” 

Isn’t it amazing that I could say with complete honesty, as an Iranian American woman who wasn’t even born here, that I have just as much chance as anyone else of being on the Artemis 3 mission?  (Applause.)  That I’ve even had the opportunity to become a NASA astronaut in the first place, and that later this year, my lifelong dream of launching to space will come true as I will have the honor of commanding the Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station.  (Applause.)

Each Nowruz, we give thanks for our blessings and look ahead to the future.  Even during difficult times, we hope for renewal and transformation.

Reflecting on this past year, I stand here so proud of my Persian heritage but also incredibly proud to be an American.  (Applause.) 

It is now one of the greatest privileges of my life to introduce someone who celebrates the many vibrant cultures and traditions that make up our nation, someone who understands the importance of taking everyone with us as we push the boundaries of exploration that, in doing so, we benefit America, our beautiful planet, and those on it.

Please welcome — please join me in welcoming the President of the United States, Joe Biden.  (Applause.) 

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  (Applause.)  Welcome to your house.  (Applause.) 

Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel.  I just want one commitment from you: When you head to Mars, you won’t take Jill; she’d be gone too long.  (Laughter.) 

An astronaut, a Marine, a mom.  A fellow American who will take us to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.  That’s America.  Think about it.  That’s who we are.

Good afternoon, everyone.  As we celebrate new beginnings, Jill and I, along with Kamala and Doug, are honored to host a new national tradition — and I say a “new national tradition” — the first Nowruz reception on this scale ever held in the White House.  And you’re evidence of it.  (Applause.)

Excuse me, I have a little bit of a cold. 

It’s a celebration that’s been a millennium in the making, observed by millions of people around the world this very day, and the roots in anci- — in ancie- — in ancient Persia.  You know, one that was carried on by people and in the gardens of Shiraz, the mountains of Kabul and Erbil, in the shores of Baku and beyond, most of which I’ve got a chance to visit — but I got to — get to come home too.  (Laughter.)  And one that has always been honored anew by diverse diaspora in communities across the United States, including all of you.

You know, folks, it’s the start of a new year that reminds us of hope and what that lies ahead from these darkest times so many have been through.

And we know that this year’s holiday comes at a difficult time for many families.  Hope where is needed more than ever is going to be coming.

Hope for families in Turkey and Syria, who are grieving for the loss of far too many loved ones from that devastating earthquake.

Hope for people in Afghanistan who continue to struggle with a grave humanitarian crisis.

Hope for women of Iran who are fighting for their human rights and fundamental freedoms.  (Applause.)  Isn’t it amazing how young your daughters or granddaughters are — how they’re moved by what they see on television?  It’s amazing.  Thank God it’s hard for them to believe.  It’s hard for them to believe.

The United States sta- — stands with those brave women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their conviction and, I have to emphasize, their courage — their genuine courage.

And together with our partners, we’re going to continue to hold Iran — Iranian officials accountable for their attacks against their people.

I also want to recognize two proud Iranian-Americans with us today who know better than anyone the power of holding on to hope and the possibility of a new day.  Jason — where’s Jason?  (Applause.)  He’s back there.  And Ye- — Yeganeh.  And there’s — and Rezaian.

Look, Jason and — you’re both been — were unju- — you were both unjustly detained in Iran.  Jason for 544 days.  We worked very hard to bring him home when I was Vice President.  Thank you for — both for being here today. 

And to all those — (applause) — all those who are unjustly detained in Iran or anywhere in the world, know that you are not forgotten, and we will not try and — stop trying to get you home. 

Returning wrongfully detained and people held hostage — and particularly Americans and their families — is a top priority for this administration.

And I’m very glad to say that, just today, an American aid worker, Jeff Woodke — Jeff Woodke has been released after spending six years hostage by a terrorist group in West Africa.  (Applause.)  He’ll soon be returned with his wife and family. 

And we’ll continue our work to bring home all Americans held hostage or unjustly detained.

You know, the — in the 14th century, the Persian — the Persian poet Hasez [sic] — Hafiz — excuse me — said: “Out of the great need, we are holding hands and climbing.”  “Out of the great need, we are holding hands and climbing.”

All around the world, wherever we need — the need is great, this holiday offers a moment to reach out — reach out and, together, to begin to climb toward a new day, one full of hope and new possibilities.

I thank all of you.  You’ve continued to spread the hope for this holiday across every part our own country. 

We see it in the homemade pastries and new presents exchanged.

We hear it in the sound of children banging pots and in the laughs of families who’ve come together.

And we feel it in the communities that gather to make this celebration such a joyous part of American culture, one that reflects the soul of who we are as a nation.

You know, it’s a soul that we also see reflected at this Haft-Sin — Haft-Sin — and I’m — (laughs) — I’m tempted to walk over.  Anyway.  (Laughter.)

The sprouts that remind us, though, that we can always begin anew.  The vinegar that symbolizes the power of tolerance.  The apple that inspires us to believe in a more beautiful and healthy future.

And even the table itself — a place where we gather in unity.  A place where young and old come together to honor the past and the present.  A place where we may disagree and debate but we always — always there’s a seat for everyone.

That’s America at our best: resilient, tolerant, courageous, hopeful, diverse.  That’s who we are.

We’re the only nation in the world built on an idea.  Every other nation — that’s not hyperbole.  Every other nation is based on things like geography, ethnicity, religion.  But we’re the only nation built on an idea that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, et cetera.

We’ve never fully lived up to it, but we’ve never, ever walked away from it.  And that’s due in large part to the waves of immigrant families who have come from every part of the world to push our nation ever forward, renewing and reinvigorating our nation generation after generation after generation.

We see that today in this very room.

Maybe you or your parents or grandparents came to America, uncertain of what life would bring but certain you and your children and grandchildren would be able to do anything you wanted to do here, try it.

You’ve grown up seeing your children forged by their heritage but also the kinds of friendships found every day in American things — soccer practice, band practice — just those special times, and all the things that make an extraordinary life in our generation — in our great nation.

And thanks to all of you for enriching the soul of this nation.  Thank you for adapting old traditions anew to tell the ongoing story of America, one firmly stamped by your experiences.

Let me close with this.  Few periods have been more challenging to our world than the one we’re going through right now.  And we face an inflection point.  I had a professor who said, “An inflection point is when you’re going down the highway at 65 miles an hour and you radically turn five degrees to the right.  You can never get back on the course you were on.”

Well, recent decisions — points — the decisions we make today are going to determine the course of our future for the next several decades to come.

Now more than ever, we need you — we need you — engaged in the work of our time to help fulfill the promise of this nation — the same promise of opportunity, equality that brought you and your families here in the first place.

That’s what I hope for this very day: to celebrate and connect, to feel the pride of community, to keep the faith in our country.

“Out of a great need, we’re all holding hands and climbing.”

We have to keep climbing.

I’ve never been more optimistic in my life about the future of this country.  And I mean that sincerely.

Let’s remember who in God’s name we are.  We are the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And there is nothing — I mean this from the bottom of my heart: There is nothing — nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together.

Happy Nowruz to all of you and your families.  And may God bless you all.

Before — (applause) — before the reception begins, we have a special performance for you — a special performance for you.  So, I’m going to — we’re going to get off the stage here and let you be truly entertained.  (Laughter.)

Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.)

(Musical performance begins.)

(Sahba Motallebi performs “Birth.”)

(Rana Mansour performs, “Woman, Life, Liberty.”)

(Musical performance concludes.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you both so very, very much.  You’re incredible.  You’re incredible.

Folks, you know, the Persian culture is amazing.  As a student of the Persian culture — not a practitioner, but a student — it’s incredible where the world is, where the world wouldn’t have been without — without the culture.  I really mean it.  (Applause.) 

If you’ll excuse me for quoting a non-Persian poet — (laughter) — that relates to today — because I know the hope in all your hearts, your desire — I mean, it’s real.  You can feel it in this room, just the looks on your faces, those of you who still have folks back there. 

Well, other people who have been persecuted as well have had poets that talk about their future.  One of my favorite poets happens to be an Irishman named Seamus Heaney, and Heaney wrote a poem called “The Cure at Troy.”  And there’s a stanza in the poem that I think reflects what all of you are thinking, should be thinking, and will succeed in doing.  He said,

“History [teaches us not to] hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
[That] longed-for tidal wave
Of justice [rises] up,
And hope and history rhyme.”

It’s my sincere hope we’re doing everything in our power — everything in our power to make that happen.  It’s an incredible, incredible culture.  Incredible people. 

And thank you for being here.  Thank you for making this day known to all Americans, because everybody watched this.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you’ve done.

And thank you for the incredible talent you sent.  (Laughter.)  You’re amazing.  (Applause.) 

Did you want to say anything, babe?  You want to say anything?

THE FIRST LADY:  Just please go and join the reception.  Thank you.  Thank you for coming to the White House.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re amazing!  Remember who you are. 

1:43 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by Vice President Harris on Wildfire Resilience Funding

Mon, 03/20/2023 - 10:25

Via Teleconference

3:17 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s Kamala Harris.  And it is good to be with everyone today to address an issue that impacts the lives of tens of millions of Americans every year, and that is the topic of wildfires. 

As many of you know, I am a proud daughter of California.  And in recent decades, like millions of people who call the West home, I have observed a profound change.  You know, we used to talk about wildfire season.  Now, wildfire season is all year round. 

Over the past 30 years, in fact, the number of acres burned per year by wildfire has more than doubled, and this is in large part the result of the climate crisis. 

In fact, today, I hope many of you have seen — and if not, I urge you to read it — the United Nations released their newest climate report.  And the assessment is: It’s dire.  The window to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius has nearly closed.  The impact we see today — in lives lost, communities uprooted, and trillions of dollars in economic damages — is far greater than we had expected.  And it’s only getting worse. 

Please get your hands on the report if you’ve not read it. 

But — but I want to — I also will say this: Our future is not yet written, and the solutions are at hand.  So, let that be an alarm that lets us know that we must act with haste and we can actually, right now, have an impact on how this all plays out.

Particularly as it relates to wildfires, the climate crisis has made extreme heat and extreme drought more common, which makes it easier for fires to start and spread.  This has resulted in catastrophic consequences for our communities. 

I was on the ground in Santa Rosa in 2017 after the Tubbs Fire while the embers were still burning. In Paradise, I was there in 2018 after the Camp Fire.  And in Fresno, I was there in 2020 after the Creek Fire. I have seen entire neighborhoods burned to the ground.  I have been in neighborhoods where the only thing left standing were the chimneys, which looked almost like tombstones in that area. 

And I have talked with families and — where they’ve been in — I’ve talked with them when they were in evacuation centers.  I have talked with families who lost everything. 

And I’ve also met with our firefighters, who are, without any question, the heroes, who often work 90-hour shifts when these wildfires are burning.  They fight fires — I’ve met firefighters who have been fighting a fire even when they know their own home is burning.  And who put their lives on the line to protect our communities. 

So, it is clear that to address the crises that we are dealing with because of the climate crisis — and in particular the crisis of wildfires — we — I would urge us to transform how we think about how to fight them.  Let’s transform how we think about fighting fires. 

For years, for example, our nation has invested primarily in wildfire response, putting fires out after they start.  But to meet this moment, how about if we expand our focus to invest not just in response but in prevention, which is, of course, about preparedness and resilience, because we know the best time to fight a fire is before it starts. 

So, that is why today I am proud to announce we have invested $197 million in 100 communities across our nation through our new Community Wildfire Defense Grants program.  These grants were established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and are based on legislation I authored as a United States Senator. 

They will provide cities, towns, and counties and Tribes with the resources they need to protect communities from wildfires. 

For example, in Arizona, Gila County: They will receive $341,000 for evacuation planning, community education, and clearing flammable brush from around buildings. 

In North Carolina, where wildfires have become increasingly common, we will invest $1.4 million to help nearly 70 cities, towns, and counties develop plans to better prepare for and respond to fires. 

And in California, the Kern County Fire Department will receive $2.2 million to train firefighters to conduct controlled burns and to educate homeowners on how to reduce wildfire risk. 

So, the education, for example, would involve teaching homeowners and residents how to clean rain gutters of dry sticks and leaves, which end up being flammable agents in the — in the case of a wildfire; training folks on how to cover their vents to keep out flying embers. 

So, this is the kind of work that is happening because of these grants.  And these grants are the first — the ones that we’re — we’re announcing today are the first of many. 

In the next four years, we will award a total of $1 billion in Community Wildlife [sic] Defense — Wildfire Defense Grants.  And this is part of a more — a bigger package of about $7 billion in wildfire funds that our administration has secured and have already begun to hit the ground in communities across our nation. 

For example, we are helping to equip communities with cutting-ed- — cutting-edge technology to keep people and property safe, including satellite technology. 

This is actually, again, where innovation has changed the way we can think about addressing wildfires. 

As some of you know, I head the National Space Council.  Well, today, our nation uses satellite imagery for many things, including to predict where wildfires might start and to help firefighters spot small fires before they become big fires. 

So, in conclusion, I’ll say this: All of these investments — we should think of it as a down payment.  Since taking office, President Biden and our administration have made important progress in addressing the crisis of wildfires, but more needs to be done.  And we’re going to continue to do everything in our power to keep families and communities and, of course, our brave firefighters safe. 

So, thank you all for your interest, for covering this important topic.  And I will now turn it over to a great leader, Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has been a champion for working families and for rural communities, and a leader on this issue as well. 

Tom, over to you.

                        END                3:25 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden Before Marine One Departure

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 21:30

South Lawn

7:15 P.M. EDT

Q    Could you give us your reaction to the International Criminal Court issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it’s justified.  But the question is, it’s not recognized internationally by us either.  But I think it makes a very strong point.

Q    Are you confident the bank, sir — are you confident the bank crisis has calmed down? 


Q    Will you give us a sense of your reaction to President Putin meeting with President Xi next week?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’ll see when that meeting takes place.  That’s (inaudible).

Q    Any reaction to the House GOP memo about your family dealings, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  My family dealings?

Q    Yes, your — (inaudible) that Hunter Biden’s business associate sent over a million dollars to three of your family members.  Any reaction to that?

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s not true.

Q    Should Putin be tried for war crimes?  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  He’s clearly committed war crimes.

7:17 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland at Shamrock Bowl Presentation

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 19:47

East Room

5:13 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Hello, hello!  (Applause.)  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  (Applause.) 

Take a seat if you have one, Gov.

I’m getting a little bit worried.  We were in here watching you, and the Taoiseach, when we were in — you’re on camera, the Taoiseach — “Isn’t that Senator Koons?”  What the hell you’ve been doing, Koons?  I don’t know, man.  At any rate — he’s the senator from Delaware.  (Applause.) 

As the great-great-grandson of the Blewitts of County Mayo — and several are here today — (applause) — and the Finnegans of County Louth, who boarded coffin ships to cross the Atlantic more than 165 years ago; as the proud son of Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden: I wish you all a very, very happy St. Patrick’s Day.  (Applause.)

This gathering is a cherished tradition, a celebration to honor where we all have come from and where we’re heading.

And it’s a time for us to tell stories, maybe share a few Irish — bits of Irish poetry, and not to live in some romanticized version of the past, but to reminder — remember what’s possible — what’s possible, as we recommit ourselves to the unfinished work that lies ahead of all of us. 

You know, I often say: We Irish are the only people in the world who are nostalgic for the future.  (Laughter.)  I think that’s true, by the way.

And — but now, the diplomat Leslie Shane [Shane Leslie] once wrote: “Every St. Patrick’s Day, every Irishman goes out to find another Irishman to make a speech to.”  (Laughter.)  I said that this morning, so I — that’s why we ask you here, so we can make speeches.  Luckily, we don’t have to go too far today. 

You know, Taoiseach, it’s been wonderful to welcome you to the White House and — and spend some time with you and Matthew today.  And it’s always a moment of great unity here in Washington, and I mean that sincerely.  I’ve been doing this for a few years, and it never ceases to please me how committed so many people are.

Democrats and Republicans alike share a deep respect and love of Ireland, as you saw this morning — actually, it was the early afternoon — up in Capitol Hill, this afternoon.

Many of my good friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle are here today, including the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.  A good Irish lady.  (Applause.)  And, Taoiseach, I’ve said this before: I think she’s the best Speaker in the history of the United States House of Representatives.  (Applause.)

Members of my Cabinet are here.  Our Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin, from Boston, Massachusetts, is here.  (Applause.)  She’s in Dublin.  Claire.  She’s asked me, when the term is up, whether or not she can still stay in one of the rooms there.  (Laughter.)  It’s a hell of a place.  Isn’t it, Claire?  (Laughter.) 


PRESIDENT BIDEN:  It’s not bad.

I also want to welcome the ambassador from Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as members of the Irish and British parliaments.  Would you all stand up if you’re here?  (Applause.)  Welcome, welcome, welcome.

We’ve even got a few of my distant Irish cousins here today, including the well-known Irish rugby player, Rob Kearney.  Rob, stand up.  (Applause.)  I want to see you after this, pal.  (Laughter.) 

You know, Rob, I expect we know — and this is no offense to anyone — but who in the room we’re rooting for in the Grand Slam.  (Laughter.)  That’s between Ireland and England.  (Applause.)  Not — (laughs) — I’m looking forward to that.  At any rate —
And one of the more special guests who’s here today is Morris Barron.  Morris grew up in En- — on the Emerald Isle, fell in love with his wife Kandice in New York City, and they got married in the same chapel that Jill and I got married in — my wife Jill and I — in New York.

Not long afterwards, their baby daughter Ava was born.  She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  And they were told the odds of her survival were only 5 percent.  But as — it was a long, hard treatment, but Ava never quit fighting. 

And in those hardest days, Morris found comfort in reading a book my wife had written about our family’s cancer journey with our son and others.  And when Ava was finally declared cancer-free, Morris wrote me a letter that said, quote, “Your strength gave me strength.”  And he and his wife were Jill’s guests at the State of the Union this year to share our message of faith and hope with the world. 

And it’s good to welcome him back to the White House.  Where are you, pal?  (Applause.)  Thank you, pal.  Thank you.

Your strength gave me strength, pal.  That’s a fact.

MR. BARRON:  I never left, sir.  I just stayed.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t realize he’d been living on the third floor all this time.  (Laughter.)  But — I wondered what that noise up there had been.  (Laughter.)

To me, that’s what — that’s what friendship between Ireland and the United States is all about.

We rise together in our joys and our triumphs.  We persevere together in our sorrows and our setbacks.  And we dream together over horizons we can’t even see.  And we build together a future that may be — that may be.  And in this –these rooms, we see the dreams of one Irish builder made real.

When George Washington chose James Hoban to design the White House, the young architect had his credentials — had his credential — a silver medal from the Dublin Society.

And around the outside of that medal, inscribed in Latin, was the phrase, “Our work bears fruit.”  It’s a statement of faith.  It’s a statement of faith and a statement of determination.  A statement of possibility and promise.

And, Taoiseach, standing with you today, it captures pretty well all — all of our nations — all that our nation and our people have achieved.

Together, Ireland and America have written ourselves a better future.

The United States has benefited greatly from waves of immigration from the Ireland — the island of Ireland, who helped shape this nation: the Scottish-Irish of the 18th century; the Irish who came during the 19th century — century, like my ancestors, during the famine and beyond.

And through the bravery in their blood and the honest sweat of their brow and the steadfast hearts, their work has borne centuries of fruit.

And their values have been passed down, generation to generation, around countless Irish American dinner tables just like the one I grew up in.

You know, my — and many times as — I heard my dad say, “Joey, everyone is your equal.  Everyone is your equal, but nobody is better than you.  Everyone is your equal, but nobody is better than you.  And, Joey, everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.”  It was his favorite word.  I think the word is used by the Irish more than almost any other word: dignity.  And, “Joey, as long as you’re alive, you have an obligation to strive, and you’re not dead until you have seen the face of God.  Never give up.”

Growing up Irish American gave me the pride that spoke to both sides of the Atlantic, heart and soul that drew from the old and new.

My great-grandfather, Edward Francis Blewitt, was one of the — I think he’s only the second Irish-Catholic ever elected to the state senate in the — in Pennsylvania, at a time when not many Catholics were elected to office. 

He had an engineering degree from Lafayette College and the heart of an Irish poet.  In 1919, in one of the over 100 poems that I found in my — when my mom passed away, in her treasures, he wrote about “his Ireland.”  In one stanza, he wrote the following:

“From the fairest land, except my own,
‘Neath sun, star, and moon,
the citadel of Liberty,
My mother’s land, aroon.”

Today, around the world, Ireland and the United States continue to stand shoulder to shoulder to defend those core values that make up the essential character of each of our nations. 

We’re standing together to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy against Russia’s brutal invasion.  (Applause.)  And we’re standing tight.  And I want to thank you for that.  (Applause.)

And I want to thank — particularly thank the Taoiseach for the generosity of the people of Ireland in welcoming refugees fleeing violence in Ukraine.

We’re holding Russia accountable for its aggression and for its war crimes and crimes against humanity that Russia is committing, as I speak, in Ukraine.

We’re also working together to take on the issues that are going to shape the kind of world in which our children will live.  We’re tracking the climate crisis — we’re tackling it.  We’re strengthening the global health and promoting food security.  And together, we seek a world that’s safer, more prosperous, and more peaceful for people everywhere. 

This year, we will ce- — we’ll celebrate a momentous achievement in our shared history: the hard, hard work of forging the Good Friday Agreement.  And I want to thank the folks that are here as well for participating in that. 

Nearly — (applause) — nearly 25 years ago — it seems hard to believe it’s been that long — 25 years ago, delivered decades of peace and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland.

My really good friend — and he is my great friend; I wish he could be here today — George Mitchell is a good man who worked tirelessly with the people from every community to achieve that breakthrough, always holding fast to their faith in their shared future for the people of Northern Ireland.

Folks, now it’s incumbent on all of us to continue to foster that peace, to continue to find common cause so that our work may continue to bear fruit for generations to come.

Taoiseach, we both agree that the recently announced Windsor Framework is an important step.  We had a li- — long discussion with the Prime Minister of Great Britain about that a couple wee- — a week ago in California.  That’s going to preserve and strengthen the Good Friday Agreement.

In the past few weeks, I’ve shared my support for the Framework with both the European Commission President, as well — von der — President von der Leyen.  And Prime Minister says he is going to continue to push.

I also am eager to see Joe Kennedy III, the nephew — a new — where — where are you, Joe?  (Applause.)  The new Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs.  You’re doing a good job, Joe, getting down to work with all the communities of Northern Ireland to help realize their extraordinary economic potential.

And I join the people across Northern Ireland in looking forward to seeing the return of a devolved government.  Democrat [Democratic] sharing-power in governance is the heart of the Good Friday Agreement.

And I want to recognize the five Northern Irish political party leaders who are here today.  Gentlemen, would you please stand?  (Applause.)  And ladies.  Sorry.  (Applause.)  

As I said today on Capitol Hill, I want to thank you all for standing together with Chief Constable Burn in the wake of the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector Caldwell.

It was an important show of unity.  A refusal to return to violence.  Even after nearly 25 years, we can’t take for granted a shared future built on peace in Northern Ireland.  We can’t fail in our effort to seek compromise and cooperation for the good of everyone.

And I want each of you to know that the United States will remain your strong friend and partner in the work that lies ahead.

The Republic of Ireland today is a country with a past that tugs at your heart and a future that’s shaping the world.  And it’s a global force in culture and the arts and evidenced by the 14 Oscar nominations that went to Irish artists this year.  (Applause.)

But I think the most important thing is the voice for moral leadership in the world stage.  It’s a driver of the economic and technological development of our world.  And there’s no limit to where the partnership between our nations can take us.

Let me end with this.  Everything between Ireland and the United States runs deep: our joys, our sorrows, our passions, our drive, our dreams, our optimism.

Even in the most difficult of moments, even in the darkest moments of descair [sic] — despair, we hold on to hope.  Hope.  We believe in a better tomorrow.  We see a world not of a shrinking opportunity, but of unlimited possibilities.  We see a future that knows no bounds.

Remember Seamus Heaney’s poem — his wife was kind enough to send me another copy of it — ”The Cure at Troy.”  He wrote, quote:

“History” — “History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime 
[That] longed-for tidal wave
Of justice [rises] up,
And hope and history rhyme.”

Ladies and gentleman, this is an age where we can once more make hope and history rhyme, and I believe that with every fiber of my being.  And I’ve been doing this a long time. 

That’s the power of this friendship.  I really believe it.  And that’s the strength of our partnership.

And simply put, as my father would say — my mother would say, “That’s the Irish of it.”

Taoiseach, the floor is yours.  (Applause.)

TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  Mr. President, Madam Vice President, Second Gentleman, senators, representatives, ladies and gentlemen: As we know, every American President is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day — (laughter) — but some are more Irish than others.  (Laughter and applause.)  And I think it’s fair to say that today we’re celebrating our national day with a President who is unmistakably a son of Ireland.  (Laughter and applause.) 

President Biden, in your life story we see reflected the story of Ireland.  It’s a story of service and patriotism, of family, of courage in the face of tragedy, and, above all, unswerving faith in the future.

So, tonight we recall the Blewitts of County Mayo and the Finnegans of County Louth, and all those who left Ireland to find a new dream in a new land, in this land.

This year, in Ireland, we celebrated a new national holiday in honor of St. Brigid, who’s one of our three patron saints.  Brigid represents women, new life, the spring, and inspires us to make our society a better and more equal place.

Colmcille represents learning and engagement with the world, and inspires us to play our part in the community of nations.

And Patrick represents, above all else, liberty.  The escaped slave and migrant who came to Ireland and ended up teaching us about Christianity and the wider world of which we are a part. 

As you know, legend has it that Patrick rid Ireland of its snakes.  But we know now that there were no actual snakes in Ireland at the time — (laughter) — or, at least, there is no evidence of there ever having been any snakes at that particular time.  But, of course, this is often the case this — this is symbolic.  And the snakes were symbols, symbolic of ignorance, of fear, of despair, and cynicism.

And Ireland is a country that I believe is full of hope.  Hope that we can fix the problems that we face both home and abroad, and full of hope for what we can achieve by working together with each other and our friends.

Our dream of an independent country and statehood secured 100 years ago would not have been possible, I believe, without the support of the United States and the solidarity — (applause) — and the solidarity of so many Irish Americans down the generations who helped us to achieve our national self-determination.

Next month, as you all know, we mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.  It could never have been achieved without the steadfast support and commitment of President Biden and so many others who are here in this room today.  (Applause.)

And we know that at especially difficult or fragile moments in the search for peace, successive presidents from both sides of the aisle stepped in with words of encouragement, a hand on the shoulder, or even a gentle shove in the right direction.  (Laughter.)

We remember President Carter’s policy statements on Northern Ireland in August 1977, expressing American concern and urging that we should find a peaceful way forward.  And our prayers are with that fine man and his family at this particular time.  (Applause.)

President Ronald Reagan spoke of finding a just and peaceful solution, knowing that justice and peace went together, on St. Patrick’s Day in 1981 — a phrase that was echoed by President Bill Clinton in Derry’s Guildhall 14 years later.

Mr. President, carried in these words was the promise of American solidarity, a promise that was kept and fulfilled. Blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are those who keep the peace alive and, above all, those like President Biden, who keep the faith.  (Applause.) 

And so, this year, as we mark that anniversary, we look to the future and all that still needs to be done.  Our mission now is to find ways of realizing the potential for everyone who calls Ireland home.  We want to see the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement restored so they can provide hope for a new generation.  And we’d like to see the people of Northern Ireland benefit from the rich economic opportunities available to them.

Around the world, the flame of freedom burns brightly despite the efforts of those who would dexti- — extinguish it.  Our collective freedom is imperiled by the damage we’re doing to our planet, our changing climate, and the loss of biodiversity.

And Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has reminded us that freedom can never be taken for granted.  And when we defend freedom abroad, we also protect our own freedom at home.  (Applause.) 

To honor the many generations of Americans who helped make our dream of freedom a reality, and as a permanent reminder of the strong and everlasting relationship between our two countries, earlier on today I brought a special gift from Ireland this year.  It wasn’t the Mayo jersey, which we brought as well.  (Laughter.)  It was, in fact, our tricolour, which is a national symbol of peace, reconciliation, and hope.  And through its colors, it symbolizes the two traditions on our island — the green and orange — and the promise of lasting peace and a new dispensation between them.  A dream of a shared future on a shared island.

This special flag, which I presented to President Biden earlier, was flown just once before, at an event in Waterford, to mark the 175th anniversary of the first flight of our flag in Ireland.  That very first tricolour was flown on The Mall in Waterford by Thomas Francis Meagher, a 24-year-old idealist, who later fought for freedom in this country in some of the bloodiest battles in the American Civil War.

His bravery and that of the Irish Brigade was so great that when President Lincoln visited one of the battlefields, it’s said he kissed the Irish colors, saying, “God bless the Irish flag.”

So, President, I hope that this flag will find a permanent home in this White House as a reminder of the unbreakable bonds between our countries and our people.  It represents our values and our history, as well as our faith in what we can achieve together in the future.

So thank you, Mr. President, for the very warm welcome that you’ve extended to me and my delegation on this very special occasion.  We look forward to welcoming you in Ireland very soon.  We look forward to welcoming you home.  (Applause.)

And I know that you’ll be received with open arms and the very warmest of hearts.

(Speaks Irish.)

Thank you very much, and a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  (Applause.) 

(Musical performance by Niall Horan begins.)

(Musical performance by Niall Horan concludes.)


PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, you sure in hell didn’t seem nervous to me.

Folks, I couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow, but I know one thing: Isn’t it amazing — isn’t it amazing how song can generate so many thoughts and hopes and prayers and makes you take you back?

When you were singing, even though I’ve never lived in Ireland, I just kept thinking of the places that I did live, with my grandparents in Scranton, when Scranton died.  Not died — when Scranton — everything went south in Scranton.  We moved to Claymont.

It just is amazing what song does.  And you do it so well.  You make us feel.  And that’s amazing.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

And come back anytime, man.  Come back anytime.  And tell that guy to pay more attention to me now.  (Points to audience.)  You know what I mean?  All right?

Thank you.  Thanks, everybody.  Stick around and have some refreshments, okay? 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

6:05 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland at the Annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 16:42

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

1:19 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You have all heard the expression — and this is attributed to a guy named Shane Leslie, who once wrote, “Every St. Patrick’s Day, every Irishman goes out to find another Irishman to make a speech to.”  (Laughter.)  Well, that’s why I’m here.  (Laughter.) 

I’m glad to be with all of you.  And most importantly, I’m glad that we’re surrounded by so many friends of Ireland.

Here in Washington, we’ve always been able to work across the aisle on Irish issues no matter what our politics have been, no matter what else we agree or disagree on.  

So, Mr. Speaker, thank you for bringing us together again.  I was trying to think — I think I’ve made almost every one of —

(Stool falls in the room.)

Don’t get hurt, man.  We need you.  (Laughter.)  You okay?  All right.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for bringing us together.  And thank you to all the Irish Americans here today who have spent years building a broad bipartisan consensus on the issue of Ireland.

You know, Taoiseach, it’s great to see you again.  We just spent a little time down in the Oval Office, and we just finished an excellent meeting.  So — so now we can enjoy a little bit of a celebration.

You know, to all the friends and leaders who traveled from Ireland and Northern Ireland, it’s wonderful to see so many of you here once more.

I stand here today, like most you, as a descendent of the Blewitts of County Mayo and the Finnegans of County Louth.  I was telling the Taoiseach that I — when I would have — as Vice President, I’d always have a breakfast for the Taoiseach before he’d go over to see the President for those eight years.

The seventh year, I think it was, Nance, that I went in, and the Taoiseach — I brought him into the Oval and he sat down.  And before Barack could say anything, he said — he said, “For God’s sake, Barack, let the boy come home.”  (Laughter.)  (Said in Irish accent.)  “Let him come home.”  I swear to God.  True story.

And he said, “You keep sending him to places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and all the — let him come home.” 

And I keep — you have to help me with the Gaelic expression: a hundred thousand welcomes.  What’s the —

TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  Céad míle fáilte.

THE PRESIDENT:  Céad míle fáilte.

And he said you’ll — he’ll get a hundred thousand welcomes.  And it was one of the — but he didn’t — they didn’t plan on my bringing my whole family.  (Laughter.)  But literally, we saw thousands of people.

And I was saying that being raised by a grandpop who went to Santa Clara, back in the days when Irish in Northeast Pennsylvania didn’t very much get a chance to go to college, and he was an All-American football player at Santa Clara.  And he came back as a newspaper guy, on the business side.

And my grandfather used to say that, you know, the — when anything — every time I’d walk out of his house in Scranton, Pennsylvania, when I lived there for a while, he’d look at me and say, “Joey, remember, the best drop of blood in you is Irish.”  (Laughter.)  And my grandmother would say, “You need more than that.”  (Laughter.)

But you know — (laughs) — but the fact is that when — when I went over to Ireland, I — it was — it was a great — a great experience.  I’d been to Ireland many times but not to actually look up to find my actual family members — and there are so many.  And they actually weren’t in jail.  They were all — (laughter) —

But all kidding aside, I met the Blewitts and the Finnegans and all of the folks who were — we’re related to.  Spent six days there. 

And one of the things that — and the Finnegans were from County Louth.  And they’re still — if you go to County Louth, there’s still a place called “Finnegan’s Pub,” which is — Reverend, it’s related to my — my family.  And I’m the only Irishman you’ve ever met, though, that’s never had a drink.  So, I’m okay.  (Laughter.)  I’m really not Irish.

But, look, as many of you know, I, like all of you, take pride in my Irish ancestry.  And as long as I can remember, it’s been sort of part of my soul that I’ve — how I’ve been raised.

And, you know, during the times of — of darkness and despair, it always sort of brings light — strength when you think about what my ancestors went through and what we’re going to — through now, and the history that binds us and the values that unite us.

You know, they’re values I learned at my grandpop’s kitchen table, where he would always — you know, you — my grandpop’s kitchen table, particularly on Sunday after 10:30 mass at St. Paul’s, I’d get to — you’d get to wander around the ta- — we never got to sit down when you were a kid.  But he had four sons, and they’d sit there.  And another guy from the newspaper, a guy named Tommy Philips, who was sort of, at the time, the David Broder of the Scranton paper. 

And they’d sit there and they’d talk.  And one day, you know, I remember sitting there talking about a guy that — I didn’t understand why he was sticking up for him.  And he was the city chairman of the party, whose son was city chairman when I ran for President. 

At any rate — and he was always in trouble.  He was sort of like a — like a late Mayor Daley.  You know, a “brother-in-law on the payroll” kind of thing.

And so, I couldn’t understand.  My grandpop was Mr. Rectitude, and I couldn’t understand why he was, you know, so — liked him so much. 

And he reached up and — you could wander the table, you just couldn’t sit — and he put his arm around me and said, “Joey, come here.” 

And I knew this was about to be a — you know, a public lesson for Joey.  And he said, “You’re wondering why I like Patty.”  

And I said, “No, no, no, no, Grandpa.  No.”  And he said, “No, you’re won-…”  And he said, “Let me tell you something.  He’d look at you and say, ‘Ambrose, I’m going to cut your heart out.’  And you know he’d mean it.  Or ‘Ambrose, I’m going to jump off the bridge for you.’  Whatever he said he’d do, just remember, do what you say.  Do what you say.”  And he was one of those guys who always did what he said. 

And I — he — the biggest thing for my grandfather was, “Joey, never bend, never bow, never kneel, never yield.  Never.  Never.”

And the values I learned from my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden — she used to say, “Remember, you’re defined your courage, and you’re redeemed by your loyalty.”  “You’re defined by your courage, and you’re redeemed by your loyalty.” 
And my father’s values were similar, but he had a saving grace.  There was a Hanafee on his mother’s side of the family, from Galway.  And, you know, my dad was one of those guys who taught all of us that everyone, no matter who they are — everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.   Everybody.  Not a joke. 

My father would no more walk through the Hotel DuPont and say hello the chairman of the board of the DuPont Company we didn’t know, but say hello to him and not say hello to the shoeshine guy.  That was my dad.

And so, you know, everyone — everyone is deter- — these are the same values that I and all of you, I think, try to pass down to our children about hope and the future. 

And more than anything, I believe this hope is what beats inside the heart of all of us and all of our people — the idea that there’s nothing beyond our capacity if we work at it hard enough.

For generations, it was hope that brought our — our countries together in war and in hardship and in hope that had inspired so many of our ancestors to reach for a future of
greater peace and greater security and possibilities.

To this day, I think hope still brings us together.  Hope.  Hope. 

I used to drive Barack crazy because I’d always say to him, “Mr. President, the country will never be more optimistic than their President.  It’s all about hope.”  It’s all about hope.

And to this day, hope still bring us together, and it’s going to allow us to achieve big things, in my view.

It’s important to keep that — that in mind that — as we approach the upcoming anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.  You know, I wish George was here — George Mitchell — who spent a long time —

Hard to believe, 25 years ago, this year, that the agreement was made.  It was — delivered nearly 25 years of progress in Northern Ireland, which, at the time, nobody, I thought, thought was possible.  There were still people getting killed, still people getting shot, still people at war with one another.

For years, people found ways to walk — work across party lines and above the differences to make all this happen.  But it was a real struggle.  But people never gave up.

And as I said, giants like — George Mitchell devoted his life to this building and the Congress and the Senate, but he also — he never backed down.  He never gave up.

And the Northern Ireland — Irish leaders who are here today, they took a lot of brave steps that were necessary to — so that their children might have a better future.

And the Northern Ireland leaders that are here today, let me say how important it was to see you standing shoulder-to-shoulder with — with the Chief Constable Byrne after your — and affirming your commitment to the future, following the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector Caldwell.

Well, I have to continue to work to protect peace and stability.  And I met, out in San Diego, with — with the British Prime Minister, and we talked about our commitment to the Windsor Framework.  It’s a vital, vital step, and — that’s going to help ensure all the people in Northern Ireland have an opportunity to realize their full potential.

And I just keep reminding my family and anybody near me that I’m a big fan of Seamus Heaney.  And when he passed away, his wife was kind enough to send me a long, handwritten note and a copy of his poems that he had, some of which he had written by hand. 

And one of my — “The Cure at Troy” is one of my favorites.  And he used the phrase — and he said — remember that:

“History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice [rises] up,
And hope and history rhyme.”

I think we have a chance of making hope and history rhyme, with all our differences.  I think those of us who have been coming to this dinner a long time have never been in a case where, from the perspective of the public, the parties and the politics has been so divided as it is now. 

But I agree with the Speaker.  There’s no reason why we can’t find common ground.  There’s no reason why we can’t hope to change this — this direction of the extremes in both our parties are pushing.  I think it’s important.  I think it’s really important.

And that is a — that’s the power of friendship.  I think that’s the power of — that’s the strength of our partnership if we work at it.

And simply put, I think it’s the Irish of it.  I think it’s the Irish of it. 

So I hope we can turn this breakfast into a — more of an everyday relationship that we — the way we treat everyone in this Congress to just — there are so many possibilities we have. 

We can disagree on details, but there’s nothing — as I always say, just remember, we’re the United States of America.  Nothing, nothing, nothing is beyond our capacity.  Whatever we’ve set our mind to in the past, we’ve done — no matter what. 

Let’s remember that.  That’s who the hell we are.  That’s who we have to continue to be. 

And that’s why I’m here.  And I’m so proud to introduce the Taoiseach.  (Applause.)

TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  Thank you all so much, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of Congress, ambassadors, esteemed friends, and colleagues.  It means so much for me to be back here again as the leader of our country on this — on our national holiday. 

And I’m very pleased that I’m joined in the room by political party leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland, including Jeffrey Donaldson, Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O’Neill, Colum Eastwood, Naomi Long, and Doug Beattie, and also the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris.  It’s great to have us all in the same room, and it’s been good to be able to interact with each other over the past couple of days.

And I have to say, it’s a pleasure to be sat next to the Speaker and the President, not to keep the peace, but — (laughter) — but rather to thank them for doing so much to protect and promote peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland.

So, congratulations, Speaker McCarthy on your election to this great office.  And thank you so much for continuing the tradition of the Friends of Irish Luncheon.

I know, two years ago, in your St. Patrick’s Day message, you said that, on this day, “everyone is Irish” — a sentiment that I think will find unanimous bipartisan support. 

And I have to say everyone in Ireland is proud that an Irish — an Irish American holds the Speaker’s gavel.  And we wish you the very best in your term as Speaker, and I look forward to working with you on areas of common interest.

As was mentioned earlier, it was on St. Patrick’s Day in 1981 that a great American President, Ronald Reagan, first spoke of the search for a just and — just and peaceful solution in Northern Ireland. 

Through successive administrations, members of Congress, the U.S. has played a central role in helping us to find that solution.  You made political interventions at pivotal moments, built relationships across parties, and supported communities.  And through your contribution to the International Fund for Ireland, you encouraged dialogue and made peacebuilding possible.  The IFI’s vital work continues today, thanks in no small part to the advocacy of so many of you here in the room today, and we are so grateful for that.

And as a nation, we will be forever grateful to the Friends of Ireland Caucus for your commitments to Ireland, north and south.

Mr. Speaker, this year is the 40th anniversary of the first Friends of Ireland lunch hosted by Speaker Tip O’Neill — and I had the pleasure to meet his daughter only the other day — and also attended by Ronald Reagan.  Reagan and O’Neill shared a vision of the role that the U.S. could play in promoting and securing peace, helped achieved the impossible.

And, Mr. Speaker, as you know, this year is also the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.  That landmark achievement was made possible because people chose to believe in the potential for peace and the promise of a better future.  A bit like that American way of believing things that anything, in fact, is possible.

The efforts of the parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish and British governments would not have succeeded without your input and steadfast support from all our friends and partners here in the U.S.  A cycle of violence that ravaged the island for 30 years or more was broken, and history was made with a remarkable peace agreement based on political leadership, vision, and compromise.

And now we have to complete that work and fulfill the agreement’s promise not just of peace, but also of reconciliation to build a shared island together. 

I know that the people of Northern Ireland want to see their political assembly and devolved government back up and running, and their politicians working to improve their lives.

So much has been achieved since 1998.  And today, new generations of young people are growing up with no memory of the conflict their parents endured.  And as somebody who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when political violence was an almost everyday occurrence, that is something to be profoundly grateful for. 

I believe there are now incredible opportunities for economic development in Northern Ireland, especially with the potential of the Windsor Framework recently agreed between the European Commission and the EU government.  Our task now is to complete that mission and to help the people of Northern Ireland to build a more peaceful and more prosperous future together.

Mr. Speaker, today we must also remember how Russia is attempting to deny the people of Ukraine any kind of future through its brutal invasion.  While Ireland is a militarily neutral country, we’re not politically neutral in the face of violations of international law and human rights.

The past 13 months have united us all who believe in freedom and democracy and the rule of law and the U.N. Charter.  And we stand with Ukraine because silence means surrender, and we’ll not stay silent when liberty, freedom, and fundamental human rights are being attacked.  So — (applause) — so we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

And we’ve seen so many times in history how the story ends if it’s not challenged, how appeasement — no matter how well intentioned — ultimately fails.  And I have to say I endorse the ongoing cooperation between Europe and the United States to help defend our Ukrainian friends.

In the last century, America led the free world in the fight against fascism and then communism.  And in this century, America leads the free world once again.  And we thank you for that.

Mr. Speaker, symbols matter.  And occasions like today matter as well, because they reinf- — reinforce the invisible bonds that connect people of different political backgrounds together and join countries together.  Our story is one of friendship and partnership and, above all, a belief in the possible, a belief in the promise of tomorrow.

So thank you again, Mr. Speaker.  And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone.  (Applause.)

1:48 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before Bilateral Meeting

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 15:32

Oval Office

 10:48 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Welcome.  And it’s good to have you back in — in the Oval Office, Taoiseach, you know, especially on St. Patrick’s Day.  And it’s a — it’s a big day in my grandparents’ household, our household.  A big day here and I know a bigger day at home.  But thank you very much. 
And, you know, there is a — Yeats’s phrase about, you know, you think there is more — where a man’s most glory begins and ends is the glory to have such friends.  Well, you’ve been a great friend.  You’ve been a great friend to the United States. 
And Ireland and the United States share a friendship and long, long traditions.  And I don’t — I guess you do know, coming here as many times as you have, how many Americans look forward to St. Patrick’s Day. 
And one of the — as millions of Americans of Irish heritage, we have a joke.  And we have an event that I used to do as Vice President, and it’s now done up in the Hill, which it says, “We invite all of the friends of Ireland, all the Irish members of the Congress, and those that wish they were.” 
So — but, you know, I want to thank you on a substantive matter: standing together on Ukraine.  It means a great deal speaking out against Russia’s brutal aggression.  And our deepening economic ties.  We have a lot to talk about.
And, you know, I’ve spent some time with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and I’ve very much — very strongly supported the — the Windsor Framework, which I know you do too.  Maybe we’ll get a chance to talk about that.
And, for us, the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is something that a very good friend of mine devoted a lot of his life to, George Mitchell, and we — that’s critical.
So I’m looking forward to meeting you and having our celebration together, and a lot to talk about.
The floor is yours. 
TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  Thank you.  Thank you, President.
(Speaks Irish.)  (No translation provided.)
So, first of all, thanks so much for inviting me to be here.  I really appreciate the invitation.  I really want to thank you for your help and support and understanding for our position on Brexit in recent years.  It really made a difference.  And we’ve got to a good place now, I think, with the Windsor Framework, where we can have an agreement that lasts, which is important for Northern Ireland and also important for British, Irish, and European relations
I really profoundly want to thank you and America for your leadership in relation to Ukraine.  I never thought we’d see a war like this happen in Europe in my lifetime.  And America is at its best when it stands with its European partners to defend freedom and democracy.  And thank you for that.  And I know you’ll stay the course for us — with us, and we’ll stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
And also, really looking forward to your visit.  I promise you that we’re going to roll out the red carpet, and it’s going to be a visit like no other.  Everyone is excited about it already.  We’re going to have great crowds who would love to see you.  And look forward to talking about some of the details a bit later.
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I look forward to that as well.
Thank you all.
Q    President, when are you coming to Ireland?  What date?
Q    Taoiseach, do you have a date for the President’s visit?
TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  I think the President will announce that in due course.
Q    President Biden, will you be coming to your ancestral home in Mayo?
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Don’t know yet.
10:54 A.M. EDT

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Remarks by Vice President Harris And Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before St. Patrick’s Day Welcome Breakfast

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 13:40

Vice President’s Residence
Washington, D.C.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Good morning, everyone.  Good morning and welcome and Happy St. Patrick’s Day. 
I am honored — Doug and I — the Second Gentleman — are honored to welcome the Taoiseach and Mr. Barrett to the Vice President’s Residence.  You’ve been here before.  It is a great honor of ours, as the United States, to know that we have an enduring relationship not only with Ireland but with its leaders.  And so welcome to you both.  Welcome to you both. 
We are joined today by many dignitaries, including a member of the Cabinet: Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Administration, Secretary McDonough.  And to all of you, welcome, welcome, welcome. 
I am excited that we are resuming this tradition of recognizing and welcoming the Taoiseach on the occasion of St.  Patrick’s Day to the United States. 
As you all know, Vice President Biden — this was one of his most particular joys as Vice President.  (Laughter.)  And as you all know, he is quite exuberant in that joy, and I now have caught the bug.  (Laughter and applause.)
And our two countries, as we know — and the Taoiseach and I were able to discuss a bit before we came in — our two nations have such a deep, long, and enduring history together.  And that is through our people, and it is through our traditions, and it is through our common values and priorities as it relates to international rules and norms and where we stand in solidarity on so many issues — including, most recently, the issue of Ukraine and what we must do to stand together, joined with our allies, to speak out against Russia’s unprovoked aggressions in Ukraine. 
When I think of the relationship between our nations, we also — and the President will speak about this later today when he meets with the Taoiseach — cherish the hard-earned and -won peace in Northern Ireland from the Good Friday Agreement.  And it marks its anniversary, of course, this April.  And it is something that we take quite seriously and the President has been quite outspoken about, in terms of our commitment. 
And as President Biden has said, the Windsor Framework is an essential step to ensure peace and progress and to ensure that it is strengthened and preserved. 
I know that the President will discuss these matters with you later.  And as you and I spoke privately, again, he takes these issues very seriously. 
Today is also, of course, a day to celebrate the longstanding relationships and the great pride that we, as Americans, take in our Irish roots.  (Laughter.) 
In the mid-19th century, thousands of Irish immigrants made their way — I will speak now as a point of personal privilege — made their way to California — (laughter) — during the Gold Rush.
And as many of you know, most of my career I spent in San Francisco, which has a long and strong pride in its Irish roots.  And — and I will say that the Irish and the immigrants who came generations ago have shaped the history and the culture of the United States, but I will speak in particular about California and its impact there. 
In 1867, many of you may know, more than a decade before New York or Boston elected an Irish mayor, San Francisco elected Frank McCoppin of County Longford.  (Applause.)  Yes, I am happy to educate everyone here — (laughs) — about these relationships.
And one of my favorite stories is of Kate Kennedy.  Originally from County Meath, she led the Equal Pay for Equal Work campaign in 1874 in California.  And, of course, just this week — or last week — we here in the United States celebrated Equal Pay Day.  Longstanding relationships and commitment based on common values and priorities. 
And let us fast forward, then, to 2023.  Again, I will make a California reference.  (Laughter.)  At the Oscars earlier this week, Irish talent was nominated for 14 awards and took home two wins. 
And then, yesterday, it is my understanding the Taoiseach visited my alma mater, Howard University, to celebrate and strengthen programs between the students there and the Smurfit Business School in Dublin. 
So, through this and many other exchanges, including the — the pride that both Ireland and the United States take in the relationship between Frederick Douglass and Ireland, we show that through the years, through generations, this is a strong and enduring relationship that makes us all very proud. 
And so, with that, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  I will now raise a glass to toast the Taoiseach, Mr. Barrett, and all of you on St. Patrick’s Day.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Cheers.
(A toast is offered.)
Okay, the Taoiseach is now going to speak.  Thank you.
TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  Good morning, everyone.  Vice President Harris; Second Gentleman, Mr. Doug Emhoff; distinguished guests and friends.  As we come together this St. Patrick’s Day morning in the breaking of bread, we enact what is a most ancient and enduring expression of friendship honored across cultures. 
So, thank you very much, Madam Vice President, for inviting Matt and me to be here in your beautiful home and for continuing that very special tradition which was initiated by President Biden when he was resident here.
As doctors and as proud members of the LGBT community, allow us to say how inspired we’ve been by your personal advocacy for marriage equality, particularly in relation to Proposition 8, and also your defense of the Affordable Health Care Act. 
From — from Stonewall to Sacramento to San Francisco, America has led the way when it comes to LGBT equality.  I don’t think I would be here today were it not for what America did.  And I know you’ve been such a strong ally for our community in that regard.  Thank you for that.  (Applause.)
I also want to recognize your role in defending the Affordable Health Care Act in particular.  And we’ve a similar program in Ireland called Sláintecare.  We’re abolishing hospital charges; capping the cost of prescription medicines; abolishing doctor fees — doctor’s fees for children, for seniors, and for those on modest incomes; and we’re phasing out private practice in public hospitals. 
So, I think on those agendas, we have much in common and also much to do. 
This year, as you know, we’re marking many anniversaries in Ireland: 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, 50 years since we joined the European Union, and 100 years since we joined the League of Nations.
And the international landscape has changed dramatically in the sweep of time.  For Ireland, however, one relationship has endured throughout: our close and deep bond with these United States.  And we’re always grateful for that. 
So, Madam Vice President, today I want to acknowledge the central role which the U.S. has played in the peace process on our island, driving it forward at critical points, when few others had the influence to do so. 
To mark this, Madam Vice President, my delegation and I are presenting you with an Irish silver bell as a token of our appreciation and as an emblem of the principles that our countries hold dear: peace and freedom. 
Of course, I’m also conscious of the special resonance that a bell has here in the United States, with the world-renowned Liberty Bell, a symbol of your freedom and independence, of hope and equality — principles that will inspire us for the next 25 years. 
As we look to the future, the agreement reached between the EU and the UK, which you mentioned earlier — the Wes- — the Windsor Framework — has the potential to restore very good relations between Ireland and the UK, and to restore relations and institutions of the Good Friday Agreement: the All Party Assembly, the power-sharing Executive, and the North/South Ministerial Council. 
It should also hop- — help to open a new chapter in relations between the EU and the UK. 
We’re not quite there yet.  But I think with good faith on all sides — and we have that — and the help of our continuing friends here in America, we can get there.
Madam Vice President, as we work to underpin peace in Ireland, we cannot be struck by its abs- — cannot not be struck by its absence in other parts of the world. 
And most especially, we think of the extraordinarily brave people of Ukraine, who’ve endured more than a year of suffering at the hands of Russian invaders.  And we stand with them for as long as it takes.
Russia’s war is a threat to the international order on which we all rely.  It’s an affront to human decency.  And we will work together to hold its perpetrators to account.
And again, I want to thank you for the leadership that the U.S. has shown on this issue.  And thank you, Madam Vice President, on behalf of Ireland and all of Europe, for your leadership on this most important matter. 
Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Thank you again for the very warm welcome, for your kind hospitality here. 
La Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh go leir.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

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Remarks by Vice President Harris During Roundtable on Reproductive Rights

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 19:26

Grand View University
Des Moines, Iowa

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It is good to be back in Iowa and, in particular, to be with these extraordinary leaders. 
You are local leaders.  You are state-wide leaders.  You are national leaders on so many issues and, in particular, on the issue that we are convened to discuss, which is the right that every person in our nation should have to be able to make decisions about their own body and their life.
We have this conversation in the context of an action by the highest court in our land, last year — the United States Supreme Court — where the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America. 

And what we have seen then is, sadly, what we predicted would happen in the months that have followed that decision, where people around our country are concerned, afraid, confused, desperate, in many ways feeling very alone in terms of what are their options and what are their rights since that decision came down from the Court. 
And even before, we have seen states in the United States of America that have been proposing or passing laws that would criminalize healthcare providers, literally laws that provide jail time for a doctor or a nurse who does what they took an oath to do, which is to treat their patients in a way they believe is in the best interest of their patients. 

We have seen what I would consider and do consider, as a former prosecutor, to be an immoral approach to survivors of rape or incest where, in states, there is even no exception after an individual has survived such an act of violation to their body and then, by their state, being deprived of the ability, after that, to make other decisions about their body.  It’s immoral. 

And let’s be clear: On this issue, one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her or any individual what to do with their body. 

Let them make that decision if they choose with their priest, with their pastor, with their rabbi, with whomever.  But the government should not be telling her what to do with her own body. 

So this is the issue that we are discussing. 

In the months since that decision, it has also become clearer — in a way that we knew then, but much more clear now — this is not only about reproductive health, this is about basic healthcare. 

Look at what we are seeing in terms of litigation that is occurring right now in Texas where politicians are asking a court of law to undo a decision by the FDA that was made on the basis of peer review of the work of medical health professionals 20 years ago that deemed a particular medication, mifepristone, to be safe.

And I’d ask anyone that when you’re thinking about what this might mean, for context, look in your medicine cabinet, because what a doctor has prescribed to you — likely to help with issues that are with chemotherapy drugs, or asthma, or blood pressure pills or insulin — that medication your doctor has prescribed probably was able to be prescribed because the FDA approved it through a scientific and medical analysis.
So let us understand the significance of this challenge to an FDA decision and why, as a perfect example of this point, we should all understand that these attacks go beyond reproductive health.

And that is where we find ourselves at this moment in time in our country.  
We also know that Iowa is on the frontline in this fight, not unlike the United States as a whole.  In Iowa, the leaders at this table know, the latest numbers tell us 61 percent of Iowans — the majority of Iowans — do not support these attacks on reproductive rights. 
What we know in Iowa is that there is an attorney general who has joined attorneys general around the country who are asking the court to overturn an FDA-approved medication, mifepristone.  There are attorneys general around the country, including here, who are attempting to tell pharmacies to not dispense abortion medication in the state.
At the core of these issues is a foundational issue for our country.  And it is the principle that we are founded on which says that we each are entitled to freedom and liberty in its most basic manifestation.  And is this not about freedom and liberty the ability to make these decisions about one’s own life?
And so I would say to extremist so-called leaders who purport and profess to hail themselves as a beacon of freedom and opportunity: It is important to understand what freedom and opportunity means to real people every day — which calls into question whether we’re on the same page about what freedom means.
But I do believe, for the majority of Americans, it means the ability and the freedom to make decisions about their body, the future of their family, and their life.

So, with that, I thank all the leaders who are here today.  I’m looking forward to our discussion.  I will say that, on this and so many issues, we must continue to also build the coalitions — because we are seeing in many states where there is an attack on reproductive healthcare, there is also an attack on LGBTQ rights, there is also an attack on voting rights, the freedom to love the person you love, the freedom to have access to the ballot box.
And so let us continue, in this fight for these essential principles, also build the coalition around all of the people who understand what is at stake.  And in that way, as we build the coalition, let us remind people that they are not alone and that we’re all in this together.
So with that, I thank you all, and I thank Senator Wahls for moderating our discussion.

(Conversation begins.)
(Conversation concludes.)
IOWA SENATOR WAHLS:  And that brings our open-press portion of the discussion to a close. 
Q    Madam Vice President, what is the administration’s plan of action if the Texas court does overrule the FDA on abortion medication?
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, let’s just first recognize where we are, which is, again, that a group of elected politicians are attempting to use the court of law to implement a political agenda that would undo the veracity and significance of a medical decision by the FDA about a medication — a decision that was made 20 years ago. 
Understand also, the FDA has been approving medication for over 85 years, not only for this medication but for insulin, for asthma medication, for medication for high blood pressure, for chemotherapy medication. 
Understand what this means.  There is so much about this issue that really does attack very fundamental issues and principles. 
And on the fundamental issue at play with that court case is our public health system as a whole.  If politicians can start using the court to undo doctors’ decisions, imagine where that could lead.
So we take this very seriously.  And we are prepared to do whatever we may and can if the court rules in a way that is contrary to what we believe is in the best interest of the public health of America.

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Remarks by Vice President Harris at a Democratic National Committee Finance Event

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 18:04

Private Residence
Paramus, New Jersey

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon, everyone. 
Inez, thank you for that introduction.  That means a lot.  It really does. 
And, you know, my mother had many sayings, and one of them is — she would say to me, “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things.  Make sure you’re not the last.”  And so much of that spirit is captured in your introduction of me, and I thank you for that. 
And to the family, the Tallaj family, for all you do.  My goodness, I — everyone here knows this family, and they are a family who live a life of service to community, to country; a life of service to optimism around what is possible. 
You know, I often say that I think that is the spirit behind the strength of our country and, for so many of us, our families: the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been, and then to pursue and achieve that. 
So, I’m very honored to be with you today.  Thank you for welcoming us into your beautiful home and for all you do. 
Henry Muñoz, he has been — so, the vice chair of the DNC — this is a very important position.  The title says it all.  But as we all know, we can all have titles.  The reality is that — the question is: What do you then do with the title?
And he is relentless.  You travel all over our country.  He was just with my husband yesterday in Texas, hosting — you’re seeing my husband more than I do, by the way, these days.  (Laughter.)
But I’ve seen you for years do what you do.  And you really never stopped believing in what we must do as an expression of our love of our country and our belief in the future of our country.  So, can we please also applaud Henry Muñoz?  (Applause.)
So, to everyone here, it is good to see you.  And I thank you.  I have a sense of who is here.  I’ve read many of the biographies of who is here.  And — and I briefly had a chance to meet each of you.  And what an extraordinary group of leaders. 
So, to take your time to have this conversation this afternoon means a lot because there are a lot of things that you could be doing with this moment, given the communities that you serve and the work that you do. 
So, I’ll get right to it.  I love our country.  I believe in it.  I believe in all of the foundational principles that led us into being.  I believe in the importance of freedom and liberty and equality and justice.  I do believe, in fact, that one of the greatest expressions of love for our country is to fight for us to fully realize the ideals of our country. 
And I know the work that everyone does here is the work in pursuit of just that.  This is a room predominantly of physicians, healthcare providers, people who have dedicated your lives and have taken an oath to do one thing: to uplift the condition of human life, to alleviate suffering, to recognize the dignity in all people and our role in preserving and guaranteeing that dignity.  What a noble pursuit. 
And so, I think about this moment in time in the context of all of us being in these positions at this particular and unique moment in time.  And then, what becomes our duty?  And what will history say?  And what would our children say about what we did at this moment, as we occupied these positions of leadership?
I travel the world as Vice President.  I have now met with over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.  And I talk, as you can imagine, about many things, including the importance of democracy, the importance of upholding international rules and norms. 
And I also talk about the fact that we, in many ways, are living in unsettled times, where we see a war in Europe, in terms of Ukraine; where we see, most recently, the highest court in our land, the United States Supreme Court, which just took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America; where we see attacks on voting rights in our own backyards.  Issues that we thought were well settled.
Not to mention what the pandemic meant.  What it meant in terms of the extraordinary loss of life, loss of normalcy.  People lost their jobs.  And what all of these, in combination, have meant to where we are today not only as a nation, but globally. 
And that brings me to you.  Because one of the things I know about the leaders in this room is that you have been tireless in being motivated by a sense of optimism, about the power of an individual, in connection with their community, to actually uplift people and bring stability and bring a sense of continuum when so many external forces suggest that maybe we can’t take anything for granted. 
I know the work of the people in this room, and I can’t thank you enough for what you did during the height of an unforeseeable crisis during the pandemic to bring stability and to bring help to so many people who needed it. 
The President and I came into office in an election in 2020 that was during the height of the pandemic.  And I will tell you, I’m so happy to be here now, because in the first year — mostly in the first year — of our administration, we couldn’t travel because it was during the height of the pandemic.  And we held countless meetings, talking with doctors, talking with healthcare providers about what do you need, because you are on the ground.  What do you need so that we, in collaboration, can focus on the health and the wellbeing of our nation?
And I know what you all were dealing with: an uncertainty in the first days about what did this pandemic mean, what was the nature of it, and then trying to convince the communities that you serve that they could trust a healthcare system and, by extension, their government and their country to see them and give them what they need.
And it was the conversations that our administration — the President and I, and so many of us — I know that Xavier Becerra has been here and will continue to travel the country — the conversations that we all had that resulted in a lot of the work that we were able to achieve together, both in terms of convincing and reminding communities they could trust that the vaccine would work; both in terms of what we needed to do to listen to how there’s a direct connection between healthcare and dignity and the wellbeing of communities and the empowerment of people. 
It was because of the conversations that we had with so many in this room that we knew that too many of our con- — our citizens and our — and our neighbors and our family members are suffering from diabetes.  We knew Latinos are 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, African Americans 60 percent more likely.  I mean, anyone in here, raise your hand if you have a family member who has diabetes. 
And having these conversations, we also knew that, in particular, we had so many seniors all over the country who were making a decision to either pay rent or buy food or be able to pay for their insulin, which you prescribe because you know it will save their life. 
And because of the conversations we had, a lot of them born out of the first days of our administration, we said we’ve got to deal with this, because it’s about the dignity and wellbeing of people. 
And it is because of the work that we did together that we now have capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors in America.  This is a gamechanger. 
But because of the collaboration, because of the kind of work that so many of you here do as professionals who are grounded in the community, being a voice for people who often feel left out or overlooked, we were able to give voice to this important issue. 
And because we did collectively — because elections matter, coordination matters — we were able to do that as an administration. 
And then you all know what came next.  Eli Lilly said they’re going to bring down and cap the cost of insulin not only for seniors, but for everyone who needs it. 
This is an example of why I remain so optimistic about our ability to see what is possible and then fight to get there, and to understand the interconnection between the work of people in this room and the work that happens through elected offices that can — when they see and understand the people, can do good work that has a direct impact and makes a difference in terms of uplifting the strength and wellbeing of community. 
The work that we have done as an administration in these last two years included recognizing that so many of our communities — in particular Black, brown, poor, and rural communities — didn’t have access to high-speed Internet, highlighted during the epidemic of the pandemic.  Highlighted — unsettled times. 
How about the fact that, you know, one thing that we, as parents, always thought: We could send those kids to school.  And all of a sudden, “Oh, boy, we got to figure out how to…”  We got to figure out how to honor our teachers better — (laughs) — when we realized we had to figure out how to teach our kids and go back to fifth-grade math. 
And when we figured out and then were reminded: Lots of our communities didn’t have access to high-speed Internet.  And what history, in a short while, is going to tell us about the significance of those lost days in the educational process of so many of the children in our country. 
So, the pandemic highlighted an issue that has long been an issue, which is the need to make sure all people in our country have access to high-speed Internet as an extension of a right — like we think of that we electrified the country, that everyone should have access to high-speed Internet if they are not only to survive, but to thrive.
Because of an election and because people got out to vote, and we said we would be committed to this, we now, through the infrastructure law that we were able to pass in a bipartisan way, are on track to ensure that every family and person in our country has access and can afford high-speed Internet. 
What does that mean?  (Applause.)  It means access to education for our children.  It means telemedicine.  In so many ways, the pandemic was an accelerator, right?  It just — it accelerated, it made faster what we knew we needed to do in terms of access for people, including access to healthcare and thinking about how telemedicine will allow that to happen. 
I don’t need to tell so many in this room where you might have tried to get the community that you treat and your patients to say, “It’s as good.”  In many cases, “Eh, I don’t want to do that.  I like coming into the office.”  But because they had to. 
But here’s what the pandemic highlighted then: For our seniors who did not have access or could not afford access to high-speed Internet, they’d have to go to the local public library and sit in the corner of a public library and try to have a private conversation with their healthcare provider.  Where’s the dignity in that?  So, by making sure everyone has access to high-speed Internet because we decided we have to get this done with a sense of urgency, we are now on the road that that doesn’t have to happen. 
Telemedicine — connected to the need to get everyone access to high-speed Internet, connected to a national conversation that we need to have in a much more forceful way, which is the need to address mental health in our country.  (Applause.)
So, let’s connect the dots.  We came in and said we’re going to get this broadband issue done.  We have gone through a pandemic.  We have shown telemedicine can work.  And we have now a heightened need for mental healthcare in our country. 
I always say, when I’m talking to a group that are not all of the educated physicians who are here — I say, “You know, the problem with the way we’ve been dealing with this as a country is we act as though healthcare starts from the neck down.  What about healthcare from the neck up?  Mental health.”
But here’s the thing we also know: So many of us — culturally, many of the people in many communities, it’s a stigma.  “I’m fine.  I don’t need it.  I’m fine.” 
So, what does that mean into — in connection with — what does that mean in connection with high-speed Internet?  Well, think about this.  Instead of them being seen by their neighbors going into the community mental health clinic — worried about “Who’s going to see me if I walk in there, because only crazy people go there,” I say in quotes — now people can get mental healthcare through telemedicine. 
Think about what a gamechanger this is going to mean.  And in the privacy of their own home, where the — the professional giving them that care could also live across the country, so they don’t have to worry about running into them in church on Sunday.  These are going to be gamechangers. 
Think about the work that we did because we were elected and people said around our country, “You need to deal with the issue of lead pipes.”  Because in places around our country, there are children — in fact, over — over half of children in America under the age of six are exposed to lead poisoning. 
Let’s put this in perspective, again, about the work that so many here do in terms of thinking about your work in the context of equity.  Lead pipes.  Well, lead pipes were everywhere in our country.  It wasn’t exclusive to poor communities, communities of color, rural communities.  Happen everywhere. 
But if you’re living in a community that has a high rate of homeownership, you might have some equity in the house.  You find out there’s lead in those pipes?  You take some equity out, you change the pipes. 
But they’re all — the majority people who are living paycheck to paycheck and barely can afford a $400 unexpected expense.  What does that mean for them?  Doesn’t this raise an issue of equity?  Because isn’t this, after all, a public health issue?  Isn’t this, after all, an issue we should all be concerned about?  Because not only is it a public health issue, meaning the health consequences of drinking water from lead pipes — that toxic water, it also is a public education issue. 
Why do you say that?  I’ll tell you why.  You all know it has been well established that it results also in — the effects of that lead poisoning have an impact on learning ability.  But what we have done is now passed legislation where, within the next nine years, we’re going to get rid of all lead pipes in America. 
And the point of the policy there and the perspective was: It’s a public health issue.  It’s a public education issue.  And therefore, we should not require an individual to be able to afford to remove those pipes.  That is a responsibility and an appropriate responsibility for government charged with public health and public education.  And that’s the perspective we took.  And that’s why we are doing this work. 
Back to the point that elections matter, especially in terms of how we think about what is in the best interests of the public health and the public wellbeing.  So these are just some examples of what we have been able to accomplish in the last two years. 
Not to mention the jobs that are going to be created because of all of the work that needs to be done.  A lot of them union jobs, a lot of them jobs that are going to require the apprenticeship programs of the IBEW and all of these folks.  The work that is going to be about building back up communities. 
So, I am here to thank you for your leadership and collaboration, seeing the connections between the work that each of us does in a way that, in collaboration, benefits so many people that none of us will ever meet, people who will never know our names but will be forever impacted because of a perspective that says: We must focus on communities.  We must focus on the needs of families.  That we must see people in their full relief and think about how we can uplift their condition, which will (inaudible) to the benefit of all of us. 
So I thank you all for your support of this event this afternoon.  There was good work that has been happening.  There is more work to be done.  And we’re all in it together. 
And I thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

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Remarks by President Biden on Lowering Prescription Drugs Costs

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 18:00

University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada

12:07 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Is there a doctor?  Is there a doctor in the house?  (Laughter.)  Are there nurses in the house?  (Applause.)  Where are the nurses?

Now, look, I’ve been a significant consumer of healthcare — my family has.  Doctors let you live.  Nurses, male or female, make you want to live.  (Laughter.)  No, I’m serious.  The single most underrated profession in America are nurses.  (Applause.)  Nurses.  I mean it.

Let me begin by — by thanking the president of this great university of allowing me to —

Oh, take a seat if you have one.  (Laughter.) 

Professor Whitfield, thank you ver- — president.  He’s a professor as well, but thank you for allowing me back on campus.  I have gotten no additional degrees lately, but thank you for letting me be here.

And, David, thanks for that introduction.  (Applause.)  You know — I really mean it.  It makes a difference in people’s lives what we’re doing and what you all are supporting.

And Dina Titus and Steve Horsford, two of the best members of the Congress that I’ve ever worked with.  (Applause.)  There you are. 

And we have the attorney general here too.  (Applause.)

Folks, you know — Aaron and state and local, Tribal leaders are here.  Will the Tribal leaders stand up?  Because I don’t know how many are here.  Because — (applause) — there you go, Chief.  Good to see you, man.

And, by the way, it’s Indian Nations.  Indian Nations.

And I’m here to today to talk about an issue affecting every single American: your healthcare.

And I want to first thank the healthcare workers in this room.  In the best of times — (applause) — I really mean it — in the best of times, you do the Lord’s work, but over the last three years during the pandemic, you’ve literally risked your lives for the rest of us.  Healthcare workers that put their lives on the line.  And it matters.  And it really, really matters.

And I think the American public is beginning to understand just how consequential you are.

They’re used to going to the doc, but they’re not used to the doc going into a tough area to take care of them.

And we lost a million people, and we could have lost a lot fewer if we started earlier — not because of the docs’ decisions but because of other decisions made.

Oh, wow, I didn’t see you all up there.  (Applause.)  (Looks up at audience in the balcony.)  Holy mackerel.  Don’t jump!  (Laughter.)  Don’t — (laughs) —

Well, all Americans deserve peace of mind that if the illness strikes or they have — an accident occurs in their family, they can get the care they need but they can afford the care they need.

But the truth is: Too many folks lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering what they would do if something happened — if their spouse got a serious illness or if they got very sick, or if their child got sick, if something happens to them.

You know, I remember, we lived in a — I was raised in a normal middle-class home back in Delaware, a three-bedroom house with four kids and a — and a grandpop living with us, a split-level home.  And my bedroom was next to my mom and dad’s.  My — me and my three brothers, we had two sets of bunks.  And you could tell when dad was restless.

I remember one night — true story — one night, my dad — I could feel like he was rolling in bed because of the headboard would hit the side of the wall.  And the next morning, I asked my — this is the God’s truth — I asked my mom.  I said — I was in, I think — a junior in high school.  I said, “What’s the matter with dad?”  She said, “He just — we just lost our insurance.  His business is no longer going to cover insurance for their employees.” 

It was a consequential decision.  It affected my dad and would have affected — if any one of us had gotten really sick, what happens?  Do you have to sell the house?  Do you have to make some kind of sacrifice that exceeds what is actually reasonable?

And it’s about your dignity.  You know, do you have enough insurance?  Can you afford these medical bills?  Can you get — if it gets bad enough, do you have to do something drastic in order to pay for it?

And for seniors on fixed income who often need expensive medications to stay healthy, the constant question is: Can they pay for their medications?  Can they pay the bills without — without giving up the important elements of their lives?

Because the bottom line is: At the end of the month, do you have enough to pay all that you need and take care of the exigencies that occur?

And it’s not just the elderly.  It’s almost every family out there.  It’s not just your health.  It’s about your dignity.  It’s about your security. 

That’s why my administration is focusing intensely — intensely on getting more people affordable healthcare by lowering prescription drug costs and giving families just a little bit — as my dad would say, just a little bit of breathing room.

We passed the historic laws to get that done.  And now we’re moving quickly to implement those laws so people can feel the effects of what we did.  We passed them last year, but they didn’t take effect until January.

The first thing we did was to help people who were truly struggling to gain access to affordable healthcare through the Affordable Health Care Act, and that — or better known as Obamacare.

I signed a Rescue Plan that increased the coverage and lowered prices for affordable healthcare, saving millions of people about $800 a year.  My new budget — (applause) — and my new budget for this year makes that permanent.

Almost 100,000 Nevadans get their healthcare through the Affordable Health Care Act.  And 300,000 have coverage because of expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Unfortunately, my MAGA — and, by the way, I mean it sincerely — this is not a broad criticism of all Republicans.  This is not your father’s Republican Party.  This is a different breed of cat now that’s in charge. 

No, but I — but think — think about it.  You know, I knew a lot of good Republicans who represented this state as senators.  They were friends.  We disagreed.  But they had — they were conversative Republicans.  But these MAGA Republicans, they’re a different — they’re just different.  They continue to be determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And, you know, it’s hard to believe, but they’ve already voted to change or get rid of the Affordable Care Act, since it passed, 50 times — five-zero.  They failed every time.

And the one thing I want you to know about the Affordable Care Act is that — the way for people who have pre-existing conditions to get healthcare.  If you have a pre-existing condition and you can’t afford your healthcare — private plans, you do not get coverage anywhere.  And this is the only outfit — if, in fact, you do away with the Affordable Care Act — if you have — if you have a pre-existing condition, you don’t get coverage otherwise.

If MAGA Republicans had their way, as many as 100 million people with pre-existing conditions would lose their protection.  That’s a fact.

And, folks, look, the Affordable Health Care Act is also a means by which millions of hardworking Americans have access to preventative care like cancer screenings.  

MAGA Republicans put that at risk as well.  And nearly 40 million Americans would be in danger of losing coverage completely if they were to succeed.

We’re making healthcare more affordable in other ways as well.

Last year, I proposed a piece of legislation called the Inflation Reduction Act, which I could — we got — (applause) — we got a lot of things done bipartisanly.  This one was — there was not any support on the other team at all.

But the result of the law is that seniors on Medicare get common vaccines for things like tetanus, whooping cough, shingles — they get them for free now.  It used to cost them up to $200 per shot, average $100 per shot.

The new data released today shows that if our plan had been in place in 2021, three-point-mil- — 3.4 million seniors, including 24,000 Nevada seniors, would’ve saved an average of $70.

You know, America spends more on prescription drugs than any advanced nation on Earth — more than any advanced nation on Earth.  You name the drug you have to take, and I can take you to France and get it to you a hell of a lot cheaper — to Canada, England, throughout Europe.  It’s not fair.

But after decades of trying to take on Big Pharma, we finally, finally won.

Now, instead of paying whatever the drug company wants to charge you, Medicare — Medicare will be able to negotiate prices.  Medicare provides — (applause) — we’ll drive down prices because we give Medicare the power — the same power that the Department of Veterans Affairs has.  They can negotiate what they’re going to pay for whatever drugs they’re prescribing to their — to the military.

Well, I know many of you are healthcare professionals.  You understand this better than anybody else. 

For example, insulin was invented 100 years ago.  And the guy who invented it decided not to patent it because he wanted it to be available.  It only costs $10 a vial to make — $10 a vial.  If you count everything, you expand it, you could say — you get up to 13 bucks if you talk about packaging, shipping, and the rest.  And guess what?  They’re being charged hundreds of dollars a vial.

So, beginning January 1st of this year, even though we passed the law last year — it wasn’t until January 1st — I kept telling people it was coming — we capped the cost of insulin at $35 — (applause) — $35 for seniors on Medicare. 

And, folks, if it had been in effect in 2020, nearly 11,000 Nevada seniors would’ve saved an average of $439 on their insulin. 

But I’ve been calling on my colleagues to cap the cost, though, for everyone, you know, including 200,000 children who have Type 1 diabetes who need insulin every day to stay alive. 

I was doing a townhall meeting in Northern Virginia last year, and a woman stood up — a very sophisticated lady — and she said, “I have two girls.  They both have Type 1 diabetes.”  And she said, “And I can’t afford — I can’t afford it.  So what we have to do — we have to ration the insulin between them.”  Talk about being deprived of your dignity.

Imagine looking at your child knowing if they don’t get the insulin, their life is literally in danger.  And you’ve got to stand there and not know what to do.

Folks, my budget is going to require it. 

And guess what?  The good news is that Eli Lilly, the biggest insulin maker in the United States of America, announced that they’re going to answer my call and they’re going to make the — this insulin available to everyone in America for $35.  (Applause.)

And, yesterday, Novodisk [Novo Nordisk], another drugmaker, announced they’re cutting their price of insulin as well.  (Applause.)

Look, folks, another aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act — and it’s a fancy-sounding phrase, but is — the drug companies that raise prices faster than — faster than inflation have to pay back the difference to Medicare.

So, if they’re raising the price on insulin — and Medicare — and you have the circumstance where the inflation is up 4 percent and they increase it 12 percent or 15 percent, they have to pay the difference to Medicare.

Yesterday I learned that, last quarter, drug companies hiked the prices for 27 drugs that are on the market above the new limit.  Now those manufacturers are going to have to pay the difference back to Medicare.

As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates this will make — co-pays for those drugs will be as much as $390 cheaper for seniors.

Look, it’s going to change the way drugs are priced, lower the costs for seniors long-term.

And it’s equally consequential to me that, as many of you in this room know, we’re capping out-of-pocket drug expenses for seniors on Medicare at a maximum of $2,000 a year, beginning next year.

Now, but right now — (applause) — right now, we have — regardless of how much they cumulatively are paying for all of the drugs they need.

And now it’s capped at — because I’ve been — my family has been deeply involved, as a consequence of cancer and my son dying of Stage — my son dying of Stage 3 glioblastoma because he was exposed to those burn pits for a year in Iraq.  And my fa- —

    Anyway, you all — how many here have had you or a family member be diagnosed with cancer?  Raise your hand.  It’s probably, as the docs know, the most devastating word they can tell a patient.  You got a serious heart disease, you may die; that’s worrisome.  More people die of heart disease than they do from cancer.  But cancer scares the living hell out of every single person.

Well, folks, you know, a lot of those drugs now that are available, that are very helpful — and, by the way, I — I’ve declared war on — on cancer.  We’ve set up — (applause) — no, I really have.  I’ve gotten $5 billion for cancer research through NIH, like we did through the Defense Department for special weapons systems — the same system. 

But here’s the deal: Some people are paying about 10,000, 12-, 14,000 dollars a year for expensive treatments like cancer drugs.  It’s going to give seniors certain peace of mind, because no matter how much they pay — no matter how much they pay, they’re not going to — how much the bills are, they’ll never have to pay more than $2,000 a year for all the drugs they consume.  It changes the peace of mind people have. 

And guess what?  It’s going to save seniors money.  It’s also going to save the government money.  And my Republican friends say, “When are you going to cut taxes for the wealthy?”  I said, “No, I got a better way of saving money.”  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  If, in fact, you limit the amount of money that can be charged to reasonable prices by the drug companies, you know how much we’ll save this year?  $160 billion.  (Applause.)  $160 billion.  Why?  Because it’s $160 billion less they have to pay out to provide the drugs for the seniors.  So it’s not only the right thing to do, it is a conservative thing to do in terms of cutting the federal budget. 

But here’s the deal.  As I’ve said, this is not your father’s Republican Party.  The MAGA Republicans in Congress don’t think any of this is a good idea.  They think Big Pharma should be able to make the exorbitant profits, at the expense of the American people, they’ve been making. 

And I want to repeal the — they want to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, roll back savings for seniors, add to the deficit another $1.6 billion, and continue to line the pockets of Big Pharma. 

Look, I’m a capitalist.  I want — if you can go out and make a lot of money, go make the money.  Just pay your fair share.  Just — just your fair share.  (Applause.)  No, for real. 

I have no problems with a company making reasonable profits, but, my Lord, not on the backs of working families and seniors.  And this is really — when it gets down to it, it’s about fairness — fairness and decency and providing people with some dignity. 

Last week, I released my budget.  I met, by the way —

and I apologize to the press who is here; they’re tired of hearing me say this — I met with the new Speaker of the House.  He said — he is threatening that we’re going to let the federal debt not get paid and put us in turmoil.  We’ve never done that in American history.  And the debt is an accumulation of debt over 200 years.  That’s the debt we’re talking about. 

And — and I want to lay it — I said, “Look, I’ll lay out clearly what we support.  I’ll lay out my budget on March the 9th; you lay out your budget, and we’ll negotiate.  We’ll negotiate.” 

Well, you know, my dad used to have an expression, for real.  He’d say, “Joey…” — when someone would say, “I’ll tell you what I value,” he’d say, “Don’t tell me what you value.  Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”  Show me your budget.  (Applause.)  No, really.  Think about.

My budget takes steps to lift the burden on seniors and hardworking Americans so at the end of the month, after busting their necks their whole lives, they have a little bit left over.  That’s what it used to be at our kitchen table: At the end of the month, is there anything left?  (Inaudible) pay anything, do you have a little bit of room?

And, again, it’s about fairness, and it’s about your dignity.  I value everyone having a decent shot. 

My Republican colleagues now in the House of Representatives, I think it’s fair to say — not every one of them, but most of them — are now at a point where they have a very different value set. 

We’re strengthening Medicare and Social Security instead of threatening to eliminate them, and the MAGA Republicans that are in Congress want — are threatening to do.

You know, when I did — I don’t know whether you saw the State of the Union, but it was kind of a fascinating thing.  (Applause.)  No, no, I didn’t say it for that reason. 

I — I was in the Senate a long time.  I’m used to dealing with and speaking to the Congress and the Senate.  And so I’m comfortable when I’m doing them.

When I was standing up there before all the members of the House and the Senate, and I talked about — I read the programs which some of their leaders have put forward to, in fact, cut Social Security and cut Medicare. 

And the gentlelady, as they say, from Georgia — in the mountains of Georgia — (laughter) — stood up and yelled, “Liar!  Liar!”  And then that generated — last time somebody did that, by the way, they got censured.  But —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I’m not joking. 

But here’s what happened.  And then another half a dozen yelled, “Liar!  Liar!  We’re not going to do that.”  I said, “Oh…” — you may — if you remember, I said, “Oh, you’re not going to cut Social Security and Medicare?”  (Laughter.)  And they said, “We’re not going to…” — and so the whole group — I said, “Everybody who’s not going to cut Social Security and Medicare, stand up.”  And they stood up and hollered.  Well, they’re all on film.  (Laughs.)  (Applause.) 

I hope it’s true.  I hope they’ve gotten there, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Look, you paid for Social Security from the time you got your first check when you were 16 years old, working as a lifeguard or something.  Okay?  And I’m determined to protect them both.   There’s way to protect them without cutting them.  (Applause.)

Look, let me close with this.  You know, let’s finish the job.  Let’s protect the lower prescription drug costs for everyone.  Let’s expand healthcare for more people to get care.  Let’s keep building the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not from the top down.

And, by the way, when that happens — when the middle does well and the bottom rises, the wealthy still do very, very well.  And no one — I commit to you, and I committed to this when I got elected — when I was running: No one making less than $400,000 will see a penny in federal taxes raised as long as I’m President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

But, look — but, again, it’s about just — just paying a fair share.   

When I got elected, there were — I think it was 6- — don’t hold me to the exact number — 690 billionaires in America.  There’s now a thousand.  You know what the average federal tax they pay is?  T-H-R-E-E percent.  Three.  They pay a lower tax rate than the custodians in this building.  They pay a lower tax rate than any of you, basically. 

And so, it’s just not fair.  I think you should be able to be a billionaire if you can earn it, but just pay your fair share.  Just pay something.

And, by the way, you know everybody said, well, how was I able to have these new programs and still cut the deficit $1.7 trillion the last two years? 

Well, it’s pretty — pretty straightforward.  There were 550 companies of the Fortune 500 that made $40 billion that didn’t pay a penny in tax — zero, nothing — in taxes.  So I said the — you know, outrageous.  And we got votes for it.  I said they ought to pay a minimum of 15 percent.  Fifteen percent.  That’s less than you all pay.  And guess what?  It allowed me to cut the deficit.

So, folks, this is about just basic fairness and decency.  There’s nothing radical about what I’m proposing.  And if you look at the polling data, it’s overwhelmingly popular what we’ve proposed.  As a matter of fact, it’s a hell of a lot more popular than I am.  (Laughter.)  But I’m serious.

So, I — this is no time to turn around. 

Look, what the American people understandably — a lot of people have lost faith in government for a lot of reasons.  And here’s the deal: We promised these things, and they haven’t seen it.  I don’t know whether you’ve been surprised, but the number of people who have come up to me after January 1st saying, “I cut — you cut my insulin costs.  Thirty-five dollars.”  Like, “I didn’t believe government would really do it.”  But there’s a lot more coming.  A lot more coming. 

And, again, let me end by thanking the medical people that are here and the students.  It really matters.  It really, really, really matters.

And all of you have to do, like many people in this audience have been consum- — significant consumer of healthcare.  My son spent 18 months knowing he was dying in the hospital.  And the docs and nurses just changed — changed it.  They — they made it — they took care of him.

My wife and daughter killed in a trucking accident.  My two boys were expected not to live.  You guys saved them and you saved their sanity as well.

So, I think that, you know, we vastly underestimate and you underestimate the psychological impact you have on people, not just the medical impact you have on them.

So, I’m here to say: Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.) 

And, folks, let’s remember: Don’t forget we are the United States of America, and there’s nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we work together.  So, let’s work together.

God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  (Applause.)

12:31 P.M. PDT

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On-the-Record Press Call on the Biden Administration’s New Actions to Lower Healthcare Costs for Americans

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 05:00

Via Teleconference
March 14, 2023

4:47 P.M. EDT

MR. MUNOZ:  Hi, everybody.  This Kevin Munoz.  Thank you for joining us for our call previewing the President’s event tomorrow in Nevada, as well as new actions that the Biden administration is taking to lower healthcare costs for Americans.

As a reminder, this call will be on the record and embargoed until tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.  You all should have received some materials that are also embargoed.

On today’s call, we will have Susan Rice, the White House Domestic Policy Advisor; Secretary Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure of CMS.  We also have a few representatives from HHS, CMS, and the White House Domestic Policy Council on for Q&A.

But, with that, I will kick it to you, Susan. 

One second, I think we have some technical difficulties. 


MR. MUNOZ:  Yes, hi.  We can hear you now.  Hi, Susan. 

AMBASSADOR RICE:  Okay.  Sorry about that everybody.  And thank you very much for joining us. 

Americans pay two to three times more for prescription drugs than citizens in other developed countries.  And that’s why, since day one, President Biden has been committed to lowering healthcare costs and expanding benefits for all Americans.  And he has done just that with the Inflation Reduction Act.

First, the law makes many recommended vaccines free for Medicare beneficiaries.  And tomorrow, the Biden-Harris administration is going to release new data showing how President Biden’s prescription drug law is saving money for seniors across the country.

A new report finds that 3.4 million people with Medicare would have saved an average of nearly $70 per person in 2021 had the Inflation Reduction Act already been in effect.  That’s over $230 million in savings on recommended vaccines, like the shingles and tetanus vaccines.

We expect that in 2023 and beyond, even more people with Medicare will benefit from this provision, and vaccine uptake will be higher because the lower out-of-pocket costs will encourage folks to get these important vaccines.

Next, under the Inflation Reduction Act, for the first time, Medicare will negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors.  Medicare will announce the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation in September.  But tomorrow, the Department of Health and Human Services will release initial guidance on how its prescription drug process — negotiation process will work.

Furthermore, the Inflation Reduction Act requires prescription drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise their prices faster than inflation, as was the case with 1,200 prescription drugs last year alone.

Starting April 1st, Medicare beneficiaries will pay lower coinsurance for Part B drugs that raise prices faster than inflation.  And tomorrow, HHS will publish its first list of drugs for which this provision will apply.

All of this builds on our work as well to lower insulin costs.  As you know, insulin costs less than $10 a vial to make, but some Americans pay over $300 for it, and that’s flat-out wrong.

President Biden called on pharma companies, for that very reason, to bring prices down for insulin on their own.  And we’ve seen two major manufacturers heeding that call.  Just today, Novo Nordisk announced its plans to cut the price of insulin by 75 percent.  Congress should finish the job and extend the $35 insulin cap to all Americans.

But we know that congressional Republicans have a very different plan, one that would be bad for Americans’ health as well as their pocketbooks.

Congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.  That means millions of Americans would pay higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes, millions of Americans would pay higher drug prices and insulin prices, and millions of seniors would be unable to get recommended vaccines for free, and billions of dollars would go back into the pockets of Big Pharma, all while increasing the deficit. 

I’m very proud of the work we’ve done to lower costs for Americans and improve their access to important treatments and preventative care.  We’ve got to do more work to finish the job. And millions of Americans are relying on that — on us to do just that.

So, with that, I’ll turn it over to Secretary Becerra.  And thank you.

SECRETARY BECERRA:  Ambassador, thanks very much.  Kevin, thank you.  And to Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, thanks for all the work that she and her team — some of whom are on and may be answering questions — will be available.

I just wanted to say to everyone who is on this call: Thanks for joining and thinking it important enough to report about. 

Thanks to the President’s new lower cost prescription drug law, people who get their insulin through Medicare won’t have to pay more than $35 a month for that month’s supply, as you heard from Ambassador Rice.  For the first time ever, we’re going to now be able to begin the historic process of negotiating to get lower, competitive prescription drug prices.

We’re taking on powerful interests to bring down healthcare costs so Americans can sleep better at night. 

And on top of this, we are breaking record after record on the Affordable Care Act health insurance enrollment.  Today, the number is some 16.3 million Americans who have chosen a quality, affordable health plan by the end of this year when the open enrollment closed.

Compare that to just two years ago when the President took office, when there were about 11.1 million Americans enrolled in the Affordable Health Care plans.

But today, I want to talk about three things we’re doing right now in Medicare: making vaccines free, reducing cost of insulin, and rebates that lower costs for the Medicare program for people who are on Medicare.

Today, HHS is releasing a report that shows the savings people with Medicare will see now that the out-of-pocket costs for recommended preventative vaccines covered under Medicare Part D have been eliminated. 

The report will show — when you have a chance to read it — that about three-and-a-half million people — about 3.4 million people, or about 7 percent of the folks on Medicare Part D, will receive a Part D covered vac- — who received a cover [COVID] vaccine in 2021.  Well, those folks, they paid about $234 million in out-of-pocket costs for those vaccines back in 2021.

Today, they would pay zero dollars as a result of the President’s new lower prescription drug law. 

The report also shows that in some cases, some people paid nearly $200 for the shingles vaccine by itself.  Again, not anymore.

And, by the way, one in three Americans will get shingles at some point in their life.  It’s something people really want to avoid.  I think we all know that.

But think about that: Three and a half million people paid $234 million out of their own pocket back in 2021 for vaccines.  No longer.  That’s $234 million that people would now have in their pockets as a result of this new prescription drug law that the President made possible.

The report also examined the number of enrollees who receive vaccines covered under Part D, their total out-of-pocket spending, and average out-of-pocket spending for each state.  The report has a full breakdown. 

Let me just highlight a few of the states.  My state, California: 403,000 Californians received vaccines under Part D in 2021.  In 2021, about 227,000 Floridians received vaccines under Part D in 2021.  And in Texas, there were some 204,000 Texans who received vaccines under Part D. 

All of them paid something for those vaccines.  All of them today would not have to pay anything for those vaccines. 

By the way, the highest average out-of-pocket costs were for folks in the states of South Dakota, about $142 in out-of-pocket costs; Wyoming, about $129; and North Dakota, about $127. 

Again, all those South Dakotans, folks from Wyoming, folks from North Dakota — those are dollars they would now have still in their pocket now in 2023. 

And again, that’s just for one year.  That was just 2021.  Now, moving forward — 2023, 2024 — moving forward, zero dollars out-of-pocket cost. 

Let me turn real quickly to insulin.  No one should have to skip or ration their insulin because they can’t afford it.  Thanks to the President’s new lower-cost prescription drug law, they won’t.  And people on Medicare won’t be on the hook when drug companies inexplicably jack up the prices of their drugs. 

In addition to the $35 insulin cap, drug manufacturers will now need to pay rebates to Medicare if their prices increase for certain drugs beyond inflation. 

In January, we released a report showing that the $35 monthly insulin cap would have saved about a million and a half people with Medicare an average of about $500 on their insulin back in 2020.  Again, that’s one year, back in 2020.

The highest average annual out-of-pocket savings per person benefiting from the new insulin law — North Dakota, with about $805, would have been saved by individual net savings; Iowa, about $725 would have been saved by folks in Iowa; and South Dakota, $725 as well. 

These kinds of savings will give people a little bit more breathing room, more comfort as they decide to go to the grocery store to buy their food, more ability to pay their rent, or maybe it’s just to do something decent for their grandkids. 

Lastly, I want to address the Medicare Part B coinsurance provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act.  The IRA requires drug companies that raise prices for certain drugs faster than the rate of inflation to pay a Medicare rebate. 

Administrator Brooks-LaSure will share more of the details with you today about these rebates and about how some people with traditional Medicare or managed care Medicare may stand to save starting in a matter of — just a matter of weeks. 

This list of drugs that are included will be updated every quarter from here on out when it comes to those rebates. 

The President’s budget capped — caps the price of insulin at $35 for everyone and negotiates a fair price for more prescription drugs.  That’s going to be good news for Americans.  It will make certain generic drugs available for Medicare beneficiaries for a $2 co-pay.  It brings peace of mind to millions of Americans. 

The President’s budget will strengthen Medicare for the next generation. 

All of these things are good for the people of America with Medicare.  And this is good for the future of Medicare as it looks to serve all beneficiaries moving forward into the future.  And that’s, of course, good for all American taxpayers. 

Let’s hope every Medicare beneficiary takes advantage of all these savings.  Let’s hope every American can share in those savings. 

And now, I think I’m turning this over to Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure with CMS. 

ADMINISTRATOR BROOKS-LASURE:  Thank you so much, Secretary Becerra.  It is a pleasure to join you and Ambassador Rice today.  And thank you again to all of — all of you who joined us.

Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, this administration is ensuring the American economy works for everyone, which includes being able to keep you and your family healthy.

Last week, the President proposed a budget that will ensure that Medicare is here for our children’s children, as certified by our own CMS chief actuary.

At CMS, we’re fighting every day to make sure that all people have a just opportunity to obtain their optimal health.

One of the most important ways we can protect people’s health is to ensure they can afford the prescription drugs they need by reducing the cost of drugs. 

Thanks to the actions of the Biden-Harris administration and the President’s new prescription drug law, called the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re tackling the cost of prescription drugs and delivering lower drug costs to millions of people and families across the United States.

The new prescription drug law is already helping people with Medicare save money through free recommended vaccines and caps on insulin costs for people with Medicare prescription drug coverage.

The new law requires drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare for increasing drug prices faster than inflation.

Beginning October 1st of last year, those rebates went into effect for drugs that you get from your pharmacy under Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Today, we’re talking about lowering costs on drugs you get at your doctor’s office.

On January 1st of this year, rebates for drugs administered by physicians under Medicare Part B went into effect.

For both rebates, CMS will send invoices to drug companies by the end of 2025.

As part of the Part B rebate provision, beginning this April, some people with Medicare may pay less for certain drugs.

CMS is delivering these savings to the people we serve right on schedule, with tomorrow’s release of the April 2023 Average Sales Price File.  This file includes a list of drugs that may be cheaper for some people with Medicare as a result of the new drug law.

In the first quarter with this lower cost sharing, some people may see savings for 27 drugs listed in the file.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Inflation Rebate Program is strengthening Medicare by making prescription drugs affordable for millions of people and discouraging drug companies from increasing prices faster than inflation.  It’s also protecting Medicare for our children and grandchildren.

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and those of us who serve in their administration are working to protect our country’s most precious resource: our health. 

Thank you. 

And now I’m turning it back over to you, Kevin.

MR. MUNOZ:  Thank you, Administrator.  We have time for a few questions.  Let’s go to Rachel Roubein with the Post. 

Q    Hi, my question was: Could you explain what the note from the CMS actuary is essentially saying?  Is it saying that the actuary believes that Biden’s Medicare financing plan, if it went into effect in fiscal year 2024 — so, essentially, if Congress passed it — then the Medicare trust fund would be extended for another four years?

ADMINISTRATOR BROOKS-LASURE:  This is the CMS Administrator.  If the President’s budget — all of the proposals were put into place, it would be — the trust funds would go to 2050.  But the — but the — yes, if the President’s budget baseline is th- — is now 2032.

So that’s an update to the trustees analysis that was done last year, now that we — during the President’s budget, the actuaries update the baseline, and it’s based on what our current wealth projections are.

MS. LINKE YOUNG:  And just to underscore the Administrator’s point, the conclusion of the actuary is that implementation — congressional enactment of the President’s budget would extend the Medicare trust fund solvency date for another generation, for more than 25 years, into 2050 and beyond.

MR. MUNOZ:  And just to help, that was Christen Linke Young with the Domestic Policy Council.

Let’s go to Amanda Seitz at the Associated Press.

Q    Hi, thank you.  I was curious if you could just go over the drug rebates.  Are you essentially saying that you think the drug companies will lower the costs in anticipation that they’re going over that inflation rate since you’re not billing them until 2025?

ADMINISTRATOR BROOKS-LASURE:  This is the CMS Administrator.  I’ll start and then allow others to chime in as they like.  So, what we’re saying, kind of, is a couple-fold. 

What we’re releasing now are the companies that did, in fact, go over inflation.  So they increased their drugs at a rate faster than inflation.  And so, for the 27 drugs that we’ve listed, cost-sharing for those drugs will go down.  And those are the amounts that we’re releasing.

We do believe that the inflation rebate proposal, the overall provision, does give a strong incentive for drug companies to not increase their prices above inflation. 

So, it’s sort of, I would say, a two-fold benefit.  One, that if drug companies do exceed inflation, they will be paying rebates to the federal government.  And for Part B drugs, they will lower cost-sharing for Americans to get Part B coverage. 

But even as important, I would say, is the incentive for drug companies not to increase cost.  And that’s something we’ve seen in the Medicare — excuse me, the Medicaid inflation rebate, and now this is an even stronger tool.  

And would add out: If Christen or Meena has anything they’d like to add, please do.

MS. LINKE YOUNG:  No, I think you covered it.

MR. MUNOZ:  All right, Tammy at CNN. 

Q    Hi, thank you for taking my call.  So, I just also wanted to get a little bit more clarity on what is the mechanism that will actually provide the rebate to the seniors starting in April as opposed to the end of 2025.

MS. LINKE YOUNG:  So I can I can start.  This is Christen from the White House.  So, the provision has two parts.  One component is that manufacturers will owe a rebate to CMS and will be invoiced in — you know, in the future, as the Administrator alluded to. 

But separate from that invoicing, Medicare will be reducing its Part B cost-sharing for these drugs this coming quarter.  And Medicare Advantage plans are also required to not exceed the level of cost-sharing that’s provided here. 

And so, if you are a patient taking one of these — these drugs, the Part B cost-sharing will be reduced below the 20 percent that Part B cost-sharing typically is to account for the differences noted in the file. 

As the Administrator noted, the sort of exact incidence of that will depend on what supplemental coverage you may have, but Medicare Part B cost-sharing will be directly reduced for these drugs, because the drug’s price increased faster than inflation.

MR. MUNOZ:  Great, thanks. 

Let’s go to David Lim at Politico.

Q    Hi, thanks for taking my question.  With regard to the Part B rebates, I know you guys estimate the number that seniors might see their out-of-pocket costs decrease over time per dose.  But do you guys have any estimates for the total number of funds that seniors may end up not paying as a result of these drugs through the next quarter and through the end of the year?

DR. SESHAMANI:  This is Dr. Seshamani with the —

MS. LINKE YOUNG:  This is Christen —

DR. SESHAMANI:  Oh, Christen, you want to take it?

MS. YOUNG:  Go ahead, Meena.  Go ahead.

DR. SESHAMANI:  This is Meena Seshamani.  I’m Director for the Center for Medicare. 

So, the amount that any individual person would see depends on a few things.  As the Administrator mentioned, it depends on what kind of supplemental coverage they have.  Because if they have wraparound coverage that is taking care of their out-of-pocket costs, then that will absorb, you know, some or all of it. 

It also depends on the dose and the treatment protocol that they’re on.  Because depending on the dose of the medicine that they take, that impacts what their out-of-pocket costs are. 

So, because of those complexities, it’s hard for us to be able to say that there is exactly this much money, you know, for people to be able to come up with that full estimate because there are these variables in play. 

However, overall, this provision — both because of the impact that it will have on the market to discourage manufacturers from increasing prices faster than inflation and because of this provision to lower the out-of-pocket costs in Part B for that coinsurance, this provision really does protect people with Medicare from large out-of-pocket price increases for certain Part B drugs.

MR. MUNOZ:  Okay.  We have time for one more question.  Let’s get a Rachel Cohrs at STAT News.

Q    Thanks.  I just wanted to ask whether we would get any details about the negotiation guidance.  Maybe I just missed something but I don’t — I didn’t see it in the embargoed materials.  So just wanted to check whether I’m missing something or whether that’s something we will get later.

MS. LINKE YOUNG:  This is Christen.  You are not missing something.  The negotiation guidance will be released tomorrow, and we don’t have any details to preview at this time.

MR. MUNOZ:  All right.  Thank you everybody for joining. 

As a reminder, everything is embargoed till 5:00 a.m. tomorrow.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. 

Have a good day.

5:12 P.M. EDT


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Remarks by President Biden at a Democratic National Committee Reception

Tue, 03/14/2023 - 20:30

Private Residence
Las Vegas, Nevada

7:31 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Jess.  Well, thanks.  Thank you very much for tonight.  I’m only here because of your birthday.  (Laughter.)  That’s the reason I came.
You know, I want to thank two great friends: Dina Titus, who’s one of — I’ve — we’ve been working together since — (applause) — for well over 25 years.  She started when she was five.  So it’s a — (laughter) — so thank you, Dina, for everything you’ve done. 
And, you know, you have a — I predict a guy you’re going to see being a leading role in Democratic politics nationally, and he’s already off to a good start: Steven Horsford is a great guy.  (Applause.)  No, you really are. 
He won in spite of the fact that I supported him.  (Laughter.)  
And thank you all for being here.  I know that Susie Lee and Catherine Mast- — Cortez Masto, and Jacky Rosen wanted to be here, but they have some votes coming up in the United States Senate.  And — and tomorrow is an important vote on one of our ambassadors.
And I’m here for a simple reason: to say “thank you.”  And I mean it sincerely.  Thank you for all your help. 
We made some historic progress in the last two years.  We’ve created 12 million new jobs.  We st- — remember where we started here.  We started with an enormous deficit, an enormous — we were in a hole, and we weren’t — everybody was wondering how in God’s name we’re going to get out of it.  But we ended up creating 12 million brand-new jobs, more than any President has created in four years (inaudible).  (Applause.)
And it’s because — because of the help.  No, I’m not joking.  It’s because of your delegation and because of the people — the Democrats stood together. 
And, you know, inflation is still a problem, but it’s down 30 percent since the summer.  I think we’re going to lick it.
And, you know, everything from NATO and Ukraine has been a real push.  It’s cost a lot of money.  And it’s also — but it’s the right thing to do.  There are — you know, we — I don’t think we have a choice.  Never do we have 185,000 people invade another country in Europe since World War Two.  And it’s — lots at stake. 
And, by the way, during this period of time, we passed a lot of legislation that’s helped an awful lot of states and the community.  We’ve created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs.  Where in the hell is it written that says that we no longer — we can no longer lead the world in manufacturing?  I don’t buy it.  I don’t buy it. 
And, folks, look, you know, we passed an awful lot of legislation.  Now, I was told that we wouldn’t be able to get any bipartisan help.  Well, on some of the big things, we didn’t get any help.  We had — needed all Democrats to get it done.  But we did get bipartisan help on the infrastructure bill.
The infrastructure — well, how in God’s name can you lead the world as the most ec- — the most powerful economic force in the world and have a second-rate infrastructure?  Not a joke.  How do you do that?  We used to be number one in the world; now we rank number eight in the world.  And why — what’s that all about?
A lot of you are successful business women and men.  Where are you going to build a factory?  Where are you going to make your business — unless you have access to rail, ports, airports, et cetera?  It’s a big deal.  And so we’re going to make a lot of headway. 
If we did nothing but just, over the next two years, implement what we’ve done — we’re talking about a bill that’s passed that’s 1 trillion 200 billion dollars.  It’s going to transform America in a significant way.  No, for — no kidding.  It’s a fact. 
And so there’s a lot else we’ve done.  For example, we passed the Inflation Reduction Act.  Well, that had a couple of important provisions in that act, not least of which was we — for the first time, we put the money in to deal with a thing called global warming. 
Of course, I was told by our friends there is no global warming.  (Laughter.)  Well, guess what?  We better damn well get it straight or you’re not getting any water to drink out of the Colorado River.  Not a joke. 
THE PRESIDENT:  No, not a joke.  This is serious stuff.  It’s the single most dire consequence.  If we don’t keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius over the — be — not go above that —  we’re going to damn our children to a circumstance that is going to be the only truly existential threat under nu- — other than nuclear war. 
I’ve traveled out here, out in the West, with — since I’ve been President, with every governor who’s been in trouble.  And I’ve flown in a helicopter over more area that has been burned to the ground than the entire state of Maryland — than the entire state of Maryland. 
And they tell me there’s no global warming?  Well, I don’t know where everybody has been, but people are waking up to it. 
Well, we passed the $368 billion global warming bill, the single most consequential environmental law ever, ever passed.  And guess what?  Our friends — (applause) —
And, by the way, I should have said this at the outset: This is not your father’s Republican Party.  It’s a different deal.  And, by the way, there a lot of good Republicans from this state that I worked with over the years and from every other state.  But this is not the same deal.  These are a different breed of cat, as my mom would say. 
And the fact of the matter is that they want to undo even the bipartisan things we got done.  They want to undo them now.  They want to cut the entire discretionary budget by 20 percent across the board.
They want to — they’re — and the threat I’m being told you’ve — read in the paper, they’re telling me that unless I vote the way they want and I go along with their budget, they’re not going to, in fact, pay our debts.  We’re going to, for the first time in American history, renege on the federal debt. 
The federal debt is accumulated over 200 years.  That’s the debt we’re talking about.  And it’s large; it’s $3 trillion — or $300 trillion — $31 trillion, excuse me. 
And guess what, though?  We’ve never failed to pay it.  And the interest is accumulated, and we’ve continued to pay it.  If we ever are going to renege on it, we’re going to see an absolute economic crisis not only here, but worldwide. 
And it’s one thing if they want to negotiate — but at any rate, I shouldn’t get going on this.  (Laughter.)
But, look, one — my dad used to have an expression.  He’d — someone would say, “Let me tell you what I value, Joe.”  And his name was Joe.  “Let me tell you what I value.”  And I would — he would turn and say, “Don’t.  Show me your budget.  Don’t tell me what your value.  Show me your budget.  I’ll tell you what you value.”  I’m serious.  Think about it.  “I’ll tell you what you value.”
Well, you know, I can tell you what we value as Democrats: that we want to grow the economy, not trickle-down economics.  It hadn’t worked very well for middle class folks.  I want to build it from the middle out, the bottom up.  When that occurs, the wealthy do very well, the poor have a chance, and the middle class make it.  And so — what we — where the middle class is doing well now, and we’re beginning to make some real progress. 
But, you know, one of the things that — for example, we passed the bill — I’ve been fighting for this for a long time — back in the Harry Reid days, he was fighting for it too.  And that is to — the only outfit — we pay the highest drug prices of any advanced nation in the world.  The highest in the world.  I’m not joking.  You can buy whatever drug you need that’s consequential.  You can go to Spain, France.  You can get — Canada — get it a hell of a lot cheaper.
And so one of the things we wanted to do is we wanted to change that so that we’re — and so we — I introduced the inflection — the inflection — the — excuse me — the Reduction Act that has worked for a while that took on Big Pharma.  This time we won. 
And, for example, for the first time, Medicare can negotiate drug prices.  Negotiate drug prices.  (Applause.)
Not only is it going to save billions of dollars in prescription drug bills for people, but it’s going to reduce the federal deficit by $180 billion this year, because that’s $180 billion less that Medicare has to pay out to people on — to people on Medicare. 
And so we’re in a situation where — for example, I was in Northern Virginia about this time — no, it was — I guess it was late spring last year.  And a woman stood up.  I was doing a town meeting.  And she said, “I have two daughters who have Type 2 diabetes, and I need insulin.  It’s costing me about…” — I think she said at the time — it varies in price — but she said for the two of them it cost about $1,400 a month.  She said, “I don’t have any insurance; I can’t do it.  I don’t have any private insurance and nothing covers it, so we have to split the — we have to split the insulin.” 
Ladies and gentlemen, talk about a parent being deprived of their dignity.  Look at your child and know they need a drug that’s available, they can’t afford it, and look them in the eye knowing that they’re — literally, their very life depends on access to it. 
Well, we passed the Inflation Reduction Act.  We are now negotiating.  And guess what?  It costs $10 to manufacture the insulin for diabetes.  Ten dollars.  (Applause.)  Counting everything — packaging it, it can cost as much as $13.  Well, guess what?  You know what the most they can pay for it — they can charge for it now?  Thirty-five dollars.  (Applause.)  We’re making significant progress. 
And, you know — and if you notice, you had an awful lot of folks all of a sudden, like Eli Lilly, deciding they’re only going to charge $35.  And all the major drug companies are coming along.  For example, Novartis has now reduced prices 75 percent.  And, by the way, you can buy that insulin in France for about $35, $40. 
And so, you know, the American Rescue Plan, not one Republican voted for it.  I signed it as soon as I got into office.  That provided for — the Affordable Care Act — for a lot of poor folks who are on Medicaid, and they got an $800 break.  So they get better medicine now, and it makes a big difference in their physical wellbeing and their lives, and better coverage, better prices.  And the budget I’ve proposed this year makes that permanent. 
And so, look, you know, these MAGA Republicans, they’ve tried 50 times to repeal that.  Fifty — fifty times over the last — since this passed under Obama.  Fifty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 
And along — you know, folks, look, as I said, no one can deny there’s climate change, but they want to get rid of the legislation.  They’ve — they’ve announced they want to get rid of the legislation in the House of Representatives. 
And, you know — and, by the way, every Republican — MAGA Republican voted against it.  When I say “MAGA Republican,” I mean the extreme Republicans who make up about 40 percent of the House Republican Caucus and party. 
I’ve had — and I — I’ve committed I would not I say this to Mr. Greenspan.  I’m not going to ever tell you the names, but the — there are eight senior Republicans, who are still in the United States Senate, who have come to me over the last 10 months to tell me they agree with me but they’re afraid to vote with me. 
If they vote with me, what will happen is they will lose their primary.  There’ll be out of office.  Not a lot of political courage, but it also is a reflection that they don’t agree with what’s going on. 
And so, folks, look, for decades, not only have we led the world economically, we’ve been the best educated nation in the world.  We’ve had — great universities in other countries that are even better than our universities during the 20 — the 20th century.  But we’re the first nation in the world to say we’re going to provide for 12 years of free education for everybody.  It was the formula that moved us in a position to begin to have the strongest economy in the world, beginning in 1906 and ‘07, and working our way through.
Now, does anybody think if we were deciding to catch up, and a lot — everybody has caught up with us, basically, around the world.  If we were going to say, “Well, what — what’s the minimum education you think Americans need to compete in the 21st century — the second quarter of 21st century?”  Do you think they’d say 12 years is enough? 
THE PRESIDENT:  No, I mean, really not.  It’s a fact, it’s not.  Things have changed.
And so, we all have — massive studies have been done by four of the great universities over the last seven years.  If you have a kid going to school at age three, four, and five — not daycare, school — school — it increases the prospect by 56 percent they’ll go all the way through 12 years of school without difficulty and at least be — acquire an apprenticeship or two years at community college. 
And what’s — you know, a lot of you are very successful businessmen.  I met with — when I was Vice President, and with the Secretary of Commerce, we had — at Barack’s request, we wanted to meet — we met with the Fortune 500 CEOs — met with 320 — 343 of them.  And I asked them what do they need most.  One at a time.  I spent — it was a four-hour meeting.  One at a time.  And they said, “A better educated workforce.”  I said, “I agree.”
But I come from the state of corporate America, Delaware.  More corporations are incorporated in the state of Delaware than the entire rest of the nation combined.  And I got elected.  I’m not anti-corporation, but I got elected seven times senator in that state, which was a red state when I began.
The point being that the DuPont Company used to be the eighth largest corporation in the world.  Now it’s much smaller compared — in the world.  But when it bought a new enterprise, it educated his workers to how to — from the technical side.  No — corporations aren’t doing that anymore.  They expect the public to provide that. 
Well — and I said, “So, why — if you guys agree you need a better-educated public, why — workforce — why are you arguing against what I’m trying to get done in terms of increasing it?”  Many of you are — have — have taught, are teachers, or you have children who are teachers.  You know the statistics.  Any child who comes from a broken home, or mom or dad is a drug addict, or having real difficulty — by the time they reach kindergarten or first grade, they will have heard 1 million fewer words spoken — spoken — the same word, but, I mean, they don’t sit at the dinner table and have conversations.  They don’t have access.  
And guess what?  It shows that if you put a kid — their brains are developing rapidly at this point — if you put them in a circumstance where they’re exposed, they can do well.  They can do well. 
So, but what are these guys want to do?  They want to cut access to education — the new group.  They want to cut Pell Grants for poor — you have to be making less than 60 grand to have a Pell Grant to get to college and a community college.  They want to cut it.  They want to cut it.  They don’t want to do anything about Trump’s tax cut that was $2 trillion.  It did not do very much except created a gigantic deficit. 
More deficit was created under Donald Trump in four years.  It increased the overall national debt by 22 percent.  The overall on the 100- — 200-year national debt. 
And so, folks, there was a big choice coming up here.  A big choice.  What are we going to do?  I doubt whether any of you believe that this present leadership in the Republican Party is one that reflects basic conservative, Republican values.  I — I — and if there is, I haven’t seen it, for real. 
And so what this is all about — and I guess, going back to my dad — you know, don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget.  Well, they want to cut their discretionary budget by 20 percent across the board.  That’s everything.  That’s everything. 
I mean — and I don’t know if any of you watched the State of the Union, but it was a fascinating exercise.  I — I always feel comfortable speaking before the Congress; I’ve done it my whole life.  Not a — I’ve only done it three times as President, as a — but here’s what happened.  I said, you know, the Republican — the leading Republicans ran on supporting candidates who agreed to cut Social Security and cut Medicare.  And the distinguished lady from North Ca- — from Georgia, who’s from the mountains — (laughter) — started yelling, “Liar!  Liar!  Liar!”  And about a half a dozen start yelling, “Liar.”  And I said — and then, that group said, “We don’t want to cut.”  I said, “All Republicans in this chamber who don’t want to cut Social Security or Medicare…” — fix it, but not cut it — “…raise your hand.”  And they all stood in a big group — about all of them.  And I said, “You’re not going to cut it?”  They said, “No.”  I said, “You’re all on camera.”  (Laughter.)  You’re all on camera.  (Applause.)
But, folks, you know, we — we’re — you know, what happened to those manufacturing jobs?  Well, we went from
incorporating — bringing in labor and jobs and exporting product, to exporting jobs and bringing in product.  Why?  Because all of a sudden, beginning about 23 years ago, major corporations in America said, “I can go to Cambodia and get it done cheaper.  I can go to — I can go overseas and get it done cheaper with cheap labor.”
Like, for example, they’re still in — in parts of Xinjiang Province in China, they have slave labor.  For real.  The Uyghurs.  They — they get it done a hell of a lot cheaper. 
Well, guess what?  We changed that dynamic.  We said we’re going to import jobs and export product.  And why I’ve went around the world — literally around the world, not figuratively — literally around the world and met with a group of the nations about wanting to invest in America. 
And we used to — we used to control, for example, that — we invented the computer chip.  We invented that little thing that you need for your automobiles, for cell phones.  We made it, and we made it work.  Well, guess what?  We don’t make it anymore.  You remember when car prices went up so much in 2021?  It’s because they didn’t have access to chips. 
So, we put together a CHIPS and Science Act.  We used to develop — we used to — we used to invest 2 percent of our GDP — our gross domestic product — in research and development.  We now invest 0.7 percent.  Well, guess what?  I said we got to get more people manufacturing here, and we have to have chip manufacturing.  Well, now we have a commitment of $300 billion of investment from — in America and around the world in the United States.
We’re going to own it again, because I refuse to be the end of the supply chain.  Most of you had never heard of a supp- –never talked about a supply chain three years ago until, all of a sudden, you found out.  “The supply chain?  What the hell is that?”  It means the basic product we need to build larger products coming from abroad.  Well, now it’s coming from the United States.
For example, out in — Intel — out just west of Columbus, Ohio — they’re going to invest a total of — I think the number is $13 billion.  No, excuse me, $20 billion in their first effort.  And they’re going to need to need — and it’s called — I call it the “field of dreams.”  There’s two — there’s a thousand acres out there that’s being developed.  They’re going to build two of what they call fabs.  They call the factories “fabs.”  It’s going to take 7,000 construction people to build these fabs, and they’re going to make union wages to do it. 
And in addition to that, there’s 5,000 jobs running the factories making the chips.  You know what the average salary in those factories is going to be?  A hundred and thirty thousand dollars.  And you don’t need a college degree for all of them; you need the training. 
So — and there’s $300 billion being invested over the next 10 years: Syracuse; Poughkeepsie, New York.  Arizona.  All around the world. 
And think what’s happened.  It’s happened here in parts of Nevada, but it’s happened primarily in the Midwest.  People have lost their sense of their self-worth.  When you have a factory with — employing 2,000 people in a relatively small town in the Midwest, and all of a sudden it closes and goes overseas, you lose the ri- — so many people you know from the Midwest.  How many of you heard them say, “I — my son, daughter got a good education but came to me and said, ‘I can’t say here, Mom.  Can’t stay here, Dad.  There’s no work.  There’s no work.’”  We hollowed out the area. 
We’re going to rebuild it.  We’re going to rebuild it in a massive way, and it’s going to — may be good for business, and the wealthy are going to do very well, making a lot of money; the middle class are going to have a shot; and, most importantly, the people who never had a shot are going to have a way up. 
I’m talking too long, and I apologize for doing that.  Because I — particularly for some of you standing.  My staff is over there going, “Grrr.” (Laughter.) 
But, folks, look — we have a real choice in this election — unrelated to me — unrelated to me — between the Democrats and Republicans and what they stand for and what they’re about, in terms of what they want to get done and what they want to do, the — this new Republican Party, the new leadership in the —
And, by the way, you know, I met with the Speaker of the House.  He’s not a bad guy; he’s a decent guy.  And he sat with me and he — he said, “Well, what are we going to do?”  I said, “I’ll tell you what.  I’ll su- — submit my — submit my budget in detail on the 9th of March.  You submit yours, and I’ll negotiate.  We’ll sit down, and we’ll see what we can do.”  Because I’m cu- — and my — this present budget I introduced is going to reduce the debt another $3 trillion. 
What they’ve introduced so far is going to increase the debt three-point- — increase it $3.7 trillion.  So it’s about a little bit of transparency in what we’re doing.
And I haven’t even talked about foreign policy; time won’t permit.  But the bottom line is: These guys are talking about not funding so many pieces of our foreign policy.  So many pieces. 
One of the things I’m proud to say: I’m — and I can say it because other world leaders have said it about me.  And I — I’ve been able to hold NATO together.  NATO was about to split (inaudible).  (Applause.)
A couple of you said you met with the — you heard I was with the Prime Minister of Australia.  We just put together a thing called AUKUS, meaning we’re going to allow Australia to have nuclear power.  No nuclear weapons, but nuclear-powered submarines.  And it’s going to change the entire Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.  It’s going to do —
So there’s so much we can do.  I am — have never been so — more optimistic about the chances for America to take back the standard we had where the rest of the world looks to us and we look to them, because we are — we are — we are, as Madeleine Albright said, the essential nation.
I’ll conclude with a quick story.  I went to the first what they call G7 meetings, the largest democracies in the world.  And it was in London — excuse me, it was in England.  And it was down on the south side of England, on the water.  And we sat down for the first meeting.  And I looked and I said, “America is back.”  And Macron looked at me and said, “For how long?”  “For how long?”  And then the Chancellor of Germany looked at me and said, “We trust you.  But how long can you get — can we keep what you’re doing?”  And I said, “Yes.”  And then the Prime — the Chancellor of Germany said, “What would you think, Mr.  President, if you went to bed tonight here in Great Britain, you woke up the next morning and found out that a thousand people have stormed the Parliament, broken down the doors of the House of Commons, killed several police officers, threatened the rest of the Parliament to overturn a parliamentary decision or an election?” 
Think about it.  What would we think if we read that tomorrow, if we read that the same thing happened in Paris or the same thing happened in other capitals of the world?
Well, the world looked and saw that happen here.  Our democracy is literally at stake.  When I made that speech early on and I said, in 2022, we were going to — we were going to come close to winning, no one ever has kept that many seats in an off-year.  Okay?  And everybody thought I was nuts. 
It’s — because I’d gone around the country.  And I made a speech at — in Philadelphia.  And I said democracy is at risk and then laid out why.  Sixty-two percent of the American people thought it was at risk.  Sixty-two percent. 
And now you turn on the television today — as I got here on Air Force One, I’m watching — and you got western Oregon deciding they’re going to secede and become part of Idaho.  What in the hell is going on? (Laughter.)  Idaho is a beautiful state.  But, no, I’m serious.  There’s actually — they’ve actually moved hard.  They’ve passed resolutions in the state to do that. 
So, there’s so much at stake, but there’s so much opportunity.  We have to remember one thing: We’re the United States of America.  There’s nothing — I mean this — nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together.  Nothing.  Nothing. 
Am I — asked me what I wanted to do to change the attitude of the American people, I said, “Cure cancer.”  And they looked at me — “Why?”  Because Americans began to lose faith that we can do big things.  Well, guess what?  I got $5 billion, and we’re about to cure some cancers.  (Applause.)  No, I mean it.
So, anyway — I know.  I know.  He’s looking — the boss is looking for a microphone.  Go ahead.  Shut it down, man.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Appreciate it.  (Applause.)
7:59 P.M. PDT

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Remarks by President Biden on Efforts to Reduce Gun Violence

Tue, 03/14/2023 - 18:49

The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley
Monterey Park, California

1:37 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Please have a seat, if you have one.  (Laughter.)

Good afternoon.  Saturday, January 21st, 2023, Lunar New Year, a time to enjoy.  A ballroom dance studio, a place of happiness, friendship, and belonging.  People across backgrounds and generations celebrating their cultural roots and bonding through ballroom song and dance.

A place of refuge where immigrants have lived for years, supported new immigrants who just arrived, becoming not just friends but family.

But as we all saw, a day of festivity and light turned into a day of fear and darkness.  A holiday of hope and possibilities marked by horror and pain.  Vibrant dances and music replaced by vigils and memorials.  Eleven souls taken.  Nine injured.  Private mourning made public. 

That sense of safety shattered.  Survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars.  Families left behind who will never be the same.

One of the worst mass shootings in California history.  A tragedy that has pierced the soul of this nation, here in Monterey Park, in the San Gabriel Valley, the heart of the Asian American community.

My dear friend, Judy Chu, former Mayor of Monterey Park and your Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific [American] Caucus.

Senator Alex Padilla, a champion for this community and the entire state.

Our good friend, Supervisor Hilda Solis, and all elected officials, law enforcement, first responders, faith leaders, community members all here today.

You’ve shown up for this community, and I know you always will. 

To the families of victims who spend time — I get a chance to meet with today and whom Vice President Harris spent time with a few weeks ago, I’m here on behalf of the American people to mourn with you, to pray with you, to let you know you’re loved and not alone.

Every case is different, but I know what it’s like.  I know what it’s like to get that call.  I know what it’s like to be told.  I know what it’s like to lose a loved one so suddenly.  It’s like losing a piece of your soul.  It’s like a black hole in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into. 

Suffocating, hardly able to breath.  The anger.  The pain.  The depths of the loss so profound it’s hard to explain.  The suddenness tends to magnify the grief.

And as time passes, the shock and numbness slowly make way for the sobering reality of their absence.

That empty chair at the dinner table.  The birthdays, the anniversaries, the holidays without them.

Everyday things, small things, the details you miss the most.  The scent when you open that closet door.  The park you go by that you used to stroll in.  The morning tea you shared together.  The bend of his smile.  The perfect pitch of her laugh. 

As Judy shared with me, this is a tight-knit community with intergenerational households and deep reverence and respect

for its elders.  A community that’s opened its heart and its homes to friends and neighbors, and stood strong throughout the pandemic as anti-Asian hate crimes rose.

A community that in the face of horrific tragedy has become a symbol of hope and resilience.  Pushing forward together, healing together. 

People from all faiths and backgrounds rallying to show their love and support, raising money for funeral costs and memorials, providing counseling and translation services to the victims’ families.  Providing and proving that even with heavy hearts we have unbreakable spirits.

As a nation, remember them: immigrants from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan — all of whom found a home in America. 

Mr. Ma, age 72.  A pillar of the community.  A beloved manager and dance instructor at Star Ballroom.  He’d walk patrons to their cars at night.  Helped new immigrants find jobs.  His children and grandchildren will carry on his legacy in the spirit of one of his favorite Chinese proverbs, “Cherish the people in front of you.”  “Cherish the people in front of you.”

Andy Kao, 72.  “Mr. Nice” for his kindness, his positivity, his infectious smile.  A free spirit always ready to lend a helping hand.  He died shielding his dance partner.

Xiu Juan Yu, 57.  Devoted mom, wife, sister.  A woman of faith.  Always there to help others bringing food and newspapers to family members who had trouble walking.  Always — always working tirelessly with her husband to build a future for their three children.

Nancy Jian, 62.  Known as “Sister Sunshine.”  She loved to play cards, piano, and a weekly volleyball game.  Always sharing her homegrown plants and vegetables with neighbors and friends.

A dedicated mom married nearly 40 years — a husband and wife who were always together, even in their last dance.

Valentino Alvero, 68 years old.  A servant of God.  Life of the party.  Storyteller who made the whole room laugh.  A man devoted to his children and his grandchildren.

Mymy Nhan, 65.  Bedrock of her family and friends.  Eternal optimist.  Avid dancer who’d visit the studio every weekend, often leaving snacks behind for her classmates.  She radiated positive energy through her laughter, her kind words, and her smile.

Muoi Dai Ung, 67.  Refugee.  A community builder.  A cherished friend, known for her kindness, her sweetness, her generosity.  Her beloved family, the center of her world.

Diana Tom, 70.  Devoted daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother who loved to sing karaoke.  A giver and an adventurer who loved to explore new foods and travel the world.

Charles Yau, 76.  Grateful.  Reflective.  Believed in living to the — life to the fullest.  He constantly showed his family and friends and showered them with warm words of encouragement, hope, and love.

[Wen]-Tau Yu, 64.  A lifelong learner, he retired as a business manager and was pursuing a second career as a pharmacist while caring for his elder mother — elderly mother.  A man beloved by his wife, children, and friends for his compassion, his determination, and his wisdom.

Lily Li, 63.  A matriarch with absolute strength, optimism, and grace.  Her daughter wrote, “Stolen is the grandmother whose granddaughter fell asleep many nights nestled between her loving arms.  Taken away is the opportunity for her grandson to feel her love and warmth.”

All of them lived lives of love, sacrifice, and service for their families, for their community.  They represent a bigger story of who we are as Americans, embodying the simple truth that our diversity — our diversity is the strength of this nation.

We saw that strength in Maria Liang, owner of Star Ballroom, who I want to thank for pouring her heart into creating a warm and welcome space to bring the community together, especially seniors. 

And we saw that strength in Brandon Tsay, who met me at the airport, whom Jill and I have gotten to know.  Twenty minutes after the rampage at Star Ballroom, Brandon saw the same shooter walk into his family’s own dance studio just two miles away, pointing a gun at him.  In an instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic firearm away.

Brandon saved lives.  He protected the community.

At Half Moon Bay, just two days later — (applause) — you’ve got it.  (Applause.) 

Brandon, stand up.  (Applause.)

At Half Moon Bay, just two days later, we saw heroism from police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who rushed into the danger to save lives.

As many of you know, Jill and I invited Brandon as our guest at the State of the Union message because we wanted the country to know all of you — not just Brandon, all of you.  The character of this community.  The faith you have in this community.  The pride.  We see across — we see it in you across all of American life.

Just this week, a film about resilience and power of the Asian American immigrant family made history at the Oscars — (applause) — echoing the heart of so many in this community.

But we also hear a message we’ve heard too often, including two years ago this week, after the spa shooting at the Atlanta — in the Atlanta area: Enough.  Do something. 

We remember and mourn today, but I am here with you today to act.   

Last year, after the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, I signed into law, after being in both places, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun safety law in almost 30 years.

That was in addition to me signing more executive actions

to reduce gun violence than any of my predecessors at this point in their presidencies.

Today, I’m announcing another executive order that will accelerate and intensify this work to save more lives more quickly.

First, this executive order helps keep firearms out of dangerous hands, as I continue to call on Congress to require background checks for all firearm sales.  (Applause.)  And in the meantime — in the meantime, my executive order directs my Attorney General to take every lawful action possible — possible to move us as close as we can to universal background checks without new legislation.

I just — it’s just common sense to check whether someone is a felon, a domestic abuser, before they buy a gun.

The executive order also expands public awareness campaigns about the “red flag” orders — the laws — which my son, when he — before he died — Attorney General of Delaware — was a great proponent of it and instituted it.  So more parents, teachers, police officers, health providers, and counselors know how to flag for the — a court that someone is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that make them a danger to themselves and others and temporarily remove that person’s access to firearms.

And it promotes — this executive order — safe storage for firearms, something every responsible gun owner agrees with.

The second thing it does — the executive order ramps up our efforts to hold the gun industry accountable.  It’s the only outfit you can’t sue these days.  It does that by calling out for an independent government study that analyzes and exposes how gun manufacturers aggressively market firearms to civilians, especially minors, including by using military imagery.

And it directs the Attorney General to public release — publicly release Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fam- — and Firearms inspection reports of firearms dealers who were cited for violation of the law.  (Applause.)  That way, policymakers can strengthen laws to crack down on these illegal gun dealers and the public can avoid purchasing from them.

Third, the executive order improves federal coordination to support victims, survivors, and their families and communities affected by mass shootings the same way FEMA responds to your natural disasters in California and all around the nation.  And it will help folks recover and build after wi- — that — they help folks recover and build after wildfires and superstorms and droughts.

For example, we need to provide more mental health support and grief — for grief and trauma — (applause) — and more financial assistance when a family loses the sole breadwinner or when a small business shuts down due to a lengthy shooting investigation.

There’s more in this executive order, but I’m not stopping there.

Last week, I laid out in my budget that we invest more in safer communities and expand access to mental health services for those affected by gun violence.  (Applause.) 

Congressional Republicans should pass my budget instead of calling for cuts to these services or defunding the police or abolishing the FBI, as we hear from our MAGA Republican friends.

But let’s be clear: None of this absolves Congress the responsibility — from the responsibility of acting to pass universal background checks, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.  (Applause.)

And I am determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  (Applause.)  I led that fight in — to ban them in 1994.  In the 10 years that law was in place, mass shootings went down. 

Our Republicans friends let it expire, and it — and 10 years later, and mass shootings tripled since then.  Tripled. 

So let’s finish the job.  Ban assault weapons.  Ban them again.  Do it now.  Enough.  Do something.  Do something big.  (Applause.)

Folks, let me close with this.  Scripture says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  A lot of us have been there. 

As we gather here today, I know your hearts are broken, but I know your spirits are strong.

And as you remember and heal, I know the light of your loved one is once again going to lead you forward. 

It takes time.  I tell everyone — at least it did with me — it takes time.  But I promise you — I promise you the day will come when the memory of your loved one brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.  The tear will never fully go away.  But when you had that smile first (inaudible), that’s when you know — that’s when you know you’re going to make it — you’re going to know you’re going to make it.  

And my prayer for all of you is that day will come sooner than later, but I promise you it will come. 

God bless you all.  I admire you so damn much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

1:56 P.M. PDT


The post Remarks by President<span class="dewidow"> </span>Biden on Efforts to Reduce Gun<span class="dewidow"> </span>Violence appeared first on The White House.

Remarks by President Biden at a Democratic National Committee Reception

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 22:00

Private Residence
Rancho Santa Fe, California

6:47 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you for the comment about the book, Allan.  I — I appreciate it.  And tell your wife I said, “Thank you for all the preparation.”  It’s never easy.  Everybody says, “No problem.”  You have to work like the devil to get it done.  (Laughter.)
And I want to thank all of you for not just the help, but for taking the time.  Your time is more valuable than anything else.  And thank you for doing this.  I really mean it. 
You know, I heard you had read the book.  The book is “Promise Me, Dad.”  It’s about my son.  And my son — my number-one son who should be the one standing here as President, not me.  He was the attorney general in the state of Delaware.
And he volunteered to go with his unit to Iraq for a year.  And he was — he came back.  He was near one of those burn pits.  I was in and out of Iraq over 26 times, and those — you know the burn pits I’m talking about?  Those — they’re 8 to 10 feet deep and the size of football fields that burn everything in it from combustible — anyway.  And an awful lot — just like those firefighters, you know, on 9/11.  Well, he came back.  He went one of the fittest men in his unit, came back with stage four glioblastoma. 
And I know a lot of you have — as you came through the line — talked to me about cancer and how important it was to deal with it.  And — and there’s nothing like — you lose someone to cancer, it’s like losing a piece of your soul, losing a part of you. 
And — but I hope you found — anyone who’s had a loss — the thing that I found, which is that, you know, they never — it never goes away.  It becomes part of you.  And I find myself asking — for real, Mom — I find myself asking myself, in important decisions I have to make, “What would Beau do?  What would Beau do?” 
And so, thank you for acknowledging you read the book. 
And I want to thank — you know, and I’m not sure I rescued you from — from Sacramento, but thank you for being here, Senator.  (Laughter.) 
And — and I also want to thank Scott Peters for being here.  You know, I’ve served with an awful lot of members of Congress.  I served in the United States Senate for longer than I’d like to admit.  I was proud to be in there for 36 years.  And you can make distinctions among the people you serve with. 
And the highest compliment I can give any member of the — that stands for public office is they have absolute integrity.  Absolute integrity.  This man has integrity from the tip of his shoes to the top of his brow.  And it matters.  It matters.  You know — (applause) —
I mean this sincerely: You only have — when you’re — when you’re in public life, you only have one thing for certain that you can offer, and that is: Are you a person of your word?  Can people count on what you say?  And will they stand there?
I was 29 years old when I got elected to the United States Senate.  And I came from a — not a poor background, but a modest background.  My dad never had a chance to go to college.  We lived in a three-bedroom home, a split-level home with a — with four kids and a grandpop.  And — but we — we were fine.  It was when we were developing suburban areas and they’re building 60 homes alike.  That kind of thing. 
And — and the interesting thing was that — well, for my dad, it was always about —
At any rate, I ended up running for office against a man in 1972 — when I was 29 years old — who was a decent man.  Matter of fact, he — he endorsed me the second time I ran.  He was a — this ain’t your father’s Republican Party.  This is when there were other Republicans.  And he was — he was very much involved in the environmental movement and a lot.  Anyway, a good man. 
And Nixon won my state by 65 percent of the vote.  And I won by a whopping 3,100-vote majority — a plurality.  And that’s because I have — you guys are only missing one thing.  You got three brothers together like I did, but we had a sister who was smarter and better looking than all of us.  And she managed — (laughter) — she managed all my campaigns. 
And so, when I ran and I won, everybody would say, “Well, you’re 29 and you meet a guy who was — you beat a guy who was very popular.  What’s your secret?”  Every time anyone was going to run for office — and I mean this is certainly; my word as a Biden — they’d say, “What’s — what’s the secret?  There must be something special.  Because how the hell did you win?”  And I’d say — you know, I’d just look at them.
And finally, I figured out what — and this is what I like about Scott — is — you know, I said, “The secret you have to communicate to people is what is worth — what are you worth — what is worth to you to lose?  What’s worth losing over?”  Because if you don’t know what you’re willing to lose over, then you should be in another business.  It doesn’t mean you’re bad or good.  Just, you can make a lot more money doing other things.  You can do a lot of things without a lot of grief.  But what’s worth losing over?
And, folks, there’s another — and that’s what you are, pal. 
THE PRESIDENT:  No, I really — no, I really mean it.  I really genuinely mean it. 
And we have different politics these days, as you’ve all observed.  You know, you may remember this.   In the tw- — after the 2020 election, which, finally, even Fox News is admitting I won.  (Laughter.)
But — (laughs) — you think I’m kidding.  (Laughter.) 
But, you know, it was — after that election, I predicted we were going to do well in the off-year election.  We were supposed to get clobbered.  We were supposed to lose in 2022 overwhelmingly, and I was sure we weren’t going to lose.  And — because I think the American public has moved to a place where they’re genuinely worried about our democracy.  Not a joke.  That’s not hyperbole. 
And I made a speech at Independence Hall saying, “Democracy is at stake.”  And I was very, very graphic about what was at stake.  And we only lost by five votes, and we shouldn’t have lost that.  They were in New York State.  And we actually picked up governor seats. 
My point is this: The American public, I think, knows what they want.  And — but we have allowed, because of the nature of how — and I know the press is here and there’s good folks in the press.  The — I think if you’ve got — pull them aside, like I get pulled aside and ask them honestly, you know, “What’s it like being in the press these days?”  Not a joke.   “What’s it like being in the press these days?”  And it gets kind of hard.  It gets kind of hard. 
And so — you know, and people tune in to what they want to hear.  Everybody, if you’re — if you’re a moderate to liberal, you want to look at MSNBC.  That’s the only thing you’ll watch on cable.  If you’re conservative, you’ll turn to Fox.  And it’s just getting too narrow what we’re doing. 
And I think the American public is a lot more united on critical things than we give them credit for, but it’s awful hard these days to — to overcome, understandably, the cynicism and the like. 
You know, I just think that — you know, we’ve made some historic progress in the last two years.  No matter whether I were President or not, it happened.  We made historic progress.  We’ve created 12 million new jobs, more than — (applause) — no — that’s more jobs in two years than any President has created in four years.  We’ve created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs.  Eight hundred thousand.
Where is it written that we won’t be the manufacturing capital of the world again?  Where — where does it say that? 
But we acted like that wasn’t the case because we allowed certain things to happen.  It was really easy in the past for — and I hope I don’t offend anybody, but I am going to just say what I believe — it was really easy before, because what would happen is: Corporate America, beginning — and I come from the corporate state of the world; more corporations in my state than every other state in the Union combined.  Okay?  And I won 36 years in a row.  So I’m not — I’m a capitalist; I’m not anti-corporation. 
But what happened about — it started about 20 years ago.  It started to find — chase labor costs.  And so a lot of corporations decided it was better to go find jobs overseas, which are cheaper — cheaper labor — and import the products. 
Well, I decided we should change that dynamic.  We should be importing things — we should be importing jobs from overseas and sending product overseas.  And that’s begun to happen, because we’re no longer looking for the — that formula. 
When I announced for the presidency of the United States in 2020, I said I was running for three reasons.  One was to restore the soul of this country.  And I — that was not, again — to use the word twice — hyperbole.  That was — the — the — the dialogue had degraded so much — the way we talked to one another, the way we — we described one another in politics. 
You know, I remember I — my — after my son had died, I decided I was never going to run for public office again.  And so I got a — I became a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania.  And they set up the Biden Institute, and I could hire people that I brought from my — the former administration.  And I was able to do that.  And I enjoyed it. 
But when I saw those folks coming out of the woods, literally, down in Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying torches — carrying torches, and singing the same antisemitic vile that was sung in the ‘30s in Germany, with swastikas, and accompanied by the white supremacist — the Ku Klux Klan, the leader.  And a young woman was killed.  I talked to her mom.  A young woman was killed. 
And the last guy who had this job, they asked, “Well, can you describe what happened?”  He said, “Well, there were two groups of very good people.  There were two very good groups of people.”  And that’s when I decided that I had to do something. 
And what happened was — then I concluded that I just wasn’t going to do it, because I knew how mean and ugly the race would be, because things have gotten meaner and uglier.  And I have — I have — I had two children left and four grand- — five grandchildren.  And what happened was that I decided I just couldn’t do it. 
We have a tradition in our family.  Not a joke.  Any child can ask for a family meeting.  It only has occurred about 10 times from the time of my fathers, but I really mean it.  If there was something serious on their mind, they’re taken seriously. 
So I got a phone call from my eldest granddaughter, named after my deceased daughter.  And Naomi called.  And she was, at that time, a senior at Columbia Law School.  She said, “We’d like to have a family meeting, Pop.”  And then I had one who was a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, one who was a soph- — a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.  And the one is with me tonight, who is my — the love of my life, Natalie — my deceased son’s oldest.  She’s going to be a freshman at Penn next year.  And my son — my grandson, little Hunter Biden. 
And so, we had the meeting in the library with just Jill, me, and my — my — at that time — I have six now, I had four grandchildren — or, excuse me, five grandchildren — three granddaughters and — four granddaughters and a grandson.  And they started to tell me why they thought I should run. 
And my granddaughter said, “Well, you know, Daddy would want you to run, Pop.  Daddy would want you to run.”  I said, “It’s going to be too mean, honey.” 
And I ended up — without taking you through it all — my youngest — Hunter, who is now just — just was at — just last night his 18th birthday — 17th birthday.  He took out his cellphone, and he said, “Pop we know it’s going to be mean,” and showed me a photograph on the cellphone of me walking out of the memorial mass for my son Beau where there are 2,000 people who showed up — with my hand on a straight — hand on a — on a flag-draped coffin.  He won the — he won the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Medal.  He was a hell of a guy.  And I had my arm around my son — the way I put my arm — I had my arm around my grandson like this — (puts hand on shoulder of audience member) — when we’re walking.  And my other hand was on the coffin.  And the caption in the — in the — on the — I got to know which unit it was on — said, “Biden molests another child.”  He said, “We know it’s going to be ugly, Pop.” 
And that’s when I decided to go ahead and run.  Because, look, folks, that’s not who we are.  That is not who we are as a people.  I don’t believe that for a second.  It’s a distinct minority and it’s been given too much license, but that’s not who we are.  And so I decided to run. 
And when I did, I decided the best thing — there are certain things that are — you know, as I said, back when I told you why ran in the first place — there are certain things worth losing over.  There are certain things worth losing over.  It’s not worth the job if you have to support things you really don’t think are correct. 
If it’s a toss-up, I go with what the public opinion is.  But if it’s anything else, I go with what I think. 
And so, what happened was we were told we couldn’t do anything in a bipartisan way.  But guess what?  We passed more major bipartisan legislation than anybody has in the recent past.  We, first of all, passed the first piece of — major piece of legislation, which bailed out every state, county, and city in America; it was almost $2 trillion, without a single Republican vote.  But it brought — it kept us from emptying our nurses and hospitals and making sure we had first responders and — because the cities and counties didn’t have the money from tax reser- — from tax revenue to pay to keep them on — on the job. 
And then, what we did was we sat down and, you know, made sure that we began to focus on the Inflation Reduction Act, which we put in, for example, a $369 billion investment in climate, because it is the existential threat to humanity. 
Our grandchildren and great grandchildren are either going to live lives that are decent and honorable and good, or they’re going to be in real trouble.  If we let the — if we go to about 1.5 centigrade [sic] above — degrees above where we are now, we’re done; there’s no way to turn it around, according to the scientists that tell us. 
And so, we passed that.  And then we — what we did was we decided to focus on inflation because it was bad.  And we brought down inflation 30 percent since the summer.  Gas prices are down more than $1.50 from their peak. 
And NATO united in Europe is — under Ukraine — to do with Ukraine.  Remember, when the war started, I was unfortunately — because I had access that I made sure that I was going to not reveal what the intelligence people call “sources and methods” — who said it or did it.  But I got — I got clearance from the intelligence community.  And remember, I said that those 158,000 people along the border, those Russians on the Ukrainian border — I said they’re going to invade.  Because I wanted everybody to know we knew what was happening.  And they invaded.  The largest invasion since World War Two.  Over 185,000 Russian troops invaded. 
And so, because he counted on the fact that NATO was not going to hold, NATO would split, we wouldn’t all agree.  Well, I’ve spent literally over 1,800 hours dealing with all those NATO leaders — as recently as today, by the way, with one of them, from Great Britain — holding us together, not because of me, but just working it.  Because I’m convinced that if we stay together, they cannot succeed. 
And so, the end result of all that is that Putin was of the of the mind that he was going to be able to break NATO and split the Alliance and that’s when everything would begin to fall apart. 
Well, folks, you see what’s happening to those Ukrainians.  They’re a brave people.  God love them, as my mother would say.  God love them.  They’re doing a remarkable job.  And now you have 144 members of the United States — of — excuse me, of the United Nations — saying that the Russians are dead wrong, they’re engaged in — in serious genocide that’s going on in that country.  They don’t say “genocide” — war crimes. 
But the point I’m making is that there was a miscalculation.  And so, we’ve all stayed together.  And the end result has been that NATO is — they’re still hanging on.  Who knows what exactly is going to happen from here on in.  That’s another issue.
But the point is that we held democracies that — we held the democracies together, all of us. 
And so, in addition, we passed the most significant bipartisan gun safety law in 30 years — ghost guns and other things.  But, you know, you may remember, I got in a lot of trouble because, 15 or 20 years earlier, I’m the guy that passed the — I was the guy that wrote the assault weapons ban and limited the number of bullets that can be in a clip.  Who in God’s name needs a 100-bullet magazine on a gun for any reason other than to kill people? 
And so, it passed.  And violent and mass murderers went down significantly in that 10 years, from the early ‘90s, when we passed it, until the first Republican administration came along and they couldn’t get the votes to keep it. 
But the point is, we got — for 30 years, we got nothing done on guns.  Well, now we got the gun law passed, and it’s helping.  But I’m not going to rest until we pass the assault weapons ban and a mag- — and a limitation on the magazines that are existing. 
And so, you know, it used to be that we were the ones who were — we spent 2 percent of our GDP on research and development as a nation.  We used to be number one in the world.  Now we’re number nine in the world.  China used to be number eight in the world.  Now they’re number one in the world — number two in the world.
We are the nation of innovation, research and development.  But we stopped investing in both of those things, not only — I’m going to get to it in a second — not only in terms of medicine, but in terms of everything. 
And so, when we passed that bill, we passed — I — we wrote a bill that was called the CHIPS and Science Act.  The CHIPS and Science Act has attracted a commitment of $300 billion in investment from around the world and here in the United States.  The first major initiative to build these computer chips, which are the size — little size of the tip of your little finger and are extremely — needed for everything, from automobiles to your new refrigerators and every major initiative we have going on. 
Well, guess what?  We weren’t able to get them during the pandemic because we were importing them from Asia, South Asia; we were importing them from other places, and we couldn’t get them. 
And that’s why — for example, the reason why inflation spiked two years ago is we couldn’t buy any automobiles.  The cost of automobiles went up so high because they didn’t have the computer chips to make our automobiles.  And so, the end result was we got this passed. 
And — for example, the first major initiative is a $20 billion investment by Intel, just about 20 miles, not even that far, west of Cleveland, in a thousand acres of what I call the “field of dreams.”  They’re going to build two “fabs,” they call them. 
It’s going to take a total of 12,000 workers to do it; 7,000 construction workers making a union wage.  I make no apologies for that.  And number two, 5,000 people are going to work in these fabs.  You know what the average salary of these fabs are going to be?  A hundred and thirty thousand dollars a year.  And you don’t need a college degree. 
And that’s — now, we have commitments for $300 billion for that investment.  We just announced the same thing up in Syracuse, New York; Poughkeepsie, New York; out in — and Arizona and New Mexico.  It’s going to be all over the country. 
And we’re going to put people to work, and we’re going to be the beginning of the supply chain, not the end.  And we’re going to make it available everybody, to other countries as well.  But you’re just not going to be on the short end of that supply chain any longer.  And it’s beginning to have a real impact.  It’s going to create thousands of good-paying jobs. 
In addition to that, what we did was we passed the — the infrastructure law.  You know, how can you be — you all know, if you ever get involved — and I can tell anybody who works at the state legislature or anywhere else — you want to attract a business, what do you have to do?  First question they ask you: “How close is the nearest port?  Where’s — what’s the access to highway or rail?  What’s the…”  And it goes on.  Because they want to make a product they can get to market as quick as possible.
How can you be the leading country in the world with a second-rate infrastructure?  We used to rank number one.  Now we ranked number 15 in the world.  How did that happen?  What do we do?
So, guess what?  We’re creating thousands upon thousands of good-paying jobs.  And we’re investing in everything — not just roads and ports and bridges, which we’re doing — but also high- speed Internet that’s available and safe and cheap for everyone in America, making sure that you don’t have to — if you have to — if you have another shutdown on the schools for whatever reason, you don’t have to pull in front of the McDonald’s parking lot to connect to the Internet so your kid can do their homework.  Not a joke.
A gentleman told me he is both a doc and a cattle rancher.  Well, if you want to be able to know when to sell your cattle, man, you got to do it — you have to have Internet to be able to be — to know when the best time is.  There’s a whole range of things. 
My generic point is simple: We have to have the best infrastructure in the world if we’re going to have the best economy in the world.  And, again, it creates thousands of new jobs, good jobs. 
And, by the way, we’re investing one- — and it’s bipartisan — $1 trillion 200 billion over 10 years.  Remember last guy around, we talked about “Infrastructure Week” and it never occurred?  We got “Infrastructure Decade” — Infrastructure Decade” to modernize this country in a way that used to be back when we led the world. 
And so, the point I’m making is there’s so much within our power that we can do.  And we’re in a situation where, you know, the — as I — I won’t even get into the Inflation Reduction Act again, but there’s so many things.  And we’re doing all this — at the same time in the last two years, I cut the deb- — we cut the deficit by a larger number than any President has ever in history: $1.7 trillion.  That year, we spent $1.7 trillion less than we spent — I mean, and for all these programs.
And one of the ways we did it is we started to ask people to pay their fair share, just their fair share.  And, for example, there were — in 2020, there were 54 — 55 Fortune 500 companies.  Good folks.  I’m a capitalist, as I said.  But, you know, capitalism without competition is — is not capitalism.  And just pay your fair share. 
So there were 55 companies that made $40 billion and didn’t pay a single penny in tax.  And I did a horrible thing.  I se- — I suggested they should have to pay a minimum of 15 percent.  That’s less than the people putting on this meal for you pay in taxes.  And guess what?  It paid for it all. 
And so, my point is this: My dad used to have an expression.  He’d say that, “Don’t tell me what your value.  Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what your value.”  “Don’t tell me what you value.  Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.” 
Well, I introduced my budget last week, and it reflects what I value.  And “everyone deserves a fair shot” is my basic value. 
And I said, you know, one of — the second reason I ran was to rebuild the backbone of the country, the middle class — build it from the middle class out, and the poor have a way up, and the wealthy still do very well.  Still do very well. 
And so, you know, our tax code should be fair.  And we should build an economy, as I said, from the middle out and the bottom up, and that’s what I would think would be fiscally responsible. 
So we just have very different views this — this new MAGA Republican group.  And I said — I used the phrase twice — it’s not your father’s Republican Party.  This a different deal.  I know Republican senators who served here, and they’re — and a they’re — a lot of them are friends I’ve had now.  Nine Republican senators I used to serve with come in and say, “I agree with you, Joe.  But if I say anything, I’ll lose in a primary.  I’ll lose my seat.”  Not what you call a “profile in courage,” but at least in honesty. 
And so, what’s happening?  For example, the House Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, they just introduc- — introduced — their budget.  It cuts veterans benefits.  It won’t cut subsidies for Big Pharma. 
For example, when we passed the Inflation Reduction, we said for the first time — you know, as you all know, because a lot of docs and people are concerned about cancer in here — one of the things that is at stake is we pay the highest drug prices of any major nation in the world, the highest by a long shot — by a longshot.  And the only thing the law says that — that Medicare and the government can’t negotiate for prices for is in Medicare.  The only one.
And so, we finally said, “No, no, no, you’re going to be able to negotiate with Medicare.”  Because like the Germans and other comp- — other countries have, there’s a limitation on how much you can spend. 
And by the way — so, for example, I’ll bet every one of you know someone who has stage one or stage two diabetes.  Raise your hand if you know anybody who has that.  You need insulin.  It’s been around for 100 years.  It costs $10 to manufacture it.  And it costs, if you package it and the whole deal, you can argue as much as $13.  So, guess what?  We passed a law and set the price at $35 instead of $4- to $600 a month.  It saves people’s lives.  It saves people’s lives. 
And every year for the next five years, we’re going to be able to take 10 more drugs and put them on the market that, in fact, Medicare is going to say we’re going to pay no more than A, B, C, or D. 
Well, guess what?  Eli Lilly decided they’re going to only charge $35 now, and they’re one of the largest producers of insulin.  Well, the likelihood that anybody is going to be able to continue to charge four, five, six hundred bucks is not likely.  And so we’re beginning to make some progress. 
But the point of it is that if, in fact, you — now, you not only cut prices for — for the patient.  Guess what?  This year, you’re going to save — Medicare, the government is going to reduce the deficit by $160 billion.  Hear me?  And not only is it the right thing to do for people, it cuts the deficit by $160 billion.  (Applause.)  $160 billion.  Because Medicare doesn’t have to pay out that $160 billion to pay for the higher prices. 
So — but, folks, there’s a — there’s an awful lot.  There’s an awful lot that — that we can do. 
And here’s the deal.  You know, if you look at what the MAGA Republicans do, I also think it’s long past time we should stop subsidizing Big Oil.  We’re not going to out- — why subsidize Big Oil? 
And the second thing is that we also have — you know, corporate America.  You remember when — Ronald Reagan, your former governor here?  Well, guess what?  He wanted to reduce, and he did reduce, the tax rate from 36 percent for corporations to 28 percent.  If we did even 21 percent, which is supposedly now, we’d raise billions and billions of dollars to pay for all the research I want to talk about. 
But look, the new Republican budget in House includes zero deficit reduction.  Matter of fact, it will — we — when folks talk about, we have no intention of letting the extremes of one party — and they are the extremes.  They’re not the majority, but they will be able to — I think, in House — be able to be successful in terms of what they’re going to do. 
But the point is that what we’re going to do is make sure that they have to make their case.  They say that we’re the big spenders.  Well, if we just implement what we already passed, we — we’re going to win — just what we’ve passed, nothing else.  If we didn’t pass another thing.  It continued to reduce the deficit and the impact on so many other things. 
Look, the stakes are too high for our economy, for our democracy, for our standing in the world.  And I intend to build on the progress and finish the job we set out to do. 
And let me conclude by talking about something I care a lot about.  When I was Vice President, the President allowed me to set up a Cancer Moonshot to begin to make real focus.  Because, for example, certain childhood cancers — the major companies don’t want to invest anything in it, because there’s not that much to make.  If you only have 200,000 people dying of that cancer, it’s not going — they’re not going to put a lot of money into it, and so on. 
A lot of you, I’ve — referenced your concerns to me about cancer when you came in as I met you.  Well, you know, the idea is — this Cancer Moonshot, I’ve revived as — as your President.  I brought it back. 
And what we’re doing here is, I — you know, there’s a thing called DARPA in the defense budget.  It’s the thing that gave us geopositioning.  It’s the thing that gave us all those things that we need that are the cutting-edge elements of the Defense Department.  And I’ve been very involved in foreign policy and defense for a long time. 
And I thought to myself, why don’t we have an ARPA — ARPA-H — the Department of Health and Human Services?  Why don’t we invest the same kind of money to deal with cancer? 
So, so far, I committed we’re going to spend $5 billion.  We have — we’ve committed $250- — $2.5 billion so far, and another $2.5 billion next year.  Well, that’s a hell of a start. 
And again, without being critical of any drug company, who’s going to — going to want to invest all the money they need to invest in if the return is not can be significantly higher than their investment?  Can’t blame them. 
So I think we should be funding this ARPA-H, the Department of — at Health and Human Services.  And I think we can — we’ve significantly reduced — you — many of you in this room have significantly reduced cancer deaths now.  We’re turning some cancers into chronic diseases and be able to be maintained.  And there are a number of cures that are on their — on the edge. 
Look at — look at what happened with Jimmy Carter.  Now, he — I — he asked me to do his eulogy.  I’m — excuse me, I shouldn’t say that.  I’ve spent time with Jimmy Carter.  And it’s finally caught up with him, but they found a way to keep him going for a lot longer than he was anticipated to go because they found a breakthrough.  Immunotherapy is incredibly important.  And, you know, whether it’s for brain cancer or anything else, I am a — I’ve been the recipient of the good work of many of you here.  I have two cranial aneurysms, one major embolism.  Took the top of my head off the second time, Mom, because they said they couldn’t find a brain the first time.  (Laughter.)
But all kidding aside, it’s amazing what our neurosurgeons are able to do and neurologists are able to do.  Amazing.  And I believe we can — my goal is that we cut cancer by 50 percent in the next 25 years at the — at the maximum.  And I think we can do it, and we can turn a lot of cancers — (applause) —
But here’s the deal, you know, and I’ll end with this.  I’m sorry to go on too long, but I’m fairly passionate about this issue. 
You know, I just think we have to remember it’s never been a good bet to bet against America.  It’s never been a good bet to bet against America.  And I think it’s time we finish the job.  The stakes are too high for our economy, for our democracy, for our standing in the world.  And I intend to build on the progress and finish the job we started. 
I’ve long said that there’s nothing beyond our capacity.  I’ve never been more optimistic in my whole career, and I mean this sincerely.  Everybody said, “Why the hell would you be with the way things are?”  And I’ve never been so optimistic of what we can do.  I mean it from the bottom of my heart. 
We’re at an inflection point in human history. 
I had a professor who used to say “an inflection point is you’re going down the highway at 60 miles an hour, and you take a hard right 20 degrees.  You can never get back on the course you’re on.”  That’s where we are on climate, on healthcare, on international relations, on so many things. 
We can determine where we go from here, but we got to remember who the hell we are.  We’re the United States of America.  There is nothing — I mean nothing — beyond our capacity when we do it together — when we do it together.  And I’m determined — I’m determined to see that done no matter what happens. 
And, folks, the fact is that I think if you take a look at the data.  The vast majority of the American people agree.  There’s none — of the substance of things I’ve raised is there any opposition to.  But the opposition is going to make my case a little easier — I can say with the press here, before they leave — because they’re going to present an alternative.  Their budget is going to — and, so far, what they’ve introduced is going to increase the deficit by about $3.7 trillion.  So you know, I mean, what are they going to cut? 
Any — any of you watch the State of the Union?  I wouldn’t blame if you hadn’t.  (Applause.)  Well, you were there. 
Well, I’ll conclude with this story.  I was standing in the State of the Union and I — and I must tell you, I’ve been a — in the Congress for so long, I feel comfortable standing before, just like I ma- — I made many speeches before the Congress. 
And I was laying out what I was going to — doing.  I said, “And there’s a desire to cut Social Security and Medicare.”  And the distinguished lady from — (laughter) — from Georgia — the mountains of Georgia — started yelling, “Liar!  Liar!  Liar!”  And that generated — by the way, the last time anybody did that, they got censured for doing it.  Okay?  And then five or six others started, “Liar!  Liar!  Liar!” 
And I said, “You don’t want to cut Social Security and Medicare?”  “No, we don’t.”  I said, “Everybody who doesn’t” — and I never thought I’d negotiate with the whole Congress.  (Laughter.)  I said, “Anybody in this — in the Congress here who doesn’t want to cut Social Security and Medicare, stand up and holler.”  And they all stood up hollering, “We won’t cut it.”  And then I polled them.  They were all on camera.  (Laughter.)  So I hope they keep their commitment and not cut it. 
But my generic point is: There is a lot we can do.  There’s a lot we can do.  We can do it fairly without overtaxing people, without making it — with just being fair.  Just giving people an even shot.  That’s all this is about.  And I think the public is going to be there. 
With your help, you’re going to allow me to be in the game and the DNC to be in the game.  So, thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.) 
7:25 P.M. PDT

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Press Call By Vice President Harris on Reproductive Rights

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 21:35

Via Teleconference

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hi, everyone, and thank you for joining.  I’m convening this call to talk about the latest attacks on reproductive rights.  Needless to say, these attacks are extreme and they are endangering the lives of women and people in our country.  And the impact, frankly, goes far beyond reproductive healthcare. 
The President and* I believe in the fundamental American value that all people should exercise and have the freedom and liberty to make fundamental decisions about their lives.  And that includes the freedom for women to make decisions about their own healthcare and their bodies, and not the government. 
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, extremist so-called leaders in states around the country have proposed and passed new extreme laws to ban abortion and criminalized healthcare providers, or have moved to enforce old laws on the book, many including no exception even for rape or incest. 
Just last week, Florida Republican state legislators introduced a bill to ban abortions after six weeks.  That is before many women even know they’re pregnant.  There are 4 million women of reproductive age in Florida, and the consequences would reach far beyond Florida because think about the geography. 
Notably, more than three quarters of the women living under abortion bans in the United States live in the South.  Currently, Florida has a 15-week abortion ban — meaning that, for many, Florida is their closest option for care.  A six-week ban would function as a regional ban, wiping out access to care in the South. 
This issue is about women’s autonomy, their freedom to decide whether and when to have children.  These laws also endanger women’s health, putting their lives in jeopardy.  
Last week, a group of five courageous women filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas.  These women almost lost their lives when they were denied healthcare because of the state’s abortion ban.  
I’m grateful to have met with one of the plaintiffs, Amanda, and many of you may know her story.  She was pregnant, and her water broke prematurely.  And she went to seek medical care and was repeatedly denied treatment.  Only after she developed sepsis, which almost killed her, did the hospital finally treat her.  Imagine.  These women are fighting for basic right-to-life-saving healthcare. 
Even as women fight for their lives in the face of the Texas abortion bans that currently exist, so-called leaders in Texas continue to try to restrict access to reproductive healthcare. 
I also want to take a minute to discuss the bigger picture.  This goes beyond reproductive healthcare, as I said earlier.  It — and in that, these attacks jeopardize the ability of all Americans to make their own healthcare decisions. 
Think — for example, there is currently — and this is what this is — an unprecedented attack on medication, which the FDA approved 20 years ago.  So, this is an attack on a medication which the FDA approved 20 years ago.  And they approved it based on science, peer review, and a consensus within the medical professional community that it is safe and effective. 
The FDA has approved thousands of medications over the last 85 years, from chemotherapy drugs to asthma medicine to blood-pressure pills to insulin.  So, think about this in that context.  Think about it in the context of the fact that —
Just looking — look — look inside your medicine cabinet.  Just picture for a minute looking inside your own medicine cabinet.  For the average American, they will find medicine that the FDA determined to be safe and effective, that has helped them alleviate pain or improve their quality of life or help them in some medically necessary way. 
But if extremists and politicians can override FDA approval and remove one medication from the shelves — in this case, abortion medication — one must ask: What medication is next?
So, there is also some good news, which is that the majority of Americans do not support these attacks on reproductive rights.  And that is why, during the last election cycle, wherever this issue was on the ballot, reproductive freedom won in both red states and blue states, from Kentucky to California. 
And as I have traveled the country, I have seen firsthand the power of state and local leaders fighting to defend reproductive rights. 
For example, in Michigan, Governor Whitmer and state and local leaders have led the way to defend reproductive freedom in that state.  And last November, Michigan was one of the states where voters protected reproductive rights in their state constitution. 
In Wisconsin, where a law from 1849 remains on the books banning abortion, Governor Evers has repeatedly called on the Republican-controlled legislature to repeal it.  And on April 4th, Wisconsin voters will cast ballots in an election for the State Supreme Court, which will directly impact the fate of that state’s 174-year-old ban. 
Finally, President Biden and I agree: This fight will be won only when we secure reproductive rights for every person in every state.  Congress must therefore pass a bill that defends freedom and liberty by putting the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law, and President Biden will sign it. 
But I thank you all, and I’m happy to take your questions. 
Q    Yes, Vice President Harris, Alex Carr here from the theSkimm.  On the topic of medication abortion, if a federal judge in Texas rules that mifepristone should be restricted nationwide, how is the White House prepared to respond immediately?  And what support will they lend to abortion providers and people seeking abortions?
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Alex.  So first, let’s just outline some of the attacks on abortion medication.  For example, there is the lawsuit in Texas, which was filed in November of last year.  And there, anti-abortion activists challenged the FDA approval of mifepristone, which as I said earlier, was granted 20 years ago.  The FDA approved it 20 years ago based on science.  And this could result — this lawsuit could result in the medication becoming unavailable across the country. 
Think about January of this year when 22 Republican AGs wrote to the FDA urging the FDA to reverse its decision that mifepristone is safe to dispense in telehealth or to be picked up with a prescription at a retail pharmacy. 
And then last month, 20 Republican AGs wrote to CVS and Walgreens threatening the companies with legal consequences if they sell medication abortion by mail in their state.  
So, to level set: First of all, medication abortions account for a majority of all abortions in the United States.  And mifepristone, again, has been on the market for 20 years, has been deemed by the FDA to be safe and effective. 
These attacks are not only an attack on a woman’s fundamental freedom to make decisions about her own body, but really it’s — it really, fundamentally is also an attack on the scientific process that is crucial for public health. 
The FDA has approved thousands of other medications over the last 85 years.  So, think about what this means if extremists and politicians can override an FDA approval and remove any medication that they deem to be politically, for some reason, susceptible or deserving of attack — that they could remove it from your medicine cabinet.  The implications in terms of public health policy are profound. 
In terms of our administration, to your question: We’ve been focusing on getting access to the — to medication abortion since day one.  And so, when the Supreme Court, in the Dobbs decision, did what they did, the President, in an executive order, directed Health and Human Services to identify potential actions to protect and expand abortion care, including medication abortion.
The Attorney General has already made clear that states may not ban mifepristone and that they can’t — as that basis of banning it because they disagree with the FDA’s judgment.  Our administration will continue to support legal access and do what we need to do to make sure that women get accurate information about what is safe and what is legally available to them.
I, on that point, will say that I appreciate that we are doing this call because a concern that I have and have had throughout these months has been also the level of misinformation and disinformation that is out there that I believe is designed and meant to confuse individuals and healthcare providers and others about what the law is and what are the rights that individuals and others have on this issue.  
So, thank you for that question. 
OPERATOR:  And if you wish to ask a question, please press one then zero. 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’m going to venture to say you’re on mute — (laughter) — whoever that is.  If you think you’re asking a question, I can’t hear you.  
Q    Hi, thanks for doing this call.  I know you ment- — brought up Michigan and I (inaudible) noted the ballot approval there.  I wondered if, you know, there — where you think some of those states that did approve, you know, changes to state law last fall — you know, kind of where they go in the future? 
You know, in Michigan, there’s some questions about the ballot language and about whether regulations are allowed, kind of, post-viability.  You know, there’s still a parental consent law on the books there.  I was just wondering if you had any thoughts about kind of what should come next in some of those states.
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’ll say, as a general matter — you know, because each state has its own nuance, so I’ll just speak — speak to your question as a general matter.
One, there is still the challenge of getting correct information to individuals, which is the point I just made in the last Q&A.  That’s still critically important, because in a state like Michigan — and there are others that have passed and into their law and into — or into their constitution these protections — we’ve got to make sure that everyone knows about it. 
Because, again, if you look at the map of the United States on this issue, it’s like a — it’s a real quilt.  It’s like a patchwork, in terms of each state having some different nuances that leaves people in general with a bit of confusion about their rights.  So, there is that.
There is the work that also needs to happen to recognize that not each state that has maintained protections for people to make decisions about their own body — not each state is equal in terms of the resources they have.  But they are, each one of them, usually in a neighborhood, often in a neighborhood where surrounding states have restricted rights, and so people are traveling to their state. 
And that presents, as you can imagine, a burden on the resources that that state has — that the state has — the state that is receiving folks.  So, that’s another issue of concern that I have heard be expressed by states, but also a concern that we have, which is there are certain states that can afford to perhaps put more resources into it, and there are some states that cannot but are still keeping an open door to the women who travel there seeking help.  
And then there is the issue of — of just what needs to continue to happen in these states and all of the states, which is about encouraging the coalition around the intersection between issues that are voting rights issues, issues that are about protecting the rights and the wellbeing of members of the LGBTQ+ community.  There is the work that we need to do to build up the coalitions around what we’re seeing in certain states, which is that where there is an attack on one of those rights, there are attacks on the other rights.  And that’s part of the conversation that I’ve been having as we travel around the country. 
Because, you know, I look at Michigan — to your point, they’re — the leaders there, starting with the governor, are doing extraordinary work.  And when you look at it, it also was in combination with another important thing that needs to happen in all the states, which is to encourage the younger leaders to own their — to give them the space to be able to lead on this issue.  And — and we’ve seen that happen in various places around the country.  
And I applaud Governor Whitmer and others for holding those leaders up — the younger leaders up to allow them to also help frame and shape this movement.  
And I guess that’s the final point I’ll make here for this question, which is, this is a movement.  And I said that from the earliest days, even after the leaked decision.  This is a movement. 
And we who are part of this movement stand on the shoulders of all those folks of every gender who fought for and ultimately got Roe v. Wade.  And we got to pick it up and understand that it’s not going to be resolved overnight until Congress acts. 
And therefore, what’s happening in the states is going to have a direct and huge impact on how people are experiencing this issue.
Q    Yes.  Hi, Madam Vice President.  Thank you so much for this call.  I am with the Black Information Network.  And I was just interested in knowing from your perspective what — what are the implications of these restrictions for African American women, especially considering the high maternal mortality rate that Black women face? 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  This is a very real issue.  You know, I said before — I’ll say — I’ll say, again, you know, I would challenge the hypocrisy of people who say they care about life and then ignore the maternal mortality crisis.  Right?  And you know — everyone on this call knows — we are looking at a case, in the United States of America, where Black women are three times as likely to die in connection with childbirth.  Native women are twice as likely to die.  Rural women, one and a half times as likely. 
And when we dive into this issue, in particular when it relates to Black and Native women, we know that one of the big factors there is racial bias.  That when that woman walks into the hospital or the clinic, she is just not taken as seriously. 
We know a related issue for all of the women affected by maternal mortality is also poverty.  You know, look, poverty is trauma-inducing. 
And so, when you think about the factors that contribute to those awful outcomes, in terms of maternal mortality, that — the stressors have to be taken into account, and we have to talk about that.  
And again, then you overlay that with — for example, what I’ve said earlier about using the example of Florida in terms of what that six-week ban would mean, in terms of that region of the country.  I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I can tell you that it’s pretty well discussed that when you look at, for example, maternal mortality rates and how those coincide with states that have restricted reproductive health rights, you will see that there is a huge parallel, meaning that those states that are restricting reproductive access — health access on this issue are also the states where you’re seeing pretty high rates of maternal mortality.  
So, your point is — is a very important one, which is that we have to understand the correlation and — and paint the full picture about what these policies are and what they aren’t and the effect that they are having across the board on reproductive health.  Which is the point, isn’t it?  That’s why we’re talking about reproductive health. 
By the way, I will also add: Part of the work that we’ve been doing — and I’ve been doing this work since I was in the Senate, as you know — but I am very proud of our administration for really highlighting the issue of maternal mortality. 
We’ve — we’ve elevated it to the stage of the White House, and part of my focus has also been on what we need to do to train healthcare providers.  And I’ll tell you that, in particular, some of the best trainers on this issue will be doulas and — and what they know in terms of also the associated issue on everything we have discussed this afternoon, which is about the dignity and wellbeing of all people in our country. 


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Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia Before Bilateral Meeting

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 20:41

Point Loma Naval Base
San Diego, California

3:55 P.M. PDT
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to San Diego. 
And through both war and peace, we’ve been together in every — every endeavor we’ve had — joint security efforts, and it’s been across the board.  And that’s exactly what we’re doing now.  I think this is a really consequential agreement we just made, and I think it’s going to make a big difference in terms of our — and represents our vision and our values of what needs to be done. 
And I think that, you know, we’re investing in the manufacturing base in both our countries as well, in addition to the impact on our military capacity.  And I think that it’s going to be a gamechanger, in my view. 
And I think that that, coupled with the Quad, which we’re both a part of — including Japan and India — that we — we have a — an ability to expand the maritime domain of democracies and peace, stability, and some security.  I think that’s important. 
And together, we’re working on climate change and regional stability, including economic coercion that’s taking place in your part of the world — not by you, but by others. 
And we’re going to step up to — for the people of Ukraine.  We’ve stuck together on that. 
I just had a very good meeting with our colleague from Great Britain on that issue. 
And today, we’re going to discuss the deepening U.S.-Australia commitment to one another. 
And I really do think we have an opportunity to — I don’t view what we’re doing as — as a challenge to anybody.  I view it as a — as a means by which we’re bringing stability into the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean.  And I think it’s — it’s going to be greeted — when they realize our purpose — by everyone as maintaining stability and security.  And — and we can continue the basic rules of the road. 
Thank you.  And I look forward to — remember, you invited me down to Australia.  I’m coming.
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I’m coming.  No way out for you. 
But thank you.
PRIME MINISTER ALBANESE:  Well, thank you very much, Mr.  President.  We look forward to welcoming you down in Australia for the Quad meeting in May.  I’m sure it will be a very successful visit.  And this is our — our fourth meeting in — I haven’t yet been Prime Minister for a year, so we’ve been in very regular contact and developed a personal friendship and relationship of trust as well, which is something that should be there between our two great nations. 
And today, what we’ve really done is just to demonstrate a next chapter in our history together.  We — John Curtin, one of my great Labor Prime Minister predecessors, during World War Two, said famously, “We turn to America.  We look to America in our time of need.”  And ever since then, we have stood side by side.
And today, I think it is very important, very significant that you have agreed for just the second time in history to share this technology.  And I think it will make a difference in advancing security and stability in the region. 
But also, we, of course, share a common interest in rebuilding manufacturing in our respective countries.  And we see this as very much an economic plan, not just a defense and security plan.  This high-tech manufacturing capacity that we’re building will be really important going forward. 
And when we talk about national security, we have shared your — your language about climate change being a national security issue as well, which is, of course, the entry ticket into credibility in the Pacific, in particular.  And we have spent our first year in office really rebuilding relationships in the region based upon our action on climate change. 
Your Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant piece of legislation ever on climate, and we are trying to also deal with the challenge which is there. 
We so much look forward to welcoming you and Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Kishida down to — down to Australia in just a couple of months now. 
And then, I’ll look forward to being at APEC as well when you’re — you’re hosting that later this year.  So, we’re going to have to see a lot of each other on an ongoing basis.  But that’s —
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  As far as I’m concerned, that’s good.   
PRIME MINISTER ALBANESE:  That is a very good thing. 
And in Australia, I have no doubt that this agreement will be very welcomed in Australia.  And it’s a long-term plan, but it’s been a lot of work to get it right.  So, thank you to your administration for the leadership which you’ve shown.
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, I think everything you said about it is accurate. 
I’d like to point out one other thing.  I want the world to understand — which you — you and I fully understand, as does the — the Prime Minister of Great Britain — that we’re talking about nuclear power, not nuclear weapons.  It is critical that the world understands that and that we’ve worked with the IAEA. 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  They sign off on what we’re doing.  And I think it’s really very, very important that they will continue to deal with non-proliferation states law.
So, I look forward to coming down.  So, thank you.
PRIME MINISTER ALBANESE:  It’s going to be fun, too. 
Q    Mr. President, can AUKUS survive even if there is an isolationist President?
(Cross-talk by reporters.)
Q    Mr. President, why did you choose Australia as a partner?
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  They’re totally reliable. 
Q    Did you talk about banks at all today?
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I didn’t ask to borrow any money.  (Laughter.)
4:02 P.M. PDT

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Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom Before Bilateral Meeting

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 20:16

Point Loma Naval Base
San Diego, California

2:40 P.M. PDT
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I got a brief statement to talk about my friend here for a second. 
First of all, I want to welcome him back to California.  He’s a Stanford man, and he still has a home here in California.  That’s why I’m being very nice to him, maybe he’ll invite me to his home here in California. 
But all kidding aside, I think it’s a historic day for our country.  And I think this is going to be a — I think it’s not us but I think the circumstances is going to go down in history as one of those moments that we put together an organization of three nations that is going to help sustain the peace and security in the Indo-Pacific.  And I really believe that.
And, you know, there’s no issue of global consequence where the United States and Great Britain aren’t in concert. 
We’re going to talk about a lot of things today, including our joint commitment to dealing with the situation in — Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. 
And so, we talked about our common vision and values, and try to figure out where we can cooperate even more together.
And so, I yield to you, Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER SUNAK:  Well, thanks, Mr. President.  It’s great to be back in California, so thank you for having me.  But particularly, to announce, as you described rightly, probably the most consequential multilateral defense partnership since the one that our two countries did some generations ago. 
And as we both talked about earlier, never has been — there been a more important time for allies like ours to come together.  You know, we share the same values.  It’s right that we work together, given the security picture around the world.  And that’s what we’ve always done. 
We sit next to each other on the Security Council.  We’re two of the biggest spenders in NATO.  And there’s no — no problem that the world has seen that isn’t one that the two of us, working together, have not been able to try and address.
So, it’s a great pleasure to be here.  And I look forward to our conversations and also, importantly, to invite you to Northern Ireland, which I — hopefully, you will be able to do and — so we can commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.  I know it’s something that’s very special and personal to you.  We’d love to have you over.
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  It is, but it’s worrisome — 25 years.  It seems like yesterday.  Seems like yesterday.
But anyway, thank you.
Q    Are you going to Northern Ireland, sir?
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  It’s my intention to go — to go to Northern Ireland and the republic.
Q    Mr. President, given President Xi’s comments about encirclement, are you concerned he may take this agreement as aggression (inaudible)?
Q    No?  Do you plan to speak to him?
Q    Sometime soon?  Can you tell us when? 
2:43 P.M. PDT

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Remarks by President Biden, Prime Minister Albanese of Australia, and Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom on the AUKUS Partnership

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 19:19

Point Loma Naval Base
San Diego, California

1:44 P.M. PDT
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, please — if you have a seat, please take it.
It’s an honor — honor to be here to welcome Prime Minister Albanese and Prime Minister Sunak.  And it’s my honor to welcome you both to the United States as we take the next critical step in advancing the Australia, U.S., UK partnership — AUKUS.  It’s an unusual name, “AUKUS,” but it’s a powerful entity.
You know, when our countries first announced AUKUS 18 months ago, I’m not at all sure that anyone would have believed that — how much progress we’d be able to make together and how quickly we’d accomplish it.
And I want to thank the members of all our teams who helped bring us to this pivotal moment sitting here in front of us.  Thank you all very much.
Secretary Austin; Secretary of the Navy Del Toro — (applause) — thanks for letting us come to your house; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday — where are you, Admiral?  There you are.  And thank you for hosting us at Naval Base of Point Loma.
And I also want to thank Representative Joe Courtney, founder of the bipartisan AUKUS working group, and all the members of the Congress who are here today.  Thank you for being here. 
You are — (applause) — a testament to the strong and — and deep support for this partnership across the United States.
Australia and the United Kingdom are two of America’s most stalwart and capable allies.  Our common values and our shared vision for a more peaceful and prosperous future unite us all across the Atlantic and Pacific.
For more than a century, we’ve stood together to defend freedom and strengthen democracy and to your — and to spur greater opportunity in all our countries.
I’ve always said, when asked, the United States is a Pacific power, because we’re on the Pacific Ocean.  We are a Pacific power.  The United States has safeguarded stability in the Indo-Pacific for decades to the enormous benefits of nations throughout the region, from ASEAN to Pacific Islanders to the People’s Republic of China. 
In fact, our leadership in the Pacific has been a benefit to the entire world.  We’ve kept the sea lanes and skies open and navigable for all.  We’ve upheld basic rules of the road that fueled international commerce.  And our partnerships have helped underwrite incredible growth and innovation.
So, today, as we stand at the inflection point in history where the hard work of enhancing deterrence and promoting stability is going to affect the prospect of peace for decades to come, the United States can ask for no better partners in the Indo-Pacific, where so much of our shared future will be written. 
In forging this new partnership, we’re showing again how democracies can deliver our own security and prosperity — and not just for us but for the entire world.
Today, we’re announcing the steps to carry out our first project under AUKUS: developing Australia’s conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine capacity. 
And I want to be clear — I want to be clear to everyone from the outset, right off the bat, so there’s no confusion or misunderstanding on this critical point: These subs are powered — not nuclear-armed subs.  They’re nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed. 
Australia is a proud non-nuclear weapons state and has committed to stay that way.  These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind on them.
Each of us standing here today representing the United States, Australia, and Great Britain is deeply committed to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
We’ve undertaken this project working hand-in-glove with the International Atomic Energy Agency and with Director General Grossi.
Australia will not produce the nuclear fuel needed for these submarines.  We have set the highest standards with the IAEA for verification and transparency, and we will honor each of our countries’ international obligations. 
Working together these past 18 months, we’ve developed a phased approach that’s going to make sure Australian sailors are fully trained and prepared to safely operate this fleet so they can deliver this critical new capacity on the fastest — fastest possible timetable.
Each of our nations is making concrete commitments to one another.  We’re backing it up with significant investments to strengthen the industrial bases in each of our countries in order to build and support these boats.
By the way, this partnership is going to mean an awful lot for good-paying jobs for all workers in our countries, including a lot of union jobs.
There’s a reason why not everyone has nuclear-powered submarines: Nuclear propulsion is highly complicated technology that requires years of training to master. 
So we’re starting right away.  Beginning this year, Australian personnel will embed with U.S. and UK crews on boats and at bases in our schools and our shipyards. 
We’ll also begin to increase our port visits to Australia.  In fact, as we speak, the nuclear-powered sub the USS Asheville is making a port call in Perth as we speak. 
And later this decade, we will also be establishing a rotational presence of U.S. and UK nuclear-powered subs in Australia to help develop the work force Australia is going to need to build and maintain its fleet.
One of the vessels you see behind me is a Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Missouri.  Top-of-the-line submarines are the vanguard of U.S. naval power. 
And excuse me for a point of personal privilege — as they say in the United States Senate, where I’ve spent a lot of time — these submarines hold a special place for the Bidens.  My wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is the sponsor of the USS Delaware, a Virginia-class submarine, and she never lets me forget it.  (Laughter.)
They feature cutting-edge propulsion technology, provide unmatched stealth and maneuverability.  And with the support and approval of Congress, beginning in the early 2030s, the United States will sell three Virginia-class submarines to Australia with the potential to sell up to two more if needed, jumpstarting their undersea capability a decade earlier than many predicted. 
But the ultimate goal isn’t just selling subs to Australia, it’s developing something new together.  We’re calling it the SSN-AUKUS.  This new state-of-the-art conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine that will work — that will combine U.S. submarine — UK submarine technology and design with American technology. 
And I want to reiterate again: The SSN-AUKUS will not have nuclear weapons. 
It will become a future standard for both the UK Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.  It will meet Australia’s defense needs while bringing our militaries, our scientists, our engineers, our shipbuilders, our industrial workforce, our countries closer together — closer than ever.
Let me emphasize again: Nuclear propulsion is tested and safe.  The United States and the UK have used it for nearly 70 years from — with a spotless record — a spotless record.  Combined between the U.S. and UK, all of our nuclear-powered ships have traveled the entire globe — around the entire globe, more than 150 million miles.  That’s going to the moon 300 times. 
Now, we can’t figure out how to get this sub to the moon, but we’re le- — working on it.  (Laughter.)
No, I’ve got to admit, our stewardship of naval nuclear propulsion technology is a point of honor, pride, and deep tradition currently helmed by Admiral Frank Caldwell, who is here today.  Where are you, Admiral?  Thank you.  (Applause.) 
And the years of training we’re undertaking, starting now, will ensure that Australia is fully prepared to carry on this tradition and meet the highest possible standards of safety throughout the life of these boats.
Our unprecedented trilateral cooperation, I believe, is testament to the strength of the longstanding ties that unite us and to our shared commitment of ensuring the Indo-Pacific remains free and open, prosperous and secure, defined by opportunity for all — a shared commitment to create a future rooted in our common values. 
That’s the objective the United States shares not only with the UK and Australia.  It’s shared by our friends in the region; by our friends in ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum, and the Quad; and our other treaty and close partners in the Indo-Pacific and Europe. 
AUKUS has one overriding objective: to enhance stability in the Indo-Pacific amid rapidly shifting global dynamics. 
And this first project — this first project is only the beginning.  More partnerships and more potential, more peace and security in the region lies ahead. 
Simply stated, we’re putting ourselves in the strongest possible position to navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow together.  Together. 
So, I thank you again, Prime Minister Albanese, Mi- — Prime Minister Sunak.  And the United States could not ask for two better friends or partners to stand with as we work to create a safer, more peaceful future for the people everywhere. 
I’m proud to be your shipmates.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER ALBANESE:  Well, President Biden, Prime Minister Sunak, I am so honored to stand alongside you both here overlooking the Pacific Ocean as leaders of true and trusted friends of my country of Australia. 
Today, a new chapter in the relationship between our nation, the United States, and the United Kingdom begins — a friendship built on our shared values, our commitment to democracy, and our common vision for a peaceful and a prosperous future. 
The AUKUS agreement we confirm here in San Diego represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defense capability in all of our history, strengthening Australia’s national security and stability in our region; building a future made in Australia with record investments in skills, jobs, and infrastructure; and delivering a superior defense capability into the future. 
My government is determined to invest in our defense capability.  But we’re also determined to promote security by investing in our relationships across our region. 
From early in the next decade, Australia will take delivery of three U.S. Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines.  This is the first time in 65 years and only the second time in history that the United States has shared its nuclear propulsion technology.  And we thank you for it.
We are also proud to partner with the United Kingdom to construct the next generation submarine to be called SSN-AUKUS, a new conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine, based on a British design and incorporating cutting-edge Australian, UK, and U.S. technologies.  This will be an Australian sovereign capability, built by Australians, commanded by the Royal Australian Navy, and sustained by Australian workers in Australian shipyards with construction to begin this decade.
Australia’s proud record of leadership in the international nuclear non-proliferation regime will of course continue.  We will continue to adhere to all of our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty of Rarotonga. 
Our agreement unlocks a set of transformative opportunities for jobs and skills and research and innovation in Adelaide and in Barrow-in-Furness, in Western Australia, and here in the United States. 
Opportunities that will shape and strengthen and grow Australia’s economy for decades, and create around 20,000 direct jobs for Australians from many trades and specializations: engineers, scientists, technicians, submariners, administrators, and tradespeople.  Good jobs with good wages, working to ensure the stability and prosperity of our nations, our region, and, indeed, our world. 
Our future security will be built and maintained not just by the courage and professionalism of our defense forces, but by the hard work and know-how of our scientists and engineers, our technicians and programmers, our electricians and welders. 
For Australia, this whole-of-nation effort also presents a whole-of-nation opportunity.  We will work with the state governments of South Australia and Western Australia to develop training programs that equip Australians with the skills they need to fill these jobs.
Working together, our universities and research institutes will collaborate to train more Australians in nuclear engineering.  We’re already sharing skills and knowledge and expertise across our borders, lifting the capability and capacity of all three countries. 
Already, today, Australians are upskilling on nuclear technology and stewardship alongside their British and American counterparts. 
Already, today, there are Australian submariners undergoing nuclear power training in the United States.  And I’m proud to confirm, Mr. President, that they are all in the top 30 percent of their class.  (Laughter.)
Built by innovation and extraordinary and emerging technologies, these boats will present a unique opportunity for Australian companies to contribute not only to the construction and sustainment of Australia’s new submarines, but to supply chains in America and in Britain. 
The scale, complexity, and economic significance of this investment is akin to the creation of the Australian automotive industry in the post-World War Two period. 
And just as a vision of my predecessors, Curtin and Chifley, in creating our automotive industry lifted up our entire manufacturing sector, this investment will be a catalyst for innovation and research breakthroughs that will reverberate right throughout the Australian economy and across every state and territory, not just in one design element, not just in one field, but right across our advanced manufacturing and technology sectors, creating jobs and growing businesses right around Australia, inspiring and rewarding innovation, and educating young Australians today for the opportunities of tomorrow. 
Our AUKUS partnership is not just about the U.S. and UK sharing their most advanced submarine capability with Australia, although we do appreciate that.  It’s also about building on the expertise within our three nations so that we can achieve things greater than the sum of our parts. 
This is a genuine trilateral undertaking.  All three nations stand ready to contribute, and all three nations stand ready to benefit.  I look out from here today, and I see new frontiers in innovation to cross, new breakthroughs in technology to achieve, a new course for us to chart together. 
Mr. President, Prime Minister, for more than a century, our brave citizens from our three countries have been part of a shared tradition of service in the cause of peace and sacrifice in the name of freedom.  We honor their memory today.  We always will. 
While we respect and honor the past, through AUKUS, we turn ourselves to face the future.  Because what the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia hold in common is more fundamental and more universal than our shared histories.  We are bound, above all, by our belief in a world where the sovereignty of every nation is respected and the inherent dignity of every individual is upheld; where peace, stability, and security ensure greater prosperity and a greater measure of fairness for all; and where all countries are able to act in their sovereign interests, free from coercion. 
Our historic AUKUS partnership speaks to our collective and ongoing determination to defend those values and secure that future today, in the years ahead, and for generations to come — a journey that will strengthen the bonds between our nations as friends, as peers, as leaders. 
We embark with great confidence in the capacity and creativity of our people, with optimism in the power of what our partnership can achieve, and with an unwavering conviction that whatever the challenges ahead, the cause of peace and freedom that we share will prevail. 
Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER SUNAK:  Sixty years ago, here in San Diego, President Kennedy spoke of a higher purpose: the maintenance of freedom, peace, and security.  Today, we stand together united by that same purpose.  And recognizing that to fulfill it, we must forge new kinds of relationships to meet new kinds of challenge, just as we have always done. 
In the last 18 months, the challenges we face have only grown.  Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness, the destabilizing behavior of Iran and North Korea all threaten to create a world defined by danger, disorder, and division. 
Faced with this new reality, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the resilience of our own countries.  That’s why the UK is today announcing a significant uplift in our defense budget.  We’re providing an extra £5 billion over the next two years, immediately increasing our defense budget to around 2.25 percent of GDP.  This will allow us to replenish our war stocks and modernize our nuclear enterprise, delivering AUKUS and strengthening our deterrent.  And our highest priority is to continue providing military aid to Ukraine, because their security is our security. 
And we will go further to strengthen our resilience.  For the first time, the United Kingdom will move away from our baseline commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense to a new ambition of 2.5 percent, putting beyond doubt that the United Kingdom is and will remain one of the world’s leading defense powers. 
But ultimately, the defense of our values depends, as it always has, on the quality of our relationships with others.  And those alliances will be strengthened through AUKUS, the most significant multilateral defense partnership in generations. 
AUKUS matches our enduring commitment to freedom and democracy with the most advanced military, scientific, and technological capability.  Nowhere is that clearer than in the plans we’re unveiling today for the new AUKUS submarine, one of the most advanced nuclear-powered subs the world has ever known.
And those plans could not happen without cutting-edge American technology and expertise.  So I pay tribute to you, Mr.  President, for your leadership, and to you, Prime Minister, for your vision of what AUKUS can achieve. 
And for our part, the UK comes to this with over 60 years’ experience of running our own fleet.  We’ll provide the world-leading design and build the first of these new boats, creating thousands of good, well-paid jobs in places like Barrow and Derby.  And we will share our knowledge and experience with Australian engineers so that they can build their own fleet. 
Now, our partnership is significant because not just are we building the submarines together, they will also be truly interoperable.  The Royal Navy will operate the same submarines as the Australian Navy, and we will both share components and parts with the U.S. Navy.  Our submarine crews will train together, patrol together, and maintain their boats together.  They will communicate using the same terminology and the same equipment.
And through AUKUS, we will raise our standards of nuclear non-proliferation.  This is a powerful partnership.  For the first time ever, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come. 
Joe, Anthony, we represent three allies who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder together for more than a century, three peoples who have shed blood together in defense of our shared values, and three democracies that are coming together again to fulfill that higher purpose of maintaining freedom, peace, and security now and for generations to come. 
Thank you.  (Applause.)
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  With the permission of my colleagues — I don’t know that our friends can hear — but, the USS Missouri, can you hear us? 
AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  Hooyah, Mighty Mo’!
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I see them all over there.  They’re standing at attention.  Can I tell them “At ease”?  I’m their Commander-in-Chief, right?  I mean, they’re — (laughter) —
Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  You all are the best.  You’re the best.  And we’re going to be the best in the world, the three of us. 
Thank you all very, very much.  (Applause.)
2:09 P.M. PDT

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