Remarks by Vice President Harris Marking the 30th Anniversary of The Family and Medical Leave Act
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. Please have a seat. Good afternoon.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Biden, President Clinton, members of our Cabinet, members of Congress, and our fellow Americans: Nearly 30 years ago, just outside in the Rose Garden, our nation took a long-overdue step to give working people — and, in particular, working mothers — the dignity, respect, and support they deserve.
Before then, many of us will remember, working people faced often impo- — impossible choices — impossible choices. The choice either to take care of a loved one or keep a job. The choice either to protect one’s health or protect one’s livelihood.
But thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, millions of Americans since then have been spared these false choices.
Everyone here understands the importance of being able to care for the people we love.
On a personal note, when I was District Attorney of San Francisco, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. And I spent many hours with her at the hospital and driving her to and from chemotherapy appointments.
Fortunately, however, I had the type of job then where I could take the time I needed to be with my mother. But far too many others cannot.
And let us be clear: In America in the 21st century, every worker should be able to take time off to care for themselves or for the people they love. (Applause.)
And here’s the thing we know: When they are able, our entire nation benefits. Consider, for example: Women are 40 percent more likely to need family or medical leave because they are more likely to take on caregiving responsibilities.
And studies have shown that when women receive the leave they need, they are more likely, then, to stay in the workforce, which means a stronger economy, raising wages for workers overall, and, by the way, raising profits for companies overall. It also means families are more secure and our entire nation is more prosperous.
Over the past half century, the women’s workforce participation has increased by 30 percent. That change alone has strengthened our economy by over $2 trillion. Just imagine. And there’s still more work to do.
So, as we celebrate this important milestone this afternoon, let us continue to fight to build on the Family and Medical Leave Act so that every worker — (applause) — every worker can take paid family and medical leave. (Applause.)
And now, it is my great honor to introduce a leader who had a vision 30 years ago that has benefited generations of American families. Realizing that vision was one of his central promises when he ran for President in 1992. And the Family and Medical Leave Act was the first bill — because of his priority, the first bill that President Clinton signed into law.
And, of course, it was possible thanks to another extraordinary leader who was also named Clinton — (laughter) — and a partner to the President, Hillary Clinton. And — (applause) —
And the work of President Clinton and what he did to inspire his entire administration was the work that then went on to include an administration that created the Child Tax Credit, which has lifted millions of children out of poverty. (Applause.) An administration that expanded the Head Start program — (applause) — and helped generations of children reach their incredible potential. An administration that signed the Violence Against Women Act into law. (Applause.) We want to thank Joe Biden. (Laughs.)
See, they’ve been on this stage together before. (Laughter.)
And an administration led by a President with an unwavering commitment to the workers and to the families of our great nation.
Please join me in welcoming President William Jefferson Clinton. (Applause.)