Remarks by Vice President Harris on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  (Applause.)  Hello, everyone.  Hello.  Hello, everyone.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Please have a seat.  Please have a seat. 

It is wonderful to be back in North Carolina.

Chanda, I want to thank you for your skill, for your knowledge, for showing us around today, and — and just increasing our enthusiasm and excitement for what’s happening here in this state and around the country — both because of the skilled workers who actually make it all come together but also because of the innovation that we are seeing every day, and certainly here at this facility.

I want to thank Secretary Pete Buttigieg — where are you? — there you are — for joining me today and for serving our nation as the Secretary of our Department of Transportation.  You’ve been doing extraordinary work, and thank you for that.

Also traveling with me today is Congresswoman Alma Adams.  And I want to thank you, Congresswoman.  I will say, to your home state, that I see the Congresswoman in the halls of Congress, in the White House; she is always fighting for the people of her district and the people of North Carolina, whether the cameras are on or the cameras are off.  (Applause.)  So thank you for your leadership.  Thank you.

And of course, Governor, it is always good to be with you.  It is always good to be with you.

And, Mayor, thank you for hosting us.

So, this is a day that we are celebrating — as we will continue to do — the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

And, North Carolina, you know well: Leaders like Congresswoman Adams, like Governor Roy Cooper, like Mayor Vi Lyles, like all of the state and local elected officials who here today — leaders like Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis — all made it possible for me and the President to turn the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Because of their work, because of our work together, America is moving again.  Because ultimately, that’s what infrastructure is all about: getting people moving.

 You know, the way I see it, infrastructure gives people what they need to get where they need to go.  That’s my definition of infrastructure: help the people get where they need to do.

 And so think about the buses that are around us, the bus that’s behind me.

People rely on public transportation for all kinds of reasons: to get groceries, to get to school on time, to get to work on time, to get to church on time.

For millions of Americans, public transportation is part of their day every day.  And a bus stop within walking distance can make all the difference versus a bus stop you have to walk for half an hour to get to.

And we all know what it means for someone to miss a bus by just one minute and that it can mean being at least an hour late for work.

 All of these are issues that we will address by paying attention to the need to put resources into our public transit systems.

And we all know that we just — we’re on one these beautiful electric railcars, but we all know what it’s like to be on a — on an outdated railcar.  We are talking about that, in terms of the frequency that it might break down and the frequency with which it needs repair.

In states across our nation, public transportation is not as fast or as frequent, as safe or as healthy as it can be.

And people who use public transportation for their commute often spend much more of their time in transit — time that they could be spending with friends and family, helping their children do their homework; time they could spend running essential errands or even relaxing after a hard day at work.

And there is a major repair backlog in our nation: 24,000 buses, 5,000 railcars, 200 stations that are in need of work.  Thousands of miles of tracks, signals, and power systems in our country need to be repaired.

We need to get to fixing all of these things.  We need to get this fixed and done.

So, North Carolina, public transit is a good — public good, and that is why we are investing in it.

With our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will make the largest-ever investment in public transit in our nation’s history.

North Carolina alone will receive $910 million for public transit over the next five years.  (Applause.)

And, Governor Cooper, I want to thank you for always being such a very strong and powerful advocate for the needs of this state.

And for here in Charlotte, Mayor, well, you are doing extraordinary work upgrading your bus system with more connections, more frequent service, and more electric buses.  And I know that the funding that we are delivering will help with all of that important and good work.

And here is the bottom line: World-class cities like Charlotte deserve world-class transit systems.  (Applause.)  And this law is going to help you build those systems.

On top of public transit, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also make the most significant investment to fix our roads and bridges in 70 years.

And I don’t need to tell this group of leaders that across North Carolina there are more than 3,000 miles of highway that need to be repaired — highways like I-85.  Look at the people nodding.  (Laughter.)

In addition, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will modernize our ports and our airports.  Among other things, think about what that will mean, not only for the passengers who need to get where they need to go, but also it will help reduce the supply chain bottlenecks that families are experiencing right now.

 We will also, with this law, replace lead pipes so that every American can get — have clean drinking water, so that our babies are not drinking toxic water, which in many cases will have irreparable damage to their ability to learn.

With this work we have done together, we will expand broadband in rural and urban areas.  (Applause.)  Which I know — and, again, the Governor and I have talked about this — is a big issue for the people of this state.

And why do we do this?  We do this work so that every American can have affordable and accessible high-speed Internet connections to do the work that we know, certainly during the course of the pandemic, became so necessary — whether it is allowing our children to have access to the Internet to get their homework done. 

You know, long gone — I will speak to a certain generation of people that includes myself — long gone is Encyclopedia Britannica.  (Laughter.)  They need to have access to the Internet to be able to excel and reach their God-given capacity.

Let’s think about access to high-speed Internet for our small businesses and how that helps and is a necessity for them to be able to do their important work.

Let’s think about high-speed Internet and access for the purposes of telemedicine so that folks in rural communities can have access to the kind of care that they deserve and need.

In addition to all of that, and importantly, this law will put millions more Americans to work in good-paying jobs and good-paying union jobs — jobs like a fellow I met by the name of Jeff Bird has.

So Jeff Bird is a line design technician that I met with in New Hampshire.  His skill and his important work is to attach fiber to utility poles to keep up with the demand for high-speed Internet.

Jobs like Walter Coty has.  So, Walter — I met with him — he’s a construction inspector.  And what he does is he works to get clean water to families in California.

Jobs like Leslie Kilgore has.  So, Leslie is an engineer I met with in High Point, North Carolina, whose team is building electric school buses.

In creating jobs, in investing in what people need to get where they are going, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make our country more competitive.  It will make our communities more prosperous.  And it will deliver on our administration’s commitment to equity.

And as significant as it is, as historic as it is, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is part one of two.

Part two of two is our Build Back Better Act.

The President and I know that families are stretched thin.  And we take that very seriously.  And we have designed the Build Back Better Act to build, to help address the reality of the needs of everyday folks who just need a little support.

Let’s take, for instance, the issue of prescription drug costs.

It is simply not right that seniors are going into debt to pay for their medication.  (Applause.)  It is not right that because they can’t afford their prescription, they cut pills to try and extend it and, in so doing, expose themselves to greater illness.  It’s just not right.  So our Build Back Act — Build Back Better Act — will bring down prescription drug costs.

 It’s just not right that parents are being forced to quit their jobs to care for a member of their family.  And so our Build Back Better Act will bring down both childcare costs and eldercare costs.

 I can’t tell you the number of families and individuals I have met with around our country who are in what we call the “sandwich generation” — individuals who are raising their young children while they are also giving care to their elder relatives.  And what that means, in terms of how they must divide up the responsibilities of their day, requiring two different sets of skills — probably with the exception of food preparation — two sets of skills that are required to balance those obligations.  We should be helping people.

And so, it’s not right that families have to choose to either buy groceries or pay for healthcare, to either fill up their tank or pay their rent.  And so our Build Back Better Act will bring down healthcare and housing costs also.

What we are doing with Build Back Better is saying we need to meet the needs of working families, and we must address the current and immediate needs while not neglecting the needs that are quickly becoming a crisis for us.  And that brings me to the issue of the climate crisis, and the need we also have at this very moment to address it directly.

The climate crisis is an existential threat, and it demands our immediate action.

So with Build Back Better, we will make an historic investment to help families weatherize their home, businesses to produce clean energy, and our nation to reduce emissions.

The climate crisis is not slowing down and neither can we. 

The House passed our Build Back Better Act just before the holiday — before Thanksgiving — and the President and I are confident that the Senate will do the same very soon.  (Applause.)  Yes.

And it bears noting: This bill is fully paid for and will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.  (Applause.)

And we are determined to get it passed and bring down costs for you and the people of our nation.

So, I will conclude with this: In many ways, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and our Build Back Better Act embody our character as a nation.

They demonstrate — when you think about the details of it — they demonstrate exactly who we are, because we are believers through and through.  We see what can be, unburdened by what has been.  And we have faith — we have faith in what is possible and what can be.  And we have determination — the determination it takes to bring a better future to bear. 

So, as we move forward, let us believe in our people and invest in our people.  And always, let us believe in what we can do when we stand together.

Thank you all very much.  God bless you.  And may God bless America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.

                             END                   12:18 P.M. EST