THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. Hi, everyone. Have a seat. Have a seat. Happy afternoon, everyone.
Where is Eleni, the lieutenant governor? And happy birthday. Happy birthday. And she is also officially the governor today in the absence of the governor. So happy birthday, Madam Governor. (Laughter.)
And it is good to see everyone. Stefanie, where is she?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right here.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And John, thank you so much -- Gia and James also -- for hosting us yet again. Yes, four years ago. It feels like almost yesterday, but we are all here. I remember it was pouring rain and --
And we have all, so many of us -- I look around this room -- been on this journey together for such a long time. And I could literally go around each table and talk about you.
From the first days that I ran for District Attorney of San Francisco, when the room was very small. It grew over the years; it kept growing. But you always remember who was in the small room at the beginning. So, thank you all so very much for the love and the support.
And, Chris Korge, thank you for the work that you are doing. I see Chris everywhere. I know you live in Florida, but, honestly, I see you all over our country. You have been doing such incredible work reminding the people in our country about why we have so much at stake and also why we should celebrate the work that has been accomplished because of what we stand for. So thank you, Chris, for everything you do. You make it look effortless, and I know it is not. Can we please acknowledge his leadership? (Applause.) Thank you.
And to my husband, thank you for everything. (Laughter.)
So, it is so good to be home. I -- we just flew in, and it was -- it was great. We had a group of folks who showed up at the airport as we landed on the tarmac, on Air Force Two. And in just driving -- just flying in over the bay -- you know, it's always nice to go home. It just -- there's a physical reaction that you just have even though you don't realize it's just going to descend upon you. And so, it is good to see all of you. It is good to be home.
And the people in this room really do understand what is at stake every year, including this year and next year, when we think about the future of our country. So thank you all.
So, you know, the way I think about it is this: The work that you each did in 2020 was the work of standing up for all that is important when we talk about the significance and the strength of democracy. There was so much about the incredible hard work that happened in 2020 to elect Joe Biden President and me Vice President that was about a fundamental faith in the significance of a democracy and democratic principles.
And so, the work that you all did then has produced, over the last two years, incredible yield, in terms of the benefit to the people of our country and, dare I say, people around the world. So I do want to start my comments by thanking you for what you did then.
Because on the basis of that hard work and the success that came from it, over the last two years, we have done transformational work -- transformational work. And in that way, we've got great momentum.
So let's reflect on the work that happened. Let's think about it in the context of what we said the American people deserve and need, in terms of issues that relate to a democracy.
Stefanie, you talked about that Doug was in Europe. I just came back from the Munich Security Conference. I was there speaking on the stage at the Munich Security Conference. It was my second speech; the first one a year ago, five days before Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
And this trip was to solidify all the work we did over the past two years, with a heavy emphasis on the last year, to restate and reaffirm America's leadership around the strength of the Alliance in NATO, but also America's leadership to stand up for fundamental principles that are about international norms and rules, such as sovereignty and territorial integrity.
This administration uniquely did that in a way it would not have happened before. We brought the Allies together. Think about it. For those of us who remember and think about these things, in the last, you know, four years, people were openly questioning the validity and the reason for being of NATO. They were questioning the meaning of its very existence.
And because of the work we did -- because of who Joe Biden is, who our administration is -- we brought the Allies together, to stand firm and solid in the face of this unprovoked aggression. So much so that we are now -- (applause) -- we have now not only reinforced the significance of the Alliance, we are on the verge of welcoming Finland and Sweden. (Applause.) Those two leaders who I met with when I was in Munich.
Think about where we are. Think about where we are in terms of the momentum that we have built up in our own country around, again, fundamental issues like what it means to have leadership that recognizes the need to invest in a nation, not only for the needs of today but the needs of our future.
We were able to help get passed what we call a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that is investing billions of dollars in upgrading America's infrastructure. Yes, roads and bridges. But also, for example, making sure that everyone in our country finally has access to high-speed Internet.
Why is that a big deal? Well, the pandemic made clear if you're a parent why that's a big deal, in terms of the need for your children to have access to high-speed Internet, because that might be the only way they can receive an education.
The pandemic made clear why everyone, regardless of where they live, should have access to high-speed Internet, because if you're a senior and you live in a rural community and you can't get your -- to your doctor, you can benefit from telemedicine. But why should you have to go to the public library and sit in the corner of a public library to talk with your doctor instead of having access to high-speed Internet in your home so you can do that in the privacy of your home?
The work we've done that has been about finally removing lead in pipes. That is no small issue.
I have been spending a lot of time around our country. And you would be shocked at the number of places that still are battling with that, where the grandparents -- the grandmothers and grandfathers in those communities have been fighting for years, saying, "This is toxic water. It is having an impact on the health of our children and their capacity to learn." And nothing was done.
And because of what you all did in 2020 and us now being in office, taking these things seriously, we are going to remove all of these pipes over the course of the next, probably, eight, nine years.
What we have done on the issue of the climate crisis. This Bay Area, I proudly say -- sometimes with a bit of bravado -- is the, if not a, birthplace of the movement around recognizing the significance of protecting this beautiful Earth upon which we live.
We have collectively, between the infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act -- I've done a little math on this -- we're probably looking at about a trillion dollars of investment over the next 10 years to address the climate crisis around adaptation and resiliency and -- and this is transformational -- jumpstarting a new economy, a clean-energy economy for the benefit not only of the people of our country but the world.
When I was at Munich, after I gave that speech, I took some questions. And one of them was to address and then explain the impact of this investment globally.
Well, think about it. Over a trillion dollars, which means then it's going to spur private investment, so it will be exponentially more, which means an investment, for example, in clean energy -- increasing the supply of clean energy, not only for our country but around the globe. That's going to bring prices down.
It's going to be about an investment in innovation and technology.
We do that very well here in the Bay Area. We understand what that means. Because when we put the investment in these creative approaches, everyone benefits.
This work is transformational.
Think about what we did in saying "Cap insulin at $35 a month." Whereas before, our seniors were literally looking at bankruptcy, whether they pay rent or pay for food or afford what a doctor prescribed in the interest of the quality of their life. And it is now capped at $35 a month.
And if everyone had noticed, this week, the pharmaceutical industry is bringing down the cost for everyone -- (applause) -- because it just took that kind of nudge -- (laughter) -- to make clear this should be done and it can be done for the benefit of everyone.
Think about what we have done in terms of making clear that small businesses are part of the heartbeat of our economy. And it's something I've been working on in a very substantial way.
I love small businesses. Let me just pause to say that. I mean, small -- and which there are many here. (Laughter.) This is -- you know, and our community is a community of families who -- intergenerational small businesses. Right?
And so, I don't need to tell anybody here: Our small-business leaders are not only business leaders, they are civic leaders. They are community leaders. They are part of the fabric of a community. They are the ones who will mentor. They are the ones who will hire locally. They are the ones who will train.
We have grown more small businesses in the last two years than any two-year period in the history of our country. Because the work we have been doing has been not only about looking out for small businesses during the height of the pandemic, but, actually, when I was in the Senate, I was responsible, with a couple of my colleagues, for getting 12 billion extra dollars into the community bank -- CDFIs -- to support and encourage not only small businesses to open, but to grow.
And we are now getting private investment into those community banks as well. And as a result, we are seeing a burgeoning growth of small business in communities around our country.
And small businesses, by the way, employ half of America's workforce. These are just some of the examples of what we have been doing.
And we have been true to all that we care about, talking about and standing up for American values. American values. Like the importance of a foundational principle: the freedom and the right of all people to make decisions about their own bodies.
In the face of a Supreme Court that took a fundamental right, a constitutional right from the people of America, from the women of America. And we have been standing firm, talking about and owning and walking the talk about what it means to fight for foundational principles that are a reflection of what we call American values, such as freedom and liberty. This is the work we're doing.
The work we are doing is to talk about the importance of being reasonable -- rejecting the idea that you need to push for something that ends with an exclamation point, when the American people just want practical solutions to the challenges we face.
We passed the first meaningful piece of smart gun safety legislation in 30 years to address -- (applause). But there's still more work to be done.
And as we have said, as Joe Biden has said as one of the original authors of the assault weapons ban, we still got to get that renewed and see that through.
And so, that brings me to, then, the point about why we again come together: because we know that our work is not done. We have much more to do.
But we've got great momentum. We've got some really good material to talk about why elections matter and why it is important to stand up for foundational values in a way that we know is not only a reflection of who we are but also is the way that we actually strengthen our nation for the benefit of the world.
Because -- I'll end my comments with this -- I have by now met with over 100 world leaders -- prime ministers, presidents, chancellors, and kings. They have come to our house -- our temporary public housing in Washington, D.C. (Laughter.) I met with them in our travels around the world.
When we walk in those rooms, representing the United States of America, we walk in those rooms chin up, shoulders back. And when we walk in those rooms -- I don't need to tell anybody here -- we have interactions with people who are watching everything we do to see: Is America still a leader not only in terms of economic strength and security, but as a democracy?
And the work we have done over the last two years, has reaffirmed who we are as a country, especially when the preceding four years created doubt.
And so, we must continue this work for the benefit of the people of our country but as an example, also, for the benefit of people around the world.
And so, that brings me to my last point: That is the impact that each of you has had. You have had an impact on people that you will never meet, who will never know your name. But the work that we do supporting these approaches and these standards and these principles is critical to who we are and to our future.
So, with that, I thank everyone for all that you have done. Thank you. (Applause.)