Mar 12, 2021
Biden, Harris, Schumer, Pelosi Rose Garden Speech on American Rescue Plan Transcript March 12
President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a Rose Garden event on March 12, 2021 to discuss the American Rescue Plan. Read the transcript of the speech remarks here.
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Chuck Schumer: (09:58)
Thank you. Well thank you. Thank you to our great President, Joe Biden. Our great-
Chuck Schumer: (10:03)
Great President, Joe Biden. Our great speaker, Nancy Pelosi. And a special round of applause to all the Senate and House members who are here, and those who are not. It couldn’t have happened without all of you working as a team. So thank you very much. Now, it’s been a long and difficult year in America. We’ve lost so many in so short of time. But finally, hope is on the horizon and help is on the way. What do we say to America? We say to America, “Help is on the way.” Help is on the way. You will receive your $1,400 checks in a few weeks. Help is on the way. People are being vaccinated more quickly and more effectively than we ever imagined. Help is on the way. Half the children in America will no longer be in poverty. And help is on the way. Our schools will open more quickly and more safely than anyone has ever thought.
Chuck Schumer: (11:11)
We, Democrats, made promises. We made promises in Georgia. We made promises in the country. We said, if we gained the Senate, kept the House, and elected the President, we would finally get things done and get us out of this COVID crisis. And we are on the road to success. Help is on the way. This is a wonderful day for America. This is the most significant piece of legislation, in so many ways, in decades. And we are just getting started. Help is on the way. Thank you everybody.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:05)
Thank you so much. Good afternoon. Good afternoon in the Rose Garden. Thank you Mr. President, Madam Vice President, an the honor to be with you want to be with the Majority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer. I join him in acknowledging our members who are here, many chairs of committees, members of our leadership. Because without all of you, this would not have happened. And it certainly would not have happened without Joe Biden as President of the United States. Mr. President, everybody is complimenting us. And every time we get a compliment, I say, “I accept on behalf of the House Democrats, and of the staff of the House Democrats.” And I know of the Senate staff as well. They worked so very, very hard.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:59)
But let me say this about my members. Our chairs were dazzling, in their own work, intellect, integrity, imagination for the American people, working with their Senate colleagues. I say their beautiful diversity of our members. And I say to them, “Our diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power.” And in this bill, our diversity to protect everyone in our country, to end the disparity and access to everything that the bill presents, our diversity was reflected in the House, in the Senate, in that policy.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:39)
But our unity on behalf of all of the American people is what made this such a triumph, whatever differences there may have been, shall we say, as I said to the chairman, exuberance, the leader, certain exuberances here and there, we all knew our purpose. We were unified on behalf of the American people, for the children, for their health, for their education, for the economic security of their families. Yes, this is a great day to be in the Rose Garden and all to have us be able to fulfill the promise that President Biden has made all along, that help is on the way. Promise made, promise fulfilled. Thank you, Mr. President.
Kamala Harris: (14:27)
Thank you, Madam Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, and America. The President promised help is on the way. And today, help has arrived. Help has arrived for the workers who lost their jobs. Help has arrived for the students who have been stuck at home. Help has arrived for the families that have struggled to put food on their table, and for the small businesses that have struggled to keep their doors open. Help has arrived, America. This landmark legislation will get relief to families, get support to communities, and make sure more shots get in arms. And I want to thank the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, and all of the members of Congress who voted for this legislation and help lead to its success. And of course, we would not be here today were it not for the leadership of our President, Joe Biden.
Kamala Harris: (15:51)
And I just want to say something about the President. From the beginning of this, Joe said, “We’ve got to tell the stories. We got to tell the stories. We got to show that we understand what the people are experiencing and what they need.” And I’ve been in rooms with Joe when it’s just he and I. I’ve been in rooms with Joe when it’s just a small group of our team or when the cameras are there, and he’s the same person every time. And he’s always talking about, “What do the people need?” And when the President and I were preparing to take office, we knew what we were up against. So we started working on a plan, this plan, the American Rescue Plan.
Kamala Harris: (16:37)
And Mr. President, from the very start, you sought the people out, you asked them, as only Joe can do, “How are you doing?” You listened to what they said, and you remembered what they said. And every day, in every meeting, you reminded us who we were doing this for, the American people. And in particular, the American people who were hurting the most. The workers who have been out of a job for six months to a year, the families that lost a loved one, the communities that have been torn apart by this deadly virus. You, Mr. President, have carried a card in your breast pocket with the number of those Americans who have died from COVID-19. Every day, he carries that card, literally keeping their memory close to your heart. You have grieved, Mr. President, out loud with our nation, mourning the loss of so many extraordinary Americans. Your empathy has become a trademark of your presidency and can be found on each and every page of the American Rescue Plan.
Kamala Harris: (17:58)
Joe Biden, Mr. President, you had a vision, you had a purpose and you had faith that the American people, regardless of who they voted for, would support this plan, simply because it will help. You had faith that Congress would pass this plan, simply because it is the best thing for the American people. And you put in the work to make it happen, to get relief directly to the American people. And we’ve both served in the Senate, so we know there’s rarely been a bill that’s so concrete and tangible. Mr. President, people will feel and they will see what we all did here. They will see the checks in their bank accounts. They will see the child tax credits when they file their taxes, when they return to work, when they return to school, when they reopen their businesses, when they hug their grandchildren for the first time in a year. Americans will see what we did here, what you did, Mr. President, and they will feel the impact of this bill for generations to come.
Kamala Harris: (19:16)
And that’s what happens when you make historic investments in communities of color and tribal communities and rural communities. That’s what happens when you lift half of those children living in poverty out of poverty. Because of you, Mr. President, help has arrived. And on behalf of our nation, thank you. And it is now my great, great honor to introduce the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden: (20:13)
Good afternoon. Thank you, Kamala.
President Joe Biden: (20:21)
When I look out over what happened the last 50 days, when Jill and I first got a chance to move into this magnificent building behind you, I promised the American people, and I guess it’s becoming an overused phrase, that help was on the way. But today with the American Rescue Plan now signed into law, we’ve delivered on that promise. I don’t mean I’ve delivered. We’ve delivered.
President Joe Biden: (20:54)
Look out there on all of you. Patty, there’d still be people, kids in poverty, were it not for all the work you did all those years. I want to say to Bernie, Bernie stepping up and making the case why this was so transformational made a big difference in how a lot of people voted. I look out at all of you, the House members as well, who have made the case to the American people. Why this is so important. I watched my buddy Jim down in South Carolina stand up and talk about how it’s going to affect individual people. My inclination is to mention every single one of you, because I think I’ve called most of you and thanked you already for what you did. I even called Pallone. He wasn’t there though. He was on the other side of the river. We joke all the time. He’s in New Jersey. I’m in Delaware. I keep reminding him, Delaware owns the Delaware River up to the high watermark in New Jersey. But all kidding aside, I want to thank you all.
President Joe Biden: (21:54)
I want to thank particularly the Speaker who from day one, from the very first day I got the nomination, was supportive in ways that are hard for me to describe. I served a long time in the United States Senate, longer than anybody if I was still there at the time other than Pat. If I were still in the Senate, I’d be Senate Pro Temp because I was two years ahead of Pat. But all kidding aside, we’ve still had a lot of great Majority Leaders, but I never saw anybody handle such a controversial, consequential piece of legislation that was right on the edge than Chuck Schumer. I owe you, Chuck. You did an incredible job.
President Joe Biden: (22:40)
Look, to the members of the House and the Senate, thanks for making this happen. You made it happen. As I said, I served 36 years in the Senate, I know how hard it is to pass major, consequential legislation, particularly when we only have such minor, small majorities in both houses. Steny, you’ve done an incredible job.
President Joe Biden: (23:03)
Nancy and Chuck, I have to say that I agree with many of the columnists that have commented on this legislation. What you shepherded through the Congress, not only meets the moment, it does even more. It’s historical and they call it transformational. It really is.
President Joe Biden: (23:23)
The bill was overwhelmingly by the American people. Democrats, independents, and Republicans. It had a strong support of governors and mayors across the country, in both parties, red states and blues. Over 430 mayors contacted me, many of them Republicans supporting the bill. Here’s why, because what you all did with it and the refinements you made, it directly addressed the emergency in this country because it focuses on what people need most.
President Joe Biden: (23:54)
Debbie and I often talked about, you got to tell people in plain simple, straightforward language, what it is you’re doing to help. You’ve got to be able to tell a story, tell the story of what you’re about to do and why it matters because it’s going to make a difference in the lives of millions of people and in very concrete, specific ways.
President Joe Biden: (24:15)
This legislation, everybody’s already mentioned, will provide $1,400 in direct payments, which we all promised. Well, that means for a typical family of four, a middle-class family, husband and wife working, making $110,000 a year, that means $ 5,600 check they’re going to get. 85% of the households in America will be getting this money. A lot of you know, because of the way you came up like I did and others, what that can mean.
President Joe Biden: (24:47)
Think of the millions of people going to sleep at night, staring at the ceiling thinking, “My God, what am I going to do tomorrow? I’ve lost my healthcare. Don’t have a job. Unemployment runs out. I’m behind in my mortgage. What am I going to do?” Well, guess what? They’re going to be getting that check soon, either by direct deposit or a check from the treasury. Some are going to get it as early as this weekend.
President Joe Biden: (25:14)
This legislation provides resources needed to open our schools. How many of you have dealt, not only in your own home or with your children and grandchildren, if you have them, with how difficult it is? The mental pressure and stress that are on so many families. So many people needing help if they had access to counseling because it’s caused an enormous, enormous stress.
President Joe Biden: (25:43)
This legislation extends unemployment insurance by $300 a week until September. It’s going to help 11 million Americans who were days from losing that benefit.
President Joe Biden: (25:58)
This legislation includes the biggest investment in childcare since World War II, that’s not hyperbole. That’s just the fact. It’s a fact.
President Joe Biden: (26:07)
It provides help for small businesses to stay open. So many have had to close because the first time around you all worked and did a great piece of work in the House, passing significant legislation. What’s the first thing the last president did? He fired the folks who were supposed to watch and make sure it got in fact distributed the way it was supposed to be. We find out so much of it went to people who didn’t need it. You all took care of that.
President Joe Biden: (26:39)
It extends coverage and lowers healthcare costs for so many Americans. So many Americans. And it’s a big number for people.
President Joe Biden: (26:49)
It provides for food and nutrition because people knew and you all were out there handing out food like many of us were, but you saw people who were in car lines that were literally miles long. You’d see four lanes of cars that went back for a half a mile each, just to get a box of food. Again, through no fault of their own.
President Joe Biden: (27:12)
It’s going to help people keep a roof over their heads. Half a million haven’t been able to make their mortgage payments, about to be thrown out of their apartments. They have to make up all that they owe. And those mom and pop realtors are in real trouble. It’s going to cut child poverty in half with, and I’ve talked to so many of you. Rosa, you and I have spent so much time on this. But you guys, you, Patty and others are the ones who have been leading this for so long. It’s finally coming to fruition and the American people understand it.
President Joe Biden: (27:49)
It pays for many of the steps we’ve taken to vaccinate Americans. We’re going to be in a position where, because of what you all did and passed, we had the money to go out and literally purchased hundreds of millions of vaccines and then go out and make sure we had enough vaccinators. Vaccines one thing, to get the vaccine in a vial out of that vial and into a needle and a needle into someone’s arm took tens of thousands of people. And because of you, we were able to mobilize the military. We were able to mobilize FEMA. I was able by executive order to allow former docs and nurses to come back and be able to engage in this activity.
President Joe Biden: (28:35)
One of the things that we said at the beginning, no one thought that I was being straight about was I said, we have to spend this money to make sure we have economic growth, unrelated to how much it’s going to help people. Well, guess what? Every single major economist out there, left, right and center, supported this plan. Even Wall Street agreed. According to Moody’s, for example, by the end of this year, this law alone will create seven million new jobs. Seven million.
President Joe Biden: (29:14)
The bill does one more thing which I think is really important, it changes the paradigm. For the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first. It’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact. For too long it’s been the folks at the top. They’re not bad folks. A significant number of them know they shouldn’t be getting the tax breaks they had. But it put the richest Americans first, who benefited the most. The theory was, we’ve all heard it, especially the last 15 years, the theory was cut taxes on those at the top and the benefits they get will trickle down to everyone. Well, you saw what trickled down does. We’ve known it for a long time, but this is the first time we’ve been able to, since the Johnson administra-
President Joe Biden: (30:03)
… for a long time, but this is the first time we’ve been able to since the Johnson administration, and maybe even before that, to begin to change the paradigm. We’ve seen time and time again that that trickled down does not work. And by the way, we don’t have anything against wealthy people. You got a great idea, you’re going to go out and make millions of dollars, that’s fine. I have no problem with that. But guess what? You got to pay your fair share. You got to pay something because guess what folks who are living on the edge they’re paying. And so again, all it’s done is make those at the top richer in the past and everyone else fallen behind. This time, it’s time that we build an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out, the middle out.
President Joe Biden: (30:52)
And this bill shows that when you do that, everybody does better, the wealthy do better, everybody does better across the board. If that’s our foundation, then everything we build upon will be strong, a strong foundation. Our competitiveness around the world, the jobs here at home, the health and quality our lives. That’s what the American Rescue Plan represents. It’s all about rebuilding. What I’ve been saying, and Bernie, and a lot of others are saying, the backbone of this country, the backbone of this country are hard working folks, hard working folks, middle-class folks, people who built the country. And I might add, I think unions built the middle class. It’s about creating opportunity and giving people a fair shot. That’s really all and everything it’s about. In the coming weeks, Jill and I, and Kamal and Doug, and our cabinet, with all of you, members of Congress, we’re going to be traveling the country to speak directly to the American people about how this law is going to make a real difference in their lives, and how help is here for them.
President Joe Biden: (32:03)
Almost every single aspect would be significant. If you took this bill and broke it into all the pieces, every one of those pieces standing alone would be viewed as a significant accomplishment, but it’s all the work you’ve done for years to try to get us there. This law is not the end of our efforts though. I view it as only a beginning. Look, one of the things that I’ve been most worried about, and I think you all have to, especially those of us who’ve been around for a hundred years like me, is you’ve watched people lose confidence in government, just lose confidence in that we tell the truth. That’s why when I announced I quoted a Franklin Roosevelt, he said, “I’ll give it to you straight from the shoulder. The American people can handle anything if you tell them the truth.” And they really can, just give it straight from the shoulder. And when we do something right, we’re going to make a case for it. And when I make a mistake, I’m going to own up to it and say, “It was me. I made a mistake.” And I said last night, “This is not over.” Conditions can change. We’re not finished yet. Conditions can change. The scientists have warned us about new variants of this virus, and the devil is in the details of implementing this legislation. I know from experience and the president turned to me like I haven’t done to the vice-president yet and said, “Take care of it. You take care of implementing the plan.” I mean she could do it, but I remember being given the dubious distinction of having to implement the recovery act back when we came into office, Barack and I.
President Joe Biden: (33:54)
I spent literally four or five hours a day for six months. I talked to over 160 mayors, probably more than two or three times, every governor save one who was looking at it from Alaska to Russia, and making sure that we’re in a situation where we talked to everybody. But the devil’s in the details. It’s one thing to pass the American Rescue Plan, it’s going to be another thing to implement it. It’s going to require fastidious oversight to make sure there’s no waste or fraud, and the law does what it’s designed to do. And I mean it, we have to get this right. Details matter because we have to continue to build confidence in the American people that their government can function for them and deliver.
President Joe Biden: (34:45)
So it was a lot of work for all of us left to do, but I know we’ll do it. To every American watching, help is here and we will not stop working for you. Together with you we are showing it’s possible to get big, important things done. That’s what America does, it tackles hard problems and how we do… Look, it’s how we do have it within ourselves to come out of this moment, which a lot of us have been saying for a long time, more prosperous, more united, and stronger than we went in. That’s where we have a chance to be. That’s what we’re going to be able to do.
President Joe Biden: (35:28)
And it’s really critical, it’s really critical to demonstrate, not Democrat, Republican. It’s critical to demonstrate that government can function; can function and deliver prosperity, security, and opportunity for the people in this country. And as my grandfather used to kiddingly say with the grace of God, the goodwill neighbors and the creek not rising, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
President Joe Biden: (35:57)
God bless you all. Thanks for all you did and may God protect our troops. Thank you. I wish I could come out and shake hands with every one of you but next time, it won’t be so far apart. Thank you. Appreciate it.