Vice President Harris’ Remarks on the Affordable Connectivity Program
Carole Hoefener Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
1:32 p.m. EDT
THE VICE-PRESIDENT: All right! Can we hear it for Mrs. Tiffany? (Applause.)
Good afternoon, Charlotte. It’s so good to be back. Good afternoon. You know, Mrs. Tiffany and I were talking in the back, and I said, you know, ‘The President’ – which I’ll get to in a moment – ‘The President – I spoke to him this morning. I was on my way here. And he said, ‘Say hello to everyone.’ And he knew why I was here, which was to talk about what we’re doing to connect people to high-speed Internet.
And the work that we do in Washington, DC, the work that we do in terms of political work, it’s not real until it’s on the streets. It’s not real until real people have the ability to enjoy what we hope will help them and improve their lives.
And the connectivity, if you will, between what we’re doing in Washington, DC, and what’s hitting the streets of Charlotte, is people like Ms. Tiffany. So it makes all the difference. So, once again, can we applaud him? (Applause.) Please applaud him.
And before I start, I want to talk about our incredible president, Joe Biden. This morning he and I spoke on the phone. He is in a good mood. He feels good. He is doing well. He is fully vaccinated and double vaccinated. And – of course he is, and like everyone else – who would cheer, who was eligible, would do the same. And he works from the residence of the White House.
And when we spoke, he was very happy, as I said, that we’re all here together today to talk about the work our administration is doing on behalf of working parents and families and all those who deserve to be seen and heard.
So with that, it’s good to be with everyone today. The great Governor Roy Cooper. Where is Roy? He was here earlier. He’s been with me all through — he’s been with me all morning and met me on the tarmac.
And I have to tell you, Roy Cooper is amazing, because we do so many things that involve providing those resources to people. But we can’t do that if there isn’t a governor in place who takes the importance of partnership seriously to ensure that he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of access to services and resources for people in the states. So I really thank Governor Roy Cooper for all that he has done. And if we could applaud him, please. (Applause.)
And Governor Cooper and I were together at the White House recently to highlight the jobs that have been created under his leadership here in North Carolina through the US bailout. So I thank him, of course, for all the steps he’s taken to get people online.
I also want to thank the leaders of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for their work advancing our administration’s efforts to ensure Internet access for all. And thank you to all the leaders who are here today, including, of course, the advocates and organizers who have fought so long to connect our communities.
So I’ll start with a simple and obvious truth: in the 21st century, high-speed Internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. (Applause.) It’s as basic as what we’ve come to accept over generations: how necessary electricity is. Same point.
Students use the Internet for many reasons in their studies, including taking virtual classes. Workers use the Internet to find jobs and receive training. Elderly people use the Internet to consult a doctor without leaving their homes.
For many of us, the Internet is an integral part of our daily lives. And yet, more than 30 million people in our country still do not have access to high-speed Internet. Think about it. That’s a lot of people. And millions more can’t afford the cost of a broadband plan.
Every person in our country, regardless of income, should be able to afford a high-speed internet plan.
So last year our administration invested $65 billion through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to help connect every home in our country to affordable high-speed internet and cut monthly internet bills by dozens of dollars. Americans through an initiative we are here to talk about today. called the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Thus, this program offers working families up to $30 per month off their internet bill or $75 per month for those living on tribal lands. And it also gives families a one-time discount of up to $100 on the purchase of a laptop, desktop or tablet – because an internet connection isn’t much use if you don’t have a way to connect if you don’t actually have the technology that allows you to take advantage of the service.
So we’ve worked with internet service providers to make sure they offer plans for $30 or less per month, which means the vast majority of households eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program can receive high-speed internet without paying a penny.
So if you’re eligible, or even think you might be eligible — I’ll give you a website; everyone is getting ready. Write it down on your smartphone or get out a pen and paper. Please visit – website is GetInternet.gov. GetInternet.gov. And when you log in there, you can check if you’re eligible, you can find a plan, and you can sign up.
The Affordable Connectivity Program has already done so much good. Today, about 13 million people are registered. And these are students who can now study at their kitchen table rather than in the parking lot of a local fast food restaurant, which is what so many of our students have been doing, especially at the height of the pandemic – because, see- you, they would take advantage of the internet accessibility of the fast-food restaurant while sitting in the parking lot.
Think about it: the people who will benefit are parents who previously relied on their cell phone data plan to connect the whole family, which can be extremely expensive. And now these families can stream, research and study for free over Wi-Fi. This includes women who need access to healthcare.
Because, as many of you know, this is an issue that has been a priority of mine for a long time — the issue of maternal health. And our nation faces a maternal mortality crisis.
In fact, black women are three times more likely to die in our country from pregnancy-related causes. Native American women are more than twice as likely to die. Rural women – women who live in rural America – are one and a half times more likely to die.
And think about it: for many women who live in rural communities, they also live in maternal care deserts, which means they don’t have access to health providers and facilities.
But thanks to a high-speed internet connection and telehealth, these women can access life-saving maternal care.
Among the other 13 million people who have benefited from our program, there are also people who are entrepreneurs in our communities; people who have always wanted to start an online business and work from home, but have never been able to afford internet access until now.
Here’s what it boils down to: We created this program because we know that when we connect people to high-speed internet, it’s also a connection to opportunity – the opportunity to live healthier, happier lives. and more prosperous and, above all, more affordable lives.
Every month, the Affordable Connectivity Program saves working families more than a quarter of a billion dollars, and it’s important for many reasons, including our broader fight to make sure we’re doing everything – and the president and I are very attached to this subject. — to lower costs — and reduce costs for working families.
So we expanded the child tax credit, which lifted millions of children out of poverty last year. And we passed a tax cut
to give parents up to $8,000 for child care so they have more room in their pockets to buy food, medicine and school supplies for their children. And we’re fighting to pass legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs, health care, child care, and more.
Today we are in Charlotte because we need your help. We know that when we host events like this, more people sign up. But it takes the support of leaders like you in this room to keep that momentum going.
So we need your help, and that’s why I’m here to ask you, like Ms. Tiffany—we’ll look to her as a role model for that—to help us spread the word. Think about it. Talk to everyone who comes to Sunday dinner, Little League games, work, school, your neighborhood. Talk to people about what’s available to them that they might not otherwise know, but can be of great help with anything related to their daily lives and obligations.
And we need community and faith-based organizations to help people fill out their applications. There is an app. It’s not too detailed. It’s not too complicated. But people might need some extra help, so offer to help them complete the application as well.
And we need state and local governments to boost enrollment in any way they can. I know Governor Cooper is already hard at work on this front. The partnership between the leaders present here today is essential.
So, again, I’m here to ask you to help spread the word to let people know what’s available to them. And like in the Tiffany story, when we see people enjoying it, we see so much good that is not just about that individual, but about their family and the community as a whole.
So thank you, to all of you, for all you have done to help connect the people of our nation with a brighter future. And I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thanks. (Applause.)
END 1:44 PM EDT