Biden and Harris spoke at the annual awards dinner for the 52nd Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. President Biden spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday night in Washington, D.C., where he blamed “extreme Republicans” for Congress’s inability to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown so far and for political violence.
At the yearly awards dinner for the CBC Foundation 52nd yearly Legislative Conference at National Town Hall, both the president and Vice President Harris spoke.
Harris said that the CBC is helping to “lead the fight for reproductive freedom” during her speech. Just like you are still leading the way in the fight for human rights, I also think that the right to feel safe is a human right. Gun crime is now the leading cause of death for American children. But instead of keeping our kids safe, extremists get in the way.”
The vice president also criticized officials in Florida for “wanting to tell our children that slaves benefited from slavery.” She was talking about a controversial part of Florida’s new African American history curriculum, which talks about how slaves learned skills that they could sometimes use to help themselves.
After Harris had introduced him, Biden took the stage and thanked his vice president for working with him and “always fighting for freedom.” He said that Harris is “doing a great job,” which is true. I told you I would have a smart vice president and an African American woman, and we got one of each.”
He also thanked White House press officer Karine Jean-Pierre, who got a Co-Chair’s Award at the event, saying, “No wonder I’m doing okay.”
Biden said that some members of Congress are “sowing so much division” and are willing to shut down the government. He was talking about a few congressional Republicans who have said they won’t support the deal he made with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to avoid a government shutdown on October 1.
Biden said, “Just a few months ago, after long talks with the new speaker, we came to an agreement on spending levels that would allow the government to pay for important domestic and national security priorities while still cutting the deficit by $1 trillion over the next ten years.” “Now, a small group of extreme Republicans don’t want to keep the deal. So now everyone in America might have to pay for it.”
“Let’s be sure. If the government shuts down, members of Congress and the U.S. troops will have to keep working even though they won’t be paid,” he said. “A shutdown of the government could affect everything from the quality of food to studies on cancer to Head Start programs for kids. Congress’s most basic job is to figure out how to pay for the government. And it’s time for Republicans to start doing what Americans wanted them to do when they voted for them.”
The president also talked about the election in 2024. He repeated what he had said before, that “democracy is at risk” and that there is a “battle for the soul of America.” Biden said on Saturday that Americans no longer doubt that U.S. democracy is in danger now and will be in danger in 2020.
“And thank God, because of all of you, we won,” he said about the 2020 presidential race. “I should also say that we won by a clear and convincing score of seven million votes. There were 81 million votes cast. This is the most ever. And that win held up in the face of 60 legal challenges and a revolt on January 6. So I’m going to run again.”
Biden, who is 80 years old, said that people talk about whether or not he is fit for office because of his age, but he said he “knew what to do” to help the U.S. and its friends when he became president in 2021.
“This country was on its back when I took office,” Biden said. “I was sure what to do. I got everyone shot and fixed up the economy. When Russia sent troops into Ukraine. I was sure what to do. I fixed up NATO. And used our union to bring the whole world together. And most importantly, I knew what to do when freedom was taken away.”
Later, he made fun of the fact that he had joined the U.S. Senate “200 years ago” in the early 1970s.
The president accused former President Trump and his MAGA Republican party for political divide and violence.
The president said that hate groups all over the country have been given more power, and the intelligence community has said that internal terrorism is the biggest threat to the U.S.
“That’s the biggest terrorist: one who is at home. Because it’s still far too common to be killed or attacked on the streets of America just because you’re black or because you’re wearing a religious sign. I want the whole country to join me in sending the greatest, clearest, most powerful message possible that political violence in America is never, never, never okay in our democracy. No way. He said, “Because democracy is at stake.”
Biden added, “There’s no doubt that Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans want to spread anger, hate, and separation. They will do anything to get power, and they want to destroy this system. We both can’t stand to see that happen. And I’ll always fight for, support, and protect our freedom.”
The president also said, “I got involved in the civil rights movement when I was a teenager in Wilmington, Delaware.”
“When I ran for the Senate for the first time, I was 29 years old, and Nixon won my state by 64%. I won, though, because almost 90% of the African American community voted for me, which is a big group,” Biden said. “You owe me.”
Biden also said that the 2017 shooting in Charlottesville and Trump’s statement at the time that “very fine people are on both sides” made him want to run for president in 2020.
“At the time, the president was asked what had happened. He said, “There are good people on both sides.” Both sides have nice people.’ “When I heard that, I knew I could no longer stay on the sidelines, because the President of the United States said yes, making those who stood for hate and those who stood against it morally the same,” Biden said.
During his speech on Saturday night, Biden also seemed to make some mistakes. He mispronounced the name of rapper LL Cool J and called him “boy” before quickly correcting himself. He was trying to praise LL Cool J and MC Lyte for their musical skills since they had just won the Phoenix Award at the yearly awards dinner for their musical efforts.
“LL and Jay Cool J, two of the best artists of our time and pioneers of hip hop in the United States, are…” As the crowd laughed, Biden said. “By the way, that boy—that man—has biceps that are bigger than mine.”
Biden has a history of calling black people “boy,” which is considered a racial slur when used to describe black guys. He did this earlier this year when discussing Maryland’s first black governor, Democrat Wes Moore.