Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. accused congressional Republicans on Thursday of undercutting a “basic bargain” that American workers should benefit from helping swell their employers’ profits. He later
An often-agitated and -animated Biden charged GOP lawmakers with betraying their own long-held positions on overtime pay, the need for minimum wage hikes and worker safety issues. He urged the audience at the left-leaning Center for American Progress think tank to help Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton defeat GOP foe Donald Trump, saying her defeat would leave America “in trouble.”
Biden chastised Republicans for claiming to belong to the party of economic growth, saying the lawmakers “don’t get it” as he talked about middle class workers.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” he said. “It’s a different party than even 20 years ago.”
The remarks could have passed for a campaign stump speech in the Rust Belt or the Deep South had Biden opted to seek the Democratic nomination. Instead, he was there mostly to fire up the think tank’s staff and like-minded Democrats.
Republicans have “rejected” the notion that middle class individuals want to work, the vice president said while criticizing GOP lawmakers for opposing a federal bailout of the American auto industry. He also panned the GOP for opposing a 2009 economic recovery law, arguing that the federal government had a responsibility to help turn around a flailing economy.
“Republicans talked about stimulus like it was a dirty word,” Biden said of the administration’s efforts early on to revive the U.S. economy amid a global financial crisis.
And he said Republicans “succeeded at the front end.”
On the auto and economic bailouts, as well as the Obama administration’s support of middle class and small business tax cuts, Biden admitted to a mistake. He said the Obama White House initially failed to “advertise what we did.”
Biden later joined House and Senate Democrats at the Capitol to press GOP leaders to schedule votes on bills that would address the Zika virus outbreak and tighten gun laws that Democrats say allow people on terrorist watch lists to buy weapons.
Biden warned that a stalled Congress has a negative effect on foreign policy, and again implored the Senate to hold a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
Biden was flanked by dozens of congressional Democrats on the East Front steps, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
“We are not doing the people’s most urgent business,” Biden said, calling the Zika outbreak a “national emergency.”
“Wake up, man,” the vice president said. “An awful lot of people, an awful lot of babies, an awful lot of children being carried in the womb are going to end up in a very, very, very lifelong, serious situation where they’re fundamentally compromised. So act.”
In urging a vote on Garland, Biden said Congress didn’t have to approve the president’s nomination — just that it had to at least hold a hearing.
“You don’t have to vote yes, but stay and be counted,” Biden said.