Vice President Kamala Harris is in Connecticut Friday as part of the Biden administration's "Help is Here Tour" to promote the recently-passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
She arrived at Tweed New Haven Airport around 2:30 p.m., where she was greeted by Gov. Ned Lamont, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as well as U.S. Reps. Jahana Hayes and Rosa DeLauro.
Investing in Our Children and Families
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Harris had praise for Connecticut's efforts in education, describing the state as a potential model for the country as a whole.
During her visit to the Boys & Girls Club of New Haven and the West Haven Child Development Center to discuss the rescue plan and how it addresses the issues of childhood poverty and education.
At the Boys & Girls Club, after an introduction by Meriden native and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Harris praised Connecticut's efforts surrounding education and through the pandemic, and highlighted aspects of the American Rescue Plan she sees as keys to address the issues in our current systems.
"It is a moment to leap from over what might otherwise been incremental change to actually fast forward and address some of the longstanding issues," Harris said.
Harris said a major focus of the plan will be lifting children out of poverty, efforts that should have a generational impact for the future. She said the mental health impact of poverty cannot be ignored, and the past year has highlighted these issues.
"The investment that we’re putting in our public schools, K-12, understanding that our educators, everyone in the educational ecosystem, including parents and students deserve to have that infusion of resources to address the harm and the damage from the pandemic, but again also, the history, recent history of inadequately funding our public schools," Harris said.
Another component the ice president stressed is investing in child care to help working parents get the support they need. Harris said the connection between child care and the economy cannot be ignored, and that working parents need the support not just to take care of their families, but also to pursue their career dreams, which can better the economy and society as a whole.
“The connection between child care and these other systems are so direct,” she said.
Harris also visited with children at the West Haven Child Development Center, telling them she loved meeting with young leaders.
During her remarks in West Haven Harris stressed the need to invest in policies to support these young leaders, calling it "fundamental" to society.
"It is about our children and all that a society should do - understanding that the children of the community are the children of the community and in that way we have a collective responsibility," she said.
Connecticut Leaders on Harris' Visit
"I think Connecticut will get a chance to see who she is what she is about -- the depths of her caring," DeLauro, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, said before Harris' visit Friday.
DeLauro is passionate about addressing childhood poverty, childcare and education and has been a proponent of expanding the Child Tax Credit through her American Family Act.
"One of the provisions included in the American Rescue Plan that I am particularly proud of, that I have championed for nearly two decades, is the expansion and improvement of the Child Tax Credit. In this plan, the credit is increased from $2,000 to $3,000 for children six to 17 with an additional $600 for each child under six—think of that. It is a new lifeline to the middle class, and it cuts child poverty nearly in half. Franklin Roosevelt lifted seniors out of poverty, 90% of them with Social Security, and with the stroke of a pen, President Biden is going to lift millions and millions of children out of poverty in this country," DeLauro said in a statement earlier this month.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he also intends to speak with the vice president about gun violence.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said he was excited about the visit.
“I am excited to hear that Vice President Kamala Harris is coming to New Haven to join Congresswomen DeLauro and Hayes," Elicker said in a statement.
"This is critical in emphasizing the importance of the American Rescue Plan, and how our leaders at the Federal Government are working tirelessly to help those who are struggling, especially in our community," he tweeted. I especially want to thank Rep. DeLauro for fighting for decades on the child tax credit.”
Preparing for a Visit from the Vice President
Several agencies worked to prepare for the visit.
"It comes down to three components: understanding the law enforcement capacity, the fire department capacity and EMS. Those are the three major components to ensure that are in place and we want to make sure this is a safe trip. We will do everything in our power and we will work with our partners and it’s just not here in the city of New Haven. It’s continuous communities that also will be working with us to ensure a safe passage and safe return for the vice president," Rick Fontana, director of emergency operations for New Haven, said.
He warns people to be prepared for delays if they are driving to or around New Haven today.
He urged drivers to take some extra time and leave a little bit early.
"There will be impacts, we don’t know the magnitude of those, but there will be impacts because there is a presence of law enforcement and security to ensure the safe passage of the vice president,” Fontana said.
The vice president’s visit comes weeks after First Lady Jill Biden and Cardona came to Connecticut and visited a school in Meriden.