DURHAM, N.C. — The morning after the State of the Union address, Vice President Kamala Harris toured a community college in North Carolina.
Flanked by Labor Sec. Marty Walsh, the VP focused on President Joe Biden’s job plan, echoing his economic messages from the Tuesday night speech.
“As a nation we have made real progress to end this pandemic and get our economy back to normal,” Harris said, standing before a banner reading “Building a Better America.”
She toured a union apprenticeship training program at Durham Technical Community College, where student apprentices learn to become electricians.
About 80 people gathered in a room at Durham Tech, many of them members of local unions. The group included longtime North Carolina civil rights leader Rev. William Barber, along with the governor, Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield, and Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal.
Much of Harris’s short speech mirrored Biden’s State of the Union, touching on Ukraine, recovery from the pandemic, the infrastructure law and inflation.
The vice president said the administration stands with Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues.
“As we all know, the eyes of the world are on the brave people of Ukraine,” Harris said. “They are fighting. They are fighting not just to defend their homes and their families but to defend their worth and their freedom, their sovereignty.”
“Since taking office, we have created over 6.5 million jobs and lowered the unemployment rate,” she said, listing off the administration’s accomplishments during its first full year in office. “Over 90% of our schools are back in person.”
“The fight is not yet won," Harris said of bringing the economy back to normal after it suffered from pandemic impacts.
“Our fight starts with lowering the cost of living for working families,” she said. “We must create more good paying jobs at home. Good union jobs.”
Walsh, the labor secretary, said community colleges like Durham Tech “are the engines of equity in higher education, and they are the key to growing our middle class by creating pathways, school to career, for American students.”
He announced the administration plans to give $45 million in new grant programs for community colleges.
“This program will help community colleges strengthen and connect people to training,” he said. “This new fund will focus on areas like women, workers of color and marginalized communities that have been shut out from too many opportunities in the past.”
Walsh and eastern North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield both repeated a line from Biden’s State of the Union: “This administration’s policies are building the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Walsh said.
Gov. Roy Cooper, who gave an energetic introduction for the vice president and the labor secretary, said, “It’s a great day to be at Durham Tech.”
“Here in North Carolina we are ready to work with the Biden-Harris administration to support working families, grow peoples’ paychecks, create American jobs, and fling the doors of opportunity wide open,” the governor said.