Vice President Kamala Harris visited Houston on Thursday, pushing people of faith to take action to defend democracy, and slammed Texas lawmakers’ abortion and voting policies.
In front of a crowd of 2,000 attendees at the annual National Baptist Convention, Harris said people of faith once again have to step up in these “unsettled times.”
Harris said established ideals like the sovereignty of Democratic nations, the peaceful transfer of power in America, the freedom of voters to decide elections, the freedom of women to make decisions about their own futures, and what constitutes the truth all hang in the balance.
“In this moment, we count on the strength and the conviction of our faith leaders to help lead us forward,” she said.
Harris then condemned Texas lawmaker’s policies, pointing to the state’s all-out abortion ban, Senate Bill 8, and voter access legislation, Senate Bill 1.
“We all know the freedom to vote should be sacred, and our democracy must be defended,” Harris said. “As extremists work to take away the freedom of women to make decisions about their own bodies, faith leaders are taking a stand knowing one doesn’t have to abandon their faith or deeply held religious beliefs to agree that a woman should have the ability to make decisions about her own body and not have her government tell her what to do.”
As she urged faith leaders to stay politically conscious, Harris then listed several legislative accomplishments she and President Biden have produced while in office: the child tax credit, funding Historically Black Colleges and Universities, supporting minority small businesses, tackling racial inequities in home appraisals, expanding federal background checks for gun purchasers, restricting chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and passing provisions that allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.
Harris also promised the administration would cap the price for insulin to $35 a month for seniors and criticized pharmaceutical companies for prioritizing profits over people.
“Black people in America are 60 percent more likely to have diabetes,” she said. “And far too many of our seniors in particular with diabetes can not afford the insulin that a doctor has prescribed to help save their life, are cutting their dosage, are getting sicker simply because they can not afford life-saving medication.”
She also thanked faith leaders for their consistent support and for helping them nominate diverse federal judges, including the first Black female Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Harris asked attendees to continue defending democracy with compassion, optimism, and empathy to end her speech.
“Let us people of faith continue to defend our democracy, continue to defend our liberty, and our freedoms,” she said. “Let us continue to fight to build a better future, and let us continue to have faith in God, in our country, and each other.”
Harris will end her Houston tour on Friday after meeting with a NASA Johnson Space Center space council.