Vice President Joe Biden traveled back to his old stomping grounds on Thursday, joining Congressional Democrats under the blazing Washington sun to chastise Republicans for blocking their agenda.
During remarks outside of the U.S. Capitol, Vice President Biden said the issues facing America are “bigger than partisan politics,” which he humble-bragged he and fellow lawmakers were often able to overcome during his three decades in the U.S. Senate. He was joined by Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi of the House and Harry Reid of the Senate, who also delivered remarks, accusing Republicans of putting “radical obstruction over meaningful action.”
The remarks came two days after the Senate again failed to pass legislation to fund the Zika virus after returning from a 7 week vacation during which more and more Americans were infected with the mosquito-borne illness. Riders attached to the bill by House Republicans made its failure in the Senate inevitable, though both sides blame the other for stalling.
During his brief remarks, Biden called Zika a national emergency, noting that almost 17,000 Americans have contracted the virus, which is linked to severe birth defects and is transmitted sexually.
“It is a genuine threat. It’s here. It’s consequential. Deal with it,” Biden said Thursday. “If you care about children … wake up, man.”
Biden also joined Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in calling for the Senate to vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who has now waited 176 days—longer than any nominee in history—for a vote.
“You don’t have to support Merrick Garland. Vote no, but give him a vote,” Biden said. “We’re setting an incredibly dangerous precedent.”
Both Biden and Leader Pelosi also urged Congress to take on legislation that would keep those on the no-fly list from purchasing a firearm, saying there was overwhelming support for a bill though Republicans have refused to take it up. Legislation was floated in the wake of the terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Florida that left 49 dead. In late June, Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor to try to force a vote.