Photo Highlights: Total Solar Eclipse Above Long Lake, in New York’s Adirondacks is Stellar

In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com, [email protected]

With a huge swath of New York State in the path of totality for the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse, we headed to the Adirondacks, cleverly basing ourselves at The Lorca on Indian Lake, which was scheduled to have totality for two minutes, with a plan to drive 30 minutes further to Long Lake, which was scheduled for totality to last a full minute longer, 3 minutes, 1 second, beginning at 3:24 pm, where we based out of the historic (140 years!) Adirondack Hotel, right on the lake.

That proved fortuitous, because though totality spanned a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway, and while Niagara Falls and Buffalo were scheduled to have totality for as much as four minutes, the weather clouded up for most of it. New York State won’t be in the path of totality again for 400 years.

Meanwhile, we had a magical three minutes of totality on Long Lake, starting exactly at 3:24 pm, experiencing the thrill of night-in-the-daytime where you could see stars, then the Diamond Ring, and hearing a dog howl along with everyone’s collective gasps. Then, only a few minutes after, the sun’s crescent started to reappear, but was hazy behind a thin cloud cover, making us appreciate the experience we had all the more.

Here are highlights of the stellar show:

In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Day turns to night, stars can be seen, and the moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Day turns to night, stars can be seen, and the moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The Diamond Ring formation lasts mere seconds during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The sun begins to reemerge as a crescent after totality, but soon, clouds make it hazy © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Our family enjoys this once-in-a-lifetime experience of a Total Solar Eclipse in New York’s Adirondacks, on April 8, 2024
The Long Lake community gets set for the Total Solar Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 
Long Lake was a setting for Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The Adirondack Hotel was a fabulous base for watching the Total Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Staying over before and after the Total Solar Eclipse at The Lorca on Indian Lake avoided the traffic coming and going to the Adirondacks  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

The next time you go:

It may be 400 years before a total solar eclipse returns to New York State, and this may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for millions, but there will be total solar eclipses coming up around the world. If you are now hooked on pursuing totality or if you regret missing out:

Prepare well in advance. Research ideal locations based on path of totality and duration of totality (in North America, ranged from two to four minutes, so significant difference). Scout out locations and book hotel accommodations, travel to the extent possible even a year in advance for the best locations.

Make sure you have solar glasses and necessary camera gear (solar filters, long-focus lens, ie 300 mm. Have TAPE to attach a paper solar filter to camera, as I used, if you don’t have the glass filter, check www.bhphotovideo.com). Practice in advance. Review videos of techniques and get a list of suggested camera settings.

Go to the location at least the day before. Scout where you will be standing. Take sample photo of where sun will be at the time of the eclipse (usually one hour before and one hour after totality). Fill up gas tank, get supplies (food, water for next day).

Day of: download maps/directions (cell service may not be available). Get to the site EARLY to get parking and a position (set up your chair, so you can roam around, use restroom). Plan for extra traffic/time to get to site. Bring chair, camera, lenses, extra memory cards, SOLAR GLASSES, SOLAR FILTER, tripod, hat, sunglasses, jacket, book, charged cell phone, food, water.

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© 2024 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

FACT SHEET: 80% of House Republicans Propose Defunding COPS as President Biden Insists on Funding the Police

President Biden’s investment in community policing and violence prevention has resulted in significant drop in violent crime from the surging rates during the Trump Administration but Republicans, who constantly falsely hype crime rates and pretend to support “The Blue” (certainly not during the January 6 insurrection) are seeking to withdraw funding in the 2025 budget they are proposing. This fact sheet was provided by the White House: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Republicans including Nassau County’s Executive Bruce Blakeman love to rail against crime rates and pretend to “back the Blue”, but ignore the reality that President Biden’s investments in community policing and violence prevention have paid off with lower crime rates. Now Republicans, who make sure to surround themselves with police protection, are proposing to cut funding for law enforcement in the 2025 budget, while Biden is standing firm © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden has stood with law enforcement his entire career, and worked to ensure law enforcement serves all communities his entire career. And he has the results to show for it.
 
The President inherited a violent crime rate that surged under the prior administration. After taking office, President Biden immediately took action and signed the American Rescue Plan – which led to the largest federal investment in public safety in history, giving state and local governments resources to reduce crime and prevent violence. Even though leaders on the ground sided with the President, the Plan passed without a single Republican vote. 
 
The President also signed one of the most significant gun violence prevention reforms in 30 years, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which has helped keep guns out of the hands of individuals with felony convictions, and those who have a serious mental illness and are a danger to themselves or others.
 
These swift actions paid off. FBI 2023 data shows that the prior administration’s crime wave has turned around under President Biden, resulting in a record drop in crime.
 
In his State of the Union, President Biden described how cities across the country have used the American Rescue Plan to make historic investments in public safety and urged Congress to build on that progress, including by hiring over 100,000 new police officers accountable to the public, investing in mental health workers and community violence intervention programs across the country, and cracking down on gun crime.
 
But the Republican Study Committee – which speaks for 100% of House Republican leadership and 80% of its members – just released a dangerous plan that would defund law enforcement:
  

  • The Republican Study Committee is proposing defunding the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program on top of other efforts to undermine law enforcement. President Biden voted to create COPS while a Senator, and the COPS Hiring Program is one of the primary ways the federal government supports local law enforcement. Each year, communities seek funding they need to hire officers to engage in community policing and crime prevention, and during this Administration, nearly 500 communities have received awards that put more than 3,700 officers on the beat.
     
  • The Republican Study Committee budget would also gut the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and take steps that prioritize gun industry profits over the lives of the American people.
     
  • Numerous House Republicans also support abolishing the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Although the Border Patrol Union endorses President Biden’s tough bipartisan border security deal, congressional Republicans are blocking it, to the detriment of law enforcement and the benefit of fentanyl traffickers.

 
By contrast, President Biden backs law enforcement and supports programs that reduce crime:
 

  • Through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, more than 1,000 communities across the country have invested over $15 billion to keep their communities safe and prevent crime. These include investments to avoid cuts to police budgets, hire more police officers for safe, effective, and accountable community policing, ensure first responders have the equipment they need to do their jobs, and expand community violence intervention and prevention programs.
     
  • President Biden’s budget includes $1.2 billion over five years to launch a new Violent Crime Reduction and Prevention Fund.
     
  • The President’s budget also funds his Safer American Plan, including providing for hiring 100,000 additional police officers for effective, accountable community policing.
     

President Biden wants to deploy $17.7 billion for DOJ law enforcement, including $2.0 billion, an increase of over 30 percent since 2021, for the ATF.

FACT SHEET: Vice President Harris Announces OMB Policy to Advance Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management in Federal Agencies’ Use of Artificial Intelligence

The Biden Administration announces completion of 150-day actions tasked by President Biden’s landmark Executive Order on AI. This fact sheet is provided by the White House:
 

Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is issuing OMB’s first government-wide policy to mitigate risks of artificial intelligence (AI) and harness its benefits – delivering on a core component of President Biden’s landmark AI Executive Order © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span.org

Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is issuing OMB’s first government-wide policy to mitigate risks of artificial intelligence (AI) and harness its benefits – delivering on a core component of President Biden’s landmark AI Executive Order.  The Order directed sweeping action to strengthen AI safety and security, protect Americans’ privacy, advance equity and civil rights, stand up for consumers and workers, promote innovation and competition, advance American leadership around the world, and more. Federal agencies have reported that they have completed all of the 150-day actions tasked by the E.O, building on their previous success of completing all 90-day actions

“All leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector have a moral, ethical, and societal duty to make sure that artificial intelligence is adopted and advanced in a way that protects the public from potential harm while ensuring everyone is able to enjoy its full benefit,” Vice President Harris stated.

This multi-faceted direction to Federal departments and agencies builds upon the Biden-Harris Administration’s record of ensuring that America leads the way in responsible AI innovation. In recent weeks, OMB announced that the President’s Budget invests in agencies’ ability to responsibly develop, test, procure, and integrate transformative AI applications across the Federal Government.
 
In line with the President’s Executive Order, OMB’s new policy directs the following actions:
 
Address Risks from the Use of AI
 
This guidance places people and communities at the center of the government’s innovation goals. Federal agencies have a distinct responsibility to identify and manage AI risks because of the role they play in our society, and the public must have confidence that the agencies will protect their rights and safety.
 
By December 1, 2024, Federal agencies will be required to implement concrete safeguards when using AI in a way that could impact Americans’ rights or safety. These safeguards include a range of mandatory actions to reliably assess, test, and monitor AI’s impacts on the public, mitigate the risks of algorithmic discrimination, and provide the public with transparency into how the government uses AI. These safeguards apply to a wide range of AI applications from health and education to employment and housing.
 
For example, by adopting these safeguards, agencies can ensure that:

  • When at the airport, travelers will have the ability to opt out from the use of TSA facial recognition without any delay or losing their place in line.
  • When AI is used in the Federal healthcare system to support critical diagnostics decisions, a human being is overseeing the process to verify the tools’ results and avoids disparities in healthcare access.
  • When AI is used to detect fraud in government services there is human oversight of impactful decisions and affected individuals have the opportunity to seek remedy for AI harms.

If an agency cannot apply these safeguards, the agency must cease using the AI system, unless agency leadership justifies why doing so would increase risks to safety or rights overall or would create an unacceptable impediment to critical agency operations.   
 
To protect the federal workforce as the government adopts AI, OMB’s policy encourages agencies to consult federal employee unions and adopt the Department of Labor’s forthcoming principles on mitigating AI’s potential harms to employees. The Department is also leading by example, consulting with federal employees and labor unions both in the development of those principles and its own governance and use of AI.
 
The guidance also advises Federal agencies on managing risks specific to their procurement of AI. Federal procurement of AI presents unique challenges, and a strong AI marketplace requires safeguards for fair competition, data protection, and transparency. Later this year, OMB will take action to ensure that agencies’ AI contracts align with OMB policy and protect the rights and safety of the public from AI-related risks. The RFI issued today will collect input from the public on ways to ensure that private sector companies supporting the Federal Government follow the best available practices and requirements.
 
Expand Transparency of AI Use
 
The policy released today requires Federal agencies to improve public transparency in their use of AI by requiring agencies to publicly:

  • Release expanded annual inventories of their AI use cases, including identifying use cases that impact rights or safety and how the agency is addressing the relevant risks.
  • Report metrics about the agency’s AI use cases that are withheld from the public inventory because of their sensitivity.
  • Notify the public of any AI exempted by a waiver from complying with any element of the OMB policy, along with justifications for why.
  • Release government-owned AI code, models, and data, where such releases do not pose a risk to the public or government operations.

 OMB is also releasing detailed draft instructions to agencies detailing the contents of this public reporting.
 
Advance Responsible AI Innovation
 
OMB’s policy will also remove unnecessary barriers to Federal agencies’ responsible AI innovation. AI technology presents tremendous opportunities to help agencies address society’s most pressing challenges. Examples include:

  • Addressing the climate crisis and responding to natural disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is using AI to quickly review and assess structural damage in the aftermath of hurricanes, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is developing AI to conduct more accurate forecasting of extreme weather, flooding, and wildfires.
  • Advancing public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using AI to predict the spread of disease and detect the illicit use of opioids, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is using AI to reduce waste and identify anomalies in drug costs.
  • Protecting public safety. The Federal Aviation Administration is using AI to help deconflict air traffic in major metropolitan areas to improve travel time, and the Federal Railroad Administration is researching AI to help predict unsafe railroad track conditions.

Advances in generative AI are expanding these opportunities, and OMB’s guidance encourages agencies to responsibly experiment with generative AI, with adequate safeguards in place. Many agencies have already started this work, including through using AI chatbots to improve customer experiences and other AI pilots.
 
Grow the AI Workforce
 
Building and deploying AI responsibly to serve the public starts with people. OMB’s guidance directs agencies to expand and upskill their AI talent. Agencies are aggressively strengthening their workforces to advance AI risk management, innovation, and governance including:

  • By Summer 2024, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to hiring 100 AI professionals to promote the trustworthy and safe use of AI as part of the National AI Talent Surge created by Executive Order 14110 and will be running a career fair for AI roles across the Federal Government on April 18.
  • To facilitate these efforts, Office of Personnel Management has issued guidance on pay and leave flexibilities for AI roles, to improve retention and emphasize the importance of AI talent across the Federal Government.
  • The Fiscal Year 2025 President’s Budget includes an additional $5 million to expand General Services Administration’s government-wide AI training program, which last year had over 7,500 participants across from across 85 Federal agencies.  

 Strengthen AI Governance
 
To ensure accountability, leadership, and oversight for the use of AI in the Federal Government, the OMB policy requires federal agencies to: 

  • Designate Chief AI Officers, who will coordinate the use of AI across their agencies. Since December, OMB and the Office of Science and Technology Policy have regularly convened these officials in a new Chief AI Officer Council to coordinate their efforts across the Federal Government and to prepare for implementation of OMB’s guidance.
  • Establish AI Governance Boards, chaired by the Deputy Secretary or equivalent, to coordinate and govern the use of AI across the agency. As of today, the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and State have established these governance bodies, and every CFO Act agency is required to do so by May 27, 2024.

 
In addition to this guidance, the Administration announcing several other measures to promote the responsible use of AI in Government: 

  • OMB will issue a request for information (RFI) on Responsible Procurement of AI in Government, to inform future OMB action to govern AI use under Federal contracts;
  • Agencies will expand 2024 Federal AI Use Case Inventory reporting, to broadly expand public transparency in how the Federal Government is using AI;
  • The Administration has committed to hire 100 AI professionals by Summer 2024 as part of the National AI Talent Surge to promote the trustworthy and safe use of AI.

 
With these actions, the Administration is demonstrating that Government is leading by example as a global model for the safe, secure, and trustworthy use of AI. The policy announced today builds on the Administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) AI Risk Management Framework, and will drive Federal accountability and oversight of AI, increase transparency for the public, advance responsible AI innovation for the public good, and create a clear baseline for managing risks.
 
It also delivers on a major milestone 150 days since the release of Executive Order 14110, and the table below presents an updated summary of many of the activities federal agencies have completed in response to the Executive Order.

Council of Economic Advisers Issues The 2024 Economic Report of the President

President Biden delivers the2024 State of the Union Address © Karen Rubin/news-p[hotos-features.com via c-span.org

The Council of Economic Advisers under the leadership of Chair Jared Bernstein released the 2024 Economic Report of the President, the 78th report since the establishment of CEA in 1946. The 2024 Report brings economic evidence and data to bear on many of today’s most significant issues and questions in domestic and international economic policy:

Chapter 1, The Benefits of Full Employmentwhich is dedicated to the late Dr. William Spriggs, examines the labor market, distributional, and macroeconomic impacts of full employment, with a particular focus on the benefits for economically vulnerable groups of workers who are much more likely to be left behind in periods of weak labor markets.

Chapter 2, The Year in Review and the Years Ahead, describes macroeconomic and financial market trends in 2023 and presents the Federal government’s FY 2024 macroeconomic forecast.

Chapter 3, Population, Aging, and the Economyexplains how long-run trends in fertility and mortality are shaping the U.S. population and labor force.

Chapter 4, Increasing the Supply of Affordable Housingexplores the causes and consequences of the nation’s longstanding housing shortage and how the Biden-Harris administration’s policy agenda can significantly increase the production of more affordable housing.

Chapter 5, International Trade and Investment Flowspresents key facts about long-term trends in U.S. international trade and investment flows, including the role of global supply chains, and highlights the benefits and costs of global integration for American workers.

Chapter 6, Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition, applies a structural change framework to explain the factors that can accelerate the transition towards a clean energy economy.

Chapter 7, An Economic Framework for Understanding Artificial Intelligenceuses an economic framework to explore when, how, and why AI may be adopted, adapting standard economic models to explore AI’s potential effects on labor markets, while examining policy decisions that will affect social and macroeconomic outcomes.

FACT SHEET: Delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Commitment to Democratic Renewal at the Third Summit for Democracy

Among the actions the Biden Administration has taken to bolster democracy globally, in 2023, the Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on more than 130 individuals and entities engaged in corruption, spanning 17 countries, while the State Department issued public visa restrictions on more than 90 individuals from around the world for their involvement in significant corruption. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden has correctly assessed the 2024 election as a battle to save democracy against an emergent autocracy. He launched the historic Summit for Democracy in 2021 to strengthen democratic institutions, protect human rights, and accelerate the fight against corruption, both at home and abroad and recently convened the Third Summit.

Can you imagine Trump or any Republican advocating for democracy, strengthening democratic institutions, protecting human rights and accelerating the fight against corruption domestically and abroad? This fact sheet from the White House lists the ways the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on its commitment to democratic renewal, at its Third Summit for Democracy—Karen Rubin, [email protected]
 
At the first Summit, approximately 100 participating governments made over 750 commitments on a wide array of deliverables, including in the areas of advancing technology for democracy, media freedom, countering the misuse of technology, and improving financial transparency, gender equity and equality, and rule of law.  The second Summit built on these efforts, convening government stakeholders, youth voices, civil society, and the private sector to demonstrate the power of cross-sectoral collaboration and amplify the importance of including diverse voices in these spaces.  This year, the Republic of Korea hosted the third Summit for Democracy in Seoul under the theme “Democracy for Future Generations.”  
 
The U.S. delegation in the ROK, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, highlighted U.S. efforts to strengthen democratic resilience, respect for human rights, and good governance globally.  The Biden-Harris Administration has requested $11.8 billion in Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG) foreign assistance, of which $5.8 billion has already been appropriated for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023.  The Administration intends to provide the remaining $6 billion over the next two years, subject to the availability of appropriations.  During the Summit, the United States held a high-level, multi-stakeholder event on combatting the proliferation and misuse of commercial spyware, which not only threatens democratic institutions but also poses risks to global security.
 
Under President Biden’s leadership, the United States has taken concrete steps to advance previous commitments and initiatives launched over the past three years, which include:
 
Advancing Technology for Democracy:

  • In March 2023, President Biden signed the ground-breaking Executive Order Prohibiting the Use of Commercial Spyware that Poses Risks to National Security to prohibit U.S. Government use of commercial spyware that poses risks to national security and has been misused by foreign actors to enable human rights abuses.
     
  • In July 2023, the Department of Commerce imposed export controls on four commercial spyware entities, building on an initial tranche of Entity List designations in November 2021.
     
  • In October 2023, the U.S. Government worked with 59 other countries at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to issue a joint statement on Heightened Risks Associated with Surveillance Technologies & the Importance of Safeguards.
     
  • In February 2024, the State Department announced a new visa restriction policy for individuals involved in or financially benefiting from the misuse of commercial spyware.
     
  • In February 2024, the Department of Commerce imposed export controls on a company that has enabled foreign governments to conduct mass web-monitoring, censorship, and surveillance of perceived political opponents and human rights defenders.
     
  • In February 2024, the United States joined the United Kingdom and France-led Pall-Mall Declaration, which brought together international partners and stakeholders to address the proliferation and irresponsible use of commercial cyber intrusion tools and services.
     
  • In March 2024, the Treasury Department imposed unprecedented financial sanctions targeting five commercial spyware entities and their leadership that have enabled the misuse of commercial spyware. This was the first time that the U.S. Government sanctioned actors involved in the misuse of commercial spyware.
     
  • In March 2024, the U.S. Government convened members of the investor community – during which the investors revealed voluntary principles and commitments – to discuss the role of trusted capital in advancing technology while promoting the values of free and open societies, including guarding against the misuse of commercial spyware and encouraging safe AI development.
     
  • Since its launch at the first Summit for Democracy, the U.S. Government has contributed more than $46 million to the Surge and Sustain Fund for Anti-Censorship Technology, including $31 million in 2023 alone, to support 30 million users of circumvention tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) each month.
     

Supporting Free and Independent Media

  • USAID’s International Fund for Public Interest Media – announced at the second Summit for Democracy – has committed nearly $9 million in 32 grants across 16 countries to independent media outlets in urgent need of support and to strengthen their long-term sustainability.  The U.S. Government’s initial seed funding of $20 million has leveraged an additional $32 million from 15 governments, philanthropies, and corporate entities.
     
  • The State Department launched two programs under its Journalism Protection Platform to combat impunity for violence against journalists and strengthen holistic security for journalists and independent media outlets, including those operating in exile.

 
Fighting Corruption

  • In December 2023, the United States assumed the presidency of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Conference of the States Parties (COSP).  At COSP, the United States secured consensus to adopt the U.S.-led Atlanta Declaration, which holds governments accountable to their UNCAC obligations and announced a new Presidential Proclamation restricting entry into the United States for those who enable corruption.
     
  • In 2023, the Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on more than 130 individuals and entities engaged in corruption, spanning 17 countries, while the State Department issued public visa restrictions on more than 90 individuals from around the world for their involvement in significant corruption. 
     
  • USAID kickstarted implementation of the Countering Transnational Corruption Grand Challenge for Development, with an initial focus on reducing corruption in the supply of green minerals. USAID also initiated new activities to seed a new investigative journalism network in Southeast Asia, strengthen public accountability in Zambia, and address Kremlin-backed strategic corruption in Eastern and Central Europe.
     
  • In September 2023, the State Department expanded its Transnational Anticorruption Partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ International Corruption Unit, which places regional anticorruption advisors in the field to build partners’ capacities to investigate and prosecute transnational corruption cases.  This program, part of the U.S. Democracies against Safe Havens initiative to tackle kleptocracy, has upskilled law enforcement agencies in over 30 countries, resulting in dozens of new actionable leads, cases initiated, and instances of cross-border cooperation to hold kleptocrats and money launderers accountable.    
     
  • In the past year, the United States has made historic strides in preventing corrupt and other illicit actors from laundering funds through anonymous companies and advancing rulemaking processes to guard against dirty money in the residential real estate sector and investment advising industry.

 
Bolstering Human Rights and Democratic Reformers

  • Since the first Summit, USAID’s Partnership’s for Democratic Development (PDD) has allocated $53 million to deepen relationships with democratic reformers and accelerate democratic development in nine countries.  PDD will provide up to $52 million in additional funding in the coming year, subject to availability of funds, to expand democratic reform and ensure PDD partner countries are given the support they need to make their democratic transformation a reality.
     
  • Since announcing the Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Civic and Political Leadership Initiative at the first Summit, USAID has allocated over $15 million in nine focus countries to build and sustain women’s participation in political and civic engagement. USAID will provide up to $10 million in additional funding this year, subject to availability of funds.
     
  • The Community of Democracies (CoD) is working towards the 2024 launch of the global Youth Democracy Network, announced by the United States at the second Summit for Democracy.  Ahead of the launch, the CoD YouthLeads, who will serve as the inaugural advisory board for the Network, are driving discussion on youth engagement in elections, including a new series of articles, “A Blueprint for Youth Electoral Engagement,” to showcase effective strategies and policies from around the globe that enhance youth participation in electoral processes.


Defending Free and Fair Elections

  • Following a commitment made at the first Summit for Democracy, USAID has worked with more than 30 leading international organizations and elections networks to launch the Global Network for Securing Election Integrity (GNSEI) to promote electoral integrity in the face of critical threats to democracy.  In 2024, GNSEI intends to develop and promote two electoral integrity priorities: one on principles to support democratic electoral reform processes and the other on safeguarding election management bodies’ independence in their interactions with other domestic agencies.
     
  • In 2023, USAID launched the Defending Democratic Elections Fund, which is helping to pilot and scale up approaches to addressing critical long-standing and emerging electoral integrity issues — including on strengthening information integrity and resilience – particularly during the period in between elections, when resources have often been scarce. This past year, USAID provided nearly $16 million in additional support across 17 countries to tackle issues like campaign finance reform, and barriers to women’s political participation.
     
  • The State Department contributed $25 million in new funding under the Political Accountability, Inclusivity, and Resiliency Support mechanism to promote political competition by building stronger connections between political parties and citizens.  

At the third Summit for Democracy, the United States reiterated and expanded upon its commitment to bolstering democratic resilience and advancing human rights at home and abroad.  Specifically, the U.S. delegation announced several new commitments and initiatives to further progress in the years ahead:  

  • On March 18, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Poland signed the Joint Statement on Efforts to Counter the Proliferation and Misuse of Commercial Spyware, which was launched by an initial group of 11 like-minded countries at the second Summit for Democracy, expanding the coalition of countries committed to implementing robust guardrails against misuse of commercial spyware. The Joint Statement affirms the threat posed by the misuse of commercial spyware and countries commit to working within their domestic systems to establish robust guardrails to counter the proliferation and misuse of this sophisticated surveillance technology.
  • The Biden-Harris Administration aims to provide financial support, working with Congress and subject to appropriated funds, to committed partners like the Platform for the Engagement of Civil Society, to coordinate the ongoing work of the Summit, including future convenings, and to build networks among the existing democratic renewal architecture.
     
  • The United States, led by USAID, will convene a meeting to galvanize momentum for the next Summit gathering and to show our continued commitment to democratic renewal around the world on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly session in September 2024. 
     
  • On March 17, USAID launched the Advancing Digital Democracy (ADD) Academy, building upon the ADD initiative announced at the second Summit for Democracy.  In partnership with multinational technology firms, the ADD Academy will offer essential skills training in cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud computing, and responsible AI, among other topics.   In the initial phase, ADD Academy intends to work with technology partners Cloudflare, Google, and Microsoft. 
     
  • On March 18, the State Department released U.S. Guidance for Online Platforms on Protecting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Online, which highlights best practices online platforms can take to prevent, mitigate, and provide remedy for actions targeting HRDs online, building on joint guidance recently released by the U.S. and the EU through the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council.
     
  • Through the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, which was announced during the first Summit, the United States and UK are developing a response framework for coordinated, evidence-informed action to prevent, disrupt, and reduce the spread of targeted online campaigns against women political and public figures and human rights defenders, which will be informed through a first-of-its-kind global conference on countering gendered disinformation held in Kenya on March 25-27, 2024. Complementing the goals of this framework, in January 2024 the State Department announced a new Global Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) Rapid Response Fund for women politicians, political candidates, and civil society leaders who have experienced extreme forms and/or threats of TFGBV and need urgent access to flexible resources to meet their immediate needs.   
     

On March 20, the United States released its second National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, which outlines efforts to expand U.S. government guidance to and coordination with external stakeholders on responsible business conduct, strengthen federal procurement processes related to human rights, and promote access to remedy for those harmed by irresponsible business conduct.

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Takes Historic Action to Ban Asbestos, Advancing Biden Cancer Moonshot

This fact sheet on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic action banning asbestos and advance the Biden Cancer Moonshot is provided by the White House:

President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot is accelerating progress to prevent, detect, and treat cancer while boosting support for families facing cancer, including by undertaking an aggressive effort to protect families and workers from hazardous chemicals like known carcinogens. After more than three decades of inadequate protections, today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a historic ban on ongoing uses of asbestos. This marks the first rule finalized under the nation’s updated chemical safety law, a milestone in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to protect public health, advance environmental justice, and end cancer as we know it.

Asbestos is a potent carcinogen that causes tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year and is linked to lung cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and more. The EPA’s new ban prohibits ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only known form of asbestos still used or imported in the United States. This action represents an important step to advance the Biden Cancer Moonshot goal of reducing the cancer death rate by at least half by 2047—preventing more than four million cancer deaths—and preventing cancer before it starts by protecting communities from known risks associated with asbestos exposure.

The Biden Cancer Moonshot is a core component of the President’s Unity Agenda, a set of priorities that Americans from every walk of life can support. Prohibiting the manufacture, processing, and distribution of asbestos is also part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic commitment to advancing environmental justice. Asbestos is used in facilities that are located disproportionately near communities with environmental justice concerns and also particularly affects workers.  

Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, EPA and other federal agencies have been delivering on the promise to protect communities from the harmful effects of toxic substances, including carcinogens. The Administration is coordinating across the federal government to protect people from exposure to hazardous chemicals, including through guidance, regulatory actions, investments through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, and more.

Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals protects public health and advances President Biden’s commitment to ensuring all people can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community. The Biden-Harris Administration has delivered on additional protections to protect communities from carcinogens, including:

  • Protecting communities and workers from toxic chemicals that cause long-recognized health risks, including cancer. In addition to today’s final rule on asbestos, EPA is advancing proposals to address cancer and other health risks from methylene chloridecarbon tetrachlorideperchloroethylene, and trichloroethylene, all of which are dangerous and sometimes fatal chemicals used in commercial and industrial settings. Additionally, EPA has proposed a rule to strengthen its process for conducting risk evaluations on toxic chemicals, including carcinogens, and this includes specific consideration of overburdened communities. EPA is moving expeditiously to finalize these rules and realize the new public health protections enabled by Congress under the 2016 amendments to the nation’s chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act.
     
  • Slashing emissions of ethylene oxide and other cancer-causing air pollution. Last week EPA issued a final rule that will significantly strengthen and update Clean Air Act standards for ethylene oxide (EtO) emitted into the air from commercial sterilizing facilities. EtO is a highly potent carcinogen that can be particularly harmful to children and communities that are already overburdened by pollution. The new rule will safeguard public health by cutting emissions of EtO from these facilities by over 90 percent. EPA is also working to advance research, and to strengthen standards to reduce toxic air pollution, including other cancer-causing pollutants, from chemical plants. 

Combatting PFAS pollution in communities to address health and environmental risks. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a government-wide plan to address and prevent PFAS contamination. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often referred to as ‘forever chemicals,’ are human-made chemicals that have been widely used in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products for decades. They break down very slowly over time in the environment and in people’s bodies, and have been found to have harmful health effects including cancer, low birthweight, and reduced immune responses. EPA has proposed new rules to strengthen protections for communities and drinking water supplies, helping to address disparities in access to a clean and safe environment. The Administration also launched a comprehensive effort to combat cancer risks associated with PFAS that, for many years, have been in the gear, equipment, and fire suppression agents used by firefighters. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are leading efforts to measure blood PFAS levels in firefighters, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer to collect detailed data to better understand the link between workplace exposures and cancer among firefighters

FACT SHEET: In Nevada, President Biden Doubles Down on Plan to Lower Housing Costs and Increase Housing Supply for American Families

President Biden is working to lower housing costs and increase the housing supply to address the large shortage of affordable homes inherited from his predecessor. In his State of the Union address, he called on Congress to support the construction and rehabilitation of two million additional homes, lower costs for renters, and help first time homebuyers and families seeking to trade up or downsize. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden is working to lower housing costs and increase the housing supply to address the shortage of affordable homes. This fact sheet is provided by the White House:

President Biden is working to lower housing costs and increase the housing supply to address the large shortage of affordable homes inherited from his predecessor. In President Biden’s State of the Union address, he called on Congress to support the construction and rehabilitation of two million additional homes, lower costs for renters, and help first time homebuyers and families seeking to trade up or downsize.
 

During a visit to Las Vegas, Nevada, President Biden detailed his agenda to bring down the cost of housing and described the investments the Biden-Harris Administration has already made through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP provided $1 billion in Nevada to help boost affordable housing, lower housing costs, and keep homeowners and renters in their homes. This includes $700 million invested in affordable housing supply that includes major investments in senior housing. As a result, Clark County has several major 200-unit affordable housing developments coming, and about 1,000 new senior apartments on the way thanks to the ARP.
 
The President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget includes a historic $258 billion in housing investments to give working families a fair shot, including an historic expansion in rental assistance for low-income families, while reducing the deficit by asking corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share. These new proposals build on his Housing Supply Action Plan, major investments provided by the ARP, and actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to increase the housing supply and lower housing costs for American families, including reducing mortgage insurance premiums by $800 per year for hundreds of thousands of homeowners, expanding rental assistance to more than 100,000 additional households, and building tens of thousands of affordable housing units. These actions have contributed to a record high of nearly 1.7 million homes currently under construction nationwide.
 
President Biden’s Plan to Lower Housing Costs and Build Two Million Homes
 
Reduce Barriers to Homeownership
For many Americans, owning a home is the cornerstone of raising a family, building wealth, and joining the middle class. Too many working families feel locked out of homeownership and are unable to compete with investors for a limited supply of affordable for-sale homes. President Biden is calling on Congress to enact legislation to enable more Americans to purchase a home, including:

  • Mortgage Relief Credit. President Biden is calling on Congress to pass a mortgage relief credit that would provide middle-class first-time homebuyers with a tax credit of $10,000 over two years. This is the equivalent of reducing the mortgage rate by more than 1.5 percentage points for two years on the median home, saving families $400 per month on their mortgage payments. It will help more than 3.5 million middle-class families purchase their first home over the next two years. The President’s plan also calls for a new credit to unlock inventory of affordable starter homes, while helping middle-class families move up the housing ladder and empty nesters right size. The President is calling on Congress to provide a one-year tax credit of up to $10,000 to middle-class families who sell their starter home, defined as homes below the area median home price in the county, to another owner-occupant. This proposal is estimated to help nearly 3 million families.
  • Down Payment Assistance for First-Generation Homeowners. The President continues to call on Congress to provide up to $25,000 in down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers whose families haven’t benefited from the generational wealth building associated with homeownership. This proposal would help about 400,000 families purchase their first home.
  • Lowering Closing Costs. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has approved policies and pilots to reduce closing costs for homeowners, including a pilot to waive the requirement for lender’s title insurance on certain refinances. This would save thousands of homeowners up to $1500, and an average of $750, and the lower upfront fees will unlock substantial savings for homeowners as mortgage rates continue to fall and more homeowners are able to refinance. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will also pursue rulemaking and guidance to address anticompetitive closing costs imposed by lenders on homebuyers and homeowners.  These charges—which benefit the lender but not the borrower—can add thousands to the upfront costs of a mortgage. 
  • Promoting Competition in the Housing Market. In his State of the Union Address, the President discussed the importance of boosting competition and lowering housing costs, and the Department of Justice has made those goals a priority. Last week’s settlement reached by the National Association of Realtors is an important step toward boosting competition in the housing market. It could save as much as $10,000 on the median home sale. Now, the Administration is calling on realtors and lenders to offer more choices and lower costs, while promoting access to homeownership for first-time, low-income, and low-wealth homebuyers.

Lowering Costs by Building and Preserving 2 Million Homes
America needs to build more housing in order to lower rental costs and increase access to homeownership. That’s why the President is calling on Congress to pass legislation to build and renovate more than 2 million homes, which would close the housing supply gap and lower housing costs for renters and homeowners.

  • Tax Credits to Build More Housing. President Biden is calling for an expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to build or preserve 1.2 million more affordable rental units. Renters living in these properties save hundreds of dollars each month on their rent compared with renters with similar incomes who rent in the unsubsidized market. The President is also calling for a new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit, the first tax provision to build or renovate affordable homes for homeownership, which would lead to the construction or preservation of over 400,000 starter homes in communities throughout the country.
  • Innovation Fund for Housing Expansion. The President is unveiling a new $20 billion competitive grant fund as part of his proposed Budget to support communities across the country to build more housing and lower rents and homebuying costs. This fund would support the construction of affordable multifamily rental units; incentivize local actions to remove unnecessary barriers to housing development; pilot innovative models to increase the production of affordable and workforce rental housing; and spur the construction of new starter homes for middle-class families. According to independent analysis, this will create hundreds of thousands of units which will help lower rents and housing costs.
  • Increasing Banks’ Contributions Towards Building Affordable Housing. The President is proposing that each Federal Home Loan Bank double its annual contribution to the Affordable Housing Program – from 10 percent of prior year net income to 20 percent – which will raise an additional $3.79 billion for affordable housing over the next decade and assist nearly 380,000 households. These funds would support the financing, acquisition, construction, and rehabilitation of affordable rental and for-sale homes, as well as help low- and moderate-income homeowners to purchase or rehabilitate homes.
  • Bolstering Efforts to Prevent and End Homelessness. The President is calling for $8 billion for a new grant program to rapidly expand temporary and permanent housing strategies for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Funds from this proposal would support non-congregate emergency shelter solutions, interim housing, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and rental housing for extremely low-income households experiencing housing instability or homelessness. 

Lowering Costs for Renters
President Biden is also taking actions to lower costs and promote housing stability for renters. The White House Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights lays out the key principles of a fair rental market and has already catalyzed new federal actions to make those principles a reality. Today, President Biden is announcing new steps to crack down on unfair practices that are driving up rental costs:

  • Fighting Rent Gouging by Corporate Landlords. The Biden-Harris Administration is taking action to combat egregious rent increases and other unfair practices that are driving up rents. Corporate landlords and private equity firms across the country have been accused of illegal information sharing, price fixing, and inflating rents. As part of the President’s Strike Force on Unfair and Illegal Pricing, he is calling on federal agencies to root out and stop illegal corporate behavior that hikes prices on American families through anti-competitive, unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent business practices. In a recent filing, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made clear its position that inflated rents caused by algorithmic use of sensitive nonpublic pricing and supply information violate antitrust laws. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission and DOJ filed a joint brief further arguing that it is illegal for landlords and property managers to collude on pricing to inflate rents – including when using algorithms to do so.
  • Cracking Down on Rental Junk Fees. Millions of families incur burdensome costs in the rental application process and throughout the duration of their lease, from “convenience fees” simply to pay rent online to fees charged to sort mail or collect trash. These fees are often more than the actual cost of providing the service, or are added onto rents to cover services that renters assume are included—or that they don’t even want. Last fall, the FTC proposed a rule that if finalized as proposed would ban misleading and hidden fees across the economy, including in housing rental agreements. HUD has released a summary of banned non-rent fees within their rental assistance programs. These actions build on voluntary commitments the President announced last summer from major rental housing platforms to provide customers with the total, upfront cost on rental properties on their platform.
  • Expanding Housing Choice Vouchers. Over the last three years, the Administration has secured rental assistance for more than 100,000 additional households. The President is calling on Congress to further expand rental assistance to more than half of a million households, including by providing a voucher guarantee for low-income veterans and youth aging out of foster care – the first such voucher guarantees in history. Receiving a voucher would save these households hundreds of dollars in rent each month.

The ARP Provides $1 Billion to Boost Housing Supply and Provide Housing Help in Nevada:

  • Nevada is a national leader in investing ARP funding in affordable housing: In Nevada, the ARP has provided over $1 billion for housing investments, including helping to fund the construction of thousands of new units in Clark County, making them one of the national leaders in using this money to expand supply of affordable housing.
  • Investing in Down-Payment Assistance to help Nevadans buy homes: The state also used ARP funds to provide 500 Nevadans with $15,000 in down-payment assistance to purchase a home. 
  • Nevada State and local governments have used $700 million through the ARP to support major affordable housing projects.
  • About 1,000 ARP-supported Senior Affordable Apartments on the way in Clark County today, including, for example:
    • 195 Units of affordable housing at Pebble and Eastern Senior Apartments in Clark County currently under construction.
    • 125 Units of affordable housing at Nevada HAND’s Buffalo and Cactus Senior Apartments in Clark County currently under construction.

The ARP Has Invested Billions of Dollars to Support Affordable Housing:

  • Through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, over 940 state and local governments have invested more than $18 billion for housing assistance, homelessness, and affordable housing initiatives, including over $6 billion to build and preserve housing.
  • State and local governments are using an additional $5 billion in funding through the ARP’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program to build or rehabilitate at least 20,000 units of affordable housing and support an additional 23,000 households with rental assistance, non-congregate shelter, or supportive services. 

New data released today shows that since the ARP’s passage, states, Tribal governments, and territories have distributed $6.6 billion HAF award funds to over 500,000 homeowners for past due mortgage payments, utility expenses, and property taxes, as well as other housing related expenses. As a result of this program and the strong economic recovery, foreclosure starts are well below pre-pandemic levels.

FACT SHEET: On World Water Day, Biden Administration Builds on Historic Progress to Protect Clean Drinking Water, Restore Nation’s Rivers, Lakes, Ponds and Wetlands

The Biden Administrationis building on historic progress to secure clean water for all by announcing new actions to protect vital freshwater resources to ensure every community can count on clean water when they turn on the faucet. Among the actions: safeguarding the Colorado River watershed by creating the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, protecting nearly one million acres of greater Grand Canyon landscape © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet on the Biden Administration’s historic progress to protect clean drinking water, restore the nation’s rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands was provided by the White House:

President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that every person should have access to clean drinking water and a healthy environment. On World Water Day, the Biden-Harris Administration is building on historic progress to secure clean water for all by announcing new actions to protect our vital freshwater resources and ensure every community can count on clean water when they turn on the faucet.

Rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other freshwater resources are fundamental to the health, prosperity, and resiliency of the nation, and sacred to many Tribes. Through the America the Beautiful Initiative and the global Freshwater Challenge, the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on the first-ever national conservation goal to protect at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 – accelerating locally-led efforts to tackle the world’s intertwined water, climate, and nature crises.

To ensure that clean water reaches communities across the country, the Biden-Harris Administration is harnessing historic resources from the President’s Investing in America agenda to replace lead pipes and other drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, build resilience to drought, and conserve and restore our rivers, wetlands, lakes, and ponds. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law alone includes more than $50 billion to help ensure every community has access to clean water.

While the Biden-Harris Administration delivers on a national commitment to protect clean water, this week Congressional Republicans are continuing attempts to weaken the Clean Water Act. These attacks are part of a decades-long effort to undermine Clean Water Act safeguards, which culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett decision last year – one of the largest judicial rollbacks of environmental protections in U.S. history. A report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today reveals that from 2009-2019, the wetlands loss rate increased 50 percent over the prior decade, further showing the urgent need to use all the tools and resources available at the national, State, Tribal, and local level to protect and conserve America’s waters.

This World Water Day, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions and resources to advance the most ambitious clean water agenda in history:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a new memorandum outlining ways it will support the protection, restoration, and enhancement of waters and wetlands that are more vulnerable following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett decision.
     
  • The White House Council on Environmental Quality is releasing a Wetland and Water Protection Resource Guide for Tribes, States, Territories, local governments, private land owners, and non-governmental organizations to advance water resource protection. The Resource Guide highlights technical assistance and funding opportunities available across the federal government.
     
  • NOAA is announcing $60 million from the President’s Investing in America agenda for fish hatcheries to produce salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin. This builds on a historic agreement the Biden-Harris Administration secured in partnership with Tribes and States in the Pacific Northwest to restore wild salmon and steelhead populations.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Understanding Water Affordability Across Contexts, LIHWAP Water Utility Affordability Survey Reportwhich highlights the differences in water affordability across the country. President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget provides $4.1 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helping families access home energy and weatherization assistance, and proposes to allow States the option to use a portion of those funds to provide water bill assistance to low-income households.

Today’s announcements build on a series of landmark investments and actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to protect and restore the nation’s freshwater resources by advancing conservation, building resilience, and expanding access to clean drinking water.
 
Protecting more than 26 million acres of lands and waters, putting President Biden on track to conserve more lands and waters than any President in history. Highlights of the Biden-Harris Administration’s water conservation accomplishments, driven by the America the Beautiful Initiative, include:

  • Safeguarding the Colorado River watershed by creating the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, protecting nearly one million acres of greater Grand Canyon landscape. President Biden’s designation honors Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples by protecting sacred ancestral places and their historically and scientifically important features, while conserving our public lands, protecting wildlife habitat and clean water, and supporting local economies. President Biden has also designated additional national monuments that protect freshwater resources, including the freshwater springs of Castner Range National Monument and the high alpine lakes of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument.
     
  • Protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding watershed from mining, which would have harmed the area’s watershed, fish and wildlife, Tribal and treaty rights, and outdoor recreation economy. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a spectacular network of rivers, lakes, and forests in northeastern Minnesota that comprise the most heavily visited wilderness area in the United States. By withdrawing these lands from future mineral leasing, the Biden-Harris Administration is keeping the iconic area intact for future generations.
     
  • Addressing threats to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the most productive wild salmon ecosystem in the world and home to 25 Tribal Nations. Six rivers meet in Bristol Bay, traveling through 40,000 miles of tundra, wetlands, and lakes. EPA acted to help protect these waters and the communities dependent upon them from contamination associated with developing the Pebble Mine.
     
  • Tackling transboundary water pollution in the Elk-Kootenai watershed to protect the people and species that depend on this vital river system. For over a decade, the Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples within the Elk-Kootenai watershed have requested that the U.S. and Canadian governments address pollution that has impaired downstream communities, fish populations, and ecosystems. Under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. and Canadian governments have taken a key step with Ktunaxa Nation to achieve transboundary cooperation to protect clean water.
     
  • Restoring the flow of rivers and streams by investing $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to remove, repair, and redesign infrastructure that impede water flow. The first round of grants will fix or remove almost 170 fish culverts and improve approximately 550 miles of stream habitat across the country – with a total of $196 million awarded to Tribal, state, and local governments. Reconnecting these waterways reconnects communities to their rivers, increases ecological functions of the rivers and streams, and ensures that goods – traveling along these rural roads from farms to urban areas – make their way to market.

Making unprecedented investments and leading collaborative efforts to increase the resilience of our water ecosystems. Highlights of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to build the resilience of our communities and waters include:

  • Delivering the largest single federal investment in the Everglades through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Years of human development have isolated portions of the Florida Everglades and altered natural flow patterns for freshwater, and the Everglades are already feeling the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. The Army Corps of Engineers has invested $1.1 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help restore the ecosystems and water flows of the Everglades’ two million acres of wetlands. Thriving wetlands will also filter out pollution to improve water quality for the one-third of Floridians who rely on the Everglades for drinking water, and will help improve resilience to flooding that impacts the state.  In addition, this month the Department of the Interior established the Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area, a four-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge, where tools like voluntary conservation easements can be used to protect wildlife corridors, enhance outdoor recreation access, and bolster climate resilience.
     
  • Leading a comprehensive effort to make Western communities more resilient to climate change and ongoing megadrought by harnessing the full resources of President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda. As climate change has accelerated over the past two decades, the Colorado River Basin experienced the driest period in the region in over one thousand years. Together, the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provide the largest investment in climate resilience in our nation’s history, including $15.4 billion for western water to enhance the West’s resilience to drought and deliver unprecedented resources to protect the Colorado River System for all whose lives and livelihoods depend on it. Following extensive engagement with States, Tribes, and water users, the Administration announced a historic agreement to conserve at least 3 million-acre-feet of water in the Colorado River Basin through the end of 2026.
     
  • Restoring wild salmon, steelhead and other native fish, in the Columbia River Basin. Building on President Biden’s direction to Federal agencies, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a historic agreement to work in partnership with Pacific Northwest Tribes and States to restore wild salmon populations, facilitate the development of Tribally sponsored clean energy production, and provide stability for communities that depend on the Columbia River System. The Administration committed more than $1 billion to the effort, which will, among other things, be used to restore freshwater habitat.
     
  • Restoring the Klamath River Basin ecosystem and building drought resilience. With the removal of four dams underway, the Klamath Basin Drought Resilience Keystone Initiative is reestablishing wetlands and their functions, and advancing post-fire restoration efforts. The Department of the Interior, working in a whole of government approach, has leveraged funding from additional federal agencies as well as from Tribal, state, and other partners to restore the ecological function of the river and its associated river systems. The dam removals alone will open access to more than 400 miles of habitat for salmon and steelhead trout, help restore Tribal food sovereignty, and improve the health and water quality of the river.
     
  • Providing rapid-response American expertise to international partners on critical water and climate adaptation challenges. Through the Ambassador’s Water Experts Program (AWEP), the Department of State and the Department of the Interior have deployed over 30 U.S. experts to support more than 20 technical and capacity building engagements since 2019, and already have six AWEP engagements underway in 2024. AWEP works through U.S. diplomatic posts to respond to time sensitive requests for support on a broad range of water and climate resilience topics and promotes long-term collaboration on water security.
     
  • Strengthening data for decision-making and early warning systems to protect communities worldwide. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and USAID are working with over 50 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas through the SERVIR Initiative, which uses satellite data to address critical challenges in food security, water resources, weather and climate, land use, and water-related disasters. NASA is also working with the U.S. Department of State to provide advanced remote-sensing, modeling, and capacity building activities through the Strategic Hydrologic and Agricultural Remote-sensing for Environments Program, which brings data and technical resources to end-users in some of the most complex hydrologic domains in the world. These efforts are supported by the launch of NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, a new satellite that will establish the first-ever global survey of Earth’s surface water. This innovation will improve our understanding of how water bodies change over time and will aid in freshwater management around the world.

Expanding access to clean drinking water and wastewater by investing more than $50 billion from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – the largest investment in clean water in American history. Highlights of this effort and other steps to address water pollution include:

  • Removing all lead service lines. Over 9 million homes, schools, and businesses receive their drinking water through a lead pipe. Exposure to lead can cause irreversible brain damage in children, even knocking off several IQ points. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $15 billion in dedicated funding for lead pipe replacement, in support of President Biden’s goal of replacing all lead pipes within a decade.
  • Combatting toxic “forever chemicals” in drinking water and wastewater. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $10 billion to address harmful PFAS pollution in drinking water and wastewater. EPA has also proposed the first-ever national standard to address these “forever chemicals” in drinking water. This builds on President Biden’s action plan to combat PFAS pollution, safeguarding public health and advancing environmental justice.
     
  • Ensuring no community is left behind. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, nearly half of these clean drinking water and wastewater investments will be provided as grants or forgivable loans to disadvantaged communities, advancing President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. In addition, EPA has launched several initiatives to partner with underserved communities nationwide to provide the support and technical assistance they need to access clean water funding. EPA will partner with 200 communities to help them replace lead pipes, while the initiative will help an additional 150 communities execute wastewater and sanitation projects. For example, in Lowndes County, Alabama, roughly 90 percent of households have failing wastewater systems and many children and families are exposed to raw sewage in their own backyards. EPA and USDA have worked with the Lowndes County community of White Hall to secure over $500,000 in federal funding for wastewater projects. In nearby Hayneville, EPA has awarded a 100% forgivable $8.7 million loan to address failing or non-existent wastewater systems in 650 homes.
     
  • Investing more than $1 billion to restore the Great Lakesa vital economic engine that supplies drinking water for more than 20 million Americans, supports more than 1.3 million jobs, and sustains life for thousands of species. With the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is cleaning up and restoring the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, including the Milwaukee Estuary in Wisconsin and the Cuyahoga River in Ohio.
     
  • Delivering clean water to Tribal NationsFor years, Tribal Nations have been left without access to safe, clean water for drinking and sanitation; today, approximately 48% of Tribal communities go without this human right. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has delivered $4.2 billion to date to provide safe, clean water for Tribal Nations and secure historic Tribal water rights. This includes over $8 million to remediate arsenic contamination that has been in the Hopi Tribe’s water supply since the 1960s. The Hopi Arsenic Management Project will make necessary infrastructure improvements to provide clean drinking water to over 5,000 people.
     

Increasing access to safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services around the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) recent annual report shows that since the passage of the Water for the World Act ten years ago, USAID’s water, sanitation, and hygiene investments have resulted in more than 42 million people gaining access to sustainable drinking water and 38 million gaining access to sustainable sanitation services. With a focus on climate resilience, inclusivity and gender equality, locally-led development, and private-sector engagement, these investments are contributing to progress toward UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 to achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces $3 Billion to Reconnect, Rebuild Communities Left Behind and Divided by Transportation Infrastructure from Decades Ago

As part of Biden’s plan to spend $3.3 billion to reconnect and rebuild communities in more than 40 states, the I-81 Viaduct Project in Syracuse, New York is receiving $180 million to reconnect residents with a community grid that will disperse traffic among a network of neighborhood streets. A key feature of the community grid is the Business Loop, which will connect residents, including residents in low-income housing on either side of Almond Street, with economic opportunities. The project will also add active transportation – including sidewalks, bike paths, new shared use paths, and enhanced and new parks and public spaces – which will further reconnect and reinvigorate the neighborhoods. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to announce $3.3 billion to reconnect and rebuild communities in more than 40 states, including  those that were divided by transportation infrastructure decades ago and have long been overlooked. These projects will increase access to health care, schools, jobs, places of worship, and other essential services and opportunities, and will strengthen communities by covering highways with public spaces, creating new transit routes, adding sidewalks, bridges, bike lanes, and more.

Coming off President Biden’s State of the Union Address, the announcement is part of the President’s broader vision to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and leave no community behind. To date, the President’s Investing in America agenda has mobilized 47,000 infrastructure projects across the nation and $650 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments that are revitalizing communities, creating good-paying jobs, and improving the health and safety of families across the country. President Biden is building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down – that means investing in all of America to make sure everyone has a fair shot and to ensure a comeback story for thousands of communities.

At its best, transportation infrastructure connects people to opportunity and spurs economic growth. But historically, some of our nation’s infrastructure investments and decisions have done the opposite.  The Department of Transportation estimates that at least one million people and businesses were displaced by decades of harmful urban renewal projects and legacy policy decisions in the buildout of the Federal highway system. Highways and rail lines have disproportionately torn through Black and other communities of color and low-income communities, displacing residents and businesses, stifling economic development, and cutting communities off from essentials such as groceries, jobs, transportation, and health care.

Through the Department of Transportation’s first-of-its-kind Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program, funded by both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden-Harris Administration will help rectify the damage done by past transportation projects and drive economic growth in communities in every corner of the country. This program is a key component of the Administration’s commitment to advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities as defined in President Biden’s executive order. This program also advances the President’s commitment to delivering a convenient, efficient, and clean transportation system, including in proximity to affordable housing. Additionally, this program is a key component of the Administration’s commitment to environmental justice, including to deliver for disadvantaged communities as part of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.

In Milwaukee, President Biden will announce $36 million for the 6th Street Complete Streets Project.

In the 1960s, the construction of I-94/I-43 in Milwaukee led to the demolition of roughly 17,000 homes and 1,000 businesses, as neighborhoods in the path of the highway were displaced and surrounding roads like 6th Street were widened to accommodate interstate traffic. This resulted in the creation of a street that prioritized fast-moving car traffic over the people who live, walk, work, and shop in these neighborhoods. The 6th Street Complete Streets Project will reconnect communities along more than two and a half miles of the 6th Street corridor, providing wider sidewalks for children walking to school, safe bike lanes for residents and visitors, dedicated bus lanes for faster transit, new trees to provide shade, and green infrastructure to prevent sewage from flowing into the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. These improvements will make the roadway and surrounding communities safer, greener, and more welcoming.

Other projects across the country that will benefit from the funding announced today include the following:

  • “The Stitch” in Atlanta, Georgia is receiving $158 million to reconnect midtown to downtown Atlanta. When constructed, I-75 and I-85—now called the Downtown Connector—sliced through Sweet Auburn, cutting it off from Downtown and displacing hundreds of homes and businesses in the working-class neighborhoods. The project will create a 14-acre mixed-use development cap on three-quarters of the Downtown Connector—increasing access to jobs, housing, education, and healthcare and creating public parks, plazas, and surface streets for walking and biking.
    • The Chinatown Stitch in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is receiving $159 million to construct a cap over the Vine Street Expressway in Chinatown, which has been home to a Chinese-American immigrant community since the mid-1800s. The Expressway was constructed in the late 1980s and 1990s, demolishing significant portions of the neighborhood and displacing residents and businesses. The Chinatown Stitch project will cover about two and a half blocks of Expressway, creating new public green space, improving neighborhood connections, and creating equitable mixed-use development opportunities and inclusive mobility options.
    • The I-5 Rose Corridor Project in Portland, Oregon, is receiving $450 million to construct a highway cover and a pedestrian and bicycle-only bridge. The project will reconnect the predominantly Black neighborhood of Albina and improve safety and congestion along the interstate corridor with the highest crash rate in the state while supporting new community space and future development.
    • The RIVER East Toledo project in Toledo, Ohio is receiving $29 million to reconnect residents of Toledo’s historic east side with the downtown riverfront. Decades of disinvestment and deindustrialization have turned this once thriving working-class immigrant community into one of the city’s most disadvantaged communities, with high poverty rates, heavy environmental burdens, and disproportionate barriers to safe transportation access. This project will make safety improvements along the roadway, add bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and add trees and streetscaping.
    • The I-81 Viaduct Project in Syracuse, New York is receiving $180 million to reconnect residents with a community grid that will disperse traffic among a network of neighborhood streets. A key feature of the community grid is the Business Loop, which will connect residents, including residents in low-income housing on either side of Almond Street, with economic opportunities. The project will also add active transportation – including sidewalks, bike paths, new shared use paths, and enhanced and new parks and public spaces – which will further reconnect and reinvigorate the neighborhoods.
    • The Reconnecting 4th Ave N. in Birmingham, Alabama, is receiving $15 million to redesign Birmingham’s Black Main Street to convert the one-way road to a two-way road, reconnecting downtown neighborhoods and businesses that were divided by the construction of Interstate 65 in the 1960s. The project encompasses the Historic 4th Avenue Business District, a once thriving hub of Black businesses and community in Birmingham.
    • Removing Barriers and Creating Legacy – A Multimodal Approach in Los Angeles County, California is receiving $139 million to create 14 miles of bus priority lanes on four corridors and implement mobility hubs. Los Angeles County has the greatest concentration of roadway fatalities in the nation, with almost double the concentration of fatalities than the second highest county. With the separation of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, the project will reduce collisions by up to an estimated 49%. These investments will directly benefit approximately one million disadvantaged Angelenos.

The announcement builds on other investments the Biden-Harris Administration is making through the President’s Investing in America agenda to reconnect communities across the country. In Buffalo, NY, the Administration is investing $56 million to reconnect the east and west sides of the Kensington Expressway, which cuts through a predominantly Black community – adding safe crossing options, investing in green spaces and parks, and attracting new businesses. In Detroit, MI, the Administration is investing $105 million to replace the sunken I-375 that cuts through the prosperous and vibrant Black neighborhoods of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, replacing it with a new lower-speed boulevard with pedestrian walkways. In New York City, NY, the Administration is investing $150 million to reconnect communities divided by the Cross Bronx Expressway between the Harlem River and the Hutchinson River Parkway, which is one of the most congested stretches of interstate in the U.S. with some of the highest rates of traffic, air pollution, and collisions. And in Pelham, AL, the Administration is investing $42 million to construct a bridge and eliminate two at-grade crossings on Shelby County Road 52 to ensure that stalled or slow trains do not prevent first responders and other vehicles from crossing the city.  

In addition to the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program, the Biden-Harris Administration has already announced $285 billion in transportation projects across the country, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These projects advance equity, improve safety, reduce pollution, and connect communities with jobs, school, and health care, and make it easier for families and loved ones to come together. To date, the Administration has launched local roadway safety projects in over 1,000 communities across the country in cities and rural communities – with a focus on improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians, especially benefitting disadvantaged communities that have been historically left behind. The Administration is also investing $108 billion in public transit – the largest investment in public transit in our nation’s history – benefitting low-income communities that are more likely to rely on public transit for access to jobs, education, and health care.

The Biden-Harris Administration has also invested over $150 million to protect fenceline communities from harmful air pollution, and made available nearly $3 billion via the Environmental and Climate Justice Program at the Environmental Protection Agency to help local organizations engage meaningfully in infrastructure and other investment decisions that impact their communities, increasing access for local voices and participation for historically underserved and overburdened populations

House Republicans Release Budget Plan Targeting Medicare, Social Security, and Affordable Care Act, Raising Costs While Cutting Taxes for Wealthy; Biden Vows to Protect Social Safety Net

The House Republican Study Committee – which represents 100% of House Republican leadership and nearly 80% of their members – just proposed yet another budget that would cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act , as well as increase prescription drug, energy, and housing costs – all while forcing tax giveaways for the very rich onto the country. Their plan would even raise the Social Security retirement age.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet analyzing the House Republicans’ proposed 2025 budget that would target Medicare, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), repeal caps on drugs and cut taxes for the wealthy, is provided by the White House:

In his State of the Union Less than two weeks ago, President Biden laid out his vision for an economy that gives the middle class a fair shot. He also warned that congressional Republicans “will cut Social Security and give more tax cuts to the wealthy,” that they continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act, and that they are siding with Big Pharma over hardworking families.     
 
On Wednesday, Republican Study Committee – which represents 100% of House Republican leadership and nearly 80% of their members – just proposed yet another budget that would cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act , as well as increase prescription drug, energy, and housing costs – all while forcing tax giveaways for the very rich onto the country. Their plan would even raise the Social Security retirement age.
 
Like President Biden promised in the Capitol, “If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age I will stop them.”
 
He’s keeping that promise by standing against this new House Republican budget. He knows the last thing we should do is raid Medicare and Social Security while giving more giant tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations.
 
What’s more, House Republicans’ plan would raise energy costs and send our new manufacturing jobs back overseas by gutting other crucial elements of the Inflation Reduction Act, raise housing costs, and allow big companies to rip off consumers with junk fees.  
 
President Biden has a different vision for how we move into the future: make the wealthy, big corporations, and special interests pay their fair share while protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security. Extending the Affordable Care Act tax credits he delivered to lower health care costs and cover more Americans than any time in history. Making the economy work for the middle class by investing in America and the industries of the future, while lowering key costs that working families face. And expanding Medicare’s ability to negotiate lower drug costs.
 
80% of House Republicans released a Budget that:
 
Cuts Medicare and Social Security while putting health care at risk for millions
 

  1. Calls for over $1.5 trillion in cuts to Social Security, including an increase in the retirement age to 69 and cutting disability benefits.
  2. Raises Medicare costs for seniors by taking away Medicare’s authority to negotiate prescription drug costs, repealing $35 insulin, and the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap in the Inflation Reduction Act
  3. Transitions Medicare to a premium support system that CBO has found would raise premiums for many seniors.
  4. Cuts Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by $4.5 trillion over ten years, taking coverage away from millions of people, eroding care for seniors, children, and people with disabilities, and taking us back to the days where people could be denied care for pre-existing conditions and charged more for health insurance simply for being a woman.   

 
Rigs the economy for the wealthy and large corporations against middle class families
 

  1. Passes $5.5 trillion in tax cuts skewed to the wealthy and large corporations, including permanently extending tax cuts in the Trump tax law, repealing the minimum tax on billion-dollar corporations the President signed into law, eliminating the estate tax for the wealthiest Americans, providing a massive tax cut for billionaire investors, and making it easier for the wealthy and large corporations to get away with cheating on their taxes.
  2. Kills jobs and investment in communities throughout the country – including Red States – by eliminating the clean energy tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act.
  3. Makes it easier for companies and banks to rip consumers off with unfair and hidden junk fees by eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  4. Raises housing costs by cutting funding for rental assistance, cutting funding for programs that help build housing, and raising mortgage costs for first-time homebuyers.

In response to the Republican budget plan, President Biden issued a statement : “My dad had an expression, ‘Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’ The Republican Study Committee budget shows what Republicans value. This extreme budget will cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. It endorses a national abortion ban. The Republican budget will raise housing costs and prescription drugs costs for families. And it will shower giveaways on the wealthy and biggest corporations. Let me be clear: I will stop them.
 
“My budget represents a different future. One where the days of trickle-down economics are over and the wealthy and biggest corporations no longer get all the breaks. A future where we restore the right to choose and protect other freedoms, not take them away. A future where the middle class finally has a fair shot, and we protect Social Security so the working people who built this country can retire with dignity. I see a future for all Americans and I will never stop fighting for that future.”

See:

FACT SHEET: PRESIDENT BIDEN’S PROPOSED 2025 BUDGET PROTECTS PROGRESS, SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, INVESTS IN AMERICA, REDUCES DEFICIT

BIDEN LAYS OUT VISION FOR FUTURE, BATTLE TO SAVE DEMOCRACY AND SOUL OF NATION & DRAWS CONTRASTS TO ‘MY PREDECESSOR” IN FIERY STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS