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Biden Administration Warns Congress of Severe Consequences of Failing to Authorize Additional COVID-19 Response Funding

Among the consequences if Congress does not provide additional COVID response funding is fewer vaccinations for Americans should there be a fall surge. Biden’s war-level mobilization to combat COVID has saved 2.2 million lives (more than 900,000 have already died), prevented 17 million hospitalizations and 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration is sounding the alarm for the urgent need for Congress to provide funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response and is underscoring the severe consequences of their inaction: Fewer vaccines, treatments, and tests for the American people, and fewer shots in arms around the world.

The White House laid out the consequences in a fact sheet:
 
Over the past 15 months, the Biden Administration has used the resources Congress provided to mobilize a comprehensive COVID-19 response. As a result, the United States has made tremendous progress in our fight against the virus—saving over 2 million American lives, safely reopening our schools, creating jobs at a record pace, returning to more normal routines, and averting $900 billion in health care costs.

The Biden Administration launched COVID.gov, a one-stop shop website to help all people in the United States gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area. The Administration has worked over the past 15 months to set up over 90,000 vaccination sites, make more than 400 million high-quality masks available for free, send free tests to peoples’ homes, and stand up new test-to-treat sites where people can get tested and receive life-saving antivirals all in one place. Now, with a click of a button, people will be able to find where to access all of these tools, as well as receive the latest CDC data on the level of COVID-19 in their community.

As part of COVID.gov, a new Test-to-Treat locator will help people access pharmacies and community health centers across the nation where people can get tested for COVID-19 and receive appropriate treatments if they need them.

President Biden also implemented a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID and associated conditions.
 
In March, the President laid out a comprehensive National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to keep America moving forward safely, by ensuring that lifesaving tools like vaccines and treatments remain free and widely available to Americans, by preparing for potential surges and new variants, and by getting more shots in arms around the world. Executing this plan remains essential to sustaining the progress we have made and saving more lives. There has been an uptick in cases in parts of the country and, while cases will continue to fluctuate, this virus has proven itself to be unpredictable. Without funding, the United States will be unprepared for whatever comes next.
 
COVID-19 isn’t waiting on Congress to negotiate. Other countries will not wait. Time is of the essence. Congress must act urgently to help save more American lives and ensure we remain prepared.

Congressional inaction on additional COVID-19 response funding means:
 
Fewer Vaccines for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot secure enough booster shots for every American, if they are needed in the fall. At this moment, the United States has enough supply to support one booster shot for Americans age 16 and over, and additional boosters for immunocompromised individuals and those age 50 and older. However, if additional booster shots are authorized and recommended for the general population, we will not have the supply necessary to provide free and easy access to them for all Americans. At this time last year, the Administration was contracting for future boosters that could ultimately be needed starting in September; this allowed us to make those booster shots free and widely available as soon as they were authorized. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) needs to begin contracting for boosters imminently so that the agency can conclude contractual negotiations as soon as May to ensure delivery of sufficient supply by September. Other countries are already placing orders for future needs and as a result, will get supply before it is available for Americans. Just yesterday, Pfizer submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization for its booster for kids ages 5 to 11. If these boosters are authorized and recommended, we would not have enough supply for every child in that age group. Not having enough supply to support booster shots for everyone, if needed, puts American lives at risk, and is a completely avoidable outcome.
     
  • The Administration cannot secure new COVID-19 vaccines to protect against multiple variants for the American people. Vaccine manufacturers are working on developing vaccines that could offer broader and longer-lasting protection than our existing vaccines—and there is ongoing discussion among scientific and medical experts, including FDA’s panel of outside experts, about the potential need for vaccines with new formulations in the future to better protect us from variants. Just this month, Moderna released data on a new vaccine that could potentially offer better protection against multiple variants. The company also announced that it expects to release data on an Omicron-specific vaccine soon. This means that there could be more effective vaccines available as soon as this fall that can enhance the protection Americans receive from getting vaccinated. The United States should be securing these vaccines today, but without funding, the Administration cannot purchase doses for the American people or even ensure that America is in line for them. This could mean people in other countries have access to the best lifesaving vaccines before Americans. Vaccines have proven to be our single-most important tool in protecting people, and the best ones should be available for the American people.

Fewer Treatments for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot restock the nation’s supply of lifesaving treatments. To date, the Administration has distributed over 9.6 million courses of treatment across the country, working with states and territories, Tribes, pharmacies, federal health centers, and other partners to provide them to Americans for free. Due to a lack of funding, we have already missed the opportunity to purchase additional supply of these lifesaving treatments. To stretch our supply as much as possible, last month, the Administration was forced to cut the number of monoclonal antibody treatments distributed to states by over 30 percent. Ensuring these treatments remain free, widely available, and easy to access for people who need them is crucial to our nation moving forward safely.
     
  • The Administration cannot invest in promising treatments or secure newer, even better treatments for the American people. The federal government will not be able to invest in next-generation treatments that have the potential to provide broader protection against future variants or to treat people who may not be able to take full advantage of current treatments. Several candidates may be promising, and the United States will lose an opportunity to secure its spot in line and to support ramped-up manufacturing capacity of these treatments if we do not have funding to secure supply prior to a potential authorization or approval. Given COVID-19’s potential to mutate, it is also prudent to support and secure a range of effective treatments that attack the virus in different ways to guard against future variants.
     
  • The Administration will have to scale back purchases of treatments that protect immunocompromised Americans. The Administration has secured more than 1 million courses of Evusheld, a preventive therapy for immunocompromised people. Due to lack of funding, we have had to substantially scale back our plans to purchase additional supply. This therapy takes months to produce, and at this point, we are at risk of missing out on supply that will be delivered in the last few months of 2022. Congressional inaction will put immunocompromised individuals at greater risk as we enter this fall.

Fewer Tests for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot sustain domestic testing manufacturing capacity and will be unprepared for another surge in testing demand. Omicron drove unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing around the world. As cases have fallen dramatically, so has demand for testing. Demand will continue to decrease over time, and as a result, domestic manufacturers will start ramping down production across the next several weeks and months. Federal investments are a crucial way to preserve the domestic testing manufacturing capacity we have built over the last 15 months. Without these investments, it will take manufacturers months to ramp back up to rebuild capacity, so failure to invest now will leave us with insufficient testing capacity and supply if we see another surge in cases and demand for testing increases once again. This would mean empty store shelves, long lines at testing sites, and slower results which will have life-or-death consequences for people who need to take lifesaving treatments within days of becoming symptomatic. That should not be allowed to happen.

Fewer Shots in Arms Around the World:

  • The United States cannot supercharge our effort to get more shots in arms, putting us at greater risk for more variants that may prove to be even more dangerous than the ones we have faced to date. The U.S. has now delivered over half a billion adult vaccines to 114 countries. Countries need funding and assistance to turn vaccines into vaccinations. Without additional funding for our global response, we will not have resources to help get more shots in arms in countries in need—which is one of the best ways we can prevent future variants. We will also lack funding to provide oxygen and other lifesaving supplies, and our global genomic sequencing capabilities will fall off—undermining our ability to detect any emerging variants around the world.

“The reason we’ve been so successful in the past is because I was able to work with drug manufacturers, but without funding, we cannot pre-order,” President Biden stated. “We’re running out of supplies for therapeutics – antiviral pills – we desperately need. … We’ve donated more vaccinations to the world than all nations combined…. Without additional funding, we won’t be able to continue to supply. … No delays, no excuses, just action now.”

Report: Biden COVID-19 Vaccination Program Saved 2.2 Million Lives, 17 Million Hospitalizations, $900 Billion in Health Care Costs

President Biden gets his second booster. A report from Commonwealth Fund finds that Biden’s “relentless efforts to get Americans vaccinated saved millions of American lives. Our vaccination campaign saved 2.2 million American lives, prevented 17 million hospitalizations, prevented 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs,” stated White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

new study out today from the Commonwealth Fund shows that President Biden’s relentless efforts to get Americans vaccinated saved millions of American lives. Our vaccination campaign saved 2.2 million American lives, prevented 17 million hospitalizations, prevented 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs. 
 
This is the result of the Biden Administration’s efforts to use every tool to make vaccinations easy and convenient for every American, Congress providing us the vital resources we needed, and the American people stepping up and doing their part. 
 
We mounted a historic vaccination effort and invested in tests and treatments – empowering Americans with more tools than ever before to protect themselves. Together, we’ve spared millions of families the immeasurable loss that too many others have suffered, and turned unthinkable pain into extraordinary purpose and progress. 
 
Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are now holding up critical funding we need to make even more progress – to save even more lives. Make no mistake: Inaction will leave our nation less prepared for any future surges and variants. It will mean fewer vaccines, treatments, and tests for the American people. This is deeply disappointing – and it should be unacceptable to every American. We’ve worked too hard and come too far to leave ourselves and our economy vulnerable to an unpredictable virus. The virus is not waiting on Congress to negotiate. Congress must act with urgency. 

Biden Administration Accelerates Whole-of-Government Effort to Prevent, Detect, and Treat Long COVID

Vaccination is still the best way to avoid death, hospitalization or the debilitating effects of COVID, still, the Biden Administration is accelerating a whole-of-government effort to prevent, detect, and treat Long COVID. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As President Biden just took action to expand access to the Affordable Care Act – amid calls by Republicans once again to repeal it if they regain control of Congress – it is important to keep in mind that 75 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and millions of them are experiencing the effects of Long- OVID, and thus have pre-existing conditions. Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is known, protects people with pre-existing conditions as well as ends lifetime caps on coverage and keeps children on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. There were 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions before the coronavirus.

Biden has said that health care is a right, not a privilege, and has taken several actions – besides expanding access (some 30 million now take advantage of affordable Obamacare) – to improve health care. That includes mounting the massive vaccination program that has saved millions of lives, testing and new treatments; he is trying to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, particularly insulin (from $4000 month to $35/month), and launched a $5 billion research program to address some of the worst killers including cancer and Alzheimer’s. Now the Biden Administration is accelerating the whole-of-government effort to prevent, detect and treat Long COVID. Here’s a fact sheet from the White House–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The U.S. has made tremendous progress in our fight against COVID-19. Today, Americans have the tools they need to protect against and treat the virus. At the same time, millions of individuals continue to experience prolonged illness from COVID-19, known as “Long COVID.” Many report debilitating, lasting symptoms that can persist long after the acute COVID-19 infection has resolved, and can manifest in anyone who has had COVID-19. These symptoms often look like those associated with other chronic medical conditions.
 
The Administration has mobilized to advance our nation’s understanding of Long COVID and its associated conditions, promote high-quality care for patients, and help individuals access supportive services—especially for those from communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The President’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan makes clear that we are committed to accelerating these efforts, with additional support and resources from Congress.
 
President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID and associated conditions. The Presidential Memorandum also directs HHS to issue a report outlining services and supports across federal agencies to assist people experiencing Long COVID, individuals who are dealing with a COVID-related loss, and people who are experiencing mental health and substance use issues related to the pandemic. This report will specifically address the long-term effects of COVID-19 on high-risk communities and efforts to address disparities in access to services and supports.
 
Today’s announcement builds on the Administration’s ongoing work to implement the recommendations of the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. It also builds on a number of additional actions the Administration is taking to support the millions of Americans experiencing Long COVID and their families by delivering high-quality care and expanding access to services and supports, as well as actions to advance efforts to detect, prevent, and treat Long COVID.
 
These actions include:
 
Delivering high-quality care for individuals experiencing Long COVID: As a complex condition that can affect multiple organ systems, Long COVID may require care and coordination across multiple medical specialties. The Administration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in new members of the disability community and has had a tremendous impact on people with disabilities. The Administration will continue to center the voices of patients in this work and is advancing efforts to deliver high-quality, high-value care to people experiencing Long COVID—especially communities hardest-hit by COVID-19. In collaboration with patients, payers, and providers across the care continuum, the Administration will accelerate and disseminate clinical support and best practices to promote coordinated, integrated care models and expand access to high-quality care in communities across the country.

  • Launching Centers of Excellence and promoting evidence-based care models: Through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget will invest in a multi-year initiative, beginning with $20 million in FY23, to investigate how health care systems can best organize and deliver care for people with Long COVID, provide telementoring and expert consultation for primary care practices, and advance the development of multispecialty clinics to provide complex care. This work would fund institutions across the country that bring together leading researchers and care providers across the full care continuum – including hospitals, health centers, long-term care services and supports, and other providers – and promote the implementation of new evidence into care, especially for disproportionately affected populations. As information emerges on effective Long COVID treatments and care, AHRQ in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH)—in collaboration with clinical leaders, professional societies, and the national academies—will build on existing interim clinical guidance to get providers and patients the care information they need.
     
  • Expanding and strengthening Long COVID clinics: Across the country, 18 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities have already established Long COVID care programs, consolidating multidisciplinary clinical expertise in locations veterans know and trust. The VA will expand on the success of these programs by establishing additional Long COVID programs and robust referral and follow-up systems across its facilities. These programs, and others established by hospitals and health systems across the country, are serving as a source of rapid learning and long-term research on best practices and new therapies, along with the broader provider, patient, and scientific community. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) will launch the Health+ project to gain insights into the experiences and patient journeys of people living with Long COVID and associated conditions, to help inform high-quality care and contribute to standardized best practices at Long COVID clinics.
  • Promoting provider education and clinical support: The Administration will continue to work with providers to advance our recognition and understanding of Long COVID and associated conditions, including by sharing culturally competent information and resources through platforms like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Learning Network and Indian Health Service (IHS) provider education and partnerships with academic institutions. The Administration will also launch targeted clinician and medical coder education on the ICD-10-CM code (U09.9) effective last year to support diagnosis, billing, and tracking of Long COVID. To further support equitable access to high-quality care in communities hard-hit by the pandemic, the Administration, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will continue to build sustainable telementoring programs and networks in rural and medically underserved communities. HHS will additionally convene experts across the country to provide recommendations to our nation’s providers on best practices in the identification and management of the mental and behavioral health disorders associated with Long COVID.  
  • Bolstering health insurance coverage for Long COVID care: The Administration is working to make Long COVID care as accessible as possible. CMS has clarified that, under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) requirement that state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs cover treatments for COVID-19, states must also cover treatments and therapies for Long COVID. Additionally, the essential health benefits (EHB) provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) generally provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, including Long COVID, though coverage and cost-sharing details vary by plan. CMS has also expanded Medicare coverage for pulmonary rehabilitation services for Long COVID care beginning in the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule. Moving forward, the Administration will continue to assess opportunities to enhance access to care for Long COVID and its associated symptoms through Medicare, Medicaid, insurance marketplace coverage, and other options. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will also increase awareness of Long COVID among Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) Program carriers—serving over 8.2 million federal employees, retirees, and their families—and call on them to closely monitor care for individuals with Long COVID. OPM will additionally enhance enrollee education on plans’ coverage of the assessment and treatment of Long COVID and associated symptoms such as respiratory illness and chronic fatigue.

 
Making services and supports available for individuals experiencing Long COVID: The Administration continues to work to understand Long COVID and its impact across populations, including how it interacts with other medical and physical conditions. Individuals with Long COVID may need help doing things they did by themselves in the past, or may need accommodations in their daily activities based on changes in their abilities. In addition to the Long COVID guidance package released during the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Administration is raising awareness of Long COVID as a potential cause of disability, and strengthening services and supports available for individuals experiencing Long COVID.

  • Raising awareness of Long COVID as a potential cause of disability: To protect individuals with Long COVID from discrimination, HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have released guidance explaining that some individuals with Long COVID may have a disability under civil rights laws, including the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Education (ED) also released a resource to support children, students, educators, schools, service providers, and families—providing information about Long COVID as a disability and about schools’ and public agencies’ responsibilities for the provision of services and reasonable modifications to children and students for whom Long COVID is a cause of a disability. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) are continuing to disseminate resources to help people with Long COVID understand if they have a disability, educate people on their rights, and to inform organizations of their obligations.
     
  • Translating research into inclusive disability policy: Through the Social Security Administration’s close collaboration with research agencies and other entities, the Administration will continue to clarify and update policy guidance as the science develops to support inclusive disability policy and claims adjudication processes through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) programs for individuals experiencing Long COVID. This includes building on its Emergency Message on Evaluating Cases with COVID-19 and continuing to be responsive to findings from the medical and scientific communities about the types of evidence that can help establish impairments and identify functional limitations linked to Long COVID, when appropriate. Additionally, ACL and the Department of Labor (DOL) continue to elevate experiences of individuals with disability due to Long COVID, including on return-to-work.
     
  • Connecting people with the resources they need: The Administration will help connect people with Long COVID to information, resources, and service and support options. This includes incorporating multilingual information and support into the CDC-INFO call centerDisability Information and Access Line (DIAL), and call centers run by CMS—which together receive over 3 million calls each month—and providing Long COVID-specific trainings for customer service representatives. Through ACL’s DIAL and Eldercare Locator, the Administration will also continue to connect older adults and individuals with disabilities to critical local services, such as transportation to receive care. IHS will additionally train business office and benefit administrator staff to assist Tribal communities in navigating Long COVID. SAMHSA will additionally collaborate with stakeholders to advance our understanding of the mental health effects of COVID-19 and promote high-quality mental and behavioral health care services for those who need it.
     
  • Strengthening support for workers experiencing Long COVID: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and DOL recently released guidance on access to equitable employment opportunities for people experiencing the impact of COVID-19 and the symptoms of Long COVID. To protect workers experiencing Long COVID, DOL, in coordination with the EEOC, will continue supporting enforcement of the ADA, and other federal disability related nondiscrimination requirements for all workers. DOL’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN) also helps individuals with Long COVID remain in or return to their jobs. This includes both resources to empower workers to request and negotiate accommodations, as well as resources for employers on effective accommodation strategies. Additionally, through the legal networks funded by ACL, the Administration will continue to support legal assistance related to Long COVID to older adults and people with disabilities.

 
Advancing the nation’s understanding of Long COVID: Robust data and information are essential to our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term effects. The Administration will support and accelerate research to understand, prevent, diagnose, treat, advance non-discrimination for, and otherwise support individuals with Long COVID. This includes efforts to better identify and characterize Long COVID – including with respect to its frequency, severity, duration, and risk factors; account for its impact on hard-hit and high-risk populations; and better understand its symptoms—including anxiety and depression, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, heart palpitations, disordered sleep, chest and joint pain, and headache. These symptoms may look like those associated with other chronic medical conditions—including dysautonomia, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). In collaboration with patients, academia, providers, and other stakeholders, the Administration will continue to take critical steps to advance our scientific understanding in order to prevent, detect, and treat Long COVID.

  • Launching the first-ever National Research Action Plan on Long COVID: Today, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to coordinate a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID. This effort, building on the landmark Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative and other initiatives across the federal government, will advance our understanding of Long COVID, foster the development of new treatments and care models, and inform services, support, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID.
     
  • Accelerating enrollment into the RECOVER Initiative: Last year, the NIH launched its $1.15 billion RECOVER Initiative to advance our understanding of and ability to predict, treat, and prevent Long COVID. To help catalyze progress, the Administration will accelerate the enrollment of approximately 40,000 individuals with and without Long COVID into RECOVER’s longitudinal observational arm—in addition to advancing RECOVER’s pathobiology studies, EHR studies, and clinical trials. Equity remains at the center of the Administration’s COVID-19 response efforts, and RECOVER will focus on enrolling individuals across all ages, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses—including pregnant people, individuals with disabilities, and those from the communities hardest hit by the pandemic. RECOVER will also continue to bolster its patient-centered approach, leveraging its National Community Engagement Group—comprised of patient representatives across its pathobiology task forces and executive, steering, and oversight committees—to enable patients to shape research design and execution, listen for community feedback, and learn from patients’ first-hand experience.
     
  • Making further investments to advance Long COVID research and surveillance: Building on the $50 million CDC has already invested, the President’s FY23 budget has requested $25 million to answer key questions on the characteristics, risk factors, underlying mechanisms, and health impacts of Long COVID—through clinician engagement, electronic health data analyses, and grant funding. This includes through the Innovative Support for Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infections Registry (INSPIRE) study by CDC, which will follow nearly 6,000 individuals nationwide for up to 18 months, and other dedicated research in Tribal and other hard-hit, high-risk communities.
     
  • Leveraging the power of federal data: With its robust, national health care databases, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wealth of information on the risks and burdens of COVID-19. Using data from over 600,000 individuals with COVID-19, the VA will continue advancing its work to assess the different health impacts of COVID-19 over time. This includes building on its already published analyses relying on EHR data on kidneycardiovascular, and mental health outcomes in people who have gotten COVID-19, through a national study surveying infected Veterans and uninfected controls about persistent symptoms. Additionally, the Department of Defense (DOD) has launched the Epidemiology, Immunology, and Clinical Characteristics of Emerging Infectious Diseases with Pandemic Potential (EPICC) study of Military Health System beneficiaries to help determine effects of COVID-19 and define clinical strategies to address them. This foundational study will not only support our military medical readiness but also our broader understanding of the disease.
     
  • Identifying workplace interventions that help keep individuals connected: To inform the development of inclusive disability policies and benefits, the DOL is scaling its work to identify early intervention strategies for workers who experience injuries or illnesses, including Long COVID, when working. DOL is expanding beyond its initial pilot study—to Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Vermont—to help workers find alternatives as they decide whether to stay at or return to work following an illness like Long COVID.

Biden Acts to Expand Affordable Care Act, Fix ‘Family Glitch’, Lower Health Care Costs

With former President Barack Obama making his first visit to the White House since leaving office, President Joe Biden took action to expand access to the Affordable Care Act, fix the “family glitch” and lower health care costs for one million Americans. The ACA is stronger now than it has ever been and today we are strengthening it further,” Biden declared. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

President Joe Biden, with former President Barack Obama at his side, signed an Executive Order to expand access to the Affordable Care Act, which he said was fittingly dubbed “Obamacare”, fix the “family glitch” and lower health care costs for one million Americans. Recalling the difficulty of passing Obamacare, Biden remarked on Obama’s unwavering commitment toward the goal of universal health care, where a medical emergency wouldn’t bankrupt a family and people did not live with the insecurity of being denied coverage. Obama reflecting on the strong opposition from Republicans – who have attempted to repeal the ACA more than 70 times, and only last week, vowed to repeal it when they regain control of Congress – said that compromises had to be made in order to achieve what presidents had failed to do for 100 years in providing access to health care. As Biden said, it was the most consequential legislation since Medicare of 1965. Obama said it was always recognized that the law would need to be improved. That’s what Biden did today.

From day one of his presidency, Biden has worked to expand access to health care, and now, some 30 million have health insurance coverage because of Obamacare, while 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are assured of having health insurance (a number that will be vastly expanded with over 75 million having contracted COVID-19 and millions suffering effects of Long-COVID), children can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, and there are no longer lifetime caps on coverage. Here’s a Fact Sheet from the White House on how Biden-Harris Administration proposes to fix the “family glitch” and lower health care costs – the most significant administrative action to improve implementation of Obamacare since its enactment 12 years ago. “The ACA is stronger now than it has ever been and today we are strengthening it further,” Biden declared.

President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. They promised to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), lowering costs and expanding coverage so that every American has the peace of mind that health insurance brings.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration continues to deliver on that promise. Thanks to the landmark American Rescue Plan, ACA premiums are at an all-time low, while enrollment is at an all-time high. Four out of five Americans can find quality coverage for under $10 a month, and families are saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums—$200 in savings every month back to families. The Administration has lowered costs and increased enrollment to a record high of 14.5 million Americans—including nearly 6 million who newly gained coverage. With the addition of Missouri and Oklahoma, two states that expanded Medicaid last year, nearly 19 million low-income Americans are enrolled in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion coverage, adding up to a record nearly 80 million children, pregnant women, seniors, people with disabilities, and other low-income Americans covered by Medicaid.
 
PROPOSING TO FIX THE “FAMILY GLITCH”
 
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is proposing a rule to strengthen the ACA by fixing the “family glitch,” which would save hundreds of thousands of families hundreds of dollars a month.
 
Under the ACA, people who do not have access to “affordable” health insurance through their jobs may qualify for a premium tax credit to purchase affordable, high-quality coverage on the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces. Current regulations define employer-based health insurance as “affordable” if the coverage solely for the employee, and not for family members, is affordable, making family members ineligible for a premium tax credit even though they need it to afford high-quality coverage through the Marketplace.  For family members of an employee offered health coverage through an employer, the cost of that family coverage can sometimes be very expensive and make health insurance out of reach. The “family glitch” affects about 5 million people and has made it impossible for many families to use the premium tax credit to purchase an affordable, high-quality Marketplace plan.
 
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are proposing to eliminate the “family glitch.” Should today’s proposed rule be finalized, family members of workers who are offered affordable self-only coverage but unaffordable family coverage may qualify for premium tax credits to buy ACA coverage. Should the proposed change be made, it’s estimated that 200,000 uninsured people would gain coverage, and nearly 1 million Americans would see their coverage become more affordable. Many families would be able to save hundreds of dollars a month thanks to lower premiums. This proposed rule would amount to the most significant administrative action to improve implementation of the ACA since its enactment.
 
EXECUTIVE ORDER CONTINUING TO STRENGTHEN AMERICANS’ ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE, QUALITY HEALTH COVERAGE
 
Last January, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies to take action to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Today, President Biden is building on that directive with a new Executive Order directing federal agencies to continue doing everything in their power to expand affordable, quality health coverage. This includes:

  • Making it easier for people to enroll in and keep their coverage.
     
  • Helping people better understand their coverage options so they can pick the best one for them.
     
  • Strengthening and improving the generosity of benefits and improving access to health care providers.
     
  • Improving the comprehensiveness of coverage and protecting Americans from low-quality coverage.
     
  • Continuing to make health coverage more accessible and affordable by expanding eligibility and lowering costs for Americans with ACA, Medicare, or Medicaid coverage.
     
  • Connecting people to health care services by improving access to health care providers and linkages between the health care system and communities to help Americans with health-related needs.
     
  • Taking steps to help reduce the burden of medical debt that far too many Americans experience.

 
ADDITIONAL EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN THE ACA AND MEDICAID
 
These latest actions build on months of work to strengthen the ACA and Medicaid by lowering costs and expanding coverage.

  • Lowered premiums and out of pocket costs for millions of Americans. As the biggest expansion of affordable health care since the ACA, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) included enhanced subsidies that lowered premiums for 9 million Americans by an average of $50 per month per person. The enhanced subsidies helped expand the availability of free and low-cost health plans to millions of consumers with nearly half of existing consumers able to enroll in a silver level plan with no premium and 70 percent of existing able to enroll in a low-premium silver plan. In addition, the Administration lowered the cap on total out-of-pocket costs by $400 in 2022.
     
  • Made it easier to sign up for affordable coverage, including opening a Special Enrollment Period in 2021. In addition to opening a Special Enrollment Period last year, which enabled nearly 3 million Americans to newly sign up for coverage under the ACA, the Administration extended HealthCare.gov’s Open Enrollment period by one month, giving people more time to sign up for coverage The Administration operated the most successful Open Enrollment Period in history last year, with a historic 14.5 million Americans signing up for ACA coverage and another million people signing up for the Basic Health Program, an alternative coverage program created by the ACA.  The Administration also eliminated unnecessary paperwork and increased outreach, quadrupling the number of trained Navigators to help Americans sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov. These efforts helped reach communities that have historically been left behind, with the HealthCare.gov enrollment rate increasing by 26 percent for Hispanic Americans and 35 percent for Black Americans.
     
  • Facilitated the expansion of Medicaid in Missouri and Oklahoma. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) helped Missouri and Oklahoma become the 38th and 39th states to expand Medicaid, which will cover nearly half a million more low-income Americans in those two states. Missouri and Oklahoma are also taking advantage of the ARP’s financial incentive to expand Medicaid, which is expected to provide an extra $968 million and $500 million in federal dollars to these states, respectively. 
     
  • Expanded and strengthened access to home care for millions of older Americans and people with disabilities. The ARP provided states with increased Medicaid funding to help expand access to home care services, furthering the Administration’s commitment to ensuring people can get the care they need in their homes and communities.  The additional Medicaid funding will also help states strengthen their home- and community-based services programs by investing in the home care workforce and other innovations to improve the delivery of care.
     
  • Provided new options to help people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Thanks to the ARP, states can now receive enhanced Medicaid funding to establish mobile crisis intervention services teams to help provide services to Medicaid beneficiaries experiencing a behavioral health crisis.  This new option is a key component in the Administration’s strategy to address the Nation’s mental health crisis by ensuring that Medicaid beneficiaries experiencing a behavioral health crisis can get connected to the care they need.
     
  • Tackled the maternal health crisis. Medicaid covers more than 40 percent of births in the United States. Thanks to the ARP and the Vice President’s leadership, the Biden-Harris Administration partnered with Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, and Louisiana to make sure new moms can keep their Medicaid coverage for a year after they deliver. Another 9 states are in the process of seeking CMS approval to expand postpartum coverage to their states as well. Based on HHS estimates, more than 83,000 beneficiaries across five states will benefit from this extended post-partum coverage during the critical first year after delivery.

FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure

The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure aims to upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs. The action plan activates the entire federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses, and resilient design. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 
Administration Launches $500 million Grant Program from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Program to Save Schools Money with Energy Upgrades

 
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure to upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs. The action plan activates the entire federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses, and resilient design.
 
The science of learning and development has shown that students need school environments filled with safety, belonging, and health to learn and thrive. Yet many schools rely on outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that make classrooms less comfortable and may pose health risks to students and teachers exposed to contaminants or particles in the air that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks and potentially spread infectious diseases – including COVID-19. Dirty diesel buses pose additional health risks for students on board and the neighborhoods they travel through — and exhaust from idling buses can pollute the air around schools. Studies show that poor air quality inside classrooms takes a toll on student concentration and performance, and diesel exhaust exposure is linked to increased school absences. Reducing this pollution will provide better health and educational outcomes — particularly in low-income communities and communities of color that have long faced underinvestment and the burden of high pollution.
 
The action plan will save schools and taxpayers money. Public K-12 districts spend roughly $8 billion a year on energy bills — the second largest expense after teacher salaries. Energy efficiency improvements to HVAC systems, lighting, insulation, and other energy upgrades can not only protect the health of our children, but also unlock significant savings to go toward students and learning. Off-the-shelf improvements can provide energy savings of 10 to 30 percent and broader upgrades can unlock even more savings for years to come – all while creating opportunities for good paying union jobs for electricians, carpenters, painters, sheet metal workers, plumbers and pipefitters, and more.
 
The Administration is seizing the opportunity to align classrooms with the science of learning and development to improve educational equity and environmental justice. The new actions build on President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan into law one year ago, which helped reopen more than 99% of schools with resources to put in place critical health and safety measures like ventilation improvements to make in-person learning safe and accessible for students and educators.
 
The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure will:

  • Invest in More Efficient, Energy-Saving School Buildings: The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a $500 million grant program through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make public schools more energy efficient. This new program will lower energy costs, improve air quality, and prioritize schools most in need, enabling schools to focus more resources on student learning.
     
  • Improve Classroom Air Quality through the American Rescue Plan: The Administration is supporting states, school districts, and local communities in leveraging American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief resources to address school infrastructure needs—like repairing, upgrading, or replacing of ventilation systems; purchasing air filters and portable air cleaning devices; and fixing doors and windows so that schools can stay open for in-person learning. Additionally, the Department of Treasury will soon release additional information to help school districts understand how they can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for a range of air quality and other school facility improvements, including energy efficiency.
     
  • Help Schools Access Resources and Best Practices: The White House is releasing a toolkit to help schools and school districts access available funding, as well as technical assistance opportunities and planning tools to help schools improve air quality, energy efficiency, and more. This new toolkit will further support school participation in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which the Administration recently launched to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve indoor air quality in buildings of all kinds, including schools. The Department of Energy is also announcing the inaugural honorees of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which provides technical assistance to school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements that will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health.  
     
  • Expand Clean and Safe School Transportation: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the Department of Energy (DOE), is releasing new online resources to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—with the first opportunity to fund clean and electric buses opening later this spring. The DOE is working closely with the EPA to develop targeted technical assistance programs that assist school districts in implementing clean and electric buses effectively into their fleets–starting with a technical assistance video series on electric buses. To support projects that help students safely walk and bike to school, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has provided state and local governments with new guidance to access $90 billion in available federal funding, including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs.  
     
  • Support for Rural, Tribal, and Puerto Rican Schools: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing its full commitment to use its array of rural development loan and grant programs to support electric school bus acquisition, charging station infrastructure, energy efficiency investments at schools, and broadband and distance learning in rural school districts – to accelerate the shift from dirty fuel sources toward school facilities and vehicles powered by clean electricity. DOE is partnering with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to improve the state of our federally-operated schools. And the Administration’s Working Group on Puerto Rico has prioritized supporting school reconstruction.

Today’s announcements build on ongoing efforts to support students, including the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child care facilities and the Justice40 Initiative, which agencies are implementing to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.

Investments to Improve School Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality

The Administration is advancing a suite of investments to upgrade our K-12 public school facilities, many of which face maintenance backlogs and are long overdue for new equipment. While teachers and education leaders have long raised concerns about the level of comfort and air quality in our classrooms, the pandemic has laid bare disparities in access to healthy facilities, including modern, efficient, and clean HVAC systems. Outdated, inefficient buildings also saddle underserved school districts with higher energy bills and generate significant greenhouse gas emissions, keeping them in a cycle of underfunding operations and overpaying maintenance costs. This Action Plan will help schools make facility improvements that simultaneously deliver health protections, savings, and climate benefits.
 
Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information to launch its new $500 million grant program for energy improvements at public school facilities, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The projects funded by these grants will improve the quality of the air our students and educators breathe while reducing energy costs and freeing up local funds to invest more in education. These grants can support comprehensive energy efficiency audits and building retrofits, HVAC and lighting upgrades, clean energy installation, and more—along with training to help staff maintain these improvements over the long-term. DOE will prioritize projects in rural and high-poverty schools, and support leveraging of additional private, philanthropic, and public funding to maximize the benefits of these grants. In step with the Administration’s priority to create good union jobs accessible to all workers, the DOE will work to promote high quality labor and equity standards into school improvement grants. The RFI solicits input from schools and other stakeholders on important design considerations to ensure the grant program achieves the greatest reach and impact.
 
The Administration is also leveraging the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law one year ago, to address a range of health and safety issues in schools. The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program has provided $122 billion to states and districts to help schools stay open and address the significant academic and mental health needs of students resulting from the pandemic. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan also includes $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to support a wide range of pandemic response and recovery efforts, including school improvements to ventilation and building energy systems that reduce energy costs and support healthy environments. And, according to independent analysis, school districts are already planning to spend $15 billion of these funds to address facilities issues impacting student and staff health and safety, such as improving indoor air quality. The Department of Treasury will soon provide additional clarity to help recipients of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds understand how they can partner with local education agencies to use more of these funds for building upgrades and construction, including pre-project development costs, such as building assessments, energy audits, and feasibility studies. The Department of Education continues to outline how states and districts can use its funds for repairs and renovations, including improving indoor air quality through HVAC upgrades and door and window replacement, and ensuring clean drinking water in schools.
 
New Resources and Recognition to Support Schools
To help schools access funding sources and technical assistance opportunities, the White House is releasing a toolkit mapping out available resources across the federal government for school infrastructure upgrades. By compiling resources and programs from across the federal government, this toolkit will help state and local officials find the support they need for building assessments, air quality improvements, energy efficiency upgrades, lead removal, resilience planning, and more. It builds on the Administration’s priority on improving indoor air quality through the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in buildings and to deliver better health outcomes and protection for all building occupants.
 
To support and uplift schools and districts undertaking this critical work, the Administration is announcing the first round of honorees as part of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which provides technical assistance to school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements that will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health. This innovative campaign has a goal of reaching 5,000 schools by the end of 2022. To date, 26 school districts across 16 states have joined or are prepared to join the campaign—representing over 1,500,000 students in 2,600 individual schools—more than half way toward the campaign’s goal.
 
Today, the Campaign announced its first round of awards to eight school districts for their best-in-class efforts across four categories: Efficient HVAC Technologies, Inspection & maintenance, Ongoing Monitoring & Analytics, and Team Approach to Support Strategic Investments. The inaugural honorees include:

  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools, CO 
  • Boulder Valley School District, CO
  • Charleston County School District, SC
  • Columbia Public Schools, MO
  • Davis School District, UT
  • Greenville County Schools, SC
  • Mariposa County Unified School District, CA
  • Newark Board of Education, NJ

DOE is also accelerating a range of grants, technical assistance, and lending to support schools along each step of the school improvement process. These efforts include the Better Buildings Challenge and its K-12 Sector partnerships; DOE’s new tool—eProject eXpress—that can support state and local governments and K-12 schools in project management for energy saving performance contracts, and help leverage financing to maximize impact; and DOE’s Loan Programs Office Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Solicitation that can be accessed by schools to provide up to $3 billion in loan guarantees for retrofit projects.

And to ensure that schools are supported in creating healthy, safe, sustainable, 21st century learning environments, the Department of Education is proposing a new Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability, as part of the President’s FY2023 Budget. This office would oversee a proposed National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability and administer the ongoing U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. The proposed National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability would provide technical assistance and training to state and local education agencies on issues related to educational facility planning, design, financing, construction, improvement, operation, and maintenance, including green building design and operation practices consistent with the Administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis. The Clearinghouse would also develop resources and assemble best practices on issues related to ensuring equitable access to healthy, educationally adequate and environmentally and fiscally sustainable public-school facilities and grounds. To set the stage for this new office, the Department of Education recently named a Special Advisor for Infrastructure and Sustainability to spearhead agency-wide consideration of how existing programs might support school sustainability and infrastructure.

These actions build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which calls on all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations of all kinds to adopt key strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It serves as a call to action to assess indoor air quality and make ventilation and air filtration improvements to help keep occupants safe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a best practices guide for improving indoor air quality and reducing the risk of spreading dangerous airborne particles.

Clean and Safe School Transportation
School buses safely transport more than 25 million children every day across America. However, diesel exhaust from buses produces particulate matter and other pollutants that can cause lung damage and aggravate asthma and other health problems in children. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, with support and technical assistance from the Department of Energy, are making historic investments in cleaner school buses and safer school transportation routes.

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency is building public awareness for the new $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Throughout the next month, EPA will regularly post new online resources and webinars for the Clean School Bus Program to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the first round of applications. These resources build upon EPA’s public education and outreach effort, to gather ideas and increase awareness within communities and school districts, particularly for lower-resourced schools—in support of the President’s Justice40 commitment.

The Department of Transportation is helping communities take advantage of funding to support safer routes to schools made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure LawThe Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program at DOT helps communities plan, design, and construct infrastructure projects that increase healthy transportation choices and substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle safely to school—particularly in communities underserved by safe transportation options. Since 2015, the SRTS program has supported over $1 billion in safe school route projects benefiting nearly 7 million students across more than 17,000 schools—a third of which were in disadvantaged communities and Title I schools.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expanded the eligibility of the SRTS program to schools through 12th grade and added eligibility for safe school route projects through the nearly $17 billion-per-year Highway Safety Improvement Program—including for use in training and education.

Support for Rural, Tribal, and Puerto Rican Schools
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today a new commitment to support school facility and vehicle electrification, including school buses. In support of this commitment, USDA released a new guidance that informs how Rural Development programs can support rural electric cooperatives to advance electrification projects for schools and other public facilities and vehicles.

These funding and assistance programs can support rural utilities like those in a newly formed Electric Cooperative School Bus Initiative , a collaboration of more than 350 local distribution cooperatives across 32 states, providing educational and administrative support to help rural communities access funding for electric school buses and school bus infrastructure.

Additionally, DOE is partnering with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to improve the state of our federally-operated schools. Aligning with the President’s Justice 40 Initiative, the DOE Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) is assisting BIE to initiate a set of pilot assessments in Tribal schools for energy efficiency and indoor air quality projects.

The Administration’s Working Group on Puerto Rico has prioritized supporting school reconstruction efforts on the island. Agencies collaborated on a toolkit in both English and Spanish outlining federal resources available to help Puerto Rico recover and rebuild safe, healthy and modernized school facilities. Agencies have also provided technical assistance to Puerto Rican officials on how they can leverage multiple funding streams to rebuild, repair, and modernize their schools.

Support for Training and Workforce Development
School improvements provide critical training opportunities for building an effective workforce. Large school projects often last multiple years and draw upon a large mix of trades. This continuity of training and employment makes them ideal opportunities for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs that lead directly to good-paying careers. And when done alongside the President’s Justice40 Initiative, these investments will prioritize under-resourced schools while also investing in communities that can benefit from long-term training and employment.

The Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative is supporting federal agency partners as they embed job quality and equity policies into their infrastructure investments.  The Good Jobs Initiative is supporting federal agency partners as they work to leverage their infrastructure investments to provide meaningful opportunities for all communities to enter good paying union careers. 

The wide array of federal offerings can support initiatives such as the Carbon Free and Healthy Schools campaign–which is led by labor unions in collaboration with students, parents, and climate advocates across the country–to create safe, healthy, and cost-effective school environments through building retrofits and solarization, while supporting strong labor standards and robust worker training opportunities. The campaign is currently working with school districts representing more than five million students across Texas, California, IllinoisNew YorkConnecticutRhode Island, Michigan, Maine, and Wisconsin, with more state campaigns in formation.

DoE Seeks Input for $500 Million Grant Program for Energy Upgrades to 100,000 Public Schools

The U.S. Department of Energy released a Request for Information for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.— As part the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. 

“Children should be able to learn and grow in environments that are not plagued with poor insulation and ventilation, leaky roofs, or poor heating and cooling,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden fought for these funds to give schools and their communities the resources they need to improve student and teacher health and cut energy costs, allowing districts to focus more resources on student learning.” 

Many of America’s public schools are in desperate need of energy improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s 100,000 public K-12 schools a D+ in their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure report. Dilapidated school facilities can negatively affect student learning and health as indoor air quality problems can aggravate respiratory illnesses, reduce student and teacher attendance and performance, and increase risk of transmission of respiratory infections like COVID-19. 

Energy consumption is the second-highest operational expense schools face with a significant portion of this energy lost through leaky school walls, windows, and other inefficient equipment and systems. Districts that serve rural, high poverty, or Hispanic/Latino, African American, and Native American communities experience the greatest burden of failing or antiquated school facilities. 

Public school facilities will be eligible for energy improvements that result in a direct reduction in school energy costs, including improvements to the air conditioning and heating, ventilation, hot water heating, and lighting systems. In addition, funding would support any improvement, repair, renovation to, or installation in a school that leads to an improvement in teacher and student health.  

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grant funding will also support additional improvements, repairs, or renovations such as the installation of renewable energy technologies, the installation of alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds such as school buses or the purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school. 

DOE encourages Local Education Agencies, school staff, states, local governments, energy service companies, unions, service providers, and utilities to respond to the RFI. 

The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET. Download the RFI to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response. 

Biden Economic Policies Produce $1.3 Trillion Decrease in Deficit, Largest 1-Year Decline in History

The White House is justifiably touting a $1.3 trillion decrease in the budget deficit – the largest one-year decline in U.S. history – to demonstrate the success of its fiscal policies, and particularly, its success in getting control of the coronavirus pandemic and justifying its FY2023 budget proposal. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration is justifiably touting a $1.3 trillion decrease in the budget deficit – the largest one-year decline in U.S. history – to demonstrate the success of its fiscal policies, and particularly, its success in getting control of the coronavirus pandemic and justifying its FY2023 budget proposal. Here’s a statement from the White House:

When the President took office, the pandemic was raging in communities across the country and our economy was struggling to recover from the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. The economy shrunk, and the unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent. And, the deficit had risen to $3.1 trillion in 2020—yet with trillions in resources, the Trump Administration didn’t secure vaccines for all Americans, most schools were closed, and testing and medical equipment shortages continued.

Even before the pandemic, the Trump tax cuts had added $2 trillion to deficits over a decade. The deficit increased every year of the previous administration.

Unlike his predecessor, President Biden prioritized fiscal responsibility. In the face of the extraordinary challenges he inherited, the President made clear that bold action was needed to jumpstart the economic recovery. He knew that robust investment to change the course of the pandemic and support workers, families, and small businesses was not only the right strategy to build a stronger economy, but also to decrease the deficit. A strong economic recovery would result in less emergency spending and drive future deficits down. In March 2021, he signed into law the historic American Rescue Plan.

The President’s Budget shows that this strategy paid off. The strongest economic growth in four decades, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has also contributed to a historic decline in the deficit—by fueling strong revenue growth and allowing the Administration to responsibly phase down emergency pandemic-related spending. The President’s Budget projects that the deficit in 2022 will be more than $1.3 trillion lower than last year’s—the largest ever one-year decline in our country’s history. It will be less than half of the 2020 deficit the President inherited.

The President is now working to build on that progress and further reduce the deficit by reforming the tax system so that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. As the Budget shows, with these reforms, we can cut costs for families, continue growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out, and put America on a sound fiscal course for the future—shrinking the deficit the President inherited by two-thirds as a share of the economy.

President Biden’s Strategy to Combat the Pandemic and Jumpstart the Economy is Driving Down Deficits

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the President’s strategy to control the pandemic, in 2021 our economy grew at 5.7 percent, the fastest rate in nearly 40 years. We created more than 6.5 million jobs, the most our country has ever recorded in a single year. The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8 percent, lower than the Congressional Budget Office had projected in its pre-American Rescue Plan baseline at any point over the next decade. And between the start and the end of 2021, we went from about 41,000 to more than 200 million Americans vaccinated, and from most schools closed to 99 percent of schools are open for in-person learning.

The Administration’s economic success and success in controlling the pandemic is lowering the deficit in two ways.

First, because of the historic pace of our economic and labor market recovery, the economy no longer needs the kind of emergency support it received last year. With businesses open and people back at work, the Federal Government will spend about $1 trillion less on pandemic and economic support in 2022 than in 2021. That includes hundreds of billions of dollars less support to businesses, which are now making investments and creating jobs without the need for help. Likewise, after historic drops in both the overall unemployment rate and the long-term unemployment rate—the share of people out of work for more than six months—we no longer need emergency unemployment assistance, and ongoing Unemployment Insurance claims are at their lowest level since 1970.  

Second, a stronger economy means higher incomes for households and higher earnings for businesses. Because of this economic progress, the government is projected to collect more than $300 billion in additional revenues compared to last year, a nearly 10 percent increase.

The President’s Budget Continues to Lower Deficits

Even before the pandemic, the Trump Administration added $2 trillion to deficits over 10 years through tax cuts that largely helped wealthy people and large corporations. President Biden believes in a different approach: growing the economy from the middle out, not the top down, and paying for all new investments by ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and large corporations pay their fair share.

As he made clear in his State of the Union address, the President is committed to working with Congress to enact legislation that lowers costs for American families, expands the productive capacity of the American economy, and further reduces the deficit: by reducing prescription drug costs and fixing the tax code to ensure corporations and wealthy people pay the taxes they already owe and close loopholes they exploit.

The President’s FY 2023 Budget also proposes additional smart, targeted investments designed to spur durable economic growth, create jobs, reduce cost pressures, and foster shared prosperity—while more than fully offsetting their cost. The Budget reduces deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Under the Budget policies, deficits as a share of the economy would fall to less than one-third of the 2020 level the President inherited. Overall, the Budget details an economically and fiscally responsible path forward—addressing the long-term fiscal challenges facing our country while making investments that will produce stronger economic growth and broadly shared prosperity for generations to come.

Biden: ‘Budgets are statements of values. This budget values fiscal responsibility, safety, security, investments in equitable growth and to build a better America’

What’s in the Biden FY2023 Budget

President Biden presents his FY2023 budget: “Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span

This is President Joe Biden’s statement about his FY2023 budget proposal:

Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.

My Administration is on track to reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.3 trillion this year, cutting in half the deficit from the last year of the previous Administration and delivering the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history. That’s the direct result of my Administration’s strategy to get the pandemic under control and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. We spent less money than the last Administration and got better results: strong economic growth, which has increased revenues and allowed us to responsibly scale back emergency spending. My budget will continue that progress, further reducing the deficit by continuing to support the economic growth that has increased revenues and ensuring that billionaires and large corporations pay their fair share.

At the same time, my budget will make investments in securing our nation and building a better America. We will secure our communities by putting more police on the street to engage in accountable community policing, hiring the agents needed to help fight gun crime, and investing in crime prevention and community violence intervention.

I’m calling for one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world.  In addition, I’m calling for continued investment to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine with US support for Ukraine’s economic, humanitarian, and security needs. 

My budget also makes the investments needed to reduce costs for families and make progress on my Unity Agenda – including investments to cut the costs of child care and health care; help families pay for other essentials; end cancer as we know it; support our veterans; and get all Americans the mental health services they need.

All told, it is a budget that includes historic deficit reduction, historic investments in our security at home and abroad, and an unprecedented commitment to building an economy where everyone has a chance to succeed.

And here’s what in the Biden budget:

FACT SHEET:
The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2023

Under the President’s leadership, America is on the move again. We created more than 6.5 million jobs in 2021, the most our country has ever recorded in a single year. Our economy grew at 5.7 percent, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years. And the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent, the fastest decline in recorded history. At the same time, the deficit fell last year—by around $300 billion. This progress was a direct result of the President’s strategy to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out and his effective management of the American Rescue Plan—a strategy that was built on smart, fiscally prudent investments that helped jumpstart our economy.
 
As our historic economic and labor market recovery continues, the President’s Budget projects that the deficit in 2022 will be more than $1.3 trillion lower than last year’s—the largest ever one-year decline in our country’s history. The strongest economic growth in four decades, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has also contributed to a historic decline in the deficit—by fueling strong revenue growth and allowing the Administration to responsibly phase down emergency pandemic-related spending.
 
Today, the President released a Budget that details his vision to expand on our economic and fiscal progress—investing in our economy and our people while cutting deficits, improving our country’s long-term fiscal outlook, and keeping the economic burden of debt low.
 
As he made clear in his State of the Union address, the President is committed to working with Congress to enact legislation that lowers costs for American families, expands the productive capacity of the American economy, and further reduces the deficit: by reducing prescription drug costs and fixing the tax code to ensure corporations and wealthy people pay the taxes they already owe and close loopholes they exploit.
 
The President’s FY 2023 Budget also proposes additional smart, targeted investments designed to spur durable economic growth, create jobs, reduce cost pressures, and foster shared prosperity. These investments are more than fully paid-for through tax reforms that ensure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, while also fulfilling the President’s ironclad promise that no one earning less than $400,000 per year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. Overall, the Budget reduces deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and deficits under the Budget policies would fall to less than one-third of the 2020 level the President inherited.
 
The Budget improves our country’s long-term fiscal outlook while also delivering on the ambitious agenda the President laid out in his State of the Union address—to build a better America, reduce costs for families, advance equity, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. It proposes significant new investments in proven strategies to reduce gun crime and keep our communities safe. It makes additional investments in the American people that will help lay a stronger foundation for shared growth and prosperity. It advances a bipartisan unity agenda through proposals to take on the mental health crisis, combat the opioid epidemic, support our veterans, and accelerate progress against cancer. And during what will be a decisive decade, it strengthens our military and leverages America’s renewed strength at home to meet pressing global challenges, deepen partnerships and alliances, and manage crises as they arise.
 
PUTTING THE NATION ON A SOUND FISCAL AND ECONOMIC COURSE
 
The Budget proposes smart, targeted, fully-offset investments while also cutting deficits, improving our country’s long-term fiscal outlook, and keeping the economic burden of debt low. The Budget’s investments are more than paid for with tax reforms focused on making sure the rich and the largest corporations pay their fair share, reducing deficits by over $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
 

  • Proposes a New Minimum Tax on Billionaires. The tax code currently offers special treatment for the types of income that wealthy people enjoy. This special treatment, combined with sophisticated tax planning and giant loopholes, allows many of the very wealthiest people in the world to end up paying a lower tax rate on their full income than many middle-class households. To finally address this glaring problem, the Budget includes a minimum tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires who so often pay indefensibly low tax rates. This minimum tax would apply only to the wealthiest 0.01 percent of households—those with more than $100 million—and over half the revenue would come from billionaires alone. It would ensure that, in any given year, they pay at least 20 percent of their total income in Federal income taxes.
  • Ensures Corporations Pay Their Fair Share. The Budget also includes an increase to the rate that corporations pay in taxes on their profits. Corporations received an enormous tax break in 2017. While their profits have soared, their investment in our economy did not: the tax breaks did not trickle down to workers or consumers. Instead of allowing some of the most profitable corporations in the world to avoid paying their fair share, the Budget raises the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, still the lowest tax rate faced by corporations since World War II except in the years after the 2017 tax cut. This increase is complemented by other changes to the corporate tax code that incentivize job creation and investment in the United States and ensure that large corporations pay their fair share.
  • Prevents Multinational Corporations from Using Tax Havens to Game the System. For decades, American workers and taxpayers have paid the price for a tax system that has rewarded multinational corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas. Last year, the Administration rallied more than 130 countries to agree to a global minimum tax that will ensure that profitable corporations pay their fair share and will incentivize U.S. multinationals to create jobs and invest in the United States. The Budget contains additional measures to ensure that multinationals operating in the United States cannot use tax havens to undercut the global minimum tax.

 
Advancing Legislation to Lower Costs, Reduce the Deficit, and Expand Productive Capacity
 
The President is committed to working with Congress to sign legislation that lowers costs for American families, reduces the deficit, and expands the productive capacity of the American economy. That means cutting costs for prescription drugs, healthcare premiums, child care, long-term care, housing, and college; reducing energy costs by combatting climate change and accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy; supporting families by providing access to free, high-quality preschool, up to two years of free community college, nutritious food at school and resources to purchase food over the summer months, and paid family and medical leave and by continuing the enhanced Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit; and providing health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. The President believes these proposals must be paired with reforms that ensure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, including ensuring that they pay the taxes they already owe.
 
Because discussions with Congress continue, the President’s Budget includes a deficit neutral reserve fund to account for a future agreement, preserving the revenue from tax and prescription drug reforms the President proposed last year for this legislation for the investments needed to bring down costs for American families and expand our productive capacity.
 
BUILDING A BETTER AMERICA
 
The Budget includes smart, targeted investments in the American people that will help build a better America. It will keep our communities safe and combat violent crime; promote job creation and expand the productive capacity of our economy; improve our public health infrastructure; ensure America leads the world in combating the climate crisis; and advance equity and opportunity for all. It strengthens our military and leverages America’s renewed strength at home to meet pressing global challenges, deepen partnerships and alliances, and manage crises as they arise.
 
Combating Crime to Keep Our Communities Safe
 

  • Puts More Police Officers on the Beat. The Budget provides $3.2 billion in discretionary resources for State and local grants, and $30 billion in mandatory re­sources to support law enforcement, crime preven­tion, and community violence intervention, including putting more officers for community policing on the beat across the Nation.
  • Provides More Tools to Tackle Gun Violence. The Budget provides $1.7 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to expand multijurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces with additional personnel, increase regulation of the firearms industry, enhance ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, and modernize the National Tracing Center.
  • Increases Federal Law Enforcement Capacity to Combat Violent Crime. Under the President’s Budget, key Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service will have the resources they need fight violent crime, including through fugitive apprehension and enforcement operations. The Budget also ensures U.S. Attorneys have the necessary support to prosecute violent crimes.
  • Strengthens Civil Rights Enforcement. The Budget makes important investments to support law enforcement while addressing longstanding inequities and strengthening civil rights protections. The Budget invests $367 million, an increase of $101 million over the 2021 enacted level, at the Department of Justice to support police reform, the prosecution of hate crimes, enforcement of voting rights, and efforts to provide equitable access to justice.
  • Supports Criminal Justice System Reform. The Budget includes $100 million for a historic multi-agency collaboration to provide comprehensive workforce development services to people in the Federal prison system and proposes $106 million to support the deployment of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s law enforcement officers.

 
Promoting Job Creation, Reducing Cost Pressures, and Boosting Productive Capacity
 

  • Increases Affordable Housing Supply. In communities throughout the country, rents are skyrocketing and homeownership is becoming increasingly out of reach. This strains family budgets and holds back our economy – making it harder for workers to afford to live near good jobs and good transportation options. To address the critical shortage of affordable housing in communities throughout the Nation, the Budget proposes $50 billion for housing construction and supply – addressing existing market gaps and helping to stabilize housing prices over the long-term. This includes funding, via the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for state and local housing finance agencies and their partners to provide grants, revolving loan funds, and other streamlined financing tools to boost housing supply, with a particular focus on housing types that have traditionally been difficult to finance using existing Federal financing but have the potential to boost supply and density in supply-constrained communities. The Budget also includes grants to advance and reward state and local jurisdictions’ efforts to remove barriers to affordable housing development. It also includes modifying Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to better incentivize new unit production, and funding for the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to support financing of new construction and substantial rehabilitation that creates net new units of affordable rental and for sale housing.
     
  • Accelerates Efforts to Move More Goods Faster through American Ports and Waterways. The Budget continues support for the historic levels of Federal investment to modernize America’s port and waterway infrastructure provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It includes $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program to strengthen maritime freight capacity, as well as $1.7 billion in spending for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to facilitate safe, reliable, and environmentally sustainable navigation at coastal ports. 
  • Strengthens the Nation’s Supply Chains through Domestic Manufacturing. To help ignite a resurgence of American manufacturing and strengthen domestic supply chains, the Budget provides $372 million, an increase of $206 million over the 2021 enacted level, for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) manufacturing programs to launch two additional Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in 2023 and continue support for the two institutes funded in 2022. The Budget includes a $125 million increase for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to make America’s small and medium manufacturers more competitive. The Budget also invests $200 million for a new Solar Manufacturing to build domestic capacity in solar energy supply chains while moving away from imported products.
  • Expands Access to Registered Apprenticeships and Equips Workers with Skills They Need to Obtain High-Quality Jobs. The Budget invests $303 million, a $118 million increase above the 2021 enacted level, to expand Registered Apprenticeship opportunities in high growth fields, such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care, and transportation, while increasing access for historically underrepresented groups, including people of color and women. In addition, the Budget invests $100 million to help community colleges work with the public workforce development system and employers to design and deliver high-quality workforce training programs. The Budget also provides $100 million for a new Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness program, which will support training programs focused on growing industries, enabling disadvantaged workers to enter on-ramps to middle class jobs, and creating the skilled workforce the economy needs to thrive.
  • Fosters Competitive and Productive Markets and Targets Corporate Concentration. The Budget reflects the Administration’s commitment to vigorous marketplace competition through robust enforcement of antitrust law by including historic increases of $88 million for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (ATR) and $139 million for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

 
Restoring American Leadership and Confronting Global Threats
 

  • Supports United States’ European Allies and Partners. The Budget includes $6.9 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and countering Russian aggression to support Ukraine, the United States’ strong partnerships with NATO allies, and other European partner states by bolstering funding to enhance the capabilities and readiness of U.S. Forces, NATO allies, and regional partners in the face of Russian aggression.
  • Defends Freedom Globally. To support American leadership in defending democracy, freedom, and security worldwide, the Budget includes nearly $1.8 billion for the State Department and USAID to support a free and open, connected, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific Region and the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and $400 million for the Countering the People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund. In addition, the Budget provides nearly $1 billion in assistance to Ukraine for State Department, USAID, and Department of Defense to counter Russian malign influence and to meet emerging needs related to security, energy, cyber security issues, disinformation, macroeconomic stabilization, and civil society resilience.
     
  • Promotes Integrated Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific and Globally. The Budget proposes $773 billion for the Department of Defense. To sustain and strengthen deterrence, the Budget prioritizes China as the Department’s pacing challenge. DOD’s 2023 Pacific Deterrence Initiative highlights some of the key investments the Department is making that are focused on strengthening deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region. DOD is building the concepts, capabilities, and posture necessary to meet these challenges, working in concert with the interagency and our allies and partners to ensure our deterrence is integrated across domains, theaters, and the spectrum of conflict.
  • Renews America’s Leadership in International Institutions. The Budget continues the Administration’s efforts to lead through international organizations by meeting the Nation’s commitments to fully fund U.S. contributions and to pay United Nations peacekeeping dues on time and in full. The Budget also provides $1.4 billion for the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). This investment restores the United States’ historical role as the largest World Bank donor to support the development of low- and middle-income countries, which benefits the American people by increasing global stability, mitigating climate and health risks, and developing new markets for U.S exports.
  • Advances Equity and Equality Globally. The Budget provides $2.6 billion to advance gender equity and equality across a broad range of sectors. This includes $200 million for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund to advance the economic security of women and girls. This total also includes funding to strengthen the participation of women in conflict prevention, resolution, and recovery through the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Act.
  • Advances American Leadership in Global Health, Including Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness. The Budget includes $10.6 billion to bolster U.S. leadership in addressing global health and health security challenges. Within this total, the Budget supports a $2 billion contribution to the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment, for an intended pledge of $6 billion over three years, to save lives and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and to support the Global Fund’s expanding response to COVID-19 and global health strengthening. This total also includes $1 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to future infections disease outbreaks, including the continued expansion of Global Health Security Agenda capacity-building programs and a multilateral financial intermediary fund for health security and pandemic preparedness

 
Strengthening America’s Public Health & Advancing Cures for Cancer and Other Diseases
 

  • Prepares for Future Pandemics and Other Biological Threats. In addition to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States must catalyze advances in science, technology, and core capabilities to prepare for future biological threats. The Budget makes transformative investments in pandemic preparedness across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—$81.7 billion available over five years—to enable an agile, coordinated, and comprehensive public health response to protect American lives, families, and the economy.
     
  • Builds Advanced Public Health Systems and Capacity. The Budget includes $9.9 billion to build capacity at CDC and state and local levels to improve the core immunization program, expand public health infrastructure in States and Territories, strengthen the public health workforce, support efforts to modernize public health data collection, increase capacity for forecasting and analyzing future outbreaks, including at the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, and conduct studies on Long COVID to inform diagnosis and treatment options.
     
  • Transforms Mental Health Care. The United States faces a mental health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget proposes reforms to health coverage and invests in the behavioral health workforce. It provides sustained and increased funding for community-based centers and clinics, and mental health staff in schools, makes historic investments in youth mental health and suicide prevention programs, and strengthens access to crisis services by building out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and crisis services infrastructure. These resources will help build system capacity, connect more Americans to care, and create a system of support to improve mental health for all.
  • Advances Maternal Health and Health Equity. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with an unacceptably high mortality rate for Black and American Indian and Alaska Native women. The Budget includes $470 million to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates, expand maternal health initiatives in rural communities, implement implicit bias training for healthcare providers, create pregnancy medical home projects, and address the highest rates of perinatal disparities. The Budget also expands maternal and other health initiatives in rural communities to improve access to high-quality care.
  • Accelerates Innovation through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H)The Budget proposes a major investment of $5 billion for ARPA-H, significantly increasing direct Federal research and development (R&D) spending in health to improve the health of all Americans. With an initial focus on cancer and other diseases such as diabetes and dementia, this major investment will drive transformational innovation in health technologies and speed the application and implementation of health breakthroughs.

 
Taking Historic Steps to Combat the Climate Crisis and Advance Environmental Justice
 

  • Invests in Clean Energy Infrastructure and Innovation. The Budget invests $3.3 billion to support clean energy projects that will create good paying jobs, continue to cut to cost of clean energy, and drive progress toward President Biden’s climate goals. Investments include $502 million to weatherize and retrofit low-income homes, including $100 million for a new LIHEAP Advantage pilot to electrify and decarbonize low-income homes, and $260 million to support energy efficiency improvements to USDA-assisted multifamily homes. In addition, the Budget provides $150 million to electrify Tribal homes and transition Tribal colleges and universities to renewable energy, and $80 million for a new Grid Deployment Office to build the grid of the future.
  • Strengthens Climate Resilience. The Budget provides more than $18 billion for climate resilience and adaptation programs across the Federal Government. These critical investments will reduce the risk of damages from floods and storms, restore the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems, and make HUD-assisted multifamily homes more climate resilient. In line with President Biden’s commitment to ensure the American’s fighting wildfires earn $15 an hour, the Budget includes $1.8 billion in the Forest Service and Department of the Interior to strengthen the Federal firefighting workforce, increase capacity, and improve firefighter compensation.
  • Advances Equity and Environmental Justice. The Budget provides historic support for underserved communities, and advances the President’s Justice40 commitment to ensure 40 percent of the benefits of Federal investments in climate and clean energy reach disadvantaged communities. The Budget includes $1.45 billion to bolster the EPA’s environment justice efforts that will help create good-paying jobs, clean up pollution, implement Justice40, advance racial equity, and secure environmental justice for communities that too often have been left behind
     
  • Achieves the President’s Historic Climate Pledge. The Budget includes over $11 billion in international climate finance, meeting the President’s pledge to quadruple international climate finance a year early. This funding will accelerate the global energy transition to net zero emissions by 2050; help developing countries build resilience to the growing impacts of climate change, including through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience and other programs; and support the implementation of the President’s Plan to Conserve Global Forests. Among these critical investments are $1.6 billion for the Green Climate Fund, a critical multilateral tool for financing climate adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries and support for a $3.2 billion loan to the Clean Technology Fund to finance clean energy projects in developing countries.
     

Expanding Economic Opportunity, Advancing Equity, and Strengthening our Democracy

  • Makes Historic Investments in K-12 Schools and Education Beyond High School. The Budget more than doubles funding for Title I compared to the 2021 enacted level through a combination of discretionary and mandatory funding. This substantial funding, which serves 25 million students in nearly 90 percent of school districts across America, is a major step toward fulfilling the President’s commitment to addressing long-standing funding disparities between under-resourced schools—which disproportionately serve students of color—and their wealthier counterparts. The Budget increases support for children with disabilities by providing a $3.3 billion increase for IDEA Grants to States – the largest two-year increase ever for the program. The budget also doubles funding for IDEA Grants for Infants and Families and proposes to reforms to increase equitable access to early intervention services with a proven record for improving academic and developmental outcomes. The Budget also provides $1 billion in sustainable funding to help schools increase the number of school counselors, psychologists, social workers and other health professionals. The Budget provides an additional $438 million for Full Service Community Schools, ramping up the mental health and wraparound supports in schools for students and their families. The Budget proposes to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029, beginning with a historic $2,175 increase over the 2021-2022 school year, thereby expanding access and helping nearly 6.7 million students afford college.
     
  • Advances Child and Family Well-Being in the Child Welfare System. The Budget proposes to expand and incentivize the use of evidence-based foster care prevention services to keep families safely together and to reduce the number of children entering foster care, while also targeting resources to reduce the overrepresentation of children and families of color in the child welfare system. For children who do need to be placed into foster care, the Budget provides States with support to place more children with relatives or other adults who have an existing emotional bond with the child and fewer children in group homes and institutions while also providing additional funding to improve the educational outcomes of foster youth and support youth who age out of care without a permanent caregiver.
  • Guarantees Adequate and Stable Funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The Budget significantly increases IHS’s funding over time, and shifts it from discretionary to mandatory funding. For the first year of the proposal, the Budget includes $9.1 billion in mandatory funding, an increase of $2.9 billion above 2021. After that, IHS funding would automatically grow to keep pace with healthcare costs and population growth and gradually close longstanding service and facility shortfalls. Providing IHS stable and predictable funding will improve access to high quality healthcare, rectify historical underfunding of the Indian Health system, eliminate existing facilities backlogs, address health inequities, and modernize IHS’ electronic health record system.

Protects Our Elections and the Right to Vote. As our democracy faces threats across the country—and to provide state and local election officials with a predictable funding stream for critical capital investments and increased staffing and services—the Budget proposes $10 billion in new elections assistance funding to be allocated over ten years. The Budget also proposes to fund an expansion of U.S. Postal Service delivery capacity in underserved areas and support for vote-by-mail, including making ballots postage-free and reducing the cost of other election-related mail for jurisdictions and voters.

Biden Takes Action to Reduce Pain of ‘Putin’s Price Hike’ at the Pump

Americans are recoiling at rising prices at the pump, failing to appreciate that Europeans are seeing prices rise 45%, and despite the fact our supplies are not impacted by the embargo on Russian oil. Rather, Big Oil continues to record record profits, use windfall profits to buy back stock, reward shareholders and pay bonuses to CEOs. President Biden is appealing to the companies’ “patriotism” by pumping more supply and not pocketing quite as much, and also warning against price-gouging. He is also pushing the oil companies to utilize unused leases. The White House provided a fact sheet detailing how President Biden is responding to what he has dubbed “Putin’s Price Hike” at the pump © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Americans are recoiling at rising prices at the pump, failing to appreciate that Europeans are seeing prices rise 45%, and despite the fact our supplies are not impacted by the embargo on Russian oil. Rather, Big Oil continues to record record profits, use windfall profits to buy back stock, reward shareholders and pay bonuses to CEOs. President Biden is appealing to the companies’ “patriotism” by pumping more supply and not pocketing quite as much, and also warning against price-gouging. He is also pushing the oil companies to utilize unused leases. Here is a fact sheet from the White House of how President Biden is responding to what he has dubbed “Putin’s Price Hike” at the pump: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Americans face rising prices at the pump because of Putin’s Price Hike.  Since Putin accelerated his military build-up around Ukraine, gas prices have increased by nearly a dollar per gallon.  Because of Putin’s war of choice, less oil is getting to market, and the reduction in supply is raising prices at the pump for Americans.  President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to help American families who are paying more out of pocket as a result.  That is why President Biden announced a two-part plan to ease the pain that families are feeling by increasing the supply of oil starting immediately and achieving lasting American energy independence that reduces demand for oil and bolsters our clean energy economy. 
 
Immediately Increasing Supply
 
At the start of this year, gas was about $3.30 a gallon.  Today, it’s over $4.20, an increase of nearly $1.  And now, a significant amount of Russian oil is not making it to market.  The President banned the import of Russian oil – which Republicans and Democrats in Congress called for and supported.  It was the right thing to do.  But, as the President said, Russian oil coming off the global market would come with a cost, and Americans are seeing that at the pump.
 
The first part of the President’s plan is to immediately increase supply by doing everything we can to encourage domestic production now and through a historic release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to serve as a bridge to greater supply in the months ahead.
 
Increasing Domestic Production
 
The fact is that there is nothing standing in the way of domestic oil production. The United States is already approaching record levels of oil and natural gas production. There are oil companies that are doing the right thing and committing to ramp up production now.  Right now, domestic production is expected to increase by 1 million barrels per day this year and nearly 700,000 barrels per day next year.
 
Still, too many companies aren’t doing their part and are choosing to make extraordinary profits and without making additional investment to help with supply.  One CEO even acknowledged that, even if the price goes to $200 a barrel, they’re not going to step up production. 
 
Right now, the oil and gas industry is sitting on more than 12 million acres of non-producing Federal land with 9,000 unused but already-approved permits for production. Today, President Biden is calling on Congress to make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing. Companies that are producing from their leased acres and existing wells will not face higher fees. But companies that continue to sit on non-producing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre.
 
Historic Release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a Bridge Through the Crisis

After consultation with allies and partners, the President will announce the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average – every day – for the next six months. The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time. This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.
 
The Department of Energy will use the revenue from the release to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in future years. This will provide a signal of future demand and help encourage domestic production today, and will ensure the continued readiness of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to respond to future emergencies.  
 
President Biden is coordinating this action with allies and partners around the world, and other countries are expected to join in this action, bringing the total release to well over an average 1 million barrels per day.
 
Achieving Real American Energy Independence
 
The United States is the largest oil producer in the world and is a net energy exporter.  Despite that, the actions of a dictator half a world away can still impact American families’ pocketbooks. The President will announce his commitment to achieving real energy independence – which centers on reducing our dependence on oil altogether.
 
The President will call on Congress to pass his plan to speed the transition to clean energy that is made in America.  His plan will help ensure that America creates millions of good-paying union jobs in clean, cutting-edge industries for generations to come. And it will save American families money in the immediate future – including more than $950 a year in gas savings from taking advantage of electric vehicles, and an additional $500 a year from using clean electricity like solar and heat pumps to power their homes.   
 
And, the President will issue a directive, authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act to secure American production of critical materials to bolster our clean energy economy by reducing our reliance on China and other countries for the minerals and materials that will power our clean energy future.  Specifically, the DPA will be authorized to support the production and processing of minerals and materials used for large capacity batteries–such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese—and the Department of Defense will implement this authority using strong environmental, labor, community, and tribal consultation standards. The sectors supported by these large capacity batteries—transportation and the power sector—account for more than half of our nation’s carbon emissions.  The President is also reviewing potential further uses of DPA – in addition to minerals and materials – to secure safer, cleaner, and more resilient energy for America.
 
This week alone, President Biden announced historic efforts to increase energy efficiency and lower costs for consumers.  The Department of Energy opened applications for more than $3 billion in new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding—ten times the historical funding levels of the Weatherization Assistance Program—for energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in thousands of homes that will save families hundreds of dollars on utility bills.  The Administration also advanced smart standards that will lower consumer costs, including a roadmap of 100 actions this year that will save families $100 annually through more efficient home appliances and equipment, as well as new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks to save drivers money at the pump.  And the Administration is seeking additional opportunities to ramp up the deployment of heat pumps to displace fuel burned in buildings, as well as programs to drive efficiency, electrification, and use of clean fuels in the industrial sector.

Diplomacy, Economic Development , US Global Leadership Are Key to Biden’s New Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability

Letter from the President on the Implementation of the Global Fragility Act

 

President Joe Biden, speaking in Warsaw, points to Russia’s unprovoked, criminal invasion of Ukraine in advancing his U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, in which the United States plays a leadership role – maximizing diplomacy and economic development – in helping countries address the root causes of conflict. ‘The world stands today at the dawn of a decisive decade — a moment of consequence and peril, of profound pain and extraordinary possibility.  Perhaps now more than ever, we have seen how the most urgent challenges of our time do not confine themselves within national borders. .. It is against this backdrop — at this inflection point in history — that America must lead.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

The world stands today at the dawn of a decisive decade — a moment of consequence and peril, of profound pain and extraordinary possibility.  Perhaps now more than ever, we have seen how the most urgent challenges of our time do not confine themselves within national borders.  A global pandemic that has claimed more than six million lives.  A climate crisis that threatens the future of every continent.  An emboldening of autocrats who believe that democracy and multilateralism cannot deliver in the 21st century.  These tests, and more, are among the sternest that the world has ever faced.
 
It is against this backdrop — at this inflection point in history — that America must lead.  We know all too well that today’s most pressing challenges — their root causes as well as their impacts — are global in nature.  We know that America’s security and success hinge in no small measure on the peace and stability of the world beyond our borders.  We know that beneath the global crises we face lie breathtaking opportunities for our Nation and the world — if we can summon the will to seize them.
 
This document — a prologue to the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability — represents an assertion of American leadership to take on the defining global challenges of our time.  Driven in large part by the tireless commitment of humanitarian advocates and civil society organizations working on the front lines of conflict, this Strategy is the product of a bipartisan vision, manifested by the passage of the Global Fragility Act in December 2019 with overwhelming bipartisan majorities.  It provides a roadmap:  a 10-year effort to strengthen the security and prosperity of people everywhere by helping to fortify the footing of parts of the world that continue to grapple with challenges that can lead to destabilizing conflict and violence.  It is, in short, an investment in global peace and security — one which will deliver critical returns not only in the nations with whom we’ll be working, but, most of all, here in the United States.
 
The heartbreaking images we are seeing in Ukraine — the result of a vicious and unprovoked attack by Vladimir Putin — are only the latest reminder of the tragic consequences of global conflict and the need to avert violence before it erupts.  We know that working broadly, strategically, and cooperatively to prevent conflict and instability is the greatest investment we can make in America’s future, and in the future of the entire world.  In Ukraine, as in Ethiopia, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere around the world, the incalculable toll of lives lost, families separated, economies destroyed, and social fabrics torn threatens to spiral whole regions into cycles of violence and loss that can linger for generations.  Doing all that we can to assist communities around the world in their conflict prevention efforts is more than just the right thing to do.  It saves lives, safeguards Americans’ own security and prosperity, and establishes the United States as a trusted partner — a force for peace and stability in the world, and a nation that can be counted on to work and learn productively alongside the nations of every region to tackle common challenges and strengthen our shared future.
 
This Strategy lays out a whole-of-government approach to advancing America’s national interests on the world stage.  This means tapping into the expansive expertise and resources that reside across our Government, sharpening and updating those tools where needed, humbly applying the costly and painful lessons from the past, and transforming the way we work with each other.  Our diplomats, officers, and experts in the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasury, and others across Government, as well as members of the Foreign Service and Armed Forces, will work in close cooperation with multilateral organizations and a wide variety of local partners in each nation where these efforts will be pursued — including civil society organizations, community leaders, businesses, and government officials. 

Those who are closest and most vulnerable to these challenges know best where the opportunities for peace and stability lie — they represent the strongest source of promise and immunity from destabilizing forces, and we must support their strength and resilience.  From strengthening social institutions and state-society relations, to mitigating the spread of extremist ideologies, to confronting the corrosive impact of gender inequality, to cultivating greater trust between security forces and citizens, to guarding against the destabilizing threat of climate change — we will help foster locally led, locally owned solutions grounded in mutual trust and long-term accountability.
 
Prevention is hard work — measured not in days and weeks, but in years and generations.  Its successes are never as evident as its failures, and it requires us to remain focused on lasting peace and stability over the allure of easier, more temporary gains that may not strengthen our position in the long term.  But, with this Strategy, we are committing ourselves to the effort.  As we implement this Strategy, my Administration looks forward to working closely with the Congress on a bipartisan basis, and in close consultation with civil society institutions and stakeholders on every level.  United in our vision, America can and must lead this essential new effort to interrupt potential pathways to conflict, alleviate threats before they escalate and arrive on our shores, and help safeguard the economy, health, and security of our Nation for generations to come. –Joseph R. Biden, Jr. 
 

Addressing the Collective Challenges of our Time:

Implementing the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability

Every country, including our own, experiences risks and challenges related to stability and conflict.  The international community grapples with issues that cut across borders, societies, ways of life, and economies.  As the world has witnessed too often, the effects of conflict and instability are not constrained by borders or technologies.  Cooperation and long-term investments in conflict prevention and stabilization are needed now more than ever to build peace across divided communities and boundaries.  We must collectively bolster societal resilience to prevent and reduce the heavy human and financial costs of conflicts that undermine global peace, security and sustainable development. 
 
On March 24, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration launched the implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability with partner countries across the globe.  The Strategy outlines a ten-year, evidence-based, whole-of-government effort to foster peace and long-term stability through integrated U.S. diplomacy, development, and security-sector engagement with dual goals of strengthening national and regional peace, resilience and stability and enhancing the way our government operates in a variety of contexts.
 
Through collective action and partnership, the United States seeks to advance the vision and goals of the landmark Global Fragility Act through this Strategy in four diverse countries and one sub-region facing a wide variety of challenges to peace and stability.  This Strategy advances U.S. national security and interests.  The work now underway represents an important milestone, and next step, in the implementation of the Global Fragility Act, which continues to enjoy strong support within the U.S. Congress and among civil society.  Through a spirit of partnership, we can and will build on strengths of communities, governments, and nations to rebound from shocks, confront negative global trends and create new paradigms for broader cooperation.  The Strategy and Prologue chart a new path toward positive results that strengthen democracy, rule of law, security, good governance, gender equity and equality, health, education, and respect for human rights all aligned to fuel reservoirs of peace, strength and recovery and extinguish potential discord before it is sparked.
 
The United States will partner with Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and Coastal West Africa (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo) guided by these principles:

  • Work collaboratively with government and civic partners on an integrated approach to prevent conflict, promote resilience and stability, and advance economic development;
     
  • Look beyond urgent crises and near-term needs to focus on mutually determined strategic goals and interests through whole-of-government ten-year plans;
     
  • Utilize development, diplomacy, and security-sector means in a coordinated way to support the pursuit of goals, foster an enabling environment, and solidify progress;
     
  • Provide new tools and insights to strengthen democratic institutions, for example in the areas of rule of law, anti-corruption, law enforcement, and fiscal transparency, and to promote human rights and gender equity and equality;
     
  • Adapt to and learning from changing conditions, anchor efforts in local communities, and make strategic adjustments based on joint analyses, research, and monitoring and evaluation; and
     
  • Take a multifaceted approach to address other current and emerging challenges, such as the climate crisis, global pandemics and declining democratic practices. 

The U.S. Congress authorized up to $200 million a year for these efforts and appropriated $125 million in Fiscal Year 2022 for the Prevention and Stabilization Fund, which supplements existing bilateral U.S. assistance to these partner countries.  This funding will support the development of ten-year implementation plans and related regional and multilateral activities.

The Biden-Harris Administration will closely monitor progress, milestones, and accomplishments under the Strategy.  These efforts will endure across future U.S. Administrations and advance much needed innovative approaches to peace and stability.

Read the Biden letter on the Global Fragility Act Implementation