Returning for its 97th edition this year, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® officially ushered in the holiday season on November 23 with the time-honored phrase 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Let’s Have A Parade™
The Macy’s Parade is a massive extravaganza with 16 featured character balloons, 26 floats, 32 heritage and novelty balloons, more than 700 clowns, 12 marching bands and nine performance groups and 5,000 volunteers.
The 97th edition of the beloved tradition kicked off at 8:30 am, extended by 30 minutes, to accommodate more entertainment and spectacle than ever before featuring performances by music legend Cher, Jon Batiste; Bell Biv DeVoe; Brandy; Broadway’s “& Juliet,” “Back to the Future: The Musical,” “How To Dance In Ohio,” “Shucked” and “Spamalot,” with a special appearance by Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells of “Gutenberg! The Musical!;” Chicago; U.S. Olympic Silver Medalist Jordan Chiles; En Vogue; ENHYPEN; U.S. Paralympian Ezra Frech; David Foster and Katharine McPhee; Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors; Jessie James Decker; U.S. Paralympic Gold Medalist Jessica Long; Ashley Park with the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street®; Pentatonix; the Radio City Rockettes®; Paul Russell; Amanda Shaw and Alex Smith; Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke; and Manuel Turizo, many of whom floated down the parade route, enroute to 34th Street.
“For nearly 100 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been synonymous with the beginning of the holiday season, celebration and togetherness,” said Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Our talented team of Macy’s Studios artisans and production specialists work year-round to deliver the nation’s most beloved holiday event, live on Thanksgiving morning. We are proud to hold this responsibility and look forward to sharing our unbelievable designs, larger-than-life character balloons and first-class entertainment, all sure to create lifelong memories for Parade fans nationwide.”
Taking flight on Thanksgiving were the Parade’s signature character balloons. Since their introduction in 1927, these larger-than-life balloons showcase some of the world’s most beloved and iconic characters.
This year, seven new featured balloons made their debut, including Beagle Scout Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide; Blue Cat & Chugs by Cool Cats, a digitally native character; Kung Fu Panda’s Po by Universal Pictures’ Dreamworks Animation; Leo by Netflix, Inc.; Monkey D. Luffy by Toei Animation Inc.; Pillsbury Doughboy™ by Pillsbury™; and Uncle Dan by Illumination.
Making a return appearance were featured character balloons including Bluey, joined for the first time by her favorite “Keepy Uppy” red balloon, by BBC Studios; Diary Of A Wimpy Kid® by Abrams Books (who suffered a bit of a mishap on his way down Central Park West); DINO and Baby DINO by HF Sinclair; Goku by Toei Animation Inc.; a Funko Pop!-inspired Grogu™ by Funko ; Chase from Paw Patrol® by Spin Master & Nickelodeon; Pikachu™ & Eevee™ by The Pokémon Company International; Red Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch; Ronald McDonald® by McDonald’s® USA; SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon; and Stuart The Minion by Illumination.
Balloon handlers showed their strength and skill in keeping the balloons afloat against the cross-town gusts of wind.
The inflatable lineup also included HF Sinclair’s Baby DINOs, the Go Bowling™ balloonicles; Smokey Bear by the USDA Forest Service; A Merry Moment by Universal Orlando Resort featuring candy cane & poinsettia balloons, stilt walkers and dancing Christmas trees; and Macy’s very own special reindeer Tiptoe.
Entertainers on Board
Throughout the streets of New York City and on-board Macy’s signature floating stages spectators enjoyed exhilarating performances from artists including Bell Biv DeVoe; Brandy; Chicago; En Vogue; ENHYPEN; David Foster and Katharine McPhee; Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors; Jessie James Decker; Ashley Park with the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street®; Pentatonix; Paul Russell; Amanda Shaw and Alex Smith; and Manuel Turizo. U.S. Olympic Silver Medalist Jordan Chiles (Gymnastics), U.S. Paralympian Ezra Frech (Track and Field), U.S. Paralympic Gold Medalist Jessica Long (Swimming) and Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke will also join the festivities.
The skilled artisans of Macy’s Studios work year-round to create the whimsical designs that float down the streets of New York City on Parade morning. Conceived, designed, engineered and built at the Macy’s Parade Studio – a design and production facility that includes carpenters, engineers, electricians, painters, animators, balloon technicians, sculptors, metal fabricators, scenic and costume designers – these magical stages are created to transport Parade fans across the country to fantastical places.
This year four new floats debuted in the Macy’s Parade celebration. The floating stages, along with their scheduled performers, include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem by Nickelodeon & Paramount (Bell Biv DeVoe); Palace of Sweets by Brach’s® (Brandy); Igniting Memories by Solo Stove (Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors); and The Deliciously Delectable World of Wonka by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Returning floats and respective scheduled performers included 1-2-3 Sesame Street® by Sesame Workshop™ (the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street® & Ashley Park); Big City Cheer! by Spirit Of America Productions (Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke); Big Turkey Spectacular by Jennie-O (Paul Russell); Birds Of A Feather Stream Together by Peacock® (with an appearance by U.S. Olympic Silver Medalist Jordan Chiles and U.S. Paralympic Gold Medalist Jessica Long); The Brick-Changer by The LEGO Group (Manuel Turizo); Camp Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide; Celebration Gator by Louisiana Office of Tourism (Alex Smith & Amanda Shaw).
Also: Colossal Wave Of Wonder by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (En Vogue); Deck The Halls by Balsam Hill® (Jessie James Decker); Elf Pets® by The Lumistella Company®; Fantasy Chocolate Factory by Kinder® (Pentatonix); Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party by Toys“R”Us; Harvest In The Valley by Green Giant®; Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (David Foster & Katharine McPhee); Magic Meets The Sea by Disney Cruise Line (Captain Minnie Mouse, Captain Mickey Mouse and Friends); Pinkfong Baby Shark by The Pinkfong Company & Nickelodeon (ENHYPEN); People Of First Light ; Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Tom Turkey; Winter Wonderland in Central Park; and The Wondership by Wonder (Chicago).
Specialty units for the 2023 Macy’s Parade included Big Red Shoe Car ® by McDonald’s® and the Good Burgermobile by Nickelodeon & Paramount+ .
Completing the float lineup was a special appearance by the Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree, featuring a holiday choir comprised of Macy’s colleagues with Bigs and Littles from Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). The creation of this special ensemble furthers Macy’s commitment to youth empowerment through its social purpose platform, Mission Every One, celebrating the power of mentorship and a multiyear partnership between Macy’s and BBBS.
Completing the entertainment lineup were dynamic performance groups, charged with entertaining the crowds along the streets of Manhattan and delivering a show-stopping performance on 34th Street. These groups include the Big Apple Circus; Cornell Bhangra from Ithaca, NY; Tiptoe’s Winter Guard, accompanying Tiptoe; the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters; Maria Verdeja School of Arts (MVSA) dancers from Miami; St. John’s Dance; and the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees from California.
Rounding out the performance lineup are the young dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance and Spirit of America Cheer. These two groups together include more than 1,200 of the best dancers and cheerleader performers.
Strike Up the Band
The Macy’s Parade holds a cherished and longstanding tradition of showcasing the nation’s finest marching bands, including NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY). Also:.
Santa Comes to Town!
The arrival of Santa is the exciting climax to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The procession marched down its signature 2.5-mile route taking it from Central Park West to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and then marching down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the Parade made its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s iconic Herald Square flagship. TODAY’s” Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker hosted the Emmy®-Award winning celebration.
The Macy’s parade people are already planning for the 2024 edition, which will mark the 100th anniversary since the first parade, in 1924.
Data Tracked by New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Shows 425 Percent Increase in Online Hate Speech Against Jewish Communities and 417 Percent Increase Against Muslim Communities
Governor Deploys $3 Million to Expand State’s Successful Threat Assessment and Management Team Model to All College Campuses; Builds on State Efforts to Combat Extremist Violence Launched in the Wake of White Supremacist Mass Shooting in Buffalo
Governor Directs Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop a Media Literacy Tool Kit for K-12 Schools to Provide Critical Training and Resources to Youth; State Creates Informational Guide For Parents to Talk to Their Children About Online Hate Speech this Holiday Weekend
Governor Kathy Hochul is deploying new resources to continue combating the ongoing rise in online hate speech across New York, including allocating $3 million to expand the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s Threat Assessment and Management training to all colleges and universities in New York State.
The Governor also directed the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop and distribute a media literacy toolkit to help public school educators teach their students how to spot misinformation/disinformation/malinformation (“MDM”) online, sent a letter to major social media companies calling for increased monitoring of content that could incite violence, and released an informational guide for parents to help start conversations around the destructive impacts of hate and hate speech with young adults upon their returns home during the holiday season.
These actions follow a 400 percent increase in nationwide antisemitic and Islamophobic threats online since the beginning of October and the continued spread of hate speech in online spaces.
“The rising tide of hate is putting all New Yorkers at risk — and as Governor, I’m committed to tackling this crisis head-on,” Governor Hochul said. “We’re deploying physical security resources, expanding our Threat Management and Assessment teams, calling for stronger action from social media companies, and encouraging families and communities to come together to fight hate. New York has always been a beacon of hope, tolerance and inclusivity, and we will be defined by how we come together to condemn hate in all forms.”
In remarks introducing the measures, Governor Hochul said:
Across our state, New Yorkers are afraid. If they have family or friends in Israel, in Gaza, other places, they’re afraid for their safety. At home, many people are wrestling with the fear for the first time ever sometime in their lives of being the victim of a hate crime. I wish I could tell you these concerns were misplaced, but tragically the data all across America is showing that hate crimes have surged in the last six weeks.
Since October 7, there has been a 400 percent increase in threats against Jews, Muslims, and Arabs. And make no mistake, we’ve not stood idly by. My number one priority has been and will continue to be protecting the safety of our residents. That’s why I want to inform you about some of the actions that we’re taking to keep New Yorkers safe from extremism and violence.
We have a four pillar plan. It’s comprehensive and it’s far reaching. First of all, we’re strengthening physical security of locations. We’re also making the digital world safer by identifying credible, online threats. And we’re also calling out social media companies who have failed their responsibility to create a safe, public square. And creating resources and toolkits for parents and schools alike.
First, let me share how we’ve already taken action to protect our vulnerable communities safe, and to protect physical security. Two weeks ago, I told New Yorkers we were activating law enforcement to protect them. We mobilized State Police to protect at risk sites. We established a hate and bias reporting hotline. We made $50 million available for local law enforcement, $25 million to protect vulnerable locations.
We also encouraged the use and understanding of our red flag laws to ensure that guns don’t get into the hate filled hands of individuals looking to do harm to others. That’s just the start. Let’s talk today about what we’re trying to do to make the digital world safer. We know that social media is an emotion amplifier. If the emotion is love, and that’s amplified, that is a good dynamic. If the emotion is hate, and that’s amplified, that’s the chaos that we’re falling into today.
It can also amplify the hate that just boils up from this toxic stew of ignorance, and it becomes festered online. So we’re creating strategies, for the first time ever, to help identify hate at the source and prevent crimes before they occur. As I’ve often said, I’d rather be in the business of preventing crimes than solving them.
And that’s where our threat assessment and management teams come in – the TAM teams. This is an initiative I actually launched over a year and a half ago in the aftermath of the Buffalo Massacre after a racist shooting by a white supremacist who targeted 10 of my neighbors. That’s when we activated more surveillance of critical threats for harm online.
They work to track and stop violent acts of hate before they happen. And today, I’m announcing $3 million in additional investment to ensure that every single college campus now has these in the State of New York. So let me be clear. These teams are working to identify violent threats. They’re not looking at your Instagram sunset post or your tweets about your favorite football team.
And they’re not here to penalize anyone for their political views. They have a simple goal, to find out what’s driving hateful behavior and intervene early before harm is done. And to give people who are being radicalized online an off ramp. They work with mental health professionals, establish reporting systems, so classmates and others can raise red flags and train adults on how to spot the warning signs.
We have 36 county-based TAM teams right now. Again, these are the threat assessment and management teams. They’re already tackling over 50 cases now as we speak. But that’s just one strategy to help protect New Yorkers online. We’re building off the success of other initiatives. We already use targeted ads to encourage people to anonymously seek help from trained counselors. We have that going on as we speak.
But also, help parents understand what’s available to them. If they start seeing signs that their own child could be radicalized online, because I assure you, most parents are never aware. And we’re also continuing to train our mental health professionals in de-radicalization strategies. But here’s the truth, so much of this hate originates on social media platforms like TikTok who refuse to take action necessary to protect our children and young people.
Just look at what happened this week. A prominent message, shared on TikTok, was one from none other than the mastermind of the 9/11 massacre of thousands of New Yorkers, Osama bin Laden. It was shocking to see young people extolling the virtues of a terrorist kingpin. That only proves the power that social media has over our young people. And therefore, they have a responsibility.
I refuse to accept this as the new status quo. That’s why I’m pushing back against these companies, pushing back hard. And as the steward of the 21st Century public square, TikTok and other social media companies, they must start to regulate vile hate speech that originates on their platforms.
They say they do this, but it’s a responsibility they’ve obviously neglected to uphold. That’s why I’ve called out the leadership of every major social media company to express not just my indignation, but to demand that they take concrete action to reduce the sickening hate that is being spread on their sites.
They need better oversight, they need larger moderation teams, and greater transparency. And I told them that in a letter that I’ll be releasing to all of them today. I’m expecting a response. I’m expecting a response from all of them.
Now you know what we’re doing in our attempt to stop hate on social media. I want to be clear about what we’re not doing. We’re not preventing anyone from exercising their First Amendment rights to speak. We’re not preventing anyone’s right to peacefully assemble. We’re not blocking anyone from expressing opposition or support for political or military action in the Middle East. That’s what we’re not doing. But we’re not tolerating the spread of hate. That’s the difference.
And the final component of our efforts centers around empowering educators and parents about the power of these radicalization efforts, and how to take steps for de-radicalization, to dial down the temperature, to bring back some sense of calm and normalcy that seems to be so evasive these days.
Let’s start with our schools. Today I’m directing the Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop media literacy tools for K-12 in our public schools. This will teach students, and even teachers, to help understand how to spot conspiracy theories and misinformation, disinformation, and online hate. Start talking about what we’re seeing out there. Give the teachers the tools they need to help these conversations in school.
And by teaching younger New Yorkers about how to discern between digital fact and digital fiction, we can better inoculate them from hatred and the spread of it and help prepare them for a very fast moving and often confusing world.
And now I want to speak to parents directly. As a mom, I know as we approach this holiday season, Thanksgiving, it offers a meaningful and sometimes rare opportunity to gather everyone around the table – your children, younger, high school students, college kids who may be home for the first time since they left you in August. I encourage you to talk to your kids, not just about the rise in hate, but listen to them too.
Ask them what’s going on in their school and on their campuses and what their friends are talking about. Be the adult in the room. Listen to them, but help them find the path. What are they seeing? What does it feel like? Are they subjected to this? Are they seeing their classmates being so hurt by vile speech and signs at protests? How does it make them feel? Encourage your children, especially the older ones. Don’t just be a bystander, be an upstander. Stand up for your classmates, stand up for your friends.
And talk about engaging each other in a respectful, tolerant way because the lessons that are being taught now, what young people are absorbing and understanding, will be with them for the rest of their lives. This is a time of great influence on our young people. And parents have a responsibility and an opportunity to guide them to do what’s right so as adults, they understand the beauty of diversity, celebrate our differences. But also, if you’re a parent who’s worried about the path your child is on, you’re seeing things, you’re hearing things, you’re anxious, there are opportunities for you as well.
Explain to your children the difference between disagreeing on a policy that a government may take and displaying hate toward an entire group of innocent people. There is a difference. And counselors are available to help parents as well with the messaging, how you help reduce the tension.
The only way that New York State stands true to our core values of tolerance and inclusivity is for all of us to do our part to create the kind of society we want to live in. At the end of the day, what is New York but a place that’s comprised of people from all over the world? They come here because they’re persecuted elsewhere. They came here for a better life. Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Black, Brown, White, young, old – it doesn’t matter. They all came here. They’re living here, and there’s so much out there that should bring us together instead of driving us further apart. We don’t always have to agree with each other. I don’t expect we will. Most people don’t agree with the person sitting across them at the Thanksgiving dinner table. But that’s all right. Just do it with respect and a foundation of understanding and love.
And honestly, that’s what the majority of New Yorkers are doing. Most of us walk through the world with care in our hearts and reject hate wherever it appears. That’s why I will not allow our state to be defined by the angry few that peddle in hate and violence. Instead, as Governor, I’ll continue to remind us of our shared values so going forward, we’ll be defined by how we come together to condemn, with one voice, the evils of antisemitism and Islamophobia, which are so rampant today.
As always, the nation, and indeed the world, are watching, waiting for New York to lead. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here today.
With a new $3 million investment in the DHSES’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s (DTPU) the State will expand its Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) training and support to all colleges and universities statewide.
The DTPU will conduct training for New York State colleges and universities; educate school administrators, professors, and staff on how to develop and maintain TAM teams; and provide constant training to supported entities. DHSES will also help connect existing networks that are currently operational within the SUNY and CUNY systems and ensure information sharing between these new college and university TAM efforts and the county-led multidisciplinary TAM teams being established across the state since the May 2022 domestic terror attack in Buffalo, New York.
Under this effort, these new TAM Teams would:
Use multidisciplinary teams of trained professionals to assess risk and create management plans for individuals on the pathway to violence;
Recognize concerning behaviors and define appropriate escalation protocols;
Establish a centralized reporting mechanism to receive reports of concerning behaviors from students and other bystanders; and
Educate administrative staff and professors on risk factors and warning signs to identify concerning behaviors early before an escalation to violence.
Recent international events have had direct impacts here in New York, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the War in Ukraine. Each have led to a surge in the on-line spread of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. MDM has been used by foreign adversaries and domestic extremists to sow divisions among New Yorkers and reduce community cohesion, as well as cause anxiety, fear, and confusion. With the prevalence of MDM, and an increasing percentage of young people receiving their news and information through online sources, its important students are prepared to think critically about the sources of information they engage with and how to interpret it.
As part of the new media literacy program, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) will partner with education experts in media literacy to develop and distribute an age-appropriate, ideologically neutral toolkit on media literacy for students in primary and secondary schools throughout New York. This proven approach to understanding information will develop students’ ability to analyze, evaluate, and assess all forms of media including information delivered through social media. Utilizing various age-dependent trainings, this media literacy toolkit will encourage critical thinking and create a better understanding of how media systems work and the many equities that may be in play when someone chooses to distribute information online.
The holidays are also a time to reflect on the importance of family and what it means to be part of a community as unique and diverse as New York. As the holidays approach, the Governor is calling on New York families to discuss the importance of inclusivity, pluralism, and rejecting bigotry. With so many college and university students returning home for Thanksgiving, New York has produced an informational guide for parents to help start conversations around the destructive impacts of hate and hate speech.
“There has been a disturbing rise in online hate, especially when it comes to antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-Arab threats. Now more than ever, its critical young adults have the tools they need to be able to critically analyze what they see online and help prevent the further spread of hateful rhetoric,” New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said.
These new initiatives build on the extensive work already underway in New York to address the spread of hate and extremist violence.
In the immediate aftermath of May 2022’s racist mass shooting in Buffalo, Governor Hochul signed Executive Order 18 which required each county and New York City develop Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans; and created the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit within DHSES, to support the creation of local Threat Assessment and Management – or TAM – teams. These multi-disciplinary teams bring together law enforcement, mental health professionals, school officials, and other community stakeholders to identify, assess, and manage threats of targeted violence.
Since the launch of this effort, 36 of the 58 counties outside of New York City have established TAM teams. Sixteen of the 36 teams are already meeting and hearing cases, while the remaining 20 are meeting and expected to begin hearing cases in the near future. All counties in New York have expressed their intent to create a TAM team. Prior to Governor Hochul’s Executive Order 18, there were only three county-based TAM teams statewide, which were supported through grants from DHSES.
In the last quarter alone, TAM teams held 53 meetings and reviewed dozens of cases that were referred by variety of community stakeholders:
94 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by law enforcement. 67 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by an educational partner. 53 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by a mental health partner; and 27 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by social services.
Other key stakeholders, such as public health professionals, religious and culture institutions, and private sector entities, also reported cases to TAM teams.
In November 2023, Governor Hochul has activated law enforcement to keep New Yorkers safe by mobilizing the State Police to increase protection. This included $50 million made available to law enforcement to expand the use of the red flag law and $25 million in security.
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit dhses.ny.gov.
“We can’t stand by and stand silent [in the wake of Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents]. We must, without equivocation, denounce Antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.” – President Biden
The Biden-Harris Administration is taking new actions and resources to address the alarming rise of reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents at schools and on college campuses since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. These actions will help protect students, engage school and university leaders, and foster safe and supportive learning environments.
The Justice Department (DOJ) has published an updated hate crimes threat response guide from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to inform Americans about the steps they can take if they receive a threat. The guide, published on the FBI’s hate crimes resource page, has been shared with organizations and state and local law enforcement entities across the nation.
Actions the Department of Education (ED) is taking include:
The National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, a technical assistance center funded by ED, is releasing two collections of specialized resources designed to help educators, students, parents, and community members prevent Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of discrimination – one for P-12 schools and the other for institutions of higher education.
This week, senior ED leaders will host listening sessions with P-12 school leaders and university leaders to glean key insights from the field about how some schools are keeping students safe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict. In addition, listening sessions with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, Sikh, and other students, educators, and staff are planned for the next few weeks. ED will share notable examples of ways schools and campuses can prevent and address Antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Additionally, on December 6th, ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education will launch a webinar series to develop, strengthen, and share evidence-informed strategies that help schools prevent and respond to hate-based threats, bullying, and harassment. The webinar series kicks off with a session on “Creating a Welcoming Environment” on Dec. 6, followed by webinars on “Full Student Participation” on Dec. 13, “Conflict Mediation” on Jan. 17, and “Ongoing Support” in February.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) USDA is partnering with the Department of Education and Muslim and Jewish groups to host a webinar on November 16 on best practices for countering Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred on rural college campuses.
Additional actions by the Biden-Harris Administration to combat Antisemitism and Islamophobia at schools and on college campuses include:
The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) have taken the following steps to increase campus safety:
DHS and DOJ have disseminated public safety information to and hosted calls with campus law enforcement as part of broader outreach to state, local, tribal, and territorial officials to address the threat environment and share information about available resources. DHS has also shared relevant resources with campus partners nationwide. As part of its continued outreach to campuses, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is leveraging its 10 Regional field offices and their vast capabilities to conduct outreach and provide resources, tools, and services to K-12 and higher educational institutions to support their security requirements. On behalf of the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice, CISA continues to oversee the SchoolSafety.gov platform, which provides schools and districts with actionable recommendations to create safe and supportive environments for students and educators. The site serves as a one-stop access point for information, resources, guidance, and evidence-based practices on a range of school safety topics and threats. On Oct. 30, the DOJ announced that is awarding over $38 million in grants to support the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, increase hate crimes reporting, expand victim services, and improve community awareness. This includes over $8 million in grants to community-based organizations and civil rights groups, including awards to organizations serving Jewish and Arab American communities.
DOJ’s Community Relations Service continues to provide support on college campuses and remains in dialogue with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and other impacted communities on college campuses nationwide.
ED has taken a number of steps to address prohibited forms of Antisemitic and Islamophobic discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).
On Nov. 7, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new Dear Colleague Letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Secretary Cardona also has cautioned that if schools violate those obligations, ED has the authority to investigate and take action to redress violations, including by withholding federal dollars. As ED noted in the letter, the Department interprets its regulations consistent with the requirements of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, all of ED’s actions enforcing Title VI must comport with First Amendment principles, and ED’s regulations should not be interpreted to require recipients to enact or enforce codes that punish the exercise of protected free speech. ED OCR also recently released an updated complaint form specifying that Title VI’s protection from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin extends to students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics—making it easier for students and others who experience such discrimination to seek redress for it. ED additionally made clear that anyone who believes that a school has discriminated against a student based on race, color, or national origin may file a complaint of discrimination with ED OCR, and that the person who files the complaint need not have been the target of the alleged violation. ED continues to offer technical assistance webinars to school communities as well as community organizations on these applications of Title VI. To request such a training, please contact ED OCR at [email protected].
ED also continues to offer information about recently resolved complaints under Title VI, including complaints alleging discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. That information is available here.
This is a statement from Concerned Citizens of NY-03 which has been fighting since January to have George Santos held accountable for defrauding voters and apparently, donors. He has already escaped two votes to expel, and now the House Ethics Committee has issued its report finding “unprecedented” corruption. Further, the Committee found that “the nature of the violations are fundamental ethical failings that go to the core of the legitimacy of the electoral process. And, most significantly, Rep. Santos’ fraud on the electorate is ongoing – he continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations.” There is now a third resolution to expel Santos.
In early January, as the litany of Santos’s lies emerged and the scale of his fraud on the electorate became clear, voters came together in a nonpartisan effort to seek his ouster. But even with the firehose of scandals that soon became fodder for late night TV and international media, Santos made it clear that he had no shame and would not resign. Unfortunately, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was unwilling to force Santos out, promising that the Santos mess would be addressed once the House Ethics Committee report was issued, despite the tarnish that Santos’s scandals brought to the GOP.
Outraged NY-03 constituents, the victims of Santos’s fraud, with no voice in Washington, have been holding protest rallies and press conferences, conducting national letter-writing and postcarding campaigns, issuing press statements, signing petitions, andmore. For ten months, we have been calling on the House of Representatives to expel Santos.
We understand that the Constitution permits the House to expel a Member of Congress, and there is no limit on that authority, except that it requires a two-thirds majority. But we also understand that expelling a Member of Congress is momentous, with only five expulsions from the House of Representatives in the history of our country – and that the recent expulsions followed criminal convictions. (Santos’s criminal trial will not begin until September at the earliest, so he is unlikely to be convicted before the next election.)
Yesterday, the House Ethics Committee issued their long-awaited report on Santos, which found overwhelming evidence of unethical conduct and illegal activity. But the Ethics Committee chose not to opine on whether Santos should be expelled, instead leaving it up to the House of Representatives to decide if George Santos should become the sixth Member of Congress ever to be expelled from the House. Importantly, the House Ethics Committee found that the Santos case is “unprecedented in many respects.” Further, the Committee found that “the nature of the violations are fundamental ethical failings that go to the core of the legitimacy of the electoral process. And, most significantly, Rep. Santos’ fraud on the electorate is ongoing – he continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations.”
Rep. Michael Guest, GOP Chair of the House Ethics Committee, is expected to introduce a privileged Resolution to Expel Santos this morning, which will force a floor vote on November 28th or 29th. We are relying on the GOP leadership to whip votes so that the expulsion resolution passes this time. We are also looking to the NYGOP Five — Reps. Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Mike Lawler, and Marc Molinaro — to fight to achieve Santos’s ouster. Together they have had the power all along to force the GOP leadership to remove Santos from his seat, but so far, they have chosen not to exercise it. They need to notify Republican leadership that they can no longer count on the NYGOP Five to vote in lockstep with the Republican agenda, until Santos is ousted from Congress.
The Ethics Report makes it clear that Santos’s egregious conduct “warrants public condemnation” and the unprecedented nature and scope of his deceits supports the case for expulsion. Indeed, it would set a dangerous precedent to leave George Santos in Congress for his two-year term after his unrelenting lies, theft, and fraud. Allowing Santos to stay would send the wrong message to future fraudsters: If you lie your way into elected office, there will be no consequences, and you can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits on the public dime. You can also continue to grift as long as you can take the heat from the press and your constituents.
The residents of NY-03 should not have to spend one more day with Santos as our Congressman. Are Republicans up to the task of bringing some integrity back to the House of Representatives?
While MAGA Republicans are doing their best to undermine women’s rights, health, ability to succeed, President Biden has announced the first-ever White House initiative on Women’s Health Research, to be led by First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council. The new initiative will fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research. Presently, most medical research is conducted on men, with serious consequences for health of women across the country.Here is a fact sheet from the White House explaining the new initiative:
Despite making up more than half of the population, women have been understudied and underrepresented in health research for far too long. Research on women’s health is drastically underfunded, leading to significant research gaps, with serious consequences for the health of women across the country. This lack of investment limits our understanding of conditions that are specific to women, predominantly affect women, or affect women differently. In order to give women and their health care providers the tools and information that they need to more effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat these conditions – from rheumatoid arthritis to menopause to Alzheimer’s disease to cardiovascular disease to endometriosis – our nation must fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research.
If we act swiftly, we can pioneer the next generation of discoveries in women’s health – improving the lives of millions of women. That’s why, today, President Biden is establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. This new effort will be led by First Lady Jill Biden, who has long championed women’s health, and the White House Gender Policy Council. The Initiative will be chaired by Dr. Carolyn Mazure, an esteemed leader in the field of women’s health research, who will coordinate the Initiative on behalf of the Office of the First Lady and the Gender Policy Council.
“I have always believed in the power of research to save lives and to ensure that Americans get the high-quality health care they need,” President Biden stated. “To achieve scientific breakthroughs and strengthen our ability to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, we have to be bold. That’s why today, we’re establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research so that my Administration—from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Defense—does everything we can to drive innovation in women’s health and close research gaps.”
“Every woman I know has a story about leaving her doctor’s office with more questions than answers,” commented First Lady Jill Biden. “Not because our doctors are withholding information, but because there’s just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women’s health conditions. In 2023, that is unacceptable. Our new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will help change that by identifying bold solutions to uncover the answers that every woman and her family deserves. We also are calling on congressional leaders, the private sector, research institutions, and philanthropy to join us in taking urgent action to improve the health and lives of women throughout the nation.”
PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM ESTABLISHING WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH
The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will galvanize the Federal government as well as the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health. As a first step, through today’s Presidential Memorandum, the President is directing his Administration to:
Establish an Initiative consisting of executive departments and agencies across the Federal government. Initiative members include Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, and White House offices, such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Deliver concrete recommendations to advance women’s health research. Within 45 days, Initiative members will recommend concrete actions that the Biden-Harris Administration can take to improve how research on women’s health is conducted and maximize the Administration’s investments in women’s health research, including to address health disparities and inequities.
Take a targeted, high-impact approach. To deliver results quickly, Initiative members will set priority areas of focus where additional investments could be transformative—in areas of research ranging from heart attacks in women to menopause.
Engage the scientific, private sector, and philanthropic communities. The Initiative will explore new public-private partnerships and engage private and philanthropic leaders to drive innovation and ensure the combined power of public, private, and philanthropic sectors advances research on women’s health.
Dr. Carolyn M. Mazure serves as the Chair of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research and has recently joined the Office of the First Lady. Dr. Mazure comes to the White House from the Yale School of Medicine, where she has served as the Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women’s Health Research, and Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. After three years at the National Institutes of Health and fellowship training at Yale, Dr. Mazure joined the Yale faculty as an active clinician and NIH-funded researcher. She created Women’s Health Research at Yale, the university’s interdisciplinary research center on the health of women, which studies a wide breadth of topics from cardiovascular disease to cancers. She holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and did her fellowship and post-doctoral work at Yale School of Medicine.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com, [email protected],
The Broadway theater community gathered at the Music Box Theatre on Thursday, November 9, for a touching tribute celebrating the life of the lyricist who celebrated life, who gave the world “Fiddler on the Roof” and so much more, Sheldon Harnick.
One of our nation’s and world’s most beloved treasures, Sheldon Harnick passed away at the age of 99 on June 23,2023. During his iconic career working on Broadway and spanning more than seventy years, Sheldon wrote many of Broadway’s greatest critically-acclaimed and timeless hit shows.
His prodigious work earned him numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, 4 Tony’s and a Grammy. Sheldon, together with his longtime collaborator Jerry Bock, created some of the most important and influential pieces of theater in the world including but not limited to; Fiorello! (1959): Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award; Tenderloin (1960); She Loves Me (1963): Grammy Award; Fiddler on the Roof (1964) Tony Award; The Apple Tree (1966) and The Rothschilds (1970). Other collaborations include A Christmas Carol with Michel Legrand (1981); Rex with Richard Rodgers (1976); A Wonderful Life with Joe Raposo (1986) and The Phantom Tollbooth with Arnold Black (1995). For Dragons and Malpractice Makes Perfect, he provided book lyrics and music, He has written songs for the films The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and Blame It On Rio (1984) both with music by Cy Coleman; and Aaron’s Magic Village (1995) with Michel Legrand.
An array of Broadway luminaries, including Danny Burstein, Robert Cuccioli, Jason Danieley, Harvey Fierstein, Rob Fisher, Jenn Gambatese, Jessica Hecht, John Kander, Judy Kuhn, Nancy Opel, David Rockwell, Alan Schmuckler, Elena Shaddow, Alexandra Silber, Deborah Grace Winer, Sherman Yellen, and Karen Ziemba, celebrated Harnick through music, reflections and remembrances.
Together, they provided a portrait of who Harnick was and the legacy he leaves – this loving and beloved man who never failed to lift up and support others, whose greatest wish was for world peace, but if that was not possible, inner peace.
“He lived words,” his daughter, Beth Harnick Dorn, reflected. His goal in life was to use art to achieve world peace, “but we all have the ability to experience inner peace, and that’s how world peace will come about.”
She spoke of his work ethnic (Harnick means “hard worker”), his pragmatism, and frugality (turned off lights, refused her request to throw him a birthday party at 95).
Sherman Yellen, who has known Harnick for most of his adult life and wrote the book for “The Rothschilds” and “Rothschild and Sons,” said, “Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, Sheldon as man and artist was filled with wonder He wrote songs that were conversations with the audience – honest, witty, charm, compassion, some sadness, human and wise.
Harnick was hesitant to revisit the subject of Jewish life, in “The Rothschilds,” as he had in “Fiddler.” Yellen said. “But he found my treatment fresh – wealthy and successful bankers who would not be defeated by antisemitism, a family’s struggle for safety in a dangerous world. It was a deeply felt anthem for peace, deeply needed today.
“He was the best of collaborators – good humored but he could be stubborn as hell, neither a pussycat nor a pushover.”
He wrote one of the most beautiful love songs, ‘Away From You,” with Richard Rogers for “Rex.” “He knew love. He created a celebration of life in every show he wrote.”
“On the last day of his life, he spoke a sentence. Then a few minutes later, he spoke another sentence – and it rhymed. His last words, a lyricist, were in song in the company of the woman he loved.”
Deb Winer, a writer and Harnick’s friend, Harnick wrote “Shape” for Charlotte Rae. “It came out fully formed in a dream – the only time in his entire life that happened. It was my favorite lyric and for my 50th, he wrote it out by hand for me.”
“So many have had their lives changed by Sheldon – he mentored, collaborated. This Pulitzer-prize winner made us feel as equals, that he valued our talent. He is a Super Hero – our Super Hero.
“We kept waiting for him to get old – he never did. At his 90th birthday, he broke open a bottle of champagne in a dressing room of one of his shows he was watching. At 95, he picked up a book in French that he thought might make a good but had to translate from French to English first. At his 96th, two days before COVID lockdown, he sang with Margery, ‘Do you love me?’ At 97, he surgically analyzed a script and came up with the perfect solution. At 98, still pandemic, there were three of us in his apartment, when the doorman called up that a gift was being delivered. We thought it would be flowers, but instead, a Hasidic rabbi was sent to deliver birthday prayer, who broke into song. At 99, in the hospital, he said he needed to go home to get back to work. He went through several books a week – he kept feeding his mind.
“Super Heroes never die. They are here with us always to inspire…. standing up for what is right. No weapon is as mighty as wit and if necessary, a good joke… Your power will guide us always…”
David Rockwell, a set designer and architect, who worked with Harnick on “She Loves Me” eight years ago (for which he got the tony for set design, in the “Hamilton year,” said, “I looked forward to meeting this legend, Sheldon Harnick.” “Fiddler on the Roof,” he said, was the first show he had ever seen. “I was mesmerized, moved – the story, the brilliant lyrics merged seamlessly into artistic vision. It was life changing. I was met with love – Sheldon and Margery more or less adopted me.
“Sheldon celebrated his 99th birthday – he was sharp as a tack. He said, ‘Birthdays are so great, I’d like to have one every year.’ His artistry, his zest for living inspire me, his goodness, his menchiness.”
Jason Danieley and his late wife would often get together with Sheldon and his wife of 58 years, Margery. ‘We felt we had found the love of our life – the way they speak to and about about one another. Not only had we found someone to love, but also, to give us something to live for,” and then went on to sing “Now I Have Everything,” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” with its stunning lyric, “Besides having everything, I know what everything is for.”
John Kander, speaking from the piano, said, “For my generation who got to play in the sandbox of theater, we always knew Sheldon was the best of us.”
The Biden-Harris Administration is proposing important steps to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (Part D). As part of his Bidenomics agenda, President Biden has worked to increase competition in the health care industry and other sectors, lower costs for families, and make sure every American has access to affordable, high-quality health care.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) proposed rule will help people with Medicare select and enroll in coverage options that best meet their health care needs by preventing plans from engaging in anti-competitive steering of prospective enrollees based on excessive compensation to agents and brokers, rather than the enrollee’s best interests. The proposed guardrails protect people with Medicare and promote a competitive marketplace in Medicare Advantage, consistent with the goals of President Biden’s historic Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
The proposed rule will also improve access to behavioral health care by adding a new facility type that includes several behavioral health provider types to Medicare Advantage network adequacy requirements. CMS is also proposing policies to increase the utilization and appropriateness of supplemental benefits to ensure taxpayer dollars actually provide meaningful benefits to enrollees. Additionally, the proposed rule would improve transparency on the effects of prior authorization on underserved communities and proposes more flexibility for Part D plans to more quickly substitute lower cost biosimilar biological products for their reference products.
“The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. By ensuring Medicare recipients have the information they need to make critical decisions about their health care coverage, we are doing just that,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Promoting competition in the marketplace helps to lower costs and protect access to care while making the whole process more transparent and accountable.”
“CMS continues to improve the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs and maintain high-quality health care coverage choices for all Medicare enrollees,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “People with Medicare deserve to have accurate and unbiased information when they make important decisions about their health coverage. Today’s proposals further our efforts to curb predatory marketing and inappropriate steering that distorts healthy competition among plans.”
CMS has previously taken unprecedented steps to address predatory marketing of Medicare Advantage plans, such as banning misleading TV ads. Many people on Medicare rely on agents and brokers to help navigate Medicare choices. CMS is concerned that some Medicare Advantage plans are compensating agents and brokers in a way that may circumvent existing payment rules, inappropriately steer individuals to enroll in plans that do not best meet their health care needs, and lead to further consolidation in the Medicare Advantage market. To further protect people with Medicare through stronger marketing policies and to promote a competitive marketplace in Medicare Advantage, CMS is proposing added guardrails to plan compensation for agents and brokers, including standardization. These proposals are consistent with the statutory requirement that CMS develop guidelines to ensure that the use of compensation creates incentives for agents and brokers to enroll individuals in the Medicare Advantage plan that is intended to best meet their health care needs.
CMS also proposes to strengthen and improve access to behavioral health care by adding a new facility type, which includes marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, addiction medicine clinicians, opioid treatment providers, and others, to CMS’ Medicare Advantage network adequacy requirements. This proposed addition builds on changes finalized last year to strengthen these requirements and would ensure people with Medicare Advantage can access vital mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
“The people we serve are at the center of the Medicare program, and we work each day to make sure the program works for them. Agents and brokers play an important role in guiding people with Medicare to the option that is tuned in to their medical needs. Our proposals on how plans compensate agents and brokers seek to support a competitive marketplace that best serves people with Medicare,” said Dr. Meena Seshamani, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare.
Currently, 99% of Medicare Advantage plans offer at least one supplemental benefit. Over time, the benefits offered have become broader in scope and variety, with more rebate dollars directed toward these benefits. CMS is committed to ensuring these offerings are effectively reaching enrollees and actually meeting their needs, and not just used for attracting enrollees. In today’s rule, CMS proposes requiring Medicare Advantage plans to send a personalized notification to their enrollees mid-year of the unused supplemental benefits available to them to encourage higher utilization. Furthermore, CMS is proposing additional requirements designed to help ensure that benefits offered as special supplemental benefits for the chronically ill (SSBCI) are backed by evidence. CMS is also proposing new marketing and transparency guardrails around these benefits. These proposals will help ensure a robust and competitive Medicare Advantage marketplace made up of plan options with meaningful benefits.
Additionally, CMS is concerned that certain prior authorization policies may disproportionately inhibit access to needed care for underserved enrollees. To provide additional safeguards, CMS is proposing to require that Medicare Advantage plans include an expert in health equity on their utilization management committees and that the committees conduct an annual health equity analysis of the plans’ prior authorization policies and procedures. This analysis would examine the impact of prior authorization on enrollees with one or more of the following social risk factors—eligibility for Part D low-income subsidies, dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, or having a disability—compared to enrollees without these risk factors. These analyses would have to be posted publicly to improve transparency into the effects of prior authorization on underserved populations. To further promote health equity, CMS is also proposing to streamline enrollment options for individuals with both Medicare and Medicaid, providing more opportunities for integrated care.
To support competition in the prescription drug marketplace, CMS is also proposing to provide more flexibility to substitute biosimilar biological products other than interchangeable biological products for their reference products to give people with Medicare more timely access to lower-cost biosimilar drugs. This proposal would permit Part D plans to treat such substitutions as maintenance changes so that the substitutions apply to all enrollees, not only those who begin the therapy after the effective date of the change, following a 30-day notice.
There will be a 60-day comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking, and comments must be submitted at one of the addresses provided in the Federal Register no later than January 5, 2024. The proposed rule can be accessed at the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.
View a fact sheet on the proposed rule at cms.gov/newsroom.
This fact sheet from the White House describes how President Biden is using $16.4 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to repair and replace critical rail infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor, to provide faster and more reliable passenger rail service, and create more than 100,000 construction jobs:
Bidenomics and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda are tackling long-standing infrastructure needs, supporting communities nationwide, and making it possible to get people and goods where they need to be safely, quickly, and conveniently. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, with a $66 billion total investment in rail. Today, President Biden is announcing $16.4 billion in new funding for 25 passenger rail projects on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, moving the United States closer to his vision for world-class passenger rail. The investments announced today will rebuild tunnels and bridges that are over 100 years old; upgrade tracks, power systems, signals, stations, and other infrastructure; and, advance future projects to significantly improve travel times by increasing operating speeds and reducing delays. Combined with Amtrak’s nearly $9 billion fleet replacement program, which will replace over 1,000 locomotives and coaches with state-of-the art and Made-in-America equipment, these investments will ensure that train service is more convenient and climate-friendly than either driving or flying. The funding will also contribute to more than 100,000 good-paying union jobs in construction. President Biden will travel to Bear, Delaware to make the announcement.
The Northeast Corridor, running from Boston, MA, to Washington, DC, is the most heavily traveled rail corridor in the United States, supporting 800,000 trips per day in a region that represents 20 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. The trains carry five times more passengers than all flights between Washington and New York. Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor also emit up to 83% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to car travel and up to 72% less greenhouse gas emissions than flying. If the Northeast Corridor shut down for a single day, it would cost the economy $100 million in lost productivity. Despite its importance, the Corridor hasn’t seen major investment in generations. The Northeast Corridor that exists today is the product of investments that date back to the 1830s, and many of the existing bridges and tunnels were built in the early twentieth century. Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Northeast Corridor is finally on track to be rebuilt to meet the needs of 21st century travelers.
Today’s $16.4 billion announcement is through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program, and reflects nearly $9 billion in FY 2022 and FY 2023 funds and $7.4 billion in future commitments through phased funding agreements. Major awarded projects include:
Gateway Hudson River Tunnel (NY/NJ) will receive $3.8 billion in a phased funding agreement to rehabilitate and expand the Hudson River Tunnel between New York and New Jersey, which is over 100 years old, serves 200,000 passengers daily, and was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The overall Gateway Hudson River Tunnel project will improve resiliency, reliability, and redundancy for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak passengers traveling on the Northeast Corridor between New York and New Jersey. Combined with other investments, the total Biden Administration commitment to the tunnel project will be a record $11 billion. President Biden visited this project in January to announce a $292 million DOT MEGA program grant for the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, which supports the critical connection between the new Hudson River Tunnel and New York Penn Station. In June, the Hudson Tunnel Project received a $25 million grant through DOT’s RAISE program to support construction of the new tunnel portal through the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge and utility relocation project in North Bergen, NJ. On Friday, Administration officials participated in a groundbreaking to officially begin construction on the New York side of the tunnel. The Hudson Tunnel Project is a critical component of the Gateway Program — a comprehensive rail investment program that will improve commuter and intercity services, add needed resiliency and create new capacity for the busiest section of the Northeast Corridor. The project is critical to the northeast regional economy — not only will the project generate $19 billion in economic activity over the Project’s construction period, addressing this critical chokepoint on the Northeast Corridor supports the $50 billion that workers riding on the NEC contribute to the economy annually.
Frederick Douglass Tunnel (MD) will receive $4.7 billion in a phased funding agreement to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, increasing speeds from 30 mph to 110 mph and reducing delays on the entire Northeast Corridor. The tunnel’s tight curvature and steep incline requires trains to reduce speeds to 30 mph. These issues create chronic delays — more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays. The tunnel is the largest Northeast Corridor bottleneck between Washington and New Jersey and a single point of failure for the roughly 24,000 Amtrak and Maryland Area Commuter (MARC) passengers who rely on it daily. The President visited this project in January to announce the signing of a project kickoff agreement between Amtrak and the State of Maryland and a Project Labor Agreement between Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council. Initial construction began in March of this year, and Amtrak recently awarded a contract for construction on the southern approach.
Susquehanna River Bridge (MD) will receive $2.1 billion in a phased funding agreement to replace an existing 100-year-old rail bridge with two new two-track spans that will allow speeds to increase from 90 mph to 125 mph, and improve reliability and trip times. Amtrak, the MARC rail and Norfolk Southern Railway use the bridge to transport both passengers and freight and therefore experiences a high volume of rail traffic. Roughly 19,000 passengers travel over the existing bridge every weekday. As part of this replacement project, the existing movable bridge will be replaced with high-level fixed bridges, which will also improve navigation for boats on the Susquehanna River.
Penn Station Access (NY) will receive $1.6 billion in a phased funding agreement to repair and rehabilitate 19 miles of the Amtrak-owned Hell Gate Line, including tracks, bridges, and signals. The project will introduce Metro-North service to Penn Station, increase Amtrak service, and the cut local transit travel time from the Bronx to Manhattan by as much as 50 minutes. In addition to reducing travel times, New York MTA’s investment will create four new fully ADA-accessible rail stations, and the added service and reduced travel times will have significant benefits for low-income communities in the Bronx. This project is in active construction as of 2023.
The Connecticut River Bridge (CT) will receive $827 million to replace a 116-year-old bridge with a new modern, resilient movable bridge. Replacing the existing structure will increase reliability and safety, and rail speeds on the bridge will increase from 45 mph to 70 mph. This project is fully designed and set to begin construction in 2024.
Two planning studies are also included in the investment: one to examine opportunities to increase speeds and reduce travel time between Washington, D.C. and New York City, and one to study future infrastructure options to improve speed, resilience, performance, and capacity to support faster trains traveling on the Northeast Corridor through Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Each new awarded project – from the Frederick Douglass Tunnel to the Connecticut River Bridge – will improve travel times by addressing the delays associated with the constant maintenance and repair of old Northeast Corridor infrastructure. These delays are estimated to result in almost 245,000 train delay minutes annually, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will support replacing infrastructure that could result in almost 110,000 delay minutes saved annually.
Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs
Across all Northeast Corridor projects, an agreement is in place between Amtrak and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) that ensures Amtrak’s large civil engineering construction projects will be performed under a collective bargaining agreement that addresses points such as wages, benefits, working conditions, and promoting diversity and veteran hiring in the construction trades. With this agreement, Amtrak and NABTU will promote a strong workforce pipeline to prevent work disruptions; contractors and subcontractors share Amtrak’s commitment to paying fair wages and benefits; and Amtrak and NABTU can move forward with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded projects with efficient labor-management relations.
Amtrak expects the Hudson River Tunnel project will result in 72,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training. The Frederick Douglas Tunnel program is expected to generate 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, including approximately 20,000 construction jobs. Amtrak is investing more than $50 million in local workforce development and community investments, including pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to ensure that local workers in West Baltimore can access these jobs.
Progress for Other Rail Investments
After waiting years for new federal funding, 2023 is the year in which major rail and transit projects across the country are moving forward.
Today’s investment follows major investments in rail safety through track improvements, bridge rehabilitations, fewer grade crossings, upgrades on routes carrying hazardous materials, and enhanced multi-modal connections to keep people living near, working on, and who travel along America’s rail lines safer:
Last month, FRA announced more than $1.4 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan infrastructure law for 70 rail improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C. This is the largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements — or CRISI — program. This popular program has quadrupled since the President signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. While the majority of selected projects support freight rail safety and supply chains, CRISI investments are also laying the groundwork to expand world-class passenger rail to more communities nationwide. For example, investments in Virginia will result in two new Amtrak round trips and three new commuter rail round trips on the RF&P corridor between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA — a critical link between Northeast and Southeast states — while also improving the fluidity of CSX’s freight network. In California, two additional daily round trips will be added to the Capitol Corridor between the cities of Sacramento and Roseville, and a project eliminating grade crossings in the Central Valley will bring high-speed rail one step closer to becoming a reality. At least $376 million, or 25 percent of the amounts appropriated, was made available for projects in rural areas. In addition to improving passenger rail service, the CRISI program provides funding to further develop workforce and industry in America around rail. For example, Amtrak will receive up to $8.8 million for a pilot apprenticeship training program to recruit and train new track foremen and inspectors in Pennsylvania.
In June, FRA announced $570 million for 63 projects in 32 states under the new Railroad Crossing Elimination Program, or RCE, created by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This inaugural round of funding will address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide, improve safety, and make it easier to get around railroad tracks by adding grade separations, closing at-grade crossings, and improving existing at-grade crossings where train tracks and roads intersect. Over each of the next four years, additional RCE Program funding will be made available annually. Project selections for other grant programs that will improve freight rail safety and efficiency, strengthen supply chains, and expand the passenger rail network — representing billions of dollars in infrastructure law investments — will be announced in the coming months.
In 2022, the Biden Administration announced $233 million in grants to upgrade intercity passenger rail service across the country through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. These investments will help replace bridges and tunnels along the Northeast Corridor, many of which are over 100 years old. Grants were also awarded to improve rail infrastructure in California, Michigan, and improving Chicago Union Station.
On November 30, 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration granted $4.3 billion to Amtrak, which represents the first year of the $22 billion in direct funding to Amtrak provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Amtrak is using these funds to modernize the intercity passenger rail network, modernize and increase accessibility at more than 280 Amtrak-served stations across the country, and replace Amtrak’s existing fleet of over 1,000 railcars and locomotives with accessible, comfortable, state-of-the-art equipment. Portions of the new fleet will enter service in 2023, and over 525 new railcars and locomotives will begin service by the end of the decade. Amtrak debuted the design of the new “Airo” railcars in late 2022. In fiscal year 2023 alone, Amtrak has invested nearly $3 billion in 750 projects across the country. By the end of 2023, 15 Amtrak stations will have been brought to full ADA compliance, with 25 more upgraded with passenger information display stations. Through these investments, Amtrak has created nearly 5,000 jobs, including employing over 4,000 union workers.
Later this year, FRA will award billions from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for intercity passenger rail projects across the country under the Fed-State Partnership National Program. High-speed rail projects are eligible for funding from this program.
This fact sheet from the White House details Biden’s historic investments in transportation, while Congressional Republicans are using the threat of a government shutdown to slash infrastructure funding.
Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, the United States is making historic investments in infrastructure needs so people and goods can get where they need to be safely, quickly, and conveniently. Today, the President is announcing $16.4 billion for passenger rail projects from his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.
While the Biden-Harris Administration is trying to make travel faster, safer and more reliable, House Republicans are trying to make it slower, harder, and less safe.
House Republicans are turning their backs on their communities—both urban and rural—and undermining American infrastructure with an appropriations bill that guts funding for Amtrak and makes draconian cuts to transportation and infrastructure programs. As outlined in a Statement of Administration Policy, the President would veto this extreme bill that would slash support for infrastructure in communities across the country, while at the same time adding billions to the deficit with give-aways to wealthy tax cheats.
Extreme House Republicans’ bill to defund infrastructure is just the latest example of their brutal cuts that would hurt the American people—following failed attempts to cut investments in infrastructure in March, May, June, and September and to eliminate hundreds of border patrol officers and tens of thousands of Head Start slots for kids. Rather than putting forward these devastating cuts, House Republicans need to follow the lead of the Senate and get to work on a bipartisan funding agreement—and act immediately on the Administration’s supplemental funding requests for urgent national security and domestic needs.
Extreme House Republicans’ draconian infrastructure defunding bill would:
Severely reduce Amtrak service and undermine critical maintenance work by slashing Amtrak funding by $1 billion. This reduction in funding would require Amtrak to reduce most, if not all, long-distance services, reduce certain Northeast Corridor regional train frequencies, and reduce or defer nearly 400 capital projects across the country. The Northeast Corridor is the most heavily traveled rail corridor in the United States, supporting 800,000 trips per day in a region that represents 20 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
Cut transit programs across the country with an 85% cut tothe Capital Investment Grant program. This critical program funds projects that provide transformative benefits for communities across the Nation by expanding convenient and accessible transportation options—while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.
Fail to make critical investments in improving the safety and efficiency of the Nation’s airspace, including by funding National Airspace System technology $500 million below the President’s Budget request, risking increased delays and cancellations due to outages and lost opportunities to improve safety.
Cut aviation research funding by over 20 percent, which would undermine the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to promote innovations that would lower noise and emissions, improve efficiency, and help the industry keep flight costs under control.
The same extreme bill includes deep cuts to housing programs, which would:
Result in 20,000 fewer affordable homes being constructed, rehabbed, or purchased in communities across the Nation due to a nearly 70% cut to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Put 78,000 children at greater risk of lead exposure due a rescission of over $564 million for programs that mitigate housing-related risks of lead poisoning and other illnesses and hazards to lower income families, especially children.
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years since it began as a small neighborhood “promenade” and has become one of the largest Halloween events in the world, was themed UPSIDE/DOWN, reflecting the tumult of the last few years, and inviting self-reflection.
“The Halloween Parade has always been a night of transformation, but this topsy turvy year feels even more-so in terms of realizing a dream, being who you are most authentically in your imagination,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic and Producing Director.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators packed the streets along the mile-long parade route from Canal Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue, to thrill at hundreds of puppets, 50 bands representing music from around the world, dancers, artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world – the biggest crowds since 2019.
“I’m astonished by how many people are here,” said a justifiably proud and delighted Fleming. “We invite people to come out and they did!”
Spectators thrilled at seeing hundreds of puppets, 50 bands and dancers representing music from around the world and New York’s melting pot, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation, in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world.
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.
After the second year of this local promenade, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale as part of their City in the Streets program.
Today the Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the world and has been picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31.
Now, 50 years later, the Parade draws more than 70,000 costumed participants and some 2 million spectators, including television-viewing audience, live on NY1 beginning at 8 pm.
In 1994, the Mayor of the City of New York issued a Proclamation honoring the Village Halloween Parade for 20 years of bringing everyone in the City together in a joyful and creative way and being a boon to the economic life of the City. “New York is the world’s capital of creativity and entertainment. The Village Halloween Parade presents the single greatest opportunity for all New Yorkers to exhibit their creativity in an event that is one-of-a-kind, unique and memorable every year. New Yorkers of all ages love Halloween, and this delightful event enables them to enjoy it every year and join in with their own special contributions. The Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is a true cultural treasure.”
The irony is that while Halloween is about taking on a completely different persona, at the Village Halloween Parade, we see New Yorkers’ true selves.
And that’s true to the Upside/Down-Inside/Out theme.