All posts by krubin

FACT SHEET: White House Announces over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan Investments in Our Workforce – With More Coming 


The White House announced that over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan funds have been committed to strengthening and expanding our workforce. White House officials highlighted top American Rescue Plan workforce best practices from Governors, Mayors, and County Leaders across the country, and called on more government officials and private sector leaders to expand investments in our workforce. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks kicking off a half-day White House Summit.

Since passage of the law, states, localities, community colleges, and local organizations have leveraged American Rescue Plan resources to deliver training, expand career paths, encourage more Registered Apprenticeships, provide retention and hiring bonuses in critical industries, and power efforts to help underserved Americans and those who face barriers to employment secure good jobs. These investments in the workforce – along with the American Rescue Plan’s direct payroll support that has saved or restored jobs across a broad set of industries – have contributed to a record 9 Million jobs added since President Biden took office in the fastest and strongest jobs recovery in American history.
 
The half-day White House Summit on the American Rescue Plan and the Workforce featured remarks by Vice President Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, a session on state American Rescue Plan workforce investments with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, as well as panels with Mayors, County Leaders, and Labor and Community Leaders on their model American Rescue Plan workforce programs. The Summit focused on three major areas of American Rescue Plan investment:
 
1. Building a Diverse and Skilled Infrastructure Workforce: President Biden and Vice President Harris have launched the Administration’s Infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge to encourage immediate partnerships by the public and private sectors to ensure we have the diverse and strong workforce needed to help rebuild our infrastructure and supply chains here at home with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Today’s session will focus on innovative programs to meet this challenge like the DC Infrastructure Academy, with a special focus on Pre-Apprenticeship programs funded by the American Rescue Plan. Pre-Apprenticeship programs play a critical role in diversifying the talent pipeline by training, placing, and retaining workers through Registered Apprenticeships – which the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) has cited as having a return on investment for employers of as much as $3 for every $1 invested. The session will feature:

  • Washington (DC) Mayor Muriel Bowser
  • Louisville (KY) Mayor Greg Fischer
  • Los Angeles County (CA) Supervisor Holly Mitchell
  • Franklin County (OH) Commissioner John O’Grady
  • NABTU Special Assistant to the President Melissa Wells

 
2. Strengthening Our Care and Public Health Workforce: The pandemic exposed the fragility and importance of our care economy. As part of an unprecedented commitment to a stronger care workforce, the American Rescue Plan contains significant investments in public health and the care economy that will help provide better pay and career opportunities for care workers and make it easier for workers with child and elder care responsibilities to join and stay in the workforce. U.S. prime-age labor force participation has fallen behind that of its competitors, in part due to lack of family friendly policies. Studies show that access to care can be an important determinant of whether workers are able to join or remain in the labor force. Millions of families rely on paid child and elder care to work, while millions more struggle to afford or find available care. The demand for child and elder care remains high and will only grow, with a projected need for over a million additional home health care workers over the next decade. Studies have shown that quality pathways for nursing aides leads to better outcomes for patients and workers. The American Rescue Plan is helping deliver supports for quality pathways for these essential jobs. The session will feature:  

  • Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration Carole Johnson
  • Erie (NY) County Executive Mark Poloncarz
  • Ramsey County (MN) Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire
  • Manchester (NH) Mayor Joyce Craig
  • Director of the Communities RISE Together Initiative at the Public Health Institute, Dr. Somava Saha
  • SEIU Secretary-Treasurer April Verrett

3. Expanding Access to the Workforce for Underserved Populations: American Rescue Plan funds are being used to recruit more Americans facing barriers to employment – homelessness, disability, prior criminal justice involvement – and giving them pathways into the workforce. More than 600,000 people leave prison every year and confront significant challenges in accessing and sustaining stable, meaningful employment – a 2018 study estimated that formerly incarcerated individuals experience an unemployment rate of over 27 percent, exponentially higher than the overall national unemployment rate. Investments in expanding access to the workforce strengthen our economy by increasing labor force participation and tapping into the potential of more Americans, and research shows that certain programs – such as comprehensive reentry programs and summer youth employment programs – can significantly reduce crime. The session will feature:

  • Harris County (TX) Commissioner Adrian Garcia
  • Memphis (TN) Mayor Jim Strickland
  • Employ Milwaukee CEO Chytania Brown
  • WRTP Big Step President Lindsay Blumer

 
To date, the Administration has worked with states, localities, and other American Rescue Plan recipients to identify over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan funds being utilized to strengthen and expand our workforce:
Over $13 Billion in American Rescue Plan Workforce Investments Committed or Proposed by Over 1,000+ State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments.
 

  • Over $9 Billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds committed or proposed investments in workforce programs. This includes hundreds of new workforce development and retention programs, including innovative partnerships with labor groups and other organizations to train and support a diverse workforce for good-paying jobs as well as premium pay programs for essential workers.
  • Over $2 Billion in Child Care Stabilization state grants used to increase compensation for child care workers, strengthening workforce development and retention. States have directed or incentivized a commitment of at least $2 Billion from Child Care Stabilization program grants delivered to child care workers in the form of higher pay, hiring or retention bonuses, or other expanded benefits to date — reducing turnover, attracting new workers, and improving the quality, affordability, and availability of care options that enable parents to work.
  • $2 Billion in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants to fund the public health workforce. Emergency funding for public health departments is expected to add thousands of new positions, including 2,400 new school health staff. 

 
Over $16 Billion in Medicaid and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Funds for the Care and Healthcare Workforce.
 

  • Over $9 Billion of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) funds proposed for workforce. These include state plans to increase the pay and benefits of direct support professionals, train workers, and recruit, retain, and expand the workforce to meet the needs of Americans on HCBS waitlists and family caregivers.
  • Over $7 Billion in health workforce investments funded by HHS programs. These funds support staffing needs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as longer-term investments to strengthen the health workforce and build capacity. These historic investments are recruiting, training, and retaining tens of thousands of additional public health workers over the next several years, including the first-ever Public Health AmeriCorps program which will train a new generation of public health leaders and includes 3,000 corps members in its first year.

Over $12 Billion in American Rescue Plan Education Funds to Strengthen the K-12 Educator Workforce and Expand Workforce Credentials.

  • Over $7 Billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding to keep schools open safely, combat learning loss, and address mental health are planned to be spent on recruiting, retaining, and training school staff. Districts are expected to spend other funds on workforce efforts, including career and technical education that will help students succeed in the workforce. States across the country are also using a portion of funds to build the pipeline of education workers and provide career and technical education. Additional funds are supporting the hiring and the avoiding of lay-offs of school staff.
  • At least $5 Billion to help students stay on track to graduate college and enter the workforce with additional credentials. The American Rescue Plan’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provided nearly $40 Billion to colleges and their students, including to support learning and career training. Community colleges received $10 Billion, with roughly $5 Billion of these funds provided directly to students, allowing them to stay on track to graduate and enter the workforce with additional qualifications.

 
In addition to investments outlined above, over $3 billion in additional, competitively awarded American Rescue Plan funding will be invested in the coming months, including:
 

  • In 2022, CDC will award $3 billion through a new, first of its kind American Rescue Plan-funded grant program to strengthen the future public health workforce, including offering community health workers and others hired for COVID-19 response support in continuing their careers as public health professionals beyond the pandemic.
  • The Economic Development Administration will announce 25-50 grants through the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge to build and strengthen workforce systems that bring together employers and other key entities to train workers with in-demand skills that lead to good-paying jobs.

__
Summaries of American Rescue Plan Best Practices in Workforce Investments Highlighted by State and Local Leaders at White House Summit

1. North Carolina is committing American Rescue Plan funds to address the barriers holding back workers and expand opportunities for careers in high-growth fields offering good wages. Governor Roy Cooper will explain that North Carolina is leading the way with innovative investments to increase compensation for care economy workers and establish and expand work-based learning opportunities in critical sectors. To improve recruitment and retention in care fields, the state is leveraging American Rescue Plan Child Care Stabilization program grants to incentivize and fund increased compensation for tens of thousands of child care workers in the state – reducing turnover and increasing the strength of the workforce – and investing over $200 Million annually utilizing American Rescue Plan-enhanced Home and Community Based Services funding to increase wages for direct care workers. North Carolina is also using American Rescue Plan resources to establish a new Direct Care Jobs Innovation Fund that will support initiatives that improve recruitment and retention among the direct care workforce, including training opportunities and workforce supports. Further, the state is investing American Rescue Plan funds in key workforce efforts, including establishing work-based learning programs supporting small businesses, helping individuals who are justice-involved or in substance use recovery enter the workforce, as well as filling critical infrastructure and supply chain jobs by investing in expanding truck driver training, apprenticeships in high-demand fields, and a work-based learning program in the construction trades across the NC Community College System.

2. Pennsylvania is delivering historic support to its care and healthcare workforce with American Rescue Plan funds. Governor Tom Wolf will discuss how the state is investing in expanded training and credentialing opportunities for direct care workers across the state, improving retention and quality of care. Using American Rescue Plan-enhanced Home and Community Based Services funds, these initiatives include increasing behavioral health provider rates to support state staff training, education, and recruitment, as well as creating an online education and training portal to strengthen supports to nursing professionals. The state is also delivering $225 Million statewide for healthcare retention and recruitment efforts, including payments to direct care staff as well as expanding a high-demand nurse loan forgiveness program. In addition, the state is providing nearly $190 Million through the American Rescue Plan to support retention bonuses, personnel development, and recruitment efforts for its child care workforce.

Building a Diverse and Skilled Infrastructure Workforce
 
1. Washington, DC is expanding its DC Infrastructure Academy to fill growing DC infrastructure jobs. Mayor Muriel Bowser will describe the DC Infrastructure Academy, which is a key initiative of her administration, launched in 2018 to meet the need for skilled infrastructure professionals in the District. The school coordinates, trains, screens, and recruits residents to fulfill the needs of the DC infrastructure industry, matching graduates to infrastructure jobs with leading companies in this high-demand field. The city is investing over $4 Million to expand the program in preparation for the coming demand for infrastructure workers as a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.


2. Los Angeles County, CA is investing $10 Million to bolster High Road Training Partnerships (HRTP) and its Worker Equity Fund. Supervisor Holly Mitchell will describe LA County’s American Rescue Plan investment to enhance training programs in high-demand sectors such as construction, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, technology, and more with an American Rescue Plan investment in High Road Training Partnerships. Bringing together industry, education and training providers, labor, and community groups, HRTPs focus on building long-term career pathways utilizing pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships, provide family-sustaining wages, and require deep collaboration between employers, workers, education partners, and the workforce system. The pre-apprenticeship program deploys the Los Angeles-Orange County Building Trades Council’s Multi-Craft Core Curriculum and spans 8-10 weeks, and aims to enroll at least 480 individuals in all HRTPs with at least 350 individuals hired in permanent employment. This is part of Los Angeles County’s larger workforce development plan, which includes reducing workforce barriers for youth, enhancing job placement programming for justice-involved individuals and those experiencing homelessness, rapid re-employment, as well as a Worker Equity Fund that provides supportive services and flexible cash assistance for participants in the county’s workforce programs to mitigate barriers to successful participation.

3. Franklin County, OH is committing over $11 Million in State and Local funds to support a number of job training assistance programs, including over $2 Million toward the Building Futures Pre-Apprenticeship Program. Commissioner John O’Grady will explain the county’s investment in Building Futures, a 12-week program designed to help low-income Franklin County residents pursue careers in the skilled construction trades, including electrical work, iron work, carpentry, painting, plumbing, and more, with a focus on recruiting populations that have been historically underrepresented in the trades. More than half of program graduates were TANF-eligible when they first enrolled. Most graduates have gone on to become apprentices and are earning an average wage of over $22 per hour plus benefits – with some earning as much as $30 and $40 an hour. The program, which was developed in partnership with the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Columbus NAACP, and the Columbus Urban League, provides both “hard skills” training, including safety certification and trade-specific instruction, as well as “soft skills” training, including interpersonal skills and financial literacy, as well as a weekly $250 stipend. Participants are also eligible to receive supportive services offered through Building Futures in average amounts of $1,500-$2,500, depending on a person’s individual needs, to help address barriers like transportation, housing, childcare, and more. At the end of each cohort, participants complete an entrance assessment to progress directly into a Building Trades apprenticeship program. The county also runs an American Rescue Plan-funded Driving Futures program, which fills critically needed positions as licensed drivers in Central Ohio’s construction industry.

4. Louisville, KY is proposing an expansion of its successful Kentuckiana Builds construction program. Mayor Greg Fischer will explain how he is answering the President’s call to action on the Talent Pipeline Challenge by proposing American Rescue Plan funds be deployed to expand the city’s pre-apprenticeship program, Kentuckiana Builds. The program is run by the Louisville Urban League in partnership with the Carpenters Union. The program helps diverse residents successfully complete a 6-week construction training program, which then provides them access to union apprenticeships in partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Carpenters Union, as well as other basic construction roles. Since its inception, over 350 individuals have graduated from the program into good construction jobs. The proposed American Rescue Plan investment would enable the Kentuckiana Builds pre-apprenticeship program to serve additional participants. Beyond this proposed investment, Louisville has made a number of American Rescue Plan-funded investments in workforce, including a comprehensive reentry program for formerly incarcerated individuals.

5. North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) is working with state and local leaders to promote American Rescue Plan-funded Pre-Apprenticeship Programs as a critical pathway to Registered Apprenticeship Programs that will help fill the increased workforce needs of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. NABTU Special Assistant to the President Melissa Wells will describe how NABTU has closely partnered with state and local governments, construction industry employers, and non-profit organizations to invest American Rescue Plan funds in their Pre-Apprenticeship programs known as Apprenticeship Readiness Programs. This builds on NABTU’s work to create over 190 Apprenticeship Readiness Programs across the country in the last fifteen years, which are a pipeline to multi-year Registered Apprenticeship programs. These programs specifically focus on recruiting and training women, people of color, transitioning veterans, and the formerly incarcerated. NABTU operates over 1,600 Registered Apprenticeship training centers in the United States and graduates at least 50,000 apprentices each year — with over 80,000 graduated in 2019 alone.


Strengthening Our Care and Public Health Workforce


1. Ramsey County, MN is supporting its care workforce through a $1 Million Public Health Career Pathways program and addressing a shortage of quality child care programs by offering new incentives and supports. Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire will describe Ramsey County’s Public Health Career Pathways program, which will increase the public health workforce and lift up low wage earners by offering careers as a registered nurse or community health worker. Selection priority is given to those who live in Ramsey County, are single parents, receiving public assistance, and/or are a member of an underrepresented group in the public health workforce. The program provides: college preparatory coaching and mentoring; reimbursement of tuition, expenses for transportation and/or child care, and other related academic costs; wages to allow participants to enroll full-time; and paid work time to complete coursework. To bolster the child care workforce, Ramsey County is providing bonuses of $1,000 per year and free professional development training to help providers remain open. Additionally, the county is recruiting additional child care educators in the neighborhoods most affected by the child care shortages, offering the training required to achieve a Child Development Associate credential at no cost. Participants will also receive mentoring support provided by experienced child care educators who currently operate high-quality programs and other necessary support for early childhood educators looking to open child care programs.

2. Erie County, NY used $1.6 Million in American Rescue Plan funds to launch a Healthcare Careers Program. County Executive Mark Poloncarz will explain that the county is providing educational grants for training in high-demand healthcare occupations, such of up to $10,000 per student. Students must be enrolled in an approved occupational program, meet certain income requirements, and must currently earn less than $25 per hour. Students enrolled in the program also receive a transportation allowance, child care assistance, and access to an emergency fund of up to $500 for emergencies. Since the program began in October 2021, more than 320 residents have already enrolled in programs offered by the County’s training partners (including Erie 1 BOCES, Trocaire College, D’Youville University, SUNY Erie and Villa Maria College). Given the program’s success so far, the county has dedicated additional funding to sustain and expand the program.

3. Manchester, NH is investing $6 Million in a Community Health Worker (CHW) Program. Mayor Joyce Craig will discuss the city’s investment in the CHW program. The new team is multicultural and collectively speaks 11 languages, in addition to English (Spanish, French, Nepali, Hindi, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kurundi, Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, and Yoruba). CHW staff are participating in a CHW Certificate program hosted by the Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center. The program will also be working closely with the Harvard School of Public Health to provide occupational health and safety training and technical assistance. CHW staff are proactively working with local community groups and organizations in their assigned neighborhood areas in the City to best serve neighborhood concerns and needs. As this Program is a joint effort between the Manchester Health Department and Manchester Police Department, the two Departments will be creating a structure to support linkages and coordination of efforts across public health and public safety.

4. The Communities RISE Together initiative, supported by WE in the World and the Public Health Institute, is using American Rescue Plan funding to recruit, hire, and train Community Health Workers to work with Black, Native American, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, immigrant/migrant, and low-income older adult populations in 200+ counties across the country. Director of the Communities RISE Together Initiative at the Public Health Institute Dr. Somava Saha will describe how RISE partners train and engage vaccine ambassadors and promotoras to serve as trusted messengers and connect community members with vaccines and well-being needs, while working to address underlying drivers of health inequities.  Together, they have reached over 44 Million people through trusted, often nontraditional, messengers and channels and connected 200,000+ Americans to vaccines and supports like food, rental assistance, and social connection.
 
5. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is mobilizing workers across the country to ensure American Rescue Plan funding for HCBS continues to improve conditions for care workers – who are 90 percent women and disproportionately women of color – and to stabilize and grow the care workforce and expand access to high-quality affordable home and community-based care. SEIU Secretary-Treasurer April Verrett will describe how SEIU and its partners are working together to ensure states are using funds to transform care work into good, union jobs that provide benefits and pay enough to support a family. This will help to create a sustainable care workforce and lift entire families and communities who are supported by care work.  SEIU and its partners are also working with states to expand training opportunities to both help existing caregivers build additional skills and develop a pipeline of new workers.
 
Expanding the Workforce by Helping Americans Overcome Barriers
 
1. Memphis, TN is investing over $20 Million in workforce programs, with a focus on youth employment – particularly for disconnected youth and youth with disabilities. Mayor Jim Strickland will describe the Opportunity R3 (Rethinking, Rebuilding, Rebranding) initiative, established with American Rescue Plan funds, which provides workforce readiness training for disconnected youth ages 16-24. According to one report, the Memphis metropolitan area has among the highest number of disconnected youth in the country, with over one in five youth neither working or in school. The R3 program helps participants develop a career and education plan, and guides participants on issues including job applications and resume work, communication and other soft skills, and financial management. The program also provides broader support to participants, including assisting with opening banking accounts, and has currently seen over 80 percent of graduates stay on track on their career or educational path. Additionally, the city is using American Rescue Plan funds to pilot “I Am Included,” a program for youth with disabilities. The program helps youth between ages of 14-18 with specific disabilities – including those who are deaf and hard of hearing or visually impaired, or with specific learning disabilities and intellectual disorders – develop soft and hard skills to prepare for gainful employment and other post-high school options. Topics discussed in the program include financial literacy, personal/professional development, conflict resolution, self-advocacy, goal setting, and mental health awareness. These programs are part of Memphis’ broader investment in workforce development, which includes several other youth employment training programs.  
 
2. Harris County, TX is committing over $2 Million in American Rescue Plan funds toward Employ2Empower (E2E), a workforce program that employs unhoused individuals living in encampments. Commissioner Adrian Garcia will explain how American Rescue Plan funds have enabled the E2E program to expand from a one-precinct pilot into an expanded county-wide program, which is estimated to serve 160 individuals in four separate cohorts over 12 months. The initial precinct-level pilot compensated participants at $10 per hour, and the expanded E2E program employs these individuals for up to 32 hours a week, at a pay rate of $15 per hour, while providing access to resources to meet their basic needs. The work includes graffiti removal, illegal dumping abatement, and upkeep of public properties. Participants will also work alongside previously unhoused individuals who will serve as their Peer Mentors to provide motivation and support. E2E provides steady income and workforce development training, and connects participants to a pathway to a permanent housing solution, wrap-around services, and additional benefits, including ID services. The program implementation and management utilize inputs from Career and Recovery Resources (CRR), partner organizations, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. By utilizing lessons learned from the pilot program, the goal is to provide a consistent stabilizing experience for program participants, who require time and intensive support to alleviate the effects of experiencing homelessness. The program is a pre-employment program intended to support individuals in graduating into higher-skilled programs and addresses racial disparities in homelessness and unemployment by reaching out to marginalized groups with 48% of participants being African American.
 
3. Employ Milwaukee and WRTP|Big Step are deploying American Rescue Plan-funded worker development programs by targeting underserved communities in Wisconsin. Employ Milwaukee CEO Chytania Brown will explain how the local workforce development board, with a $5 Million American Rescue Plan grant from Wisconsin, launched a new Skillful Transitions program aimed at connecting traditionally underserved groups to jobs. The program provides an individualized assessment of skills, experience, and job readiness, and provides job readiness training, skills training, and paid work experience across a variety of sectors, including construction, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and more. The program conducts targeted, specialized outreach to at-risk populations, including justice-involved individuals (pre- and post-release), veterans, individuals with disabilities, and human trafficking survivors. Employ Milwaukee also provides wraparound supports and targets high-unemployment and dislocated city residents for its other American Rescue Plan-funded programs, such as a $3 Million investment by Milwaukee into lead abatement certification training – where there is an overall goal of serving a majority of people of color with a special emphasis on opportunity youth.

President Lindsay Blumer of WRTP | BIG STEP, a non-profit workforce intermediary in Wisconsin, will describe how her organization has used American Rescue Plan funds to expand the workforce in construction, manufacturing, and adjacent emerging sectors. In three programs funded by Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s American Rescue Plan dollars – which include a manufacturing high school equivalency degree joint pre-apprenticeship, after-school youth construction career exploration and hands-on training, and a community resource navigator program – the organization focuses on recruiting those who are underserved or not traditionally represented in these occupations, such as those individuals who are justice-involved, veterans and/or identify as differently abled. Critically, once enrolled, the organization provides a variety of barrier remediation and supportive services, such as food share and child care vouchers, focused mentoring and tutoring, as well as legal support, such as driver’s license recovery. The organization directly connects participants with employers for access to family-sustaining waged careers. Close to 100 percent of its participants are considered underserved or traditionally unrepresented, with about 70 percent identifying as people of color and a majority as low-income.

 
APPENDIX: Additional Examples of States, Cities, Counties, and Community-Based Organizations Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Invest in Our Workforce
 
Building a Diverse and Skilled Infrastructure Workforce

  1. Syracuse, NY is expanding access to union job opportunities to prepare the local workforce for infrastructure and other jobs. The City is investing in the Syracuse Build Pathways to Apprenticeship Program to help residents gain access to pre-apprenticeship programs and credentials in high-demand sectors, including construction, electrical mechanics, HVAC, advanced/high-tech manufacturing, commercial driving, and software development. The program will help ensure the local workforce is ready for the I-81 viaduct project and other construction projects. The program is a collaboration of the Central and Northern New York Building Trades Council, CenterState CEO, and Syracuse Build, and teaches the nationally recognized North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Multi-Craft Core Curriculum. The comprehensive apprenticeship readiness training program focuses on women, people of color and veterans, and helps them gain access to the Building Trades’ registered apprenticeship programs.
     
  2. Gallatin County, MT is committing $2 million to start or expand up to seven new workforce training and education programs in the high-demand trades of construction, welding and fabrication, manufacturing, and healthcare. The program, which is operated through Gallatin College Montana State University, has a goal of enrolling over 450 additional students by 2024. As an example, the construction trades program includes concrete, framing, electrical, earthwork, equipment maintenance, and HVAC-R, with the aim of meeting new project demands due to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program will recruit locally affected residents and place students into local jobs once trained, partnering with local industry partners for development, partnerships, and placements. Further, the program will provide training that will allow students to continue working in apprenticeships or provide certificates and degrees in an accelerated approach. The program will also provide evening childcare to students while they attend classes.
     
  3. Vermont is building a broadband workforce. The state is leveraging a portion of their $150 million Vermont Connectivity Broadband Fund to create a training program in partnership with the Vermont Technical College and a broadband installer apprenticeship program. The program, which has already graduated three classes of early participants, is aimed at helping people with insufficient- or low-income jobs transition into higher-paying fiber-optic technician careers. The program pays students while they attend training and offers wraparound services like childcare. In addition, Vermont is making other critical investments in workforce, including through practical nurse training and providing scholarships and wraparound supports for residents economically affected by the pandemic.
     
  4. Maine is leveraging American Rescue Plan funds toward its goal of 30,000 clean energy jobs by 2030, including through an apprenticeship program. The state is investing $5.5 million in a Clean Energy Partnership to provide career training opportunities, including apprenticeships, in Maine’s growing clean energy sector. This is part of Maine’s goal of 30,000 clean energy jobs in the state by 2030. The funding will expand existing and develop new apprenticeship opportunities for in-demand clean energy fields, with a focus on increasing apprenticeships among under-represented communities, and convene state agencies, private-sector partners, Maine’s community colleges, and labor organizations to develop programs and tools to grow the clean energy workforce in the state. This investment is part of Maine’s overall comprehensive investment into workforce through American Rescue Plan-funded Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, which includes a general expansion of high-quality pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships in high-priority areas, including infrastructure (construction, broadband, logistics, trades) and manufacturing. This expansion is done in collaboration with Maine’s businesses and industry associations, unions, education and training providers, and community-based organizations.
     
  5. Wilmington, DE is expanding its high school construction training program. The city is leveraging American Rescue Plan funds to expand their Howard High School of Technology workforce development program, which includes funding high school and adult training in construction, plumbing, HVAC, and more. The city is connecting graduates from the Howard High School training program to jobs with local employers working on local revitalization projects, and soon Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded infrastructure projects – helping residents train for better jobs and helping employers access the talent they need to successfully complete these government projects. The city has also committed to using their local workforce for American Rescue Plan-funded neighborhood revitalization projects.
     
  6. Nassau County, NY is committing $10 million in workforce development initiatives, including through apprenticeship programs for various key skilled workers needed in the construction and building trades. The initiatives will also provide entrepreneurial skills training to support new women- and minority-owned businesses, and retraining and upskilling programs through Nassau’s local colleges and universities. These programs provide both job training and job placement, and will prioritize reaching residents in communities facing higher rates of unemployment. 
     
  7. The Mescalero Apache Tribe is investing in a workforce development program that will focus on vocational education by providing scholarships to both Tribal citizens and current employees to obtain certificates and further education in welding, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical – all jobs critical to carry out the Tribe’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

 
Strengthening Our Care and Public Health Workforce


A. HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED CARE

  1. Colorado is developing a standardized curriculum and training program for home care workers to establish quality standards and increase specialized qualifications tied to wage increases. The state also plans to establish a training fund that will target high demand jobs and support specialization and advancement opportunities, including in behavioral health. Separately, Colorado is spending funds for training and improving employment outcomes to support reskilling, upskilling, or next-skilling, including providing access to short-term training to obtain in-demand industry-recognized credentials. The funding will also support grants that promote innovation to improve employment outcomes for workers and outreach to underserved and disproportionately impacted populations.
     
  2. California will expand training opportunities for its HCBS workforce. One-time training opportunities will include learning pathways in the areas of general health and safety and caring for recipients with specific needs. Training and stipends will also be available in order to both improve care quality, address worker shortages, and prevent unnecessary institutionalization.
     
  3. West Virginia is increasing pay to home and community-based care workers, including through incentives such as retention bonuses, hiring bonuses, and increased benefit packages. West Virginia also plans to provide specific training for respite providers on how to assist family members with their children’s behavioral health needs and competency-based training opportunities for the state’s direct-care in-home workforce.
     
  4. Georgia will increase compensation for home and community-based care workers and expand training opportunities. The state plans to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen existing HCBS services by increasing rates, conducting a rate study for services provided in 1915(c) waivers, and engaging in workforce development and training.  Georgia will also expand HCBS training and workforce development programs, including collaborating with GA’s Technical College System to strengthen the Certified Nursing Assistant training program and expand provider capacity.

B. HEALTHCARE

  1. Chicago, IL is getting people back to work and building a healthcare career ladder. The city invested $56 million to hire local vaccine ambassadors/contact tracers/ supervisors and provide them with broader healthcare training. The ‘Earn and Learn’ program is building a community-based health workforce, building the skills of residents in communities most experiencing economic hardship in the healthcare jobs we need tomorrow, while supporting critical health needs in the community today.  More than 800 individuals have been hired through this program, with 90 percent of individuals residing in community areas of high or medium economic hardship.
     
  2. New York City, NY is building a corps of community health workers across the city, investing $50 million in expanding their Public Health Corps of Community Health Workers. These individuals will educate New Yorkers on health matters, connecting them to essential healthcare services and enabling them to meet their health goals. The Health Corps is supporting New Yorkers at the community level in clinics and organizations serving the neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19, helping fight against the health disparities exacerbated by COVID-19.
     
  3. San Diego County, CA has committed almost $30 million since the start of the pandemic, utilizing an estimated $8 million in American Rescue Plan funds to develop and deploy a new comprehensive Community Health Worker (CHW) model. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the County quickly mobilized CHWs to provide tailored outreach and education to residents who have been traditionally hard to reach due to factors such as linguistic and cultural differences, geographic isolation, or historic distrust of government. As trusted messengers, CHWs are connecting communities impacted by long-standing health disparities to needed services and systems of care. Over 250 CHWs have been deployed, who speak 26 languages, and serve all six regions of San Diego County. They focused on underserved and under-immunized communities, including Black and African American, Latino, refugee, and Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
     
  4. Rochester, NY is launching a Healthcare Workforce Resiliency Program. The city is launching a Healthcare Workforce Resiliency Program, which provides entry level healthcare workers with employment skills training and career pathway navigation to achieve licensure and/or certification. Academic assessment services and case management, including stipends and wraparound services, will be provided throughout the program.
     
  5. Kansas is retaining and recruiting healthcare workers. The state is investing $50mm in hospitals across the state to help retain dwindling workforce. Each of the 118 hospitals receiving the funding can individually decide to use the funding for either premium pay or for funding a custom program designed by the facility to improve the retention of nurses and other support personnel. 
     
  6. Connecticut is creating new public health career opportunities for both students and existing workers. These include: establishing new paid public health research assistant and internship opportunities for students pursuing a public health master’s degree; providing staff that can support workforce development and training needs within local health offices; and offering training opportunities and curriculum to expose high school and undergraduate students to public health practice careers.
     
  7. Family Scholar House in Kentucky plans to hire 200 part-time AmeriCorps members to provide healthcare support and services to seniors and disabled individuals in healthcare facilities across Kentucky. These AmeriCorps members will develop healthcare knowledge and complete credentialing coursework, enabling them to work in memory care, skilled nursing, assisted living, and other healthcare-related environments.
     
  8. DeKalb County plans to hire 16 full-time AmeriCorps members to manage and operate programs across the county. The AmeriCorps members will provide capacity, support, and increased awareness of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to support equitable health outcomes and COVID-19 recovery in underserved communities.
     
  9. The Association of Asian/Pacific Community Health Organizations used American Rescue Plan funds to establish the Community Health Worker Workforce Collaborative. The Collaborative has since hired, trained, and deployed more than 250 Community Health Workers who speak over 36 Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander languages in 12 continental U.S. states and Hawai’i.
     
  10. Vermont Trauma, Resilience, and Equity Education (VT-TREE) Initiative at University of Vermont is developing and expanding Vermont’s behavioral health workforce. These efforts are focused on children, adolescents, and transitional age youth. VT-TREE is recruiting social workers and counselors from historically underrepresented communities to obtain a Certificate of Graduate Study in Trauma Informed and Resiliency Based Practices.
     
  11. Loma Linda University is using American Rescue Plan funding for trainees to develop integrated behavioral health and child clinical skills. The training program teaches pediatric residents and behavioral health students to collaboratively offer mental health access.

Hudson Headwaters Health Network in Queensbury, NY is a community health center that has used American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen its workforce. These efforts include recruitment and retention bonuses to maintain the existing healthcare workforce, and to recruit new providers in specialty areas like rheumatology and endocrinology. The health center has also used this funding for training in a variety of areas including customer service and de-escalation, wellness, and change management and leadership.
 
C. HISTORIC SUPPORT FOR CHILD CARE WORKERS

  1. Maine is providing $2,400 for child care workers through monthly bonuses over the course of twelve months. Maine is requiring child care programs benefiting from American Rescue Plan Child Care Stabilization grant funds to provide at least $200 per month bonuses to an estimated 6,000 staff who directly care for children. As a result of investments of American Rescue Plan funds and other resources, including in strengthening its child care workforce, Maine has seen an increase in its licensed child care capacity since the start of the pandemic. 
     
  2. Michigan is delivering bonuses to more than 38,000 full- and part-time child care staff. Michigan is using American Rescue Plan funds to pay two rounds of $1,000 bonuses to full time staff members and $500 bonuses to part time staff members as part of its Child Care Stabilization program.
     
  3. Delaware is supporting the construction of an Early Childhood Innovation Center and expanded supports for child care professionals. Utilizing American Rescue Plan funds, Delaware is investing in the construction and launch of an Early Childhood Innovation Center at Delaware State University—a historically black, public university—that will provide career advancement opportunities for the child care workforce and expand financial support to help professionals pursue careers in early childhood education.
     
  4. Deschutes County, Oregon is investing in efforts to increase the supply of licensed child care workers as part of an effort to make child care more readily available. Deschutes County is leveraging American Rescue Plan funds to support efforts to quickly build up the supply of child care by training 275 new workers in the field while investing in the development of new and expanded child care facilities—aiming to create an additional 500 child care spots regionally. The county is investing in a program to fast-track workers through training programs at the local community college and university, as well as efforts to make it easier for interns pursuing credentials to qualify as head teachers upon completion of their programs, and supporting the annual recruitment, advising, education and supervision of teacher candidates.
     
  5. The State of Alabama is awarding bonus payments to over 10,000 child care workers. With Child Care Stabilization Grant funds provided in the American Rescue Plan, Alabama is providing quarterly payments of $1,500 for full-time staff and $750 for part-time staff for up to two years.
     
  6. The State of Kansas is providing more than 22,000 child care workers with bonus payments of up to $2,500. Kansas is committing $53 million in American Rescue Plan funds to supporting one-time bonuses of between $750 and $2,500 to an estimated 22,650 early childhood care staff members across the state.

 
Expanding Access to the Workforce for Underserved Populations
 

  1. Wisconsin is funding a comprehensive worker development program, including for incarcerated individuals. The state is investing in a $125 million comprehensive workforce program to help address the state’s post-pandemic workforce needs through a competitive grant program. Awards include up to $5.7 million to deliver workforce-ready curriculum through the University of Wisconsin Prison Education Initiative (PEI) to teach employable skills to students while incarcerated and continue supporting them post-release through program completion and career placement. Further, the state is investing up to $5.6 million through Gateway Technical College to offer a 4-week pre-HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma) program, followed by a 16-week Work Ready (WR) HSED program. This program encourages a collaborative approach to addressing the biggest regional workforce challenges, training workers in high-demand fields such as healthcare and manufacturing, providing innovative credentialing options, expanding childcare, and building the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Additionally, Wisconsin is investing in the Worker Connection Program, which helps individuals overcome systemic barriers, navigate the workforce system, and match them with employers that ultimately leads to careers with growth potential, as well as the Worker Advancement Initiative, which uses the state’s workforce development boards to help unemployed individuals find subsidized opportunities through collaborations with local employers.
     
  2. Detroit, Michigan is establishing a Skills For Life program: The city is committing up to $75 million toward Skills for Life, which is a training, career readiness and education program potentially targeting thousands of unemployed or underemployed Detroit residents, specifically those experiencing housing insecurity, those lacking high school diplomas and/or post-secondary credentials, returning citizens, and other populations that face barriers to employment. Skills for Life combines education and training with wrap-around support services (e.g., childcare subsidies, transportation, construction tools) to help Detroiters rebound from the COVID-19 economic shutdown. The education side of the program assists participants with measurable skills gains, high school completion/GED attainment, an industry-recognized credential, an increase in functional reading or math competency levels, and other skill- and career-building activities. The work side of the program provides direct employment, job training, and other skill- and career-building activities, assists in removing barriers to employment and advancement, and provides disconnected workers with labor market on-ramps so they may earn income while building critical skills to improve prospects for long-term employment and job retention.
     
  3. King County, WA is connecting individuals experiencing homelessness with jobs and housing support. The County is investing over $30 million in American Rescue Plan funds to establish a program to promote economic recovery by connecting shelter residents with County or County-supported jobs for 6-12 months, as well as providing training for private sector jobs through County partnerships. The County also connects these participants with rapid rehousing providers and career services in an effort to navigate participants toward housing and employment stability. The program is intended to support several hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness with these services, and will undergo a quantitative program evaluation.
     
  4. Bridgeport, CT is investing in job training and other wraparound support for returning citizens. The city is providing over $4 million for a Second Chance Re-Entry Employment Program, working with returning citizens and formerly incarcerated individuals to provide a continuum of care. This includes providing participants with workforce development, job training and placement, housing support, medical health services, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, education services, and more. As an example, the city has partnered with Women Against Mass Incarceration, which focuses re-entry services on women who are formerly incarcerated, an often underserved community in re-entry. The city is also working with the University of Bridgeport to provide free tuition for formerly incarcerated individuals as part of an advanced manufacturing certificate program.
     
  5. Seattle, WA is connecting youth with opportunities in the Port of Seattle. The city is providing youth and young adults (ages 16-24), particularly those who are Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) with employment or paid internship opportunities at the Port. To reach this population, the Port subcontracts with community-based organizations embedded in and serving Seattle’s BIPOC community. In total, Seattle is investing over $6 million in workforce development initiatives to support child care workers, connect residents in economically distressed communities with construction work, and provide career navigation services and wraparound support.
     
  6. Baltimore, MD is expanding many workforce efforts, including critical transitional jobs program and a re-entry program. The city is investing $30 million in workforce programs, including $5.2 million to expand Hire Up, a transitional jobs program that will create at least 220 six-month positions for low-income residents paying $15 per hour. The city is also investing $8.4 million in Youth Works, allowing the program to offer jobs to young people ages 14 to 21 year-round, $8.9 million in Train Up, offering job training in the fields of biotechnology, IT, health care and business services, and $2.9 million to provide various supports (such as legal services, adult education, and financial counseling) to residents participating in Hire Up or Train Up as well as supplement wages at small, minority- and women-owned businesses that hire residents. The city is committing over $17 million through the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement toward job training assistance for violence prevention, including over $12 million for re-entry services. This impact will be tracked by the number of individuals participating in the program and the number of individuals transitioned into employment upon release.
     
  7. Portland, OR is connecting vulnerable populations to work. The city is committing $7 million of American Rescue Plan funds toward providing paid work opportunities and rapid re-careering services for Portlanders who are houseless, at risk of eviction, affected by increased violence or crime, or otherwise negatively impacted by the pandemic. Services will address the disproportionate economic impacts COVID-19 has had on people of color and other vulnerable populations currently disconnected from the workforce. The rapid re-careering training program, which is 12 weeks or less in duration, focuses on providing industry-specific trainings with employer partners who hire program graduates, in areas such as construction, waste and recycling hauling, entry-level clerical positions within hospitals and clinics, entry level IT careers, and banking customer service. For example, a new program to train residents as drivers for recycling and waste hauling companies serving the city has had success training and placing a high proportion of people with prior justice system involvement. The majority of these trainees are placed in jobs earning annual incomes of $60,000 or more. The city also operates a paid work and stipend program with local partners. Overall, the city has partnered with 11 service providing partners and 31 employer partners for these programs.
     
  8. Buffalo, NY is expanding the city’s youth employment effort, including broadening the Mayor’s youth employment program to accept more students, be available year round and compensate students for summer school in addition to summer employment opportunities. The city will also invest $3.5 million to establish a skills-based job readiness program that matches low- to moderate- income residents with specific employers and provides residents with the training to secure a career path. In combination with the subsidized employment programs and the scholarship program for the Northland Workforce Training Center, the City aspires to transform the talent development pipeline for employers while also giving residents real opportunities to secure long-term employment which pays a livable wage.
     
  9. Salt Lake County, UT is investing $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward a new job training program called Workforce Inclusion & Successful Employment (WISE) to help thousands of low-income and diverse residents access training that launches them into high-paying jobs. The program focuses on outreach and connecting students with wraparound services such as mental health support, mentorship, childcare, and other needs that are often key to success. The county expects to show that the increased upfront expenses pay for themselves through long-term increases in income and reduced need for benefits.
     
  10. Cook County, IL is accelerating workforce development for youth, individuals who were formerly incarcerated, and people with disabilities. The County is investing $15 million to launch and expand programs to address the urgent hiring needs of employers, scale programs to connect young adults to sector-focused training and internships, provide employment programming to people who have been incarcerated and increase outreach and service navigation for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. This includes the Opportunity Works program, which provides an 8-week, year-round paid internship program in high-demand, high-growth industries for out-of-work or out-of-school Cook County young adults, as well as Opportunity Summer, which is a 7-week paid summer internship program that provides a foundation for future full-time employment. The Opportunity Summer program was able to double its capacity due to American Rescue Plan funds. Further, the American Rescue Plan will allow for the Road Home program, which currently serves residents while they are incarcerated, to expand and serve those who have returned to the community but continue to face barriers to employment. In addition, the American Rescue Plan funds will also fund work to assist residents with a disability who face workforce development barriers. In concert with the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership will administer this suite of programs and estimates that they will impact 500 businesses and 13,960 residents of Cook County.
     
  11. Gloucester, NJ is developing a transition to work program for students with disabilities. Project SEARCH is a transition to work program that takes place entirely within a host business, enabling participants to experience total workplace immersion and learn relevant, transferrable, and marketable skills geared towards their individualized employment goals. The project provides role models and mentors for students with disabilities while also creating more awareness in the county for workforce opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
     
  12. Maine is developing a peer workforce navigator pilot program to increase access to employment opportunities for communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly and dramatically impacted the ability of many Mainers to support themselves and their families, particularly people in low- and moderate-income jobs, workers of color, workers with dependent care responsibilities, and workers with lower levels of educational attainment. Through a collaborative partnership with five organizations, including ethnic-based community organizations, worker groups, labor unions, and other community partners, the Peer Workforce Navigator program will assist individuals in communities hit hardest by the pandemic with addressing basic needs and finding employment. In this two-year pilot, peers employed by local community organizations will help a projected 3,000 individuals connect with employment, job training programs, and basic needs supports necessary to persist in work or education, such as child care, transportation, unemployment insurance, and other concrete resources.
     
  13. Los Angeles County, CA has committed $5 million to increase capacity for the Youth@Work program, which offers youth in priority populations, including but not limited to foster, probation, and LGBTQI+ youth, paid enrichment training and work experience in public, non-profit, and private organizations in high-growth industry sectors. The county is also dedicating over $2 million for job placement programming for individuals returning from serving sentences in jail or prison, with a focus on women and the LGBTQI+ community.
     
  14. Boston, MA is providing wraparound supports, including employment opportunities, to high-risk individuals in communities with highest rates of gun and gang violence in the city. The Office of Public Safety is directing funding to bolster services and programs for high risk, system-involved individuals that are underserved in communities with highest rates of gun and gang violence in the city. Specifically, the city is awarding grants to Boston nonprofits to increase or scale up programs that improve economic, education and health outcomes for participants by providing training, case management, mental health services, and employment opportunities, among other support services. Further, the city is also supporting SOAR Boston, the city’s gang intervention program, through workforce development and training.
     
  15. Iowa is committing $10 million for the Homes for Iowa program, where inmates at the Newton Correction Facility receive building trades skills training while constructing modular homes. The program is a public-private partnership that aims to reduce recidivism while helping solve Iowa’s housing shortage. The inmates participate in skills training, including an apprenticeship curriculum. They receive portable training certificates and are connected to Iowa employers upon release. The Homes for Iowa organization works closely with the state to develop wraparound services for participants of the program.

Justice Department Sues Idaho to Protect Reproductive Rights

Complaint Alleges Idaho Law Violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act
 

Protesting for reproductive rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of patients to access emergency medical care guaranteed by federal law. The suit challenges Idaho Code § 18-622 (§ 18-622), which is set to go into effect on Aug. 25 and imposes a near-total ban on abortion.

The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that § 18-622 conflicts with, and is preempted by, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition. The United States also seeks an order permanently enjoining the Idaho law to the extent it conflicts with EMTALA.

“On the day Roe and Casey were overturned, we promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.  “That is what we are doing, and that is what we will continue to do. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law. And we will closely scrutinize state abortion laws to ensure that they comply with federal law.” 

“Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Women should not have to be near death to get care. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue its work with the Department of Justice to enforce federal law protecting access to health care, including abortions.”

“One critical focus of the Reproductive Rights Task Force has been assessing the fast-changing landscape of state laws and evaluating potential legal responses to infringements on federal protections,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s lawsuit against the State of Idaho for its near-absolute abortion ban is the first public example of this work in action. We know that these are frightening and uncertain times for pregnant women and their providers, and the Justice Department, through the Task Force’s work, is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

EMTALA requires hospitals that receive federal Medicare funds to provide necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency. When a physician reasonably determines that the necessary stabilizing treatment is an abortion, state law cannot prohibit the provision of that care. The statute defines necessary stabilizing treatment to include all treatment needed to ensure that a patient will not have her health placed in serious jeopardy, have her bodily functions seriously impaired, or suffer serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

As explained in the complaint, once § 18-622 enters into effect in Idaho, a prosecutor can indict, arrest and prosecute a physician merely by showing that an abortion has been performed, without regard to the circumstances. A physician who provides an abortion in Idaho can ultimately avoid criminal liability only by establishing as an affirmative defense that “the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” or that, before performing the abortion, the pregnant patient (or, in some circumstances, their parent or guardian) reported an “act of rape or incest” against the patient to a specified agency and provided a copy of the report to the physician. The law provides no defense for an abortion necessary to protect the health of the pregnant patient. 

Idaho’s criminal prohibition of all abortions, subject only to the statute’s two limited affirmative defenses, directly conflicts with EMTALA and stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of EMTALA’s federal objectives of providing stabilizing care and treatment to anyone who needs it. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Justice Department established the Reproductive Rights Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Gupta. The Task Force is charged with protecting access to reproductive freedom under federal law. For additional information on the work of the Task Force visit www.justice.gov/reproductive-rights.

Biden Administration’s DoJ, HHS Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law

Long Islanders react to Supreme Court overturning Roe’s constitutional protections of reproductive freedom. The Biden Administration is setting up a task force within the Justice Department to insure rights are protected, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Justice Department Announces Reproductive Rights Task Force

The Task Force Formalizes the Department’s Ongoing Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law

The Justice Department announced today the establishment of the Reproductive Rights Task Force. The Task Force formalizes an existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care in anticipation of the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the Task Force, which will consist of representatives from the Department’s Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney community, Office of the Solicitor General, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General and Office of the Attorney General and will be supported by dedicated staff.

“As Attorney General Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “The Court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”

The Task Force will monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement actions that threaten to:

  • Infringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care;
  • Impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal;
  • Impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states;
  • Ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy; or
  • Impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law.

The Task Force will identify such actions and coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate. The Task Force will work with agencies across the federal government to support their work on issues relating to reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare. 

The Justice Department is working with external stakeholders such as reproductive services providers, advocates and state attorneys general. The Task Force will continue this important effort. It will also work with the Office of Counsel to the President to convene a meeting of private pro bono attorneys, bar associations and public interest organizations in order to encourage lawyers to represent and assist patients, providers and third parties lawfully seeking reproductive health services throughout the country. In order to assist attorneys working to protect access to comprehensive reproductive health services, the Task Force will centralize online legal resources, such as filed Justice Department legal briefs and information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Recognizing that the best way to protect reproductive freedom is through congressional action, the Task Force will also coordinate providing technical assistance to Congress in connection with federal legislation to codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services. It will also coordinate the provision of technical assistance concerning Federal constitutional protections to states seeking to afford legal protection to out-of-state patients and providers who offer legal reproductive healthcare.

HHS Issues Guidance to the Nation’s Retail Pharmacies Clarifying Their Obligations to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services
 

Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. The guidance makes clear that as recipients of federal financial assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid payments, pharmacies are prohibited under law from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities. This includes supplying prescribed medications; making determinations regarding the suitability of prescribed medications for a patient; and advising a patient about prescribed medications and how to take them.  The action is the latest step in the HHS’ response to protect reproductive health care.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” said Secretary Becerra. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”

Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), 42 U.S.C. 18116, recipients of federal financial assistance cannot exclude an individual from participation in, denying them the benefits of, or otherwise subjecting them to discrimination based on sex and other bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, age, and disability) in their programs and activities. Under federal civil rights law, pregnancy discrimination includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Read the guidance here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pharmacies-guidance.pdf.

HHS is committed to ensuring that people can access reproductive health care, free from discrimination. If you believe that your or another person’s civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with HHS at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.

Below are a list of actions HHS has taken in the days following the Supreme Court’s ruling to ensure access to reproductive health care:

  • Launched the ReproductiveRights.gov public awareness website, which includes a know-your-rights patient fact sheet;
  • Convened a meeting with health insurers, and sent them a letter, calling on the industry to commit to meeting their obligations to provide coverage for contraceptive services at no cost as required by the Affordable Care Act; 
  • Issued guidance to patients and providers that addresses the extent to which federal law and regulations protect individuals’ private medical information when it comes to seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, as well as when it comes to using health information apps on smartphones;
  • Announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers; 
  • Met with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Maine Governor Janet Mills and state attorneys general to discuss state-specific concerns;
  • Issued guidance on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) reaffirming that it protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations.

FACT SHEET: Biden’s 21 Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

President Biden has made historic progress on actions to reduce gun violence, including being the first president in almost 30 years to sign gun safety legislation, the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Biden and gun safety activists recognize more has to be done – starting with banning assault weapons. Nonetheless, Biden has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president’s at this point in their Administration, the White House emphasizes. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

There is only so much a President who honors the Constitution can do unilaterally to reduce gun violence, especially faced with a radical, activist, reactionary Supreme Court and a paralyzed Congress. President Joe Biden has already achieved a landmark, bipartisan Safer Communities Act, but acknowledges that much more has to be done. Nonetheless Biden has signed 21 executive actions to reduce gun violence. Not enough? Elect more legislators at local, state and federal level who will pass sensible gun violence reform, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips: This is from the White House:

President Biden has made historic progress on actions to reduce gun violence. To implement his comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime, the Biden Administration has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president’s at this point in their Administration. Today, the President is celebrating the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence reduction legislation to pass Congress in 30 years. ​

The Biden Administration will continue to use all of the tools at its disposal to address the epidemic of gun violence. The President’s FY 2023 budget proposes $32 billion in additional funding to fight crime, including $20.6 billion in discretionary funding for federal law enforcement and state and local law enforcement and crime prevention programs, an increase of 11% over FY22 enacted ($18.6 billion) and 18% over FY21 enacted ($17.5 billion). 

But there is so much more that can and must be done to save lives. The President will continue to urge Congress to take further legislative action to keep dangerous guns out of dangerous hands, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, strengthening background checks, and enacting safe storage laws.

Below are 21 ways the Biden Administration has already used executive action to make our communities safer:

Keeping Especially Dangerous Weapons and Repeat Shooters Off Our Streets

1. The Justice Department issued a final rule to rein in the proliferation of ghost guns, which are unserialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes.

2. The Attorney General directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies. 

3. The Justice Department issued a proposed rule to better regulate when devices marketed as firearm stabilizing braces effectively turn pistols into short-barreled rifles subject to the National Firearms Act.

Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

4. The Justice Department published model extreme risk protection order legislation to make it easier for states that want to adopt these red flag laws to do so. 

5. The Justice Department issued the first volume of its new, comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking.

6. The Justice Department announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerance for willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk.

7. The Justice Department launched five new law enforcement strike forces focused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. 

8. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new paid media campaign featuring a series of public service announcements to reinforce the key message that a simple gun lock can save lives. 

9. The Departments of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Office of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that they will jointly create a plan for addressing lethal means safety awareness, education, training, and program evaluation. 

10. ATF issued a final rule clarifying firearms dealers’ statutory obligations to make available for purchase compatible secure gun storage or safety devices. 

Making Additional Progress to Reduce Community Violence

11. The President called for cities and states to use American Rescue Plan funding to reduce gun crime and other violent crime, including by investing in community violence interventions and prevention. Through May 2022, $10 billion in American Rescue Plan funds had been committed to public safety and violence prevention – including at least $6.5 billion in State and Local funds committed by more than half of states and more than 300 communities across the country.

12. Five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. For example:

• The National Institutes of Health announced funding through its Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research grants for four community violence programs – including a place-based strategy involving repurposing vacant lots in Detroit, an evaluation of READI Chicago, a burnout prevention program for violence interrupters in Chicago, and a hospital-based violence intervention program focused on youth in Virginia. 

• The Justice Department announced $187 million for states and $85 million for localities through the Byrne JAG Program to support coordinated violence prevention and intervention; the Department explicitly encouraged the use of these funds for CVI. 

• The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a guide explaining to localities how Community Development Block Grants – a $3.4 billion annual funding stream –can be used to fund CVI strategies. 

• The Department of Education released a letter to state school associations on how 21st Century Learning Centers funds and Student Support and Academic enrichment programs – both billion-dollar formula grant funding streams – can be used to fund CVI strategies in schools.

13. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a webinar and published information to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions. Last year, Connecticut and Illinois enacted legislation that allows Medicaid to reimburse providers for hospital-based violence prevention services – the first two states in the country to pursue this approach. According to reporting by USA Today, “[t]he idea has been in the works for years, advocates say, but not until the Biden administration signaled that states could – and should – use Medicaid dollars to support these violence prevention programs have state lawmakers stepped up.”

14.  Senior White House staff established The White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a 16-jurisdiction cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts, and philanthropic leaders committed to using American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure. 

Providing Law Enforcement with the Tools and Resources They Need to Reduce Gun Violence

15. The Justice Department announced $139 million in grants to local law enforcement that will put over 1,000 police officers on the beat through the COPS Office Hiring Program.

16. The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) expanded the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP). 

Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence

17. The Department of Labor awarded $89 million through its Youth Build program to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities for young people ages 16-24.

18. The Department of Labor awarded $20 million through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program to expand workforce development activities that serve youth ages 14-21 during “out of school” time (non-school hours).

19. The Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs.

20. The Department of Labor awarded $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants to organizations that will help provide education and training services to young adults between 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation. 

21. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, awarded nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) supplemental funding to support services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.

Biden Reacts to June Inflation Report: Inflation Still Unacceptably High But Data Out of Date, Does Not Reflect Drop in Gas Prices

High energy prices account for half of the increase in June’s CPI report, but prices have been falling for almost a month © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden reacted to the June inflation report saying that while inflation is still unacceptably high, the report is out-of-date, failing to take into account that gas prices – which accounts for a significant amount of the inflation rate – have gone down for nearly 30 days, reducing the price at the pump by 40 cents since mid-June. Still, he said, “inflation is our most pressing economic challenge,” just as it is around the world. Here is his statement the June CPI Inflation report as provided by the White House:

While today’s headline inflation reading is unacceptably high, it is also out-of-date. Energy alone comprised nearly half of the monthly increase in inflation. Today’s data does not reflect the full impact of nearly 30 days of decreases in gas prices, that have reduced the price at the pump by about 40 cents since mid-June. Those savings are providing important breathing room for American families. And, other commodities like wheat have fallen sharply since this report.
 
Importantly, today’s report shows that what economists call annual “core inflation” came down for the third month in a row, and is the first month since last year where the annual “core” inflation rate is below six percent.  
 Inflation is our most pressing economic challenge. It is hitting almost every country in the world. It is little comfort to Americans to know that inflation is also high in Europe, and higher in many countries there than in America.  But it is a reminder that all major economies are battling this COVID-related challenge, made worse by Putin’s unconscionable aggression.
 
Tackling inflation is my top priority – we need to make more progress, more quickly, in getting price increases under control. Here is what I will do:
 
First, I will continue to do everything I can to bring down the price of gas. I will continue my historic release of oil from our strategic petroleum reserve. I will continue working with our European allies to put a price cap on Russian oil – sapping Putin of oil revenue. And, I will continue to work with the U.S. oil and gas industry to increase production responsibly — already, the U.S. is producing 12.1 million barrels of oil per day and is on track to break records.
 
But I will also continue to insist – as I have with urgency recently – that reductions in the price of oil must produce lower gas prices for consumers at the pump.  The price of oil is down about 20% since mid-June, but the price of gas has so far only fallen half as much. Oil and gas companies must not use this moment as an excuse for profiting by not passing along savings at the pump.  
 
Second, I will urge Congress to act, this month, on legislation to reduce the cost of everyday expenses that are hitting American families, from prescription drugs to utility bills to health insurance premiums and to make more in America.
 
Third, I will continue to oppose any efforts by Republicans – as they have proposed during this campaign year — to make things worse by raising taxes on working people, or putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years.
 
Finally, I will continue to give the Federal Reserve the room it needs to help it combat inflation.

Biden at Event Commemorating Passage of Safer Communities Act: ‘More Has To Be Done’

President Joe Biden at a White House ceremony marking the passage of the Safer Communities Act, the first significant gun safety legislation in almost 30 years: “This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns. And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

President Joe Biden signed the landmark Safer Communities Act – the first significant gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years – almost immediately after Congress  passed the legislation, in the few minutes before departing for the G7 summit in Europe. On July 11, in an event at the White House, he commemorated the passage, acknowledging the long struggle by activists and key figures in Congress, but said “more has to be done.”

This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns. And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more.”

Here is a transcript of his remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everyone.  Doc, thank you.  Your heroism in treating the wounded children in Uvalde, many of whom you’ve known their whole lives — their whole lives — and treated them with normal child problems as a pediatrician, it’s something we’ll never forget.

And, Garnell, it’s good to see you again.  I know how tough it is.  A lot of people in here have been victims of gun violence — lost sons, daughters, husbands, wives.  They understand your pain.  And every time you stand up to talk about it, even for a good cause, it brings it all back like it happened yesterday.  But thank you for the courage to do it.

Jill and I will never forget the time we spent with you and your families. 

And I want to thank — thank the Vice President Harris and the Second Gentleman; and members of the Cabinet, eight of whom are here today; as well as mayors and elected officials from across the country.

I want to particularly thank the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Highland Park for being here.  We’ve had — (applause) — no, I mean it sincerely.  We had a number of conversations immediately after the attack in Highland Park.  And I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve handled things.  It’s been extraordinary.  And as the three of us have discussed, we have more to do.

I also want to thank the bipartisan group of senators who worked so hard to get this done, especially Senators Murphy — (applause); Sinema — (applause); Cornyn and Tillis.  (Applause.)  I hope it doesn’t get you in trouble mentioning your name.  Thank you for the courage. 

As well as all of the members of Congress who have worked on these issues for a long time, 80 of whom are with us today.  (Applause.) 

And I’m sorry Senators Schumer and Blumenthal can’t be here today, but they’re working from home, overcoming mild cases of COVID.

I know how hard it is to get things done because I know how hard it was to write the first gun legislation — at least the first from my career — that was passed nearly 30 years ago.  That’s how long ago it was.

And as I look out in this crowd, I see so many advocates and families, many of whom have become friends, whose lives have been shattered by gun violence and who have made it their purpose to save other lives.

I’ve spent so much time with so many of you over the years that we’ve actually become personal friends.  And I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to continue to fight for other families.

Nothing can bring back your loved ones, but you did it to make sure that other families don’t have to experience the same loss and pain that you’ve experienced.

And you have felt and you feel the price of inaction, that this has taken too long, with too much of a trail of bloodshed and carnage.  And I know public policy can seem remote, technical, and distant from our everyday lives.  But because of your work, your advocacy, your courage, lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this.  (Applause.)

What we are doing here today is real, it’s vivid, it’s relevant.  The action we take today is a step designed to make our nation the kind of nation we should be.  It’s about the most fundamental of things — the lives of our children, of our loved ones. 

We face, literally, a moral choice in this country — a moral choice with profound, real-world implications.

Will we take wise steps to fulfill the responsibility to protect the innocent and while keeping faith with constitutional rights?

Will we match thoughts and prayers with action? 

I say yes.  (Applause.)  And that’s what we’re doing here today.  (Applause.)

Today is many things.  It’s proof that despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to do more than that!

THE PRESIDENT:  Because make no mistake — sit down.  You’ll hear what I have to say if you think —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to do more than that! 

THE PRESIDENT:  You —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to open an office in the White House.  (Inaudible.)  I’ve been trying to tell you this for years.  (Inaudible.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  President Biden!  Yeah!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  We have one.  Let me finish my comments.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let him talk.  Let him talk.  No one — okay?

Because make no mistake about it: This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns.

And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more — (applause) — to take away from the legislation, it is not — that’s not what we can do.  It’s to take the — the take-away from this is that now — now we’re opening to get much more done. 

Senator Murphy has said: When you look at the biggest social issues America has faced throughout our history, quote, “Success begets success.”  And that’s when you, quote, “finally move that mountain.”  You can — you can ignite a movement when you do that for more progress to follow. 

We have finally moved that mountain — a mountain of opposition, obstruction, and indifference that has stood in the way and stopped every effort at gun safety for 30 years in this nation.  (Applause.)

And now is the time to galvanize this movement, because that’s our duty to the people of this nation. 

That’s what we owe those families in Buffalo, where a grocery store became a killing field.

It’s what we owe those families in Uvalde, where an elementary school became a killing field. 

That’s what we owe those families in Highland Park, where, on July 4th, a parade became a killing field.

And that’s what we owe all those families represented here today and all over this country the past many years, across our schools, places of worship, workplaces, stores, music festivals, nightclubs, and so many other everyday places that have turned into killing fields. 

     And that’s what we owe the families all across this nation where, every day, tragic killings that don’t make the headlines are more than passing mention — a little more than passing mention in the local news.  (Applause.) 

Neighborhoods and streets have been turned into killing fields as well.

Today’s legislation is an important start.  And here are the key things that it does: It provides $750 million in crisis intervention and red-flag laws so the parent, a teacher, a counselor can flag for the court that a child, a student, a patient is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that makes them a danger to themselves and to others.

Fort Hood, Texas, 2009: 13 dead, 30 more injured.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 1918 [2018]: 17 dead, 17 injured.

In both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds.

In both places, red-flag laws could have stopped both those shooters.  (Applause.)

You know, this new law requiring — requires young people under 21 to [under]go enhanced background checks before purchasing a gun. 

How many more mass shootings do we have to see where a shooter is 17, 18 years old and able to get his hands on a weapon and go on a killing spree?

You know, it closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”  If you’re convicted of assault against your girlfriend or boy- — you can’t buy a gun.  You can’t do it.  (Applause.)

According to a recent study, in over 50 percent of mass shootings, the shooter shot a family member or a partner.

So if we keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, we can save the lives of their partners, and we can also stop more mass shootings.

One, this law includes the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases explicit federal crimes.  (Applause.)

It clarifies who needs to register as a federally licensed gun dealer and run background checks before selling a single weapon.  (Applause.)

It invests in anti-violence programs that work directly
with the communities most at risk for gun crimes.  (Applause.) 

And this law also provides funding vital for funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country — (applause) — including the trauma experienced by the survivors of gun violence.

It will not save every life from the epidemic of gun violence, but if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved.

It matters.  It matters.  But it’s not enough, and we all know that.

In preparation for today’s signing, I asked to send me their story — people to send me their stories about their experience with gun violence.  I received over 2,500 responses in 24 hours.  I didn’t get to read them all, but I read some.

A 17-year-old wrote me saying, quote, “A school shooting sophomore year shattered every sense of normalcy I’ve ever felt.  Almost three years later, I still have nightmares.”

A 24-year-old wrote about growing up in what was a, quote, “seemingly endless era of gun violence.”

A 40-year-old wrote me about two friends shot and killed by abusive partners and former partners.

Someone else wrote me about a 6-year-old child who was sitting near his father’s coffin, was asking, quote, “Why is Daddy in that scary box?  Wake up, Daddy.  Wake up Daddy.”  His father had been gunned down. 

I read these stories and so many others.  So many others.  And, you know, I see the statistics.  Over 40,000 people died from gunshot wounds last year in the United States, 25,000 by suicide.

I think: Can this really be the United States of America?  Why has it come to this?  We all know a lot of the reasons: gun lobby, gun manufacturers, special interest money, the rise of hyper-partisan tribal politics in the country where we don’t debate the issues on the merits and we just rather turn on each other from our corners and attack the other side.

Regardless, we’re living in a country awash in weapons of war — weapons that weren’t designed to hunt are not being used — the weapons designed that they’re purchasing are designed as weapons of war to take out an enemy.

What is the rationale for these weapons outside war zones?  Some people claim it’s for sport or to hunt.  But let’s look at the facts: The most common rounds fired from an AR-15 move almost twice as fast as that from a handgun.  Coupled with smaller, lighter bullets, these weapons maximize the damage done coupled with those bullets, and human flesh and bone is just torn apart.

And as difficult as it is to say, that’s why so many people and some in this audience — and I apologize for having to say it — need to provide DNA samples to identify the remains of their children.  Think of that. 

It’s why trauma surgeons who train for years for these moments know it’s unlikely that someone shot with a high-powered assault weapon will make it long enough for the ambulance to get them to the hospital.

It’s why these scenes of destruction are resembling nothing like a weekend hunting trip for deer or elk.

And yet, we continue to let these weapons be sold to people with no training or expertise.

Case in point: America has the finest fighting force in the world.  We provide our service members with the most lethal weapons on Earth to protect America.

We also require them to receive significant training before they’re allowed to use these weapons.

We require extensive background checks on them and mental health assessments on them.  (Applause.)

We require that they learn how to lock up and store these weapons responsibly.  (Applause.)

We require our military to do all that.  These are commonsense requirements.  But we don’t require the same commonsense measures for a stranger walking into a gun store to purchase an AR-15 or some weapon like that.

     It makes no sense.  Assault weapons need to be banned.  They were banned.  (Applause.)  I led the fight in 1994.  And then, under pressure from the NRA and the gun manufacturers and others, that ban was lifted in 2004.

In that 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down.  When the law expired in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. 

They’re the facts.  I’m determined to ban these weapons again and high-capacity magazines — (applause) — that hold 30 rounds and that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes.  I’m not going to stop until we do it.

     Here’s another thing we should do: We should have safe storage laws, requiring personal liability for not locking up your gun.  (Applause.)

The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns and assault weapons that were too easy to access — weapons he used to kill his mother and then murder 26 people, including 20 innocent first graders.

If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it and keep it under lock and key.  (Applause.)

Responsible gun owners agree: No one else should have access to it, so lock it up, have trigger locks.  And if you don’t and something bad happens, you should be held responsible.  (Applause.)

I have four shotguns; two are mine and two are my deceased son’s.  They’re locked up, lock and key.  Every responsible gun owner that I know does that.

We should expand background checks to better keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under domestic violence restraining orders.  (Applause.) 

Expanded background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, agree on.

My fellow Americans, none of what I’m talking about infringes on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

I’ve said it many times: I support the Second Amendment.

But when guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America — let me say that again — guns are the number one killer of children in the United States.  More than car accidents.  More than cancer.  And over the last two decades, more high-school [school-age] children have died from gun shots than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.  Think of that.  Then we can’t just stand by.  We can’t let it happen any longer.

With rights come responsibilities.

Yes, there’s a right to bear arms, but we also have the right to live freely — (applause) — without fear for our lives in a grocery store, in a classroom, on a playground, at a house of worship, in a store, at a workplace, a nightclub, a festival, in our neighborhoods and our streets.  (Applause.)

The right to bear arms is not an absolute right that dominates all others.

The perennial price for living in a community with others is being neighbors, of being fellow citizens, is that we obey the laws and customs that ensure what that Fra- — what the Framers called “domestic tranquility.”

That’s what civilization is.  That’s what we have been at our best.  That’s what America must always be: a place where we preserve the rights but fulfill our responsibilities.

I know this: There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, and our fellow Americans.

When I spoke to the nation after Uvalde, I shared how a grandmother who had lost her granddaughter gave me and Jill a handwritten letter.  We spent four hours, almost five hours with her.

And I read it.  It reads, quote, “Erase the invisible line that is dividing our nation to come up with a solution and fix what is broken and to make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again.”  End of quote.

That’s why we’re here.  That’s why we’re here.

Today, I want to thank those in Congress, both Democrat and Republicans, who erased that invisible line dividing our nation and moved us forward on gun safety.

It’s an important step.  (Applause.)  And now we must look forward.  We have so much more work to do.

And I might add, there is $75 million in there for mental health reasons — a whole range of other things I’m not going to take time to go into today, but it’s important.  (Applause.)

May God bless all of us with the strength to finish the work left undone and — on behalf of the lives we’ve lost and the lives we can save. 

May God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Biden Signs EO Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Citing ‘An Out of Control Court’ Calls on Women to Exercise their Voting Power

New Yorkers protest for reproductive freedom. President Joe Biden is taking actions he can to protect access to reproductive health care services in light of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and multiple states immediately implementing bans on abortion rights, in most cases even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But the President noted that there is only so much he could do by Executive Order or that his administration can do, and exhorted women to take action at the ballot box, elect representatives to local, state and federal office who will protect their personal freedom, liberty and autonomy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden delivered a speech on July 8 on actions he is taking to protect access to reproductive health care services in light of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and multiple states immediately implementing bans on abortion rights, in most cases even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But the President noted that there is only so much he could do by Executive Order or that his administration can do, and exhorted women to take action at the ballot box, elect representatives to local, state and federal office who will protect their personal freedom, liberty and autonomy. Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks: — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, with the Vice President, Secretary Becerra, and Deputy Attorney General Monaco, I want to talk about an executive order I’m signing to protect reproductive rights of women in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s terrible, extreme, and, I think, so totally wrongheaded decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
 
[It] both formalized actions I announced right after the decision, as well as adding new measures today.
 
Let’s be clear about something from the very start.  This was not a decision driven by the Constitution.  Let me say it again: This was not a decision driven by the Constitution.  And despite what those justices in the majority said, this was not a decision driven by history.
 
You’ve all probably had a chance to the read the decision and the dissent.
 
The majority rattles off laws from the 19th century to support the idea that Roe was historic- — was a historical anomaly because states outlawed abortion in the 1880s, toward the end.  But that’s just wrong.
 
The truth is today’s Supreme Court majority that is playing fast and loose with the facts.  Even 150 years ago, the common law and many state laws did not criminalize abortion early in pregnancy, which is very similar to the viability line drawn by Roe.
 
But the Dobbs majority ignores that fact.  And the Dobbs majority ignores that many laws were enacted to protect women at the time when they were dying from unsafe abortions.
 
This is the horrific reality that Roe sought to end.  The practice of medicine should not — emphasize — should not be frozen in the 19th century.
 
So, what happened?
 
The dissenting opinion says it as clear as you can possibly say it.  And here’s the quote: “Neither law nor facts nor attitudes have provided any new reason to reach a different result than Roe and Casey did.”  And that’s has changed — excuse me — and “All that has changed is this Court.”  End of quote.  “All that has changed is this Court.”
 
That wasn’t about the Constitution or the law.
 
It was about a deep, long-seething antipathy towards Roe and the broader right to privacy.  As the justices wrote in their dissent, and I quote, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them.”  End of quote.
 
So, what we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment.  It was an exercise in raw political power.  On the day the Dobbs decision came down, I immediately announced what I would do.
 
But I also made it clear, based on the reasoning of the Court, there is no constitutional right to choose.  Only the way — the only way to fulfill and restore that right for women in this country is by voting, by exercising the power at the ballot box.
 
Let me explain.  We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law.  Your vote can make that a reality.
 
I know it’s frustrating and it made a lot of people very angry.  But the truth is this — and it’s not just me saying it; it’s what the Court said: When you read the decision, the Court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women.  Period.  Period.
 
After having made the decision based on a reading of a document that was frozen in time in the 1860s, when women didn’t even have the right to vote, the Court now — now — practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they’ve just taken away.
 
One of the most extraordinary parts of the decision, in my view, is the majority writes, and I quote, “Women…” — it’s a quote now, from the majority — “Women are not without electoral or political power.  It is noteworthy that the percentage of women who registered to vote and cast a ballot is consistently higher than the percentage of the men who do so.”  End of quote…
 
 
That’s another way of saying that you, the women of America, can determine the outcome of this issue. 
 
I don’t think the Court or, for that matter, the Republicans who for decades have pushed their extreme agenda have a clue about the power of American women.  But they’re about to find out, in my view.
 
It’s my hope and strong belief that women will, in fact, turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights that have taken from them by the Court.
 
And let me be clear: While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available.  I’m just stating a basic, fundamental notion.
 
The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage at my desk.
 
And we can’t wait.  Extreme Republican governors, extreme Republican state legislatures, and Republican extremists in the Congress overall — all of them have not only fought to take away the right — our rights — but they’re now determined to go as far as they can.  
 
Now the most extreme Republican governors and state legislatures have taken the Court’s decision as a green light to impose some of the harshest and most restrictive laws seen in this country in a long time.  These are the laws that not only put women’s lives at risk, these are the laws that will cost lives. 
 
What we’re witnessing is a giant step backwards in much of our country.  Already, the bans are in effect in 13 states.   Twelve additional states are likely to ban choice in the coming weeks.  And in a number of these states, the laws are so extreme they have raised the threat of criminal penalties for doctors and healthcare providers.  They’re so extreme that many don’t allow for exceptions, even for rape or incest.  Let me say that again: Some of the states don’t allow for exceptions for rape or incest. 
 
This isn’t some imagined horror.  It’s already happening.  Just last week, it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim in Ohio — 10 years old — and she was forced to have to travel out of the state, to Indiana, to seek to terminate the [pregnancy] and maybe save her life.  That’s — the last part is my judgment.  Ten years old.  Ten years old.  Raped, six weeks pregnant.  Already traumatized.  Was forced to travel to another state.  Imagine being that little girl.  Just — I’m serious — just imagine being that little girl.  Ten years old.
 
Does anyone believe that it’s the highest majority view that that should not be able to be dealt with, or in any other state in the nation?  A 10-year-old girl should be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child?  I can tell you what: I don’t.  I can’t think of anything as much more extreme.
 
The Court’s decision has also been received by Republicans in Congress as a green light to go further and pass a national ban.  A national ban.  Remember what they’re saying.  They’re saying there’s no right to privacy, so therefore it’s not protected by the Constitution, so leave it up to the state and the Congress, what they want to do. 
 
And now my Republican friends are talking about getting the Congress to pass a national ban.  The extreme positions that they’re taking in some of these states.  That will mean the right to choose will be illegal nationwide if, in fact, they succeed.  Let me tell you something: As long as I’m President, it won’t happen, because I’ll veto it.  
 
So the choice is clear.  If you want to change the circumstances for women and even little girls in this country, please go out and vote.  When tens of millions of women vote this year, they won’t be alone.  Millions and millions of men will be taking up the fight alongside them to restore the right to choose and the broader right to privacy in this nation, which they denied existed.  And the challenge from the Court to the American women and men — this is a nation.  The challenge is: Go out and vote.  Well, for God’s sake, there’s an election in November.  Vote, vote, vote, vote.  Consider the challenge accepted, Court. 
 
But in the meantime, I’m signing this important executive order.  I’m asking the Justice Department that, much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do something — do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their right: 
 
In states where clinics are still open, to protect them from intimidation. 
 
To protect the right of women to travel from a state that prohibits seeking the medical attention that she needs to a state to provide that care. 
 
To protect a woman’s right to the FDA-approved — Federal Drug Administration-approved medication that’s been available for over 20 years. 
 
The executive order provides safeguards to access care.  A patient comes into the emergency room in any state in the union.  She’s expressing and experiencing a life-threatening miscarriage, but the doctor is going to be so concerned about being criminalized for treating her, they delay treatment to call the hospital lawyer who is concerned the hospital will be penalized if a doctor provides the lifesaving care.  It’s outrageous.  I don’t care what your position is.  It’s outrageous, and it’s dangerous. 
 
That’s why this executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services — HHS — to ensure all patients, including pregnant women and girls experience pregnant — experiencing pregnancy loss get emergency care they need under federal law, and that doctors have clear guidance on their own responsibilities and protections no matter what the state — no matter what state they’re in.  
 
The executive order protects access to contraception — that I’m about to sign. 

 
Justice Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision — this is what Justice Thomas said in his concurring opinion — that the Court “should reconsider the constitutional right to contraception — to use contraception even among married couples. 
 
What century are they in?  There used to be a case called –[Griswold v. Connecticut], which was declared unconstitutional in the late ‘60s.  It said a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom could not decide to use contraception.

Right now, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Affordable Care Act guarantees insurance coverage for women’s health services, including — including free birth control.  The executive order directs HHS to identify ways to expand access to reproductive health services, like IUDs, birth control pills, emergency contraception. 
 
And equally important, this executive order protects patient privacy and access to information,
which looking at the press assembled before me, probably know more about it than I do.  I’m not a tech guy.  I’m learning.

But right now, when you use a search engine or the app on your phone, companies collect your data, they sell it to other companies, and they even share it with law enforcement.  There’s an increasing concern that extremist governors and others will try to get that data off of your phone, which is out there in the ether, to find what you’re seeking, where you’re going, and what you’re doing with regard to your healthcare. 

Talk about no privacy — no privacy in the Constitution.  There’s no privacy, period.

This executive order asks the FTC to crack down on data brokers that sell private information to extreme groups or, in my view, sell private information to anybody.
 
It provides private health information — it protects private health information in states with extreme laws.  

And the executive order strengthens coordination at a federal level.  It establishes a task force, led by the White House Department — and the Department of Human Services, focused specifically on using every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive healthcare.

You know, let me close with this: The Court and its allies are committed to moving America backward with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading the most personal of decisions.  Remember the reasoning of this decision has an impact much beyond Roe and the right to privacy generally. 

Marriage equality, contraception, and so much more is at risk.  This decision affects everyone — unrelated to choice — beyond choice.  We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with the extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy. 

The choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream and the extreme, between moving forward and moving backwards, between allowing politicians to enter the most personal parts of our lives and protecting the right to privacy — yes, yes — embedded in our Constitution.  
 
This is a choice.  This is a moment — the moment — the moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us and the moment to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans. 
 
Now, I’m going to sign this executive order. 

The executive order is “Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services.”

(The executive order is signed.)

FACT SHEET:
President Biden Signs Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services

New Yorkers protest to protect womens reproductive rights. President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion. Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, but stressed the importance and power of voters to secure their rights through the legislators they elect. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Immediately following the extremist majority Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden declared he would use whatever levers were available to him as President, but much was up to Congress and, because of the decision, state legislatures. “My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers,” President Biden said. “But Congress must act.  And with your vote, you can act.  You can have the final word.  This is not over.” Today, President Biden is signing an Executive Order protecting access to reproductive health care services. Here is a fact sheet from the White House:

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated a woman’s Constitutional right to choose.  This decision expressly took away a right from the American people that it had recognized for nearly 50 years – a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions, free from government interference.  Fundamental rights – to privacy, autonomy, freedom, and equality – have been denied to millions of women across the country, with grave implications for their health, lives, and wellbeing. This ruling will disproportionately affect women of color, low-income women, and rural women.
 
President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.
 
Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services. This Executive Order builds on the actions his Administration has already taken to defend reproductive rights by:

  • Safeguarding access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception;
     
  • Protecting the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information;
     
  • Promoting the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and
     
  • Coordinating the implementation of Federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to health care.

 
SAFEGUARDING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE SERVICES
 
The President has directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take the following actions and submit a report to him within 30 days on efforts to:

  • Protect Access to Medication Abortion.  HHS will take additional action to protect and expand access to abortion care, including access to medication that the FDA approved as safe and effective over twenty years ago. These actions will build on the steps the Secretary of HHS has already taken at the President’s direction following the decision to ensure that medication abortion is as widely accessible as possible.
     
  • Ensure Emergency Medical Care.  HHS will take steps to ensure all patients – including pregnant women and those experiencing pregnancy loss – have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law, including by considering updates to current guidance that clarify physician responsibilities and protections under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). 
     
  • Protect Access to Contraception.  HHS will take additional actions to expand access to the full range of reproductive health services, including family planning services and providers, such as access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs).  In all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage of women’s preventive services, including free birth control and contraceptive counseling, for individuals and covered dependents. The Secretary of HHS has already directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take every legally available step to ensure patient access to family planning care and to protect family planning providers.
     
  • Launch Outreach and Public Education Efforts.  HHS will increase outreach and public education efforts regarding access to reproductive health care services—including abortion—to ensure that Americans have access to reliable and accurate information about their rights and access to care.
     
  • Convene Volunteer Lawyers.  The Attorney General and the White House Counsel will convene private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.  Such representation could include protecting the right to travel out of state to seek medical care. Immediately following the Supreme Court decision, the President announced his Administration’s position that Americans must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek the care they need, as the Attorney General made clear in his statement, and his commitment to fighting any attack by a state or local official who attempts to interfere with women exercising this right.

PROTECTING PATIENT PRIVACY AND ACCESS TO ACCURATE INFORMATION
 
The President’s Executive Order takes additional steps to protect patient privacy, including by addressing the transfer and sales of sensitive health-related data, combatting digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services, and protecting people seeking reproductive health care from inaccurate information, fraudulent schemes, or deceptive practices.  The Executive Order will:

  • Protect Consumers from Privacy Violations and Fraudulent and Deceptive Practices.  The President has asked the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect consumers’ privacy when seeking information about and provision of reproductive health care services.  The President also has directed the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Attorney General and Chair of the FTC, to consider options to address deceptive or fraudulent practices, including online, and protect access to accurate information.
  • Protect Sensitive Health Information.  HHS will consider additional actions, including under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to better protect sensitive information related to reproductive health care. The Secretary of HHS has already directed the HHS Office for Civil Rights to take initial steps to ensure patient privacy and nondiscrimination of patients, as well as providers who provide reproductive health care, including by:
     
    • Issuing new guidance to address how the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information, including information related to reproductive health care. The guidance helps ensure doctors and other medical providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases, are not permitted – to disclose patients’ private information, including to law enforcement. 
       
    • Issuing a how-to guide for consumers on steps they can take to make sure they’re protecting their personal data on mobile apps.

PROMOTING SAFETY AND SECURITY
 
The Executive Order addresses the heightened risk related to seeking and providing reproductive health care and will:

  • Protect Patients, Providers, and Clinics.  The Administration will ensure the safety of patients, providers, and third parties, and to protect the security of other entities that are providing, dispensing, or delivering reproductive health care services.  This charge includes efforts to protect mobile clinics, which have been deployed to borders to offer care for out-of-state patients. 

COORDINATING IMPLEMENTATION EFFORTS
 
To ensure the Federal government takes a swift and coordinated approach to addressing reproductive rights and protecting access to reproductive health care, the President’s Executive Order will:

  • Establish an Interagency Task Force.  The President has directed HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council to establish and lead an interagency Task Force on Reproductive Health Care Access, responsible for coordinating Federal interagency policymaking and program development.  This Task Force will also include the Attorney General.  In addition, the Attorney General will provide technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care. 

EXECUTIVE ORDER BUILDS ON ADMINISTRATION’S ACTIONS TO PROTECT ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE
 
In addition to the actions announced today, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken the following steps to protect access to reproductive health care and defend reproductive rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs.  On the day of the decision, the President strongly denounced the decision as an affront to women’s fundamental rights and the right to choose In addition to action mentioned above, the Biden-Harris Administration is:

  • Supporting Providers and Clinics.  The Secretary of HHS directed all HHS agencies to ensure that all HHS-funded providers and clinics have appropriate training and resources to handle family planning needs, and announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers.
     
  • Promoting Access to Accurate Information.  On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision, HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, which provides timely and accurate information about reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care.  This includes know-your-rights information for patients and providers and promoting awareness of and access to family planning services, as well as guidance for how to file a patient privacy or nondiscrimination complaint with its Office for Civil Rights. 
     
  • Providing Leave for Federal Workers Traveling for Medical Care.  The Office of Personnel Management issued guidance affirming that paid sick leave can be taken to cover absences for travel to obtain reproductive health care.
     
  • Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services for Service members, DoD Civilians, and Military Families.  The Department of Defense (DoD) issued a memo to the Force, DoD civilians and military families on ensuring access to essential women’s health care services. The memo reiterates that the Department will continue to provide seamless access to reproductive healthcare for military and civilian patients, as permitted by federal law.  Military providers will continue to fulfill their duty to care for Service members, military dependents and civilian personnel who require pregnancy termination in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

For up-to-date information on your right to access reproductive health care, visit www.reproductiverights.gov

FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Maternal Health Blueprint Delivers for Women, Mothers, and Families

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to cutting the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, reducing the disparities in maternal health outcomes, and improving the overall experience during and after pregnancy for people across the country. This commitment will require bold, unprecedented action through a whole-of-government strategy. in addition to urging Congressional action, the White House has mobilized over a dozen federal agencies to develop the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis.

On June 24, the White House released the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a whole-of-government approach to combatting maternal mortality and morbidity. Here is a fact sheet from the White House;

For far too many mothers, complications related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum can lead to devastating health outcomes — including hundreds of deaths each year.  This maternal health crisis is particularly devastating for Black women, Native women, and women in rural communities who all experience maternal mortality and morbidity at significantly higher rates than their white and urban counterparts. 

Under President Biden and Vice President Harris’s leadership, this Administration is now taking the next step towards a future where the United States will be the best country in the world to have a baby. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to cutting the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, reducing the disparities in maternal health outcomes, and improving the overall experience during and after pregnancy for people across the country. This commitment will require bold, unprecedented action through a whole-of-government strategy. 

To start, the Administration is calling on Congress to improve and expand coverage by closing the Medicaid coverage gap and requiring continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum, as well as making the significant investments included in the President’s FY23 budget to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.

The Administration also recognizes that addressing the maternal health crisis in the United States requires immediate action. That is why, in addition to urging Congressional action, the White House has mobilized over a dozen federal agencies to develop the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis. The Blueprint outlines five priorities to improve maternal health and outcomes in the United States:

•    Increasing access to and coverage of comprehensive high-quality maternal health services, including behavioral health services.
•    Ensuring women giving birth are heard and are decisionmakers in accountable systems of care.
•    Advancing data collection, standardization, harmonization, transparency, and research
•    Expanding and diversifying the perinatal workforce.
•    Strengthening economic and social supports for people before, during, and after pregnancy.

For women who are pregnant, postpartum, or hoping to become pregnant, the actions in the Blueprint mean:

•    Extended Postpartum Coverage: States are encouraged to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to one year postpartum, so that women do not lose or have changes in their coverage during or soon after pregnancy.
•    Investments in Rural Maternal Care: Rural health care facilities will have more staff and capabilities to provide maternal care through increased funding from the expanding the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program and more robust training for rural health care providers. 
•    A Maternal Mental Health Hotline: Providers will be trained on mental health during pregnancy, and women will have access to a national, confidential, 24-hour, toll-free hotline if they are experiencing mental health challenges.
•    Substance Use Services: Federal agencies will partner with community-based organizations to ensure that addiction services and people trained in substance use disorder during pregnancy are more available.
•    No More Surprise Bills: Through the No Surprises Act, women are now protected from certain unexpected medical bills, which may occur during pregnancy, postpartum care, and/or delivery.
•    Better Trained Providers: More providers will be trained on implicit biases as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate care, so that more women are listened to, respected, and empowered as a decisionmaker in their own care.
•    Improved Maternal Health Data: Through enhanced federal partnerships with state and local maternal health data collection entities, communities, hospitals, and researchers will have access to better data to they can analyze poor outcomes during pregnancy and make improvements to support healthy pregnancies.
•    A More Diverse Maternal Care Workforce: Federal agencies will invest more in hiring, training, and deploying more physicians, certified nurse midwives, doulas, and community health workers to support women during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. The federal government will work to ensure these providers come from diverse communities and backgrounds. 
•    Better Access to Doulas and Midwives: The Administration will work with states to expand access to doulas and midwives, and encourage insurance companies to cover their services.
•    Expanded Social Services: Stronger partnerships between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services will help make it easier to enroll in federal programs for housing, food, childcare, and income assistance, as we know health care is only one part of what makes for a healthy pregnancy.
•    Stronger Workplace Protections for Mothers: Federal agencies will promote greater awareness of workplace protections and accommodations for new parents, like access to a private lactation room and break time to pump.

The actions outlined in the Blueprint are just the latest in this Administration’s multi-year effort to combat maternal mortality and morbidity. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps to address the maternal health crisis in the United States, including: 

•    Extending Postpartum Medicaid Coverage. Through the American Rescue Plan, states now have an easier pathway to extend Medicaid coverage from two to twelve months postpartum. Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia have availed themselves of this opportunity, extending coverage for more than 250,000 women. 
•    Announcing the New “Birthing Friendly” Hospitals Initiative. During the December Call to Action, the Vice President announced that, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Administration will be deploying a “Birthing Friendly” hospitals designation—the first federal hospital quality designation with a focus on maternal health. 
•    Hosting the First-Ever Meeting of Cabinet Officials on Maternal Health. In April of this year, Vice President Harris hosted the first-ever meeting of Cabinet officials to discuss maternal health.  This meeting brought together twelve agency leaders including leaders from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development to discuss ways that this Administration could deploy the resources of the federal government to tackle maternal mortality and morbidity. 
•    Leading the White House’s First-Ever Maternal Health Day of Action. In December 2021, the Vice President issued a nationwide Call to Action for federal agencies, businesses, and non-profits to collaboratively solve the maternal health crisis. During that event, the Vice President announced that this Administration had secured millions of dollars in private sector commitments aimed at improving maternal health. 

As we continue taking bold action to confront the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis, we will continue to listen to people who are pregnant and new mothers and ensure their feedback informs our approach to improve maternal health and strengthen our health care system. With the support of all parts of government and society, we can make this vision a reality. 

NYS Gov Hochul Signs Landmark Legislation to Strengthen Gun Laws, Bolster Restrictions on Concealed Carry in Response to SCOTUS Decision

Legislation (S.51001/A.41001) Restricts the Carrying of Concealed Weapons in List of Sensitive Locations

Institutes a Default of No Concealed Carry on Private Property and Businesses Unless Deemed Permissible by Property Owners

Establishes New Eligibility Requirements and Expands Disqualifying Criteria for Those Seeking Concealed Carry Permits

Enhances Safe Storage Requirements, Extends Requirements to Vehicles

Requires Backgrounds Checks for All Ammunition Purchases

Amends Body Armor Purchase Ban to Include Hard Body Armor Used by Suspect in Buffalo Shooting

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has been steadfast in combating the epidemic of gun violence in the state and nation. Back in October 2021, she signed landmark legislation to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks. Immediately upon the Supreme Court striking down the state’s 111-year law restricting concealed carry permits, she called back the state legislature for a special session to enact new, landmark legislation to strengthen the state’s gun laws and concealed carry regulations to conform with the radical decision © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Barely a week after the Supreme Court struck down New York State’s 111-year old law regulating concealed gun carry permits, Governor Kathy Hochul signed landmark legislation to strengthen New York’s gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons. This package of new laws — drafted in close collaboration with the Legislature — is devised to align with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. As a result of this decision, the State has taken steps to address the consequences of the Supreme Court decision and the resulting increase in licenses and in the number of individuals who will likely purchase and carry weapons in New York State.

“A week ago, the Supreme Court issued a reckless decision removing century-old limitations on who is allowed to carry concealed weapons in our state — senselessly sending us backward and putting the safety of our residents in jeopardy,” Governor Hochul said. “Today, we are taking swift and bold action to protect New Yorkers. After a close review of the NYSRPA vs. Bruen decision and extensive discussions with constitutional and policy experts, advocates, and legislative partners, I am proud to sign this landmark legislative package that will strengthen our gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons. I want to thank Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and all of our partners in the Legislature for their willingness to take on this critical issue with urgency and precision. I will continue to do everything in my power to combat the gun violence epidemic.”

“Keeping the people of New York State safe is our greatest priority and I am proud to stand with the Governor and Legislature in enacting the measures put into place today,” Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said. “With this action, New York has sent a message to the rest of the country that we will not stand idly by and let the Supreme Court reverse years of sensible gun regulations.”

Research has shown that violent crime involving firearms increases by 29 percent when people are given the right to carry handguns, caused in part by a 35 percent increase in gun theft and a 13 percent decrease in the rate that police solved cases. Today’s legislative package furthers the State’s compelling interest in preventing death and injury by firearms by:

  • Expanding on eligibility requirements in the concealed carry permitting process, including completed firearm training courses for applicants.
  • Allowing the state to regulate and standardize training for license applicants.
  • Restricting the carrying of concealed weapons in sensitive locations and establishing that private property owners must expressly allow a person to possess a firearm, rifle, or shotgun on their property. Individuals who carry concealed weapons in sensitive locations or in contravention of the authority of an owner of private property will face criminal penalties.
  • Establishing state oversight over background checks for firearms and regular checks on license holders for criminal convictions.
  • Creating a statewide license and ammunition database.
  • Strengthening and clarifying the law relating to the sale of body armor to include hard body armor, such as the type worn by the suspect in the Buffalo shooting and the safe storage of firearms.

The law will take effect on September 1, 2022. In addition, an appeals board will be created for those applicants whose license or renewal is denied or revoked, which will take effect on April 1, 2023.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said,”In response to the Supreme Court’s decision implying that guns are more important than lives in this country, we are passing legislation to ensure that New York State has safe and responsible gun laws. States are the last line of defense, which is why we are stepping up to protect New York from being easily flooded with concealed weapons and keeping firearms out of the wrong hands. These measures, in addition to the previous anti-gun violence legislation we passed, are vital in a time when there are more guns than people in America. New York will continue to prioritize people’s safety and lives, and I thank my conference, Speaker Heastie, and Governor Hochul for their partnership.”

Speaker Carl Heastie said, “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s dismantling our more than 100-year-old sensible concealed carry law, the Assembly Majority worked tirelessly alongside our Senate colleagues and the governor to ensure that our state has the strongest gun laws possible. We will not let this ruling make our streets less safe. Here in New York, the right to feel safe in public spaces is not secondary to unfettered access to firearms. And when this right-wing conservative court inevitably continues its assault on our democracy, we will remain as committed as ever to protecting the rights of every New Yorker.”

Last week, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision ended a 100-year legal precedent requiring individuals to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. The existing law gave discretion to the state and its licensing officers in determining what constitutes “proper cause”, which the court cited as unconstitutional.

Governor Hochul has worked closely with the legislature to devise the following Legislation (S.51001/ A.41001), which carefully and strictly regulate concealed carry weapons while staying within the confines of the NYSRPA vs. Bruen decision.

Sensitive locations and Private Property

Certain locations are always unsafe for guns, and this legislation makes concealed carry in sensitive locations a punishable crime. Sensitive locations include:

  • Airports
  • Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol
  • Courthouses
  • Daycare facilities, playgrounds and other locations where children gather
  • Educational Institutions
  • Emergency shelters, including domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters
  • Entertainment venues
  • Federal, state, and local government buildings
  • Health and medical facilities
  • Houses of worship
  • Libraries
  • Polling sites
  • Public demonstrations and rallies
  • Public transportation including subways and buses
  • Times Square

The law also makes ‘no carry’ the default for private property, unless deemed permissible by property owners. This gives power to business and property owners to decide whether or not they want guns in their establishments, which could include bars, restaurants, shops or grocery stores. Property owners who do decide to allow concealed carry will have to disclose with signage saying concealed carry is allowed on the premises. This allows people to make an informed decision on whether or not they want to be in a space where people could potentially be carrying a weapon.

Expanded Eligibility Requirements and Disqualifying Criteria

The legislation expands eligibility requirements for concealed carry permit applicants. Expanded application requirements include character references, firearm safety training courses, live fire testing, and background checks. Additionally, applicants who have documented instances of violent behavior will be disqualified from obtaining a concealed carry permit. Disqualifying criteria also includes misdemeanor convictions for weapons possession and menacing, recent treatment for drug-related reasons, and for alcohol-related misdemeanor convictions.

Safe Storage

Today’s legislation also implements new safe storage requirements for rifles, shotguns, and firearms. Gun owners will be prohibited from leaving a gun in their car unless it is stored in a lockbox. Additionally, state law previously required that guns be stored safely in a home if someone under 16 resides there, but new legislation will require safe gun ownership in a home if someone under 18 resides there.

Ammunition Background Checks

The legislation allows the state to conduct and have oversight over background checks for firearms and run regular checks on license holders for criminal convictions. State background checks will go beyond those conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System maintained by the FBI, which lack access to crucial state-owned and local-owned records and databases that provide a more accurate assessment of an applicant’s background. Research has found that states that perform their own background checks, instead of solely using the federal database, experience 27 percent lower firearm suicide rates and 22 percent lower firearm homicide rates. The legislation also requires background checks for ammunition sales and creates a statewide license and ammunition database.

Body Armor Amendment

Under current law, a “body vest” has a limited defined as a bullet-resistant soft body armor. This legislation will redefine body vests to encompass a broader array of protective equipment that is bullet resistant, expanding current purchase and sale prohibitions to include hard body armor. During the Buffalo tragedy, the shooter was wearing a steel-plated vest which would be captured under this new body armor definition.

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said, “Even as the gun industry attacks our sensible gun laws, our communities, and our children, we know we can count on New York State’s leadership to protect us time and time again. Last week, the gun-lobby backed U.S. Supreme Court overhauled New York’s concealed carry licensing law, a law that has helped keep New Yorkers safe for over a century.  Last night, our state took swift action by enacting new laws that will strengthen our public carry permitting process and enable New Yorkers to live safely in sensitive places across New York.  We applaud Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie for being model leaders for our nation as we continue to address the gun violence crisis and save lives.”