All posts by krubin

New York State Legalizes Adult CannAbis

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to legalize adult cannabis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) legalizing adult-use cannabis, fulfilling a key component of his 2021 State of the State agenda. The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill also expands New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.

The bill signing comes after the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced this past Sunday, March 28, that an agreement had been reached on the legislation.

The development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York State under this legislation has the potential to create significant economic opportunities for New Yorkers and the State. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Additionally, there is the potential for this new industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.

“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.” Governor Cuomo said. “This was one of my top priorities in this year’s State of the State agenda and I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis. I thank both the Leader and the Speaker, and the tireless advocacy of so many for helping make today’s historic day possible.”

“Today, New York stepped up and took transformative action to end the prohibition of adult-use marijuana,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “This legislation is a momentous first step in addressing the racial disparities caused by the war on drugs that has plagued our state for too long. This effort was years in the making and we have finally achieved what many thought was impossible, a bill that legalizes marijuana while standing up for social equity, enhancing education and protecting public safety. I applaud Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for their commitment and leadership on this issue.”

“Passage of this bill will mean not just legalizing marijuana, but also investing in education and our communities, and it brings to an end decades of disproportionately targeting people of color under state and federal drug laws,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “I thank Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for her years of advocacy and efforts to make this bill a reality. My colleagues and I knew it was important to do this the right way – in a way that would include those targeted and frequently excluded from the process. Now, this legal industry will create jobs across our state, including for those who have had their lives upended by years of unjust drug laws.”

“I’m extremely humbled, proud and honored to have passed the historic Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act with my partners in government Senator Liz Krueger and Governor Cuomo. This social justice initiative will provide equity to positively transform disenfranchised communities of color for the better,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “I believe this bill can serve as a blue print for future states seeking inclusive cannabis legalization. I would be remiss not to thank all of my family, colleagues, advocates and supporters over 8 long years.”

The Governor has included legalizing adult-use cannabis in his last three budget proposals.

The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act contains the following provisions:

Establish the Office of Cannabis Management

The Office of Cannabis Management will be charged with enforcing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing medical, adult-use cannabinoid hemp. It will be governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the Governor and one appointment by each house. OCM will be an independent office operating as part of the New York State Liquor Authority.

Medical Cannabis

The legislation will allow people with a larger list of medical conditions to access medical marijuana, increase the number of caregivers allowed per patient, and permit home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients.

Adult-Use Cannabis

The legislation will create a two-tier licensing structure that will allow for a large range of producers by separating those growers and processors from also owning retail stores. The legislation creates licenses for producers and distributors, among other entities, and the legislation will implement strict quality control, public health and consumer protections. A social and economic equity program will facilitate individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis enforcement, including creating a goal of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman owned business enterprise, or distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry.

The Bill implements a new cannabis tax structure that will replace a weight-based tax with a tax per mg of THC at the distributor level with different rates depending on final product type. The wholesale excise tax will be moved to the retail level with a 9 percent state excise tax. The local excise tax rate will be 4 percent of the retail price. Counties will receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue and 75 percent will go to the municipality.

Cannabinoid Hemp

The legislation permits the sale of hemp flower in the cannabinoid hemp program, and allows for smokeable forms only when adult use retail stores are operational.

Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue

All cannabis taxes will be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program and implement the law. The remaining funding will be split three ways:

  • 40 Percent to Education
  • 40 Percent to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
  • 20 Percent to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund

Municipal Opt-Out

Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.

Traffic Safety

The New York State Department of Health will work with institutions of higher education to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving. After completion of the research study, DOH may create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of cannabis in drivers.

The legislation includes additional funding for drug recognition experts and law enforcement to ensure safe roadways.

The use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited and will carry the same penalties as it does currently.

Personal Possession and Home Cultivation

The following conditions apply to growing cannabis at home and personal possession of cannabis outside the home:

  • Personal possession outside of the home: up to 3 ounces cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Home possession: amends limits of what is permitted in the home, which must be kept in a secure location away from children
  • Home grow: permitted under the bill subject to possession limits in 18 months after first adult-use sales begin for adult recreational use and subject to regulations of the Medical Program being promulgated no sooner than 6 months:
  • 3 mature plants and 3 immature plants for adults over 21
  • 6 mature plants and 6 immature plants maximum per household

Criminal Justice and Record Expungement

The cannabis penalty framework will be restructured to avoid the criminalization seen in prohibition. Reduced penalties will be implemented for possession and sale.

  • Creates automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law and provides necessary funding
  • Adds cannabis to the clean indoor air act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be smoked or vaped
  • Municipalities and local governments are permitted to make laws that are more restrictive than the CIAA. Contains various provisions to ensure that cannabis is treated as a lawful substance and to prevent discriminatory enforcement

Protections for the Use of Cannabis and Workplace Safety

Unlawful discrimination will be prohibited and workplace safety protections will be implemented.

Public Health and Education Campaign

OCM will establish a robust public health and education campaign and work with neighboring states and associations to coordinate actions and policies to protect regional health and safety.

This legislation builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study, which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color. 

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Biden, CDC Warn of ‘Impending Doom’ if Americans Let Up on COVID-19 Precautions Before Vaccinations Widespread

President Biden unveiled new actions to get more people vaccinated quickly and announce that by April 19, 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live, but warned that this is no time for Americans to lift the precautions of mask-wearing and social distancing © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Impending doom,” is how Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressed her fear in an emotional appeal to Americans to stay the course in order to finally get the coronavirus pandemic under control, that despite the pace of vaccinations, it is still too early to abandon mask-wearing and social distancing to prevent what she feared would be a fourth wave.

She related “the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.  We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.  I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room — gowned, gloved, masked, shielded — and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.
 
“I know what it’s like when you’re the physician, when you’re the healthcare provider and you’re worried that you don’t have the resources to take care of the patients in front of you.  I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who’s going to make that choice.  And I know what it’s like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.
 
“I didn’t know at the time when it was — when it would stop; we didn’t have the science to tell us.  We were just scared.  We have come such a long way.  Three historic scientific breakthrough vaccines, and we are rolling them out so very fast. 
 
“So I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director — not only as your CDC director but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer.  I so badly want to be done.  I know you all so badly want to be done.  We are just almost there but not quite yet.  And so I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends.
 
“The trajectory of the pandemic in the United States looks similar to many other countries in Europe, including Germany, Italy, and France looked like just a few weeks ago.  And since that time, those countries have experienced a consistent and worrying spike in cases.  We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic.  But it will take all of us, recommitting to following the public health prevention strategies consistently, while we work to get the American public vaccinated. 
 
“I’m calling on our elected officials, our faith-based communities, our civic leaders, and our other influencers in communities across the nation, and I’m calling on every single one of you to sound the alarm to carry these messages into your community and your spheres of influence.  We do not have the luxury of inaction.  For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge. 
 
“And after that honest plea, I want to reflect on so many reasons we have to be hopeful and why your actions today can get us out of this soon.  As I shared last week, we continue to get more and more real-world evidence on the protection of COVID-19 vaccines provide.  And CDC scientists have been working since these vaccines were first authorized to expand the evidence supporting their effectiveness,” she said.

Biden: ‘This is Deadly Serious’

President Joe Biden in remarks later on expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations, said, “Our progress on vaccination is a stunning example that there is nothing — nothing this country cannot do if we put our minds to it and we do it together. 
 
“But as I’ve also said, I will always give you it straight — straight from the shoulder.  Our work is far from over.  The war against COVID-19 is far from won.  This is deadly serious…

“This is not the time to lessen our efforts.  That’s what [CDC Director Rochelle Walensky] said.  We could still see a setback in the vaccination program.  And most importantly, if we let our guard down now, we could see a virus getting worse, not better. 
 
“You know, as many people as we have vaccinated, we still have more Americans left to go.  You know, we will administer more shots in March than any country on Earth.  But even so, we have to give more shots in April than we did in March.  Because we’re in the life and death race for the virus that is spreading quickly with cases rising again.  New variants are spreading.  And sadly, some of the reckless behavior we’ve seen on television over the past few weeks means that more new cases are to come in the weeks ahead.
 
“With vaccines, there’s hope, which is a — which is a very good thing, to state the obvious.  But people are let — are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing.  Look, to this point, cases have fallen two thirds since I took office.  Deaths have also fallen two thirds.  But now cases are going back up and, in some states, deaths are as well.  You know, we’re giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains.  And as much as we are doing, America, it is time to do even more.  All of us have to do our part, every one of us….”

 FACT SHEET:

President Biden Announces 90% of the Adult U.S. Population will be Eligible for Vaccination and 90% will have a Vaccination Site Within 5 Miles of Home by April 19

New Actions to Accomplish Goal: Expanding Pharmacy Program and Launching a New Program to Transport the Most Vulnerable Seniors and People with Disabilities to Vaccination Sites

President Biden unveiled new actions to get more people vaccinated quickly and announce that by April 19, 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live. The President announced that the Administration is increasing the number of pharmacies in the federal pharmacy vaccination program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 across the country and will stand up a dozen more mass vaccination sites by April 19.  He also announced a new effort to fund community organizations to provide transportation and assistance for the nation’s most at-risk seniors and people with disabilities to access vaccines. This builds on last week’s historic $10 billion investment to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines in the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.

President Biden called for all states, Tribes, and territories to make all U.S. adults eligible for vaccination no later than May 1 and is working closely with state and local leaders to make this happen as quickly as possible. To date, 31 states have said they will open up eligibility to all adults by April 19. With today’s actions to expand access, that means in just three weeks, 90% of all U.S. adults will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live.

The President reminded Americans about the importance of taking preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, as variants continue to spread and cases are on the rise. He called for continued masking and social distancing as we work to get more people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Actions include:

Expanding Vaccines to 20,000 More Local Pharmacies, Bringing the Total to Nearly 40,000 Pharmacies Across the Country by April 19: The President will announce that the Administration is expanding the Federal Retail Pharmacy program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 stores within the next three weeks. This means that by April 19, there will be a vaccine site within 5 miles of 90% of all Americans. The participating pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are located in communities across the country – including 45% currently in the highest-need neighborhoods.

Launching New Effort to Get the Nation’s Most Vulnerable and At-Risk Seniors and People with Disabilities Vaccinated: The President will announce nearly $100 million in funding to help vaccinate vulnerable and at-risk older adults and people with disabilities. This new effort will expand the senior and disability services funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the high-intensity assistance needed to get these individuals scheduled for and transported to vaccinations. It will also fund community organizations to transport them to appointments, which can involve extra time, assistance with mobility, and supporting people during wait times. Funding will be available starting within two weeks. The Administration has made tremendous progress on vaccinating seniors, with over 70% of people over 65 years old receiving at least one shot, and this new program will help vaccinate our most vulnerable and at-risk seniors and people with disabilities who have yet to be vaccinated, including those who need assistance leaving their home or are socially isolated. 

Expanding the Number of Mass Vaccination Centers Across the Country: The President will announce that the Administration will stand up a dozen more federally-run mass vaccination sites across the country, including two new sites in Gary, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri announced earlier today. Equity and access are prioritized in the design of the federal community vaccination centers, with some featuring weekend and extended daytime hours, reserved slots for registration through faith-based and community-based organizations, and deployment of mobile vaccination units to help vaccinate surrounding communities. This is in addition to the over $4 billion federal funding obligated to date and thousands of federal personnel deployed to support state- and locally-run community vaccination centers. In partnership with states, FEMA has launched 21 sites in communities across the country. Together, these sites have the ability to administer a total of 79,000 shots per day at full capacity.

New Yorkers 30 Years and Older Can get Vaccinated Starting March 30; 16 Years+ Starting April 6

New Yorkers 30 Years of Age and Older Can Begin to Schedule Appointments and Get Vaccinated Beginning Tuesday, March 30

New Yorkers 16 Years of Age and Older Can Begin to Schedule Appointments and Get Vaccinated Beginning April 6

New York State Will Make Eligibility Universal Nearly a Month Earlier Than President Biden’s May 1 Deadline

More Than 2 Million Total Doses Administered at New York State-Run and FEMA Assisted Mass Vaccination Sites     

More Than 9 Million Total Doses Administered Across All Vaccination Sites Statewide

171,419 Doses Administered Across New York State in the Last 24 Hours     

More than 1.3 Million Doses Administered Over Past Seven Days

30% of New Yorkers Have Received at Least One Dose     

Vaccine Dashboard Will Update Daily to Provide Updates on the State’s Vaccine Program; Go to ny.gov/vaccinetracker       

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York. Beginning Tuesday, March 30 at 8 a.m., all New Yorkers 30 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Beginning April 6, universal eligibility goes into effect and all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York. Beginning Tuesday, March 30 at 8 a.m., all New Yorkers 30 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Beginning April 6, universal eligibility goes into effect and all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. 

Additionally, the Governor announced more than 2 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered at New York State-run and FEMA-assisted mass vaccination sites. Statewide, more than 9 million total doses have been administered across all vaccination sites. 171,419 doses have been administered across the state’s vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1.3 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. Delivery of the week 16 allocation begins mid-week. 

“Today we take a monumental step forward in the fight to beat COVID. Beginning March 30, all New Yorkers age 30 or older will be able to be vaccinated, and all New Yorkers age 16 or older will be eligible on April 6, well ahead of the May 1 deadline set by the White House,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we continue to expand eligibility, New York will double down on making the vaccine accessible for every community to ensure equity, particularly for communities of color who are too often left behind. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but until we get there it is more important than ever for each and every New Yorker to wear a mask, socially distance and follow all safety guidelines.”

New York’s vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government. Due to limited supply, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.                              

The ‘Am I Eligible’ screening tool has been updated for individuals with comorbidities and underlying conditions with new appointments released on a rolling basis over the next weeks. New Yorkers can use the following to show they are eligible:

·     Doctor’s letter, or

·     Medical information evidencing comorbidity, or

·     Signed certification      

Vaccination program numbers below are for doses distributed and delivered to New York for the state’s vaccination program, and do not include those reserved for the federal government’s Long Term Care Facility program. A breakdown of the data based on numbers reported to New York State as of 11 AM today is as follows.                            

STATEWIDE BREAKDOWN

Total doses administered – 9,056,970

Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 171,419

Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,319,740

Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 29.6%

Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 16.8% 

 People with at least one vaccine dosePeople with complete vaccine series
RegionCumulative TotalIncrease over past 24 hoursCumulative TotalIncrease over past 24 hours
Capital Region357,3943,877200,9588,021
Central New York311,7584,284194,8576,867
Finger Lakes368,8593,160203,1756,570
Long Island701,77014,940383,8968,407
Mid-Hudson591,1678,028297,5576,725
Mohawk Valley157,2512,02695,2713,855
New York City2,650,33230,4751,550,45646,616
North Country166,3411,612110,5272,739
Southern Tier200,8712,372109,9122,980
Western New York392,5354,186212,5874,606
Statewide5,898,27874,9603,359,19697,386
 
                             
1st doses fully delivered to New York Providers 2nd doses fully delivered to New York Providers TOTALCUMULATIVE
Week 1 Doses arriving 12/14 – 12/20163,6500163,650163,650
Week 2 Doses arriving 12/21 – 12/27452,1250452,125 615,775
Week 3 Doses arriving 12/28 – 01/03227,3950227,395843,170
Week 4 Doses arriving 01/04 – 01/10239,025165,150404,1751,247,345
Week 5 Doses arriving 01/11 – 01/17221,315119,925  341,240  1,588,585
Week 6 Doses arriving 01/18- 01/24250,400462,395  712,795  2,301,380
Week 7 Doses arriving 01/25 – 01/31260,150239,525499,6752,801,055
Week 8 Doses arriving 02/01 – 02/07321,850220,720542,5703,343,625
Week 9 Doses arriving 02/8 – 02/14320,000244,500564,5003,908,125
Week 10 Doses arriving 2/15 – 2/21356,990265,525622,5154,530,640
Week 11 Doses arriving 2/22 – 2/28 393,530305,780699,3105,229,950
Week 12 Doses arriving 03/01 – 03/07 1,020,660290,5001,311,1606,541,110
Week 13 Doses arriving 03/08 – 03/14618,880526,4151,145,2957,686,405
Week 14 Doses arriving 03/15 – 3/21699,790584,7751,284,5658,970,970
Week 15 Doses arriving 03/22 – 3/28828,000737,0801,565,08010,536,050

New Yorkers seeking to determine eligibility and schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, can visit the ‘Am I Eligible’ website. New Yorkers may also call their local health department, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital for additional information and to schedule appointments where vaccines are available.                

The COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker Dashboard is available to update New Yorkers on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The New York State Department of Health requires vaccinating facilities to report all COVID-19 vaccine administration data within 24 hours; the vaccine administration data on the dashboard is updated daily to reflect the most up-to-date metrics in the state’s vaccination effort.          

New Yorkers who suspect fraud in the vaccine distribution process can now call 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226) toll-free or email the state Department of Health at STOPVAXFRAUD@health.ny.gov. Hotline staff will route complaints to the appropriate investigative agencies to ensure New Yorkers are not being taken advantage of as the State works to vaccinate the entire eligible population. 

Biden Administration Jumpstarts Offshore Wind Energy Projects to Create Jobs

Interior, Energy, Commerce, and Transportation Departments Announce New Leasing, Funding, and Development Goals to Accelerate and Deploy Offshore Wind Energy and Jobs
 

Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority in 2016. Now, the Biden Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is announcing a new priority Wind Energy Area in the New York Bight—an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast which could generate 25,000 development and construction jobs and then 6,000 jobs annually and generate energy for a region of 20 million people. The next step is for BOEM to publish a Proposed Sale Notice, followed by a formal public comment period and a lease sale in late 2021 or early 2022. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, the White House convened leaders from across the Administration to announce a set of bold actions that will catalyze offshore wind energy, strengthen the domestic supply chain, and create good-paying, union jobs.

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met today with state officials, industry executives, and labor leaders to announce new leasing, funding, and goals that employ President Biden’s whole-of-government approach, position America to lead a clean energy revolution, and create thousands of jobs across the country with the choice to join a union.

In his first week in office, President Biden issued an Executive Order that calls on our nation to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy that will create millions of new jobs. In particular, the President’s Order committed to expand opportunities for the offshore wind industry. The President recognizes that a thriving offshore wind industry will drive new jobs and economic opportunity up and down the Atlantic Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Pacific waters. The industry will also spawn new supply chains that stretch into America’s heartland, as illustrated by the 10,000 tons of domestic steel that workers in Alabama and West Virginia are supplying to a Texas shipyard where Dominion Energy is building the Nation’s first Jones Act compliant wind turbine installation vessel.

Federal leadership, in close coordination with states and in partnership with the private sector, unions and other key stakeholders, is needed to catalyze the deployment of offshore wind at scale.

Today, the Administration is taking coordinated steps to support rapid offshore wind deployment and job creation:

  1. Advance ambitious wind energy projects to create good-paying, union jobs
  2. Investing in American infrastructure to strengthen the domestic supply chain and deploy offshore wind energy
  3. Supporting critical research and development and data-sharing.

Advance Ambitious Wind Energy Projects to Create Good-Paying, Union Jobs

  • Announcing a New Wind Energy Area. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is announcing a new priority Wind Energy Area in the New York Bight—an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast—which a recent study from Wood Mackenzie shows can support up to 25,000 development and construction jobs from 2022 to 2030, as well as an additional 7,000 jobs in communities supported by this development. The study indicates the New York Bight lease area also has the potential to support up to 4,000 operations and maintenance jobs annually, and approximately 2,000 community jobs, in the years following. This new Wind Energy Area is adjacent to the greater metropolitan Tri-State area— the largest metropolitan population center in the United States that is home to more than 20 million people and their energy needs. The next step is for BOEM to publish a Proposed Sale Notice, followed by a formal public comment period and a lease sale in late 2021 or early 2022.
  • Establishing a Target of Employing Tens of Thousands of Workers to Deploy 30 Gigawatts (30,000 megawatts) of Offshore Wind by 2030. The Departments of Interior (DOI), Energy (DOE), and Commerce (DOC) are announcing a shared goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind in the United States by 2030, while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use. Meeting this target will trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects on both U.S. coasts, create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, with more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity. It will also generate enough power to meet the demand of more than 10 million American homes for a year, and avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
    • DOI action to unlock deployment potential: To position the domestic offshore wind industry to meet the 2030 target, DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) plans to advance new lease sales and complete review of at least 16 Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) by 2025, representing more than 19 GW of new clean energy for our nation.
    • Massive supply chain benefits of deploying offshore wind energy at scale: Meeting the 2030 target will catalyze significant supply chain benefits, including new port upgrade investments totaling more than $500 million; one to two new U.S. factories for each major windfarm component including wind turbine nacelles, blades, towers, foundations, and subsea cables; additional cumulative demand of more than 7 million tons of steel—equivalent to 4 years of output for a typical U.S. steel mill; and the construction of 4 to 6 specialized turbine installation vessels in U.S. shipyards, each representing an investment between $250 and $500 million.
    • 2050 implications of meeting the 2030 goal: Achieving this target also will unlock a pathway to 110 GW by 2050, generating 77,000 offshore wind jobs and more than 57,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity – all while creating further economic opportunity and ensuring future generations have access to clean air and abundant renewable power.
  • Advancing critical permitting milestones for the Ocean Wind Offshore Wind Project. BOEM is announcing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Ocean Wind, putting it in line to become America’s third commercial scale offshore wind project. Ocean Wind has proposed an offshore wind project with a total capacity of 1,100 megawatts (MW) — enough to power 500,000 homes across New Jersey. BOEM previously announced environmental reviews for Vineyard Wind (MA) and South Fork (RI), and anticipates initiating the environmental reviews for up to ten additional projects later this year.

Investing in American Infrastructure to Strengthen the Domestic Supply Chain and Deploy Offshore Wind Energy

  • Investing in Port Infrastructure to Support Offshore Wind. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration today is announcing a Notice of Funding Opportunity for port authorities and other applicants to apply for $230 million for port and intermodal infrastructure-related projects through the Port Infrastructure Development Program. Port Infrastructure Development Grants support projects that strengthen and modernize port infrastructure, and can support shore-side wind energy projects, such as storage areas, laydown areas, and docking of wind energy vessels to load and move items to offshore wind farms. In addition to supporting our nation’s long-term economic vitality, DOT’s review process will consider how proposed projects can most effectively address climate change and environmental justice imperatives.
  • Access to $3 billion in Debt Capital to Support Offshore Wind Industry through DOE Loan Programs Office. DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) released a fact sheet to facilitate access for the offshore wind industry for $3 billion in funding through LPO’s Title XVII Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program. The fact sheet signals that LPO is open for business and ready to partner with offshore wind and offshore transmission developers, suppliers, and other financing partners to scale the U.S. offshore industry and support well-paying jobs. To date, LPO has provided $1.6 billion in support of projects totaling about 1,000 MW of onshore wind.

Supporting Critical Research and Development and Data-Sharing

  • Announcing offshore wind R&D funding through the National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium. The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC), created by the DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), is announcing the award of $8 million to 15 offshore wind research and development projects that were selected through a competitive process. The new projects will focus on offshore support structure innovation, supply chain development, electrical systems innovation, and mitigation of use conflicts that will help reduce barriers and costs for offshore wind deployment. The NOWRDC was established in 2018 with a $20.5 million DOE investment, matching funds from NYSERDA, and with follow-on contributions from state agencies in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maine—all resulting in a total investment of around $47 million.
  • Partnering with Industry on Data-Sharing. The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is signing a Memorandum of Agreement with Ørsted, an offshore wind development company, to share physical and biological data in Ørsted-leased waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This agreement is the first of its kind between an offshore wind developer and NOAA, and paves the way for future data-sharing agreements that NOAA expects to enter into with other developers. NOAA anticipates that Ørsted’s and other companies’ data will fill gaps in ocean science areas—particularly in ocean mapping and observing—in service of NOAA’s mission to advance climate adaptation and mitigation, weather-readiness, healthy oceans, and resilient coastal communities and economies. 
  • Studying Offshore Wind Impacts. NOAA’s Northeast Sea Grant programs, in partnership with DOE, DOC, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, is releasing a request for research proposals to support more than $1 million in grant funding to improve understanding of offshore renewable energy for the benefit of a diversity of stakeholders, including fishing and coastal communities. Grant funding will support objective community-based research in the Northeast to further understanding of the effects of offshore renewable energy on the ocean and local communities and economies as well as opportunities to optimize ocean co-use.

At today’s convening, leaders from across the Administration shared their commitment to work closely with one another and with key stakeholders to deliver the economic potential presented by offshore wind energy resources.

  • National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy: “President Biden has declared very clearly that when he thinks of climate, he thinks of people and jobs—good-paying, union jobs. That’s because President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery, rebuild the middle class, and make sure we bounce back from the crises we face. Nowhere is the scale of that opportunity clearer than for offshore wind. This commitment to a new, untapped industry will create pathways to the middle class for people from all backgrounds and communities.”
  • Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland: “For generations, we’ve put off the transition to clean energy and now we’re facing a climate crisis. It’s a crisis that doesn’t discriminate – every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that. But not every community has the resources to rebuild, or even get up and relocate when a climate event happens in their backyards. The climate crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families. As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis – we have to transition to a brighter future for everyone.”
  • Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm: “This offshore wind goal is proof of our commitment to using American ingenuity and might to invest in our nation, advance our own energy security, and combat the climate crisis,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is going to marshal every resource we have to get as many American companies, using as many sheets of American steel, employing as many American workers as possible in offshore wind energy—driving economic growth from coast to coast.”
  • Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: “The Commerce Department is committed to innovative partnerships that advance the best science and data to ensure the development of offshore wind is transparent and inclusive of all stakeholders,” said Secretary Raimondo. “We look forward to engaging the public and private sectors to invest in clean energy solutions, like offshore wind, that will contribute to our whole-of-government approach to combat the climate crisis and create high-paying, high-skilled American jobs.”
  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg: “Tackling the climate crisis is vital to our nation’s future,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is taking actions that show how creating jobs and addressing climate change can and must go hand in hand. Today’s announcement makes a critical investment in our nation’s ports, which in turn builds up the resilience and sustainability of America’s economy.” 

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO ON PRESIDENT BIDEN’S PLAN TO DEPLOY OFFSHORE WIND

“The announcement today by President Biden’s Administration of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 represents a historic day for the United States and a tremendous leap forward in tackling global climate change by building back better with clean energy and spurring a thriving green economy, clear priorities for New York State.

“New York State has a proud legacy of being the nation’s leader on combatting climate change and embracing green energy, including executing the largest combined clean energy solicitations ever issued in U.S history and adopting the most ambitious climate and clean energy legislation in the country. We thank the Administration for immediately removing the barriers we faced the past four years with the federal government and creating a new priority Wind Energy Area in the New York and New Jersey Bight that will allow us to continue this legacy for years to come.

“We look forward to working with the Administration to further advance our nation-leading 9 gigawatts of offshore wind power, turning New York into the center of this new industry that will leverage billions in private investment for infrastructure and innovative technologies, while delivering significant climate and health benefits across the state and nation.”

Biden Administration Launches Multi-Agency Effort to Support Renters, Landlords as CDC Extends Federal Eviction Moratorium

Following today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a 90-day extension of the federal eviction moratorium, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing its efforts to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here’s what a functioning, responsive government looks like. This is detail on the Biden administration’s multi-agency effort to support renters and landlords from the White House:

Today’s action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal eviction moratorium represents the latest effort to provide relief to renters and landlords.

Following today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a 90-day extension of the federal eviction moratorium, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing its efforts to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal agencies including the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are coordinating efforts to get tenants and landlords the assistance they need during the public health crisis.

President Biden entered office facing twin crises of historic proportions: a global pandemic and an economic downturn that left 10 million people out of work and one in five renters behind on rent. On January 29th, just days after President Biden entered office, the CDC extended the existing eviction moratorium through the end of March, recognizing the historic threat to our nation’s health. Alongside the extension, the Administration continued to seek relief for struggling Americans. $25 billion had been allocated to rental assistance under the CARES Act, and the Biden-Harris Administration worked quickly to streamline and simplify the rules to access funding. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden, will deliver an additional $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance to help millions of families keep up on rent and remain in their homes.

President Biden remains committed to implementing a whole-of-government approach to addressing the nation’s housing challenges. The White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator is working across agencies and with White House offices to implement the American Rescue Plan’s housing provisions. And, Treasury, HUD, USDA, CFPB and the FTC are upholding that commitment through the following actions to maximize the impact of the extension and additional funding in the American Rescue Plan:

 Treasury

  • The Treasury Department is in the process of delivering $1,400 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to approximately 85% of American households, including those who may be behind on rent or at threat of eviction. More than 100 million EIPs have already been delivered.
  • The Treasury Department continues to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the passage of the ARP, an additional $21.5 billion is available, almost doubling in size the scale and reach of this program and providing greater relief to our most vulnerable households.
  • Rental assistance is being distributed by the Treasury Department to state and local grantees. Renters and landlords seeking access to rental assistance should apply directly to the local program in their area. More information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including eligibility requirements, can be found here.
  • The Treasury Department recently updated guidance on the ERAP, providing grantees greater flexibility in determining renter eligibility.
  • The Treasury Department is administering funding to cover costs borne by state and local governments that have stepped in during the crisis to provide housing assistance and relief to Americans across the country. These critical measures taken to blunt the impacts of the economic fallout from the pandemic will no longer be a strain on the balance sheets of American municipalities.

HUD

  • HUD will reach out to HUD grantees, including tens of thousands of local governments and housing providers, and other program participants to communicate about the eviction moratorium extension and will offer guidance and support where needed.
  • HUD will continue to coordinate across federal agencies to efficiently implement emergency rental assistance programs that prevent evictions and ensure financial stability of renters and rental properties (including programs from HUD, Treasury, and HHS’s Administration for Children and Families).  
  • HUD will continue to support CDC in developing strategies for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of the eviction moratorium.
  • HUD will continue its responsibilities in upholding the Fair Housing Act and will monitor and address circumstances where landlords are evicting tenants because of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, familial status, or national origin. If tenants feel like they have experienced discriminatory treatment, they can contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Tenants can also file discrimination complaints online at hud.gov/fairhousing.

USDA 

  • USDA will send a notice to 7,000 property owners in its multifamily portfolio to inform them of their obligations under the extended CDC Eviction Moratorium. USDA will also require property owners to post the extension at their properties along with a template of the original moratorium letters. These actions follow USDA’s outreach to 400,000 tenants to share information on the protections provided under the CDC Eviction Moratorium as well as information on how to access the U.S Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

CFPB

  • Tenants can learn about their eviction and debt collection rights and how to get help with housing costs at www.consumerfinance.gov/renters.
  • The CFPB is taking complaints from tenants about problems with debt collectors, including attorneys seeking to evict tenants in violation of the CDC eviction moratorium. Consumers can submit a complaint at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or by calling (855) 411-2372
  • The CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate the law.

FTC

  • The FTC will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate the law.

2021 Special Enrollment Period Access Extended to August 15 on HealthCare.gov for Obamacare

President Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending access to the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace until August 15 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, President Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending access to the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace until August 15 – giving consumers additional time to take advantage of new savings through the American Rescue Plan. This action provides new and current enrollees an additional three months to enroll or re-evaluate their coverage needs with increased tax credits available to reduce premiums.

“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care – especially as we fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Through this Special Enrollment Period, the Biden Administration is giving the American people the chance they need to find an affordable health care plan that works for them. The American Rescue Plan will bring costs down for millions of Americans, and I encourage consumers to visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for a plan before August 15.”

As a result of the American Rescue Plan, additional savings will be available for consumers through HealthCare.gov starting April 1. These savings will decrease premiums for many, on average, by $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month. On average, one out of four enrollees on HeathCare.gov will be able to upgrade to a higher plan category that offers better out of pocket costs at the same or lower premium compared to what they’re paying today. 

Consumers who want to access the SEP to enroll in coverage and see if they qualify for financial help to reduce the cost of monthly premiums, can visit HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov to view 2021 plans and prices and enroll in a plan that best meets their needs. Additionally, consumers can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, which provides assistance in over 150 languages. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.  Consumers can also find a local assister or agent/broker in their area: https://localhelp.healthcare.gov

Consumers who are eligible and enroll under the SEP will be able to select a plan with coverage that could start as soon as the first month after plan selection. Current enrollees will be able to change to any plan available to them in their area. To take advantage of the SEP, current enrollees should review their application and make changes, if needed, to their current information and submit their application in order to receive an updated eligibility result.

Additionally, beginning in early July on HealthCare.gov, consumers who have received or have been determined eligible to receive unemployment compensation for any week during 2021 may be able to get another increase in savings when enrolling in new Marketplace coverage or updating their existing Marketplace application and enrollment. These savings to be made available starting in early July for eligible consumers are in addition to the increased savings available to consumers on HealthCare.gov starting April 1.

The SEP is currently available to consumers in the 36 states that use the HealthCare.gov platform. Consumers served by State-based Marketplaces that use their own platform can check their state’s website to find out more information on Special Enrollment Periods in their state.

To see how the American Rescue Plan will bring down health care costs and expand on the Affordable Care Act, visit: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/03/12/fact-sheet-american-rescue-plan-reduces-health-care-costs-expands-access-insurance-coverage.html.

Biden Administration Declares Strong Support for Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Protesting violence against women at the Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Office of Management and Budget issued a statement strongly supporting passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) with 182 co-sponsors.

The statement comes as news reports circulate about a Georgia man who murdered 8 women in a shooting spree in Atlanta, March 16.

The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that was first enacted in 1994 and that was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013.  VAWA has transformed the Nation’s response to violence against women and has brought critically needed resources to States, Territories, Tribes, and local communities to help prevent and improve the response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Strengthening and renewing VAWA, however, is long overdue.  As many as 1 in 3 women are subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking at some point in their lives, and the rate is even higher for women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, and transgender people.  VAWA reauthorization is more urgent now than ever, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States. 
 
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 continues to build upon previous VAWA authorizations, and includes new provisions to enhance efforts and address identified gaps and barriers.  H.R. 1620 would authorize funding for VAWA grant programs for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 and would continue to invest in, and expand, strategies that advance access to safety, justice, and economic stability for victims and survivors.  The bill would maintain established and effective protections and programs, while also addressing persistent gaps through more holistic approaches in order to address the complex realities and intersecting issues that impact survivors’ lives.

H.R. 1620 would reauthorize grant programs that support the development of a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  It would expand the categories for which funds may be used in various grant programs to provide additional pathways to safety and support for survivors.  Further, the bill seeks to reduce intimate partner homicides committed with firearms by expanding protections for victims and enhancing support for law enforcement agencies and courts to improve the enforcement of court orders.  The bill would also improve the health care system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
 
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and their children.  Without the ability to access affordable housing, a victim must often times choose between becoming homeless or remaining in an abusive situation.  H.R. 1620 includes provisions that would provide important housing protections to allow survivors in federally assisted housing to relocate to safe housing with victim relocation vouchers, maintain their housing after a perpetrator leaves, or terminate a lease early.  The bill also would expand economic security protections for survivors.  
 
H.R. 1620 would authorize increased funding to enhance culturally specific services for victims. This would include developing culturally-relevant training and education programs for health care professionals that are designed to be inclusive of the experiences of all individuals, including people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.  It would also include training on equity and anti-racism approaches to health services delivery, disparities in access to health care services and prevention resources, and current and historic systemic racism in health care services.
 
The Rape Prevention & Education (RPE) formula grants, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorize essential funding to States and Territories to support rape prevention and education programs conducted by rape crisis centers, sexual assault coalitions, and other public and private nonprofit entities.  H.R. 1620 would authorize higher levels of funding for prevention through the RPE program grants, as well as grant programs focused on prevention efforts with youth administered through the Department of Justice.  It also would expand grants to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve.  H.R. 1620 would also support institutions of higher education in developing and disseminating comprehensive prevention education for all students and expanding training for school-based personnel and campus health centers to meet the needs of young victims of sexual violence.
 
The Administration strongly supports measures in H.R. 1620 that would expand access to justice for Native American victims.  Native women are victimized at rates higher than any other population in the United States, and the vast majority of Native victims report being victimized by a non-native individual.  This bill would build on the effectiveness of special criminal jurisdiction for domestic violence cases that was included in prior VAWA reauthorization laws and address other significant co-occurring crimes.  It recognizes tribal jurisdiction that will allow participating Tribes to hold accountable non-native perpetrators of sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence against child victims, stalking, elder abuse, and assault against law enforcement officers when they commit such crimes on tribal territory.
 
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 recognizes the need to provide protection and services to all victims of abuse and includes proposals to strengthen existing policies that were supported by both Democrats and Republicans last year.  The Administration urges swift passage of this legislation.

Biden Announces All Americans to be Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccinations by May 1; Puts Nation on Path to Normalcy by July 4th

President Joe Biden announced a national strategy for COVID19 vaccination so that every American will be eligible by May 1, new website to make it easier to find, efforts to combat variants, and goal of July 4th “independence” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In his first prime time public address to the nation, coming exactly one year after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic, one year since the nation shut down, and just hours after signing what is being hailed as the “historic,” “transformative” $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, President Biden announced the next phase of a war-time effort to vaccinate the U.S. population, with the goal of getting the nation closer to normal by July 4th, Independence Day.
 
“The President launched a new, comprehensive strategy to beat this pandemic on January 21, 2021.  In the subsequent 7 weeks, we’ve delivered over 81 million vaccinations to Americans — today, more people are once again able to visit their loved ones. There is more work to do and today, the President is outlining the next phase of his whole of government strategy to put the pandemic behind us,” the White House stated.

It is fitting to declare a war-time effort to combat COVID since in just one year, more Americans have died of COVID than in decades of fighting wars on foreign soil. “As of now, the total deaths in America: 527,726. That’s more deaths than in World War One, World War Two, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined,” as Biden noted in his address, pulling a paper with the running total count written on it. Biden has had to pick up slack after months and months of the prior administration dismissing, lying, even sabotaging efforts to contain the virus which has infected 30 million – far exceeding any other nation in the world as a percentage of population – holding massive rallies and discouraging mask-wearing, social distancing, and even pursuing legal action to prevent localities from using public health measures like lockdowns.

This is from the White House:

 The President announced that in the coming weeks, the Administration will:

Make every adult in the U.S. eligible for vaccination no later than May 1. Today, in the next phase of our vaccination effort, the President will announce that he will direct states, Tribes, and territories to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1st.  The White House COVID-19 Response Team has concluded that our accelerated vaccination efforts will enable prioritized vaccinations to be far enough along by end of April that all eligibility restrictions for vaccinations can be lifted by May 1st.

Once all Americans are eligible to be vaccinated, the Administration will ensure that every adult is actually able to get the vaccine by:

Increasing the number of places Americans can get vaccinated. With the resources available through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the Administration will ramp up efforts to create more places for people to get vaccinated, reaching the hardest-hit and hardest to reach populations.  

Community Health Centers: Today, the Administration announced that over the next six weeks the Administration will deliver vaccines directly to up to an additional 700 community health centers that reach underserved communities, increasing the total number of participating community health centers across the country to 950. These health centers serve low income and minority patients, provide services to rural communities and Tribal communities, and many will utilize mobile vans to deliver services.

Pharmacies: The Administration will double the number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program, making the vaccine available at more than 20,000 pharmacies in locations convenient to all Americans.  The Administration is directing pharmacies to expand mobile operations into the hardest hit communities to reach more people.

Community Vaccination Centers:  The Administration will more than double the number of federally-run mass vaccination centers, run by FEMA, the U.S. military, and other federal agencies in partnership with states, to ensure that we reach the hardest-hit communities in this historic effort. Many of these sites will be the home base for mobile units that will travel into local communities to provide vaccines directly in underserved populations. With these mobile clinics, we’ll work with states to make up to one-third of each site’s daily vaccinations available directly in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the Administration will also increase support for state and local-run community vaccination centers. As a result of these added investments community vaccination centers will be capable of administering hundreds of thousands of shots a day, building on the nearly 600 centers across the country already operating with federal support.

Increasing the number of people providing and supporting vaccinations. Today, President Biden will announce the deployment of more than 4,000 active duty troops to support vaccination efforts, bringing the total to over 6,000 in all. Tomorrow, the Administration will expand the pool of qualified professionals able to administer shots to include:  Dentists, advanced and intermediate Emergency Medical Technicians, Midwives, Optometrists, Paramedics, Physician Assistants, Podiatrists, Respiratory Therapists, and Veterinarians, as well as medical students, nursing students, and other healthcare students in the previously listed professions under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will launch a new website to help individuals determine whether they are eligible to sign up to volunteer to administer shots.

Providing tools to make it easier for individuals to find a vaccine. The President will announce steps to make it easier for individuals to find a vaccine near them and address some of the barriers to getting vaccinated.

Find a Vaccination Website: By May 1st, as vaccines are available in more places, the Administration will launch a federally-supported website that will show the locations near them that have vaccines.

1-800 Number: To offer a tool for those who may lack Internet access, we will launch a call center by May 1st to provide guidance and assistance with finding a vaccine.

Technical Support to Improve Existing State Websites:  Since many Americans use their state websites to schedule appointments, the Administration will also deploy technology teams to states who need assistance to improve their websites.

Our COVID-19 efforts will always be guided by science and the step-by-step approaches to get Americans back to the important people and activities in their lives that they have been missing. Today, the President announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to issue clear guidance for individuals on what they can do after being fully vaccinated.

Additional CDC Guidance on Activities for the Vaccinated:  As we approach July 4th, based on the best available science and the pace of vaccinations, the CDC will provide public health guidance for people as they travel, participate in small gatherings, and go to work and houses of worship.

Benefits of Vaccination:  CDC guidance and other CDC messaging will make the benefits of vaccination clear to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.  

Take New Steps to Reopen the Nation’s Schools. Reopening schools safely is critical to getting closer to normal. Tonight, President Biden laid out new steps in the school reopening effort. 

Ensure schools have the resources they need: Now that the American Rescue Plan has passed, the nearly $130 billion to safely reopen schools for in-person instruction will begin to be distributed this month by the Department of Education. These dollars will help schools pay for the critical supplies to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended mitigation strategies, hire more staff – and avoid laying off current staff – to accommodate the need for smaller class sizes due to physical distancing, and support children’s academic, social and emotional needs after a challenging year. 

Expand screening testing in schools:  We will immediately take steps to help schools implement regular screening testing to assist them in safely reopening classrooms, including through tests and test supplies as well as implementation assistance to make it easier for schools to adopt a testing program.  This month, HHS will award $650 million in an initial investment in expanding K-8 school testing and testing in underserved congregate settings through new regional coordinating centers that will identify existing testing capacity, match it up to an area of need and support testing. This effort will begin to bring more testing to teachers, staff, and students and serve as a bridge to the comprehensive testing investment in the American Rescue Plan that is critical to get the pandemic under control.

Provide guidance and support:  The Department of Education (ED) will host a national Safe School Reopening Summit this month that will bring together students, teachers, families, community organizations, and state, local, or school leadership to provide assistance in implementing the CDC K-12 operational strategy for in-person instruction and supporting the academic, social, and emotional well-being of students.  ED also is launching the “Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse” called for in President Biden’s Executive Order.  The Clearinghouse will highlight lessons learned and best practices that can help schools and districts identify opportunities to best utilize American Rescue Plan funds to meet their individual needs. Next month, ED will release Volume 2 of its K-12 COVID-19 Handbook for districts, schools, and educators with strategies to address the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and staff, especially for historically underserved students and communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Help educators get vaccinated:  Throughout March, the Administration will advance our efforts to support educators, school staff and childcare workers getting vaccinated.  Last week, the President announced that he is using the Administration’s authority to direct states to make Pre-K-12 school staff and child care workers eligible for vaccinations and that the Administration will prioritize educators in the federal pharmacy program.  The President challenged all 50 states to get Pre-K-12 school staff and child care workers their first shot by the end of this month. To help meet that goal, the Administration is working with education leaders, advocates, child care providers, community leaders, states and others to help reach educators and to disseminate toolkits and other resources to help amplify the importance of getting vaccinated.

Continue Effort to Combat Variants and Spread of COVID-19: As we work to get more people vaccinated, we will continue to take steps to combat the spread of variants including expanding testing and genomic sequencing.

Expand testing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  While testing to date has been primarily focused on individuals with symptoms and potential exposures – and this testing remains critical – we will expand testing to ensure that we are identifying asymptomatic infection early to stop the spread.  With the nearly $50 billion in testing funding in the American Rescue Plan, the Administration will invest in screening testing to help schools reopen safely, expand testing in congregate settings like shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness, prisons, and other settings where individuals live in close quarters.  This funding also will help to close supply gaps and address critical raw material shortages that have plagued the testing supply chain.  And, with new investments in our manufacturing base, we will be able to increase easier to use and more affordable point-of-care and at-home testing.

Identify variants by expanding genomic sequencing.  Thanks to the American Rescue Plan’s $1.75 billion investment, we will dramatically expand our ability to sequence samples to identify, track, and mitigate emerging variants.  This will build on the nearly $200 million that the Administration announced last month to grow the number of samples sequenced from 7,000 to approximately 25,000.  Growing sample sizes will improve our ability to detect emerging variants and work to mitigate their spread.

Biden on Anniversary of COVID-19 Shutdown: ‘ We’ll come out stronger with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities, and to our country’

“Over a year ago, no one could’ve imagined what we were about to go through, but now we’re coming through it, and it’s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation,” President Biden declared in a public address marking the one-year anniversary since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and the nation was shut down. “We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we’re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden delivered his first public address to the nation on the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic and the nation shut down. He delivered it with compassion and understanding for the turmoil, the loss of lives and livelihoods, that every American has endured, and delivered it with somber but hopeful tone that a better future is just ahead. He even put a date on it, setting a goal of July 4th, when it Americans can once again gather together in celebration of independence. The date was not random or fantastical, but based on the progress made in substantively increasing the supply and distribution of vaccine, and warned that there still could be forces – like more transmissible variants – that could interfere with the July 4th date. He took responsibility in a whole-of-government sense, but also called upon the nation, in unity, to continue to use public health measures – wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing – so that the July 4th goal could be achieved. He reminded Americans of what it means to be an American – to be optimistic, innovative, heroic.

“Over a year ago, no one could’ve imagined what we were about to go through, but now we’re coming through it, and it’s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation,” President Biden declared. “We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we’re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.”

Here are President Biden’s remarks, highlighted: THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, my fellow Americans.

Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about where we are as we mark one year since everything stopped because of this pandemic.

A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked.
 
Denials for days, weeks, then months that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness.


Photos and videos from 2019 feel like they were taken in another era. The last vacation. The last birthday with friends. The last holiday with the extended family.

While it was different for everyone, we all lost something.
 
A collective suffering. A collective sacrifice. A year filled with the loss of life — and the loss of living for all of us.
 
But, in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect, and gratitude.


Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do.

And that’s what we’ve done.

We’ve seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives — sometimes losing them — to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places.

I know it’s been hard. I truly know.

As I’ve told you before, I carry a card in my pocket with the number of Americans who have died from COVID to date. It’s on the back of my schedule. As of now, the total deaths in America: 527,726. That’s more deaths than in World War One, World War Two, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined.

They were husbands, wives, sons and daughters, grandparents, friends, neighbors — young and old. They leave behind loved ones unable to truly grieve or to heal, even to have a funeral.
 
But I’m also thinking about everyone else who lost this past year to natural causes, by cruel fate of accident, or other diseases. They, too, died alone. They, too, leave loved ones behind who are hurting badly.
 
You know, you’ve often heard me say before, I talk about the longest walk any parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to his child’s bedroom to say, “I’m sorry. I lost my job. We can’t be here anymore.” Like my Dad told me when he lost his job in Scranton.

So many of you have had to make that same walk this past year.

You lost your job. You closed your business. Facing eviction, homelessness, hunger, a loss of control, and, maybe worst of all, a loss of hope.
 
Watching a generation of children who may be set back up to a year or more — because they’ve not been in school — because of their loss of learning.
 
It’s the details of life that matter most, and we’ve missed those details.

The big details and small moments.  

Weddings, birthdays, graduations — all the things that needed to happen but didn’t. The first date. The family reunions. The Sunday night rituals.

It’s all has exacted a terrible cost on the psyche of so many of us. For we are fundamentally a people who want to be with others — to talk, to laugh, to hug, to hold one another.

But this virus has kept us apart.

Grandparents haven’t seen their children or grandchildren. Parents haven’t seen their kids. Kids haven’t seen their friends.

The things we used to do that always filled us with joy have become the things we couldn’t do and broke our hearts.

Too often, we’ve turned against one another.
 
A mask — the easiest thing to do to save lives — sometimes it divides us.

States pitted against one other instead of working with each other.
 
Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans
, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated. At this very moment, so many of them — our fellow Americans — they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic, trying to save lives, and still — still — they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.

Look, we know what we need to do to beat this virus: Tell the truth. Follow the scientists and the science. Work together. Put trust and faith in our government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people — no function more important.

We need to remember the government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it’s us. All of us. “We the People.” For you and I, that America thrives when we give our hearts, when we turn our hands to common purpose. And right now, my friends, we are doing just that. And I have to say, as your President, I am grateful to you.

Last summer, I was in Philadelphia, and I met a small-business owner — a woman. I asked her — I said, “What do you need most?” I’ll never forget what she said to me. She said — looking me in the eye, she said, “I just want the truth. The truth. Just tell me the truth.” Think of that.

My fellow Americans, you’re owed nothing less than the truth.

And for all of you asking when things will get back to normal, here is the truth: The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track is to beat the virus.

You’ve been hearing me say that for — while I was running and the last 50 days I’ve been President. But this is one of the most complex operations we’ve under- — ever undertaken as a nation in a long time.

That’s why I’m using every power I have as President of the United States to put us on a war footing to get the job done. It sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it: a war footing.

And thank God we’re making some real progress now.

On my first full day in office, I outlined for you a comprehensive strategy to beat this pandemic. And we have spent every day since attempting to carry it out.

Two months ago, the country — this country didn’t have nearly enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all or near all of the American public. But soon we will.

We’ve been working with the vaccine manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson — to manufacture and purchase hundreds of millions of doses of these three safe, effective vaccines. And now, at the direction and with the assistance of my administration, Johnson & Johnson is working together with a competitor, Merck, to speed up and increase the capacity to manufacture new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one shot.

In fact, just yesterday, I announced — and I met with the CEOs of both companies — I announced our plan to buy an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  These two companies — competitors — have come together for the good of the nation, and they should be applauded for it.

It’s truly a national effort, just like we saw during World War II.

Now because of all the work we’ve done, we’ll have enough vaccine supply for all adults in America by the end of May. That’s months ahead of schedule.

And we’re mobilizing thousands of vaccinators to put the vaccine in one’s arm. Calling on active duty military, FEMA, retired doctors and nurses, administrators, and those to administer the shots.

And we’ve been creating more places to get the shots. We’ve made it possible for you to get a vaccine at any one of nearly 10,000 pharmacies across the country, just like you get your flu shot.

We’re also working with governors and mayors, in red states and blue states, to set up and support nearly 600 federally supported vaccination centers that administer hundreds of thousands of shots per day. You can drive up to a stadium or a large parking lot, get your shot, never leave your car, and drive home in less than an hour.

We’ve been sending vaccines to hundreds of community health centers all across America, located in underserved areas. And we’ve been deploying and we will deploy more mobile vehicles and pop-up clinics to meet you where you live so those who are least able to get the vaccine are able to get it.

We continue to work on making at-home testing available.  
 
And we’ve been focused on serving people in the hardest-hit communities of this pandemic — Black, Latino, Native American, and rural communities.

So, what does all this add up to? When I took office 50 days ago, only 8 percent of Americans after months — only 8 percent of those over the age of 65 had gotten their first vaccination. Today, that number is [nearly] 65 percent. Just 14 percent of Americans over the age 75, 50 days ago, had gotten their first shot. Today, that number is well over 70 percent.

With new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the CDC — that came out on Monday, it means simply this: Millions and millions of grandparents who went months without being able to hug their grandkids can now do so. And the more people who are fully vaccinated, the CD [CDC] will continue to provide guidance on what you can do in the workplace, places of worship, with friends, and as well as travel.

When I came into office, you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was, kind of, way over the top. I said I intended to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in my first 100 days in office. Tonight, I can say we are not only going to meet that goal, we’re going to beat that goal. Because we’re actually on track to reach this goal of 100 million shots in arms on my 60th day in office. No other country in the world has done this. None.
 

Now I want to talk about the next steps we’re thinking about.

First, tonight, I’m announcing that I will direct all states, tribes, and territories to make all adults — people 18 and over — eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1.

Let me say that again: All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1. That’s much earlier than expected.

Let me be clear: That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot.

To do this, we’re going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December, before I was sworn in, to maintaining — beating our current pace of two million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.

Secondly, at the time when every adult is eligible in May, we will launch, with our partners, new tools to make it easier for you to find the vaccine and where to get the shot, including a new website that will help you first find the place to get vaccinated and the one nearest you. No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones.

Thirdly, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan — and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it — and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, we can accelerate the massive, nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal, that I stated at the same time about 100 million shots, of opening the majority of K-8 schools in my first 100 days in office. This is going to be the number one priority of my new Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.

Fourth, in the coming weeks, we will issue further guidance on what you can and cannot do once fully vaccinated, to lessen the confusion, to keep people safe, and encourage more people to get vaccinated.

And finally, fifth, and maybe most importantly: I promise I will do everything in my power, I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people. I need you. I need every American to do their part. And that’s not hyperbole. I need you.

I need you to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and when you can find an opportunity, and to help your family and friends and neighbors get vaccinated as well.

Because here’s the point: If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.

After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.

But to get there, we can’t let our guard down.
 
This fight is far from order — from over. As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, “I will tell you the truth.”

A July 4th with your loved ones is the goal. But a goal — a lot can happen; conditions can change.

The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread.
 
And we’ve got work to do to ensure everyone has confidence in the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.

So my message to you is this: Listen to Dr. Fauci, one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world. He has assured us the vaccines are safe. They underwent rigorous scientific review. I know they’re safe. Vice President Harris and I know they’re safe. That’s why we got the vaccine publicly in front of cameras so — for the world to see, so you could see us do it. The First Lady and the Second Gentleman also got vaccinated.

Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors — the people you know best who’ve gotten the vaccine.

We need everyone to get vaccinated. We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC.

Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity.

And national unity isn’t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington or what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans. Because if we don’t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track. And, please, we don’t want to do again.

We’ve made so much progress. This is not the time to let up. Just as we are emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules.

I’ll close with this.

We’ve lost so much over the last year.

We’ve lost family and friends.

We’ve lost businesses and dreams we spent years building.

We’ve lost time — time with each other.

And our children have lost so much time with their friends, time with their schools. No graduation ceremonies this — this spring. No graduations from college, high school, moving-up ceremonies.

You know, and there’s something else we lost.

We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people.

But as I stand here tonight, we’re proving once again something I have said time and time again until they’re probably tired of hearing me say it. I say it foreign leaders and domestic alike: It’s never, ever a good bet to bet against the American people. America is coming back.

The development, manufacture, and distribution of the vaccines in record time is a true miracle of science. It is one of the most extraordinary achievements any country has ever accomplished.

And we also just saw the Perseverance rover land on Mars. Stunning images of our dreams that are now a reality. Another example of the extraordinary American ingenuity, commitment, and belief in science and one another.

And today, I signed into law the American Rescue Plan, an historic piece of legislation that delivers immediate relief to millions of people. It includes $1,400 in direct rescue checks — payments. That means a typical family of four earning about $110,000 will get checks for $5,600 deposited if they have direct deposit or in a check — a Treasury check.
 
It extends unemployment benefits. It helps small businesses. It lowers healthcare premiums for many. It provides food and nutrition, keeps families in their homes. And it will cut child poverty in this country in half, according to the experts. And it funds all the steps I’ve just described to beat the virus and create millions of jobs.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be traveling, along with the First Lady, the Vice President, the Second Gentleman and members of my Cabinet, to speak directly to you, to tell you the truth about how the American Rescue Plan meets the moment. And if it fails, I will acknowledge that it failed. But it will not.

About how after a long, dark years — one whole year, there is hope and light of better days ahead.

If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon, our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we will have proven once again that this country can do anything — hard things, big things, important things.

Over a year ago, no one could’ve imagined what we were about to go through, but now we’re coming through it, and it’s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation. We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we’re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.

My fervent prayer for our country is that, after all we have been through, we’ll come together as one people, one nation, one America.

I believe we can and we will. We’re seizing this moment. And history, I believe, will record: We faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation’s history — darkest we’ve ever known.

I promise you, we’ll come out stronger with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities, and to our country.

This is the United States of America, and there is nothing — nothing — from the bottom of my heart, I believe this — there is nothing we can’t do when we do it together.

So God bless you all.

And please, God, give solace to all those people who lost someone.

And may God protect our troops.

Thank you for taking the time to listen.

I look forward to seeing you.

Biden on International Women’s Day: ‘Recommit to Principle That our Nation, World, is Best when Possibilities for All Women, Girls are Limitless’

Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden issued this statement on International Women’s Day, saying, “Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do — it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all.  On International Women’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that our nation, and the world, is at its best when the possibilities for all of our women and girls are limitless.”

President Biden then signed two Executive Orders establishing a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world.

On Saturday, President Biden also nominated two female generals – Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. General Laura Richardson – to oversee four-star commands, after their promotions were delayed under former President Trump due to concerns that he “would reject the officers because they were women,” according to the New York Times.

Here is President Biden’s statement:

Women’s history is American history — and world history. On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements, contributions, and progress of women and girls in the United States and around the globe.
 
My Administration is committed to honoring women by investing in their opportunity, security, and wellbeing. I was proud to issue an Executive Order today establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, to ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women. My Administration is also committed to ensuring that women are represented equally at all levels of the federal government. That starts with Vice President Harris, who broke through a barrier that stood for more than two centuries. And it includes a record number of diverse women whom I’ve nominated to serve in Cabinet-level roles and appointed to senior-level positions.
 
In our nation, as in all nations, women have fought for justice, shattered barriers, built and sustained economies, carried communities through times of crisis, and served with dignity and resolve. Too often, they have done so while being denied the freedom, full participation, and equal opportunity all women are due. Their contributions have been downplayed. Their stories have been neglected. That is why International Women’s Day is also a time for us to recommit ourselves to the cause of equity and equality for women the world over, and to shine a light on the systemic obstacles that fuel gender disparities and undermine women’s potential.
 
Despite persistent obstacles, women are leading every day. Over the past year, women have played a critical, often outsized role in responding to the global coronavirus pandemic. They are our vaccine researchers and public health officials. They are our doctors and nurses. They are our essential workers — so many of whom are women of color — in fire stations and nursing homes, on farms and in grocery stores, in schools and in shelters.
 
Around the world, we are seeing decades of women’s economic gains erased by this pandemic. It’s forcing millions more girls out of school, which could impact economic growth for decades to come. Incidents of violence against women in their homes and communities have spiked. And, as is so often the case, COVID-19 is hitting the poorest and most marginalized women the hardest. These global trends damage all of us, because we know that governments, economies, and communities are stronger when they include the full participation of women — no country can recover from this pandemic if it leaves half of its population behind.
 
Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do — it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all.  On International Women’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that our nation, and the world, is at its best when the possibilities for all of our women and girls are limitless.

President Biden then signed two Executive Orders establishing a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world.

FACT SHEET:
Executive Orders Establishing the White House Gender Policy Council and Ensuring Education Free from Sexual Violence

The full participation of all people – including women and girls – across all aspects of our society is essential to the economic well-being, health, and security of our nation and of the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness. It is also critically important to reducing poverty and promoting economic growth, increasing access to education, improving health outcomes, advancing political stability, and fostering democracy.

Today, President Biden will sign two Executive Orders. The first establishes the White House Gender Policy Council to ensure that the Biden-Harris Administration advances gender equity and equal rights and opportunity for women and girls. The second directs the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies for consistency with the Administration’s policy to guarantee education free from sexual violence.

A year into COVID-19, women are still contending with the public health crisis, an ensuing economic crisis, and on top of those challenges, a caregiving crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated barriers that have held back women, especially women of color, forcing many to leave the workforce, manage virtual schooling, and absorb additional caregiving responsibilities. Many women are also on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19 – as essential workers keeping our economy, communities and families going. As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic and reckons with the scourge of systemic racism, President Biden knows that we need a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world, restoring America as a champion for gender equity and equality.

Today’s actions will:

Establish the Gender Policy Council. The first Executive Order formally establishes the Gender Policy Council within the Executive Office of the President, with a role in both domestic and foreign policy development. The Council will work in coordination with the existing policy councils to advance gender equity and equality, including by:

  • Combatting systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment;
  • Increasing economic security and opportunity by addressing the structural barriers to women’s participation in the labor force, decreasing wage and wealth gaps, and addressing the caregiving needs of American families and supporting care workers, predominantly low-paid women of color;
  • Ensuring access to comprehensive health care and preventing and responding to gender-based violence;
  • Promoting equity and opportunity in education and leadership; and
  • Advancing gender equality globally through diplomacy, development, trade, and defense, and by recognizing the needs and roles of women and girls in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, democratic rights-respecting governance, global health and humanitarian crises and development assistance.

The White House Gender Policy Council will be an essential part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to ensure we build a more equal and just society – by aggressively protecting the rights and unique needs of those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including individuals who are Black, Latina, Native, Asian American and Pacific Islander, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI+.

The Executive Order requires the Co-Chairs of the Council to submit to the President a Government-wide strategy to address gender in policies, programs and budgets, and an annual report to measure progress on implementing the strategy. To prevent and respond to gender-based violence, wherever it occurs, there will be a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence on the Council staff. The Executive Order also requires engagement with non-profit and community-based organizations, state and local government officials, Tribal Nations, foreign government officials and multilateral organizations.

Ensure education free from sexual violence. President Biden will sign an Executive Order that will direct the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies to ensure consistency with the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy that students be guaranteed education free from sexual violence. It also directs ED to specifically evaluate the Title IX regulation issued under the previous administration and agency action taken pursuant to that regulation, to determine whether the regulation and agency action are consistent with the policies of the Biden-Harris Administration.