By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com
President Joe Biden will use his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly to rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time: “COVID-19; climate change; emerging technologies; rules of the road on trade and economics; investments in clean infrastructure; a modern approach to counterterrorism; and vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War,” said a senior administration official during a press call to preview the President’s speech.
“The speech will drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force and that require the cooperation of many nations around the world as well as nonstate actors from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations and international institutions,” he said.
These big, hard challenges “will define the scope and shape of prosperity and security for the people of the United States and for people of the world in the years ahead.”
The President “will reinforce the notion that our futures and our fortunes are really interconnected and bound up with one another. And so, we all have to work together to cooperate in service of solving problems and seizing opportunities that lie before us.”
After arriving at Kennedy International Airport, President Biden was to have his first extended one-on-one meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to discuss issues including Afghanistan and Yemen, as well as big global challenges like COVID-19 and climate change.
At the end of the week, the President will host the first-ever in-person Quad Summit, “a gathering of likeminded, democratic partners to tackle these big challenges — COVID, climate, economic investment, technology.”
He will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia in New York on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom in the evening in Washington; Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India on Friday, as well as an engagement with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan on Friday in Washington.
On Wednesday, President Biden will host a summit on COVID-19 “to rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better to be able to handle the next pandemic.
“He believes that it is high time for the world to come together — and not just national leaders, but he’s placing a heavy emphasis on international institutions, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations — all of the actors who collectively have the capacity to beat COVID-19. And he is going to call for an all-hands-on-deck effort that can end this pandemic much more rapidly than if we allow for things to unfold without the kind of focused, sustained energy and effort that is required,” the official said.
The summit will involve setting bold goals to hit on everything from vaccinations to the supply of lifesaving medications and technologies. And it will also set out a pattern of high-level meetings through the coming months to ensure that we are holding ourselves and the world accountable to following through on achieving these goals.
The United States will also have a series of announcements about further contributions above and beyond what has already been contributed to ending the pandemic globally.
Earlier in the day, the Biden administration announced it was easing up restrictions on foreign travel into the United States, by opening access to foreign nationals who have been vaccinated and have had a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel. In addition, airlines will be required to keep information for contact tracing, should that be necessary. The new, strict protocols will be in place by early November.
“Critically for our European partners and for the UK, this policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November. We’ll be moving to a consistent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States.
“But we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to develop a protocol that will permit travel by individuals and families and business people from the E.U. and the UK, as well as from Brazil and India and other countries, to the United States with proof of vaccination.”
Responding to a question about the controversy over the United States selling nuclear submarines to Australia – which angered France –and whether this would be a new precedent for the United States to sell nuclear technology, the official said, “This is a unique set of circumstances involving a unique actor — Australia – which is a model nonproliferation citizen in the world, has incredibly high standards, has a history of proving out its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has proven that not just by word but by deed, decade after decade.
“And so, President Biden felt that with the unique case of Australia and then a unique set of safeguards for this material — the highest possible standards of safeguarding the HEU, stewardship of the HEU, consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in consultation with the relevant international bodies — that we will be able to show that this is not a broad precedent that opens the doors but rather a very narrow-use case involving the combination of a unique set of circumstances.”
There is no plan to sell such technology to South Korea or any others.
With respect to President Macron, he said, President Biden plans to discuss the way forward, and reinforce his deep commitment to the U.S. alliance with France – “an alliance that has fostered security, stability, and prosperity around the world for decades. The President wants to communicate his desire to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and to talk about specific practical measures that we can undertake together.
“We understand the French position. We don’t share their view, in terms of how this all developed, but we understand their position. And we will continue to be engaged in the coming days on this. And we look forward to the phone call between President Biden and President Macron once its time is fixed on the books. We think that will be an important moment and opportunity for the two leaders to speak directly with one another.”
He countered an assertion that the Afghanistan evacuation and the unilateral decision with Australia warrant criticism that the U.S. is not engaging with its partners and that it’s moving on its own.
“If you look at the most significant challenges, the highest-priority issues facing the world today, you see the United States has been deeply engaged with allies and partners and with the relevant international institutions.
“The President is hosting a summit on COVID-19 on Wednesday where allies, partners, and even competitors have been invited to talk about how we find a collective way forward.
“The United States and the European Union are holding a ministerial-level meeting of the Trade and Technology Council on September 29th. This will be an opportunity to talk about how we shape a common way forward on our economy and on emerging technologies, and it’s an unprecedented vehicle to be able to do that.
“So, when you walk through those significant issues — the depth and richness of the engagement with our allies and partners, the work that we have done with the European Union, the work we have done with Asian allies and partners, the deepening of the Quad as a vital part of the institutional framework of Asia — I think the picture is actually quite positive, despite the differences in perspective on Afghanistan and the issues we are dealing with France right now.”
He said that the US and France can find a productive pathway forward, working together on critical security issues.
“So, if you look at the totality of the Biden foreign policy — of the ways in which we have worked on the big issues and done so very much in coordination, consultation, and common action with allies and partners, and then you look at the months ahead and what’s on the docket and the trajectory that we’re setting for ourselves — the President feels very good about the path forward and about how American foreign policy can play a vital role in rallying the world and especially rallying like-minded democracies to solve the great challenges of our time.”
Hosting the leaders of the Quad fundamentally is a demonstration of the priority Biden’s foreign policy is placing of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations designed to focus on 21st century challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and clean-energy, partnering on emerging technologies in cyberspace, promoting high-standards infrastructure, and an overarching commitment at the core of the Quad to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.
President Joe Biden, declaring that America has lost patience with the 25 percent of Americans – 80 million – who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in face of a surging Delta variant, put away the carrot and took out the stick, issuing new executive orders that will mandate vaccinations for all federal workers and workers for federal contractors, personnel in hospitals and medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid, and requiring corporations with over 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing – orders that will cover about two-thirds of all American workers.
“What makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.
“We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal…
“My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools. It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov.”
Key to the plan is the mandate vaccinations in various instances
“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
“My job as President is to protect all Americans.”
To the unvaccinated, the President said, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing. But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.” “If only.”
Here’s a highlighted transcript of his speech on September 9, 2021:
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, my fellow Americans. I want to talk to you about where we are in the battle against COVID-19, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do.
And it starts with understanding this: Even as the Delta variant COVID-19 has been hitting this country hard, we have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools.
If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing, and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.
It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time. Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free.
You might be confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19. So before I outline the new steps to fight COVID-19 that I’m going to be announcing tonight, let me give you some clear information about where we stand.
First, we have made considerable progress in battling COVID-19. When I became President, about 2 million Americans were fully vaccinated. Today, over 175 million Americans have that protection.
Before I took office, we hadn’t ordered enough vaccine for every American. Just weeks in office, we did. The week before I took office, on January 20th of this year, over 25,000 Americans died that week from COVID-19. Last week, that grim weekly toll was down 70 percent.
And in the three months before I took office, our economy was faltering, creating just 50,000 jobs a month. We’re now averaging 700,000 new jobs a month in the past three months.
This progress is real. But while America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact.
We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while. The highly contagious Delta variant that I began to warn America about back in July spread in late summer like it did in other countries before us.
While the vaccines provide strong protections for the vaccinated, we read about, we hear about, and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their death beds, among the unvaccinated over these past few weeks.
This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot.
And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable.
Third, if you wonder how all this adds up, here’s the math: The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Nearly three quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one quarter has not gotten any. That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated. And in a country as large as ours, that’s 25 percent minority. That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are.
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or [pancreatitis], or cancer.
And fourth, I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness from COVID-19. I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation. But the world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low.
In fact, based on available data from the summer, only one of out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day.
These are the facts.
So here’s where we stand: The path ahead, even with the Delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter. But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.
We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal.
As your President, I’m announcing tonight a new plan to require more Americans to be vaccinated, to combat those blocking public health.
My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools. It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov. WhiteHouse.gov.
The measures — these are going to take time to have full impact. But if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate, that in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.
First, we must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements. Of the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated, many said they were waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration — the FDA. Well, last month, the FDA granted that approval.
So, the time for waiting is over. This summer, we made progress through the combination of vaccine requirements and incentives, as well as the FDA approval. Four million more people got their first shot in August than they did in July.
But we need to do more. This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
My job as President is to protect all Americans.
So, tonight, I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News.
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
My plan will extend the vaccination requirements that I previously issued in the healthcare field. Already, I’ve announced, we’ll be requiring vaccinations that all nursing home workerswho treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid, because I have that federal authority.
Tonight, I’m using that same authority to expand that to cover those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.
If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated. Simple. Straightforward. Period.
Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all. And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.
If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated. If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce.
And tonight, I’m removing one of the last remaining obstacles that make it difficult for you to get vaccinated.
The Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated. No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated.
Today, in total, the vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans –- two thirds of all workers.
And for other sectors, I issue this appeal: To those of you running large entertainment venues — from sports arenas to concert venues to movie theaters — please require folks to get vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition of entry.
And to the nation’s family physicians, pediatricians, GPs — general practitioners –- you’re the most trusted medical voice to your patients. You may be the one person who can get someone to change their mind about being vaccinated.
Tonight, I’m asking each of you to reach out to your unvaccinated patients over the next two weeks and make a personal appeal to them to get the shot. America needs your personal involvement in this critical effort.
And my message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient.
The vaccine has FDA approval. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot.
We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing. But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.” “If only.”
It’s a tragedy. Please don’t let it become yours.
The second piece of my plan is continuing to protect the vaccinated.
For the vast majority of you who have gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated. I understand the anxiety about getting a “breakthrough” case.
But as the science makes clear, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19.
In fact, recent data indicates there is only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.
You’re as safe as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way — keep it that way, keep you safe.
That’s where boosters come in — the shots that give you even more protection than after your second shot.
Now, I know there’s been some confusion about boosters. So, let me be clear: Last month, our top government doctors announced an initial plan for booster shots for vaccinated Americans. They believe that a booster is likely to provide the highest level of protection yet.
Of course, the decision of which booster shots to give, when to start them, and who will give them, will be left completely to the scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control.
But while we wait, we’ve done our part. We’ve bought enough boosters — enough booster shots — and the distribution system is ready to administer them.
As soon as they are authorized, those eligible will be able to get a booster right away in tens of thousands of sites across the country for most Americans, at your nearby drug store, and for free.
The third piece of my plan is keeping — and maybe the most important — is keeping our children safe and our schools open. For any parent, it doesn’t matter how low the risk of any illness or accident is when it comes to your child or grandchild. Trust me, I know.
So, let me speak to you directly. Let me speak to you directly to help ease some of your worries.
It comes down to two separate categories: children ages 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine now, and children ages 11 and under who are not are yet eligible.
The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated.They get vaccinated for a lot of things. That’s it. Get them vaccinated.
As with adults, almost all the serious COVID-19 cases we’re seeing among adolescents are in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds — an age group that lags behind in vaccination rates.
So, parents, please get your teenager vaccinated.
What about children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet? Well, the best way for a parent to protect their child under the age of 12 starts at home. Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver around them should be vaccinated.
Children have four times higher chance of getting hospitalized if they live in a state with low vaccination rates rather than the states with high vaccination rates.
Now, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re wondering when will the vaccine be available for them. I strongly support an independent scientific review for vaccine uses for children under 12. We can’t take shortcuts with that scientific work.
But I’ve made it clear I will do everything within my power to support the FDA with any resource it needs to continue to do this as safely and as quickly as possible, and our nation’s top doctors are committed to keeping the public at large updated on the process so parents can plan.
Now to the schools. We know that if schools follow the science and implement the safety measures —like testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems that we provided the money for, social distancing, and vaccinations — then children can be safe from COVID-19 in schools.
Today, about 90 percent of school staff and teachers are vaccinated. We should get that to 100 percent. My administration has already required teachers at the schools run by the Defense Department — because I have the authority as President in the federal system — the Defense Department and the Interior Department — to get vaccinated. That’s authority I possess.
Tonight, I’m announcing that we’ll require all of nearly 300,000 educators in the federal paid program, Head Start program, must be vaccinated as well to protect your youngest –– our youngest — most precious Americans and give parents the comfort.
And tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff. Some already have done so, but we need more to step up.
Vaccination requirements in schools are nothing new. They work. They’re overwhelmingly supported by educators and their unions. And to all school officials trying to do the right thing by our children: I’ll always be on your side.
Let me be blunt. My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions. Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs. Talk about bullying in schools. If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way.
The Department of Education has already begun to take legal action against states undermining protection that local school officials have ordered. Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100 percent. I promise you I will have your back.
The fourth piece of my plan is increasing testing and masking. From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing. In order to better detect and control the Delta variant, I’m taking steps tonight to make testing more available, more affordable, and more convenient. I’ll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home.
While that production is ramping up, my administration has worked with top retailers, like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger’s, and tonight we’re announcing that, no later than next week, each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months. This is an immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35 percent reduction.
We’ll also expand free testing at 10,000 pharmacies around the country. And we’ll commit — we’re committing $2 billion to purchase nearly 300 million rapid tests for distribution to community health centers, food banks, schools, so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests. This is important to everyone, particularly for a parent or a child — with a child not old enough to be vaccinated. You’ll be able to test them at home and test those around them.
In addition to testing, we know masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s why when I came into office, I required masks for all federal buildings and on federal lands, on airlines, and other modes of transportation.
Today — tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration — the TSA — will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask. If you break the rules, be prepared to pay.
And, by the way, show some respect.The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong; it’s ugly.
The fifth piece of my plan is protecting our economic recovery.Because of our vaccination program and the American Rescue Plan, which we passed early in my administration, we’ve had record job creation for a new administration, economic growth unmatched in 40 years. We cannot let unvaccinated do this progress — undo it, turn it back.
So tonight, I’m announcing additional steps to strengthen our economic recovery. We’ll be expanding COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs. That’s a program that’s going to allow small businesses to borrow up to $2 million from the current $500,000 to keep going if COVID-19 impacts on their sales.
These low-interest, long-term loans require no repayment for two years and be can used to hire and retain workers, purchase inventory, or even pay down higher cost debt racked up since the pandemic began. I’ll also be taking additional steps to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
Sixth, we’re going to continue to improve the care of those who do get COVID-19. In early July, I announced the deployment of surge response teams. These are teams comprised of experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the Defense Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — to areas in the country that need help to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Since then, the federal government has deployed nearly 1,000 staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, into 18 states. Today, I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country.
Additionally, we’re increasing the availability of new medicines recommended by real doctors, not conspiracy theorists. The monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 70 percent for unvaccinated people at risk of developing sefe- — severe disease.
We’ve already distributed 1.4 million courses of these treatments to save lives and reduce the strain on hospitals. Tonight, I’m announcing we will increase the average pace of shipment across the country of free monoclonal antibody treatments by another 50 percent.
Before I close, let me say this: Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus. And as we continue to battle COVID-19, we will ensure that equity continues to be at the center of our response. We’ll ensure that everyone is reached. My first responsibility as President is to protect the American people and make sure we have enough vaccine for every American, including enough boosters for every American who’s approved to get one.
We also know this virus transcends borders. That’s why, even as we execute this plan at home, we need to continue fighting the virus overseas, continue to be the arsenal of vaccines.
We’re proud to have donated nearly 140 million vaccines over 90 countries, more than all other countries combined, including Europe, China, and Russia combined. That’s American leadership on a global stage, and that’s just the beginning.
We’ve also now started to ship another 500 million COVID vaccines — Pfizer vaccines — purchased to donate to 100 lower-income countries in need of vaccines. And I’ll be announcing additional steps to help the rest of the world later this month.
As I recently released the key parts of my pandemic preparedness plan so that America isn’t caught flat-footed when a new pandemic comes again — and it will — next month, I’m also going to release the plan in greater detail.
So let me close with this: We have made so much progress during the past seven months of this pandemic. The recent increases in vaccinations in August already are having an impact in some states where case counts are dropping in recent days. Even so, we remain at a critical moment, a critical time. We have the tools. Now we just have to finish the job with truth, with science, with confidence, and together as one nation.
Look, we’re the United States of America. There’s nothing — not a single thing — we’re unable to do if we do it together. So let’s stay together.
God bless you all and all those who continue to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic. And may God protect our troops.
The White House released updated state fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century.
The fact sheets highlight how the historic legislation will deliver for states and territories across the country to repair roads and bridges, improve transportation options, build a network of EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs, help connect every American to reliable high-speed internet, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes for clean drinking water, protect against extreme weather events and cyberattacks and improve our nation’s airports.
In the coming days and weeks, we expect to receive additional data on the impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act state by state.
Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are linked below.
The White House provided this fact sheet of “Top 10 Programs” in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
Weatherization: Two-thirds of low-income U.S. households have high energy burdens, meaning they spend more than 6 percent of their income on utility bills. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
Wildfires: One estimate found that 4.5 million homes in the United States are at risk of wildfire. The bill invests $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources.
Floods: The cost of flood damage was approximately $17 billion annually in the last decade, and is expected to increase significantly due climate-related extreme weather and rising sea levels. The bill invests $12 billion in flood mitigation, including funding for FEMA flood mitigation grants, making infrastructure investments to increase coastal resilience, and improving mapping and data so that households and businesses can better protect themselves from future flood events.
Brownfields and superfund: 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $5 billion in addressing legacy pollution at these sites, creating good-paying union jobs and advancing economic and environmental justice.
Natural gas wells and coal mines: In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites, including orphan wells and abandoned land mines, are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. The deal invests $16 billion in creating good-paying union jobs capping these wells and mines.
Pipeline safety: More than 20,000 miles of cast iron pipelines—much of which was installed in the 1800’s and early 1900’s—transports natural gas underneath communities in the U.S. This infrastructure, which is prone to leaks and fugitive methane emissions, is mostly located in disadvantaged areas including older cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, New York, and St. Louis. Since 2010, the U.S. has experienced thousands of pipeline incidents, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths, tens of thousands of evacuations, and more than $4 billion in damages. The bill includes $1 billion for the “Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program” to modernize natural gas distribution pipelines, reducing incidents and fatalities, and avoiding economic losses.
Battery manufacturing: Today, the U.S. relies heavily on importing advanced battery components from abroad, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities that threaten to disrupt the availability and cost of these technologies, as well as the workforce that manufactures them. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $6B to spur U.S. advanced battery processing, manufacturing, and recycling, creating good-paying jobs and enabling American manufacturers to win the 21st century.
Safe Streets: Over 36,000 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, including over 6,200 pedestrians and about 850 bicyclists. The United States has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the industrialized world, double the rate in Canada and quadruple that in Europe. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes $5 billion for a first-of-its kind “Safe Streets for All” program to fund state and local “vision zero” plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for the most vulnerable of roadways users.
Transit station ADA program: More than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, nearly 1,000 transit stations are still not fully accessible, which prevents millions of older Americans and individuals with disabilities from fully enjoying public transit. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total of $2 billion for transit ADA, including $1.75 billion for All Stations Accessibility and $250 million for Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities. These programs will remove barriers to transportation service and expand transportation mobility options for Americans across the country.
Cybersecurity: The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems, critical infrastructure, and American businesses underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest about $2 billion to modernize and secure federal, state, and local IT and networks; protect critical infrastructure and utilities; and support public or private entities as they respond to and recover from significant cyberattacks and breaches.
In a White House press call, September 3, 2021, Biden Administration officials laid out plans and strategy for pandemic preparedness to counter the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting the nation and the world, and to prepare for inevitable future pandemics.
The administration is seeking$65.3 billion over 7 to 10 years to institute the full set of capabilities needed to transform our ability to be prepared for any family of virus.
“President Biden is committed to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Building Back Better for the next biological threat. As part of this responsibility, the United States must lean forward and catalyze the advances in science, technology, and core capabilities required to protect the Nation against future and potentially catastrophic biological threats, whether naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate. “
Here are the remarks, and a fact sheet detailing the Biden Administration’s plan:
Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Eric Lander stated:
The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at a time when science and technology capabilities were changing very rapidly. Recent scientific advances made it possible to respond much more rapidly than ever before. Had COVID-19 emerged five years ago, we would have had far fewer tools to do this.
But, five years from now, we need to have much better capabilities. We need to have better capabilities because, well, even with the knowledge and the tools that dramatically improved our ability to respond, COVID-19 has still been devastating for the nation and the world.
As of today, COVID-19 has killed at least 642,000 Americans and many, many millions of people around the world, and many recovered patients are living with long-term effects of the disease.
It’s also caused economic damage to the United States that’s been estimated in the range of $16 trillion in lost economic output, direct spending, mortality, and morbidity. And the societal impact has been borne disproportionately by frontline and vulnerable populations, especially people of color.
We need better capabilities also because there is a reasonable likelihood that another serious pandemic that could be worse than COVID-19 will occur soon, possibly even within the next decade. And the next pandemic will very likely be substantially different than COVID-19. So, we must be prepared to deal with any type of viral threat.
Now, because of ongoing progress in science and technology and innovation, we can have better capabilities for medicine, for situational awareness, for public health, and for lots more. For the first time in the nation’s history, we have the opportunity, due to these kinds of advances in science and technology, not just to refill stockpiles, but transform our capabilities. But we really need to start preparing now.
We’ve got to seize the unique opportunity to transform our scientific capabilities so we’re prepared for the increasing frequency of biological threats on the horizon. Investing to avert or mitigate the huge toll of future pandemics or other biological threats is both an economic and moral imperative.
So, five years from now, we need to be in a far stronger position to stop infectious diseases before they become global pandemics like COVID-19.
Now, there’s a lot we can do to transform our scientific capabilities for vaccine, therapeutic, diagnostic development; for early warning; for public health systems.
Importantly, these kinds of advances will not only strengthen our systems for dealing with future biological threats, they will be valuable for everyday public health and medical care for all Americans and for the world. This will help everyday public health for everyone.
Now, all these efforts, I’ve got to say, must, from the very outset, include a strong emphasis on reducing inequities and increasing access for all Americans to the resulting advances, because as we’ve seen from this pandemic, having the burden largely borne by vulnerable populations is unacceptable.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental issues with America’s public heath that go far beyond pandemic preparedness.
The issues include the need to increase overall public health funding, strengthen the public health workforce, eliminate barriers to access, improve data systems, address disparities, improve communications, and improve coordination across federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities.
The plan that’s being released today addresses needs directly related to pandemic preparedness, but I just want to emphasize there are broader public health issues that’ll need to be addressed separately and in a coordinated fashion.
So, today, the White House is releasing a document entitled “American Pandemic Preparedness: Transforming our Capabilities,” and the document describes goals under five pillars to protect the U.S. against biological threats.
Pillar number one is: transforming our medical defenses, including improving vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
Pillar number two: ensuring situational awareness about infectious disease threats, for both early warning and real-time monitoring.
Pillar three: strengthening public health systems, both in the U.S. and internationally, to be able to respond to emergencies, with a particular focus on protecting the most vulnerable communities.
Pillar four: building core capabilities, including personal protective equipment, stockpiles and supply chains, biosafety and biosecurity, and regulatory improvement.
And pillar five: managing the mission, with the seriousness of purpose, commitment, and accountability of an Apollo Program.
So, while the government — the U.S. government has made and must continue to make investments in basic science research, this plan includes the full set of capabilities needed to transform our ability to be prepared for any family of virus. The cost is $65.3 billion over 7 to 10 years.
And it’s vital that we start with an initial outlay of $15- to $20 billion to jumpstart these efforts. And, accordingly, we’re proposing that the current budget reconciliation provides at least $15 billion towards this goal.
The administration will work through other appropriations to support the remainder of that $65.3 billion budget, above baseline, needed to execute the plan in full.
And over the coming months, the White House will be developing the President’s budget, which will provide resources to ensure that the United States is prepared for the next pandemic.
So, let me just say, these critical investments will build on and complement the broader U.S. government biomedical and health research portfolio.
We strongly believe that this mission is so important that it needs to be managed with the seriousness of purpose, commitment, and accountability of, well, President Kennedy’s Apollo Program, overseen by a dedicated program office.
So we’re proposing there be a centralized “Mission Control” acting as a single, unified program management unit that draws on expertise from multiple agencies at HHS, including NIH, CDC, BARDA, FDA, and CMS, as well as other agencies and departments such as DOD, DOE, VA. You know, for example, the Countermeasures Acceleration Group — formerly “Operation Warp Speed” — is led by a single joint program management unit.
And Mission Control should have the responsibility and the authority to develop and update plans with objective and transparent milestones; regularly assess and publicly report on mission progress; shift funding to ensure that goals are achieved; coordinate linkages across performers in government — academia, philanthropy, and industry; and conduct periodic exercises to evaluate our actual national pandemic preparedness by deploying these capabilities, including through testing rapid product development. And it should seek input of outside experts and have working groups that allow it to get the best possible advice.
So, like any ambitious endeavor — whether it’s going to the Moon with the Apollo mission or cracking the human DNA with the Human Genome Project — an effort like this will take serious, sustained commitment and accountability.
And like those kinds of efforts, it is likely to yield benefits far beyond the initial mission — in this case, advances in human health and providing tools that can help overcome health inequities and ensure equitable access to innovative products for all Americans.
So, we at the Office of Science and Technology have been working hard on the plan in very close partnership with the National Security Council, and particularly the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan.
NSC Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense Dr. Beth Cameron on American Pandemic Preparedness stated:
The President has been committed from day one to pandemic readiness, including ending this pandemic which threatens the world and continues to create dangerous variants.
In parallel, he and the administration remain committed to advancing, repairing, and strengthening health security and pandemic preparedness for the future, including obviously here in the United States but also around the world.
And that’s why the President took swift action early to lay out a vision and plans for this work, including signing his first National Security Memorandum, which focused on the COVID-19 health and humanitarian response; advancing health security; and building better biological preparedness. And this plan is really one central piece of that effort.
We’re also actively implementing many of the actions called for in NSM-1, including, obviously, releasing a COVID-19 response strategy, both domestically and globally. We’ve established a new domestic Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. We’ve reengaged with the WHO on day one. We’re working across the government to raise the global and domestic research and development ambition to decrease the timing between detection of the new biological threat and safe delivery of targeted countermeasures and therapeutics. And you obviously heard a lot more about that from Dr. Lander.
We’re reviewing the existing state of our biodefense enterprise — and I’ll come back to that in a second — and we continue to prioritize helping other countries in need to build their capacities to prevent, detect, and respond, and to advance our programs that support the global health security agenda and establish catalytic health security financing for the future.
The President signed, on his first day in office, Executive Order 13987, and that focused on the organization here in the United States for COVID-19, but also on emerging biological threats. And it included reestablishing my office — the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense on the NSC staff.
And we’re really here to provide a high-level “belly button,” if you will, to elevate these important issues to the President and the NSC.
Our team has a “no-fail” mission to rapidly mobilize the policy machinery to elevate high-consequence infectious disease outbreaks quickly across the White House and to the National Security Advisor, and really to empower agencies to adopt a no-regrets response.
And we’re working very closely with OSTP and across the White House with all relevant departments and agencies as well to do a whole-of-government review and update of national bio-preparedness policies, which is directed by that executive order and by National Security Memorandum-1.
And so the document that we’re releasing today that Eric outlined in detail lays out a set of urgent needs and opportunities that are necessary to protect the United States against biological and pandemic threats.
We believe that transforming our capabilities will require a systematic effort and a shared vision for biological preparedness that, as you heard from Eric, is really akin to an Apollo mission.
And that’s why we envision that this will be a core element of our strategy going forward on biodefense and pandemic readiness, informed by lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Importantly, though, we continue to take stock of our full range of biodefense, pandemic readiness, and global health security needs, including capabilities, policies, and practices that we need to update and refresh, building on our lessons from COVID-19 and other outbreaks.
While this plan does lay out a clear vision for bio-preparedness, it doesn’t cover everything. As Dr. Lander said, it’s really focused on our capabilities at home to prepare for pandemic.
COVID-19 has enumerated a number of challenges in our preparedness for a moderate pandemic, but we do need additional capabilities to be fully prepared for any biological event that comes our way, and that includes countering bioterrorism; countering the development and use of biological weapons; strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention; improving food security and food defense, zoonotic spillover events, and others.
And we really focused this document on specific capabilities to stop a pandemic sooner, including a strong emphasis on science and technology, and early countermeasure development. And we felt it was urgent to get started on this issue immediately.
Simultaneously, we remain focused on reviewing and updating our other policies and practices, including across the broader healthcare system, workforce, and other areas. And of course, we remain laser focused on the domestic and global COVID-19 response and our full programs of — a full suite of programs in support of those efforts. These are vital, and the President has also placed a major priority on them, including in his FY22 Budget Request.
So, just in closing, as we finalize our broader whole-of-government bio-preparedness effort, as directed by the President, this an important and crucial element, and we have to start now.
FACT SHEET: Biden Administration to Transform Capabilities for Pandemic Preparedness
President Biden is committed to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Building Back Better for the next biological threat. As part of this responsibility, the United States must lean forward and catalyze the advances in science, technology, and core capabilities required to protect the Nation against future and potentially catastrophic biological threats, whether naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate.
We must seize the opportunity to ready ourselves for the biological threats on the horizon. Investing to avert or mitigate the huge toll of future pandemics and other biological threats is an economic and moral imperative. The cost of pandemic prevention pales in comparison to the enormous cost – in lives and in economic cost – of a pandemic. It’s hard to imagine a higher return on national investment.
On January 20, the President directed a whole-of-government review of U.S. national biopreparedness policies and re-established the National Security Council Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense. Today, we are releasing a plan for transforming U.S. capabilities to prepare for and respond rapidly and effectively to future pandemics and other high consequence biological threats. This plan is a core element of the larger strategy to bolster and resource pandemic readiness and biodefense.
I. Transforming our Medical Defenses, including dramatically improving and expanding our arsenal of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
II. Ensuring Situational Awareness about infectious-disease threats, for both early warning and real-time monitoring.
III. Strengthening Public Health Systems, both in the U.S. and internationally to be able to respond to emergencies, with a particular focus on reducing inequities and protecting the most vulnerable communities.
IV. Building Core Capabilities, including personal protective equipment, stockpiles and supply chains, biosafety and biosecurity, and regulatory improvement.
V. Managing the Mission, with seriousness of purpose, commitment, and accountability akin to the Apollo mission, which brought our astronauts to the moon decades ago.
This work will include, from the outset, a strong focus on ensuring equity and access by all Americans to the resulting advances.
Because transforming our capabilities will take time, it is imperative that we start now.
Achieving these capabilities will require a systematic effort and shared vision for biological preparedness across our government. Like any ambitious endeavor – whether the Apollo mission or the Human Genome Project that cracked the code of human genetics – transforming our nation’s pandemic preparedness will take serious, sustained commitment and ambitious accountability. And like those efforts, it is likely to yield benefits beyond the original mission – in this case advances in human health and providing tools that could overcome health inequities and ensure equitable access to innovative products.
In addition to this plan’s efforts to strengthen public health in the context of pandemic preparedness, we also must address the broader need to strengthen the U.S. public health system and reinvigorate our public health workforce. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to efforts to support our public health workforce and to prevent the types of public health inequities revealed by COVID-19.
Over the next several weeks, we will be building on this vision as we finalize our whole-of-government biopreparedness review, continue to learn from COVID-19, and commit ourselves to a biodefense and pandemic readiness strategy that builds back better in the United States and around the world for this pandemic and the next.
This is in stark contrast to some Republican Governors – Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas stand out– who are actively sabotaging efforts for public schools to keep their students, faculty and community safe. DeSantis has actually threatened public school districts – including Broward, Florida’s second largest – with withholding funding if they dare impose a mask mandate (the school district rescinded its order).
In remarks about the latest efforts by the administration to get COVID-19 under control and prevent needless sickness and death (some 75,000 may die by November, according to some projections), President Biden said, “I say to these governors, ‘Please, help.’ But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.” (It’s as if these governors want to sabotage the Biden administration’s efforts to end the pandemic and so people suffer and then punish Democrats in the 2022 midterms and 2024 election.)
“As families across the country eagerly anticipate a return to school, the Administration is determined to ensure that our schools and students not only recover from the pandemic, but that we Build Back Better for the future.”
Vaccination is our leading strategy to end the pandemic, and—combined with the layered mitigation strategies recommended by the CDC—has the greatest potential to allow schools to reopen fully this fall and stay open for in-person learning. That’s why, in March the President prioritized teachers and school staff for access to the COVID vaccine. As a result, almost 90 percent of educators and school staff are now vaccinated. To get more of our students ages 12 and older vaccinated, the President is now calling on school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks and directing pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to prioritize this and to work with school districts across the country to host vaccination clinics at schools and colleges.
Ensuring funds address the needs of students. Districts and states must spend a combined minimum of 25 percent of the state’s total ARP ESSER funds, totaling nearly $30.5 billion, to address the impact of lost instructional time through summer learning or enrichment, extended day instruction, comprehensive afterschool programs, or other evidence-based practices. Funded strategies must also respond to students’ social and emotional needs and account for the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on underserved students. The Administration recognizes that the communities that support our students have a critical understanding of what their students need and are key to ensuring funds have the greatest impact on students. As they put together their plans for the use of funds, states and school districts are required to engage a wide range of stakeholders during the planning process, including educators, school leaders and staff, students, families, civil rights organizations, and stakeholders representing the interests of students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, students who are incarcerated and other underserved students.
Protecting high-poverty districts from funding cuts. The American Rescue Plan’s ARP ESSER program includes a first-of-its-kind maintenance of equity requirement to ensure that high-poverty school districts and schools are protected in the event of funding cuts. These requirements will ensure that school districts and schools serving a large share of students from low-income backgrounds will not experience disproportionate budget cuts—and that the school districts with the highest poverty levels do not experience any decrease in state per-pupil funding below their pre-pandemic level.
Ensuring states continue to fund education. The Department has emphasized the importance of the American Rescue Plan’s maintenance of effort requirement, which ensures that states continue to fulfill their commitments to fund their education systems, and has worked with states to ensure that they meet these requirements. The maintenance of effort requirement helps protect students by making sure that federal pandemic relief funds are used to meet the immediate needs and impacts of the pandemic on students and schools to the greatest extent possible, rather than to supplant general state funding for K-12 education.
Stabilizing and ensuring access to child care. High-quality early care and education helps ensure that children can take full advantage of education and training opportunities later in life. The pandemic significantly disrupted the child care sector, threatening access to this critical support and threatening economic security for childcare workers, who are disproportionately women of color. The American Rescue Plan invested $24 billion in stabilizing the child care sector, and is helping to provide this essential industry—which provides vital opportunities for children—with more flexible funding to help more low-income working families access high-quality care, increase compensation for early childhood workers, and help parents to work.
Addressing the needs of students experiencing homelessness. The pandemic increased housing insecurity, and disproportionately impacted the education of students experiencing homelessness, who were less likely to be able to successfully engage in remote learning due to lack of reliable access to the internet. The Department of Education has released all $800 million in American Rescue Plan funds for identifying and addressing the needs of students experiencing homelessness, including by providing wraparound services and support ranging from afterschool to mental health services.
Supporting students with disabilities. The pandemic created serious challenges for many students with disabilities, who struggled to access special education and related services according to their individualized services plan. The American Rescue Plan provides support to students with disabilities and infants and toddlers with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To ensure states can deliver the necessary services and supports to young children and youth with disabilities, the American Rescue Plan devotes nearly $2.6 billion in grants to states to support elementary and secondary education students with disabilities, $200 million for preschool children with disabilities, and $250 million for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
Bolstering Tribal education. The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is using $535 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support 183 BIE-funded K-12 schools, providing much-needed financial support to help Tribal communities recover more quickly from the pandemic’s wide-ranging impact.
Funding COVID testing. The American Rescue Plan includes $10 billion to support COVID-19 testing in schools. This funding will help to reopen schools, including in communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Closing the digital divide. The American Rescue Plan included $7.2 billion for the E-Rate program, which helps support American schools by funding programs to help ensure K-12 students and teachers have the appropriate internet connections and devices for distance learning, a particular challenge in low-income and rural communities.
Supporting nutrition security. It is hard for students to learn successfully when they are experiencing hunger. Black and Latino households face food insecurity at twice the rate of white households. The American Rescue Plan guards against food hardship among students this summer by allowing states to continue the Pandemic-EBT program, which provides grocery benefits to replace meals for students who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals when schools are closed. It also increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent through September 2021, maintaining the increase through the summer, when childhood hunger spikes due to a lack of school meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture likewise acted to offer flexibility for the 2021-2022 school year by providing waivers that allow schools to serve free meals to all students.
With the expiration of the CDC’s housing moratorium, President Joe Biden instructed key agencies to take actions to protect renters at risk of eviction. President Biden issued this statement:
“As the eviction moratorium deadline approaches tomorrow, I call on all state and local governments to take all possible steps to immediately disburse these funds given the imminent ending of the CDC eviction moratorium. State and local governments began receiving Emergency Rental Assistance funding in February and were eligible for an additional $21.5 billion passed in the American Rescue Plan. Five months later, with localities across the nation showing that they can deliver funds effectively – there can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic. Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can. State and local governments can and should use both the Emergency Rental Assistance and their American Rescue Plan state and local funds to support policies with courts, community groups, and legal aid to ensure no one seeks an eviction when they have not sought out Emergency Rental Assistance funds. State and local governments should also be aware that there is no legal barrier to moratorium at the state and local level. My Administration will not rest – nor should state and local governments – until Emergency Rental Assistance dollars reach Americans in need.”
This joint statement from the Secretaries of USDA, HUD, VA, Treasury and the FHFA Acting Director on agency actions to prevent evictions following the expiration of the moratorium on evictions and the Supreme Court’s decision rendering the CDC unable to extend the moratorium, has been forwarded by the White House:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium is in place until July 31st, but the Supreme Court’s ruling made clear that CDC cannot extend the moratorium past its current expiration date. In light of that decision, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking steps to protect renters at risk of eviction. Today, at the President’s request, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have extended their foreclosure-related eviction moratoria until September 30, 2021.
The President further asked our agencies, which play a significant role in providing and insuring affordable rental housing, to explore all available tools to keep American safe and housed. Through nearly 20 programs, financial incentives, tax credits, loans and guarantees, the federal government provides owners and operators of rental housing with significant support to provide housing to renters. As Secretaries of Agriculture, HUD, VA, and Treasury, and Acting Director of the FHFA, we recognize that our agencies provide the financial resources and incentives for federally-assisted and financed rental housing. We want to make clear that the owners and operators of this housing should make every effort to access Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) resources to avoid evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent. These resources are available in every state, and many counties and cities are also running local programs. Owners and operators of federally-assisted housing are stewards of important public resources and should access rental assistance both to prevent unnecessary human suffering and to protect the public investment in affordable housing.
The American Rescue Plan allocated an additional $21.5 billion for ERA that can be used by renters to cover rent and make landlords whole. This is on top of $25 billion allocated under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, bringing the total amount of ERA available to more than $46 billion and creating an economic, public health, and moral imperative for state and local governments to rise to the challenge of building a new infrastructure for getting ERA to vulnerable renters and landlords.
While few state and local agencies had ERA programs prior to this funding becoming available, the Administration has engaged in a whole-of-government effort to drive the distribution of these resources. Treasury has developed flexible program rules to make assistance easier to access, provided best practices for establishing effective programs, and communicated consequences for a lack of performance by state and local grantees.
To support Treasury as it implements the ERA program, HUD is providing technical assistance to HUD grantees and working with public housing authorities, private landlords, and tribal communities, to ensure that households and landlords participating in HUD’s federally-subsidized programs know the process for obtaining ERA, and that assistance is targeted to communities who need help the most.
The USDA is also committed to sharing ERA program information with rural communities. Within the USDA Multi-Family portfolio, there are approximately 65,000 tenants who do not receive rental assistance. Earlier this month, USDA sent letters to these tenants that included information on how to apply for the ERA program. Additionally, USDA has amplified the ERA program to over 250,000 online subscribers and rural leaders at the state and local level. USDA has also instructed Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Offices to share ERA program hard copy materials with rural residents.
In addition to the direct and indirect steps VA is taking to help Veterans who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is providing a one-stop website to inform Veterans facing housing instability of the programs and resources across the federal government that are available to them.
The Administration has engaged in a whole-of-government approach – together with major nonprofits and companies – to amplify the availability of these resources. This effort has reached tens of millions of households to let them know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a locater tool to help landlords and tenants find a program in their jurisdiction.
The delivery of ERA is ramping up as a result of these efforts and the hard work of public servants in state and local governments across the nation. A total of $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to more than 290,000 renters in the month of June alone. But state and local governments must do better. Money is available in every state to help renters who are behind on rent and at risk of eviction, as well as landlords.
Our country and economy are in a stronger position now than they were in January 2021, yet households across the country, especially those that are not vaccinated, remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and its associated impacts, including housing insecurity. Helping our fellow Americans, including our Veterans, keep their homes will go a long way in making sure that they have one less thing to worry about as they rebuild their lives coming out of this crisis and try to keep their loved ones safe.
On July 28, 2021, President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. In total, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet from the White House , which details what is included:
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, create good jobs, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.
The deal will create good-paying, union jobs. With the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.
President Biden believes that we must invest in our country and in our people by creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver progress towards those objectives for working families across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal:
Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever
Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Development Authority to build a clean, 21st century electric grid
The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results for working families. He believes demonstrating that democracies can deliver is a critical challenge for his presidency. Today’s agreement shows that we can come together to position American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.
Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects
One in five miles, or 173,000 total miles, of our highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. Bridges in poor condition pose heightened challenges in rural communities, which often may rely on a single bridge for the passage of emergency service vehicles. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years building on bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills passed out of committee earlier this year. This investment will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes a total of $17.5 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.
America has one of the highest road fatality rates in the industrialized world. The deal invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It will more than double funding directed to programs that improve the safety of people and vehicles in our transportation system, including highway safety, truck safety, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety.
America’s transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. The deal invests $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization. This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and devotes a larger share of funds from surface transportation reauthorization to transit in the history of the programs. It will repair and upgrade aging infrastructure, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations accessible to all users, and bring transit service to new communities. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options.
Passenger and Freight Rail
Unlike highways and transit, rail lacks a multi-year funding stream to address deferred maintenance, enhance existing corridors, and build new lines in high-potential locations. The deal positions Amtrak and rail to play a central role in our transportation and economic future. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The deal invests $66 billion in rail to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Within these totals, $22 million would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.
U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers. This is the first-ever national investment in EV charging infrastructure in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.
American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution. The deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.
Too often, past transportation investments divided communities – like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse – or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options. In particular, significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods. The deal creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding.
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The bill invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.
Resilience and Western Water Infrastructure
Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion. This includes funds to protect against droughts and floods, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The bill is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.
Clean Drinking Water
Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. The deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. The deal’s $65 billion investment ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.
The bill will also help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service. It will also help close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act, ending digital redlining, creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet, and establishing a new program to help low-income households obtain the devices required to access the internet.
In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells.
As the recent Texas power outages demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization. A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The deal’s $73 billion investment is the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.
In the years ahead, the deal, which will generate significant economic benefits, and it is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Justice announced it will launch five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. Tomorrow, the Attorney General will discuss with the President, law enforcement officials, and local and community leaders, this initiative, which, along with other measures, the Department of Justice is undertaking as part of the administration-wide comprehensive strategy to combat the rise in violent crime.
Gun violence is a major driver in the increase in violent crime over the last 18 months, and today’s action is an important step in stemming the supply of illegally trafficked firearms which are used in deadly shootings and other violent crimes.
“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences. This effort reflects our shared commitment to keep communities safe.”
The five strike forces will focus on significant firearms trafficking corridors that channel guns into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C. They will be led by designated U.S. Attorneys who will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and with state and local law enforcement partners in places where firearms originate and where they are used to commit crimes. The strike forces will share information and otherwise collaborate across districts where firearms trafficking schemes cross state or jurisdictional boundaries to focus enforcement against entire trafficking networks, from the places where guns are unlawfully obtained to the areas where they are used to commit violent crimes.
At an event today hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum, attended by hundreds of law enforcement professionals from around the country, the Deputy Attorney General spoke about the strike force launch, emphasizing the department’s commitment to working closely with state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement partners as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce crime and make our communities safer.
Today’s announcement builds on the Justice Department’s broader Violent Crime Reduction Initiative, announced on May 26, 2021, that supports local communities in preventing, investigating and prosecuting gun violence and other violent crime. In guidance to federal agents and prosecutors as part of that comprehensive strategy, the Deputy Attorney General made clear that firearms traffickers that provide weapons to violent offenders are an enforcement priority across the country.
President Joe Biden is calling for June to be a “Month of Action” – a full-court press to reach the goal of 70 percent of Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4th. He outlined the unprecedented peacetime effort to make the vaccinations available for free, and even enticing incentives from governments, companies and sports organizations. New York State is awarding full four-year scholarships at a SUNY college; Ohio is picking $1 million lottery winners. The Biden Administration has created a website in order to find the nearest place to get a vaccination by texting your zipcode, organized free Uber lifts, free drop-in-day care and incentivized employers to give paid leave to get the shot.
“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus,” he said. “America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.”
Here are his remarks:
In just four months, thanks to the American people, we have made incredible progress getting people vaccinated quickly, efficiently, and equitably. Nearly 170 million Americans of every party, every background, every walk of life have stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and gotten the shot.
Fifty-two percent of adults are now fully vaccinated, including seventy-five percent of all seniors. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have achieved 50 percent of adults being fully vaccinated in their jurisdictions.
And it’s clearer than ever: The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus.
Since January 20 — and we’re talking, now, about 15  months — the average daily cases are down from 184,000 to 19,000, below 20,000 for the first time since March of 2020. Average hospitalizations are down from 117,000 to 21,000. Death rates are down over 85 percent.
And this didn’t just happen by chance. We got to this moment because we took aggressive action from day one with a whole-of-government response. We used every lever at our disposal to get this done.
We experienced the production and expanded it in a significant way: in lifesaving vaccines available for every single American. They’re available, and we knew that was the case months ago.
We worked with cities and states to create over 80,000 vaccination sites. We deployed over 9,000 federal staff, including 5,100 active-duty troops to help get shots in arms. Now, as a result, we have built a world-class vaccination program.
I promised you we’d marshal a wartime effort to defeat this virus, and that’s just what we’ve been doing.
And now, tens of millions of Americans have been vaccinated. They’re able to return to closer to a — closer-to-normal life.
Fully vaccinated people are safely shedding their masks and greeting one another with a smile. Grandparents are hugging their grandkids again. Small-business owners are reopening storefronts and restaurants.
Because of the vaccination strategy, our economic strategy, we’re — experienced the strongest economic recovery this country has seen in decades.
There is a group called the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development — OECD — which includes most of the world’s largest economies in its membership. They’ve been one of those leading bodies analyzing economic growth across — around the world for 60 years.
Just this week, they increased their projection for the U.S. economic growth this year to 6.9 percent — 6.9 percent. That’s the fastest pace in nearly four decades. And that’s because of our vaccination program and our economic response, which, alone, are adding 3 to 4 percentage points to our growth; driving stronger growth not just there — not just this year, but in years to come.
In fact, America is the only major country where global forecasters have actually increased their five-year forecasts for economic growth since January of 2020.
And because of that, America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.
But what happens after the summer? The data could not be clearer: For all the progress we’re making as a country, if you are unvaccinated, you are still at risk of getting seriously ill or dying, or spreading disease to others, especially when Americans spend more time indoors again, closely gathered in the fall, as — and as we face the potential threat of a new, more dangerous variants.
Even now, if you look at the areas of the country where vaccination rates are the highest, the death — the death rates are dramatically falling. They — the vaccines are effective; they’re effective against the variants currently circulating in the United States. On the other hand, COVID deaths are unchanged in many parts of our country that are lagging behind in vaccinations.
And for young people who may think this doesn’t affect you, listen up, please: This virus, even a mild case, can be with you for months. It will impact on your social life. It could have long-term implications for your health that we don’t even know about yet or fully understand yet.
It’s true that young people are much less likely to die from COVID. But if you do not get vaccinated, you could get COVID sooner or later. But you could get COVID still.
A substantial percentage of people with COVID, even young people, will suffer illnesses, and some will have long-term health impacts as a consequence.
If you’re thinking that the side effects from the shot are worse than the COVID, or that you can’t just take a chance, you are just dead wrong.
Do it for yourself. Do it to protect those more vulnerable than you: your friends, you family, your community.
You know, some people have questions about how quickly the vaccines were developed. They say they’ve been developed so quickly, they can’t be that good. Well, here’s what you need to know: Vaccines were developed over a decade of research in similar viruses, and they’ve gone through strict FDA clinical trials.
The bottom line is this — I promise you: They are safe. They are safe. And even more importantly, they’re extremely effective.
And if you’re vaccinated, you are protected. If you are not vaccinated, you are not protected.
Places with high vaccination rates will also see fewer cases of COVID moving forward. Places with lower vaccination rates are going to see more.
You know, we were elected to be President and Vice President for all Americans. And I don’t want to see the country that is already too divided become divided in a new way — between places where people live free from fear of COVID and places where, when the fall arrives, death and severe illnesses return.
The vaccine is free, it’s safe, and it’s effective. Getting the vaccine is not a partisan act. The science was done under Democratic and Republican administrations. Matter of fact, the first vaccines were authorized under a Republican President and widely developed by a Democratic President — deployed by a Democratic President.
All over the world, people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighborhood drug store at no cost, with no wait.
Every American over 12 years of age — no matter where you live, what you believe, who you voted for — has the right to get vaccinated. It’s your choice.
So, please, exercise your freedom, live without fear. We need to be one America, united — free from fear this fall.
Now, how will we keep beating this virus as we enter — as we enter the fall after summer? On May 4, I asked Americans to come together to get 70 percent of adults with one shot by July 4th — 70 percent at least with one shot. To date, 12 states have already reached this important milestone. We expect — we expect more to make this milestone this week.
Nationally, we are at 63 percent of adults with one shot. And we are getting closer, but we still have work to do. With 73 percent of Americans over the age of 40 with one shot, and as — we especially need people under 40 to step up. Over 40 is doing much better.
That’s why, today, we’re announcing a month-long effort to pull all the stops — all the stops to free ourselves from this virus and get to 70 percent of adult Americans vaccinated.
Now, I’m going to take everyone — you know, it’s going to take everyone — everyone — the federal government; the state governments; local, Tribal, and territorial governments; the private sector; and, most importantly, the American people — to get to the 70 percent mark so we can declare our independence from COVID-19 and free ourselves from the grip it has held over us — our lives for the better part of a year.
Each of you has the power to help us gain this freedom as a nation. If you get a shot this week, you can be fully vaccinated by July 4th — by the week of July the 4th. And you can celebrate Independence Day free from fear or worry.
This effort has five key parts. First, we’re making it easier than ever to get vaccinated. Ninety percent of you live within five miles of a vaccination site. The vaccinations are free, and most places allow walk-up vaccinations. No appointment needed.
You can go to Vaccines.gov or text your ZIP Code to 438829 to get a text back with the places you can get a shot that are close by.
And now, we’re going to make it even easier. In response to our call to action, businesses and organizations across the country have stepped up to help everyone get vaccinated.
Starting next week, many vaccination sites will be offering extended hours during the month of June, including pharmacies that will be open 24 hours every Friday night — for 24 hours they’ll be open — this month.
And if you’re too busy at work or school, you can get vaccinated around the clock on any Friday. Any Friday.
For parents who haven’t been able to get the shot because they didn’t have the childcare: Starting today, KinderCare, Learning Care Group, the Bright Horizons, alongside with hundreds of YMC- loc- — YMCA locations, are going to offer free drop-in childcare while the parents are getting vaccinated.
In addition, Uber and Lyft are both offering free rides to and from vaccination sites — vaccination centers. It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated.
So, again, text 438829 to find out what the nearest places you can get vaccinated are from your ZIP Code. And visit pharmacies with an extended-hour and walk-up shots that are available. Free childcare, free rides, free shots.
Second, we’re going to redouble our outreach and public education efforts. We’re going to relaunch them, in effect. We’re going to launch a national vaccination tour to encourage people to take the shot. The Vice President is going to lead that tour across the South and the Midwest, where we still had millions of people to vaccinate.
She’s going to be joined by Jill — by the First Lady and the Second Gentleman and Cabinet Secretaries along the way.
In the spirit of meeting people where they are, we’ll also be working with the Black Coalition Against COVID and other organizations to launch a new initiative called “Shots at the Shop.” Barbershops, beauty shops are hubs of activity and information in Black and brown communities in particular, but in many communities across the nation. Local barbers, stylists, they become key advocates for vaccinations in their communities, offering information to customers, booking appointments for them, even using their own businesses as vaccination sites. We’re going to work with shops across the country to make an even bigger impact over the next month.
We’ll also kick things off this weekend with a National Canvassing Weekend, where thousands of volunteers will be out knocking on doors and encourage their communities to get vaccinated.
And mayors — mayors will be stepping up even more over the next month and partnering with us on the City Vaccination Challenge to see which city can grow its vaccination rate the fastest — the most — by July 4th.
We need you to join these efforts. This is the kind of on-the-ground work that’s going to get the job done.
Third, we’ll be increasing our work with employers — employers. A lot of working people are holding back because they’re concerned about losing pay if they take time off to get a shot, or if they don’t feel well the next day. I’ve said before: For small- and medium-sized employers, if you give people paid time off to get a shot, you’ll get a tax credit to cover that cost.
Already, millions of workers across the country are eligible for paid time off and incentives from their employers. I’m asking all employers: Do the right thing.
And we’re making it easy for employers to set up on-the-job vaccination clinics to make it even more convenient for their employees to get a shot.
Fourth, we’re going to continue encouraging people to get vaccinated with incentives and fun rewards. The state of Ohio had a heck of a fun reward — a new millionaire last week — thanks to the creative idea of the governor for holding a vaccination — a vaccine lottery.
The grocery store, Kroger, announced that they’re going to give away $1 million each week to someone who gets vaccinated at one of their pharmacies.
The NBA, the NHL, NASCAR — NASCAR tracks — they’re offering vaccine- — vaccines outside playoff games and at races. Major League Baseball will be offering free tickets to people who get vaccinated at the ballpark.
And to top it off, Anheuser-Busch announced that beer is on them on July the 4th. That’s right, get a shot and have a beer. Free beer for everyone 21 years or over to celebrate the independence from the virus.
Fifth, and finally, we’re asking the American people to help. We need you. We need you to get your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers vaccinated. Help them find an appointment. Drive them to the site. Talk to them about why you made the choice for yourself. So many Americans have already stepped up to help get their communities vaccinated.
And over the next month, we’re going to need you more than ever. We need every American to commit to the five actions I’ve mentioned this month.
Take at least five actions to help in June. And you might even be invited to visit us at the White House in July to celebrate independence together.
I’ll close with this: We need everyone across the country to pull together to get us over the finish line. I promise you we can do this. Just look at what we’ve already done — we’ve already accomplished together in only four months.
We know it for a fact: Americans could do anything when we do it together. So, please, do your part. Give it your all through July the 4th. Let’s reach our 70 percent goal. Let’s go into the summer freer and safer. Let’s celebrate a truly historic Independence Day.
“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus,” he said. “America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.”