America’s hotel industry is offering to provide up to 50,000 sites to assist in the rapid administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, in partnership with public health departments.
In a letter to the Biden Transition Team, Chip Rogers, President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association, writes, “America’s hotels stand ready to work alongside America’s governors as states continue to move forward in administrating the COVID-19 vaccine. By quickly mobilizing an existing network of sites, hotels can help strengthen the delivery and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in communities across the country to better streamline and build on current state efforts.”
The AHLA has a “Hospitality for Hope” initiative which has infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of 20,000 hotels that could be used as locations to administer the vaccine.
In the letter, which is also sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chair, National Governors Association; Governor Asa Hutchinson, Vice Chair National Governors Association; Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed; Dr. Robert R. Redfield, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Alex Azar, Secretary of Health & Human Services; and the US Conference of Mayors, he writes:
“As you know, administering the vaccine on a national level will be a significant undertaking requiring innovative solutions and collaboration. To aide in the distribution, the hotel industry is asking that hotels be considered as an option for vaccine administration sites in partnership with public health departments.
“Hotels have existing infrastructure and operational capabilities to serve as vaccine administration sites and capacity to assist. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) under its “Hospitality for Hope” initiative has the infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of more than 20,000 hotels which could be quickly ready serve as locations to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Through this program, the hotel industry has already successfully partnered with federal and local governments to provide assistance to those in need, including frontline and emergency workers as well as state and municipal public health departments.
“The hotel industry is ready to step in and assist our community and alleviate the current burdens on our health systems in a time of national need and has the following capabilities:
Geographic reach: With more than 50,000 hotels in every state, including properties located in cities, suburbs, and rural communities, hotels have the geographic reach to support a wide distribution of the vaccine.
Available Capacity and Operate 24/7: Hotels have private rooms, meeting rooms, conference and ball rooms as well as outside areas, hotels are equipped for 24-hour operations to allow for round-the-clock vaccination administration. This will also ensure there is adequate space to maintain physical distancing, capacity limits and other safety protocols. Further, as hotels are currently running at less than 50 percent occupancy rates, families or individuals who might be traveling to receive the vaccine will have access to comfortable and flexible lodging options should they need
Comprehensive cleanliness protocols: The industry has also adopted AHLA’s Safe Stay, an enhanced cleaning initiative that builds on the hotel industry’s long-standing commitment and operations procedures to ensure the safety of guests during the ongoing public health crisis.
Infrastructure: Hotels also offer ample parking and are often accessible from major transportation networks, including highways and public transportation routes. Hotels also have outdoor capabilities that can provide safe, weather-proof vaccination services where parking lots could be utilized for vaccination administration, similar to drive-thru testing sites.
Refrigeration Capabilities: With many hotels being temperature controlled and the majority of hotels having refrigeration capabilities to store vaccines, issues concerning vaccine storage will be limited or can be quickly addressed to meet the requirements necessary for safe and effective vaccine storage.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our industry has been on the frontlines to support national public health and safety priorities. AHLA launched the “Hospitality for Hope” initiative in early 2020, identifying more than 20,000 hotels willing to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The initiative identified a total combined 2.3 million rooms located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities for frontline workers to use as they worked around the clock to save lives and provide lodging for those exposed to COVID to quarantine safely. Additionally, as part of this effort, hotels are supporting the national guard by providing lodging to those who Washington D.C. and surrounding region to provide additional security around the inauguration.
“With the next phases of vaccination distribution underway, hotels have the unique capability to help provide additional locations to assist with the administration of the vaccine. As an industry, we have always stepped up to help our neighbors and communities in a time of need, including early-on in the pandemic through Hospitality for Hope. The industry looks forward to continuing this work in partnership with the public and private sector to support this next phase of recovery.”
Emergency Legislative Package to Fund Vaccinations, Provide Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the COVID-19 Crisis, and Support Struggling Communities
The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis are devastating families across the country. More than 20 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and at least 370,000 have died. From big cities to small towns, too many Americans are barely scraping by, or not scraping by at all. And the pandemic has shined a light on the persistence of racial injustice in our healthcare system and our economy. The need to act is clear in the lines at food banks, the small businesses that are closed or closing, and the growing number of Americans experiencing housing insecurity. After nearly a year of the public health crisis, our nation remains in this dark winter of the pandemic and facing a deep economic crisis.
President-elect Biden is laying out the first step of an aggressive, two-step plan for rescue, from the depths of this crisis, and recovery, by investing in America, creating millions of additional good-paying jobs, combatting the climate crisis, advancing racial equity, and building back better than before.
While Congress’s bipartisan action in December was a step in the right direction, it was only a down payment. It fell far short of the resources needed to tackle the immediate crisis. We are in a race against time, and absent additional government assistance, the economic and public health crises could worsen in the months ahead; schools will not be able to safely reopen; and vaccinations will remain far too slow.
As last month’s jobs report underscored, the virus and our economy are intertwined. We cannot rescue our economy without containing this virus.
Today, President-elect Biden is announcing the American Rescue Plan to change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic recovery, and invest in racial justice. The American Rescue Plan will address the stark, intergenerational inequities that have worsened in the wake of COVID-19. Researchers at Columbia University estimate that these proposals will cut child poverty in half.
Specifically, President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan will:
Mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools, including by setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, eliminating supply shortage problems, investing in high-quality treatments, providing paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus, addressing health disparities, and making the necessary investments to meet the president-elect’s goal of safely reopening a majority of K-8 schools in the first 100 days.
Deliver immediate relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis by sending $1,400 per-person checks to households across America, providing direct housing and nutrition assistance, expanding access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and giving families with kids and childless workers an emergency boost this year.
Support communities that are struggling in the wake of COVID-19 by providing support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color, and protecting the jobs of the first responders, transit workers, and other essential workers we depend on.
In addition to addressing the public health and economic crises head on, the president-elect’s plan will provide emergency funding to upgrade federal information technology infrastructure and address the recent breaches of federal government data systems. This is an urgent national security issue that cannot wait.
President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is ambitious, but achievable, and will rescue the American economy and start beating the virus. Congress should act expeditiously to help working families, communities, and small businesses persevere through the pandemic.
This legislative package is needed now to address the immediate crises. In the coming weeks, President-elect Biden will lay out his economic recovery plan to invest in America, create millions of additional good-paying jobs, combat the climate crisis, and build back better than before.
Mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools
The pandemic is raging, with record high infection and death rates. A new strain of the virus that is even more contagious is appearing in communities across the country. Meanwhile, Americans are waiting to get their vaccines, even while doses are sitting on shelves. More than ten months into the pandemic, we still lack necessary testing capacity and are suffering from shortages of supplies like basic protective equipment for those on the front lines. Americans of color are being infected and are dying from COVID-19 at greater rates because of lasting systemic racism in our health care system. And, older Americans continue to suffer at disproportionate rates.
We can’t wait to slow the spread of this virus. And, we can’t fight this pandemic in fits and starts. President-elect Biden is putting forward a comprehensive plan to deal with this crisis and launch a whole-of-government COVID-19 response plan that will change the course of the pandemic by ensuring we have necessary supplies and protective gear, increasing testing to mitigate spread, vaccinating the US population, safely reopening schools, and addressing COVID-19 health disparities.
To support this plan, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide the $160 billion in funding necessary to save American lives and execute on his plan to mount a national vaccination program, expand testing, mobilize a public health jobs program, and take other necessary steps to build capacity to fight the virus. He is also calling on Congress to ensure our schools have everything they need to safely reopen and to provide emergency paid leave so people can stay home when needed to help contain the spread of the virus. Altogether, this would put over $400 billion toward these critical measures for addressing COVID-19.
President-elect Biden’s rescue proposal will:
Mount a national vaccination program. Current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population. We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms. The president-elect’s proposal will invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, Tribes and territories. This will include launching community vaccination centers around the country and deploying mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach areas. The Biden Administration will take action to ensure all people in the United States — regardless of their immigration status — can access the vaccine free-of-charge and without cost-sharing. To help states ensure that all Medicaid enrollees will be vaccinated, President-elect Biden will also work with Congress to expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 100% for the administration of vaccines.
Scale up testing to stop the spread of COVID, safely reopen schools, and protect at-risk populations. While we are working to vaccinate the population, we need to focus on what we know works. Testing is a critical strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19, yet the U.S. is still not using it effectively. Despite innovations to improve testing, tests are still not widely available. The president-elect’s plan invests $50 billion in a massive expansion of testing, providing funds for the purchase of rapid tests, investments to expand lab capacity, and support to help schools and local governments implement regular testing protocols. Expanded testing will ensure that schools can implement regular testing to support safe reopening; that vulnerable settings like prisons and long-term care facilities can regularly test their populations; and that any American can get a test for free when they need one.
Mobilize a public health jobs program to support COVID-19 response. The president-elect’s plan includes an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce. This proposal will fund 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the country’s community health roles. These individuals will be hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.
Address health disparities and COVID-19. While COVID-19 has devastated the entire country, it has hit some groups and communities of color much harder than others. President-elect Biden is committed to addressing the disparities evident in the pandemic at every step, from ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines and supplies to expanding health care services for underserved communities. His proposal includes funding to provide health services for underserved populations, including expanding Community Health Centers and investing in health services on tribal lands. These funds will support the expansion of COVID treatment and care, as well as our ability to provide vaccination to underserved populations.
Protect vulnerable populations in congregate settings. Long-term care residents and workers account for almost 40% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths. Further, African-American and Latina women, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, are overrepresented among long-term care workers. The president-elect’s proposal provides critical funding for states to deploy strike teams to long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks — which may impede vaccination of residents and workers — and to conduct better infection control oversight.
1 in 5 state and federal prisoners in the U.S. has had COVID-19, and African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented among incarcerated individuals. The proposal also supports COVID-19 safety in federal, state, and local prisons, jails, and detention centers by providing funding for COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including supplies and physical distancing; safe re-entry for the formerly incarcerated; and the vaccination of both incarcerated people and staff.
Identify and address emerging strains of COVID-19. The identification of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 in the United Kingdom and South Africa highlight a key vulnerability in our nation’s COVID response: we simply do not have the kind of robust surveillance capabilities that we need to track outbreaks and mutations. Tracking the way the virus is changing and moving through the population is essential to understanding outbreaks, generating treatments and vaccines, and controlling the pandemic. The president-elect’s proposal includes funding to dramatically increase our country’s sequencing, surveillance, and outbreak analytics capacity at the levels demanded by the crisis.
Provide emergency relief and purchase critical supplies and deploy National Guard. Persistent supply shortages — from gloves and masks to glass vials and test reagents — are inhibiting our ability to provide testing and vaccination and putting frontline workers at risk. The president-elect’s plan will invest $30 billion into the Disaster Relief Fund to ensure sufficient supplies and protective gear, and to provide 100% federal reimbursement for critical emergency response resources to states, local governments, and Tribes, including deployment of the National Guard. The president-elect will call for an additional $10 billion investment in expanding domestic manufacturing for pandemic supplies. These funds will support President-elect Biden in fulfilling his commitment to fully use the Defense Production Act and to safeguard the country by producing more pandemic supplies in the U.S.
Invest in treatments for COVID-19. Months into this pandemic, we still do not have reliable and accessible treatments. The federal government urgently needs to invest to support development, manufacturing, and purchase of therapies to ensure wide availability and affordability of effective treatments, as well as invest in studies of the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 and potential therapies to address them.
Protect workers against COVID-19. Millions of Americans, many of whom are people of color, immigrants, and low-wage workers, continue to put their lives on the line to keep the country functioning through the pandemic. They should not have to lie awake at night wondering if they’ll make it home from work safely the next day, or if they’ll bring home the virus to their loved ones and communities. The president-elect is calling on Congress to authorize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a COVID-19 Protection Standard that covers a broad set of workers, so that workers not typically covered by OSHA, like many public workers on the frontlines, also receive protection from unsafe working conditions and retaliation. And, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide additional funding for OSHA enforcement and grant funding, including for the Susan Harwood grant program, for organizations to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19. These steps will help keep more workers healthy, reopen more businesses safely, and beat the virus.
Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness. Protecting the United States from COVID-19 requires a global response, and the pandemic is a grave reminder that biological threats can pose catastrophic consequences to the United States and the world. The president-elect’s plan will provide support to the international health and humanitarian response; mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on global health, food security, and gender-based violence; support international efforts to develop and distribute medical countermeasures for COVID-19; and build the capacity required to fight COVID-19, its variants, and emerging biological threats.
Provide schools the resources they need to reopen safely. A critical plank of President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 plan is to safely reopen schools as soon as possible — so kids and educators can get back in class and parents can go back to work. This will require immediate, urgent action by Congress. The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, and the students and parents they serve. School closures have disproportionately impacted the learning of Black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities and English language learners. While the December down payment for schools and higher education institutions was a start, it is not sufficient to address the crisis. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide $170 billion — supplemented by additional state and local relief resources — for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. These resources will help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, and help achieve President-elect Biden’s goal to open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his Administration.
Provide $130 billion to help schools to safely reopen. Schools need flexible resources to safely reopen and operate and/or facilitate remote learning. The president-elect’s plan will provide $130 billion to support schools in safely reopening. These funds can be used to reduce class sizes and modify spaces so students and teachers can socially distance; improve ventilation; hire more janitors and implement mitigation measures; provide personal protective equipment; ensure every school has access to a nurse; increase transportation capacity to facilitate social distancing on the bus; hire counselors to support students as they transition back to the classroom; close the digital divide that is exacerbating inequities during the pandemic; provide summer school or other support for students that will help make up lost learning time this year; create and expand community schools; and cover other costs needed to support safely reopening and support students. These funds will also include provisions to ensure states adequately fund education and protect students in low-income communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Districts must ensure that funds are used to not only reopen schools, but also to meet students’ academic, mental health and social, and emotional needs in response to COVID-19, (e.g. through extended learning time, tutoring, and counselors), wherever they are learning. Funding can be used to prevent cuts to state pre-K programs. A portion of funding will be reserved for a COVID-19 Educational Equity Challenge Grant, which will support state, local and tribal governments in partnering with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to advance equity- and evidence-based policies to respond to COVID-related educational challenges and give all students the support they need to succeed. In addition to this funding, schools will be able to access FEMA Disaster Relief Fund resources to get reimbursed for certain COVID-19 related expenses and will receive support to implement regular testing protocols.
Expand the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The president-elect’s plan will ensure colleges have critical resources to implement public health protocols, execute distance learning plans, and provide emergency grants to students in need. This $35 billion in funding will be directed to public institutions, including community colleges, as well as, public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions. This funding will provide millions of students up to an additional $1,700 in financial assistance from their college.
Hardest Hit Education Fund. Provide $5 billion in funds for governors to use to support educational programs and the learning needs of students significantly impacted by COVID-19, whether K-12, higher education, or early childhood education programs.
Provide emergency paid leave to 106 million more Americans to reduce the spread of the virus. No American should have to choose between putting food on the table and quarantining to prevent further spread of COVID-19. And yet, nearly 1 in 4 workers and close to half of low-income workers lack access to paid sick leave, disproportionately burdening Americans of color. Lack of paid leave is threatening the financial security of working families and increasing the risk of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Congress did the right thing last year when it created an emergency paid leave program through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. That action decreased daily infections by 400 cases per state per day in states that previously had no paid sick leave requirement. While the December down payment extended the Families First employer tax credits through March 2021, it did not renew the requirement that employers provide leave. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:
Put the requirement back in place and eliminate exemptions for employers with more than 500 and less than 50 employees. He will also make it clear that healthcare workers and first responders get these benefits, too. Closing these loopholes in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will extend emergency paid leave to up to 106 million additional workers.
Provide expanded paid sick and family and medical leave. The president-elect will provide over 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave to help parents with additional caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school or care center is closed; for people who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms, or who are quarantining due to exposure; and for people needing to take time to get the vaccine.
Expand emergency paid leave to include federal workers. This measure will provide paid leave protections to approximately 2 million Americans who work for the federal government.
Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per-week for eligible workers. This will provide full wage replacement to workers earning up to $73,000 annually, more than three-quarters of all workers.
Reimburse employers with less than 500 employees for the cost of this leave. Extending the refundable tax credit will reimburse employers for 100 percent of the cost of this leave.
Reimburse state and local government for the cost of this leave.
Extend emergency paid leave measures until September 30, 2021. With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, extending paid leave until the end of September will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 and provide economic security to millions of working families.
Deliver Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the Crisis.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans are hurting through no fault of their own. More than 10 million Americans are unemployed, and 4 million have been out of work for half a year or longer. The jobs crisis is particularly severe in communities of color, where 1 in 10 Black workers and 1 in 11 Latino workers are unemployed. Large numbers of families are struggling to pay rent or their mortgages and put food on the table. And, last month, it only got worse: we lost 140,000 jobs in December, including 20,000 public educators, and nearly 400,000 jobs at restaurants and bars.
President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take urgent action to deliver immediate, direct relief to Americans bearing the brunt of this crisis. Altogether, this would devote about $1 trillion towards building a bridge to economic recovery for working families and, according to researchers at Columbia University, cut child poverty in half.
President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Give working families a $1,400 per-person check to help pay their bills, bringing their total relief payment from this and the December down payment to $2,000. More than 1 in 3 households — and half of Black and Latino households — are struggling to pay for usual household expenses like rent and groceries during the pandemic. In this crisis, working families need more than the $600 per person that Congress passed last year. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to increase that direct financial assistance to $2,000. An additional $1,400 per person in direct checks will help hard-hit households cover expenses, spend money at local businesses in their communities, and stimulate the economy. President-elect Biden’s plan will also expand eligibility to adult dependents who have been left out of previous rounds of relief and all mixed status households. And, his plan will ensure that the Treasury Department has the flexibility and resources it needs to deliver stimulus checks to the families that need them most, including the millions of families that still haven’t received the $1,200 checks they are entitled to under the CARES Act.
Extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits so American workers can pay their bills. Around 18 million Americans rely on the unemployment insurance program. Congress did the right thing by continuing expanded eligibility and extending the number of weeks unemployed workers can receive benefits. One study estimates that extending pandemic unemployment insurance programs through 2021 could create or save over five million jobs. But these benefits are set to expire in weeks — even as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. Millions of Americans are receiving benefits through unemployment insurance programs that will no longer serve new beneficiaries starting in mid-March.
President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to extend these and other programs, providing millions of hard-hit workers with the financial security and peace of mind they need and deserve. And, he believes Congress should provide a $400 per-week unemployment insurance supplement to help hard-hit workers cover household expenses. The president-elect is committed to providing these emergency supports to families for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues and employment opportunities remain limited. The president-elect is proposing to extend these emergency unemployment insurance programs through September 2021, and will work with Congress on ways to automatically adjust the length and amount of relief depending on health and economic conditions so future legislative delay doesn’t undermine the recovery and families’ access to benefits they need.
President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Extend financial assistance for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation benefits. Extending and increasing the additional weeks provided under the emergency unemployment insurance program will ensure that approximately 5 million Americans continue to receive assistance in the months ahead.
Extend financial assistance for unemployed workers who do not typically qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. The president-elect believes Congress should extend unemployment support for self-employed workers, like ride-share drivers and many grocery delivery workers, who do not typically qualify for regular unemployment compensation. And, he supports increasing the number of weeks these workers can receive the benefit to provide long-term financial security to the program’s approximately 8 million beneficiaries.
Fully fund states’ short-time compensation programs and additional weeks of benefits. Short-time compensation programs, also known as work sharing, help small businesses stay afloat and economically vulnerable workers make ends meet by enabling workers to stay on the job at reduced hours, while making up the difference in pay. These programs avoid layoffs and pave the way for rapid rehiring and an accelerated recovery.
Help struggling households keep a roof over their heads. The economic fallout of COVID-19 has made it more difficult for working families, especially families of color, to cover their housing expenses. Across the country, 1 in 5 renters and 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments. Congress took an important step in the right direction by securing $25 billion in rental assistance and extending the federal eviction moratorium until January 31. However, American families already owe $25 billion in back rent, and the threat of widespread evictions will still exist at the end of January. Further, more than 10 million homeowners have fallen behind on mortgage payments. Failing to take additional action will lead to a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months, overwhelming emergency shelter capacity and increasing the likelihood of COVID-19 infections. And Americans of color, who have on average a fraction of the wealth available to white families, face higher risks of eviction and housing loss without critical assistance.
President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate action to forestall a coming wave of COVID-related evictions and foreclosures.
Ensure that families hit hard by the economic crisis won’t face eviction or foreclosure. The president-elect is calling on Congress to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and continue applications for forbearance on federally-guaranteed mortgages until September 30, 2021. These measures will prevent untold economic hardship for homeowners, while limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The president-elect is also calling on Congress to provide funds for legal assistance for households facing eviction or foreclosure.
Help renters and small landlords make ends meet by providing an additional $30 billion in rental and critical energy and water assistance for hard-hit individuals and families. While the $25 billion allocated by Congress was an important down payment on the back rent accrued during this crisis, it is insufficient to meet the scale of the need. That’s why President-elect Biden is proposing an additional $25 billion in rental assistance to provide much-needed rental relief, especially for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs or are out of the labor market. The president-elect is also proposing $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs and arrears through programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, for struggling renters. These funds will ensure that the hardest-hit renters and small landlords, including those in disadvantaged communities that have suffered disproportionately in terms of pollution and other environmental harms, aren’t put in the position where they can’t cover their own housing expenses. This program includes a competitive set-aside of funding for states to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce electricity bills for families in disadvantaged communities.
Deliver $5 billion in emergency assistance to help secure housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This funding will allow states and localities to help approximately 200,000 individuals and families obtain stable housing, while providing a downpayment on the president-elect’s comprehensive approach to ending homelessness and making housing a right for all Americans. Specifically, these funds will provide flexibility for both congregate and non-congregate housing options, help jurisdictions purchase and convert hotels and motels into permanent housing, and give homeless services providers the resources they need to hire and retain staff, maintain outreach programs, and provide essential services.
Address the growing hunger crisis in America. About 1 in 7 households nationwide, including more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino households and many Asian American and Pacific Islander households, are struggling to secure the food they need. While the December down payment provided $13 billion to strengthen and expand federal nutrition programs, it will not solve the hunger crisis in America. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to ensure all Americans, regardless of background, have access to healthy, affordable groceries. The president-elect’s plan will:
Extend the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase. Maintaining the increase through the summer — when childhood hunger spikes due to a lack of school meals — is a critical backstop against rising food insecurity. This change will help keep hunger at bay for around 40 million Americans. The president-elect is calling for this to be extended through September 2021. He is also committed to providing this boost for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues, and will work with Congress on ways to automatically adjust the length and amount of relief depending on health and economic conditions so future legislative delay doesn’t undermine the recovery and families’ access to benefits they need.
Invest $3 billion to help women, infants and children get the food they need. This multi-year investment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is needed to account for increased enrollment due to growing hunger and to increase outreach to ensure that low-income families have access to high-quality nutritious food and nutrition education.
Partner with restaurants to feed American families and keep restaurant workers on the job at the same time. The FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act will leverage the resources and expertise of the restaurant industry to help get food to families who need it, and help get laid-off restaurant workers across the country back on the job.
Support SNAP by temporarily cutting the state match. The president-elect is calling for a one time emergency infusion of administrative support for state anti-hunger and nutrition programs to ensure that benefits get to the kids and families that need it most.
Provide U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance for their residents. Bolstering the Nutrition Assistance Program block grant will help thousands of working families in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands put food on the table for the duration of the pandemic.
Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Throughout the pandemic, millions of American workers have put their lives on the line to keep their communities and country functioning, including the 40 percent of frontline workers who are people of color. As President-elect Biden has said, let’s not just praise them, let’s pay them. Hard working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to keep multiple jobs. But millions of working families are struggling to get by. This is why the president-elect is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities so that workers across the country can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their families.
Call on employers to meet their obligations to frontline essential workers and provide back hazard pay. Essential workers — who are disproportionately Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander — have risked their lives to stock shelves, harvest crops, and care for the sick during this crisis. They have kept the country running even during the darkest days of the pandemic. A number of large employers, especially in the retail and grocery sectors, have seen bumper profitability in 2020 and yet done little or nothing at all to compensate their workers for the risks they took. The president-elect believes these employers have a duty to do right by their frontline essential workers and acknowledge their sacrifices with generous back hazard pay for the risks they took across 2020 and up to today. He and the vice president-elect will call on CEOs and other business leaders to take action to meet these obligations.
Expand access to high-quality, affordable child care. We are facing an acute, immediate child care crisis in America, which is exacerbating our economic crisis. Due to increased costs and lower enrollment, a recent survey of child care providers showed that most child care providers expect that they will close within a few months without relief or are uncertain how long they can stay open. If left unaddressed, many child care providers will close — some permanently — and millions of children could go without necessary care, and millions of parents could be left to make devastating choices this winter between caring for their children and working to put food on the table. Early childcare providers are almost entirely women, among whom 40 percent are people of color, and so these closures could devastate engines of opportunity for minority- and women-owned businesses. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate actions to address this crisis by helping child care centers reopen and remain open safely, and by making that care affordable to families who need it.
In addition, too many families are unable to afford child care, while early educators earn wages so low that they can’t support their own families. This challenge existed before COVID-19, and the pandemic has exacerbated it. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to ease the financial burden of care for families, expand financial support for child care providers so that this critical sector can stay afloat during the pandemic and beyond, and make critical investments to improve wages and benefits for the essential child care sector. President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Help hard-hit child care providers, including family child care homes, cover their costs and operate safely by creating a $25 billion emergency stabilization fund. This Emergency Stabilization Fund will help hard-hit child care providers that are in danger of closing and provide support to nearly half of all child care providers. It will also assist those that have had to shut down meet their financial obligations during the pandemic, so that they can reopen. It will help providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as increased costs associated with the pandemic including personal protective equipment, ventilation supplies, smaller group sizes, and modifications to make the physical environment safer for children and workers.
Expand child care assistance to help millions of families and help parents return to work. Millions of parents are risking their lives as essential workers, while at the same time struggling to obtain care for their children. Others have become 24/7 caregivers while simultaneously working remotely. Still more are unemployed, caring for their children full-time, and worrying about how they will make ends meet or afford child care when they do find a job. And, the limited access to child care during the pandemic has caused more women to leave the workforce. While the December down payment provides $10 billion in funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, the president-elect’s proposal expands this investment with an additional $15 billion in funding, including for those who experienced a job interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to afford child care. This additional assistance with child care costs will help the disproportionate number of women who left the labor force to take on caregiving duties reenter the workforce. And, this expanded investment will also help rebuild the supply of child care providers, and encourage states to take meaningful steps towards increasing the pay and benefits of child care workers.
Increase tax credits to help cover the cost of childcare. To help address the childcare affordability crisis, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to expand child care tax credits on an emergency basis for one year to help working families cover the cost of childcare. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be refundable, meaning that families who don’t owe a lot in taxes will still benefit. The full 50 percent reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year. And, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit so they receive benefits at least as generous as those they can receive today.
Bolster financial security for families and essential workers in the midst of the pandemic. The lowest income families are particularly vulnerable in the midst of the pandemic, and President-elect Biden is calling for one year expansions of key supports for families on an emergency basis. The Child Tax Credit should be made fully refundable for the year. Currently, 27 million children live in families with household incomes low enough that they didn’t qualify for the full value of the Child Tax Credit, and this measure would give these children and their families additional needed resources. The president-elect is also calling to increase the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6) and make 17 year-olds qualifying children for the year.
He is also calling for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for the year to ensure that the lowest income workers get critical support including millions of essential workers. He is proposing to raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults from roughly $530 to close to $1,500, raise the income limit for the credit from about $16,000 to about $21,000, and expand the age range that is eligible including by eliminating the age cap for older workers and expanding eligibility for younger workers so that they can claim the credit they deserve. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults would give a needed boost to the earnings of several million workers, including cashiers, home health aides, delivery people, and other people working in essential occupations. The president-elect also is committed to making sure that Americans who see their earnings fall in 2021 due to the pandemic don’t see the Earned Income Tax Credit reduced as a result.
Lastly, the president-elect is calling for an additional $1 billion for states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients needed as a result of the pandemic crisis. The pandemic has led to increased TANF caseloads, generated higher costs for many TANF recipients — from higher utility costs to the need for internet access for remote schooling — and longer periods of joblessness given high unemployment. These funds will provide sorely needed relief.
Preserving and expanding health coverage. Roughly two to three million people lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September, and even families who have maintained coverage may struggle to pay premiums and afford care. Further, going into this crisis, 30 million people were without coverage, limiting their access to the health care system in the middle of a pandemic. To ensure access to health coverage, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to subsidize continuation health coverage (COBRA) through the end of September. He is also asking Congress to expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees — including those who never had coverage through their jobs — will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. Together, these policies would reduce premiums for more than ten million people and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by millions more.
Expanding access to behavioral health services. The pandemic has made access to mental health and substance use disorder services more essential than ever. The president-elect is calling on Congress to appropriate $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to these vital services.
Ensure adequate funding for veterans’ health. COVID-19 has put enormous pressure on America’s veterans and on the Veterans Health Administration that is charged with providing and facilitating top-notch care for them. The president-elect is committed to ensuring America delivers on its promise to the people who have served our country. To account for increased usage as many veterans have lost access to private health insurance, higher overall costs, and other pandemic-related impacts, the president-elect is immediately requesting an additional $20 billion to make sure that veterans’ health care needs can be met through this crisis.
Combat increased risk of gender-based violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence and sexual assault, creating a “shadow pandemic” for many women and girls who are largely confined to their home with their abuser and facing economic insecurity that makes escape more difficult. President Biden is calling for at least $800 million in supplemental funding for key federal programs that protect survivors.
Provide Critical Support to Struggling Communities.
COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis has devastated communities across the country. Schools remain closed, with students struggling with remote learning and parents — 1.6 million mothers this fall — leaving the workforce. Small businesses, the backbones of their communities that employ nearly half of American workers, are unable to keep their doors open. And, some state and local essential workers are seeing their wages reduced or their jobs disappear. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to send a lifeline to small businesses; protect educators, public transit workers, and first responders from lay-offs; and keep critical services running at full strength. Altogether, his plan would provide approximately $440 billion in critical support to struggling communities. This is in addition to funds that President-elect Biden is requesting for safely reopening schools throughout the country.
President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Provide small businesses with the funding they need to reopen and rebuild. Small businesses sustain half of the private sector jobs in America, and they have struggled in the wake of COVID-19. Black- and Brown-owned small businesses, and those in hard-hit industries like restaurants, hotels, and the arts, have suffered disproportionately. Nationally, small business revenue is down 32 percent, and at least 400,000 firms have permanently closed. To help hard-hit firms survive the pandemic and fully recover, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:
Provide grants to more than 1 million of the hardest hit small businesses. This $15 billion in flexible, equitably distributed grants will help small businesses get back on their feet, put the current disaster behind them, and build back better.
Leverage $35 billion in government funds into $175 billion in additional small business lending and investment. With a $35 billion investment in successful state, local, tribal, and non-profit small business financing programs, Congress can generate as much as $175 billion in low-interest loans and venture capital to help entrepreneurs — including those in the clean energy sector — innovate, create and maintain jobs, build wealth, and provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.
In addition, the president-elect wants to work with Congress to make sure that restaurants, bars, and other businesses that have suffered disproportionately have sufficient support to bridge to the recovery, including through the Community Credit Corporation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Provide support for first responders and other essential workers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders, frontline public health workers, and countless other essential workers have risked their lives to keep our communities safe and functioning. Educators have worked tirelessly to keep our children learning and growing, coming up with new ways to reach and engage their students, often while balancing caring for their own children. Without these front line workers, we will not be able to effectively respond to the pandemic, administer the vaccine, or safely reopen our schools. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to ensure that they are in a position to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services. The president-elect is also calling on Congress to allocate $3 billion of this funding to the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Grants from EDA provide resources directly to state and local government entities, tribal institutions, institutions of higher education, and non-profits to fund initiatives that support bottom’s up economic development and enable good-paying jobs. This funding — double the amount provided by the CARES Act — will support communities nationwide with a broad range of financial needs as they respond to and recover from COVID-19.
Protect the future of public transit. Safe and dependable public transit systems are critical for a robust and equitable economy recovery. The president-elect is calling for $20 billion in relief for the hardest hit public transit agencies. This relief will keep agencies from laying off transit workers and cutting the routes that essential workers rely on every day while making these transit systems more resilient and ensuring that communities of color maintain the access to opportunity that public transportation provides.
Support Tribal governments’ response to COVID-19. COVID-19 has exacted an especially high toll in Indian Country. People living on reservations are four times more likely to have COVID-19 and American Indian and Alaska Natives are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans. While the December down payment had many beneficial provisions, it included little direct funding to help Tribal governments respond to COVID-19. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to give Tribes the resources they need to obtain sufficient personal protective equipment, increase access to clean water and electricity, and expand internet access so that children can learn remotely and more families can obtain basic health care through telemedicine. President-elect Biden’s plan would invest $20 billion in Indian Country to support Tribal governments’ response to the pandemic. These resources will help to reduce stark and persistent inequities in COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization, and death, while improving economic conditions and opportunity.
Modernize federal information technology to protect against future cyber attacks.
In addition to the COVID-19 crisis, we also face a crisis when it comes to the nation’s cybersecurity. The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to launch the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure federal IT and networks. To remediate the SolarWinds breach and boost U.S. defenses, including of the COVID-19 vaccine process, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:
Expand and improve the Technology Modernization Fund. A $9 billion investment will help the U.S. launch major new IT and cybersecurity shared services at the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency (CISA) and the General Services Administration and complete modernization projects at federal agencies. In addition, the president-elect is calling on Congress to change the fund’s reimbursement structure in order to fund more innovative and impactful projects.
Surge cybersecurity technology and engineering expert hiring. Providing the Information Technology Oversight and Reform fund with $200 million will allow for the rapid hiring of hundreds of experts to support the federal Chief Information Security Officer and U.S. Digital Service.
Build shared, secure services to drive transformational projects. Investing $300 million in no-year funding for Technology Transformation Services in the General Services Administration will drive secure IT projects forward without the need of reimbursement from agencies.
Improving security monitoring and incident response activities. An additional $690M for CISA will bolster cybersecurity across federal civilian networks, and support the piloting of new shared security and cloud computing services.
President-Elect Joe Biden described the first part of his two-pronged plan of Rescue and Recovery from the surging coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation. In the first of two speeches, he detailed his Rescue Plan to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and economic relief to families, states and localities.
Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks, delivered from Wilmington, Delaware, on January 14: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
It’s been three hundred and forty-three days since the virus that has ravaged our nation tragically claimed its first life.
On February 6, 2020, Patricia Dowd took her last breath at home, under the California sun of Santa Clara. She was 57 years old. A beloved wife, mother, daughter, and sister. She never knew she had the virus, at a time when most folks never even heard about the virus. But just like that, she was gone.
Almost exactly one year later, nearly 400,000 of our fellow Americans have met the same cruel fate. Countless families and friends left behind, with unrelenting grief and guilt, anger and frustration. And the emptiness felt by the loss of life is compounded by the loss of our way of life.
During this pandemic, millions of Americans — through no fault of their own — have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck.
Millions of Americans who never thought they’d be out of work are facing eviction or waiting hours in their car to feed their families as they drive up to a food bank.
Millions who have kept their job but have seen their hours and paycheck reduced are barely hanging on as well.
That is happening today in the United States of America.
Just as we are in the midst of a dark winter of this pandemic as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths spike at record levels, there is real pain overwhelming the real economy. The one where people rely on their paycheck — not their investments — to pay their bills, their meals, and their children’s needs.
You won’t see this pain if your score card is how things are going on Wall Street. But you will see it very clearly if you examine what the twin crises of the pandemic and the sinking economy have laid bare.
The growing divide between those few people at the very top who are doing quite well in this economy — and the rest of America.
Just since this pandemic began, the wealth of the top 1% has grown by roughly $1.5 trillion since the end of last year — four times the amount for the entire bottom 50%.
Some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance.
Some 400,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors.
It’s not hard to see that we are in the middle of a once-in-several generation economic crisis within a once-in-several generation public health crisis.
A crisis of deep human suffering in plain sight.
And there is no time to wait.
We have to act and act now.
This is what the economists are telling us.
More importantly, it is what the values we hold in our hearts as Americans are telling us.
A growing chorus of top economists agree that, in this moment of crisis, with interest rates at historic lows, we cannot afford inaction.
It’s not just that smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, are more urgent than ever. It’s that the return on these investments — in jobs, in racial equity — will prevent long-term economic damage and the benefits will far surpass the costs.
A growing number of top economists has shown even our debt situation will be more stable — not less stable — if we seize this moment with vision and purpose.
And so, tonight, I’d like to talk to you about our way forward. A two-step plan of rescue and recovery. A two-step plan to build a bridge to the other side of the crises we face and to a better, stronger, more secure America.
Tonight, I’ll lay out the first step — the American Rescue Plan — that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.
Next month, in my first appearance before a Joint Session of Congress, I will lay out the second step, my Build Back Better Recovery Plan. It will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy. Investments in the caregiving economy and in skills and training needed by our workers to compete and win the global economy of the future.
Moody’s — an independent Wall Street firm — said this approach would create more than 18 million jobs.
Our rescue and recovery plan is the path forward with a seriousness of purpose, a clear plan with transparency and accountability with a call for unity that is equally necessary.
Unity is not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it is a practical step to getting things done.
As I said when it passed in December, the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package was an important first step. I am grateful for the Democratic, Republican, and Independent members of Congress who came together to get it done.
But as I said at the time, it’s just a down-payment. We need more action, more bipartisanship, and we need to move fast.
Our rescue plan starts aggressively in order to speed up our national COVID-19 response.
The vaccines offer so much hope. We are grateful to the scientists and researchers, and everyone who participated in the clinical trials. We are also grateful for the rigorous review and testing that’s led to millions of people around the world already being vaccinated safely.
But, the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far.
Tomorrow, I will lay out our vaccination plan to correct course and meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days.
This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation.
We will move Heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in peoples’ arms, and to increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as fast as possible.
We will also do everything we can to keep our educators and students safe and to safely open a majority of our K-8 schools by the end of our first 100 days.
We can do it, if we give school districts, communities, and states the clear guidance they need as well as the resources they will need that they can not afford right now because of the economic crisis we are in. That means more testing and transportation, additional cleaning and sanitizing services, protective equipment, and ventilation systems in the schools.
And we need to make sure that workers who have COVID-19 symptoms and are quarantined, and those who need to take care of family members with COVID-19 symptoms should be able to stay home from work and still get paid.
This will reduce spread of the virus and make sure workers get the support they need.
But they need about $400 billion in funding from Congress to make all of this happen.
It’s a lot, but I’m convinced we are ready to get this done.
The very health of our nation is at stake.
Our rescue plan also includes immediate relief for Americans hardest hit and most in need.
We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in direct relief to people who need it the most.
$600 is simply not enough if you still have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.
Even for those who have kept their jobs these checks are really important.
You see, if you are an American worker making $40,000 a year with less than $400 in savings, maybe you’ve lost hours, or maybe you’re doing fewer shifts driving a truck, or caring for kids, or the elderly.
You’re out there putting your life on the line to work during this pandemic and worried every week that you’ll get sick, lose your job, or worse.
$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain.
We will also provide more peace of mind for struggling families by extending unemployment insurance benefits for millions of workers.
That means that the 18 million Americans currently relying on unemployment benefits while they look for work can count on these checks continuing to be there. Plus, there will be a $400 per week supplement to help make ends meet.
This gets money quickly into the pockets of millions of Americans who will spend it immediately on food, rent, and other basic needs. That helps our whole economy grow.
We will also tackle the growing hunger crisis in America.
As I speak, and as Vice President-elect Harris has spoken about this many times, 1 in 7 households in America — more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino households in America – report that they do not have enough food to eat.
This includes 30 million adults and as many as 12 million children.
It’s wrong. It’s tragic. It’s unacceptable.
We will extend emergency nutrition assistance for 43 million children and families enrolled in the SNAP program through the rest of this year.
And we will help hard-hit restaurants prepare meals for the hungry and provide food for families who need it.
We will also invest $3 billion in making sure mothers and their young children have the nutrition they need.
This would not only meet our moral obligation we have to one another, but it would also spur our economy and get restaurant workers back on the job.
As we work to keep people from going hungry, we will also work to keep a roof over their heads to stem the growing housing crisis in America.
Approximately 14 million Americans have fallen behind on rent, many at risk of eviction.
If we don’t act now there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months as the pandemic rages on. This would overwhelm emergency shelters and increase COVID-19 infections as people have nowhere to go and can’t socially distance.
Next week we will take action to extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures. This would provide more than 25 million Americans greater stability instead of living on the edge every single month.
And, I am asking Congress to do its part by funding rental assistance for 14 million hard-hit families and tenants. It will also be a bridge to economic recovery for countless mom and pop landlords.
These crises are straining the budgets of states, cities, and tribal communities that are forced to consider layoffs and service reductions. It means the people putting their lives at risk are the very people now at risk of losing their jobs.
Police officers. Firefighters. All first responders. Nurses. Educators. Over the last year, more than 600,000 education jobs have been lost in our cities and towns.
Our rescue plan will provide emergency funding to keep these essential workers on the job and maintain essential services. It will ensure that vaccines are administered and schools can re-open.
Vice President-elect Harris and I have been speaking with county officials, mayors, and governors of both parties on a regular basis. We are ready to work with them to help get the relief they need.
Our rescue plan will also help small businesses that are the engines of our economic growth and economy as a whole. They are the glue that holds communities together.
But they are hurting badly, and they account for nearly half of the entire U.S. workforce.
Our rescue plan will provide flexible grants to help the hardest hit small businesses survive the pandemic. And low-cost capital to help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds create and maintain jobs, plus provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.
Last week, I laid out how we will make sure our emergency small business relief is distributed swiftly and equitably.
It will focus on small businesses on Main Street. It will focus on minority-owned small businesses and women-owned small businesses finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and rebuild. And, we will be responsible with taxpayer dollars ensuring accountability that reduces waste, fraud, or abuse like we did with the Recovery Act during the Obama-Biden Administration.
Direct cash payments. Extended unemployment insurance. Rent relief. Food assistance. Keeping essential frontline workers on the job. Aid to small businesses.
These are key elements of the American Rescue Plan that would lift 12 million Americans out of poverty and cut child poverty in half.
That’s 5 million children lifted out of poverty.
Our plan would reduce poverty in the Black community by one-third. It would reduce poverty in the Hispanic community by almost forty percent.
And it includes much more, like an increase of the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should still be below the poverty line.
It includes access to affordable child care that will enable parents, particularly women, to get back to work.
I look forward to working with members of Congress from both parties to move quickly to get the American Rescue Plan to the American people.
And then we can move with equal urgency and bipartisanship to my Build Back Better Recovery Plan that I will call for next month to generate even more economic growth.
American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II. It will be so again. Imagine the future Made in America in all of America and all by Americans. We will use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America. We will buy American products and support millions of American manufacturing jobs and enhance our competitive strength in an increasingly competitive world.
Imagine historic investments in Research & Development to sharpen America’s innovative edge in markets where global leadership is up for grabs, markets like battery technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and clean energy.
Imagine confronting the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity leading the world.
It’s time to stop talking about infrastructure and finally start building it. Millions of good-paying jobs that put Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and ports to make them more climate resilient, to make it faster, cheaper, and cleaner to transport American-made goods across our country and around the world.
And, imagine millions of jobs in our caregiving economy to ease the financial burden of caring for young children and aging loved ones. Let’s make sure our caregivers, mostly women, women of color, and immigrants, have the pay and dignity they deserve.
We can do these bold, practical things now.
I know what I just described will not come cheaply. But failing to do so will cost us dearly. But the consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do it.
Independent, respected institutions from around the world from the Federal Reserve to the International Monetary Fund have underscored the urgency. Even Wall Street firms have reinforced the logic.
If we invest now, boldly, smartly, and with an unwavering focus on American workers and families we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity, and put our nation’s long term finances on a more sustainable course.
And where we are making permanent investments as I said on the campaign, we will pay for them by making sure that everyone pays their fair share in taxes.
We can do it without punishing anyone by closing tax loopholes for companies that ship American jobs overseas or that allow American companies to pay zero in federal income taxes.
Asking everyone to pay their fair share so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America is the right thing for our economy, it’s the fair thing and decent thing to do.
But we not only have an economic imperative to act now, we have a moral obligation.
In this pandemic, in America, we cannot let people go hungry.
We cannot let people get evicted.
We cannot watch nurses and educators and others lose their jobs.
We must act now and decisively.
My fellow Americans, the decisions we make in the next few weeks and months will determine whether we thrive in a way that benefits all Americans, or whether we stay stuck in a place where those at the top do great while economic growth for most everyone else is just a spectator sport — where America’s prospects dim, not brighten.
They will determine whether we reassert American leadership and out-compete our competitors in the global economy or whether we watch them catch up and pass us by.
Together I know we will choose a path that includes all Americans so we own the 21st Century.
But even with all of these bold steps,it will take time to get where we need to be. There will be stumbles. But I will always be honest with you about both the progress we’re making and the setbacks meet.
Here’s the deal — the more people we vaccinate, and the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones.
The sooner we can rescue and rebuild our economy.
I know it’s been nearly a year that’s tested us beyond measure.
For all of you who have lost someone my heart goes out to you. I know what it’s like to stare at the empty chair. For those who have fallen on hard times, I know you can never get back what you lost.
But as your president, I know that every day matters, and every person matters.
From the very first to the nearly 400,000 lost American souls and counting, and to the millions of you just looking for a fighting chance in this economy: I will not forget what you’re going through. We understand what you’re going through.
We will not give up.
We will come back together.
While we didn’t get into all of this overnight, we won’t get out of it overnight, and we can’t do it as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is together as fellow Americans and as the United States of America.
And when we do, there is nothing beyond our capacity.
Out of all the peril of this moment I want you to know, I see all the promise as well.
I remain as optimistic about America as I have ever been.
We look forward to these announcements by President-Elect Joe Biden of his nominees for his cabinet. Biden has provided soothing calm, hope for a better future from the painful chaos, dysfunction and outright sabotage that we have daily had to endure in the four horrid years of the Trump Dis-Administration. What a contrast: Biden has continued his pattern of hiring people with extraordinary expertise, achievements, and who notably reflect the American people in gender and background, and also notably are people who are first or second generation Americans and who come from modest means. But there is nothing modest about their achievements. Today, Biden introduced his Economic Team: his nominees for Secretary of Labor, most notably Boston’s mayor who comes from a union organizing background (cementing Biden’s promise to promote, not just tolerate union-organizing and his belief that the middle class is what made America and unions made the middle class); Commerce and Small Business Administration. The overriding themes: to “reward work, not wealth,” boost small businesses and entrepreneurs, invest in a clean economy and to give everyone an equal shot at the American Dream.
His team will enact COVID-19 relief to bolster small businesses, aid hardest hit industries, people who are unemployed for no fault of their own; raise the minimum wage to $15; reinstate worker protections; incentivize entrepreneurship and shift to a clean economy.
With these announcements, Biden said, he has finished naming his cabinet: “Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again, who will restore trust in our government again, and who are ready to go on Day One. This is a Cabinet that looks like America.”
Here are highlighted remarks of Biden and his nominees: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Today, I am pleased to announce the latest members of our economic team.
And with their announcements, I am proud to announce that we have finished naming our Cabinet.
Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again, who will restore trust in our government again, and who are ready to go on Day One.
This is a Cabinet that looks like America.
That taps into the full range of talents we have in our nation.
And a historic Cabinet.
This will be the first Cabinet ever that is evenly composed of women and men.
It will be the first Cabinet ever with a majority of people of color.
It has more than a dozen history-making appointments, including the first woman Treasury Secretary, the first African American Defense Secretary, the first openly gay Cabinet member, the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
We are also on track to name a record 50 high-level appointees subject to Senate confirmation before Inauguration Day.
More than any President-elect ever.
I have done my job.
It is my hope and expectation that the Senate will confirm these nominees promptly and fairly.
That’s especially the case for nominees for Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security who I nominated back in November.
Given what our country has been through the last four years and the last few days, and given the threats and risks in this world, they should be confirmed as close to January 20th as possible. There should be no vacancies at State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security.
And as we remain in this dark winter of the pandemic, and with an economic crisis that’s deepened, we have no time to lose on the entire team.
Consider the December jobs report released today.
The anxiety and fear of the women and men out there reminds me of when President Obama and I were sworn in during the Great Recession in 2009.
This December jobs report shows millions of Americans are still hurting through no fault of their own.
We lost 140,000 jobs — the first negative jobs report since the height of the pandemic in the spring.
More people have just lost a job while many have been out of work for a long time.
The ongoing gap in Black and Latino unemployment remains much too large.
And in many ways, the jobs report is a pandemic report.
With the pandemic raging, people are losing work and losing hope.
The hospitality industry, restaurants and bars, lost more than 372,000 jobs.
State and local governments are slashing jobs — 20,000 local educators lost their jobs last month.
In the midst of this pandemic, there are millions of people out of work and unable to pay rent or the mortgage.
They’re waiting in line for hours at a food bank. In the United States of America, people are waiting miles in their cars waiting for a meal.
And they’re left staring at the ceiling at night, unable to sleep, wondering if they will ever be okay.
The bottom line is the jobs report shows we need to provide more immediate relief for working families and businesses now.
Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but to avoid the broader economic costs due to long-term unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and businesses failing.
And by acting now, the vast majority of leading economists suggest this is what the economy needs.
In fact, economic research confirms that with conditions like today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing, will help the economy, reduce scarring in the workforce, increase growth, and reduce our national debt burden.
As I’ve said before, the bipartisan COVID relief package passed in December is an important step, but just a downpayment.
Next week, I will be laying out the groundwork for the next COVID economic relief package that meets this critical moment for our economy and country.
For example, the vaccines give us hope, but their rollout has been a travesty.
This will be the greatest operational challenge we have ever faced, and we’re going to need billions of dollars to get the vaccines from a vial and into the arms of millions of Americans.
We’re also going to need tens of billions of dollars to help reopen our schools safely.
State, local, and tribal communities need tens of billions of dollars to keep educators, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders and public health workers on the job.
We need more direct relief flowing to families and small businesses, including finishing the job and getting people $2,000 in relief. $600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.
I also hope that Democratic control of the House and Senate will raise the odds of prompt action on increasing the minimum wage.
I’ve long said that we need to reward work, not wealth in this country.
People in both parties now recognize it’s time to raise the minimum wage so hardworking people earn at least $15 an hour.
No one who works 40 hours a week in America should still live below the poverty line.
They are entitled to a minimum of $15 an hour.
A big focus will also be on small businesses and how to correct the current Administration’s failures to get relief to Main Street small businesses that are most in need.
Mom and pop stores are the backbone of our economy.
They are the glue that holds communities together.
But today, more than 1 in 4 small businesses are not open.
At least 400,000 are closed for good.
As of a month ago, a third of Black-owned businesses, more than a fifth of Latino-owned businesses, and more than a quarter of Native American-owned businesses have less than a month of reserves to cover expenses.
The previous rounds of economic relief last year helped millions of small businesses stay afloat and keep employees on the payroll.
But there were clear problems.
Black and Brown-owned small businesses had less access to the relief.
Mom and pop shops were often last in line, while big, well-connected businesses jumped in front of the line and got more relief and got it faster.
And at every turn, the Trump Administration has undermined accountability for every tax dollar spent, weakening oversight and routinely firing Inspectors General.
So it’s no surprise that an independent watchdog found that tens of thousands of ineligible companies received relief they shouldn’t have, including from fraud and abuse that siphoned off support for the very businesses most in need.
The good news is that the relief package passed last month provides additional aid to small businesses and workers. But as I have said from the beginning, we need to make sure that relief and future relief reaches everyone who needs it.
These relief dollars will start to flow quickly, potentially while the current Administration is still in office. And they may send out money that we won’t have any control over.
But for what we do have control over, I want to be clear about my priorities for distributing this emergency aid swiftly and equitably.
Our focus will be on the small businesses on Main Street that aren’t wealthy and well-connected and that are facing real economic hardships through no fault of their own.
Our priority will be on Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American-owned small businesses, and women-owned businesses, finally having equal access to the resources needed to reopen and rebuild.
We will make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low-income communities, in big cities, small towns, and rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief.
Think of the mom and pop owner with a couple of employees who can’t just pick up a phone and call a banker, or who doesn’t have lawyers and accountants to help them through the complicated rules to know if they even qualify, or who simply didn’t know there was even relief available in the first place.
And as we saw in this morning’s jobs report, restaurants, bars, and the hospitality industry have been slammed by the virus. We will direct relief to these businesses and others that have been hit hardest. We owe them that support to help them get through the other side of this crisis.
And I promise you, we will investigate and prosecute waste and fraud in these programs so that money goes to companies that deserve it and will use it to help their employees and communities.
When I implemented the Recovery Act, we invested more than $800 billion to help our economy recover and rebuild with less than two-tenths of one percent of waste, fraud, and abuse.
We know how to do this.
We know how important predictability and clarity are to small businesses.
From day one, our Administration will work to ensure that small businesses and financial institutions in every community understand the rules for these programs, the resources available to them, and where they can turn for technical assistance if they need it.
We will have navigators to help guide them through each step of the process until the money they need is in their bank account.
And to the lenders participating in these programs, you should move quickly without delay to begin extending relief. But I urge you to not disburse these funds in the same old, inequitable ways.
Here’s my commitment in return — we will make our expectations of you crystal clear so that you can quickly and equitably deliver relief to the communities you serve, unlike what has been happening during this crisis
The bottom line is we are in the midst of the most unequal economic and jobs crisis in modern history.
Congress needs to act as quickly as possible on all of the issues I just laid out.
That is how we can contain the pandemic and build back better with an economy that works for all Americans.
And this is the team that will help get it done.
For Secretary of Commerce, I nominate Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.
A daughter of a working-class family who knows what it’s like when a parent’s factory job is shipped overseas.
She never took her parents’ sacrifices for granted.
Always remembers where she came from.
She became a successful entrepreneur who created jobs on Main Street and brought businesses back from the edge.
She became a state Treasurer who invested in local communities and took on financial predators.
And today, she is one of the most effective and forward-thinking governors in the United States of America — the first woman ever to lead the Ocean State.
She’s created an innovative loan program that’s helped minority-owned and women-owned businesses access the capital they need but wasn’t always available to them.
She’s worked with employers to design skills-training programs so that local workers would be equipped to take on good-paying jobs in their own communities.
She has put Rhode Island on a path of achieving 100% renewable energy, and she will be a key player in helping position the United States as the global leader in the 21st Century clean energy economy.
And she knows what her fellow governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, are dealing with on the frontlines of the pandemic and economic crises and how we can all partner together as one nation to contain COVID-19 and build back better.
I’m honored she is joining the team.
In her remarks, Raimondi said, “We invested in our people — in their skills, their opportunities, and their dreams. We helped new businesses launch and sparked others to hire and grow responsibly. That’s the same vision, the same faith in American workers and entrepreneurs that I see in the Build Back Better agenda.
“It’s a vision for an inclusive recovery that lifts up those who have been left behind. It’s a vision for a national effort that provides skills, training, and wraparound supports to get Americans back to work. It’s a vision for rebuilding American manufacturing and bringing back jobs that have gone overseas.”
For Secretary of Labor, I nominate Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston.
Son of Irish immigrants from County Galway.
They moved to Boston.
Marty was born and raised in Dorchester.
I know him. Tough as nails.
Diagnosed with cancer at age 7, beat it at age 11.
Joined the Laborers Union Local 223 at age 21.
Elected to the state legislature.
Became union president.
Then graduated from college at age 42.
He is now in his second term as the successful mayor of an iconic American city, and who always puts working people first.
Fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.
Providing frontline workers with emergency child care and the protective equipment they need.
Marty understands like I do that the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.
He’s seen how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis.
Health care workers keeping our hospitals safe, clean, and effective.
Public service workers fighting against budget shortfalls to keep communities afloat.
Port workers, car haulers, warehouse workers, and folks keeping our air and rail systems running.
They are literally what’s keeping us going.
And they deserve a Secretary of Labor who knows how to build their power as workers.
Who knows that when I say our future will be made in America, it will be a future built by American workers.
A future with historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing, and so much more that will create millions of good-paying union jobs.
Marty knows worker power means not just protecting the right to unionize but encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.
It means protecting pensions.
Ensuring worker safety.
Increasing the minimum wage.
Ensuring workers are paid for the overtime they earned, like we fought to do in the Obama-Biden Administration, but this Administration weakened.
And making sure that we have a trade policy where for every decision we make, unions are at the table, focused on winning good jobs for American workers.
This is one of the most important departments to me.
I trust Mayor Walsh, and I’m honored he accepted.
But I also want to say that I did give serious consideration to nominating my friend Senator Bernie Sanders to this position. I’m confident he could’ve done a fantastic job.
I can think of no more passionate and devoted ally of working people in this country.
But after Tuesday’s result in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate on a tied vote, Bernie and I agreed that we cannot put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont.
He agreed we couldn’t take that chance.
But we also discussed how we would work together, travel the country, helping Marty, and meet with the working men and women who feel forgotten and left behind in the economy.
And we agreed that we will work closely on our shared agenda to increase worker power and protect the dignity of work for all working people.
I thank Bernie for his continued friendship and leadership and I look forward to us working together along with Marty.
Mayor Walsh said, “Now we have the opportunity to put power back into the hands of working people. And that is a good thing for our economy and our country.
“We can defend workers’ rights. We can strengthen collective bargaining. We can grow union membership. And we can create millions of good-paying jobs with investments in infrastructure, clean energy, high-tech manufacturing — along with the workforce training to help people get those good jobs.”
For Administrator of the Small Business Administration, I nominate Isabel Guzman.
She grew up in California, working alongside her father in the small veterinary businesses he built.
She developed an early understanding of what small businesses mean to their employees, the neighborhoods they support, and the families whose dreams they represent.
She dedicated her career to creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurs as a senior official in the Obama-Biden Small Business Administration.
As the Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, she works tirelessly to ensure that everyone with an entrepreneurial spark has a fair and equal shot to get off the ground and succeed.
The Biden-Harris Administration will be locked in on helping small businesses recover, rebuild, and remain the engines of our economy.
And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery.
I am grateful that she has accepted this call to serve.
Guzman in her remarks, said, “All of our small businesses are critical to our collective success as a nation. Their American dreams fuel our economy, bring new ideas to transform our lives for the better, and enliven every main street in America. And now more than ever, our small businesses need us.
“I share your commitment to help strengthen the many small business owners who have seen their dreams and livelihoods impacted by COVID-19. And to create opportunities and instill greater equity for all of the new startups that will lead us to recovery. “
For Deputy Commerce Secretary, I nominate a good and loyal friend, Don Graves.
Don is a longtime trusted advisor.
He was there at the Treasury Department during the depths of the Great Recession, helping small businesses weather the storm and stay afloat.
When President Obama asked me to lead the effort to get Detroit out of bankruptcy and off its back he said I could take anyone in the Administration. So, I went to the Treasury Department and asked for Don to come over and work on it full-time.
It was the best decision we made in that effort. He did a great job working with city and state officials on its road to recovery. It’s about the small details like the number of buses and street lights that are needed.
He also helped me lead our national strategy to equip our workers with the skills they need for the good-paying jobs of the 21st Century, in health care, IT, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and more.
And he was there to help me launch the National Cancer Moonshot and marshal the full resources of the federal government to help end cancer as we know it.
A cancer survivor himself, diagnosed and treated while he was working for me, Don knows about hope and resilience.
I’m grateful to him and his wonderful family for answering the call to serve once again.
Graves laid out the standard for Biden’s economic team: “To revive the economy through the pandemic and build it back better. To advance racial equity across the board and to meet the existential threat of climate change with American jobs and ingenuity.
“With your leadership, I know this Administration will provide the American people the support they need to thrive, and the opportunity to turn their hopes into lives of dignity and respect they deserve.”
Just a day after the unprecedented attempted insurrection at the Capitol and four years of tearing down the Rule of Law in Donald Trump’s quest to emulate the dictators he so admires, President-Elect Joe Biden’s introduction of his “Justice League” – the Attorney General, Deputy and Assistants – brought a welcome, calming reassurance. As with his other teams – health and human services, national security, climate and environment – Biden’s Justice nominees “have the experience, judgment, and moral compass that these roles demand, as well as an abiding commitment to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States,” Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris said.
Biden set aside discussing the calls to remove Trump using the 25th Amendment or impeaching him for a second time before the term ends at 12:01 pm on January 20, but used yesterday’s “unprecedented assault on our democracy,” the mob attack on the Capitol while both chambers of Congress were in the process of certifying Biden-Harris election incited by Trump, to reaffirm his commitment to restoring an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and equal justice for all – all of which were subverted by a dictator wannabe demanding loyalty.
Indeed, it was the reason Biden sought the presidency, after seeing the White Supremacists march in Charlottesville. He evoked that image – as well as the differences in how Black Lives Matter protesters were treated compared to the mob that invaded the Capitol Building, rampaging and ransacking it. “Not only did we see a failure to protect one of the three branches of our government, we also saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice.”
Biden declared, “I made it clear from the moment I entered this race what I believed was at stake nothing less than who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and what we believe, what we will be. And at the center of that belief is one of the oldest principles this nation has long held — we are a government of laws — not people….
“The judiciary doesn’t serve the will of the president, or exist to protect him or her….Our president is not above the law. Justice serves the people — it doesn’t protect the powerful. And it is blind….
“I want it to be clear to those who lead the department and those who serve there. You don’t work for me. Your loyalty isn’t to me. It is to the law. To the Constitution. To the people of this nation. To guarantee justice.”
Here are Biden’s remarks, highlighted, and highlights from the nominees: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Yesterday was one of the darkest days in the history of our nation.
An unprecedented assault on our democracy.
An assault on the citadel of liberty, the United States Capitol itself.
An assault on the rule of law.
An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: ratifying the will of the people
in choosing the leadership of their government.
We grieve the loss of life. We grieve the desecration of the people’s house.
But what we witnessed yesterday was not dissent. It was disorder.
It was not protest. It was chaos.
They weren’t protestors. Don’t dare call them protestors.
They were rioters, a mob.
It’s that basic and that simple.
And I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming.
But that isn’t true. We could.
For the past four years we’ve had a president who has made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, and the rule of law clear in everything he has done.
He has unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy.
And yesterday was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack.
He has attacked the free press who dared to question his power, repeatedly calling the free press the enemy of the people.
Language that has long been used by autocrats and dictators all over the world to hold on to power.
Language that is being used now by autocrats and dictators across the world, only this time with the imprimatur of the outgoing President of the United States.
He has attacked our intelligence services who dared to tell the American people the truth about the efforts of a foreign power to elect him four years ago, choosing instead to believe the word of Vladimir Putin over the word of those who had sworn their allegiance to this nation — many of whom had risked their lives in service in this nation.
He deployed the United States military, tear-gassing peaceful protestors in the pursuit of a photo opportunity in service of his reelection. Even holding the Bible upside down.
An action that led to an apology from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the outspoken denunciation of the use of the military for domestic political purposes from scores of former military leaders and Secretaries of Defense.
He thought he could stack the courts with friendly judges who would support him no matter what.
He went so far as to say he needed nine justices on the Supreme Court because he thought the election would end up in the Supreme Court and they would hand him the election.
And he was stunned, truly stunned, when the judges he appointed didn’t do his bidding, but instead acted with integrity, followed the Constitution, and upheld the rule of law.
Not just once or twice, or three times — but over 60 times.
In more than 60 cases, in state after state after state, and then at the Supreme Court judges, including people he considered quote “his” judges, “Trump judges” — the courts looked at the allegations Trump was making and determined they were without merit.
Nothing was judged to put the election in question or doubt.
You want to understand the importance of democratic institutions in this country?
Take a look at the judiciary in this nation.
Take a look at the pressure it was just subjected to by the sitting president of the United States.
At every level, it rose to the moment during this election.
Did its job.
Acted with complete fairness and impartiality.
With complete honor and integrity.
When history looks back at the moment we just passed through, it will say our democracy survived in no small part because of the men and women who represent the independent judiciary in this nation.
We owe them a deep, deep debt of gratitude.
And then there is his attack on the Department of Justice.
Treating the Attorney General as his personal lawyer and the department as his personal law firm.
Through it all, we would hear the same thing from this president — my generals, my judges, my Attorney General.
And then yesterday.
The culmination of the attack on our institutions of democracy.
This time the Congress itself.
Inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, to threaten the elected Representatives of the people of this nation and even the Vice President, to stop the United States Congress from ratifying the will of the people in a just-completed free and fair election.
Trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans who summoned the courage in the face of a pandemic that threatened their health and their lives to cast their sacred ballot.
I made it clear from the moment I entered this race what I believed was at stake nothing less than who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and what we believe, what we will be.
And at the center of that belief is one of the oldest principles this nation has long held — we are a government of laws — not people.
I said it many times in the campaign.
Our democratic institutions are not relics of another age.
They are what set this nation apart.
They are the guardrails of our democracy.
They are why no president is a king.
No Congress is the House of Lords.
The judiciary doesn’t serve the will of the president, or exist to protect him or her.
We have three co-equal branches of government.
Our president is not above the law.
Justice serves the people — it doesn’t protect the powerful.
And it is blind.
What we saw yesterday in plain view was another violation of a fundamental tenet of this nation.
Not only did we see a failure to protect one of the three branches of our government, we also saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice.
No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protestors yesterday that they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob that stormed the Capitol.
We all know that’s true. And that is totally unacceptable. And the American people saw it in plain view and I hope it sensitized them to what we have to do.
Not many people know it, but the reason the Department of Justice was formed in 1870 was to enforce the Civil Rights Amendments that grew out of the Civil War — the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
To stand up to the Klan.
To take on domestic terrorism.
This original spirit must once again guide and animate its work.
So as we stand here today, we do so in the wake of yesterday’s events.
Events that could not more vividly demonstrate some of the most important work we have to do in this nation.
Committing ourselves to the rule of law in this nation.
Invigorating our democratic institutions.
Carrying out equal justice under the law in America.
There is no more important place for us to do this work than at the Department of Justice.
And there are no more important people to carry out this work than the people I am announcing today.
More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, and the independence of the Department of Justice in this nation.
I want it to be clear to those who lead the department and those who serve there.
You don’t work for me. Your loyalty isn’t to me.
It is to the law.
To the Constitution. To the people of this nation. To guarantee justice.
For Attorney General of the United States, I nominate Judge Merrick Garland.
One of the most respected jurists of our time.
Brilliant yet humble.
Distinguished yet modest.
Full of character and decency.
Supreme Court clerk.
Served in the Justice Department during the Carter, Bush 41, and Clinton Administrations,
where he embraced the Department’s core values of independence and integrity.
As federal prosecutor he took on terrorism and corruption and violent crime always with utmost professionalism and duty to the oath he swore.
Nominated by President Clinton to be a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful court in America.
Throughout such a long and distinguished career, he has earned the praise and admiration of members of the bar and bench, and politicians of both parties.
And despite his busy schedule and prestigious position, he still makes time to volunteer
regularly tutoring students in Northeast D.C. as he has for more than 20 years.
This is about character.
It is no surprise why President Obama nominated Judge Garland to the Supreme Court.
He embodies honor, decency, integrity — fidelity to the rule of law and judicial independence.
It’s those same traits he will now bring as the Attorney General of the United States, not as the personal attorney to the President.
He will restore trust in the rule of law and equal justice under law.
I fully expect that he will receive a fair hearing and swift confirmation.
And once he is confirmed, I will move promptly to nominate his replacement on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and I expect that the distinguished nominee will receive a prompt and fair hearing as well.
“As everyone who watched yesterday’s events in Washington now understands — if they did not before — the Rule of Law is not just some lawyer’s turn-of-phrase. It is the very foundation of our democracy,” Garland said.
“The essence of the Rule of Law is that like cases are treated alike: That there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends and another for foes; one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; one rule for the rich and another for the poor — or different rules depending on one’s race or ethnicity.
“And the essence of its great corollary, Equal Justice Under Law, is that all citizens are protected in the exercise of their civil rights. …
“These principles — ensuring the Rule of Law and making real the promise of Equal Justice Under Law — are the great principles upon which the Department of Justice was founded and for which it must always stand.
“They echo today in the priorities that lie before us — from ensuring racial equity in our justice system to meeting the evolving threat of violent extremism.
“If confirmed, those are the principles to which I will be devoted as Attorney General.”
For Deputy Attorney General I nominate Lisa Monaco.
A fifteen-year veteran of the Department of Justice, Lisa knows the department inside and out.
She is a definition of what a public servant should be — decent, trusted, and honorable.
A top-flight prosecutor who took on public corruption, corporate fraud, and violent crime.
Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI.
The first woman ever to be confirmed as Assistant Attorney General for National Security,
where she elevated cybersecurity to a top priority — which is even more consequential today.
And at the White House, she was the top homeland security and counterterrorism advisor to President Obama and me.
She coordinated our fight against Al-Qaeda and ISIL. She helped lead our response to the Ebola crisis.
And when the bombs went off at the finish line on Patriot’s Day in Boston, her hometown , she coordinated the federal government’s response with local and state law enforcement to get to the bottom of this horrible tragedy.
I know she will help restore the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice that she reveres.
“The soul of the Justice Department lives in the integrity of its career professionals, in the independence of its investigations and prosecutions, and in the principles it brings to bear as it stewards the ideal of justice in America,” Monaco said.
“Today, we are at another inflection point. Some of the challenges we face are familiar — racial inequality; the need for criminal justice reform; domestic terrorism and threats to public safety.
“Some of the tasks are enduring — like the importance of working closely with law enforcement to ensure public safety and build trust in our communities.
“Some of the challenges are evolving — like mounting cyber threats.
“I’m confident that the Department of Justice is up to all these challenges, but what is most critical in the days ahead is not a challenge at all — but an opportunity.
“A chance for this team and the career professionals who make up the Justice Department to reaffirm its norms and traditions, to do justice without fear or favor, to keep the American people safe and to do so always consistent with the rule of law.”
For Associate Attorney General, the number 3 job at the Department — I nominate Vanita Gupta.
One of the most respected civil rights lawyers in America.
Started her career at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Then on to the ACLU.
And then to the Justice Department during the Obama-Biden Administration where she led the Civil Rights Division.
At every step, with every case, she has fought for greater equity and to right the wrongs in our justice system where they existed.
And she has done so by bringing people together, earning praise from across the ideological spectrum for her approach to solving some of the thorniest problems we face.
During the Obama-Biden Administration, Vanita was put in charge of investigating abuse of power in police departments in Ferguson, Missouri, and other communities torn apart by acts of violence and racial injustice.
She helped institute common-sense police reforms to build greater equity, safety, and trust.
She was commended for her work both by law enforcement and by those advocating for changes in the criminal justice system.
That is a rare achievement — and it speaks volumes about her capacity to unite people in common purpose, which this is all about.
Born in Philadelphia and a proud daughter of immigrants from India, if confirmed, Vanita will be the first woman of color to serve as Associate Attorney General.
I am grateful that Vanita is leaving her current job leading one of the premier civil rights organizations in the world to answer the call to serve once again and ensure our justice system is even more fair and equitable.
There are many agencies in our federal government — but only one which bears the name of a value,” Gupta said.
By virtue of that name — that value of justice — we know the Department carries a unique charge and North Star.
At its best, it is the keeper of a sacred promise — the promise of equal justice for all.
That no one is above the law.
When this promise is pursued with vigor, it brings light to our nation and serves as a beacon to the world.
But when abandoned, we degrade our democracy and sow the division we’ve come to know all too well…
This moment demands bold leadership
The Department of Justice, as it has done throughout history, will have to uncover and reckon with hard truths; hold people, companies, and institutions accountable to our Constitution and laws;
drive change where there is injustice; and heal a nation starving for decency and hope.
Now is the time to ensure our economic system works for everyone, to protect the health and safety of the American people, and to harness all DOJ levers for civil rights, justice reform, and climate justice.
For Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, I nominate Kristen Clarke, who has also spent her career advocating for greater equity in the justice system.
A daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Kristen is also one of the most distinguished civil rights attorneys in America.
A proud native of Brooklyn, New York she began her legal career in the very same office she is now nominated to lead.
Her previous tenure with the Justice Department saw her take on some of the most complex civil rights cases — from voting rights and redistricting challenges to prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking.
She has earned accolades throughout her career — including as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for her home state of New York, where she led the charge to end the school-to-prison pipeline and root out discrimination in housing and law enforcement.
She currently leads one of the nation’s top civil rights organizations, where she promotes greater equity in voting rights, in our education system, our housing system, our justice system, and so much more.
Now, she will return full circle to pursue that vital work where her career began.
The Civil Rights Division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice, and the heart of that fundamental American ideal, that we are created equal and deserve to be treated equally.
I am honored she accepted the call to return to make real that promise for all Americans.
“Not everyone is blessed with the opportunities I enjoyed,” Clarke said. “That awareness has animated my life’s work — it’s what brought me to the Department of Justice where I started my career — and it’s what brings me back for this homecoming today. ..The clarion call of equal justice under law is what binds us together as a nation.”
Biden said, “To each of you, thank you for your service and that of your families.
And to the American people, this is the team that will restore your trust and faith in our institutions of democracy.
One of the reasons I ran for president was when I saw those people coming out of the fields in Charlottesville, shouting hate, a young woman killed, and when asked, the President of the United States said there are good people on both sides.
That’s why I ran. There is no more important or heartfeld effort on my part than restoring the independence and integrity of our Justice Department.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops and those who have sworn to protect the American people.
President-Elect Joe Biden, in remarks that included a rebuke of the Trump Administration’s failure to achieve even a fraction (2 million) of the 20 million vaccinations promised by the end of 2020, outlined five things Americans need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and his administration’s plans to get COVID-19 under control:
1. Things are going to get worse before they get better, with nation on track to hit 400,000 dead by Inauguration Day, but tens of thousands of lives can be saved if people are vigilant.
2. “The Trump administration plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind.”
3. The Biden-Harris administration will spare no effort to provide vaccines, free, and stand up distribution system to deliver 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days, to “make sure the vaccine is distributed equitably, so every person who wants the vaccine can get it no matter the color of their skin or where they live.”
4. Will use the Defense Production Act to accelerate production of the materials needed for the vaccine. And massive public education campaign to show vaccines are safe – and equitable distribution
5. Remain vigilant. Will ask Americans to wear mask for first 100 days of his presidency, as part of his 100-day challenge; get Congress to fund COVID action plan for testing, PPE, vaccination program and so that K-8 schools can open safely
Here is a highlighted transcript of Biden’s remarks on Tuesday, December 29, from Wilmington, Delaware:
Vice President-elect Harris and I just received a briefing on COVID-19 by our team of experts.
As we end one of the most difficult years as a nation, I am optimistic about the future.
The vaccines that have been discovered and developed give us enormous hope.
Our economy is poised to come back, and come alive.
And I can see a return to normalcy in the next year.
I also see the incredible opportunities for our nation in the years ahead in job creation, in clean energy, racial equality, and so much more.
But I need to be honest.
The next few weeks and months are going to be a very tough period of time for our nation — maybe the toughest of the entire pandemic.
I know that’s hard to hear. But it’s the truth.
So, we need to steel our spines for what’s ahead.
We need to follow even more closely the recommendations to slow the spread of the virus.
And each of us needs to do what we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our fellow Americans.
We are going to get through this.
Brighter days are coming.
But it’s going to take all the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done.
So today, I want to clear about five things every American should know about our efforts to contain COVID-19 and where the vaccine stands today
First — things will get worse before they get better.
In September, we passed the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths.
At the time, I warned that we’d hit 400,000 deaths before the end of the Trump Administration in January.
Critics said I was being too alarmist and negative.
But as I’ve said all along, I will tell it like it is when it comes to COVID.
And the reality is, it looks like we’ll hit that grim milestone.
We just crossed 330,000 deaths.
We’re averaging a daily death rate of nearly 2,200 people — which means we will lose tens of thousands of more lives in the months to come.
Hospitals are being stretched beyond capacity.
And that’s data before we see the impact of cases coming from the holidays.
People getting infected today don’t show up in case counts for weeks, and those who perish from the disease die weeks after exposure.
So we have to anticipate that infections over the holidays will produce soaring case counts in January and a soaring death toll into February.
Turning this around will take time. And we might not see improvement until well into March, as it will take time for our COVID response plan to begin to produce visible progress.
Second, the Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind.
We are grateful to the companies, doctors, scientists, researchers, and clinical trial participants, and Operation Warp Speed for developing the vaccines quickly.
But as I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should.
A few weeks ago the Trump Administration suggested that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of December.
With only a few days left in December, we have only vaccinated a few million so far.
At the pace the vaccination program is moving now, it would take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.
Which brings me to the third thing every American should know: the Biden-Harris Administration will spare no effort to make sure people are getting vaccinated.
I’ve laid out three challenges in our first 100 days.
One of them is ensuring that 100 million shots have been administered by the end of our first 100 days.
If Congress provides the funding, we would be able to meet this incredible goal.
It would take ramping up five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day.
But even with that improvement, even if we boost the speed of vaccinations to 1 million shots a day, it will still take months to have the majority of the country vaccinated.
I have directed my team to prepare a much more aggressive effort — with more federal involvement and leadership to get things back on track.
We will find ways to boost the pace of vaccinations.
But as Dr. Fauci and others have stated these past few days, this will all take more time than anyone would like – and more time than the promises from the Trump administration has suggested.
This will be the greatest operational challenge we have ever faced as a nation.
We will get it done.
But it’s going to take a vast new effort that is not yet underway.
And that gets to the fourth thing you should know: I will move Heaven and Earth to get us going in the right direction.
I will use my power under the Defense Production Act to order private industry to accelerate the making of materials needed for the vaccine.
Vice President-elect Harris and I have been speaking with county officials, mayors, and governors of both parties to speed up the distribution of the vaccine across the nation.
We are planning a whole-of-government effort.
We will work to set-up vaccination sites and send mobile units to hard-to-reach communities.
We also know there is vaccine hesitancy in many communities, especially in Black, Latino, and Native American communities who have not always been treated with the dignity and honesty they deserve by the federal government and the scientific community throughout our history.
That’s why we will launch a massive public education campaign to increase vaccine acceptance.
We will do everything we can to show the vaccines are safe and critically important for one’s own health and that of their family and community.
That means we will also make sure the vaccine is distributed equitably, so every person who wants the vaccine can get it no matter the color of their skin or where they live.
And we’re going to ensure vaccinations are free of charge.
Fifth — while the pandemic rages on and as we increase the supply, distribution, and administration of the vaccine, we must remain vigilant.
As part of our 100-day challenge, I’ll be asking the American people to wear a mask for the first 100 days of my administration.
Not as a political statement, but as a patriotic duty.
Our Administration will require masks where we can for federal workers, in federal facilities, and on interstate travel like planes and trains.
And we’ve been working directly with county officials, mayors, and governors to implement mask mandates in their towns, cities, and states.
Masking has been a divisive issue in this country.
But COVID is a killer in red states and blue states alike.
So — I encourage all of you — wear a mask.
Encourage your family and friends to do the same.
It’s one of the easiest things we can do that will make a huge difference to save lives.
Another 100-day challenge is opening most of our K-8 schools by the end of our first 100 days in the spring.
But we can only do that if Congress provides the necessary funding so we can get schools, districts, communities, and states the resources they need for so many things that aren’t in their already tight budgets.
They need funding for testing to help reopen schools.
More funding for transportation so students can maintain social distancing on buses.
They need it for school buildings, for additional cleaning services, protective equipment, and ventilation systems.
This will require an additional tens of billions of dollars to get it done.
And Congress also needs to fund and provide more protective equipment for frontline health care workers who are still reusing masks and gowns.
And we need to scale up testing so anyone who needs one can get one.
After 10 months of the pandemic, we still don’t have enough testing.
That’s a travesty.
All of this — vaccinations, testing, protective gear — will require more funding from Congress, more than was just approved.
That is why I will propose a COVID action package early next year and challenge Congress to act on it quickly.
My ability to change the direction of the pandemic starts in three weeks.
But with thousands dying every day between now and then, let me conclude by discussing what needs to happen now.
I congratulate the bipartisan majority on passing and President Trump on signing the COVID relief bill.
It is a step in the right direction.
It will help people in need.
It will pay for some, but far from all of what we need to fix the COVID response.
It’s a down payment.
But now, with that done — I hope that the President will also clearly and unambiguously promote mask wearing.
I give former Governor Chris Christie credit. He and I disagree on most things.
But I’m thankful he’s now encouraging people to do the right thing and wear a mask for themselves, their loved ones, and their country.
I hope President Trump listens to him.
He can do it, too.
It would make a huge difference.
And I hope that the President will clearly and unambiguously urge all Americans to take the vaccine once it’s available.
I took it to instill public confidence in the vaccine.
Vice President-elect Harris took hers today to do the same.
When his doctors recommend it, President Trump should take it and instill that same degree of confidence.
And let me also say this to the American people: we can save 60,000-100,000 lives in the weeks and months ahead if we step up together.
Wear a mask. Stay socially distanced. Wash our hands. Avoid large indoor gatherings.
I know that these are often not easy asks.
You’re already making tremendous sacrifices every single day.
It’s hard on your lives, on your livelihoods, and on your kids and families.
It’s not small what’s being asked of you.
But we are in it together.
And the actions we take now will help us contain the pandemic and get us back to our lives and loved ones.
So, to the American people, I know there’s a lot that we have to do.
But I want you to know there’s also so much we can do.
We are the United States of America.
We’ve been through hard times before as a nation, and we’ll come through this as well.
President-Elect Joe Biden issued his sternest condemnation yet of the Trump Administration’s “roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget” of his transition team, which will endanger national security as the Biden administration takes over in January. “It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”
In remarks following briefings with his National Security team, Biden laid out the challenges he faces and a blueprint for his administration’s approach:
“Many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage. They’ve been hollowed out. In personnel. In capacity. In morale. In policy processes that have atrophied or been sidelined. In the disrepair of our alliances. In our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people. In a general disengagement from the world.
“And all of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people and to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting. Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office — starting with our diplomacy.”
Issues ranging from climate change to global pandemic to fair trade and economic opportunity, he said, will depend on “the power of smart and effective American leadership” with partners, effectively doing a 180-degree turn from Trump’s “America First” policy.
It also means “modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past. And we have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace.
Biden said he would work immediately to roll back the restrictions at the southern border, but cautioned that new processes and procedures will take time to implement. “We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution…
“We will champion liberty and democracy once more. We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world. And we will, once again, lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Biden declared.
Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks on December 28, from Wilmington, Delaware:
Before I begin, I want to say a few brief words on the explosion that took place Friday in Nashville.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working around the clock to gain more information on motive and intent.
This bombing was a reminder of the destructive power that individuals and small groups can muster, and the need for continuing vigilance.
I want to thank the police officers who worked quickly to evacuate the area before the explosion occurred, and all the firefighters and first responders who jumped into action early on Christmas morning.
Their bravery and cool-headedness likely saved lives and prevented a worse outcome — and we are all grateful for that.
And I know the hearts of all Americans are with the people of Nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event.
Now, Vice President-elect Harris and I, along with our nominees to lead our national security institutions, have just been briefed by some of the professionals who have been conducting agency reviews as part of our transition.
This is a long-standing part of the orderly transition of power in American democracy.
We welcomed teams from the incoming Trump-Pence administration four years ago.
And over the past few weeks, teams of genuine policy and management experts, many with previous government experience, have gone into agencies across the government to conduct interviews with personnel to gather information and to assess the state of the federal government that we will shortly inherit.
These teams worked under incredibly difficult circumstances — taking COVID-19 precautions, and waiting weeks for ascertainment — but they have done an outstanding job.
From some agencies, our teams received exemplary cooperation from the career staff.
From others, most notably the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership.
And the truth is: many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage.
They’ve been hollowed out.
In personnel. In capacity. In morale.
In policy processes that have atrophied or been sidelined.
In the disrepair of our alliances.
In our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people.
In a general disengagement from the world.
And all of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people and to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting.
Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office — starting with our diplomacy.
Today, we heard from the leaders of the State and USAID agency review teams about the critical early investments we are going to need to make in our diplomacy, in our development efforts, and in rebuilding our alliances to close ranks with our partners and bring to bear the full benefits of our shared strength for the American people.
When we consider the most daunting threats of our time, we know that meeting them requires American engagement and leadership, but also that none of them can be solved by America acting alone.
Take climate change for example.
The United States accounts for less than 15 percent of global carbon emissions.
But without a clear, coordinated, and committed approach from the other 85 percent of carbon emitters, the world will continue to warm, storms will continue to worsen, and climate change will continue to threaten lives and livelihoods, public health, and economies — and our very existence on our planet.
We’ve learned so painfully this year the cost of being unprepared for a pandemic that leaps borders and circles the globe.
If we aren’t investing with our partners around the world in strengthening health systems everywhere, we’re undermining our ability to permanently defeat COVID-19, and we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next deadly epidemic.
And as we compete with China and hold China’s government accountable for its abuses on trade, technology, human rights, and other fronts, our position will be much stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded partners and allies to make common cause with us in defense of our shared interests and values.
We are almost 25 percent of the global economy on our own, but together with our democratic partners, we more than double our economic leverage.
On any issue that matters to the U.S.-China relationship — from pursuing a foreign policy for the middle class, including a trade and economic agenda that protects American workers, our intellectual property, and the environment — to ensuring security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, to championing human rights — we are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations that share our vision for the future of our world.
That’s how we multiply the impact of our efforts and make those efforts more sustainable.
That’s the power of smart and effective American leadership.
But right now, there’s an enormous vacuum.
We’re going to have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways to work around us or without us.
We also heard from key leaders on our intelligence and defense review teams, including Stephanie O’Sullivan, former principal deputy director of national intelligence, and retired Army Lieutenant General Karen Gibson.
We talked about the different strategic challenges we will face from both Russia and China, and the reforms we must make to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to meet these challenges.
That includes modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past.
And we have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace.
We are still learning about the extent of the SolarWinds hack and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed.
As I said last week — this attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security.
And we need to close the gap between where our capabilities are now and where they need to be to better deter, detect, disrupt, and respond to these sorts of intrusions in the future.
This is an area where Republicans and Democrats are in agreement — and we should be able to work on a bipartisan basis to better secure the American people against malign cyber actors.
And right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations.
My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and of our operations to deter our enemies.
We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.
But — as I said at the beginning — we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget.
Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas.
It’s nothing short of irresponsible.
Finally, we spoke about the day-one challenges that we will need to address immediately, drawing on the skill sets of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
We were briefed on the steps needed to clean up the humanitarian disaster that the Trump Administration has systematically created on our southern border.
We will institute a humane and orderly response.
That means rebuilding the capacity we need to safely and quickly process asylum seekers without creating a near-term crisis in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
These are hard issues.
And the current administration has made them much harder by working to erode our capacity.
It’s going to take time to rebuild it.
And we’re going to work purposefully and diligently to responsibly roll back Trump’s restrictions starting on day one.
But it’s not as simple as throwing a switch to turn everything back on — especially amid a pandemic.
We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution.
Of course, an essential part of this will be managing the safe, equitable, and efficient distribution of vaccines to as many Americans as possible — as quickly as possible.
FEMA has an enormous part to play in this, and we heard from the former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate today.
We want to make sure that our administration is poised to make full use of FEMA’s domestic reach and capacity in managing our COVID response.
Finally, from every briefer, I was heartened to also hear about the incredible strength we will be inheriting — the career professionals working across these agencies.
They never stop doing their jobs and continue to serve our country day in and day out to keep their fellow Americans safe, just as they have always done.
These agencies are filled with patriots who have earned our respect, and who should never be treated as a political football.
I’m looking forward to the honor of working with them again, to asking for their advice and inputs to help shape the best possible policies for all Americans.
And I want to thank the incredible folks who have served on all the Agency Review Teams as part of this transition.
They’ve dedicated their time, energy, and vital expertise to help ensure Vice President-elect Harris and I are ready to hit the ground running.
As we look forward to the start of a new year, fresh with hope and the possibilities of better days to come, but clear-eyed about the challenges that will not disappear overnight, I want to reiterate my message to the American people:
We’ve overcome incredible challenges as a nation. And we will do so again.
We’ll do it by coming together.
By uniting after a year of pain and loss to heal, to rebuild, and to reclaim America’s place in the world.
This is the work that lies ahead of us, and I know we are up to the task.
We will champion liberty and democracy once more.
We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world.
And we will, once again, lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
As Donald Trump sits back, tweets inciting calls to violence over overturning the 2020 election and makes threats as millions face eviction in the middle of winter and a raging pandemic; hunger; poverty (8 million have fallen into poverty just since July); the number of COVID-19 deaths surpass 330,000; every four days, a million more are infected (double the number just from Election Day, likely having much to do with Trump super-spreader rallies and forced in-person voting amid his sabotage of absentee voting); and Trump’s inaction or actual veto of bills that would provide COVID-19 relief and help fund vaccinations, and would cause the entire government to shut down, President-Elect Joe Biden is calling his refusal to sign the bill, passed with overwhelming and bipartisan majority, an “abdication of responsibility” that has “devastating consequences.” That’s an understatement. Here is Biden’s statement:
It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.
This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits. In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays. Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. And while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers.
This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic — including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.
In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.
Each one a person of remarkable achievement, who lifted themselves up, sometimes from abject poverty; several were the first in their family to go to college, several were immigrants or children of immigrants, and one is a 35th generation Pueblo Indian, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department which historically ruled over Indian lands and routinely violated treaties. The nominees and appointees to key climate and environmental positions are the incarnation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises, specifically, the first administration to elevating climate and environmental protection to this level and priority.
As Biden said, like his other cabinet picks, these climate, energy and environment nominees and appointees are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting, precedent-breaking, historic, “a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America.”
The contrast to Trump, who declared climate change a “hoax” and whose priorities – to overturn the climate action and environmental protection initiatives of the Obama-Biden administration and elevate to top positions lobbyists and executives from gas, oil, and mining industries, people of privilege and wealth – could not be more stark.
Clean energy, resilient infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and development, are the building blocks to Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan that will employ millions in new jobs and enterprises and keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world. “When we think about climate change, we think jobs.”
Electric cars – incentivized with purchase for the federal fleet – will mean one million auto industry jobs; transforming the electricity sector to being carbon-free “will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.”
He added, “And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.
“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.”
Biden introduced his nominees:
Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland. Secretary of Energy, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory
National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Deputy National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.
These nominees – as throughout Biden’s cabinet – are notable for their story and the values their background forged.
Here are their remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden
Today I am pleased to announce the team that will lead my Administration’s ambitious plan to address an existential threat of our time — climate change.
Like their fellow-Cabinet nominees and appointments, members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting.
With today’s announcements there will be six African American members of our Cabinet.
After today, our Cabinet won’t just have one or two precedent-breaking appointments, but 12 —including today’s long-overdue appointment of the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.
Already there are more people of color in this Cabinet than any Cabinet ever. More women than ever.
The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet.
A Cabinet that looks like America.
That taps into the best of America.
That opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation.
And like the rest of the team, today’s nominees are ready on Day One, which is essential because we literally have no time to lose.
Just this year, wildfires burned more than 5 million acres in California, Washington, and across the West — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.
Intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and across the Gulf and along the East Coast.
Record floods, hurricane-speed windstorms, and severe droughts ravaged the Midwest.
And more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities and small towns, on coastlines and farmlands, in red states and blue states.
Billions of dollars in damage. Homes and memories washed away. Small businesses closed up for good. Crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation family farmer.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
And so many climate and health calamities are colliding at once.
It’s not just a pandemic that keeps people inside — it’s poor air quality.
Multiple studies have shown air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from Covid-19.
Folks, we’re in a crisis.
Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.
We need to meet this moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency.
And from the crisis, we need to seize the opportunity to build back better than we were before. That’s what this Administration will do.
When we think about climate change, we think “jobs.” Good-paying union jobs.
A key plank of our Build Back Better economic plan is building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy future.
We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather.
When we think about renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers, racing to lead the global market.
We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.
We see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. This will reduce electricity consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
And we will challenge everyone to step up.
We will bring America back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.
The current Administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers. Our Administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.
We see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country.
We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that — the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles.
And we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying clean, electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.
But we need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.
We’ll need ironworkers and welders to install them.
That’s how we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy and weatherized more than a million homes.
The Recovery Act made record clean energy investments — $90 Billion — on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.
We will do it again — bigger, and faster, and better than before.
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to homeownership.
We’ll create more than a quarter-million jobs right away, to do things like working toward plugging the 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.
We’ll launch a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
And I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. No, we haven’t fulfilled that right for a generation or more in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially in low-income white, Black, Brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have clean air and clean water is not going to be easy.
But it is necessary. And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions.
And this team will get them done.
For Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
She’s of the Pueblo people. A 35th-generation New Mexican.
She’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, Norwegian American, a Marine now buried in Arlington.
A single mom, she raised her child while running a small business.
When times were tough, they relied on food stamps.
Congresswoman Haaland graduated from law school and got involved in politics.
Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.
She serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where she’s earned the respect of a broad coalition of people — from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor.
As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of the United States of America, she will be a true steward of our national parks, natural resources, and all of our lands.
The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial.
With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I am honored she accepted this critical role.
For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Jennifer Granholm.
The first woman to ever serve as Governor of Michigan.
In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation.
But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.
Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.
Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so effectively for eight years: hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking.
Someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.
Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy.
Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy.
For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan.
A proud son of North Carolina, he turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters of the Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science.
He got his start at the EPA serving in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, working on everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency.
He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, where he’s brought people together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.
He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals.
And he created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equity.
It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities who had carried the burdens of industrial progress for too long, without sharing in the benefits.
Michael would be the second African American official and first African American man to serve in this position.
He shares my belief in forging consensus and finding common purpose.
He is the leader who will reassert the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency that safeguards our planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.
For Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory.
An accomplished public servant. A brilliant environmental lawyer.
A daughter of a working-class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America.
She has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands and helping communities manage their natural resources responsibly.
As Chair of CEQ, I’m asking her to coordinate our environmental efforts across the entire federal government to solve some of the most persistent environmental problems America faces today.
Brenda would be the first African American official to hold this critical position.
We are fortunate that one of the most widely respected environmental leaders in the country accepted the call to serve again.
To serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor and lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, I appoint Gina McCarthy.
The fact I’ve asked a former EPA Administrator to take this role and lead this new office shows how serious I am.
Gina’s got more than 30 years of experience.
She’s a policy wonk and a people person.
A problem-solver and coalition builder.
As EPA Administrator, she was instrumental in carrying out the Obama-Biden Climate Action Plan.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Getting toxins out of the air we breathe. Conserving critical water sources.
She led our effort to help lower carbon emissions of existing power plants and power plants of the future.
And by doing the necessary work here at home, she helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.
Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out our ambitious climate agenda here at home, while my Special Envoy John Kerry leads our climate efforts around the world.
I’m grateful to work alongside her again.
And to serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor, I appoint Ali Zaidi.
He served as a top climate advisor to President Obama and me at the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.
He helped draft and implement our Climate Action Plan and secure the Paris Climate Agreement.
He currently serves as New York’s Deputy Secretary of Energy and Environment and the State’s Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance.
He’s helping to create jobs generating solar and wind power, jobs building electric charging stations and a more modern grid, bold climate action grounded in science, economics, and public health.
And, he’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the Rust Belt, outside Erie, Pennsylvania.
Ali knows we can beat the climate crisis with jobs.
He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities too often overlooked and forgotten.
And every day he’ll walk into the White House, knowing the world is looking for America to lead.
To each of you, thank you for answering the call to serve.
To your families, thank you.
We could not do this without you or them.
To the career civil servants at these agencies, we look forward to working with you to once again carry out your department’s mission with honor and integrity.
And to the American people — yes, the goals I’ve laid today are bold.
The challenges ahead are daunting.
But I want you to know that we can do this.
We must do this.
And we will do this.
We are America.
And there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland
I’m proud to stand here — on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape Tribal Nation.
The president-elect and vice president-elect are committed to a diverse cabinet, and I’m honored and humbled to accept their nomination for Secretary of the Interior.
Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy — I struggled with homelessness, relied on food stamps, and raised my child as a single mom.
These struggles give me perspective to help people succeed.
My grandparents — who were taken away from their families as children and sent to boarding school, in an effort to destroy their traditions and identities — maintained our culture.
This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former Secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.
I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and all the people who have sacrificed so that I can be here.
My dad was a US Marine, and no matter where we were stationed, he made sure we spent time outdoors.
Time with my dad in the mountains or on the beach and time with my grandparents in the cornfield at Laguna taught me to respect the Earth and to value our resources. I carry those values with me everywhere. I’m a product of their resilience.
As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior Department has a role to address these challenges.
The president-elect’s goals are driven by justice and empowering communities who have shouldered the burdens of environmental negligence.
And we will ensure that the decisions at Interior will once again be driven by science.
We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge.
The president-elect and vice president-elect know that issues under Interior’s jurisdiction aren’t simply about conservation — they’re woven in with justice, good jobs, and closing the racial, wealth, and health gaps.
This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgment of the many people who have believed in me over the years and had the confidence in me for this position.
I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.
I am honored and ready to serve.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect — thank you for your confidence.
I bring my gratitude, and that of the loves of my life: My best friend and husband Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses — Connor and Alexis, Cece and Damián, and Jack.
My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire.
I was the Governor of Michigan when the Great Recession struck, pushing the auto industry — the lifeblood of our state — to the brink of collapse.
Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
Banks wouldn’t lend; families lost their homes; our unemployment rate shot up to 15 percent.
But then, thankfully, as now, “help was on the way.”
Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry, save a million jobs, retool and electrify Detroit for the future, and diversify Michigan’s economy on the strength of a new sector: clean energy.
Today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains one of the most promising economic growth sectors in the world.
Over the next two decades, countries will invest trillions of dollars in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.
They’ll upgrade their electric grids using smart technology.
Millions of good-paying jobs will be created — but where will those jobs be?
In China, or other countries fighting tooth-and-nail to corner the clean energy market? Or here in America?
The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world.
We can win those jobs for American workers.
I know what those jobs will mean for families.
Though I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen for 40 years, I arrived here as a Canadian immigrant at age four, brought by parents seeking opportunity.
My mom is a funny and fierce Irish/Welsh “Newfie” from Newfoundland, Canada — an island fishing province they call “The Rock.”
Like many women in her generation, she never went to college.
My dad died earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.
He was born into extreme poverty, in a cabin in rural Canada with no running water.
My grandfather had immigrated from Sweden during the depression; unable to find a job to provide for his young family, he shot himself in desperation when my dad was three years old.
My grandmother became a single mom, with three young children, living in dire poverty.
My dad found work at a sawmill at 11. And after he married my mom, they came to America for better jobs.
Despite not having a college degree, my hard-working, gentle dad got the fair chance he was looking for in America — he started out as a bank teller, and retired as head of the bank.
It is because of my family’s journey — and my experience fighting for hardworking Michigan families — that I have become obsessed.
Obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America — obsessed with seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future.
We can let other countries beat us to those opportunities, or we can get in the game.
I’m so ready, and honored, Coach, that you are putting me on the field with this amazing team — to help create those jobs in every pocket of this country, and especially in the hardest-hit places, for the people still waiting on the fair chance they need.
Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.
Remarks by Nominee for Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect: Thank you for this opportunity.
Growing up as a child, hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather in eastern North Carolina — I developed a deep love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources.
But I also experienced respiratory issues that required me to use an inhaler on days when pollutants and allergens were especially bad.
I’ve always been curious about the connections between our environment and our health — how the world around us contributes to, or detracts from, our enjoyment of life.
So after completing my education in environmental science, there was one place in particular I wanted to work: the EPA.
When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined I would one day be nominated to lead the agency as its Administrator.
So this opportunity is a dream come true.
Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same: To safeguard our natural resources; to improve the quality of our air and water; to protect families and communities and help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.
Now, I’m honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake.
When President-elect Biden called out the plight of fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with issues up to the fencelines of facilities — we would actually see the people on the other side of those fences.
He has already backed up that commitment by assembling a team that reflects America — and I’m proud to join the vice president-elect as a fellow HBCU graduate in this administration.
Together, this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle the tough issues.
After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of the career staff.
And as a state official, I understand how the actions of the EPA can help or hurt local efforts.
We are going to ensure that the EPA is once again a strong partner for the states — not a roadblock.
We will be driven by our conviction that every person in our great country has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthier life no matter how much money they have in their pocket, the color of their skin, or what community they live in.
We will move with urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enacting an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.
But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone.
And we know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive — they go hand in hand.
We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet.
And that’s what we’ll pursue together.
I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of the American people.
Remarks by Appointee for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect —I am honored and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work with this incredible team.
I am especially grateful for this chance to return to public service at a time when agency personnel are looking for optimism, and so many communities are struggling under the weight of persistent and interwoven crises.
I know first-hand the challenges that everyday people face when one unexpected illness or expense can upend the economic stability of a family.
I grew up in the working-class community of Waterbury, Connecticut — a town not so different from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
I know the faces of the marginalized, and I appreciate the challenges of urban pollution.
While the words climate change and environmental injustice were not part of my vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.
In that setting, there was plenty of opportunity to work to make a difference in people’s lives.
For my parents, and particularly my father, dedication to tackling community challenges was vitally important.
Service, in all its forms, was essential.
They taught me to be a problem-solver — to recognize that each of us is blessed with different talents, and we are called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in the communities we share.
This has been a driving force and a guiding principle on my journey.
I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life.
I became the first in my family to go to college, I attended law school, and at each stage, I was aware of how different the world I came from was from the one I was entering.
I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of decisions.
As a staffer at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, I learned that environmental protection and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all communities had to be reconciled.
It is essential that we deploy smart and humane policy to help communities pull themselves back from the edge and improve the health, security, and prosperity of all their people.
The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality.
CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.
I am grateful to the President-elect and the Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make a world of difference.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Remarks by Appointee for White House Climate Coordinator, Gina McCarthy
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect—
Thank you for the opportunity to serve — and to work alongside this talented team.
The issues I’ll be taking on in this role are personal to me, and have been for as long as I can remember.
As keen listeners may have already guessed, I grew up in and around Boston.
My Dad was a teacher in the Boston Schools for more than 40 years; my Mom waitressed in local doughnut shops.
Looking back, I guess we were a lower-middle-class family. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our backyard, playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown.
A beach day for our family was a swim in Boston Harbor.
That meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin — so we’d have to dry and clean ourselves at the same time.
That was back in the 60s, before the first Earth Day — not the Boston Harbor of today.
I can remember jumping up to close the windows in my classroom when the chemical stench from the nearby rubber factory would start wafting in.
That smell kept us from outside recess on more days than I cared to remember.
So I figured out early on that there was a connection between our environment and our health.
And that understanding drew me into a long career of public service helping families and communities like mine, and those facing much steeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm to overcome the challenges that were holding them back.
Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber.
And I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the work I did in local and state governments as well as at EPA to make air and water cleaner, make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront climate change.
I’m here today because climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on.
Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes.
And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world.
But the opportunities to act on climate right now fill me with hope, energy, and excitement.
We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together, we have the capacity to meet this moment together.
The President-elect has put together the strongest climate plan ever raised to this level of leadership.
It rises to this incredible moment of opportunity to build back better for our health, for jobs, and for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged for years.
It will be my honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science — and the values of environmental justice — to build a better future for my two—soon to be three—little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.
Thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying jobs to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner, more vibrant lives.
Remarks by Appointee for Deputy White House Climate Coordinator, Ali Zaidi
Thank you President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.
I am deeply honored to answer your call to serve this nation that I love, especially at this moment of consequence.
For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident.
But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries.
And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.
Mr. President-elect & Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to this existential threat, not only by listening to the science, but also by invigorating the economy. Revving up manufacturing and innovation, spurring good-paying union jobs and advancing justice — long overdue.
Leading by the example of America at its best.
When my parents moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania, they brought two little kids — and a few suitcases of dreams.
Dreams their kids are living today:
Danish, my brother: a doctor on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, and me: moving to frontlines of the fight against climate change.
To be healthy, to have purpose, and to be able to give back — that is how our parents taught us to define the American Dream.
I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled.
Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and good friend, for the incredible and inspiring leaders on this stage, and for those with whom we’ll partner all across your administration.
This has been a trying year for all Americans — marked by so much loss. But throughout, you have been there for us.
And when the pandemic hit closer to home, you were there for me.
Mr. President-elect, that is who you are. A person of faith and family, decency and goodness.
Your leadership gives me hope.
My students, scientists imagining and inventing, give me hope
Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating, give me hope
And together, I know: We will meet this moment.
Remarks Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
A few months ago, as wildfires raged across the West, I traveled home to California.
What I saw on that trip — and so many others in recent years — was heartbreaking.
Homes and neighborhoods in ashes.
Firefighters battling fires, while their own homes burned to the ground.
Some of the most toxic air, anywhere in the world.
Two years ago, in 2018, when I visited communities like Paradise that had been devastated by wildfires, that year’s fire season was considered the worst in California’s history.
This fire season was even worse. The worst in California’s history — and America’s history.
And of course, fires are only one symptom of our growing climate crisis.
In recent years, families across the Midwest have experienced historic flooding, while families along our coasts have endured some of the most active hurricane seasons on record.
They only name a storm if it’s particularly dangerous. This year, we had more named storms than ever before.
Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue.
And it is not a hoax.
It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure.
Years ago, when I was District Attorney in San Francisco, I created the first environmental justice unit in the city — and one of the first in our country.
Because I believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
So does the president-elect.
Part of the reason I was so proud to join him as his running mate was because he was proposing one of the most ambitious climate plans in history.
A plan to secure carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035.
A plan to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
A plan to invest in a clean energy future, and create millions of good-paying, union jobs, along the way.
And the team that President-elect Biden and I are announcing today will help make that plan a reality.
They are some of our country’s most seasoned public servants and climate experts.
They have experience mastering the most effective ways to get things done when it comes to climate change.
They recognize the importance of bringing the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet this challenge, and confront this crisis head-on with our allies and partners around the world.
And they are compassionate leaders who understand that, ultimately, addressing climate change is about building safer communities, and healthier communities, and thriving communities, for all Americans.
These public servants reflect the very best of America.And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge.
In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote — quote: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”
Starting on January 20th, we will work to heed those words and come together, here in our country and around the world, to build and protect our common home for generations to come.
Joe Biden officially became President-Elect with the conclusion of the Electoral College vote cementing Joe Biden’s victory with 306 votes to Donald Trump’s 232. After weeks of keeping silent as the Trump campaign brought 60 lawsuits in the hopes of the Supreme Court ultimately declaring Trump the winner, Biden delivered a rebuke of the efforts by Trump and the Republicans to overturn the election, as notable for the most votes cast in history and the most votes won by a candidate in history, by disenfranchising millions of voters, mostly Black, but declared democracy “resilient, true and strong.”
“In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them,” Biden declared.
He attacked the unprecedented, relentless but baseless court challenges, culminating in Texas seeking to overturn the results in four swing states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia to “wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.
“It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution. Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort…
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the People voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
Over the past few weeks, officials in each state, commonwealth, and district, without regard to party or political preference have certified their winning candidate.
Today, the members of the Electoral College representing the certified winner, cast their votes for President and Vice President of the United States in an act just as old as our nation itself.
And once again in America, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed.
Our democracy — pushed, tested, threatened — proved to be resilient, true, and strong.
The Electoral College votes which occurred today reflect the fact that even in the face of a public health crisis unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes, the people voted.
They voted in record numbers. More Americans voted this year than have ever voted in the history of the United States of America. Over 155 million Americans were determined to have their voices heard and their votes counted.
At the start of the pandemic crisis, many were wondering how many Americans would vote at all. But those fears proved to be unfounded.
We saw something very few predicted or even thought possible — the biggest voter turnout ever in the history of the United States of America.
Numbers so big that this election now ranks as the clearest demonstration of the true will of the American people — one of the most amazing demonstrations of civic duty we’ve ever seen in our country.
It should be celebrated, not attacked.
More than 81 million of those votes were cast for me and Vice President-elect Harris.
This too is a record number. More votes than any ticket has received in the history of America.
It represented a winning margin of more than 7 million votes over the number of votes cast for President Trump and Vice President Pence.
Altogether, Vice President-elect Harris and I earned 306 electoral votes — well exceeding the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory.
306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes Donald Trump and Mike Pence received in 2016.
At that time, President Trump called his Electoral College tally a landslide.
By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then.
And I respectfully suggest they do so now.
If anyone didn’t know it before, they know it now.
What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: Democracy.
The right to be heard.
To have your vote counted.
To choose the leaders of this nation.
To govern ourselves.
In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them.
The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame.
And as the people kept it aflame, so, too did courageous state and local officials and election workers.
American democracy works because Americans make it work at the local level.
One of the extraordinary things we saw this year was these everyday Americans — our friends and neighbors, often volunteers, Democrats and Republicans and Independents — demonstrating absolute courage. They showed a deep and unwavering faith in and a commitment to the law.
They did their duty in the face of a pandemic.
And then they could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true.
They knew the elections they oversaw were honest and free and fair.
They saw it with their own eyes.
And they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different.
It was truly remarkable because so many of these patriotic Americans were subjected to so much: enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, and even threats of physical violence.
While we all wish that our fellow Americans in these positions will always show such courage and commitment to free and fair elections, I hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election.
It is unconscionable.
We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude. They didn’t seek the spotlight, and our democracy survived because of them.
Which is proof once more that it’s the everyday American — infused with honor and character and decency — that is the heart of this nation.
And in this election, their integrity was matched by the strength, independence, and the integrity of our judicial system.
In America, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of any election, those questions are resolved through a legal process.
And that is precisely what happened here.
The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens and dozens of legal challenges to test the results.
They were heard. And they were found to be without merit.
Time and again, President Trump’s lawyers presented their arguments to state officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, twice.
They were heard by more than 80 judges across the country.
And in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results.
A few states went to recounts. All of the counts were confirmed.
The results in Georgia were counted three times. It did not change the outcome.
The recount conducted in Wisconsin actually saw our margin grow.
The margin we had in Michigan was fourteen times the margin President Trump won the state by four years ago.
Our margin in Pennsylvania was nearly twice the size of President Trump’s margin four years ago.
And yet none of this has stopped baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results.
Even more stunning, 17 Republican Attorneys General and 126 Republican Members of Congress actually signed on to a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas. It asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials in one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than twenty million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.
It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution.
Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort.
The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump and his allies that they would be no part of this unprecedented assault on our democracy.
Every avenue was made available to President Trump to contest the results.
He took full advantage of each and every one of these avenues.
President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take.
He took his case to Republican Governors and Republican Secretaries of State. To Republican state legislatures. To Republican-appointed judges at every level.
And in a case decided after the Supreme Court’s latest rejection, a judge appointed by President Trump wrote: “This court has allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case, and he has lost on the merits.”
Even President Trump’s own cybersecurity chief overseeing our elections said it was the most secure in American history.
Let me say it again, his own cybersecurity chief overseeing this election said it was the most secure in American history.
Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy — even when we find those results hard to accept.
But that is the obligation of those who have taken a sworn duty to uphold our Constitution.
Four years ago, as the sitting Vice President of the United States, it was my responsibility to announce the tally of the Electoral College votes that elected Donald Trump.
I did my job.
And I am pleased — but not surprised — that a number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate have acknowledged the results of the Electoral College.
I thank them. I am convinced we can work together for the good of the nation.
That is the duty owed to the people, to our Constitution, and to history.
In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed.
We the People voted.
Faith in our institutions held.
The integrity of our elections remains intact.
Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history.
To unite. To heal.
As I said through this campaign, I will be a president for all Americans.
I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me, as I will for those who did.
There is urgent work in front of us all.
Getting the pandemic under control and getting the nation vaccinated against this virus.
Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today — and then building our economy back better than ever.
In doing so, we need to work together, give each other a chance, and lower the temperature.
And most of all, we need to stand in solidarity as fellow Americans. To see each other, our pains, our struggles, our hopes, our dreams.
We are a great nation.
We are a good people.
We may come from different places and hold different beliefs, but we share a love for this country. A belief in its limitless possibilities.
For we, the United States of America, have always set the example for the world for the peaceful transition of power.
We will do so again.
I know the task before us will not be easy.
It’s tempered by the pain so many of us are feeling.
Today, our nation passed a grim milestone, 300,000 deaths due to this virus.
My heart goes out to all of you in this dark winter of the pandemic about to spend the holidays and the new year with a black hole in your hearts and without the ones you love by your side.
My heart goes out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own, unable to sleep at night, weighed down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring for you and for your family.
But we have faced difficult times before in our history.
And I know we will get through this one, together.
And so, as we start the hard work to be done, may this moment give us the strength to rebuild this house of ours upon a rock that can never be washed away.
And as in the Prayer of St. Francis, for where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith, where there is darkness, light.
This is who we are as a nation.
This is the America we love.
And that is the America we will be.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops and all those who stand watch over our democracy.