Category Archives: Biden Administration

VP Kamala Harris: ‘We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom – the freedom to vote’

“The assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party….The American people have waited long enough.  The Senate must act,” Vice President Kamala Harris declared in a speech on voting rights in Atlanta. “We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom: the freedom to vote.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden came out forcefully to demand protection of voting rights and election integrity in speeches in Atlanta and called for removing the filibuster, weaponized as an obstacle to Senate action. Republicans in the Senate and House immediately twisted and attacked the Democrats’ desire to assure free and equal access to the ballot and fair counting as an attempt to hijack elections, rather than preserve the foundational element of democracy, dismissing what Republican-dominated legislatures are doing around the country to – by simple majority vote – enact voter suppression, gerrymandered maps and rules that allow them to subvert elections by overturning the will of the majority.

The assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party….The American people have waited long enough.  The Senate must act,” Harris declared. “We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom: the freedom to vote. Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Harris’ remarks:

Last week, one year after a violent mob breached the United States Capitol, the President of the United States and I spoke from its hallowed halls and we made clear: We swore to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.  And we will.  We will fight.  (Applause.)  We will fight to safeguard our democracy.  We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom: the freedom to vote. 

And that is why we have come to Atlanta today — to the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement; to the district that was represented by the great Congressman John Lewis — (applause) — on the eve of the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  (Applause.)

More than 55 years ago, men, women, and children marched from Selma to Montgomery to demand the ballot.  And when they arrived at the State Capitol in Alabama, Dr. King decried what he called “normalcy” — the normalcy, the complacency that was denying people the freedom to vote.

The only normalcy anyone should accept, Dr. King said, is the “normalcy of justice.”  And his words resonate today.

Over the past few years, we have seen so many anti-voter laws that there is a danger of becoming accustomed to these laws, a danger of adjusting to these laws as though they are normal, a danger of being complacent, complicit.

Anti-voter laws are not new in our nation, but we must not be deceived into thinking they are normal.

We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it more difficult for students to vote is normal.

We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it illegal to help a voter with a disability vote by mail is normal.  (Applause.)

There is nothing normal about a law that makes it illegal to pass out water or food to people standing in long voting lines.  (Applause.)

And I have met with voters in Georgia.  I have heard your outrage about the anti-voter law here and how many voters will likely be kept from voting.

And Georgia is not alone.  Across our nation, anti-voter laws could make it more difficult for as many as 55 million Americans to vote.  That is one out of six people in our country.

And the proponents of these laws are not only putting in place obstacles to the ballot box, they are also working to interfere with our elections to get the outcomes they want and to discredit those they don’t.

That is not how a democracy should work.

My fellow Americans: Do not succumb to those who would dismiss this assault on voting rights as an unfounded threat — who would wave this off as a partisan game.

The assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party.

And if we stand idly by, our entire nation will pay the price for generations to come.

As Dr. King said, “The battle is in our hands.”  And today, the battle is in the hands of the leaders of the American people, those in particular that the American people sent to the United States Senate.

Two landmark bills sit before the United States Senate: the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.  (Applause.) 

And these two bills represent the first real opportunity to secure the freedom to vote since the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act nearly a decade ago.

We do not know when we will have this opportunity again.  Senate Republicans have exploited arcane rules to block these bills.

And let us be clear: The Constitution of the United States gives the Congress the power to pass legislation.  And nowhere — nowhere — does the Constitution give a minority the right to unilaterally block legislation. (Applause.)

The American people have waited long enough.  The Senate must act.

And the bottom line is this: Years from now, our children and our grandchildren, they will ask us about this moment.  They will look back on this time, and they will ask us not about how we felt — they will ask us what did we do.

We cannot tell them that we let a Senate rule stand in the way of our most fundamental freedom.  Instead, let us tell them that we stood together as people of conscience and courage. 

Let us tell them we acted with the urgency that this moment demands. 

And let us tell them we secured the freedom to vote, that we ensured free and fair elections, and we safeguarded our democracy for them and their children.

Biden Marks January 6th: ‘I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy’

President Joe Biden marks the one-year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection in the Capitol Rotunda: “I will defend this nation.  And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy.. Here in America, the people rule through the ballot, and their will prevails.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

President Joe Biden spoke to the nation on the day marking the one year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the attack on the Capitol and Congress aimed at impeding the Constitutional requirement for Congress to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election and interfere with the peaceful transition of power. In his address, Biden placed responsibility for the violent attack – the first since the War of 1812 and the first interruption of a peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election, promoted, incited and organized by the then-sitting but defeated president, in the nation’s nearly 250 years. He spoke to the need to continually protect democracy, especially in an era marked by the rise of authoritarians. Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  Madam Vice President, my fellow Americans: To state the obvious, one year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked — simply attacked.  The will of the people was under assault.  The Constitution — our Constitution — faced the gravest of threats.
 
Outnumbered and in the face of a brutal attack, the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard, and other brave law enforcement officials saved the rule of law.
 
Our democracy held.  We the people endured.  And we the people prevailed.
 
For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.
 
But they failed.  They failed.
 
And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again.
 
I’m speaking to you today from Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol.  This is where the House of Representatives
met for 50 years in the decades leading up to the Civil War.  This is — on this floor is where a young congressman of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, sat at desk 191. 
 
Above him — above us, over that door leading into the Rotunda — is a sculpture depicting Clio, the muse of history.  In her hands, an open book in which she records the events taking place in this chamber below.
 
Clio stood watch over this hall one year ago today, as she has for more than 200 years.  She recorded what took place.  The real history.  The real facts.  The real truth.  The facts
and the truth that Vice President Harris just shared and that you and I and the whole world saw with our own eyes.
 
The Bible tells us that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free.  We shall know the truth.
 
Well, here is the God’s truth about January 6th, 2021:
 
Close your eyes.  Go back to that day.  What do you see? Rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this Capitol a Confederate flag that symbolized the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart.
 
Even during the Civil War, that never, ever happened.  But it happened here in 2021.
 
What else do you see?  A mob breaking windows, kicking in doors, breaching the Capitol.  American flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears.  Fire extinguishers being thrown at the heads of police officers. 
 
A crowd that professes their love for law enforcement assaulted those police officers, dragged them, sprayed them, stomped on them.
 
Over 140 police officers were injured.
 
We’ve all heard the police officers who were there that day testify to what happened.  One officer called it, quote, a med- — “medieval” battle, and that he was more afraid that day than he was fighting the war in Iraq.
 
They’ve repeatedly asked since that day: How dare anyone — anyone — diminish, belittle, or deny the hell they were put through?
 
We saw it with our own eyes.  Rioters menaced these halls, threatening the life of the Speaker of the House, literally erecting gallows to hang the Vice President of the United States of America.
 
But what did we not see?
 
We didn’t see a former president, who had just rallied the mob to attack — sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, and the nation’s capital under siege.
 
This wasn’t a group of tourists.  This was an armed insurrection.
 
They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people.  They were looking to deny the will of the people.
 
They were looking to uphold — they weren’t looking to uphold a free and fair election.  They were looking to overturn one.
 
They weren’t looking to save the cause of America.  They were looking to subvert the Constitution.
 
This isn’t about being bogged down in the past.  This is about making sure the past isn’t buried.
 
That’s the only way forward.  That’s what great nations do.  They don’t bury the truth, they face up to it.  Sounds like hyperbole, but that’s the truth: They face up to it.
 
We are a great nation.
 
My fellow Americans, in life, there’s truth and,tragically, there are lies — lies conceived and spread for profit and power.
 
We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie.
 
And here is the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.  He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.
 
He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own Attorney General, his own Vice President, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said: He lost.
 
That’s what 81 million of you did as you voted for a new way forward.
 
He has done what no president in American history — the history of this country — has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.
 
While some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it, trying to uphold the principles of that party, too many others are transforming that party into something else.  They seem no longer to want to be the party — the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes.
 
But whatever my other disagreements are with Republicans who support the rule of law and not the rule of a single man, I will always seek to work together with them to find shared solutions where possible.  Because if we have a shared belief in democracy, then anything is possible — anything.
 
And so, at this moment, we must decide: What kind of nation are we going to be?
 
Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm?
 
Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people?
 
Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?
 
We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation.  The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it.
 
The Big Lie being told by the former president and many Republicans who fear his wrath is that the insurrection in this country actually took place on Election Day — November 3rd, 2020.
 
Think about that.  Is that what you thought?  Is that what you thought when you voted that day?  Taking part in an insurrection?  Is that what you thought you were doing?  Or did you think you were carrying out your highest duty as a citizen and voting?
 
The former president and his supporters are trying to rewrite history.  They want you to see Election Day as the day of insurrection and the riot that took place here on January 6th as the true expression of the will of the people.
 
Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country — to look at America?  I cannot.
 
Here’s the truth: The election of 2020 was the greatest demonstration of democracy in the history of this country.
 
More of you voted in that election than have ever voted in all of American history.  Over 150 million Americans went to the polls and voted that day in a pandemic — some at great risk to their lives.  They should be applauded, not attacked.
 
Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written — not to protect the vote, but to deny it; not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it; not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost.
 
Instead of looking at the election results from 2020 and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections. 
 
It’s wrong.  It’s undemocratic.  And frankly, it’s un-American.
 
The second Big Lie being told by the former President and his supporters is that the results of the election of 2020 can’t be trusted.

The truth is that no election — no election in American history has been more closely scrutinized or more carefully counted.
 
Every legal challenge questioning the results in every court in this country that could have been made was made and was rejected — often rejected by Republican-appointed judges, including judges appointed by the former president himself, from state courts to the United States Supreme Court.
 
Recounts were undertaken in state after state.  Georgia — Georgia counted its results three times, with one recount by hand.
 
Phony partisan audits were undertaken long after the election in several states.  None changed the results.  And in some of them, the irony is the margin of victory actually grew slightly.
 
So, let’s speak plainly about what happened in 2020.  Even before the first ballot was cast, the former president was preemptively sowing doubt about the election results.  He built his lie over months.  It wasn’t based on any facts.  He was just looking for an excuse — a pretext — to cover for the truth.
 
He’s not just a former president.  He’s a defeated former president — defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.
 
There is simply zero proof the election results were inaccurate.  In fact, in every venue where evidence had to be produced and an oath to tell the truth had to be taken, the former president failed to make his case.
 
Just think about this: The former president and his supporters have never been able to explain how they accept as accurate the other election results that took place on November 3rd — the elections for governor, United States Senate, the House of Representatives — elections in which they closed the gap in the House.
 
They challenge none of that.  The President’s name was first, then we went down the line — governors, senators, House of Representatives.  Somehow, those results were accurate on the same ballot, but the presidential race was flawed?
 
And on the same ballot, the same day, cast by the same voters.
 
The only difference: The former President didn’t lose those races; he just lost the one that was his own.
 
Finally, the third Big Lie being told by a former President and his supporters is that the mob who sought to impose their will through violence are the nation’s true patriots.
 
Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of congress?  Patriots?  Not in my view.
 
To me, the true patriots were the more than 150 [million] Americans who peacefully expressed their vote at the ballot box, the election workers who protected the integrity of the vote, and the heroes who defended this Capitol.
 
You can’t love your country only when you win.
 
You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient.
 
You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.
 
Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America — at American democracy.
 
They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle.  They came here in rage — not in service of America, but rather in service of one man.
 
Those who incited the mob — the real plotters — who were desperate to deny the certification of the election and defy the will of the voters.
 
But their plot was foiled.  Congressmen — Democrats and Republicans — stayed.  Senators, representatives, staff — they finished their work the Constitution demanded.  They honored their oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
 
Look, folks, now it’s up to all of us — to “We the People” — to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy, to keep the promise of America alive.
 
That promise is at risk, targeted by the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy, fear over hope, personal gain over public good.
 
Make no mistake about it: We’re living at an inflection point in history.
 
Both at home and abroad, we’re engaged anew in a struggle between democracy and autocracy, between the aspirations of the many and the greed of the few, between the people’s right of self-determination and self- — the self-seeking autocrat. 
 
From China to Russia and beyond, they’re betting that democracy’s days are numbered.  They’ve actually told me democracy is too slow, too bogged down by division to succeed in today’s rapidly changing, complicated world.
 
And they’re betting — they’re betting America will become more like them and less like us.  They’re betting that America is a place for the autocrat, the dictator, the strongman.
 
I do not believe that.  That is not who we are.  That is not who we have ever been.  And that is not who we should ever, ever be.
 
Our Founding Fathers, as imperfect as they were, set in motion an experiment that changed the world — literally changed the world.
 
Here in America, the people would rule, power would be transferred peacefully — never at the tip of a spear or the barrel of a gun.
 
And they committed to paper an idea that couldn’t live up to — they couldn’t live up to but an idea that couldn’t be constrained: Yes, in America all people are created equal.
 

We reject the view that if you succeed, I fail; if you get ahead, I fall behind; if I hold you down, I somehow lift myself up.
 
The former President, who lies about this election, and the mob that attacked this Capitol could not be further away from the core American values.
 
They want to rule or they will ruin — ruin what our country fought for at Lexington and Concord; at Gettysburg; at Omaha Beach; Seneca Falls; Selma, Alabama.  What — and what we were fighting for: the right to vote, the right to govern ourselves, the right to determine our own destiny.
 
And with rights come responsibilities: the responsibility to see each other as neighbors — maybe we disagree with that neighbor, but they’re not an adversary; the responsibility to accept defeat then get back in the arena and try again the next time to make your case; the responsibility to see that America is an idea — an idea that requires vigilant stewardship.
 
As we stand here today — one year since January 6th, 2021 — the lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated.
 
So, we have to be firm, resolute, and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted.
 
Some have already made the ultimate sacrifice in this sacred effort.
 
Jill and I have mourned police officers in this Capitol Rotunda not once but twice in the wake of January 6th: once to honor Officer Brian Sicknick, who lost his life the day after the attack, and a second time to honor Officer Billy Evans, who lost his life defending this Capitol as well.
 
We think about the others who lost their lives and were injured and everyone living with the trauma of that day — from those defending this Capitol to members of Congress in both parties and their staffs, to reporters, cafeteria workers, custodial workers, and their families.
 
Don’t kid yourself: The pain and scars from that day run deep.
 
I said it many times and it’s no more true or real than when we think about the events of January 6th: We are in a battle for the soul of America.  A battle that, by the grace of God and the goodness and gracious — and greatness of this nation, we will win.
 
Believe me, I know how difficult democracy is.  And I’m crystal clear about the threats America faces.
  But I also know that our darkest days can lead to light and hope.
 
From the death and destruction, as the Vice President referenced, in Pearl Harbor came the triumph over the forces of fascism.
 
From the brutality of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge came historic voting rights legislation.
 
So, now let us step up, write the next chapter in American history where January 6th marks not the end of democracy, but the beginning of a renaissance of liberty and fair play.
 
I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either.
 
I will stand in this breach.  I will defend this nation.  And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy. 
 
We will make sure the will of the people is heard; that the ballot prevails, not violence; that authority in this nation will always be peacefully transferred.
 
I believe the power of the presidency and the purpose is to unite this nation, not divide it; to lift us up, not tear us apart; to be about us — about us, not about “me.”
 
Deep in the heart of America burns a flame lit almost 250 years ago — of liberty, freedom, and equality.
 
This is not a land of kings or dictators or autocrats.  We’re a nation of laws; of order, not chaos; of peace, not violence.
 
Here in America, the people rule through the ballot, and their will prevails.
 
So, let us remember: Together, we’re one nation, under God, indivisible; that today, tomorrow, and forever, at our best, we are the United States of America.
 
God bless you all.  May God protect our troops.  And may God bless those who stand watch over our democracy.

VP Harris Marks January 6th: ‘Our tested democracy requires voting rights in order to maintain free and fair elections’

In her remarks on the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Vice President Kamala Harris reminded the nation that “the strength of democracy is the Rule of Law,” and that to preserve our fragile, tested democracy requires voting rights in order to maintain free and fair elections © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

In her remarks on the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Vice President Kamala Harris reminded the nation that “the strength of democracy is the Rule of Law,” and that to preserve our fragile, tested democracy requires voting rights in order to maintain free and fair elections. Here is a highlighted transcript of her remarks, delivered in the Capitol Rotunda:

Fellow Americans, good morning.

Certain dates echo throughout history, including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them — where they were and what they were doing when our democracy came under assault.  Dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory.  December 7th, 1941.  September 11th, 2001.  And January 6th, 2021.

On that day, I was not only Vice President-elect, I was also a United States senator.  And I was here at the Capitol that morning, at a classified hearing with fellow members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Hours later, the gates of the Capitol were breached. 

I had left.  But my thoughts immediately turned not only to my colleagues, but to my staff, who had been forced to seek refuge in our office, converting filing cabinets into barricades. 

What the extremists who roamed these halls targeted was not only the lives of elected leaders.  What they sought to degrade and destroy was not only a building, hallowed as it is.  What they were assaulting were the institutions, the values, the ideals that generations of Americans have marched, picketed, and shed blood to establish and defend.

On January 6th, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful.  The lawlessness, the violence, the chaos.
 
What was at stake then, and now, is the right to have our future decided the way the Constitution prescribes it: by we, the people — all the people.
 
We cannot let our future be decided by those bent on silencing our voices, overturning our votes, and peddling lies and misinformation; by some radical faction that may be newly resurgent but whose roots run old and deep.

When I meet with young people, they often ask about the state of our democracy, about January 6th.  And what I tell them is: January 6th reflects the dual nature of democracy — its fragility and its strength.

You see, the strength of democracy is the rule of law.  The strength of democracy is the principle that everyone should be treated equally, that elections should be free and fair, that corruption should be given no quarter.  The strength of democracy is that it empowers the people.
 
And the fragility of democracy is this: that if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand; it will falter and fail.
 
The violent assault that took place here, the very fact of how close we came to an election overturned — that reflects the fragility of democracy.

Yet, the resolve I saw in our elected leaders when I returned to the Senate chamber that night — their resolve not to yield but to certify the election; their loyalty not to party or person but to the Constitution of the United States — that reflects its strength. 
 
And so, of course, does the heroism of the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard, and other law enforcement officers who answered the call that day, including those who later succumbed to wounds, both visible and invisible.
 
Our thoughts are with all of the families who have lost a loved one.

You know, I wonder, how will January 6th come to be remembered in the years ahead?

Will it be remembered as a moment that accelerated the unraveling of the oldest, greatest democracy in the world or a moment when we decided to secure and strengthen our democracy for generations to come?

The American spirit is being tested.

The answer to whether we will meet that test resides where it always has resided in our country — with you, the people.
 
And the work ahead will not be easy.  Here, in this very building, a decision will be made about whether we uphold the right to vote and ensure free and fair election.

Let’s be clear: We must pass the voting rights bills that are now before the Senate, and the American people must also do something more.
 
We cannot sit on the sidelines.  We must unite in defense of our democracy in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our prosperity and posterity.
 
That is the preamble of the Constitution that President Biden and I swore an oath to uphold and defend.  And that is the enduring promise of the United States of America.

Two New Over-the-Counter At-Home COVID-19 Tests Brought to US Market Quickly by Biden Administration

FDA Authorizes Roche and Siemens At-Home Tests, Which Went Through New Biden Administration Accelerated Review Program; Will Bring Tens of Millions of New Tests Per Month to the U.S.

Tests Authorized in Just Two Months Since Joint FDA-NIH Program Accelerating Test Developers Through Regulatory Process Was Announced

President Joe Biden discusses steps administration is taking to increase testing as a winter surge in coronavirus pandemic is underway © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span.org

The Biden-Harris Administration has brought two new over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests to the U.S. market. The tests, one manufactured by SD Biosensor and distributed by Roche and the other manufactured by Siemens, have received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after being evaluated through the Administration’s new accelerated pathway to support FDA review of tests with potential for large-scale manufacturing that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced just two months ago.

These quick authorizations are thanks to collaboration between the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Technology (RADx) program. Combined, it is estimated the companies can produce tens of millions of tests per month for use in the U.S.

“Increasing Americans’ access to easy-to-use, reliable COVID tests is a top priority for the Biden Administration, and we are using all resources at our disposal to make more tests available and ramp up supply,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Adding two new authorized tests will give Americans more options for testing at home, which helps keep people safe and provides peace of mind.”

In late October, HHS announced the Administration would invest $70 million from the American Rescue Plan to help bring more high-quality, at-home tests onto the market in the U.S. in coordination with FDA. This new Independent Test Assessment Program (ITAP) is helping identify manufacturers of high-quality tests and encouraging them to bring those tests to the U.S. market, increasing options for people and overall supply and potentially lowering costs.

In this new program, NIH’s RADx Tech network of experts from government, academia, and industry work together with FDA, CDC and other HHS specialists to assess and conduct studies on over-the-counter tests. This coordinated effort allows companies to compile proper data, work towards the right benchmarks for performance, and support other needs that will help ensure they are providing the best submissions possible for FDA’s regulatory review. The goal is to accelerate the availability of more high-quality, accurate and reliable over-the-counter tests to the public as quickly as possible. The tests by Roche and Siemens are the first to gain FDA authorization through this program.

“This program is incredibly beneficial to increasing access to rapid tests by quickly and consistently gathering the critical data companies need to request EUA and subsequently enter the U.S. market once authorized,” said Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Knowing these tests have been independently assessed by NIH allows the FDA to act quickly on well-performed studies and trustworthy data that will lead to the availability of additional accurate and reliable tests at this critical time.”

“By rapidly conducting the precise studies recommended by the FDA, this program is shaving weeks to months off the typical EUA timeline,” said Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and RADx program lead.

This is part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to increasing access to COVID-19 testing. Last week, President Biden announced new actions to ensure Americans have access to free testing, including convenient, at-home tests. He committed to purchase half a billion at-home tests to be provided to Americans for free this winter, starting in January, and to stand up new federal testing sites across the country. Additionally, there are now 20,000 free testing sites across the U.S., four times as many at-home tests available to Americans than were available this summer, and free at-home tests are already being made available at key community sites, such as community health centers and rural clinics.

DoD Awards $136.7 Million Contract to MilliporeSigma to Establish Domestic Production Capacity of Critical Material Used in COVID-19 Point-of-Care Tests

Also, on Dec. 29, 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD), on behalf of and in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a $136.7 million contract to MilliporeSigma to establish nitrocellulose membrane production capacity in the United States.

Nitrocellulose membrane is a critical material used in manufacturing SARS-CoV-2 rapid point-of-care tests. This industrial base expansion effort will allow MilliporeSigma to establish a nitrocellulose manufacturing capability in its Sheboygan, Wisconsin facility to support more than 83.3 million tests per month for COVID-19 testing and future needs.

The DoD’s Defense Assisted Acquisition Cell (DA2) led this effort in coordination with the Department of the Air Force’s Acquisition COVID-19 Task Force (DAF ACT). This effort was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support domestic industrial base expansion for critical medical resources.

President Biden Announces New Actions to Protect Americans and Help Communities and Hospitals Battle Omicron

Among the new actions against the expected surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible, infectious Omicron variant President Biden is taking include expanding access to vaccinations and testing, spending $3 billion to make 500 million home tests available free, delivered through the mail, and stepping up plans to assist hospitals with personnel and equipment as needed. Getting vaccinated and boosted remains the best defense against hospitalization and death © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden is announcing new actions against the expected surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible, infectious Omicron variant. He is spending $3 billion to make 500 million home tests available free, delivered through the mail, opening up new testing and vaccination sites (already 90,000 locations), and stepping up plans to assist hospitals with personnel and equipment as needed. Here’s is what President Biden will announce in a speech today:

Today, President Biden will announce new actions to protect Americans and help communities and hospitals battle Omicron, building on the robust plan he announced earlier this month to get people maximum protection ahead of the winter and prepare for rising cases driven by the new variant.
 
We know how to protect people from severe illness, we have the tools needed to do it, and thanks to the President’s Winter Plan, we are ready: 73% of adult Americans are fully vaccinated—up from less than 1 percent before the President took office—and we are getting about 1 million booster shots in arms each day. Vaccines are free and readily available at 90,000 convenient locations. There is clear guidance on masking and other measures that help slow the spread of COVID-19. And, federal emergency medical teams are ready to respond to surges nationwide.
 
Our vaccines are the most powerful tools we have—they work to protect people from serious illness and death, and boosters provide people optimal protection. While cases among vaccinated individuals will likely increase due to the more transmissible Omicron, evidence to date is that their cases will most likely be mild. In contrast, unvaccinated individuals are at high risk of getting COVID-19, getting severely ill, and even dying. Today’s actions will mitigate the impact unvaccinated individuals have on our health care system, while increasing access to free testing and getting more shots in arms to keep people safe and our schools and economy open.
 
Today, President Biden will announce the following actions:
 
Increased Support for Hospitals: The President will take several steps to ensure states and health systems across the country have the personnel, beds, and supplies they need as they battle rising Omicron hospitalizations, mostly among the unvaccinated. Today’s steps build on the President’s Winter Plan, which made over 60 Winter COVID-19 emergency response team deployments available to states, and the COVID-19 Surge Response Teams the Administration mobilized over the summer and fall to fight the Delta surge.
 
Deploying Additional Medical Personnel

  • Mobilizing an Additional 1,000 Troops to Deploy to COVID-Burdened Hospitals: The President is directing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to ready an additional 1,000 service members—military doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical personnel—to deploy to hospitals during January and February, as needed.
     
  • Deploying Federal Medical Personnel Available to States Immediately: The President is announcing that six emergency response teams—with more than 100 clinical personnel and paramedics—are deploying to six states now: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire and Vermont. This is on top of the 300 federal medical personnel that we have deployed since we learned about Omicron.

 
Expanding Hospital Capacity 

  • Activating FEMA Response Teams to Help States and Hospitals Add Capacity Now: The President is directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to activate additional staffing and capacity for the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and FEMA regions, and to mobilize planning teams to work with every state and territory to assess hospital needs ahead of winter surges, and to start expanding hospital bed capacity now—with the federal government paying for all of it. The Administration is also pre-positioning the federal government’s own supplies and resources to help make more beds available.
     
  • Providing Ongoing Support to States to Help Hospitals Create and License More Beds: FEMA has already provided states hundreds of millions of dollars to expand hospital capacity. This includes two new medical surge facilities in Shreveport, Louisiana, added beds for COVID-19 patients in Baltimore, Maryland, and expanded intensive care units and emergency departments in Fresno, California.
     
  • Deploying Hundreds of Ambulances and Emergency Medical Teams to Transport Patients to Open Beds: To get ahead of surges, FEMA is ready to deploy hundreds of ambulances and emergency medical teams so that if one hospital fills up, they can transport patients to open beds in other facilities. Just this week, 30 paramedics are heading to New Hampshire, 30 to Vermont, and 20 to Arizona, and 30 ambulances are headed to New York and 8 to Maine. The Administration is also continuing to provide 100 percent federal reimbursement to states for all COVID-19 emergency response costs.

 
Providing Critical Supplies

  • Pre-Positioning Critical Supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile: Thanks to the President’s leadership, the U.S. government has hundreds of millions of N-95 masks, billions of gloves, tens of millions of gowns, and over 100,000 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile—all ready to ship out if and when states need them. The Administration has pre-positioned these supplies in strategic locations across the United States so that we can send them to states that need them immediately.
     
  • Deploying Ventilators to States: HHS continues to expedite the deployment of ventilators to states. Just last week, the Administration sent 330 ventilators to states like Indiana, Michigan, Maine, and New Hampshire, with more planned deliveries on the way to states that are facing strains and need them.

 
Robust Access to Free Testing: The President will announce new actions to ensure Americans have access to free testing, including convenient, at-home tests. Since January 2021, the Administration has already taken significant actions to increase testing. As a result, there are now 20,000 free testing sites across the U.S., four times as many at-home tests available to Americans than were available this summer, and at-home tests being made available at key community sites, such as community health centers and rural clinics. Today’s steps build on this progress and further increase the availability of free and convenient testing options.

  • Standing up New Federal Testing Sites: Today, the President is announcing that new federal testing sites will be stood up around the country, helping states that need additional testing capacity. The first will be stood up in New York City this week.
     
  • Distributing Free, Rapid Tests to Americans: Today, the President is announcing his Administration will purchase a half-billion at-home, rapid tests this winter to be distributed for free to Americans who want them, with the initial delivery starting in January 2022. The Administration will stand up a website where Americans can go to get at-home tests delivered to their home—for free.
     
  • Utilizing the Defense Production Act to Further Accelerate Production: The President is pledging to continue using the Defense Production Act (DPA) and other authorities to make sure the U.S. is producing as many tests as quickly as possible. Through the President’s aggressive actions this summer, including use of the DPA, the Administration has already quadrupled the monthly supply of at-home, rapid tests in the U.S. The Administration will continue to use the DPA to accelerate production; just in the last week, the Administration used DPA to ensure that two testing manufacturers have the raw materials and equipment they need to produce as many tests as they can—enabling one company to double its production of lab-based tests, and another to rapidly to scale up production of new over-the-counter and point-of-care tests.

 
Expanding Capacity to Get Shots in Arms: President Biden will announce additional steps to ensure people can get vaccinated and boosted and get their kids vaccinated easily this winter. Over the fall, the Administration has added 10,000 more vaccination sites across the country where Americans can get their shots. There are now 90,000 convenient locations nationwide, with many sites offering walk-in appointments and vaccinations for the whole family.

  • Standing Up New Pop-Up Vaccination Clinics: The President will announce that FEMA is standing up new pop-up vaccination clinics across the country. This includes a new mobile unit in Washington, and four new mobile units across New Mexico that are opening today. FEMA will help stand up additional sites in areas of high demand over the coming weeks.
     
  • Deploying Additional Vaccinators: To further increase capacity, the Biden Administration is deploying hundreds of federal vaccinators across 12 states, Tribes and territories. Together, these vaccinators will help enable thousands of additional appointments over the next few weeks.
     
  • Allowing Flexibility to Surge Pharmacy Teams: In response to strong demand for vaccinations in communities across the country, the Administration will cut red tape to help surge pharmacy teams to places where there is higher demand. To do so, HHS will issue an amendment to the PREP Act Declaration allowing flexibility for pharmacists and pharmacy interns to administer a wider set of vaccinations across state lines.
     
  • Continuing to Scale Pharmacy Capacity: Nationwide, pharmacies are adding appointments and capacity across their network. Pharmacy partners have taken steps to surge capacity, including by hiring tens of additional clinical and operational staff nationwide. And, pharmacies are opening up hundreds of new vaccination sites for kids in January.

Biden-Harris Administration Celebrates Expansion of Locally-Led Conservation Efforts in First Year of ‘America the Beautiful’ Initiative

New York State’s Adirondacks. Since President Biden announced the first-ever national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, states, Tribes, local governments, and private sector leaders across the country have advanced the effort, forging their own paths to conserve, connect, and restore more lands and waters. New York State lawmakers passed legislation setting a goal that would conserve at least 30 percent of the State’s land by 2030 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration issued a progress report highlighting land and water projects underway as the  nation pursues its first-ever National Conservation Goal:

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration issued its first annual progress report on the America the Beautiful initiative, highlighting steps the Administration has taken over the past year to support locally-led and voluntary efforts to conserve, connect, and restore lands and waters across the nation that sustain the health of our communities, power local economies, and help combat climate change.

Released by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the report outlines the collective work to pursue the first-ever national conservation goal established by a President – a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The federal actions and activities described in the progress report align with the America the Beautiful initiative’s guiding principles, which include commitments to honor the nation’s conservation traditions, private property rights, the sovereignty of Tribal Nations, and the values and priorities of local communities.

In particular, the report centers on work that federal agencies are undertaking around six areas of focus: creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities; building connectivity and corridors for fish and wildlife; supporting Tribally-led conservation and restoration; increasing access for outdoor recreation; incentivizing voluntary conservation; creating jobs and growing local economies; and deploying nature to increase climate resilience and remove carbon from the atmosphere. The report also includes a brief review of land-cover changes and the status of fish and wildlife habitats and populations.

The report also reviews steps the Administration took this year to restore protections for important natural and cultural resources; to deepen partnerships and leverage resources with Tribes, states, private landowners, and other stakeholders; to restore science and incorporate Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge into decision-making; and to take an inclusive and collaborative approach to the stewardship of the land and water resources that sustain the nation’s communities and economies. 

Notably, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a major boost to the America the Beautiful initiative. The new law provides the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history and will help communities be more prepared for drought and wildfire; address the legacy of pollution from orphan wells and abandoned mines; invest in clean drinking water; fund watershed rehabilitation and flood prevention projects; and improve coastal resilience efforts.

ADDITIONAL AGENCY ACTION

In addition to the progress report, the Biden-Harris Administration is also announcing today several steps to ensure that the America the Beautiful initiative is both guided by and reflective of the priorities, needs, and inputs of local communities, Tribes, States, landowners, hunters and fishers, and other important stakeholders. These steps are:

  • Gathering Public Input on the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas. As initially described in the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful May 2021 report, the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas will be a tool to provide a more accessible and comprehensive picture of conservation and restoration work nationwide. The co-lead agencies are initiating a formal comment period to collect input specific to the development of the Atlas, recognizing that many uses of lands and waters can be consistent with the long-term health of natural systems and contribute to addressing climate change and environmental injustices. This period will include a 60-day public comment period and public listening sessions in the first quarter of 2022.  More details will be available in the coming weeks in the Federal Register and on federal agencies’ America the Beautiful webpages.
     
  • Engaging the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will re-engage an advisory council that will provide recommendations to the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to help advance wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing. This effort builds on the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Conservation Council, first established in 2010. This contemporary group of subject matter experts will focus on policies that benefit wildlife resources; encourage partnership among the public, sporting conservation organizations, and Federal, State, Tribal, and territorial governments; and benefit fair chase recreational hunting and safe recreational shooting sports. Information on how to submit formal nominations for the advisory council will be forthcoming.
     
  • Improving the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). USDA is improving CREP to bring in new partners who will work with producers on voluntary conservation practices and ultimately increase benefits for the nation’s agricultural producers and private landowners. The Conservation Reserve Program enables the USDA Farm Service Agency and partners to invest in partner-led projects. In direct response to feedback from State agencies, Tribes, non-profit organizations and other groups, USDA has updated matching fund requirements to include any desired combination of cash, in-kind contributions, or technical assistance; expanded its outreach efforts; and expanded the CREP team to increase capacity to work directly with existing and potential new partners. This effort is in line with the America the Beautiful initiative’s focus on incentivizing and rewarding voluntary conservation on private lands. 
     
  • Establishing the Marine and Coastal Area-Based Management Federal Advisory Committee. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will establish an advisory committee that will provide advice to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator) on science-based approaches to area-based protection, conservation, restoration, and management in marine and coastal areas, including the Great Lakes. The committee would be composed of representatives of diverse interests and perspectives, providing a forum for discussion and advice on opportunities to advance key priorities through NOAA programs and authorities: conservation of biodiversity, climate resilience, and expanding access to nature for underserved communities. Information on how to submit formal nominations for the advisory committee will be forthcoming.
     
  • Investing in Coastal Wetlands Restoration. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will award more than $20 million to support 25 projects in 13 coastal states to protect, restore, or enhance more than 61,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. State, local and Tribal governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute more than $17.6 million in additional funds to these projects. These grants will have wide-reaching benefits for local economies, people, and wildlife – boosting coastal resilience, reducing flood risk, stabilizing shorelines and protecting natural ecosystems. 

 
CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP BY STATES, TRIBES, AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Since President Biden announced the first-ever national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, states, Tribes, local governments, and private sector leaders across the country have advanced the effort, forging their own paths to conserve, connect, and restore more lands and waters. More than 50 Tribal leaders and organizations and hundreds of locally elected officials across the country have expressed support for the national conservation goal, recommendations, and guiding principles of the America the Beautiful initiative. 

Many Governors are pursuing their own related goals and efforts in alignment with the America the Beautiful initiative. These efforts will support local economies, communities, and wildlife populations and habitats. Activities of note this year include:  

  • California: The State convened advisory panels and held listening sessions over the course of 2021 to inform its draft plan and mapping tool in support of the Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030. 
  • Florida: In July 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, allocating $300 million to conserve interconnected natural areas in the state. This act aligns with the America the Beautiful early focus areas, specifically collaborative conservation to expand fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
  • Hawaii: The Division of Aquatic Resources continued developing its strategy for management of nearshore resources, consistent with its 2016 commitment, and the State also worked to support its ongoing 30×30 Watershed Forest Initiative over the past year. 
  • Illinois: Lawmakers established the bipartisan Illinois 30×30 Conservation Task Force in 2021 to host listening sessions statewide. 
  • Maine: Governor Janet Mills included a proposal in the state’s Climate Action Plan to conserve at least 30 percent of Maine’s lands by 2030. 
  • Michigan: Lawmakers introduced a bipartisan resolution urging a statewide goal of conserving at least 30 percent of land and water as part of the nationwide effort. 
  • Nevada: Lawmakers became the first in the nation to pass a resolution supporting the national conservation goal and urging State and local agencies to work cooperatively. 
  • New Mexico: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order establishing a statewide goal of protecting 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030. 
  • New York: Lawmakers passed State legislation setting a goal that would conserve at least 30 percent of the State’s land by 2030.

Leaders in the private sector also recognize that thriving ecosystems support successful businesses and communities and that world class natural areas can coexist alongside economic growth. For example, 342 organizations and businesses have already formally voiced their support for the President’s national conservation goal.

FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan

The Biden-Harris-Administration released an EV Charging Action Plan outlining steps federal agencies are taking to support developing and deploying chargers in American communities across the countryAs a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Transportation (DOT) will establish a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation focused on deploying EV infrastructure, working hand-in-hand to collect input and guidance from industry leaders, manufacturers, workers, and other stakeholders that will ensure the national network provides convenient charging for all. The initial focus will be building a convenient, reliable public charging network that can build public confidence, with a focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Kamala Harris announced an action plan to fast track Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, including this Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan. Here is a fact sheet provided by the White House:

President Biden has united automakers and autoworkers to drive American leadership forward on clean cars, and he set an ambitious target of 50% of electric vehicle (EV) sale shares in the U.S. by 2030. Now, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will supercharge America’s efforts to lead the electric future, Building a Better America where we can strengthen domestic supply chains, outcompete the world, and make electric cars cheaper for working families.
 
President Biden, American families, automakers, and autoworkers agree: the future of transportation is electric. The electric car future is cleaner, more equitable, more affordable, and an economic opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs across American supply chains as automakers continue investing in manufacturing clean vehicles and the batteries that power them.
 
The Biden-Harris-Administration released an EV Charging Action Plan to outline steps federal agencies are taking to support developing and deploying chargers in American communities across the country. As a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Transportation (DOT) will establish a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation focused on deploying EV infrastructure, working hand-in-hand to collect input and guidance from industry leaders, manufacturers, workers, and other stakeholders that will ensure the national network provides convenient charging for all. The initial focus will be building a convenient, reliable public charging network that can build public confidence, with a focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations.
 
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the most transformative investment in electric vehicle charging in U.S. history that will put us on the path to a convenient and equitable network of 500,000 chargers and make EVs accessible to all Americas for both local and long-distance trips. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $5 billion in formula funding for states with a goal to build a national charging network. 10% is set-aside each year for the Secretary to provide grants to States to help fill gaps in the network. The Law also provides $2.5 billion for communities and corridors through a competitive grant program that will support innovative approaches and ensure that charger deployment meets Administration priorities such as supporting rural charging, improving local air quality and increasing EV charging access in disadvantaged communities. Together, this is the largest-ever U.S. investment in EV charging and will be a transformative down payment on the transition to a zero-emission future.
 
With the historic investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration is laying the foundation for a nationwide network of EV charging infrastructure to provide a reliable, affordable, convenient, seamless user experience that is equitable and accessible for all Americans. This network will enable:

  • An accelerated adoption of electric vehicles for all private consumers and commercial fleets, including those who cannot reliably charge at their home that can improve our air quality, reduce emissions, put us on a path to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, and position U.S. industries to lead global efforts.
  • Targeted equity benefits for disadvantaged communities, reducing mobility and energy burdens while also creating jobs and supporting businesses.
  • Create family-sustaining union jobs that can’t be outsourced.

 
 Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
 
The Biden-Harris Administration announced the following actions:

  • Establishing a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Tomorrow, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will sign an agreement enabling them to leverage the best resources, talent, and experience at the DOT and the DOE, including the DOE’s National Labs. The Joint Office will ensure the agencies can work together to implement the EV charging network and other electrification provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This will provide states, communities, industry, labor, and consumer groups with a coordinated Federal approach and a “one-stop-shop” for resources on EV Charging and related topics. The agencies will complete a Memorandum of Understanding on December 14th to formally launch the Joint Office.
     
  • Gathering Diverse Stakeholder Input: The White House is convening a series of initial stakeholder meetings on topics including partnerships with state and local government, domestic manufacturing, equity and environmental justice, civil rights, partnering with tribal communities, and maximizing environmental benefits. DOT and DOE will also launch a new Advisory Committee on Electric Vehicles and is targeting to appoint members to this committee by the end of the first quarter of 2022. DOT released an updated guide to deploying EV Charging in highway right-of-way in response to stakeholder interest. To gather input from the widest possible array of stakeholders, DOT has a new EV Charging Request for Information, where stakeholders can submit their priorities for Federal standards and guidance for consideration.
     
  • Preparing to Issue Guidance and Standards for States and Cities: The Administration is already hard at work developing the guidance and standards described in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. No later than February 11th, DOT will publish guidance for States and cities to strategically deploy EV charging stations to build out a national network along our nation’s highway system.  This guidance will look at where we already have EV charging and where we need—or will need—more of it.  It will focus on the needs of disadvantaged and rural communities, catalyze further private investment in EV charging, and ensure we’re smartly connecting to our electric grid. No later than May 13th, DOT will publish standards for EV chargers in the national network to ensure they work, they’re safe, and they’re accessible to everyone.
     
  • Requesting Information from Domestic Manufacturers: EV charger manufacturing, assembly, installation, and maintenance all have the potential to not only support our sustainability and climate goals, but also to drive domestic competitiveness and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States. To ensure this network of EV chargers can be built in America, by America, DOT and DOE are working directly with manufacturers, automakers and labor to understand what domestic sourcing is available today, and what may be possible in the future.  In November, DOT and DOE  released a request for information from domestic manufacturers to identify EV chargers and other charging related components that meet USDOT Buy America requirements and to highlight the benefits of shifting all manufacturing and assembly processes to the United States.
     
  • New Solicitation for Alternative Fuel Corridors: Today, the DOT is announcing a forthcoming solicitation for the 6th round of Alternative Fuel Corridors designations. This program, created by the FAST Act in 2015, recognizes highway segments that have infrastructure plans to allow travel on alternative fuels, including electricity. FHWA will establish a recurring process to regularly update these corridors.

The current network of over 100,000 public chargers operates with different plug types, payment options, data availability, and hardware hookups. Today’s actions will establish a more uniform approach, provide greater convenience for customers, and offer increased confidence for industry.  These federal programs will spur additional private sector investments and drive the build-out of a user-friendly, cost-effective, and financially sustainable national network creating well-paying jobs across manufacturing, installation, and operation. A ubiquitous charging infrastructure targeted to meet different consumers’ needs will provide equitable benefits to all Americans and provide flexibility for future investments, effective integration with a clean power system, and support a growing and diversifying fleet of electrified vehicles.
 
 Electric Vehicle Batteries
 
Another key component of our electric vehicle strategy is to increase domestic manufacturing of EV batteries and components and advance environmentally responsible domestic sourcing and recycling of critical minerals.
 
In June, the Biden-Harris Administration released 100-day reviews of the supply chains of four critical products, including high-capacity batteries and critical minerals and materials. The reviews made dozens of recommendations across Federal agencies securing a reliable and sustainable end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries. These recommendations include supporting sustainable and responsible domestic mining and processing of key battery minerals, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, and ensuring new domestic automotive battery production adheres to high-road labor standards.
 

  • The Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries released the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, codifying the findings of the battery supply chain review in a 10-year, whole-of-government plan to urgently develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America.
     
  • The DOE Loan Programs Office (LPO) published new guidance and a fact sheet for the approximately $17 billion in loan authority in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) to support the domestic battery supply chain. LPO will leverage full statutory authority to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity. This will include the ATVM program making loans to manufacturers of advanced technology vehicle battery cells and packs for re-equipping, expanding or establishing such manufacturing facilities in the United States.
     
  • DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) launched a new effort to support deployment of energy storage projects by federal agencies, including a federal government-wide energy storage review that will evaluate the current opportunity for deploying battery storage at federal sites and a call for projects from federal sites interested in deploying energy storage projects. These actions build on steps taken earlier this year to leverage $13 million in FEMP’s Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies grants to unlock an estimated $260 million or more in project investments, including battery storage projects.

There are already promising signs that the Administration strategy is working and industry is ready to step up. For example, Lithium is a critical input to batteries where the United States currently has very little domestic supply. The Biden Administration has funded two dozen teams to expand sourcing of lithium from geothermal brines and approved a permit for the Nevada-based Thacker Pass lithium mine. Automakers area also signing contracts that leverage domestic supply, including Ford sourcing lithium from recycled content through Redwood Materials, GM sourcing lithium from geothermal brines in the Salton Sea with Controlled Thermal Resources, and Tesla sourcing lithium from a Piedmont project in North Carolina.
 
The investments proposed by the Biden Administration will accelerate and amplify this progress. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes more than $7 billion in funding to accelerate innovations and facilities across the battery supply chain from battery materials refining, processing and manufacturing to battery manufacturing, including components, to battery recycling and reuse. These investments will support the development of a North American battery supply chain, help expand manufacturing and recycling facilities in the United States and substantially advance the battery recycling through research, development and demonstration projects in collaboration with retailers as well as state and local governments.
 
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes:

  • $3 billion in competitive grants for battery minerals and refined materials aimed at accelerating the development of the North American battery supply chain.
  • An additional $3 billion for competitive grants aimed at building, retooling, or expanding manufacturing of batteries and battery components (such as cathodes, anodes, and electrolytes), and to establish recycling facilities in the United States.
  • Recognizing the need for innovative and practical approaches to battery and critical mineral recycling, the act includes research, development, and demonstration recycling projects ($60 million) and efforts in cooperation with retailers ($15 million) and state and local governments ($50 million) to increase the collection of spent batteries for reuse, recycling or proper disposal. The electric drive vehicle battery recycling and second-life applications program ($200 million) is focused on making electric vehicles batteries (e.g., optimized designs) easier to recycle and utilize in secondary applications before recycling.

An additional $750 million “Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program” to re-equip, expand or establish an industrial or manufacturing facility to reduce GHG emissions of that facility substantially below current best practices.

White House Reacts to Joe Manchin’s Betrayal of Pledge to Support Build Back Better

President Joe Biden speaking last May on his optimism that Build Back Better (the American Families Plan) was back on track. Despite months of negotiations and compromises to get Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) support, he suddenly announced he would vote “no,” upending Biden’s agenda and likely torpedoing Democrats’ ability to retain control of Congress in the 2022 midterms © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued this statement following Senator Joe Manchin’s surprising reversal in declaring he would vote “no” on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, despite assurances given to Progressives when they agreed to de-couple the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill from the budget reconciliation framework to provide universal pre-K, child care and elder care, affordable prescription drugs, and mitigate climate change. Manchin has strung along the President and Democrats for months. Here is her statement:

Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework “in good faith.”

On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.

Senator Manchin claims that this change of position is related to inflation, but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better—the Penn Wharton Budget Institute—issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures. Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better.

Build Back Better lowers costs that families pay. It will reduce what families pay for child care. It will reduce what they pay for prescription drugs. It will lower health care premiums. And it puts a tax cut in the pockets of families with kids. If someone is concerned about the impact that higher prices are having on families, this bill gives them a break.

Senator Manchin cited deficit concerns in his statement. But the plan is fully paid for, is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run. The Congressional Budget Office report that the Senator cites analyzed an unfunded extension of Build Back Better. That’s not what the President has proposed, not the bill the Senate would vote on, and not what the President would support. Senator Manchin knows that: The President has told him that repeatedly, including this week, face to face.

Likewise, Senator Manchin’s statement about the climate provisions in Build Back Better are wrong. Build Back Better will produce a job-creating clean energy future for this country—including West Virginia.

Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.

In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need. Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone—we cannot.

We are proud of what we have gotten done in 2021: the American Rescue Plan, the fastest decrease in unemployment in U.S. history, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, over 200 million Americans vaccinated, schools reopened, the fastest rollout of vaccines to children anywhere in the world, and historic appointments to the Federal judiciary.

But we will not relent in the fight to help Americans with their child care, health care, prescription drug costs, and elder care—and to combat climate change. The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year.

Biden Signs Executive Order to Improve Customer Experience and Service Delivery for the American People: Here’s What That Means

Breezy Point,New York, in aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The 25 million individuals, families, and small businesses who live through a Federally recognized natural disaster each year will benefit from  President Biden’s executive order to expedite delivery of services © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden signed an Executive Order directing his administration to improve the “customer experience and service delivery” to the American people, building in accountability and transparency “into everything we do and that we’re good stewards of taxpayers dollars. “We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and can deliver for our people,” he stated.

Biden’s executive order is intended to promote fiscal stewardship by improving the Government’s delivery of services to the American people. The Executive Order directs 17 federal agencies to take more than 30 actions that aim to improve people’s lives and make it easier and simpler to access government services and benefits. 

Under the Executive Order, retirees will be able to claim their Social Security benefits online more easily; Medicare recipients will receive personalized online tools so they can save money on drugs, manage their health care, and access expanded customer support options;  taxpayers will be able to save time by having the option to schedule customer support callbacks; travelers will be able to renew their passports securely online; and more.

“These efforts are part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to rebuild trust in government and put people at the center of everything the government does.”

Here is a fact sheet from the White House spelling out how services will be improved:

The Federal Government interacts with millions of people each day and provides vital services during some of the most critical moments in people’s lives. Whether searching for vaccine safety information, claiming retirement benefits, receiving health insurance, passing through a security checkpoint, or checking the status of a farm loan application, Americans expect Government services to be responsive to their needs. But too often, people have to navigate a tangled web of Government websites, offices, and phone numbers to access the services they depend on. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring an effective, equitable, and accountable Government that meets the needs of its people.
 
Today, the President is taking decisive action to promote fiscal stewardship by improving the Government’s service delivery to its customers, the American people. The President will sign an Executive Order, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, directing that Government leaders account for the experiences of the public in seeking Government services. The President is making sure we’re building accountability and transparency into everything we do and that we’re good stewards of taxpayer dollars. As the President has said: “We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and can deliver for our people.”
 
The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to put people at the center of everything the Government does. Specifically, the Executive Order includes 36 customer experience (CX) improvement commitments across 17 Federal agencies, all of which aim to improve people’s lives and the delivery of Government services. The Executive Order also creates a sustained, cross-government service delivery process that aligns to the moments that matter most in people’s lives – like turning 65, having a child, or applying for a small business loan. As part of this framework, the Administration will work to identify and define critical services that meet customers’ needs and expectations, assess performance delivery and report it publicly, incorporate customer feedback during each interaction, and ultimately ensure services deliver a better experience to the public. Every interaction between the Government and the public, whether it involves filing taxes or renewing a passport, is an opportunity to deliver the value, service, and efficiency that the public expects and deserves.
 
The Government has designated 35 High-Impact Service Providers in Federal agencies as key service providers due to the volume and types of benefits, services, and programs they deliver to the public. As part of this Executive Order, agencies commit to putting their customers at the center of everything they do. These actions include modernizing programs, reducing administrative burdens, and piloting new online tools and technologies that can provide a simple, seamless, and secure customer experience. The types of high-quality interactions the American people should expect to have with their Government, and that the Executive Order addresses, include:
 

RETIRING

 
For the 54.1 million Americans who are over the age of 65, and the nearly 4 million Americans who become eligible for Social Security benefits each year, who manage their retirement and health care benefits:

  • Retirees will be able to claim their benefits online, receiving updates on the status of their application throughout the process.
  • Medicare recipients will receive personalized online tools so they can save money on drugs, manage their health care, access expanded customer support options (including an in-network pharmacy finder tool), and enjoy a streamlined enrollment experience with the Social Security Administration.

FILING AND MANAGING YOUR TAXES

 
For the 240 million individuals and businesses who file tax returns each year and the 167 million people who call the IRS for help: 

  • Filers will save time by having the option to schedule customer support call-backs.
  • Filers will be provided with new online tools and services to ease the payment of taxes, which may include automatic direct deposit refunds based on prior year tax returns, tax credit eligibility tools, and expanded electronic filing options.

SURVIVING A DISASTER

 
For the 25 million individuals, families, and small businesses who live through a Federally recognized natural disaster each year:

  • After a disaster, more survivors will be able to focus on helping their families, businesses, and communities because of streamlined assistance processes, rather than having to navigate a complex Government bureaucracy to get the help they need. Disaster survivors will no longer need to navigate multiple assistance forms across multiple agencies to get the help they need, saving time and energy to allow them to focus on their recovery and well-being. Survivors will have access to more flexible mechanisms to provide supporting documentation, such as virtual inspections and submitting photos of disaster damage from a mobile phone.

TRAVELING

 
For the more than 2 million daily passengers who travel through U.S. airports each year:

  • Americans will be able to renew their passports securely online, saving time from having to wait and the effort and cost required to print, go to a post office, and use a paper check. This new online process will be done with safety and security.
  • Passengers will have shorter security and check-in lines at airports due to increased use of technologies, like new security machines and computers with advanced screening features that streamline these processes.
  • Passengers with urgent, time-sensitive questions or concerns will find it easier to connect with and get help from the Transportation Security Administration through additional channels of communication.

FINANCING POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

 
For the 1 in 6 Americans, or approximately 45 million people, who are managing their student loans:

  • Direct Loan borrowers will need to navigate only a single repayment portal on StudentAid.gov, so that they can apply for, manage, and repay their loans without having to visit multiple websites and manage multiple sets of credentials for different aspects of their student loans.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness candidates, including civil servants and active-duty service members, will be able to apply for the program with less paperwork than currently and without having to fill out forms with information they have already provided to the Federal government previously.
  • Students and borrowers can receive relevant recommendations for other benefits and services they may qualify for, like health care subsidies, broadband support, and food assistance, in order to connect them with support to lower additional economic barriers to post-secondary education completion.

MANAGING VA HEALTH CARE AND BENEFITS

 
For the 200,000 service members who transition to civilian life each year and the more than 18 million Veterans across the United States:

  • Service members and veterans will be able to use Login.gov accounts to access VA.gov and its information about the health care and benefits they’ve earned, and outdated and duplicate VA.gov sign-in options will be removed across VA websites and mobile apps.
  • Veterans and beneficiaries, and their caregivers or other designated representatives, will be able to access digital services through a single, integrated, and fully inclusive digital platform on VA.gov and a flagship VA mobile application so that VA’s customers don’t have to use separate portals, websites, or mobile applications when managing their health care and benefits online.

REDUCING BARRIERS FOR THOSE EXPERIENCING POVERTY

 
For the tens of millions of Americans who rely on critical safety net programs:

  • Low-income families can more easily enroll in Federal benefits and recertify their income status more easily across programs using direct certification, a process that automatically certifies income-eligible individuals without extra paperwork, instead of managing multiple, complicated processes that waste time and cause frustration.
  • Those navigating across multiple programs can expect a “no-wrong door” approach – interacting with one Federal program can help get them connected with other benefits and streamline enrollment for which they are eligible.

FINANCING YOUR BUSINESS

 
For the more than 30 million small business owners who may seek credit to grow their businesses and the 90% of U.S. farms that are small and family-owned:

  • Small business owners will be able to submit applications knowing that they will receive prompt and consistent service, such as reduced call center wait times, across Small Business Administration programs, including loans, grants, and certifications, because the agency will measure these experiences.
  • Farmers will be able to quickly and easily apply for loans from the Department of Agriculture with the support of digital tools, saving time, reducing unnecessary paperwork, and avoiding unnecessary trips to a county office.

SUPPORTING WOMEN, INFANTS, AND CHILDREN

 
For women seeking maternal health care and nutrition access in the critical early years of children’s lives:

  • More patients will be able to get more automated access to their electronic prenatal, birth, and postpartum health records (including lab results, genetic tests, ultrasound images, and clinical notes) to improve their experience and support better care coordination.
  • For the women who deliver 43% of all births in the United States each year covered by Medicaid, patients will have access to safer and more equitable care because of strengthened requirements for maternal health quality measurement, including perinatal quality and patient care experience, and measures will be evaluated by race and ethnicity to better identify and address inequities in maternal health care delivery and outcomes.
  • 7 million women and their children, including half of all infants born in the United States who are eligible for benefits through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), will be able to grocery shop online, providing an alternative way to access healthy foods for their families.

MANAGING YOUR HEALTH

 
All Americans should be able to access the vital health services they need at the time that they need them. Under this Executive Order:

  • Patients will have increased ability to use telehealth with their doctors, connecting rural Americans, individuals with disabilities, or individuals seeking the convenience of remote options with the health care they need.

UPDATING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION ONCE

 
For the more than 30 million people who move each year, and approximately 2 million people who change their names each year:

  • Individuals who move their residences can update their addresses one time with the Federal Government and choose which other Federal or State entities they would like that information shared with.
  • Individuals seeking to change their names will be able to do so without having to appear in person at a Social Security Administration office, provide a wet signature, and submit original documents.

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS

  • USA.gov will be redesigned as a centralized and streamlined “digital Federal front door” so the public can get access to all Government benefits, services, and programs in just 1 to 3 clicks, taps, or commands from the USA.gov homepage, without navigating duplicate and outdated Federal websites. That home page will feature a new user experience based on the key life events, moments that matter most, and top tasks that Americans experience throughout their lives when interacting with Government.
  • Tribal communities will be able to expect more streamlined and integrated grants application processes, rather than having to provide information over and over again to the Federal government and navigate across multiple agency websites.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service will provide more of their service transactions online, including for special use permits for National Wildlife Refuge System locations and several high-volume application forms required for individuals and businesses that import, export, or re-export animals, plant, and their products internationally. These transactions currently can take weeks or even months to process, and can require multiple paper forms to be mailed.

 
This Executive Order is a continuation of the launch of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) Vision, which prioritizes delivering excellent, equitable, and secure Federal services and customer experience. The PMA recognizes that improving the delivery, efficiency, security, and effectiveness of Government programs will advance equity, enhance people’s everyday interactions with public services, and provide greater opportunities for those who need it the most.
 
The Government’s primary mission is to serve. By placing people at the center of everything we do, the Government will be able to deliver timely, modern, and secure services to you – the people. We will rebuild trust in our Government, ensure no one is left behind, and inspire others to join us in serving future generations of Americans.

White House Memo: How Biden Administration is working to Relieve Inflation Pressures on American Families

President Biden’s Build Back Better investment in EV charging stations will go far to help relieve pressure of gas prices at the pump, while installing the stations will provide jobs © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This is a memo from Kate Bedingfield, White House Communications Director, on what President Biden and his administration is doing to relieve inflation pressure hitting America’s families and why, though a President has limited tools to push back against inflation, his Build Back Better agenda, which would relieve cost-pressure of health care, child and elder care, prescription drug costs, and even gasoline prices by moving toward a clean, renewable energy economy, would be just the prescription needed now:

President Biden grew up in Scranton around a kitchen table just like the ones all over this country. He knows that any increase in prices can squeeze a family’s budget. No family should ever have to feel like they face a choice between paying their bills to keep the lights on or putting food on the table for their families.

Price increases have been a real challenge here at home and around the world as we exit this once-in-a-pandemic and as the economy reboots from a historic shutdown. Even as we see signs that our economic recovery is making process, addressing high prices are the President’s top priority. That’s why this summer, the President began highlighting the cost cutting benefits of the Build Back Better Act.

The memo below outlines where we are in our recovery, what the President is doing in the short- and long-term to address price increases, and the opposition that Congressional Republicans are presenting.

STATE OF PLAY

Since taking office at the time of the worst global economic crisis in decades, President Biden has made beating the pandemic and building a strong economic recovery his top priority. There are two indicators that signal the state of play with the progress of our recovery: jobs and prices.

This past week, we got additional proof that our jobs recovery is on track, setting records, and outpacing other countries. Unemployment insurance claims fell to their lowest level in 50 years. Nearly six million Americas are back to work. And, Americans have more money in their pockets than this time last year — $100 more each month than last year.

But even as America’s economic growth is stronger than virtually any other nation, the President believes that we have to decrease prices for consumer to feel confident in our recovery. While we are starting to see prices decrease and supply chain blockages ease, we know that higher prices are top-of-mind for Americans – and that’s why the President is laser-focused on taking action.

SWIFT ACTION & PROGRESS TO DATE

President Biden is taking swift and decisive action to combat high prices, ease inflationary pressures, and make sure America’s families can put food on the table. In recent weeks and days, President Biden has:

Address Supply Chain Challenges: President Biden is bringing together public and private partners to ease bottlenecks at America’s ports – making sure we can move goods from ship to shelf faster and lower the costs of goods. The President announced that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are operating 24/7, the Department of Transportation provided $8 million to the Port of Savannah to set up container yards in Georgia and North Carolina, freeing up dock space and speeding up the flow of goods in and out of the port; and yesterday DOT awarded $12.6 million to marine highway projects to help move agricultural goods to market faster.

As a result of the President’s aggressive action, new data yesterday confirms the cost of shipping a container between Asia and the West Coast is more than 25 percent lower than it was three months ago. And this holiday season, America’s major retailers and small businesses – including Target, Walmart, and Esty – have said their shelves will be stocked.

And, as a result of the work of the Biden Administration’s effort to ensure U.S. auto companies received fair allocation of the global supply of chips and to minimize pandemic-related disruptions to semiconductor production in SE Asia, companies like Ford and GM have hailed progress and said they expect car supply will increase. 

Tackling Gas Prices: President Biden sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expressing concern around oil and gas companies manipulating the marketing and asking the commission to examine any anti-competitive or illegal conduct. He also announced the largest-ever release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve with other nations, helping bring down gas prices in the near-term.

Since the President raised the prospect of taking action to address energy prices, oil prices are down 10% on average over the last month versus the month before. Retail gas prices are down 7 cents over the last month and whole sale gas prices are down by 15% from their October peak. Pump prices in 20 states are now lower than the 20 year average, adjusted for inflation. Natural gas prices have fallen 25% from their November average.

Encouraged Competition: President Biden issued an executive order to lower prices for American consumers by increasing competition in various industries. Just a few examples of the President’s executive actions on competition include: investing in smaller meat processors to give farmers and ranchers more affordable options, lowering the cost of hearing aids by making them more accessible, and lowering the cost of broadband.

The meat price increases we are seeing are not just the natural consequences of supply and demand in a free market — they are also the result of corporate decisions that take advantage of consumers, farmers and ranchers, and our economy. Gross profit margins for big meat processors are up 50% and net margins are up over 300%. That’s why the President is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to create more competition in meat-processing and over a billion dollars in relief to small businesses and agricultural workers hurt by COVID. Just yesterday, USDA announced investments in small meat processors to give producers more options, help bring competition to the meat-processing industry, and close vulnerabilities in the food supply chain.

THE NEXT STEP: BUILD BACK BETTER

There is more work to do in order to lower prices for American families and maintain a strong economic recovery for years to come.

The average American family spends 60% of their monthly income on health care, housing, child care, and transportation. These are costs that have held back too many American families for too long. If you are concerned about costs facing American families, passing BBB is the most immediate and direct step we can take to deliver. 

Three key pieces of the Build Back Better Act that will cut costs for America’s families:

Lower Health Care & Prescription Drug Costs: This isn’t a partisan issue: outrageous drug prices affect everyone across the board, spanning every kind of condition and disease. BBB will cap insulin costs, expand health care coverage, extend ACA tax credits, empower Medicare to negotiate down costs, limit seniors’ expenses, and hold drug companies accountable.

Lower Child Care Costs: Preschool and child care are prohibitively expensive for middle class families. BBB delivers two years of free preschool and affordable child care in the setting of a parent’s choice, enabling more middle class families to work and succeed in our economy while educating the next generation – so other countries don’t out-educate and out-compete us.

Lower Elder Care Costs: Caring for older loved ones is costing working families and preventing them from fully participating in our workforce and economy. BBB expands access through Medicaid to high-quality, affordable care for older Americans and people with disabilities in their homes – while supporting the workers who care for them.

And, the Build Back Better Act will also cut other costs American families also struggle with – from high housing costs to the costs of climate change impacts.

THE ALTERNATIVE

Congressional Republicans are unified in their opposition to the President’s plans to address price increases.

As President Biden works in tandem with Congress to lower costs for consumers, ease inflationary pressures, and strengthen our economic recovery, Congressional Republicans have no plan to address any of the issues that working families are grappling with right now. Instead of working with the President to fight inflation, Republicans are playing politics with higher prices – one leading Republican even called it a political ‘gold mine’ for them.

The plan Congressional Democrats are supporting:

  • Lowering prices and costs for the American people as the economy recovers from a global pandemic.
  • Extending tax cuts for working families that put money in pockets.
  • Easing inflationary pressures on the economy, as affirmed by 17 Nobel Prize winners in economics.

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have no plan to lower prices for working families. Congressional Republicans are only focused on:

  • Fighting against common sense measures to put the pandemic in retreat.
  • Voting against lowering core costs for Americans – prescription drugs, child care, elder care, and housing.
  • Standing united against easing inflationary pressures.

The historic Build Back Better Act will cut costs that American families have struggled with for years. The President and Congressional Democrats are actively working to lower prices and costs for the American people. On the other hand, Republican Members of Congress have no plan, while supporting raising taxes and increasing the biggest costs families deal with.