Category Archives: Biden Administration

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Lower Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs by Promoting Competition

While the dictator wannabe Donald Trump promises to tear up the Constitution, weaponize the judiciary, persecute political opponents, imprison the media and repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – and monopolizing headlines doing it as he propagandizes over his 91 indictments – President Biden is working feverishly and accomplishing landmark programs  to improve lives of Americans. Here is a fact sheet on the Biden-Harris Administration’s new actions to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs by promoting competition. – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Among the actions the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to lower healthcare and drug costs, are new regulations improving transparency of hospital charges © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden believes that health care should be a right, not a privilege. For too long, corporate special interests and trickle-down economics have allowed Big Pharma to make record profits, while millions of Americans struggle to afford health care and prescription drugs to treat common and chronic conditions. As part of the President’s Bidenomics agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration is cracking down on price gouging and taking on special interests to lower costs for consumers and ensure every American has access to high-quality, affordable health care.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to promote competition in health care and support lowering prescription drug costs for American families, including the release of a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of march-in rights on taxpayer-funded drugs and other inventions, which specifies that price can be a factor in considering whether a drug is accessible to the public. The Administration believes taxpayer-funded medications should be reasonably available and affordable. These actions build on the steps the Administration has already taken to lower health care costs, including capping the cost of insulin at $35 per product per month for seniors, finally allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, requiring drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices faster than inflation, and locking in $800 per year in health insurance savings for 15 million Americans under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

Currently the 25 largest pharmaceutical companies control around 70% of industry revenues. Other parts of the health care industry also face limited competition. Over 75% of Americans live in highly concentrated hospital markets, and just three or fewer issuers of individual health insurance control 80% of the market in 44 states.  In addition, five insurers control over 70% of the Medicare Advantage market.  This consolidation contributes to higher costs for taxpayers, lower wages for health care workers, and worse quality of care for patients.
 
New research released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that a lack of competition in drug markets is highly correlated with higher prices. Among the highest priced drugs (i.e., those in the top 10% of price per prescription), 89% of small molecule drugs and 100% of biological products had only one manufacturer. Meanwhile, nearly three in ten individuals struggle to pay for the drugs they need.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new action to support lowering prescription drug costs and increase Americans’ access to life-saving medications:

  • Promoting equitable access to lower-priced taxpayer-funded drugs. Taxpayers have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on research catalyzing the discovery and development of new prescription drugs. The Biden-Harris Administration believes taxpayer-funded drugs and other taxpayer-funded inventions should be available and affordable to the public. When an invention is made using taxpayer funds, under certain circumstances march-in authority under the Bayh-Dole Act enables the federal government to license the invention to another party. The prior Administration proposed a rule preventing the government from exercising this authority on the basis of high price alone. The Biden-Harris Administration decided not to finalize that proposal earlier this year, consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Today, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and HHS released a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of march-in rights that specifies for the first time that price can be a factor in determining that a drug or other taxpayer-funded invention is not accessible to the public. DOC and HHS invite public input on how this framework can promote access to taxpayer-funded inventions, including treatments for patients, while promoting innovation.

Scrutinizing Anticompetitive Acquisitions and Anticompetitive Practices

Consolidation in health care markets has accelerated in recent decades, too often leading to higher costs, worse quality, and less access to care—particularly in rural areas. For example, a review of hospital merger studies finds that mergers in concentrated markets led to price increases often exceeding 20%. Consolidation has also led to a rapid decline in independent physician practices, with research finding that patients of hospital-owned practices pay nearly $300 more for similar care than at independent physician practices. At the same time, private-equity ownership in the health care industry has ballooned, with approximately $750 billion in deals between 2010 and 2020—in sectors including, but not limited to, physician practices, nursing homeshospiceshome careautism treatment, and travel nursing. Too often, aggressive profiteering by private equity-owned practices can lead  to higher patient costs and lower quality care.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new efforts to stop anticompetitive mergers and anticompetitive practices by dominant corporations in health care markets:

  • Launching a cross-government public inquiry into corporate greed in health care. The Biden-Harris Administration believes that the health care system should serve patients, not corporate profiteers. The Administration is concerned that our health care system is increasingly being financialized, with corporate owners like private-equity firms and others maximizing their profits at the expense of patients’ health and safety, while increasing costs for patients and taxpayers alike. The Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and HHS will issue a joint Request for Information to seek input about how private equity and other corporations’ increasing power and control of our health care is affecting Americans. The agencies will use this joint Request for Information to identify areas for future regulation and enforcement prioritization, and they will continue to work together on case referrals, reciprocal training programs, data-sharing, and further development of additional health care competition policy initiatives. As part of this effort, HHS will appoint a Chief Competition Officer and DOJ’s Antitrust Division and FTC will name Counsels for Health Care to lead these efforts.
    • Identifying anticompetitive “roll ups” that currently evade antitrust review. Businesses, including private equity firms, health insurers, and health systems sometimes use a “roll up” strategy, in which a series of relatively small acquisitions can lead to the consolidation of a market and contribute to worse patient outcomes while increasing taxpayer costs. These serial acquisitions may violate the antitrust laws. However, each individual acquisition may fall below the size thresholds for reporting the prospective deal to the antitrust enforcement agencies before consummating the acquisition—making it more challenging for the enforcement agencies to identify anticompetitive transactions at the outset. Today, HHS, DOJ, and FTC announced that they will, to the maximum extent possible, engage in data sharing to help the antitrust enforcers identify potentially anticompetitive transactions that might otherwise evade ready review by antitrust enforcers.  
       
    • Increasing ownership transparency. HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has taken unprecedented action to shed light on ownership trends in health care. The Biden-Harris Administration is the first to make ownership data on hospitals, nursing homes, hospice providers, and home health agencies publicly available, and today, CMS is releasing, for the first time, ownership data on Federal Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics on data.cms.gov. Making ownership information transparent allows for identification of common owners with histories of poor performance, analysis of trends on how market consolidation impacts consumers, and evaluation of the relationships between ownership and changes in health care costs and outcomes.
       
    • Increasing Medicare Advantage transparency. Currently, about 50% of Medicare enrollment is in Medicare Advantage and the government is expected to spend over $7 trillion on Medicare Advantage over the next decade. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring Medicare Advantage insurance plans best meet the needs of people with Medicare, there is timely access to care, and the market has healthy competition. To support this work, CMS must have comprehensive and high-quality Medicare Advantage programmatic data, including understanding the effects of market shifts on consumers and care outcomes. CMS has taken steps to improve Medicare Advantage data transparency and today, it is announcing a new phase of this work, which will start with soliciting information from the public early next year to strengthen CMS’ data capabilities and Medicare Advantage transparency efforts.

Building on Past Actions to Increase Health Care Competition and Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Today’s announcements build on steps the Administration has already taken to lower health care costs, increase competition, and improve the quality and availability of care across the health care industry. These include:

  • Negotiating and lowering drug prices. Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Administration has announced 10 prescription drugs for which Medicare will negotiate prices directly with participating manufacturers. These drugs cost people with Medicare $3.4 billion out of pocket in 2022. This builds on other progress to lower prescription drug costs. Individuals with Medicare can now receive certain vaccines for free under the President’s lower cost prescription drug law, which previously would have cost an average of $70 in out-of-pocket costs. The Inflation Reduction Act also capped the cost of insulin at $35 per product per month for almost four million seniors and others on Medicare with diabetes, which can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings for a month’s supply.
    • Stopping Big Pharma tactics that raise prices for working families. In September, the FTC issued an enforcement policy statement explaining that Big Pharma companies may face legal action if they delay entry of generic competitors with improper patent listings in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” commonly known as the “Orange Book.” When a brand pharmaceutical company improperly lists a patent in the Orange Book, it may lead to a 30-month statutory stay that blocks the approval of competing drug products, including lower-cost generic alternatives. Such improper listings may delay competition and raise prices for life-saving products like asthma inhalers. FTC and FDA are working to address such improper listings, with FTC announcing last month that it is using FDA’s regulatory Orange Book patent listing dispute process to challenge more than 100 patents listed for brand-name asthma inhalers, epinephrine autoinjectors, and other drug products.
       
    • Cracking down on anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices in Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage—which serves over 30 million American seniors and people with disabilities—is increasingly dominated by just a few large national plans. Last month, HHS announced new steps to stop predatory marketing and steering of patients to Medicare Advantage plans that may not best meet their needs. HHS, through CMS, proposed a rule that would, if finalized as proposed, stop large insurance plans from offering brokers and agents lavish compensation—such as cash bonuses, volume bonuses, and perks—and working with marketing middlemen who are more likely to contract with larger insurers, leading to steerage of patients to plans based on compensation to the broker or agent, rather than based on the patients’ best interests. The agency also proposed new steps to ensure seniors and people with disabilities can actually access supplemental benefits like hearing and dental coverage that these large plans market and help drive up Medicare costs—so that they aren’t merely marketing ploys. In addition, CMS will continue to implement updates to Medicare Advantage payment that improve payment accuracy, address gaming, and recover overpayments. Addressing overpayment in Medicare Advantage will help to make the market more competitive between Medicare Advantage plans and create a more level playing field between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare.
       
    • Making hearing aids available over the counter. To lower the price of hearing aids and expand access, President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy called on the FDA to act promptly to make hearing aids available over the counter, without a prescription. That is now a reality. Under a final rule issued by the FDA, hearing aids are now on store shelves across the country—for thousands of dollars less than before. The rule is also spurring competition among providers, leading to new features and models. 
       
    • Cracking down on nursing homes that endanger resident safety. In recent years, there has been a disturbing trend towards private equity firms and other large corporate owners purchasing nursing homes and slashing levels of staff to maximize profits. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken numerous steps to crack down on nursing homes that put the well-being of their residents at risk, including proposing a rule that, if finalized as proposed, would establish a federal floor for safe staffing levels. In addition, last month CMS finalized a rule that will provide the public with more information about who owns a nursing home—including whether facilities are owned by a private equity company or a real estate investment trust—so that families can make more informed decisions about where to seek nursing home care for their loved ones.
       
    • Reforming the organ transplant system. President Biden recently signed a bipartisan law, the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act, to break up the monopoly that has controlled the organ transplant system for its entire nearly four decade history. HHS will harness competition with the intent to make multiple awards to different entities to benefit from best-in-class vendors and provide a more efficient system that strengthens oversight and improves patient safety.
       
    • Addressing anticompetitive misuse of the patent system. The FDA and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are working together on a robust set of initiatives aimed at protecting and promoting U.S. innovation while advancing marketplace competition that can lower drug prices and expand access.
       
    • Banning non-compete agreements that trap health care workers and others. The FTC proposed a rule to ban employers from using non-compete clauses. The estimated 18% of workers covered by non-compete clauses include many across the health care industry such as doctors and nurses, who will have more employment opportunities if the rule is finalized.
       
    • Promoting competition in eyeglasses. Bundling eye exams with the purchase of eyeglasses reduces competition in the market for eyeglasses—raising prices and reducing options for consumers. The FTC proposed an update to its Eyeglass Rule to make sure that eye doctors give patients their prescriptions immediately after their eye exam—facilitating consumers’ ability to choose where to get their eyeglass prescriptions filled.
       
    • Developing new payment models for doctors including supporting independent doctors. Succeeding in value-based care can be challenging for small, independent physician practices. Beginning July 1, 2024, the CMS Innovation Center’s Making Care Primary Model will provide a pathway for primary care clinicians to gradually adopt prospective, population-based payments that support the delivery of advanced primary care. 
       

Improving transparency of hospital chargesCMS hospital price transparency regulations lay the foundation for a patient-driven health care system by making hospitals’ standard charges’ data available to the public.  Last month, CMS strengthened these regulations to require hospitals to make charges available in a more standardized manner to streamline enforcement capabilities. This will help the public learn how much an insurance company pays for a particular hospital service, for third parties to develop consumer-friendly materials, for hospitals to comply, and for CMS to enforce the regulations.

Fact Sheet: Biden Announces $8.2 Billion to Deliver World-Class High-Speed Rail and Launch New Passenger Rail Corridors Across USA

$8.2 billion from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda are earmarked to deliver transformative passenger rail service in America © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The White House issued this fact sheet about the Biden Administration allocating $8.2 billion from the Investing in America Agenda to deliver transformative passenger rail service across the country.

President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda – a key pillar of Bidenomics – is delivering world class-infrastructure across the country, expanding access to economic opportunity, and creating good-paying jobs. By delivering $66 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago – President Biden is delivering on his vision to rebuild America and win the global competition for the 21st century.   

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing $8.2 billion in new funding for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country, including the first world-class high-speed rail projects in our country’s history. Key selected projects include: building a new high-speed rail system between California and Nevada, which will serve more than 11 million passengers annually; creating a high-speed rail line through California’s Central Valley to ultimately link Los Angeles and San Francisco, supporting travel with speeds up to 220 mph; delivering significant upgrades to frequently-traveled rail corridors in Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia; and upgrading and expanding capacity at Chicago Union Station in Illinois, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs. These historic projects will create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, unlock economic opportunity for communities across the country, and open up safe, comfortable, and climate-friendly travel options to get people to their destinations in a fraction of the time it takes to drive.

The Biden-Harris Administration is building out a pipeline of passenger rail projects in every region of the country in order to achieve the President’s vision of world-class passenger rail. Announced projects will add new passenger rail service to cities that have historically lacked access to America’s rail network, connecting residents to jobs, healthcare, and educational opportunities. Investments will repair aging rail infrastructure to increase train speeds, reduce delays, benefit freight rail supply chains to boost America’s economy, significantly reduce greenhouse emissions, and create good-paying union jobs. Additionally, electric high-speed rail trains will take millions of cars off the roads and reduce emissions, further cementing intercity rail as an environmentally-friendly alternative to flying or driving and saving time for millions of Americans. These investments will also create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs in construction and related industries – adding to over 100,000 jobs that the President is creating through historic investments in world-class rail.  

Today’s investment includes $8.2 billion through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program, as well as $34.5 million through the Corridor Identification and Development program to guide passenger rail development on 69 rail corridors across 44 states, ensuring that intercity rail projects are ready for implementation. President Biden will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to make this announcement.

To date, President Biden has announced $30 billion for rail projects across the country – including $16.4 billion on the Northeast Corridor, $1.4 billion for passenger rail and freight rail safety projects, and $570 million to upgrade or mitigate railroad crossings.

Fed-State National Project selections include:The Brightline West High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail System Project will receive up to $3 billion for a new 218-mile intercity passenger rail system between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Rancho Cucamonga, California. The project will create a new high-speed rail system, resulting in trip times of just over 2 hours – nearly twice as fast as driving. This route is expected to serve more than 11 million passengers annually, taking millions of cars off the road and, thanks to all-electric train sets, removing an estimated 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. This project will create 35,000 jobs supporting construction and support 1,000 permanent jobs in operations and maintenance once in service. Brightline’s agreement with the California State and Southern Nevada Building Trades will ensure that this project is built with good-paying union labor, and the project has reached a separate agreement with Rail Labor to employ union workers for its ongoing operations and maintenance. The project will also allow for connections to the Los Angeles Metro area via the Metrolink commuter rail system.
 The California Inaugural High-Speed Rail Service Project will receive up to $3.07 billion to help deliver high-speed rail service in California’s Central Valley by designing and extending the rail line between Bakersfield and Merced, procuring new high-speed trainsets, and constructing the Fresno station, which will connect communities to urban centers in Northern and Southern California.  This 171-mile rail corridor will support high-speed travel with speeds up to 220mph. The project will improve connectivity and increase travel options, along with providing more frequent passenger rail service, from the Central Valley to urban centers in northern and Southern California. New all-electric trainsets will produce zero emissions and be powered by 100% renewable energy. By separating passenger and freight lines, this project will benefit freight rail operations throughout California as well. This project has already created over 11,000 good-paying union construction jobs and has committed to using union labor for operations and maintenance.
 The Raleigh to Richmond (R2R) Innovating Rail Program Phases IA and II project will receive up to $1.1 billion to build approximately additional parts of the Southeast Corridor from Raleigh to Wake Forest, North Carolina, including new and upgraded track, eleven grade separations and closure of multiple at-grade crossings. The investment will improve system and service performance by developing a resilient and reliable passenger rail route that will also contribute to freight and supply chain resiliency in the southeastern U.S. The proposed project is part of a multi-phased effort to develop a new passenger rail route between Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, and better connect the southern states to DC and the Northeast Corridor. Once completed, this new route will save passengers an estimated 90 minutes per trip.
 The Long Bridge project, part of the Transforming Rail in Virginia – Phase II program, will receive $729 million to construct a new two-track rail bridge over the Potomac River to expand passenger rail capacity between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. Nearly 6 million passengers travel over the existing bridge every year on Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express lines. This upgrade will reduce congestion and delays on this heavily-traveled corridor to our nation’s capital.Other significant projects receiving grants under this announcement include: upgrades to Chicago Union Station; upgrades to the Pennsylvania Keystone Corridor, extending the service west of Philadelphia-Harrisburg to Pittsburgh and adding frequencies; improving the Downeaster corridor in Maine, connecting Boston, Massachusetts, to Brunswick, Maine; rail infrastructure improvements in Montana along a route carrying Amtrak’s Empire Builder long-distance rail service between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest; and replacing a key rail bridge in Alaska used by freight and intercity passenger trains. 

Pipeline for Future Investments Through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Corridor ID Program

As part of President Biden’s vision for world-class passenger rail, the Administration is planning for future rail growth in new and unprecedented ways through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-created Corridor ID Program. The program establishes a new planning framework for future investments, and corridor selections announced today stand to upgrade 15 existing rail routes, establish 47 extensions to existing and new conventional corridor routes, and advance 7 new high-speed rail projects, creating a pipeline of intercity passenger rail projects ready for future investment.  

Project selections include:Scranton to New York, reviving a dormant rail corridor between Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, to provide up to three daily trips for commuters and other passengers;
 Colorado Front Range, a new rail corridor connecting Fort Collins, CO, and Pueblo, CO, to serve an area that currently has no passenger rail options;
 The Northern Lights Express, connecting Minneapolis, MN and Duluth, MN, with several stops in Wisconsin, for greater regional connectivity;
 Cascadia High-Speed Rail, a proposed new high-speed rail corridor linking Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver, with entirely new service;
 Charlotte to Atlanta, a new high-speed rail corridor linking the Southeast and providing connection to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the busiest airport in the world;Major regional hubs will benefit from multiple corridor selections, such as the Chicago Hub, where a comprehensive plan for the Chicago terminal and service chokepoints south of Lake Michigan will benefit all corridors and long-distance trains south and east of Chicago. 

Other Rail Investments Made Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

After waiting years for new federal funding, 2023 is the year in which major rail and transit projects across the country are moving forward. Today’s announcement builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic commitment to our nation’s rail network. Major rail progress that has already been made under President Biden includes the following:Last month, FRA announced $16.4 billion for 25 passenger rail projects along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the nation’s busiest rail corridor, running between Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. The Northeast Corridor supports 800,000 trips per day in a region that represents 20% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. The trains carry five times more passengers than all flights between Washington and New York. Funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program, projects will rebuild tunnels and bridges that are over 100 years old; upgrade tracks, power systems, signals, stations, and other infrastructure; and advance future projects to significantly improve travel times by increasing operating speeds and reducing delays. These investments will also contribute to more than 100,000 good-paying union jobs in construction. You can read more about the 25 Fed-State NEC project selections and their benefits here.In addition to unprecedented passenger rail investment, the Biden-Harris Administration is making major investments in rail safety through track improvements, bridge rehabilitations, fewer grade crossings, upgrades on routes carrying hazardous materials, and enhanced multi-modal connections to increase safety for people who live near or travel along America’s rail lines:In September, FRA announced more than $1.4 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for 70 projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C. This is the largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements — or CRISI — program. CRISI projects will improve nearly 1,900 miles of track, upgrade or replace aging bridges, invest in locomotives with fewer emissions, and fund sustainable and resilient infrastructure that protects against threats of extreme weather. Overall, nearly two-thirds of CRISI funding announced this year is going to rural communities. While the majority of selected projects support freight rail safety and supply chains, CRISI investments are also laying the groundwork to expand world-class passenger rail to more communities nationwide in places like Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi as well as Virginia, Massachusetts, and California. Additionally, the CRISI program provides funding to develop the U.S. rail workforce and industry. Funding for this popular program has quadrupled since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
 In June 2023, FRA announced $570 million for 63 projects in 32 states under the new Railroad Crossing Elimination Program, created by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This inaugural round of funding will address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide, improve safety, and make it easier to get around railroad tracks by adding grade separations, closing at-grade crossings, and improving existing at-grade crossings where train tracks and roads intersect. Over each of the next four years, additional program funding will be made available annually.
 In November 2022, FRA granted $4.3 billion to Amtrak, which represents the first year of the $22 billion in direct funding to Amtrak provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Amtrak is using these funds to modernize the intercity passenger rail network, modernize and increase accessibility at more than 280 Amtrak-served stations across the country, and replace Amtrak’s existing fleet with over 1,000 accessible, comfortable, state-of-the-art railcars and locomotives. In fiscal year 2023 alone, Amtrak has invested nearly $3 billion in 750 projects across the country, including bringing 15 Amtrak stations to full ADA compliance. Through these investments, Amtrak has created nearly 5,000 jobs, including employing over 4,000 union workers.
 In August 2022, the FRA announced  $233 million in grants to upgrade intercity passenger rail service across the country through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. These investments will help replace bridges and tunnels along the Northeast Corridor, many of which are over 100 years old. Grants were also awarded to improve rail infrastructure in California, Michigan, and Chicago Union Station.Map: Selections Through Fed-State National and Corridor ID Program

First Lady Jill Biden Announces 2023 White House Holiday Theme:The “Magic, Wonder, and Joy” of the Holidays

The 2023 White House Holiday Display is designed to capture the pure, unfiltered delight and imagination of childhood, to encourage visitors to reflect on this time of year with hearts open to the magic, wonder, and joy of the season.  

 
Some 100,000 visitors are expected to at the White House for the holiday season, themed “The Magic, Wonder, and Joy of the Holidays,” First Lady Jill Biden announced. “The 2023 White House holiday theme is inspired by how children experience this festive season: completely present in the beauty and bounty around them, their senses alight, with hearts open to the magic, wonder, and joy of the holidays,” the President and First Lady wrote in a welcome letter at the beginning of the commemorative 2023 White House Holiday Guide.  
 
“In this season of reflection and goodwill, we hope you will embrace your inner child and delight in simply being present with those you love. It is a time for our senses to awaken—for each of us to smell the aroma of favorite family recipes, to hear the warmth of a dear friend’s voice, to see the glow of lights and decorations, to taste the sweetness of candies and treats, and to feel the quiet stillness and strength of faith,” the First Lady and President continued. “We hope you enjoy the holidays at the White House —’The People’s House,’ your house. May the memories made here remind us all of the blessing that is our Nation.”
 
During an event at the White House later today, the First Lady will officially unveil the holiday and seasonal decor, offer her holiday message to the Nation, and thank the volunteers from across the country who helped decorate the White House for the season. As part of her Joining Forces initiative to support military families, the First Lady invited National Guard families to be the first members of the public to experience the White House holiday decor. As a fellow National Guard mother, Dr. Biden wanted to show appreciation for, and honor, the special role the National Guard plays in serving our country. The National Guard is a unique element of the U.S. military that serves both community and country, in domestic and foreign missions. 
 
After delivering her holiday message, the children of National Guard families, as well as local military families, will be treated to a special performance by the cast of the North American tour of Disney’s stage musical, Frozen.
 
The White House expects to welcome approximately 100,000 visitors during the holiday season. Videos, photos, and information about the decor will be available on WhiteHouse.gov/Holidays. Additionally, over the course of the holidays, a variety of interactive viewing experiences will launch on digital platforms, allowing individuals to engage with the White House during the holidays from home.
 
2023 White House Holidays by the numbers:

  • Approximately 14,975 feet of ribbon, over 350 candles, over 33,892 ornaments, and over 22,100 bells were used this year to decorate the White House.
  • There are 98 Christmas trees throughout the White House complex.
  • The Gingerbread White House creation includes 40 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 40 sheets of gingerbread dough, 90 pounds of pastillage, 30 pounds of chocolate, and 50 pounds of royal icing.
  • Over 142,425 holiday lights decorate the trees, garlands, wreaths, and displays in the White House.
  • Seventy-two classic wreaths adorn the north and south facades of the White House.
  • It takes over 300 dedicated volunteers from across the country working a full week to decorate the inside and outside of the White House.

 
“Magic, Wonder, and Joy,” the 2023 Holidays Theme:
 
Each room and design element throughout the White House holiday display encourages visitors to embrace their inner child, indulge their senses, and delight in the “Magic, Wonder, and Joy” of the holidays.
 
Guests enter the East Wing of the White House under the festive branches of an enchanting and magical Christmas tree. The entrance decor invites visitors to summon joyful memories of childhood at the holidays: lying under the Christmas tree and gazing up with wonder, marveling at the twinkling lights, and feeling the soft pine needles above. Holiday candy and sweet treats of the season float overhead in both the East Wing Lobby and East Colonnade, reminding children and families of the delicious flavors of the holidays.
 
The Gold Star Tree
 
The first Christmas tree featured inside the White House is adorned with wooden Gold Star ornaments that are engraved with the names of fallen service members. The Gold Star tree honors the heroic men and women of our Nation’s military who have laid down their lives for our country and the families who carry on their legacies. May God bless our troops and their families.
 
The Ground Floor Corridor
 
The marble arches of the Ground Floor Corridor are sprinkled with holiday messages sent from Americans across the country to the President and First Lady. Letters to Santa Claus are magically flying in and out of vintage mail boxes, ready to be sent to the North Pole with a stamp and a wish.  Also on the Ground Floor Corridor is the first nod to the 200th Anniversary of the publication of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, a poem and book deeply etched into so many childhood memories. The Library of Congress provided a sampling of editions from the last 200 years to the White House, displayed in cases for visitors to remember and enjoy. 
 
The Library
 
The Library honors the tradition and magic of bedtime stories during the holiday season. Golden moons and shimmering stars are suspended above, with treasured holiday storybooks throughout the peaceful scene. Santa and his sleigh are seen through the window, flying past a full moon on his way to the White House.
 
The Vermeil Room
 
The decor of the Vermeil Room (French for gilded silver) represents the joy of music and performance during the holidays. At the center of the room is a mechanical theater creation, with rotating United States Marine Band figures entertaining guests with herald trumpets. Flanking the stage are Christmas trees draped with whimsical handcrafted instruments and snare drums, inviting guests to sing their favorite holiday tune. The mantel is graced with sculpted ballerinas, spinning out of music boxes.
 
The China Room
 
Favorite flavors and scents of the season are featured in the China Room. A White House sweet shop sets the scene in this room, with holiday cakes, cookies, and gingerbread enhancing the space. Piles of cooking supplies and baking ingredients remind guests of familiar recipes that bring generations of families together year after year during the holidays.
 
The East Room
 
The joyful anticipation of the holidays is front and center in the East Room, with Advent calendars counting down the days to Christmas. Behind each number is a special surprise for children of all ages to enjoy.
 
As the largest room in the White House, the East Room has hosted public receptions, ceremonies, bill signings, and other memorable occasions. It also includes Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington, which First Lady Dolley Madison helped save in 1814 when the White House was about to be set aflame during the War of 1812.
 
The East Room features a Neapolitan crèche, or Nativity scene, with over 40 figurines, most dating back to the eighteenth century. The crèche has been displayed during every White House holiday season since 1967.
 
The Green Room

Glowing candles and stained glass symbolize the peace, strength, and joy we find in faith. It is often in quiet, candlelit rooms when we can see most clearly, center ourselves in faith, and embrace the wonder of our world around us.
 
Arranged in the windows are colorful sprays of crystal and prisms, mixed with shimmering fabric and embroidered starbursts to reflect light. Colorful orchids, a favorite of First Lady Jill Biden, and holiday florals are incorporated throughout the room.
 
The Blue Room
 
The Blue Room showcases the official White House Christmas Tree. This year’s tree is an 18½ foot Fraser Fir from Fleetwood, North Carolina and stands floor to ceiling, filling the oval room. Every year, the Blue Room’s chandelier is removed to accommodate the Christmas tree’s full height.
 
The stunning tree celebrates cheerful scenes, landscapes, and neighborhoods from all across the country, with names of every state, territory, and the District of Columbia, showcased throughout the decor. With bright colors and three-dimensional elements, guests will gaze in wonder as they are taken on a delightful adventure around the tree. A replica of a vintage passenger train, on loan from the Train Collectors Association, magically weaves through the tree’s base.
 
This year’s official White House Christmas Tree was presented to the First Lady by siblings Amber Scott and Alex Church of Cline Church Nursery, the 2023 Grand Champion Grower in the National Christmas Tree Association’s annual contest.
 
Red Room
 
The decor of the Red Room represents the joy of making holiday crafts together. Whether sewing a costume for the Christmas pageant, stringing popcorn for the tree, or fashioning homemade ornaments, the holidays are a time for creativity and imagination. As part of the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, the ornaments in this room were created out of the handprints and painted family portraits of military-connected children, ensuring that military and veteran families can see themselves and their talents reflected in this year’s holiday display.
 
A Red Room tradition since 1975, fresh cranberries are integrated into the decor as topiary forms. Marking a new twist to the time-honored tradition are cranberry red beads incorporated into the room’s handmade popcorn garland.
 
State Dining Room
 
Embodying the “Magic, Wonder, and Joy” of the holidays is Santa’s Workshop in the State Dining Room. Elves’ workbenches, stools, and ladders circle the Christmas trees, with tools and gifts-in-progress filling out the decor. Life-sized nutcrackers and dancing ballerinas flank the Christmas trees and reside within the window wells, with festive ribbons and gift tags lining the fireplace. 
 
An engraving on the mantel reads, “I Pray Heaven To Bestow The Best of Blessings On This House…” The words were taken from a letter written by President John Adams to his wife, Abigail, dated November 2, 1800. These words are now known as the White House blessing.
 
2023 Gingerbread White House
 
A favorite for all during the holidays is the annual Gingerbread White House. Inspired by the 200th anniversary of the publication of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, this year’s Gingerbread White House features a recreation of this storied tale. The display includes a sugar cookie replica of the famous book, as well as Santa’s sleigh flying above the White House grounds. This magical poem has delighted children for 200 years, with families across the world gathering together for generations to recite the lyrical lines by memory.
 
The Cross Hall
 
The Cross Hall unites the State Rooms of the White House, with the East Room and State Dining Room at the opposite ends, and the Green, Blue, and Red Rooms opening from the south side. The slightly arched ceiling springs from the cast plaster molding designed during the Theodore Roosevelt renovation of 1902.
 
During the holidays, the Cross Hall features the official White House Menorah, created in 2021 by the White House Executive Residence Carpentry Shop. The menorah was constructed using wood that was removed more than seventy years ago during the Truman-era renovation of the White House.
 
The Grand Foyer
 
Closing out the 2023 White House holiday display is an incredible, eye-catching recreation of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas in the Grand Foyer. With Santa’s enchanting sleigh and reindeer suspended in the air, and the Cross Hall’s architectural niches featuring elements of the famous story, guests will leave their White House holiday experience with hearts full of “Magic, Wonder, and Joy.”
 
2023 White House Holiday Guide Illustrator
 
Children’s book illustrator Raúl Colón created the inspired artwork throughout the 2023 White House Holiday Guide, bringing the First Lady’s holiday theme to life on the page. 
 
2023 White House Holiday Recognitions and Support
 
The President and Dr. Biden thanked the Executive Residence staff and the team of over 300 volunteers from across the country who dedicated their time, energy, and talents to transform the White House for the holiday season. 
 
The President and Dr. Biden, and the entire White House team, expressed their gratitude for the talents and support from: 

  • The National Confectioners Association; 
  • The Train Collectors Association;
  • The Library of Congress; and

The creative design teams of Burke & Pryde, DesignMa, Dodge-Chrome, Inc., Emily Barton Design, Glitterville Studios, Mark Gagnon, Rafanelli Events, and Silver Lining Design Group.

For more holiday visit information, see:

A Capital Christmas in Washington DC

FACT SHEET: Biden Takes New Actions to Strengthen America’s Supply Chains, Lower Costs for Families, and Secure Key Sectors

During the inaugural convening of the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, President Biden will unveil more than 30 new actions to strengthen America’s supply chains

As part of his Bidenomics agenda to lower costs for American families, President Biden announced nearly 30 new actions to strengthen supply chains critical to America’s economic and national security. These actions will help Americans get the products they need when they need them, enable reliable deliveries for businesses, strengthen our agriculture and food systems, and support good-paying, union jobs here at home. Among the actions: the USDA is investing $196 million to strengthen our domestic food supply chains and create more opportunity for farmers and entrepreneurs in 37 states and in Puerto Rico. These investments—which build on prior investments in diversified food processing, resilient agricultural markets, and fertilizer production—expand farmer income opportunities, create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas, and lower food costs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You don’t hear anything about it because 1) it’s lots of facts and figures and 2) the nonstop criminality, latest court craziness of Trump and his scheme to become a dictator are dominating news. But the collapse of supply chains during the COVID pandemic was the biggest reason for triggering inflation, and the Biden administration focus to develop Made in America manufacturing and reduce dependency on foreign production is one of the biggest factors in reducing costs for Americans (despite greed-based price hikes). Here’s a Fact sheet from the White House:

As part of his Bidenomics agenda to lower costs for American families, President Biden is announcing nearly 30 new actions to strengthen supply chains critical to America’s economic and national security. These actions will help Americans get the products they need when they need them, enable reliable deliveries for businesses, strengthen our agriculture and food systems, and support good-paying, union jobs here at home.

President Biden announced these actions alongside members of his Cabinet and other senior Administration officials at the inaugural meeting of the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience. The Council, which President Biden established, will support the enduring resilience of America’s critical supply chains.

Robust supply chains are fundamental to a strong economy. When supply chains smooth, prices fall for goods, food, and equipment, putting more money in the pockets of American families, workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs. That is why President Biden made supply chain resilience a priority from Day One of his Administration—including by signing an Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains and establishing a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force that worked with states, Tribes, local governments, businesses, family farms, labor, and allies and partners to address the acute supply chain crises caused by the pandemic. Since then, the Administration has made historic investments to strengthen supply chains and prevent future disruptions by expanding production capacity in key sectors and building infrastructure through the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

These efforts helped unsnarl supply chains, re-normalize the flow of goods, and lower inflation. From October 2021 to October 2023, supply chain pressures as measured by the New York Fed declined from near-record highs to a record low, helping lower inflation, which has fallen by 65% from its peak.

Today, President Biden is building on this progress by announcing bold new actions to further strengthen supply chains, lower costs for families, and help Americans get the goods they need, including:

  • The creation of the Council on Supply Chain Resilience. Today, President Biden will convene the inaugural meeting of the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, which will advance his long-term, government-wide strategy to build enduring supply chain resilience. The Council will be co-chaired by the National Security Advisor and National Economic Advisor, and include the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration; the Directors of National Intelligence, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; the U.S. Trade Representative; and other senior officials from the Executive Office of the President and other agencies.
     
  • Use of the Defense Production Act to make more essential medicines in America and mitigate drug shortages. President Biden will issue a Presidential Determination to broaden the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) authorities under Title III of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to enable investment in domestic manufacturing of essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs that have been deemed by the President as essential to the national defense. HHS has identified $35 million for investments in domestic production of key starting materials for sterile injectable medicines. HHS will also designate a new Supply Chain Resilience and Shortage Coordinator for efforts to strengthen the resilience of medical product and critical food supply chains, and to address related shortages. HHS intends to institutionalize this coordination to advance the department’s supply chain resilience and shortage mitigation goals over the long term. The Department of Defense (DOD) will also soon release a new report on pharmaceutical supply chain resilience aimed at reducing reliance on high-risk foreign suppliers. These actions are a subset of the Administration’s broader work to increase access to essential medicines and medical products.
     
  • New cross-governmental supply chain data-sharing capabilities. The Administration has developed several cross-government partnerships to improve supply chain monitoring and strategy, including:
    • The Department of Commerce’s new, first-of-its-kind Supply Chain Center is integrating industry expertise and data analytics to develop innovative supply chain risk assessment tools, and is coordinating deep-dive analyses on select critical supply chains to drive targeted actions to increase resilience. This Center is building broad partnerships across government, industry, and academia, including collaborating with the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct deep-dive analyses on clean energy supply. Additionally, Commerce is partnering with HHS to assess industry and import data that can help address foreign dependency vulnerabilities and points of failure for critical drugs.
    • The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Freight Logistics Optimization Works (“FLOW”) program is a public-private partnership that brings together U.S. supply chain stakeholders to create a shared, common picture of supply chain networks and facilitate a more reliable flow of goods. DOT is announcing a new milestone for FLOW, in which participants are beginning to utilize FLOW data to inform their logistics decision making, helping to avoid bottlenecks, shorten lead times for customers, and enable a more resilient and globally competitive freight network through earlier warnings of supply chain disruption. As the effort continues to mature, DOT will work with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase data transparency for containerized shipments of agricultural products in the United States, efforts that can help producers and sellers avoid disruptions that can increase food prices.
    • These new analytical capabilities will enable the Council to coordinate a more complete, whole-of-government critical supply chain monitoring function.

Additional actions to support stronger supply chains and access to affordable, reliable energy and critical technology:

Investing in critical supply chains:

  • DOE today announced $275 million in grant selections for its Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program, investments that will revitalize communities affected by coal mine or coal power plant closures through investment in clean energy supply chains, including production of critical materials, components for grid-scale batteries and electric vehicles, onshore wind turbines, and energy conservation technologies. DOE also announced up to $10 million of funding for a “critical material accelerator” and a $5.6-million prize to develop circular clean energy supply chains. These efforts build on action by President Biden to authorize DOE’s use of the DPA to increase domestic production of five key clean energy technologies—including electric heat pumps—as well as DOE’s recently announced $3.5-billion investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to boost domestic production of advanced batteries and battery materials needed for essential clean energy technologies such as stationary storage and electric vehicles.
  • USDA is making investments worth $196 million to strengthen our domestic food supply chains and create more opportunity for farmers and entrepreneurs in 37 states and in Puerto Rico. These investments—which build on prior investments in diversified food processing, resilient agricultural markets, and fertilizer production—expand farmer income opportunities, create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas, and lower food costs.
  • DOD, building on the $714 million in DPA investments it has made in 2023 to support defense-critical supply chains, will publish the first ever National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS). The NDIS will guide engagement, policy development, and investment in the defense industrial base over the next three to five years. It will ensure a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to and focus on the multiple layers of suppliers and sub-suppliers that make up these critical supply chains.

Planning for long-term industrial resilience and future supply chain investments:

  • Launch of the quadrennial supply chain review. The Council will complete the first quadrennial supply chain review by December 31, 2024. As part of the review, the Council will update criteria on industries, sectors, and products defined as critical to national and economic security. In addition, 12 months after the Council promulgates the criteria, and annually thereafter, the Council will apply the criteria to review and update the list of critical sectors, as appropriate.
  • Smart manufacturing plan. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) is sponsoring a study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to develop a nationwide plan for smart manufacturing. The report will establish key priorities for investment to support new digital and artificial intelligence technologies. These investments will enhance the productivity and security of the manufacturing systems that are critical for maintaining domestic supply chains.

Deploying new capabilities to monitor existing and emerging risks:

  • New Resilience Center and tabletop exercises for supply chain disruptions. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is announcing the launch of a new Supply Chain Resilience Center (SCRC), which will be dedicated to ensuring the resilience of supply chains for critical infrastructure needed to deliver essential services to the American people. Near-term priorities will include addressing supply chain risks resulting from threats and vulnerabilities inside U.S. ports. Additionally, in 2024, in collaboration with other federal agencies and foreign governments, DHS will facilitate at least two tabletop exercises designed to test the resilience of critical cross-border supply chains. Further, DHS and the Department of Commerce will collaborate to continue to strengthen the semiconductor supply chain and further the implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act.
  • Launch of DOT Multimodal Freight Office. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (“BIL”) implementation, DOT is launching its Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy (“Multimodal Freight Office”). This office is responsible for maintaining and improving the condition and performance of the nation’s multimodal freight network including through the development of the National Multimodal Freight Network, review of State Freight Plans, and the continued advancement of the FLOW initiative in partnership with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
  • Monitoring of climate impacts. The White House National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Council of Economic Advisers will co-lead an interagency effort in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor global developments related to El Niño, including this climate phenomenon’s impact on U.S. and global commodity prices, agriculture and fishery output, disruptions to global and trade supply chains, and resulting impacts on food security, human health, and social instabilities.
  • Energy and critical mineral supply chain readiness. To more consistently track risk and opportunity across energy supply chains, DOE is developing an assessment tool that accounts for raw materials, manufacturing, workforce, and logistics considerations. Additionally, to help assess the potential for trade disruptions of select critical minerals and materials, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will map and develop geospatial databases for select global critical product supply chains, with a current focus on semiconductor components; and will seek designation by the Chief Statistician of the United States of a federal statistical unit providing the nation’s official minerals statistics. Additionally, the National Science and Technology Council’s Critical Minerals Subcommittee plans to launch a new criticalminerals.gov website in January 2024 that will highlight cross-governmental supply chain efforts.
  • Defense supply chain mapping and risk management. DOD is increasing supply chain visibility through the creation of a Supply Chain Mapping Tool to analyze supplier data for 110 weapon systems. This capability will be used to develop defense industrial base wargaming scenarios to identify vulnerabilities and develop mitigation strategies.

Engaging public and private stakeholders to expand supply chain risk modeling:

  • Supply Chain Data and Analytics Summit. The Department of Commerce will convene a diverse array of public and private stakeholders at a Supply Chain Data and Analytics Summit in 2024. A key aim of the summit will be to invite expert input into supply chain risk assessment models and tools. The summit will also assess data availability, utility, and limitations and consider actions to improve data flows.
  • AI hackathons to strengthen critical mineral supply chains. USGS, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), building on their 2022 prize challenges announcement, will host a series of hackathons beginning in February 2024 to develop novel artificial intelligence approaches to assess domestic critical mineral resources.
  • Risk mapping for labor rights abuses. The Department of Labor (DOL) updated its Comply Chain guidance for identifying and addressing labor rights violations in global supply chains. In addition, DOL is providing $8 million for two four-year projects to identify supply chain traceability methods and technologies to address child labor or forced labor risks in diverse supply chains, such as the cobalt and cotton sectors. DOL will also undertake new supply chain research on mining and agriculture products across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In addition to the announcements above, the Administration continues to deepen engagement with allies and partners to strengthen global supply chains, including:

Deepening international early warning systems to detect and respond to supply chain disruptions in critical sectors with allies and partners, including:

  • With the European Union. In May 2023, the United States and the EU established an early warning system for semiconductor supply chain disruptions under the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council.
  • With Japan and the Republic of Korea. In August, the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea committed at Camp David to launch early warning system pilots, starting by identifying priority products and materials such as critical minerals and rechargeable batteries and establishing mechanisms to rapidly share information on disruptions to critical supply chains.
  • With Mexico and Canada. Through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the United States, Canada, and Mexico established a trilateral Sub-Committee on Emergency Response to coordinate North American efforts to maintain regional trade flows during emergency situations.
  • With Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Health Organization. The Global Regulatory Working Group on Drug Shortages, currently chaired by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meets quarterly to discuss product shortages participating jurisdictions are encountering and ways such shortages are being addressed. The group’s exchange of information helped address product shortages experienced by each partner during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent “tripledemic” including COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus.
  • With global partners. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), the U.S. government funds activities to improve the weather, water, and climate observing capabilities and data sharing in regions and countries that are needed to produce actionable local, regional, and global climate information and minimize impacts upon infrastructure, water, health, and food security.

Strengthening global supply chains through other innovative multilateral partnerships:

  • Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Supply Chain Agreement. The United States and 13 IPEF partners concluded a first-of-its-kind Supply Chain Agreement that gives partners new tools to build diversified, competitive supply chains for critical sectors, including an IPEF Supply Chain Council to coordinate action. The Department of Commerce is kickstarting this effort through pilot projects to enhance the resilience of key supply chains, including those related to semiconductors, critical minerals, and cold chain services. In addition, the Supply Chains Agreement establishes a Crisis Response Network that will allow IPEF partners to better prepare for and respond to supply chain disruptions through emergency communication channels and joint crisis simulations, as well as a Labor Rights Advisory Board to promote worker rights across supply chains.
  • Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (Americas Partnership). The Americas Partnership is focused on, among other things, strengthening and diversifying supply chains. In its first year of work, the Americas Partnership will focus on the development of regional competitiveness plans in three critical sectors: semiconductors, clean energy, and medical supplies.
  • North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS). Through NALS, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are enhancing the resilience of North America’s supply chains for critical minerals, semiconductors, and other essential goods. This trilateral effort includes partnering with regional industry and academia to create quality jobs, promote investment, grow talent, and catalyze innovation.
  • Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI). Through PGI, the United States is mobilizing public and private financing to incentivize investments and develop transformative economic corridors to diversify global supply chains and create new opportunities for American workers and businesses. From the development of the Lobito Corridor, connecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia with global markets through Angola, to the launch of the landmark India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor—through PGI, the United States is creating novel interconnections across regions to facilitate trade and secure clean energy, digital, food security, and other critical supply chains.
  • Global Labor Directive. On November 16, President Biden signed the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labor Standards Globally. The President directed several departments to address labor rights abuses in global supply chains and identify innovative approaches to promote internationally recognized labor rights throughout the supply chain, including by collaborating with labor organizations, workers, and other labor stakeholders to consider efforts that support worker-led monitoring of labor rights compliance.
  • The Mineral Security Partnership (MSP). The Department of State, along with partners including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the European Union (represented by the European Commission), established the MSP to accelerate the development of diverse and sustainable critical energy minerals supply chains. The MSP works with host governments and industry to facilitate targeted financial and diplomatic support for strategic projects along the value chain with an emphasis on those projects which adhere to and promote the highest labor, environmental and sustainability standards.
  • International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund. Created by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the ITSI Fund promotes the diversification of the global semiconductor supply chain. State will partner with countries to develop the most attractive economic environments for private investment. With ITSI Fund support, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has established the Semiconductor Exchange Network allowing policymakers in the semiconductor industry to examine risks and interdependencies on the current state of the semiconductor ecosystem. Additionally, the ITSI Fund is supporting ecosystem reviews in key partner countries that will inform future collaboration on developing this critical sector.

ICYMI: ‘The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas’ – Joe Biden

President Joe Biden: “Will we relentlessly pursue our positive vision for the future, or will we allow those who do not share our values to drag the world to a more dangerous and divided place?”

This is from President Joe Biden’s opinion column published in the Washington Post, November 18, 2023Joe Biden: The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas


Today, the world faces an inflection point, where the choices we make — including in the crises in Europe and the Middle East — will determine the direction of our future for generations to come.
 
What will our world look like on the other side of these conflicts?
 
Will we deny Hamas the ability to carry out pure, unadulterated evil? Will Israelis and Palestinians one day live side by side in peace, with two states for two peoples?
 
Will we hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his aggression, so the people of Ukraine can live free and Europe remains an anchor for global peace and security?
 
And the overarching question: Will we relentlessly pursue our positive vision for the future, or will we allow those who do not share our values to drag the world to a more dangerous and divided place?
 
Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world.
 
The United States is the essential nation. We rally allies and partners to stand up to aggressors and make progress toward a brighter, more peaceful future. The world looks to us to solve the problems of our time. That is the duty of leadership, and America will lead. For if we walk away from the challenges of today, the risk of conflict could spread, and the costs to address them will only rise. We will not let that happen.
 
That conviction is at the root of my approach to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue to defend their freedom against Putin’s brutal war.
 
We know from two world wars in the past century that when aggression in Europe goes unanswered, the crisis does not burn itself out. It draws America in directly. That’s why our commitment to Ukraine today is an investment in our own security. It prevents a broader conflict tomorrow.
 
We are keeping American troops out of this war by supporting the brave Ukrainians defending their freedom and homeland. We are providing them with weapons and economic assistance to stop Putin’s drive for conquest, before the conflict spreads farther.
 
The United States is not doing this alone. More than 50 nations have joined us to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself. Our partners are shouldering much of the economic responsibility for supporting Ukraine. We have also built a stronger and more united NATO, which enhances our security through the strength of our allies, while making clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory to deter further Russian aggression. Our allies in Asia are standing with us as well to support Ukraine and hold Putin accountable, because they understand that stability in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific are inherently connected.
 
We have also seen throughout history how conflicts in the Middle East can unleash consequences around the globe.
 
We stand firmly with the Israeli people as they defend themselves against the murderous nihilism of Hamas. On Oct. 7, Hamas slaughtered 1,200 people, including 35 American citizens, in the worst atrocity committed against the Jewish people in a single day since the Holocaust. Infants and toddlers, mothers and fathers, grandparents, people with disabilities, even Holocaust survivors were maimed and murdered. Entire families were massacred in their homes. Young people were gunned down at a music festival. Bodies riddled with bullets and burned beyond recognition. And for over a month, the families of more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas, including babies and Americans, have been living in hell, anxiously waiting to discover whether their loved ones are alive or dead. At the time of this writing, my team and I are working hour by hour, doing everything we can to get the hostages released.
 
And while Israelis are still in shock and suffering the trauma of this attack, Hamas has promised that it will relentlessly try to repeat Oct. 7. It has said very clearly that it will not stop.
 
The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas. I, too, am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children. Palestinian children are crying for lost parents. Parents are writing their child’s name on their hand or leg so they can be identified if the worst happens. Palestinian nurses and doctors are trying desperately to save every precious life they possibly can, with little to no resources. Every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities.
 
Our goal should not be simply to stop the war for today — it should be to end the war forever, break the cycle of unceasing violence, and build something stronger in Gaza and across the Middle East so that history does not keep repeating itself.
 
Just weeks before Oct. 7, I met in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The main subject of that conversation was a set of substantial commitments that would help both Israel and the Palestinian territories better integrate into the broader Middle East. That is also the idea behind the innovative economic corridor that will connect India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, which I announced together with partners at the Group of 20 summit in India in early September. Stronger integration between countries creates predictable markets and draws greater investment. Better regional connection — including physical and economic infrastructure — supports higher employment and more opportunities for young people. That’s what we have been working to realize in the Middle East. It is a future that has no place for Hamas’s violence and hate, and I believe that attempting to destroy the hope for that future is one reason that Hamas instigated this crisis.
 
This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever.
 
A two-state solution — two peoples living side by side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity — is where the road to peace must lead. Reaching it will take commitments from Israelis and Palestinians, as well as from the United States and our allies and partners. That work must start now.
 
To that end, the United States has proposed basic principles for how to move forward from this crisis, to give the world a foundation on which to build.

Following Uptick in Antisemitic, AntiMuslim Rhetoric on Social Media, NYS Governor Deploys New Resources to Combat Online Hate

Data Tracked by New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Shows 425 Percent Increase in Online Hate Speech Against Jewish Communities and 417 Percent Increase Against Muslim Communities

Governor Deploys $3 Million to Expand State’s Successful Threat Assessment and Management Team Model to All College Campuses; Builds on State Efforts to Combat Extremist Violence Launched in the Wake of White Supremacist Mass Shooting in Buffalo

Governor Directs Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop a Media Literacy Tool Kit for K-12 Schools to Provide Critical Training and Resources to Youth; State Creates Informational Guide For Parents to Talk to Their Children About Online Hate Speech this Holiday Weekend

Following Viral TikTok Content Praising Osama Bin Laden, Governor Calls on Social Media Corporate Leadership to Implement Stronger Anti-Hate Guardrails for Users

Governor Kathy Hochul’s actions to address online hate speech oat schools and college campuses was sparked after a Cornell University student was arrested in connection with online threats to kill and injure Cornell’s Jewish students and “shoot up” the university’s kosher dining hall © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Kathy Hochul is deploying new resources to continue combating the ongoing rise in online hate speech across New York, including allocating $3 million to expand the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s Threat Assessment and Management training to all colleges and universities in New York State. 

The Governor also directed the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop and distribute a media literacy toolkit to help public school educators teach their students how to spot misinformation/disinformation/malinformation (“MDM”) online, sent a letter to major social media companies calling for increased monitoring of content that could incite violence, and released an informational guide for parents to help start conversations around the destructive impacts of hate and hate speech with young adults upon their returns home during the holiday season. 

These actions follow a 400 percent increase in nationwide antisemitic and Islamophobic threats online since the beginning of October and the continued spread of hate speech in online spaces.

“The rising tide of hate is putting all New Yorkers at risk — and as Governor, I’m committed to tackling this crisis head-on,” Governor Hochul said. “We’re deploying physical security resources, expanding our Threat Management and Assessment teams, calling for stronger action from social media companies, and encouraging families and communities to come together to fight hate. New York has always been a beacon of hope, tolerance and inclusivity, and we will be defined by how we come together to condemn hate in all forms.”

In remarks introducing the measures, Governor Hochul said:

 Across our state, New Yorkers are afraid. If they have family or friends in Israel, in Gaza, other places, they’re afraid for their safety.  At home, many people are wrestling with the fear for the first time ever sometime in their lives of being the victim of a hate crime. I wish I could tell you these concerns were misplaced, but tragically the data all across America is showing that hate crimes have surged in the last six weeks.

Since October 7, there has been a 400 percent increase in threats against Jews, Muslims, and Arabs. And make no mistake, we’ve not stood idly by. My number one priority has been and will continue to be protecting the safety of our residents. That’s why I want to inform you about some of the actions that we’re taking to keep New Yorkers safe from extremism and violence.

We have a four pillar plan. It’s comprehensive and it’s far reaching. First of all, we’re strengthening physical security of locations. We’re also making the digital world safer by identifying credible, online threats.  And we’re also calling out social media companies who have failed their responsibility to create a safe, public square. And creating resources and toolkits for parents and schools alike. 

First, let me share how we’ve already taken action to protect our vulnerable communities safe, and to protect physical security. Two weeks ago, I told New Yorkers we were activating law enforcement to protect them.  We mobilized State Police to protect at risk sites. We established a hate and bias reporting hotline. We made $50 million available for local law enforcement, $25 million to protect vulnerable locations.

We also encouraged the use and understanding of our red flag laws to ensure that guns don’t get into the hate filled hands of individuals looking to do harm to others. That’s just the start. Let’s talk today about what we’re trying to do to make the digital world safer. We know that social media is an emotion amplifier. If the emotion is love, and that’s amplified, that is a good dynamic.  If the emotion is hate, and that’s amplified, that’s the chaos that we’re falling into today.

It can also amplify the hate that just boils up from this toxic stew of ignorance, and it becomes festered online.  So we’re creating strategies, for the first time ever, to help identify hate at the source and prevent crimes before they occur. As I’ve often said, I’d rather be in the business of preventing crimes than solving them.

And that’s where our threat assessment and management teams come in – the TAM teams. This is an initiative I actually launched over a year and a half ago in the aftermath of the Buffalo Massacre after a racist shooting by a white supremacist who targeted 10 of my neighbors. That’s when we activated more surveillance of critical threats for harm online.

They work to track and stop violent acts of hate before they happen.  And today, I’m announcing $3 million in additional investment to ensure that every single college campus now has these in the State of New York. So let me be clear. These teams are working to identify violent threats. They’re not looking at your Instagram sunset post or your tweets about your favorite football team. 

And they’re not here to penalize anyone for their political views. They have a simple goal, to find out what’s driving hateful behavior and intervene early before harm is done.  And to give people who are being radicalized online an off ramp. They work with mental health professionals, establish reporting systems, so classmates and others can raise red flags and train adults on how to spot the warning signs. 

We have 36 county-based TAM teams right now. Again, these are the threat assessment and management teams.  They’re already tackling over 50 cases now as we speak. But that’s just one strategy to help protect New Yorkers online. We’re building off the success of other initiatives.  We already use targeted ads to encourage people to anonymously seek help from trained counselors. We have that going on as we speak.

But also, help parents understand what’s available to them. If they start seeing signs that their own child could be radicalized online, because I assure you, most parents are never aware. And we’re also continuing to train our mental health professionals in de-radicalization strategies. But here’s the truth, so much of this hate originates on social media platforms like TikTok who refuse to take action necessary to protect our children and young people.

Just look at what happened this week. A prominent message, shared on TikTok, was one from none other than the mastermind of the 9/11 massacre of thousands of New Yorkers, Osama bin Laden.  It was shocking to see young people extolling the virtues of a terrorist kingpin. That only proves the power that social media has over our young people.  And therefore, they have a responsibility. 

I refuse to accept this as the new status quo.  That’s why I’m pushing back against these companies, pushing back hard.  And as the steward of the 21st Century public square, TikTok and other social media companies, they must start to regulate vile hate speech that originates on their platforms.

They say they do this, but it’s a responsibility they’ve obviously neglected to uphold. That’s why I’ve called out the leadership of every major social media company to express not just my indignation, but to demand that they take concrete action to reduce the sickening hate that is being spread on their sites.

They need better oversight, they need larger moderation teams, and greater transparency. And I told them that in a letter that I’ll be releasing to all of them today. I’m expecting a response. I’m expecting a response from all of them.

Now you know what we’re doing in our attempt to stop hate on social media.  I want to be clear about what we’re not doing. We’re not preventing anyone from exercising their First Amendment rights to speak. We’re not preventing anyone’s right to peacefully assemble. We’re not blocking anyone from expressing opposition or support for political or military action in the Middle East. That’s what we’re not doing. But we’re not tolerating the spread of hate. That’s the difference. 

And the final component of our efforts centers around empowering educators and parents about the power of these radicalization efforts, and how to take steps for de-radicalization, to dial down the temperature, to bring back some sense of calm and normalcy that seems to be so evasive these days.

Let’s start with our schools. Today I’m directing the Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop media literacy tools for K-12 in our public schools. This will teach students, and even teachers, to help understand how to spot conspiracy theories and misinformation, disinformation, and online hate. Start talking about what we’re seeing out there. Give the teachers the tools they need to help these conversations in school.

And by teaching younger New Yorkers about how to discern between digital fact and digital fiction, we can better inoculate them from hatred and the spread of it and help prepare them for a very fast moving and often confusing world.

And now I want to speak to parents directly. As a mom, I know as we approach this holiday season, Thanksgiving, it offers a meaningful and sometimes rare opportunity to gather everyone around the table – your children, younger, high school students, college kids who may be home for the first time since they left you in August. I encourage you to talk to your kids, not just about the rise in hate, but listen to them too. 

Ask them what’s going on in their school and on their campuses and what their friends are talking about. Be the adult in the room. Listen to them, but help them find the path. What are they seeing? What does it feel like? Are they subjected to this? Are they seeing their classmates being so hurt by vile speech and signs at protests? How does it make them feel? Encourage your children, especially the older ones. Don’t just be a bystander, be an upstander. Stand up for your classmates, stand up for your friends. 

And talk about engaging each other in a respectful, tolerant way because the lessons that are being taught now, what young people are absorbing and understanding, will be with them for the rest of their lives. This is a time of great influence on our young people. And parents have a responsibility and an opportunity to guide them to do what’s right so as adults, they understand the beauty of diversity, celebrate our differences. But also, if you’re a parent who’s worried about the path your child is on, you’re seeing things, you’re hearing things, you’re anxious, there are opportunities for you as well.

Explain to your children the difference between disagreeing on a policy that a government may take and displaying hate toward an entire group of innocent people. There is a difference. And counselors are available to help parents as well with the messaging, how you help reduce the tension. 

The only way that New York State stands true to our core values of tolerance and inclusivity is for all of us to do our part to create the kind of society we want to live in. At the end of the day, what is New York but a place that’s comprised of people from all over the world? They come here because they’re persecuted elsewhere. They came here for a better life. Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Black, Brown, White, young, old – it doesn’t matter. They all came here. They’re living here, and there’s so much out there that should bring us together instead of driving us further apart. We don’t always have to agree with each other. I don’t expect we will. Most people don’t agree with the person sitting across them at the Thanksgiving dinner table. But that’s all right. Just do it with respect and a foundation of understanding and love. 

And honestly, that’s what the majority of New Yorkers are doing. Most of us walk through the world with care in our hearts and reject hate wherever it appears. That’s why I will not allow our state to be defined by the angry few that peddle in hate and violence. Instead, as Governor, I’ll continue to remind us of our shared values so going forward, we’ll be defined by how we come together to condemn, with one voice, the evils of antisemitism and Islamophobia, which are so rampant today. 

As always, the nation, and indeed the world, are watching, waiting for New York to lead. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here today.

With a new $3 million investment in the DHSES’ Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit’s (DTPU) the State will expand its Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) training and support to all colleges and universities statewide.

The DTPU will conduct training for New York State colleges and universities; educate school administrators, professors, and staff on how to develop and maintain TAM teams; and provide constant training to supported entities. DHSES will also help connect existing networks that are currently operational within the SUNY and CUNY systems and ensure information sharing between these new college and university TAM efforts and the county-led multidisciplinary TAM teams being established across the state since the May 2022 domestic terror attack in Buffalo, New York. 

Under this effort, these new TAM Teams would:

Use multidisciplinary teams of trained professionals to assess risk and create management plans for individuals on the pathway to violence;

Recognize concerning behaviors and define appropriate escalation protocols;

Establish a centralized reporting mechanism to receive reports of concerning behaviors from students and other bystanders; and

Educate administrative staff and professors on risk factors and warning signs to identify concerning behaviors early before an escalation to violence.

Recent international events have had direct impacts here in New York, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the War in Ukraine. Each have led to a surge in the on-line spread of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. MDM has been used by foreign adversaries and domestic extremists to sow divisions among New Yorkers and reduce community cohesion, as well as cause anxiety, fear, and confusion.  With the prevalence of MDM, and an increasing percentage of young people receiving their news and information through online sources, its important students are prepared to think critically about the sources of information they engage with and how to interpret it. 

As part of the new media literacy program, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) will partner with education experts in media literacy to develop and distribute an age-appropriate, ideologically neutral toolkit on media literacy for students in primary and secondary schools throughout New York. This proven approach to understanding information will develop students’ ability to analyze, evaluate, and assess all forms of media including information delivered through social media. Utilizing various age-dependent trainings, this media literacy toolkit will encourage critical thinking and create a better understanding of how media systems work and the many equities that may be in play when someone chooses to distribute information online. 

The holidays are also a time to reflect on the importance of family and what it means to be part of a community as unique and diverse as New York. As the holidays approach, the Governor is calling on New York families to discuss the importance of inclusivity, pluralism, and rejecting bigotry. With so many college and university students returning home for Thanksgiving, New York has produced an informational guide for parents to help start conversations around the destructive impacts of hate and hate speech.

“There has been a disturbing rise in online hate, especially when it comes to antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-Arab threats. Now more than ever, its critical young adults have the tools they need to be able to critically analyze what they see online and help prevent the further spread of hateful rhetoric,” New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said. 

These new initiatives build on the extensive work already underway in New York to address the spread of hate and extremist violence.

In the immediate aftermath of May 2022’s racist mass shooting in Buffalo, Governor Hochul signed Executive Order 18 which required each county and New York City develop Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans; and created the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Unit within DHSES, to support the creation of local Threat Assessment and Management – or TAM – teams.  These multi-disciplinary teams bring together law enforcement, mental health professionals, school officials, and other community stakeholders to identify, assess, and manage threats of targeted violence.

Since the launch of this effort, 36 of the 58 counties outside of New York City have established TAM teams. Sixteen of the 36 teams are already meeting and hearing cases, while the remaining 20 are meeting and expected to begin hearing cases in the near future. All counties in New York have expressed their intent to create a TAM team. Prior to Governor Hochul’s Executive Order 18, there were only three county-based TAM teams statewide, which were supported through grants from DHSES.

In the last quarter alone, TAM teams held 53 meetings and reviewed dozens of cases that were referred by variety of community stakeholders:

94 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by law enforcement. 67 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by an educational partner. 53 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by a mental health partner; and 27 percent of these teams had at least one case referred to them by social services.

Other key stakeholders, such as public health professionals, religious and culture institutions, and private sector entities, also reported cases to TAM teams.

In November 2023, Governor Hochul has activated law enforcement to keep New Yorkers safe by mobilizing the State Police to increase protection. This included $50 million made available to law enforcement to expand the use of the red flag law and $25 million in security.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit dhses.ny.gov.

See also:

FACT SHEET: BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION TAKES ACTION TO ADDRESS ALARMING RISE OF REPORTED ANTISEMITIC AND ISLAMOPHOBIC EVENTS AT SCHOOLS AND ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

FACT SHEET: BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION TAKES LANDMARK STEP TO COUNTER ANTISEMITISM;
GOVERNORS SHOW SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
 

Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Takes Action to Address Alarming Rise of Reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic Events at Schools and on College Campuses

“We can’t stand by and stand silent [in the wake of Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents]. We must, without equivocation, denounce Antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.” – President Biden

Cornell University, in Ithaca NY, where a student was arrested in connection with online threats to kill and injure Cornell’s Jewish students and “shoot up” the university’s kosher dining hall © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden-Harris Administration is taking new actions and resources to address the alarming rise of reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents at schools and on college campuses since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. These actions will help protect students, engage school and university leaders, and foster safe and supportive learning environments.
 
The Justice Department (DOJ) has published an updated hate crimes threat response guide from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to inform Americans about the steps they can take if they receive a threat. The guide, published on the FBI’s hate crimes resource page, has been shared with organizations and state and local law enforcement entities across the nation. 
 
Actions the Department of Education (ED) is taking include: 

  • The National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, a technical assistance center funded by ED, is releasing two collections of specialized resources designed to help educators, students, parents, and community members prevent Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of discrimination – one for P-12 schools and the other for institutions of higher education.
    • This week, senior ED leaders will host listening sessions with P-12 school leaders and university leaders to glean key insights from the field about how some schools are keeping students safe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict. In addition, listening sessions with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, Sikh, and other students, educators, and staff are planned for the next few weeks. ED will share notable examples of ways schools and campuses can prevent and address Antisemitism and Islamophobia. 
    • Additionally, on December 6th, ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education will launch a webinar series to develop, strengthen, and share evidence-informed strategies that help schools prevent and respond to hate-based threats, bullying, and harassment. The webinar series kicks off with a session on “Creating a Welcoming Environment” on Dec. 6, followed by webinars on “Full Student Participation” on Dec. 13, “Conflict Mediation” on Jan. 17, and “Ongoing Support” in February.

 
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) USDA is partnering with the Department of Education and Muslim and Jewish groups  to host a webinar on November 16 on best practices for countering Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred on rural college campuses.
 
Additional actions by the Biden-Harris Administration to combat Antisemitism and Islamophobia at schools and on college campuses include: 

  • The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) have taken the following steps to increase campus safety:
    • DHS and DOJ have disseminated public safety information to and hosted calls with campus law enforcement as part of broader outreach to state, local, tribal, and territorial officials to address the threat environment and share information about available resources. DHS has also shared relevant resources with campus partners nationwide. As part of its continued outreach to campuses, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is leveraging its 10 Regional field offices and their vast capabilities to conduct outreach and provide resources, tools, and services to K-12 and higher educational institutions to support their security requirements. On behalf of the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice, CISA continues to oversee the SchoolSafety.gov platform, which provides schools and districts with actionable recommendations to create safe and supportive environments for students and educators. The site serves as a one-stop access point for information, resources, guidance, and evidence-based practices on a range of school safety topics and threats. On Oct. 30, the DOJ announced that is awarding over $38 million in grants to support the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, increase hate crimes reporting, expand victim services, and improve community awareness. This includes over $8 million in grants to community-based organizations and civil rights groups, including awards to organizations serving Jewish and Arab American communities. 
    • DOJ’s Community Relations Service continues to provide support on college campuses and remains in dialogue with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and other impacted communities on college campuses nationwide.
  • ED has taken a number of steps to address prohibited forms of Antisemitic and Islamophobic discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).
    • On Nov. 7, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new Dear Colleague Letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Secretary Cardona also has cautioned that if schools violate those obligations, ED has the authority to investigate and take action to redress violations, including by withholding federal dollars. As ED noted in the letter, the Department interprets its regulations consistent with the requirements of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, all of ED’s actions enforcing Title VI must comport with First Amendment principles, and ED’s regulations should not be interpreted to require recipients to enact or enforce codes that punish the exercise of protected free speech.
       ED OCR also recently released an updated complaint form specifying that Title VI’s protection from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin extends to students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics—making it easier for students and others who experience such discrimination to seek redress for it. ED additionally made clear that anyone who believes that a school has discriminated against a student based on race, color, or national origin may file a complaint of discrimination with ED OCR, and that the person who files the complaint need not have been the target of the alleged violation.
       ED continues to offer technical assistance webinars to school communities as well as community organizations on these applications of Title VI. To request such a training, please contact ED OCR at [email protected]

ED also continues to offer information about recently resolved complaints under Title VI, including complaints alleging discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. That information is available here.

See also:

FACT SHEET: BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION TAKES LANDMARK STEP TO COUNTER ANTISEMITISM; GOVERNORS SHOW SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL 

First Lady to Lead First-Ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research

 The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will galvanize the Federal government as well as the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While MAGA Republicans are doing their best to undermine women’s rights, health, ability to succeed, President Biden has announced the first-ever White House initiative on Women’s Health Research, to be led by First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council. The new initiative will fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research. Presently, most medical research is conducted on men, with serious consequences for health of women across the country. Here is a fact sheet from the White House explaining the new initiative:

Despite making up more than half of the population, women have been understudied and underrepresented in health research for far too long. Research on women’s health is drastically underfunded, leading to significant research gaps, with serious consequences for the health of women across the country. This lack of investment limits our understanding of conditions that are specific to women, predominantly affect women, or affect women differently. In order to give women and their health care providers the tools and information that they need to more effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat these conditions – from rheumatoid arthritis to menopause to Alzheimer’s disease to cardiovascular disease to endometriosis – our nation must fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research.
 
If we act swiftly, we can pioneer the next generation of discoveries in women’s health – improving the lives of millions of women. That’s why, today, President Biden is establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. This new effort will be led by First Lady Jill Biden, who has long championed women’s health, and the White House Gender Policy Council. The Initiative will be chaired by Dr. Carolyn Mazure, an esteemed leader in the field of women’s health research, who will coordinate the Initiative on behalf of the Office of the First Lady and the Gender Policy Council.
 
“I have always believed in the power of research to save lives and to ensure that Americans get the high-quality health care they need,” President Biden stated. “To achieve scientific breakthroughs and strengthen our ability to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, we have to be bold. That’s why today, we’re establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research so that my Administration—from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Defense—does everything we can to drive innovation in women’s health and close research gaps.”
 
“Every woman I know has a story about leaving her doctor’s office with more questions than answers,” commented First Lady Jill Biden. “Not because our doctors are withholding information, but because there’s just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women’s health conditions. In 2023, that is unacceptable. Our new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will help change that by identifying bold solutions to uncover the answers that every woman and her family deserves. We also are calling on congressional leaders, the private sector, research institutions, and philanthropy to join us in taking urgent action to improve the health and lives of women throughout the nation.”
 
PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM ESTABLISHING WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH
 
The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will galvanize the Federal government as well as the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health. As a first step, through today’s Presidential Memorandum, the President is directing his Administration to: 

  • Establish an Initiative consisting of executive departments and agencies across the Federal government. Initiative members include Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, and White House offices, such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  
     
  • Deliver concrete recommendations to advance women’s health research. Within 45 days, Initiative members will recommend concrete actions that the Biden-Harris Administration can take to improve how research on women’s health is conducted and maximize the Administration’s investments in women’s health research, including to address health disparities and inequities.
     
  • Take a targeted, high-impact approach. To deliver results quickly, Initiative members will set priority areas of focus where additional investments could be transformative—in areas of research ranging from heart attacks in women to menopause.
     
  • Engage the scientific, private sector, and philanthropic communities. The Initiative will explore new public-private partnerships and engage private and philanthropic leaders to drive innovation and ensure the combined power of public, private, and philanthropic sectors advances research on women’s health.

Dr. Carolyn M. Mazure serves as the Chair of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research and has recently joined the Office of the First Lady. Dr. Mazure comes to the White House from the Yale School of Medicine, where she has served as the Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women’s Health Research, and Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. After three years at the National Institutes of Health and fellowship training at Yale, Dr. Mazure joined the Yale faculty as an active clinician and NIH-funded researcher. She created Women’s Health Research at Yale, the university’s interdisciplinary research center on the health of women, which studies a wide breadth of topics from cardiovascular disease to cancers. She holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and did her fellowship and post-doctoral work at Yale School of Medicine.

Biden-Harris Administration Proposes Steps to Protect People with Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Coverage

The Biden-Harris Administration is proposing important steps to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (Part D). As part of his Bidenomics agenda, President Biden has worked to increase competition in the health care industry and other sectors, lower costs for families, and make sure every American has access to affordable, high-quality health care. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden-Harris Administration is proposing important steps to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (Part D). As part of his Bidenomics agenda, President Biden has worked to increase competition in the health care industry and other sectors, lower costs for families, and make sure every American has access to affordable, high-quality health care.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) proposed rule will help people with Medicare select and enroll in coverage options that best meet their health care needs by preventing plans from engaging in anti-competitive steering of prospective enrollees based on excessive compensation to agents and brokers, rather than the enrollee’s best interests. The proposed guardrails protect people with Medicare and promote a competitive marketplace in Medicare Advantage, consistent with the goals of President Biden’s historic Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.

The proposed rule will also improve access to behavioral health care by adding a new facility type that includes several behavioral health provider types to Medicare Advantage network adequacy requirements. CMS is also proposing policies to increase the utilization and appropriateness of supplemental benefits to ensure taxpayer dollars actually provide meaningful benefits to enrollees. Additionally, the proposed rule would improve transparency on the effects of prior authorization on underserved communities and proposes more flexibility for Part D plans to more quickly substitute lower cost biosimilar biological products for their reference products.

“The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. By ensuring Medicare recipients have the information they need to make critical decisions about their health care coverage, we are doing just that,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Promoting competition in the marketplace helps to lower costs and protect access to care while making the whole process more transparent and accountable.”

“CMS continues to improve the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs and maintain high-quality health care coverage choices for all Medicare enrollees,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “People with Medicare deserve to have accurate and unbiased information when they make important decisions about their health coverage. Today’s proposals further our efforts to curb predatory marketing and inappropriate steering that distorts healthy competition among plans.”

CMS has previously taken unprecedented steps to address predatory marketing of Medicare Advantage plans, such as banning misleading TV ads. Many people on Medicare rely on agents and brokers to help navigate Medicare choices. CMS is concerned that some Medicare Advantage plans are compensating agents and brokers in a way that may circumvent existing payment rules, inappropriately steer individuals to enroll in plans that do not best meet their health care needs, and lead to further consolidation in the Medicare Advantage market. To further protect people with Medicare through stronger marketing policies and to promote a competitive marketplace in Medicare Advantage, CMS is proposing added guardrails to plan compensation for agents and brokers, including standardization. These proposals are consistent with the statutory requirement that CMS develop guidelines to ensure that the use of compensation creates incentives for agents and brokers to enroll individuals in the Medicare Advantage plan that is intended to best meet their health care needs.

CMS also proposes to strengthen and improve access to behavioral health care by adding a new facility type, which includes marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, addiction medicine clinicians, opioid treatment providers, and others, to CMS’ Medicare Advantage network adequacy requirements. This proposed addition builds on changes finalized last year to strengthen these requirements and would ensure people with Medicare Advantage can access vital mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

“The people we serve are at the center of the Medicare program, and we work each day to make sure the program works for them. Agents and brokers play an important role in guiding people with Medicare to the option that is tuned in to their medical needs. Our proposals on how plans compensate agents and brokers seek to support a competitive marketplace that best serves people with Medicare,” said Dr. Meena Seshamani, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare.

Currently, 99% of Medicare Advantage plans offer at least one supplemental benefit. Over time, the benefits offered have become broader in scope and variety, with more rebate dollars directed toward these benefits. CMS is committed to ensuring these offerings are effectively reaching enrollees and actually meeting their needs, and not just used for attracting enrollees. In today’s rule, CMS proposes requiring Medicare Advantage plans to send a personalized notification to their enrollees mid-year of the unused supplemental benefits available to them to encourage higher utilization. Furthermore, CMS is proposing additional requirements designed to help ensure that benefits offered as special supplemental benefits for the chronically ill (SSBCI) are backed by evidence. CMS is also proposing new marketing and transparency guardrails around these benefits. These proposals will help ensure a robust and competitive Medicare Advantage marketplace made up of plan options with meaningful benefits.

Additionally, CMS is concerned that certain prior authorization policies may disproportionately inhibit access to needed care for underserved enrollees. To provide additional safeguards, CMS is proposing to require that Medicare Advantage plans include an expert in health equity on their utilization management committees and that the committees conduct an annual health equity analysis of the plans’ prior authorization policies and procedures. This analysis would examine the impact of prior authorization on enrollees with one or more of the following social risk factors—eligibility for Part D low-income subsidies, dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, or having a disability—compared to enrollees without these risk factors. These analyses would have to be posted publicly to improve transparency into the effects of prior authorization on underserved populations. To further promote health equity, CMS is also proposing to streamline enrollment options for individuals with both Medicare and Medicaid, providing more opportunities for integrated care.

To support competition in the prescription drug marketplace, CMS is also proposing to provide more flexibility to substitute biosimilar biological products other than interchangeable biological products for their reference products to give people with Medicare more timely access to lower-cost biosimilar drugs. This proposal would permit Part D plans to treat such substitutions as maintenance changes so that the substitutions apply to all enrollees, not only those who begin the therapy after the effective date of the change, following a 30-day notice.

There will be a 60-day comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking, and comments must be submitted at one of the addresses provided in the Federal Register no later than January 5, 2024. The proposed rule can be accessed at the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.

View a fact sheet on the proposed rule at cms.gov/newsroom.

View the CMS Blog Important New Changes to Improve Access to Behavioral Health in Medicare at https://www.cms.gov/blog.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Advances Vision for World Class Passenger Rail by Delivering Billions in New Funding

This fact sheet from the White House describes how President Biden is using $16.4 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to repair and replace critical rail infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor, to provide faster and more reliable passenger rail service, and create more than 100,000 construction jobs:

Penn Station, New York, on the busy Northeast Corridor. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, with $66 billion investment in rail. Biden announced $16.4 billion in new funding for 25 passenger rail projects on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, moving the United States closer to his vision for world-class passenger rail.  The investments announced today will rebuild tunnels and bridges that are over 100 years old; upgrade tracks, power systems, signals, stations, and other infrastructure; and, advance future projects to significantly improve travel times by increasing operating speeds and reducing delays. Combined with Amtrak’s nearly $9 billion fleet replacement program, which will replace over 1,000 locomotives and coaches with state-of-the art and Made-in-America equipment, these investments will ensure that train service is more convenient and climate-friendly than either driving or flying. The funding will also contribute to more than 100,000 good-paying union jobs in construction. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bidenomics and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda are tackling long-standing infrastructure needs, supporting communities nationwide, and making it possible to get people and goods where they need to be safely, quickly, and conveniently. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, with a $66 billion total investment in rail. Today, President Biden is announcing $16.4 billion in new funding for 25 passenger rail projects on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, moving the United States closer to his vision for world-class passenger rail.  The investments announced today will rebuild tunnels and bridges that are over 100 years old; upgrade tracks, power systems, signals, stations, and other infrastructure; and, advance future projects to significantly improve travel times by increasing operating speeds and reducing delays. Combined with Amtrak’s nearly $9 billion fleet replacement program, which will replace over 1,000 locomotives and coaches with state-of-the art and Made-in-America equipment, these investments will ensure that train service is more convenient and climate-friendly than either driving or flying. The funding will also contribute to more than 100,000 good-paying union jobs in construction. President Biden will travel to Bear, Delaware to make the announcement.

The Northeast Corridor, running from Boston, MA, to Washington, DC, is the most heavily traveled rail corridor in the United States, supporting 800,000 trips per day in a region that represents 20 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. The trains carry five times more passengers than all flights between Washington and New York. Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor also emit up to 83% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to car travel and up to 72% less greenhouse gas emissions than flying. If the Northeast Corridor shut down for a single day, it would cost the economy $100 million in lost productivity. Despite its importance, the Corridor hasn’t seen major investment in generations. The Northeast Corridor that exists today is the product of investments that date back to the 1830s, and many of the existing bridges and tunnels were built in the early twentieth century. Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Northeast Corridor is finally on track to be rebuilt to meet the needs of 21st century travelers.

Today’s $16.4 billion announcement is through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program, and reflects nearly $9 billion in FY 2022 and FY 2023 funds and $7.4 billion in future commitments through phased funding agreements.
Major awarded projects include:

Gateway Hudson River Tunnel (NY/NJ) will receive $3.8 billion in a phased funding agreement to rehabilitate and expand the Hudson River Tunnel between New York and New Jersey, which is over 100 years old, serves 200,000 passengers daily, and was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The overall Gateway Hudson River Tunnel project will improve resiliency, reliability, and redundancy for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak passengers traveling on the Northeast Corridor between New York and New Jersey. Combined with other investments, the total Biden Administration commitment to the tunnel project will be a record $11 billion. President Biden visited this project in January to announce a $292 million DOT MEGA program grant for the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, which supports the critical connection between the new Hudson River Tunnel and New York Penn Station. In June, the Hudson Tunnel Project received a $25 million grant through DOT’s RAISE program to support construction of the new tunnel portal through the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge and utility relocation project in North Bergen, NJ. On Friday, Administration officials participated in a groundbreaking to officially begin construction on the New York side of the tunnel. The Hudson Tunnel Project is a critical component of the Gateway Program — a comprehensive rail investment program that will improve commuter and intercity services, add needed resiliency and create new capacity for the busiest section of the Northeast Corridor. The project is critical to the northeast regional economy — not only will the project generate $19 billion in economic activity over the Project’s construction period, addressing this critical chokepoint on the Northeast Corridor supports the $50 billion that workers riding on the NEC contribute to the economy annually.
 

  • Frederick Douglass Tunnel (MD) will receive $4.7 billion in a phased funding agreement to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, increasing speeds from 30 mph to 110 mph and reducing delays on the entire Northeast Corridor. The tunnel’s tight curvature and steep incline requires trains to reduce speeds to 30 mph. These issues create chronic delays — more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays. The tunnel is the largest Northeast Corridor bottleneck between Washington and New Jersey and a single point of failure for the roughly 24,000 Amtrak and Maryland Area Commuter (MARC) passengers who rely on it daily. The President visited this project in January to announce the signing of a project kickoff agreement between Amtrak and the State of Maryland and a Project Labor Agreement between Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council. Initial construction began in March of this year, and Amtrak recently awarded a contract for construction on the southern approach.
     
  • Susquehanna River Bridge (MD) will receive $2.1 billion in a phased funding agreement to replace an existing 100-year-old rail bridge with two new two-track spans that will allow speeds to increase from 90 mph to 125 mph, and improve reliability and trip times. Amtrak, the MARC rail and Norfolk Southern Railway use the bridge to transport both passengers and freight and therefore experiences a high volume of rail traffic. Roughly 19,000 passengers travel over the existing bridge every weekday. As part of this replacement project, the existing movable bridge will be replaced with high-level fixed bridges, which will also improve navigation for boats on the Susquehanna River.
     
  • Penn Station Access (NY) will receive $1.6 billion in a phased funding agreement to repair and rehabilitate 19 miles of the Amtrak-owned Hell Gate Line, including tracks, bridges, and signals. The project will introduce Metro-North service to Penn Station, increase Amtrak service, and the cut local transit travel time from the Bronx to Manhattan by as much as 50 minutes. In addition to reducing travel times, New York MTA’s investment will create four new fully ADA-accessible rail stations, and the added service and reduced travel times will have significant benefits for low-income communities in the Bronx. This project is in active construction as of 2023.
     
  • The Connecticut River Bridge (CT) will receive $827 million to replace a 116-year-old bridge with a new modern, resilient movable bridge. Replacing the existing structure will increase reliability and safety, and rail speeds on the bridge will increase from 45 mph to 70 mph. This project is fully designed and set to begin construction in 2024.

Two planning studies are also included in the investment: one to examine opportunities to increase speeds and reduce travel time between Washington, D.C. and New York City, and one to study future infrastructure options to improve speed, resilience, performance, and capacity to support faster trains traveling on the Northeast Corridor through Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Each new awarded project – from the Frederick Douglass Tunnel to the Connecticut River Bridge – will improve travel times by addressing the delays associated with the constant maintenance and repair of old Northeast Corridor infrastructure. These delays are estimated to result in almost 245,000 train delay minutes annually, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will support replacing infrastructure that could result in almost 110,000 delay minutes saved annually.

Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs

Across all Northeast Corridor projects, an agreement is in place between Amtrak and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) that ensures Amtrak’s large civil engineering construction projects will be performed under a collective bargaining agreement that addresses points such as wages, benefits, working conditions, and promoting diversity and veteran hiring in the construction trades. With this agreement, Amtrak and NABTU will promote a strong workforce pipeline to prevent work disruptions; contractors and subcontractors share Amtrak’s commitment to paying fair wages and benefits; and Amtrak and NABTU can move forward with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded projects with efficient labor-management relations.

Amtrak expects the Hudson River Tunnel project will result in 72,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training. The Frederick Douglas Tunnel program is expected to generate 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, including approximately 20,000 construction jobs. Amtrak is investing more than $50 million in local workforce development and community investments, including pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to ensure that local workers in West Baltimore can access these jobs.

Progress for Other Rail Investments

After waiting years for new federal funding, 2023 is the year in which major rail and transit projects across the country are moving forward.

Today’s investment follows major investments in rail safety through track improvements, bridge rehabilitations, fewer grade crossings, upgrades on routes carrying hazardous materials, and enhanced multi-modal connections to keep people living near, working on, and who travel along America’s rail lines safer:

  •  Last month, FRA announced more than $1.4 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan infrastructure law for 70 rail improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C. This is the largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements — or CRISI — program. This popular program has quadrupled since the President signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. While the majority of selected projects support freight rail safety and supply chains, CRISI investments are also laying the groundwork to expand world-class passenger rail to more communities nationwide. For example, investments in Virginia will result in two new Amtrak round trips and three new commuter rail round trips on the RF&P corridor between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA — a critical link between Northeast and Southeast states — while also improving the fluidity of CSX’s freight network. In California, two additional daily round trips will be added to the Capitol Corridor between the cities of Sacramento and Roseville, and a project eliminating grade crossings in the Central Valley will bring high-speed rail one step closer to becoming a reality. At least $376 million, or 25 percent of the amounts appropriated, was made available for projects in rural areas. In addition to improving passenger rail service, the CRISI program provides funding to further develop workforce and industry in America around rail. For example, Amtrak will receive up to $8.8 million for a pilot apprenticeship training program to recruit and train new track foremen and inspectors in Pennsylvania.  
     
  • In June, FRA announced $570 million for 63 projects in 32 states under the new Railroad Crossing Elimination Program, or RCE, created by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This inaugural round of funding will address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide, improve safety, and make it easier to get around railroad tracks by adding grade separations, closing at-grade crossings, and improving existing at-grade crossings where train tracks and roads intersect. Over each of the next four years, additional RCE Program funding will be made available annually. Project selections for other grant programs that will improve freight rail safety and efficiency, strengthen supply chains, and expand the passenger rail network — representing billions of dollars in infrastructure law investments — will be announced in the coming months.
     
  • In 2022, the Biden Administration announced $233 million in grants to upgrade intercity passenger rail service across the country through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. These investments will help replace bridges and tunnels along the Northeast Corridor, many of which are over 100 years old. Grants were also awarded to improve rail infrastructure in California, Michigan, and improving Chicago Union Station. 
     
  • On November 30, 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration granted $4.3 billion to Amtrak, which represents the first year of the $22 billion in direct funding to Amtrak provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Amtrak is using these funds to modernize the intercity passenger rail network, modernize and increase accessibility at more than 280 Amtrak-served stations across the country, and replace Amtrak’s existing fleet of over 1,000 railcars and locomotives with accessible, comfortable, state-of-the-art equipment. Portions of the new fleet will enter service in 2023, and over 525 new railcars and locomotives will begin service by the end of the decade. Amtrak debuted the design of the new “Airo” railcars in late 2022. In fiscal year 2023 alone, Amtrak has invested nearly $3 billion in 750 projects across the country. By the end of 2023, 15 Amtrak stations will have been brought to full ADA compliance, with 25 more upgraded with passenger information display stations. Through these investments, Amtrak has created nearly 5,000 jobs, including employing over 4,000 union workers.
     
  • Later this year, FRA will award billions from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for intercity passenger rail projects across the country under the Fed-State Partnership National Program. High-speed rail projects are eligible for funding from this program.  

 
Northeast Corridor Awarded Projects Map