The White House provided this fact sheet of actions the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to protect patient privacy in the wake of the assault on women’s access to reproductive health care:
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration will announce new actions to safeguard patient privacy at the third meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access with Vice President Harris. These announcements build on actions that the Administration has taken to protect privacy and access to accurate information in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, as the President directed in his first Executive Order to protect access to reproductive health care, including abortion. Efforts to protect sensitive health information, including related to reproductive health care, have taken on renewed importance, as states seek to penalize and criminalize health care providers and interfere in deeply personal medical decisions.
At the meeting, the Cabinet will discuss their ongoing efforts to defend reproductive rights and support access to reproductive health care more broadly. The Task Force will also discuss updates on the Administration’s response to Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, as well as efforts to implement the Presidential Memorandum on ensuring safe access to medication abortion, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for over two decades.
Today, the Administration announced actions to:
Strengthen Reproductive Health Privacy under HIPAA. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to strengthen privacy protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This rule would prohibit doctors, other health care providers, and health plans from disclosing individuals’ protected health information, including information related to reproductive health care, under certain circumstances. Specifically, the rule would prevent an individual’s information from being disclosed to investigate, sue, or prosecute an individual, a health care provider, or a loved one simply because that person sought, obtained, provided, or facilitated legal reproductive health care, including abortion. By safeguarding sensitive information related to reproductive health care, the rule will strengthen patient-provider confidentiality and help health care providers give complete and accurate information to patients.
Protect Students’ Health Information. The Department of Education (ED) is issuing guidance to over 20,000 school officials to remind them of their obligations to protect student privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The guidance helps ensure that school officials—including those at federally funded school districts, colleges, and universities—know that, with certain exceptions, they must obtain written consent from eligible students or parents before disclosing personally identifiable information from students’ educational records, which may include student health information. The guidance encourages school officials to consider the importance of student privacy, including health privacy, with respect to disclosing student records. ED is also issuing a know-your-rights resource to help students understand their privacy rights for health records at school.
Support Consumer Privacy. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is launching a new guide for consumers on best practices for protecting their personal data on mobile phones. The guide also explains how existing FCC requirements protect against the disclosure of consumers’ sensitive information, including geolocation data, which can be especially important in the context of accessing reproductive health care. The guide follows a recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by FCC that is aimed at updating and strengthening data breach rules to provide greater protections to personal data.
Safeguard Patients’ Electronic Health Information. HHS is issuing guidance affirming that doctors and other medical providers can take steps to protect patients’ electronic health information, including their information related to reproductive health care. HHS will make clear that patients have the right to ask that their electronic health information generally not be disclosed by their physician, hospital, or other health care provider—including to other health care providers. The guidance also reminds health care providers that HIPAA’s privacy protections continue to apply to patients’ electronic health information.
The Administration also announced related efforts to provide access to accurate information and bolster data related to women’s health more broadly:
Leverage Maternal Health Data to Address Disparities. FCC is committing to the swift implementation of the Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act, which directs FCC, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to incorporate publicly available data on maternal mortality and morbidity into its Mapping Broadband Health in America platform. This innovation will support women’s health by informing efforts to expand broadband access—including access to telehealth—in areas with poor maternal health outcomes. This builds on the Administration’s work to improve maternal health and address long-standing disparities, including those spotlighted this Black Maternal Health Week. FCC will continue to explore opportunities to improve research, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation in the context of reproductive health care and maternal health outcomes.
Promote Accurate Information About Reproductive Care. HHS is announcing that it will issue a new Notice of Funding Opportunity to establish a safe and secure national hotline to provide referral services to women in need of accurate information about their legal reproductive health care options. The nondirective hotline would provide information to patients served by the Title X family planning program who request information related to prenatal care and delivery; infant care, foster care, or adoption; or pregnancy termination.
Today’s announcements build on previous actions to protect patient privacy and access to accurate information. The Administration has taken action to:
Prevent Illegal Use and Sharing of Sensitive Health Information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has committed to enforcing the law against illegal use and sharing of highly sensitive data, including information related to reproductive health care. Consistent with this commitment, the FTC recently took first-of-its-kind enforcement action against companies for disclosing consumers’ personal health information without permission to Facebook, Google, and others. The FTC has also urged companies to consider that sensitive data is protected by numerous state and federal laws and that claims that data is “anonymous” are often deceptive.
Reinforce Existing Protections under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Immediately after Dobbs, HHS issued guidance to help ensure doctors and other health care providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required—and in many cases, are not permitted—to disclose individuals’ health information, including to law enforcement. This guidance, which helps protect individuals seeking or receiving reproductive health care, remains in effect while today’s rulemaking is underway. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking noted above would further strengthen privacy protections under the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
Protect Individuals’ Health Information Online. HHS issued a bulletin to affirm that HIPAA’s privacy protections extend to the use of online tools offered by or on behalf of covered entities that collect protected health information through websites and mobile apps. These tools, such as “cookies” on a website, can be used to track online activity and information about website and app users, sometimes in ways that collect or reveal protected health information. This can include information about reproductive health care, such as the location of where an individual sought medical treatment. The bulletin makes clear that health care providers and health plans—as well as many of the entities that these organizations do business with—cannot use online tracking tools or share patient information with third parties in a way that violates HIPAA.
Help Consumers Protect Their Personal Data. HHS issued a how-to guide for consumers on steps they can take to make sure they are protecting their personal data on personal cell phones or tablets. HHS also provided tips for protecting individuals’ privacy when using mobile health apps, like period trackers. This resource helps ensure that consumers have the information they need to better protect their health information when it is accessed or stored on their personal cell phones or tablets, which are generally not protected under HIPAA.
Promote the Privacy of Service Members. The Department of Defense issued an updated policy to provide Service members with time and flexibility to make private health care decisions while accounting for the responsibility placed on commanders to meet operational requirements and protect the health and safety of those in their care. This policy standardized the timeframe for Service members to inform their commanders about a pregnancy, generally allowing Service members until up to 20 weeks of pregnancy to notify their commanders of their pregnancy status, with limited exceptions to account for specific military duties, occupational health hazards, and medical conditions.
Provide Access to Accurate Information and Legal Resources. On the day of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, which provides timely and accurate information about reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care. This includes know-your-rights information for patients and providers and promotes awareness of and access to family planning services, as well as guidance for how to file a patient privacy or nondiscrimination complaint with its Office for Civil Rights. DOJ also launched justice.gov/reproductive-rights, a webpage that provides a centralized online resource of the Department’s work to protect reproductive freedom under federal law.
Complaint Alleges Idaho Law Violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act
The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of patients to access emergency medical care guaranteed by federal law. The suit challenges Idaho Code § 18-622 (§ 18-622), which is set to go into effect on Aug. 25 and imposes a near-total ban on abortion.
The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that § 18-622 conflicts with, and is preempted by, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition. The United States also seeks an order permanently enjoining the Idaho law to the extent it conflicts with EMTALA.
“On the day Roe and Casey were overturned, we promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “That is what we are doing, and that is what we will continue to do. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law. And we will closely scrutinize state abortion laws to ensure that they comply with federal law.”
“Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Women should not have to be near death to get care. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue its work with the Department of Justice to enforce federal law protecting access to health care, including abortions.”
“One critical focus of the Reproductive Rights Task Force has been assessing the fast-changing landscape of state laws and evaluating potential legal responses to infringements on federal protections,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s lawsuit against the State of Idaho for its near-absolute abortion ban is the first public example of this work in action. We know that these are frightening and uncertain times for pregnant women and their providers, and the Justice Department, through the Task Force’s work, is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
EMTALA requires hospitals that receive federal Medicare funds to provide necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency. When a physician reasonably determines that the necessary stabilizing treatment is an abortion, state law cannot prohibit the provision of that care. The statute defines necessary stabilizing treatment to include all treatment needed to ensure that a patient will not have her health placed in serious jeopardy, have her bodily functions seriously impaired, or suffer serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.
As explained in the complaint, once § 18-622 enters into effect in Idaho, a prosecutor can indict, arrest and prosecute a physician merely by showing that an abortion has been performed, without regard to the circumstances. A physician who provides an abortion in Idaho can ultimately avoid criminal liability only by establishing as an affirmative defense that “the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” or that, before performing the abortion, the pregnant patient (or, in some circumstances, their parent or guardian) reported an “act of rape or incest” against the patient to a specified agency and provided a copy of the report to the physician. The law provides no defense for an abortion necessary to protect the health of the pregnant patient.
Idaho’s criminal prohibition of all abortions, subject only to the statute’s two limited affirmative defenses, directly conflicts with EMTALA and stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of EMTALA’s federal objectives of providing stabilizing care and treatment to anyone who needs it. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Justice Department established the Reproductive Rights Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Gupta. The Task Force is charged with protecting access to reproductive freedom under federal law. For additional information on the work of the Task Force visit www.justice.gov/reproductive-rights.
This Equal Pay Day, the White House is announcing critical steps that the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to advance pay equity and promote women’s economic security.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have long championed equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring all people have a fair and equal opportunity to get ahead. Closing gender and racial wage gaps is essential to building an equitable economy and addressing the barriers that have long hampered women from fully participating in the labor force. But we still have work to do. In 2020, the average woman working full-time, year-round earned 83 cents for every dollar paid to their average male counterpart. Compared with the average man working full-time, year-round, disparities are even greater for Black women, Native American women, and Latinas, as well as certain subpopulations of Asian women.
This Equal Pay Day, the Vice President is hosting a virtual summit, bringing together partners across the country who are taking critical steps to tackle pay discrimination, create good-paying jobs, and support families’ access to care.
Yesterday, the President published a proclamation on Equal Pay Day. The President stated “Equal pay is a matter of justice, fairness, and dignity — it is about living up to our values and who we are as a Nation.’ (Read and share the full proclamation here:A Proclamation on National Equal Pay Day, 2022 | The White House)
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to promote women’s employment and support working families across the country. These actions will:
• Advance pay equity for the Federal workforce. The Office of Personnel Management announced that they anticipate issuing a proposed regulation that will address the use of prior salary history in the hiring and pay-setting process for Federal employees, consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. Banning the use of prior salary history can help break the cycle of past arbitrary and potentially discriminatory pay that can follow women and workers of color from job to job, entrenching gender and racial pay gaps over time.
• Promote efforts to achieve pay equity for job applicants and employees of Federal contractors. President Biden will sign an Executive Order directing the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider enhancing pay equity and transparency, including by limiting or prohibiting federal contractors from seeking and considering information about job applicants’ and employees’ existing or past compensation when making employment decisions, and appropriate accountability measures. The Department of Labor will consult with the FAR Council on the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness in Federal contracting that would be promoted by potential regulatory changes, and the most effective implementation strategy for any subsequent rulemaking.
• Strengthen pay equity audits by Federal contractors. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a new directive clarifying federal contractors’ annual obligation to analyze their compensation practices. Conducting these pay equity audits helps address and prevent pay disparities based on gender, race, or ethnicity.
• Ensure equitable access to good-paying jobs. The Department of Labor issued a report analyzing the impact that women’s concentration in low-wage sectors – and their relative underrepresentation in many good-paying occupations – has on their overall economic security and gender and racial wage gaps. The report finds that, in 2019, Black women lost $39.3 billion and Hispanic women lost $46.7 billion in wages compared to white men due to differences in industry and occupation. This segregation intensified the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women, in part due to the overrepresentation of women in hard-hit industries such as hospitality.
• Address discrimination against caregivers. Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published technical assistance on caregiver discrimination, addressing the circumstances under which discrimination against applicants and employees based on pandemic-related caregiving responsibilities may violate federal employment discrimination laws.
The actions announced today build on steps the Administration has taken to advance pay equity, including:
• Provided immediate relief through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to millions of women who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. This work includes: standing up a historic vaccination program that has fully vaccinated more than 215 million Americans; reopening schools; providing direct payments to individuals; expanding nutrition programs for families; providing paid leave tax credits for small and midsize employers; distributing the majority of emergency rental assistance to female-headed households; and expanding the Child Tax Credit, which last year helped reduce child poverty to its estimated lowest level in recorded American history.
• Helped keep child care providers open and boosted pay for child care workers. States have already delivered American Rescue Plan stabilization grants to more than 150,000 child care providers serving more than 5 million children and their families. One survey finds that 92% of providers receiving funds relied on them to help stay open and nearly half used them to repay debt incurred during the pandemic. Many states also used funds to help boost compensation of the child care workforce. For example, Minnesota is requiring providers to increase compensation, while North Carolina and Connecticut offered bonus payments to providers who increased compensation of the workforce. Increasing compensation for child care workers helps narrow gender and racial pay gaps, as more than nine in ten are women and more than four in ten are women of color. While ARP funds allowed child care programs to provide temporary bonuses, they need long-term funding as the President has proposed to sustainably increase wages.
• Provided tax relief to help families with child care costs during the pandemic by delivering a historic increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to support millions of working families this tax season. The ARP increased the maximum CDCTC for a median income family with two children under age 13 by more than sixtimes—providing up to $8,000 towards child care expenses in 2021. It will reimburse most families for up to half of their child care expenses. And the ARP CDCTC is fully-refundable, helping lower-income parents fully benefit regardless of their tax liability. Even before the pandemic, families struggled to afford child care, forcing parents and especially mothers to forego higher paying jobs, work fewer hours, or take time out of the workforce, leading to lower pay over their career. The President has urged Congress to pass his plan for child care, which could lower child care costs for nine in ten families with young children.
• Increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour for Federal workers and contractors, benefiting many women and people of color. The President issued Executive Orders directing the Administration to work toward ensuring that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earned a $15 per hour minimum wage. Those directives went into effect in January, raising the wages of about 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors. In addition to helping the government do its work more efficiently, these directives take a step towards narrowing racial and gender disparities in income, as many low-wage workers are women and people of color. The order also eliminates the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. The President has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so that American workers can have a job that delivers dignity, and to make greater strides towards pay equity.
• Signed into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Administration investments through this law will increase access to good-paying jobs, including for women, people of color, and members of other communities who are currently underrepresented in the sectors where these jobs will be created, such as transportation, clean energy, and broadband. The Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the creation of good infrastructure and transportation jobs with a focus on equitable workforce development using funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
• Issued an Executive Order to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility across the federal government – the nation’s largest employer – including by prioritizing efforts to close gender and racial wage gaps, address workplace safety and harassment, including in our national security workforce, and advance equity for LGBTQI+ public servants.
• Issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. This established the Administration’s policy of addressing anticompetitive behavior in labor markets, which can fall heavily on women and workers of color. The Order includes specific initiatives to promote competition in labor markets, including encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban or limit non-compete agreements, and encouraging the FTC and the Department of Justice to strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another.
By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com
Thousands gathered in Foley Square, in front of the federal court house, to hear calls for justice, equal rights and full personhood for women in face of the assault on abortion rights from Texas and dozens of states and the right wing majority Supreme Court’s deference and then marched up to Washington Square Park, bringing their messages of “Save Roe” “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries”, “Hands off Our Privates” “We Won’t Go Back” and “Ruth Sent Us.” (See: NYC Joins Millions Across Country in Rallies, Marches for Women’s Reproductive Freedom)
By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com
Thousands gathered in Foley Square, in front of the federal court house, to protest for justice, equal rights and full personhood for women in face of the assault on abortion rights from Texas and dozens of states and the right wing majority Supreme Court’s deference. The timing was key, just days before the Supreme Court begins its session in which it will hear a Mississippi case banning abortions after 15 weeks. Texas SB8 bans abortions after six-weeks, the theoretical point when a fetus has a heartbeat, and deputizes vigilantes and bounty hunters to enforce it against anyone even suspected of aiding a woman who gets an abortion and collect $10,000.
Rana Abdelhamid: “This is not about religion, not about life. They called us ‘hysterical’ for warning about the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s time for congress to do what’s right and protect our constitutional right to abortion. End the filibuster. We know what it is to have our bodies policed. Abolition Justice!
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU: We stand with women in Texas, Mississippi and all over the country. Abortion Justice. Reproductive Justice. Make New York a safe haven, close every loophole in state law, so anyone can come for reproductive health. We won’t turn back. We will be at every polling place in every election. Hold elected leaders accountable.
Heidi Sieck, Vote Pro Choice: Reproductive freedom and abortion justice are at stake. Small, massively overfunded group of white supremacist, Christian conservatives have invested in state legislatures, built an anti-choice infrastructure. They stole two Supreme Court seats. That changes now. Over 80 percent support reproductive freedom. Pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (that passed the House, but not the senate), end the filibuster, rebalance Supreme Court. In November, 2021, 40,000 seats are up for election. Every ingle elected has a role to protect reproductive rights. Not just congress but state and local. Run for office, donate to VoteProChoice.us.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney: They have been chipping away at abortion rights for years, but now they are bulldozing our rights into the ground.Last week, chaired House Oversight Committee on Texas SB8, when three Congresswomen told their abortion stories. Women are speaking out. In December, Mississippi comes before the Supreme Court. For my entire time in Congress we hadn’t had a pro-choice majority, until this year. We passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, codifying Roe. It has to pass in the Senate. We could pass it except for the filibuster. We have to carve out an exception. There is no democracy if women cannot control their own bodies, make their own reproduction choices. It is so outrageous, I can’t believe we are still fighting for this.
Brita Filter: Abortion rights are LGBTQ rights.
Congressman Jerry Nadler, who, over 50 years ago, lobbied the New York State Assembly to legalize abortion: It’s been 30 days since women were stripped of their constitutional rights, their freedom to make their own decisions of their lives, their bodies. That’s 30 days too many.
Amsi: The battle for reproductive rights is not new. It’s been long, hard, frustrating.
Pascale Bernard, Planned Parenthood of New York City: History is repeating. We have been here before. Enough is enough. Women in Texas are having to drive to Oklahoma, having to choose between paying for an abortion or feeding their children. People are scared. Justice Ginsburg told us to dissent, she left a roadmap to protect reproductive rights. We are lucky in New York, but we nee dto close loopholes, we need an abortion fund so women can come to New York for care, for safety.
Cathy Rojas, a teacher and candidate for NYC mayor running as a Socialist: We need to build a sustainable people-powered movement ion New York City, In Texas, where people were freezing and is one of worst states to live – hunger, poverty of children, maternal mortality – they are leading the attack on abortion rights. So when claim is about protecting life, is really about protecting profit over lives.The right wing don’t give a damn about lives. Instead of dealing with the real crises are attacking abortion rights. Congress is ineffective at passing laws for basic necessities, but quick to bail out banks and the ultra rich. They always find time to attack women, LGBTQ and the vulnerable. This is not just about a bad law, but the whole damn system – the bigots, the politicians for hire, the courts up to the Supreme Court, the corporate control of the media, the police and ICE. I am fed up with capitalism. We need systemic change.
The Band Betty: We are one-fourth through the 21st century. I don’t see flying cars or universal health care. I see women being told to be ashamed. Until women have equal rights in the Constitution, we will continue to see how the state commands our fate.
Rev. Nori Rost, New York Society of Ethical Culture: They are “protecting” a fetus with a heartbeat? How about fighting for people who already have a heart beat. Anti-choice, anti-woman is nothing new – it is about subjugation, oppression. We will not give up, shut up, slow down, sit down until all people have agency over their own body. We are among millions marching as one, we will not be stopped.
Jeannie Park (Warriors in the Garden): Abortion bans have no humanity, no exception for rape, incenst. 3 million have experienced rape, the next 3 million will be forced to carry to term. The penalty to abort is more severe than to rape. Women’s bodies are more regulated than guns. What does it mean to be pro life if you only value certain lives. Encouraging vigilantes, bounty hunters is too lcose to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. I will not go back.
Miriam Elhajli sings a song 100 years old, “Wagoner’s Lad,” and sounding so much like Joan Baez who sang it: “Oh, hard is the fortune of all woman kind/She’s always controlled, she’s always confined/Controlled by her parents until she’s a wife/A slave to her husband the rest of her life”
Carol Jenkins, Co-President and CEO of The ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality: The Equal Rights Amendment has been around for 100 years; it has been 50 years since passed in Congress, now 38 states have ratified it, so could be published in the Constitution. The only hold up is a time limit, put into the introduction, not the amendment. The root of sexism, misogyny, and racism is in the Constitution, written by slaveholding white males. Everything we’ve been doing since has been to repair what was left out of the Constitution. We have to put the ERA on list of things, so we don’t have to keep repairing the Constitution. Congress has removed the timeline twice, it is now in the Senate. We are done having to beg for rights, gather in the streets and ask “please”. Go to ERACoalition.org.
The White House released fact sheets that highlight the need for and impact of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Families Plan in states and territories across the country. The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity: education, health care, and child care.
The fact sheets highlight how many families would benefit from free community college and universal pre-K, the high costs of child care, the number of workers who lack access to paid family leave, and the thousands of dollars families and workers would save in tax cuts and credits.
Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories are linked below.
These fact sheets are the latest in a series from the White House highlighting the benefits of the American Families Plan for communities, in addition to a series of fact sheets on the American Jobs Plan. Fact sheets on how the American Families Plan advances racial equity and supports rural America have been released in recent weeks.
The Office of Management and Budget issued a statement strongly supporting passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) with 182 co-sponsors.
The statement comes as news reports circulate about a Georgia man who murdered 8 women in a shooting spree in Atlanta, March 16.
The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that was first enacted in 1994 and that was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013. VAWA has transformed the Nation’s response to violence against women and has brought critically needed resources to States, Territories, Tribes, and local communities to help prevent and improve the response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Strengthening and renewing VAWA, however, is long overdue. As many as 1 in 3 women are subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking at some point in their lives, and the rate is even higher for women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, and transgender people. VAWA reauthorization is more urgent now than ever, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States.
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 continues to build upon previous VAWA authorizations, and includes new provisions to enhance efforts and address identified gaps and barriers. H.R. 1620 would authorize funding for VAWA grant programs for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 and would continue to invest in, and expand, strategies that advance access to safety, justice, and economic stability for victims and survivors. The bill would maintain established and effective protections and programs, while also addressing persistent gaps through more holistic approaches in order to address the complex realities and intersecting issues that impact survivors’ lives.
H.R. 1620 would reauthorize grant programs that support the development of a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. It would expand the categories for which funds may be used in various grant programs to provide additional pathways to safety and support for survivors. Further, the bill seeks to reduce intimate partner homicides committed with firearms by expanding protections for victims and enhancing support for law enforcement agencies and courts to improve the enforcement of court orders. The bill would also improve the health care system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and their children. Without the ability to access affordable housing, a victim must often times choose between becoming homeless or remaining in an abusive situation. H.R. 1620 includes provisions that would provide important housing protections to allow survivors in federally assisted housing to relocate to safe housing with victim relocation vouchers, maintain their housing after a perpetrator leaves, or terminate a lease early. The bill also would expand economic security protections for survivors.
H.R. 1620 would authorize increased funding to enhance culturally specific services for victims. This would include developing culturally-relevant training and education programs for health care professionals that are designed to be inclusive of the experiences of all individuals, including people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. It would also include training on equity and anti-racism approaches to health services delivery, disparities in access to health care services and prevention resources, and current and historic systemic racism in health care services.
The Rape Prevention & Education (RPE) formula grants, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorize essential funding to States and Territories to support rape prevention and education programs conducted by rape crisis centers, sexual assault coalitions, and other public and private nonprofit entities. H.R. 1620 would authorize higher levels of funding for prevention through the RPE program grants, as well as grant programs focused on prevention efforts with youth administered through the Department of Justice. It also would expand grants to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve. H.R. 1620 would also support institutions of higher education in developing and disseminating comprehensive prevention education for all students and expanding training for school-based personnel and campus health centers to meet the needs of young victims of sexual violence.
The Administration strongly supports measures in H.R. 1620 that would expand access to justice for Native American victims. Native women are victimized at rates higher than any other population in the United States, and the vast majority of Native victims report being victimized by a non-native individual. This bill would build on the effectiveness of special criminal jurisdiction for domestic violence cases that was included in prior VAWA reauthorization laws and address other significant co-occurring crimes. It recognizes tribal jurisdiction that will allow participating Tribes to hold accountable non-native perpetrators of sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence against child victims, stalking, elder abuse, and assault against law enforcement officers when they commit such crimes on tribal territory.
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 recognizes the need to provide protection and services to all victims of abuse and includes proposals to strengthen existing policies that were supported by both Democrats and Republicans last year. The Administration urges swift passage of this legislation.
President Joe Biden issued this statement on International Women’s Day, saying, “Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do — it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all. On International Women’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that our nation, and the world, is at its best when the possibilities for all of our women and girls are limitless.”
President Biden then signed two Executive Orders establishing a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world.
On Saturday, President Biden also nominated two female generals – Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. General Laura Richardson – to oversee four-star commands, after their promotions were delayed under former President Trump due to concerns that he “would reject the officers because they were women,” according to the New York Times.
Here is President Biden’s statement:
Women’s history is American history — and world history. On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements, contributions, and progress of women and girls in the United States and around the globe.
My Administration is committed to honoring women by investing in their opportunity, security, and wellbeing. I was proud to issue an Executive Order today establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, to ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women. My Administration is also committed to ensuring that women are represented equally at all levels of the federal government. That starts with Vice President Harris, who broke through a barrier that stood for more than two centuries. And it includes a record number of diverse women whom I’ve nominated to serve in Cabinet-level roles and appointed to senior-level positions.
In our nation, as in all nations, women have fought for justice, shattered barriers, built and sustained economies, carried communities through times of crisis, and served with dignity and resolve. Too often, they have done so while being denied the freedom, full participation, and equal opportunity all women are due. Their contributions have been downplayed. Their stories have been neglected. That is why International Women’s Day is also a time for us to recommit ourselves to the cause of equity and equality for women the world over, and to shine a light on the systemic obstacles that fuel gender disparities and undermine women’s potential.
Despite persistent obstacles, women are leading every day. Over the past year, women have played a critical, often outsized role in responding to the global coronavirus pandemic. They are our vaccine researchers and public health officials. They are our doctors and nurses. They are our essential workers — so many of whom are women of color — in fire stations and nursing homes, on farms and in grocery stores, in schools and in shelters.
Around the world, we are seeing decades of women’s economic gains erased by this pandemic. It’s forcing millions more girls out of school, which could impact economic growth for decades to come. Incidents of violence against women in their homes and communities have spiked. And, as is so often the case, COVID-19 is hitting the poorest and most marginalized women the hardest. These global trends damage all of us, because we know that governments, economies, and communities are stronger when they include the full participation of women — no country can recover from this pandemic if it leaves half of its population behind.
Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do — it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all. On International Women’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that our nation, and the world, is at its best when the possibilities for all of our women and girls are limitless.
President Biden then signed two Executive Orders establishing a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world.
FACT SHEET: Executive Orders Establishing the White House Gender Policy Council and Ensuring Education Free from Sexual Violence
The full participation of all people – including women and girls – across all aspects of our society is essential to the economic well-being, health, and security of our nation and of the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness. It is also critically important to reducing poverty and promoting economic growth, increasing access to education, improving health outcomes, advancing political stability, and fostering democracy.
Today, President Biden will sign two Executive Orders. The first establishes the White House Gender Policy Council to ensure that the Biden-Harris Administration advances gender equity and equal rights and opportunity for women and girls. The second directs the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies for consistency with the Administration’s policy to guarantee education free from sexual violence.
A year into COVID-19, women are still contending with the public health crisis, an ensuing economic crisis, and on top of those challenges, a caregiving crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated barriers that have held back women, especially women of color, forcing many to leave the workforce, manage virtual schooling, and absorb additional caregiving responsibilities. Many women are also on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19 – as essential workers keeping our economy, communities and families going. As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic and reckons with the scourge of systemic racism, President Biden knows that we need a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world, restoring America as a champion for gender equity and equality.
Today’s actions will:
Establish the Gender Policy Council. The first Executive Order formally establishes the Gender Policy Council within the Executive Office of the President, with a role in both domestic and foreign policy development. The Council will work in coordination with the existing policy councils to advance gender equity and equality, including by:
Combatting systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment;
Increasing economic security and opportunity by addressing the structural barriers to women’s participation in the labor force, decreasing wage and wealth gaps, and addressing the caregiving needs of American families and supporting care workers, predominantly low-paid women of color;
Ensuring access to comprehensive health care and preventing and responding to gender-based violence;
Promoting equity and opportunity in education and leadership; and
Advancing gender equality globally through diplomacy, development, trade, and defense, and by recognizing the needs and roles of women and girls in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, democratic rights-respecting governance, global health and humanitarian crises and development assistance.
The White House Gender Policy Council will be an essential part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to ensure we build a more equal and just society – by aggressively protecting the rights and unique needs of those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including individuals who are Black, Latina, Native, Asian American and Pacific Islander, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI+.
The Executive Order requires the Co-Chairs of the Council to submit to the President a Government-wide strategy to address gender in policies, programs and budgets, and an annual report to measure progress on implementing the strategy. To prevent and respond to gender-based violence, wherever it occurs, there will be a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence on the Council staff. The Executive Order also requires engagement with non-profit and community-based organizations, state and local government officials, Tribal Nations, foreign government officials and multilateral organizations.
Ensure education free from sexual violence. President Biden will sign an Executive Order that will direct the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies to ensure consistency with the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy that students be guaranteed education free from sexual violence. It also directs ED to specifically evaluate the Title IX regulation issued under the previous administration and agency action taken pursuant to that regulation, to determine whether the regulation and agency action are consistent with the policies of the Biden-Harris Administration.
The hypocrisy and shamelessness of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to now move forward to fill the seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who would completely undo all the progress she made toward equality and social justice in the midst of actual voting to replace the president and Congress is only matched by the hypocrisy and shamelessness of the self-professed conservative “originalist” Supreme Court justices who have the audacity to suggest they can fathom what the Founding Fathers meant and disregard all the changes since then, to actually make law. Five justices contradicting the 435 elected members of the House and 100 elected members of the Senate and the president, going further, reaching back into settled law and precedent to overturn women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, workers rights, environmental protection, to re-form this nation as a Catholic theocracy, not much different than Islamic theocracy.
Just a reminder: McConnell invented this “rule” of not confirming – not even giving President Obama’s nominee a hearing – even though the election was 10 months away (and Scalia’s seat was vacant for 400 days) because it was an election year, and that Obama purposely looked for a moderate, not a progressive, and not someone who could conceivably serve for 50 years on the bench, in choosing Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. It really was a further demonstration of the disrespect he had for Obama, America’s first Black president, and, when Obama took office in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, McConnell said his first priority was not to help Americans seeing their lives come apart but to make Obama a “one-term president.” He stalled hundreds of judicial appointments so that he could fill them all – and hand Trump his only achievement Trump can crow about. B
McConnell’s does not necessarily see the swift filling of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat as energizing Republican turnout but because he expects to lose the White House and very possibly the Senate. Also, he wants a Supreme Court in Trump’s pocket to decide the dozens of outrageous court suits designed to suppress voting (the only way Trump can eke out a win in the Electoral College).
Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out in Philadelphia, paying homage to Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy and outrage over yet another theft of a Supreme Court seat that, despite the conservative minority in the country and majority’s rejection of their positions, will control the lives of every American for generations. Presidents may come and go, but these justices serve for life.
”This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now,” Biden declared. “To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.”
Here are Vice President’s remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery on September 20, 2020 in Philadelphia:
I attended mass earlier today and prayed for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family.
The nation lost an icon, but they lost a mother, a grandmother, and a matriarch.
We know how hard that is to watch a piece of your soul absorb the cruelty and pain of that dreadful disease of cancer.
But as I spoke with her daughter and granddaughter last night, they made clear that until the very end she displayed the character and courage we would expect of her. She held their hand and gave them strength and purpose to carry on.
It’s been noted that she passed away on Rosh Hashanah.
By tradition, a person who dies during the Jewish New Year is considered a soul of great righteousness.
That was Ruth Bader Ginsgburg. A righteous soul.
It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings, and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg achieved a standing few justices do. She became a presence in the lives of so many Americans, a part of the culture.
Yes there was humor in the mentions of the “Notorious RBG” and her impressive exercise routines. But it was so much more. She was a trailblazer, a role model, a source of hope, and a powerful voice for justice.
She was proof that courage and conviction and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world.
And I believe in the days and months and years to follow, she will continue to inspire millions of Americans all across this country. And together, we can — and we will — continue to be voices for justice in her name.
Her granddaughter said her dying words were “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
As a nation, we should heed her final call to us — not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country at a crossroads.
There is so much at stake — the right to health care, clean air and water, and equal pay for equal work. The rights of voters, immigrants, women, and workers.
And right now, our country faces a choice. A choice about whether we can come back from the brink.
That’s what I’d like to talk about today.
Within an hour of news of her passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg will receive a vote in the Senate.
The exact opposite of what he said when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia in 2016.
At that time, Majority Leader McConnell made up a rule based on the fiction that I somehow believed that there should be no nomination to the Court in an election year.
It’s ridiculous. The only rule I ever followed related to Supreme Court nominations was the Constitution’s obligation for Senators to provide advice and consent to the president on judicial nominees.
But he created a new one — the McConnell Rule: absolutely no hearing and no vote for a nominee in an election year.
Period. No caveats.
And many Republican Senators agreed. Including then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Including the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Who at the time said, and I quote verbatim:
“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsay Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination. And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
That is what Republicans said when Justice Scalia passed away — about nine months before Election Day that year. Now, having lost Justice Ginsburg less than seven weeks before Election Day this year — after Americans have already begun to cast their votes — they cannot unring the bell.
Having made this their standard when it served their interest, they cannot, just four years later, change course when it doesn’t serve their ends. And I’m not being naive.
I’m not speaking to President Trump, who will do whatever he wants.
I’m not speaking to Mitch McConnell, who will do what he does.
I’m speaking to those Senate Republicans out there who know deep down what is right for the country — not just for their party.
I’m speaking for the millions of Americans out there, who are already voting in this election. Millions of Americans who are voting because they know their health care hangs in the balance.
In the middle of the worst global health crisis in living memory, Donald Trump is at the Supreme Court trying to strip health coverage away from tens of millions of families and to strip away the peace of mind from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.
If he succeeds, insurers could once again discriminate or drop coverage completely for people living with preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer.
And perhaps, most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.
Millions of Americans who are also voting because they don’t want nearly a half century of legal precedent to be overturned and lose their right to choose.
Millions of Americans who are at risk of losing their right to vote.
Millions of Dreamers who are at risk of being expelled from the only country they have ever known.
Millions of workers who are at risk of losing their collective bargaining rights.
Millions of Americans who are demanding that their voices be heard and that equal justice be guaranteed for all.
They know — we all know — what should happen now.
The voters of this country should be heard. Voting has already begun in some states.
And in just a few weeks, all the voters of this nation will be heard. They are the ones who should decide who has the power to make this appointment.
This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now.
To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.
I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it.
President Trump has already made it clear this is about power. Pure and simple.
Well, the voters should make it clear on this issue and so many others: the power in this nation resides with them — the people.
And even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act on it until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.
If Donald Trump wins the election — then the Senate should move on his selection — and weigh that nominee fairly.
But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
As the new President, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re passing 200,000 American deaths lost to this virus. Tens of millions of Americans are on unemployment.
Health care in this country hangs in the balance before the Court.
And now, in a raw political move – this president and the Republican leader have decided to jam a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through the United States Senate.
It’s the last thing we need in this moment.
Voters have already begun casting ballots in this country.
In just a few weeks, we are going to know who the voters of this nation have chosen to be their next president.
The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance – to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court.
That moment is now — and their voice should be heard. And I believe voters are going to make it clear – they will not stand for this abuse of power.
There’s also discussion about what happens if the Senate confirms — on election eve – or in a lame duck after Donald Trump loses — a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
But that discussion assumes that we lose this effort to prevent the grave wrong that Trump and McConnell are pursuing here.
And I’m not going to assume failure at this point. I believe the voices of the American people should be heard.
This fight won’t be over until the Senate votes, if it does vote.
Winning that vote — if it happens — is everything.
Action and reaction. Anger and more anger. Sorrow and frustration at the way things are.
That’s the cycle that Republican Senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path they have put us on.
We need to de-escalate — not escalate.
So I appeal to those few Senate Republicans — the handful who will really decide what happens.
Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created.
Don’t go there.
Uphold your Constitutional duty — your conscience.
Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.
We can’t keep rewriting history, scrambling norms, and ignoring our cherished system of checks and balances.
That includes this whole business of releasing a list of potential nominees that I would put forward.
It’s no wonder the Trump campaign asked that I release a list only hours after Justice Ginsburg passed away.
It’s a game to them, a play to gin up emotions and anger.
There’s a reason why no Presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever done such a thing.
First, putting a judge’s name on a list like that -could influence that person’s decision-making as a judge — and that’s wrong.
Second, anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances – will be the subject of unrelenting political attacks.
And because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest – she would endure those attacks for months on end without being able to defend herself.
Third, and finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I win, I will make my choice for the Supreme Court — not as part of a partisan election campaign — but as prior Presidents did.
Only after consulting Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate – and seeking their advice before I ask for their consent.
As everyone knows – I have made it clear that my first choice for the Supreme Court will make history as the first African American woman Justice.
I will consult with Senators in both parties about that pick, as well as with legal and civic leaders. In the end, the choice will be mine and mine alone.
But it will be the product of a process that restores our finest traditions – not the extension of one that has torn this country apart.
I’ll conclude with this.
As I’ve said in this campaign, we are in the battle for the soul of this country.
We face four historic crises. A once-in-a-generation pandemic. A devastating economic recession. The rise of white supremacy unseen since the 1960’s, and a reckoning on race long overdue. And a changing climate that is ravaging our nation as we speak.
Supreme Court decisions touch every part of these crises — every part of our lives and our future.
The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss – deeper into the darkness.
If we go down this path, it would cause irreversible damage.
The infection this president has unleashed on our democracy can be fatal. Enough.
We must come together as a nation. Democrat, Republican, Independent, liberal, conservative. Everybody.
I’m not saying that we have to agree on everything. But we have to reason our way through to what ails us – as citizens, voters, and public servants. We have to act in good faith and mutual good will. In a spirit of conciliation, not confrontation.
This nation will continue to be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but we should be guided by her as well.
By her willingness to listen, to hear those she disagreed with, to respect other points of view.
Famously, Justice Ginsburg got along well with some of the most conservative justices on the Court.
And she did it without compromising her principles – or clouding her moral clarity – or losing her core principles.
If she could do this, so can we.
How we talk to one another matters. How we treat one another matters. Respecting others matters.
Justice Ginsburg proved it’s important to have a spine of steel, but it’s also important to offer an open hand — and not a closed fist — to those you disagree with.
This nation needs to come together.
I have said it many times in this election. We are the United States of America.
There’s nothing we cannot do if we do it together. Maybe Donald Trump wants to divide this nation between Red States and Blue States.
Between representing those states that vote for him and ignoring those that don’t.
I do not.
I cannot — and I will not — be that president.
I will be a president for the whole country.
For those who vote for me and those who don’t.
We need to rise to this moment, for the sake of our country we love.
Former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party’s ticket for President (winning 3 million more votes and the most votes of any white male candidate to run for president, who Biden introduced as “The woman who should be president now”), endorsed Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy for president during a Women for Biden town hall, saying, “More than ever, these tumultuous times reveal how desperately we need level-headed, solutions-oriented leadership. We need someone who listens to scientists, who acts with kindness and compassion, and who recognizes that America can and must lead the world in responding to this pandemic.
“The world today looks very different than the one so many of us fought for in 2016. Like many of you, I’m concerned — not only about our current health crisis, but about the deep-seated problems in our democracy that it lays bare, from inequity in our health care system to the high-wire act demanded of too many working parents.
“When I think about who I want leading us through this challenging time, there is no question: Joe Biden has the bold ideas, the smart plans, and most of all, the character to tackle this crisis and any others that come our way.”
The two discussed many issues of particular concern to women, including women’s reproductive rights and access to affordable health care, pay parity, food security, protection from domestic violence at a time of enforced sheltering with an abuser, and most significantly, how women, who make up the vast majority of health workers, frontline workers and minimum wage earners, are the most in need of protection during this health and financial crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic. And have been most derided and held in contempt by Trump and his administration.
“80% of all healthcare workers are women, one out of three jobs held by women has been classified as essential.” Clinton said. “This is an issue that affects all of us, young and old, every background, walk of life, but has disproportionate impact on women on frontlines, working, caring for others, holding down their home.”
Noting that there has been a rise in domestic abuse as women are forced to shelter with their abusers amid a time of increased stress, she noted that Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act during the Clinton administration.
“Violence against women, a huge problem, has been one of leading causes of my life,” Biden said. “ wrote the law, met thousands of abused, know the suffering they are experiencing, how much courage they have. Our support has to match the courage they show every day and let them know they are not alone.” He flashed the number for the national domestic hotline, 800-799-SAFE, but because women may be too afraid to call, they can also text Love to 22522, or chat online (thehotline.org).
“I add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be president,” Clinton said. “What a difference it would make now if we had a president who not only listened to science, facts over fiction, but brought us together, showed us the kind of compassion, caring we need from our president, which Joe Biden has exemplified throughout his life. What it would mean if had real president, not someone who plays one on TV, but someone who wakes every morning, worried about people responsible for leading.”
Immediately after the town hall, the Biden campaign released a fact sheet highlighting Biden’s plans to support women during the COVID-19 crisis: – Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Highlights of Biden Plans to Support Women
Women in the United States are acutely impacted by this pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed and are worried about making ends meet. Others are doing essential work that has so often been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued. And, while this virus can hit anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t impact every community equally. It hits hardest those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources, including women of color and low-income women.
We cannot unsee what this pandemic has highlighted about the way our society fails women and their families. As President, Joe Biden will act so that essential workers are safe. He will act so women don’t struggle as much financially through the pandemic. He will act so women can get the health care they need and domestic violence survivors have a safe place to call home. And, he will act so that when the United States begins to recover from COVID-19, women are not left out of the recovery.
Joe Biden has long been a champion for women — for their safety, their health care, their paychecks, and their families. He has released several plans that support women through a decisive response to the COVID-19 crisis at joebiden.com/covid19-leadership. Biden is calling for the following steps to be taken immediately to support women and families. As this crisis continues and evolves over the coming weeks and months, Biden will release additional plans and proposals to address the challenges facing women as a result of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Women are working in essential jobs in overwhelming numbers — as health care providers, home health aides, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, grocery store workers, and so many more. One in three jobs held by women are essential, and women of color are the most likely to have those jobs. These women are the best of America — running toward the danger, lifting people up when they are at their most vulnerable, and fighting to protect the health and safety of their neighbors. That’s always been true—but now there’s not a single person across this country who doesn’t see exactly what they are: heroes.
It’s unconscionable that the Trump Administration has failed to do everything in its power to protect the health, safety, and well-being of women working on the frontlines. If Biden was President today, he would:
Get our essential workers the protective equipment, testing, and support they need to reduce their risk of getting infected by the virus. All essential workers — health care workers, first responders, homecare workers, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, pharmacy workers, government workers, postal workers, farmworkers, food packagers and processors, grocery store clerks, transportation workers, and many more — should have priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus. The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks and other PPE for all essential workers by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should appoint and empower a Supply Commander to take control of the national supply chain for essential equipment and gear and to ensure equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
Implement and enforce standards to keep all women safe on the frontlines and ensure that their civil rights are protected. Biden would direct his Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure employers provide safe workplaces, and his Administration would work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers. He would also ensure the needs of vulnerable populations are considered in the enforcement of all federal workplace protections. This means funding robust enforcement of civil rights protections, including under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, and fighting to secure passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to better ensure pregnant workers receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace so they don’t have to choose between work and their health. Biden would also extend Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deadlines for women to file discrimination and harassment complaints during and after the pandemic.
Provide a boost in essential workers’ paychecks. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work, in addition to a permanent $15 minimum wage and overtime protections. Women, who make up the vast majority of the low-wage workforce, should never have to worry about making ends meet for their families — and especially not while protecting our communities during a pandemic.
Ensure all essential workers qualify for child care assistance and other emergency support.
Provide every worker with emergency paid leave so workers don’t have to go to work because they’re worried about a paycheck. Biden would provide all workers – no exceptions – paid leave for 14 days or for the duration of their quarantine or isolation, while also ensuring that employers will not bear any additional costs for such additional leave in the midst of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY
Hospitality workers, service industry workers, and millions of other women have already lost their jobs through no fault of their own because of this pandemic. Women — many of whom were economically insecure even before the crisis — are worried about making rent, paying bills, and keeping food on the table while waiting for relief checks. If Biden was President today, he would:
Keep as many women on payroll as possible by transforming unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers. Biden would take steps to get all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Here’s how it works: A business keeps a worker on payroll, but at reduced hours – and the federal government makes up the difference in their wages. The worker gets the same pay – but the burden on the business is much less. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach – so far more than half of states have created work-sharing programs. The Trump Administration should boost assistance to them, to save or restore millions of jobs.
Make women who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. Biden would create a “Banks Defense Production Act” to make sure the banks that work with states prioritize and deliver unemployment payments quickly and require the use of electronic payments and prepaid debit cards to deliver direct cash relief fast. Families shouldn’t have to wait for President Trump to sign a check. Biden would also work with Congress to extend the boosted unemployment benefits (the extra $600) for however long this crisis lasts.
Ensure that all small businesses – not just those with the right connections – can access relief quickly. On April 3, Biden asked the Trump Administration to “produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.” They have not done so. It is unacceptable to have a small business program that is leaving minority and women business owners out in the cold, and that firms with fewer than 20 employees have received only about 20% of the first allotment of funding disbursed from the Paycheck Protection Program – even though they make up about one third of payroll.
Ensure housing security, including by immediately freezing rent for qualifying individuals and halting foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet during this crisis.
Forgive at least $10,000 of student debt per person through the duration of the crisis, including for women, who hold two-thirds of all student debt in America.
Ensure food security by increasing SNAP benefits by 15% during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.
Boost Social Security payments to $200 per month to help older women with any additional expenses they may incur during the pandemic.
Provide additional funds to state, local and tribal governments that are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Biden would make sure the federal government helps communities with their public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety. Biden would also expand assistance to schools facing extra costs – particularly Title I schools — including efforts to continue remote education or remote activities normally done after-school.
PROTECT CAREGIVERS AND ACCESS TO CHILD CARE AND LONG-TERM SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
In the United States, women overwhelmingly take on the burdens of caring for their families, and they make up the vast majority of the care workforce. Many women are taking care of children, as well as elderly parents. If they are lucky enough to have a job during this crisis, they may not be able to take paid time off to care for sick loved ones. Meanwhile, many care facilities, especially child care providers, have been forced to close their doors.
If businesses that provide care do not survive the pandemic, it will be harder for women to go back to work when we recover. It will be even more difficult for the women who make a living by providing care to get by. We must protect workers who are caring for others during the pandemic, and move aggressively to shore up our care infrastructure so it can better support families during the recovery.
Prioritize child care providers, home health care workers, direct support professionals, personal care attendants and other care workers for personal protective equipment and supplies, testing, and premium pay, depending on their risk of exposure. The nature of care work makes social distancing challenging, and we owe these caregivers the safety protections they need.
Protect and Expand the Availability of Long-Term Services and Supports. The majority of family caregivers – those caring for a loved one with a disability or chronic condition – are women. Caregiving imposes significant costs – economic and health-related – on these women. At the same time, the risk of getting COVID-19 is even greater for older Americans and individuals with disabilities living in group homes and other care facilities, increasing the demand for care in a home and community-based setting. Biden would increase resources to enable more seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their own home and community.
PROTECT ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, INCLUDING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The pandemic has put additional stress on women’s ability to access the health care they need. Before the pandemic, roughly one in four women experienced financial barriers to accessing health care. As women are now laid off or face wage cuts, they may have even more trouble paying for health care. At the same time, several states have used the crisis as an excuse to restrict women’s access to reproductive health, including timely and essential abortion care. The Trump Administration and all states must ensure all women have access to all the health care they need. Building on Joe Biden’s plan to protect and build on Obamacare [read the full plan at: joebiden.com/healthcare], as President, Biden would:
Ensure access to health care by:
Ramping up testing and ensuring that not only testing, but also treatment and any eventual vaccine for COVID-19, is free for all individuals regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Collecting racial, gender and ethnic data on testing and treatment so we can identify and address disparities.
Helping women who have been laid-off keep their health insurance by picking up the full cost of COBRA premiums.
Opening a new Obamacare enrollment period, so women who so badly need insurance can get it, instead of fighting in the courts to gut that landmark law like the Trump Administration is doing.
Stop states from using the pandemic to curtail access to abortions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association agree that states should not be using the pandemic as an excuse to delay abortions. In this case, health care delayed means health care denied. States should not be using a public health crisis to infringe on women’s constitutional rights. If Biden was President today, he would put science over fiction and ensure states treat abortion as the essential health service it is. This builds on his existing women’s health care agenda. His Justice Department will stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade. And, he will work to codify Roe, repeal the Hyde Amendment, restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, including through Medicaid and Title X, and restore access to contraception coverage.
Reduce our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, which especially impacts people of color. Before the pandemic, the U.S. already had one of the highest rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth relative to other developed countries, especially among Black women, who were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As President, Biden will take the California strategy nationwide. And, he will expand access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most, providing access to a public option and doubling America’s investment in community health centers.
SUPPORT SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND PROTECT CHILDREN AND YOUTH AT-RISK FOR ABUSE
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk for domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse for women and girls nationwide. For many women and children, home is not a safe place, and sheltering in place restrictions further isolate those at risk of domestic violence. At the same time, community-based supports like domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs, and child advocacy centers have had to limit in-person services to keep staff and clients safe, while adapting to provide text, chat, and phone-based assistance. The economic fallout of the pandemic will likely increase financial insecurity for survivors, creating further obstacles for leaving an abusive relationship. Shelters and other service providers need support to adapt to the pandemic, and keep pace with the increased demand for assistance to survivors that is expected to only go up after the lockdowns have been lifted.
Survivors and the courageous frontline advocates working to ensure their safety need immediate support. While Biden would work with Congress to provide additional funding, women and vulnerable youth across the country cannot wait another day for the support they need. He would do everything in his power to immediately get funding to service providers and survivors, including by enlisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and he would encourage governors to recognize survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse as vulnerable populations in need of state funding.
Provide survivors and their children with a safe place to live, and support shelter staff and residents to stay healthy. Not everyone has a safe place to call home. Shelters, which often have shared bathrooms and communal cooking spaces, need new avenues for providing survivors with a safe living space that adheres to social distancing requirements. Biden would:
Empower FEMA to work with states toimmediately increase shelter options, including contracting with hotels and motels and providing shelter modifications like sleeping and bathroom trailers.
Encourage states to ensure all shelters, not just the larger ones, receive funding. Smaller shelters serving communities of color, tribal programs, or shelters for immigrant and refugee survivors may have less capacity to access federal grant funding and need support.
Fund programs providing shelters and other housing options including the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), VAWA transitional housing, Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Domestic Violence Bonus to provide housing for survivors experiencing homelessness, and VAWA emergency transfer tenant protection voucher assistance for rental assistance for survivors.
Provide personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to victim services providers, including domestic violence and sexual assault programs, child welfare professionals, and other essential social services workers.
Expand the safety net for survivors – including by providing cash assistance, unemployment insurance flexible to their needs, and paid safe days and sick leave – as well as ensuring service providers who support them have adequate health coverage, paid sick leave, and overtime compensation.
Provideemergency cash assistance to survivors through grants to community-based organizations, and make longer-term investments in cash assistance, as Biden called for in November in his plan to End Violence Against Women. Biden would also direct FEMA to work with states to provide shelters with food, including prepared food.
Work to ensure that survivors who quit their job because they are unable to telework are able to access and obtain unemployment insurance from the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Provide safe days and 12 weeks of paid safe leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking who need time to seek physical or mental care, seek counsel, find new housing, or take other action related to the violence they experienced.
Provideemergency funding to the Office on Violence Against Women for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, ensuring enhanced funding streams for tribes and culturally specific victim services, and provide funding for non-residential programs, in addition to shelters, under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
Ensure survivors are able to access and service providers are able to provide remote victim advocacy through text, chat, phone, and other virtual services.
Provide funding to expand the reach of the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s texting and chat services, and create a texting service for the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Assault Hotline are both available to those that need it. For those who cannot call their local shelter or the hotline because they are living in close proximity with the person harming them, the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers both online chat and texting services, the latter of which Biden premiered in 2011 by sending the first text ever for the service. The National Sexual Assault Hotline offers chat-based support; Biden would fund a texting service. He would also provide funding for both hotlines to hire more advocates.
Ensure service providers and survivors have all the tools they need to connect virtually and safely. Domestic violence and sexual violence programs, including rape crisis centers, offer tele-advocacy and crisis support through text, chat, video, and phone services. To do this, they need technology including computers, upgraded broadband, hotspots, teleconferencing licenses, and other software licenses. And although technology-based services have the benefit of reaching survivors where they are, they also introduce new risks for victim privacy, safety, and confidentiality and need support to mitigate those risks. As President, Biden would:
Get technology to service providers immediately. Biden would direct FEMA to consider technology that is eligible for emergency support and work with Congress to increase funding for domestic violence and sexual assault service programs, including for the Sexual Assault Services Program and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act so they can boost their capacity to provide virtual services. And he would leverage private-public partnerships where possible.
Expand the Office on Violence Against Women’s training and technical assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault programs so that service providers can safely use technology-based services with survivors.
The Federal Communication Commission should reverse changes that reduced access to wireless service to people who need it most — including domestic violence survivors. The Lifeline program offers low-income adults subsidies for wireless services, but under the Trump Administration, the FCC scaled back help from this program. In November, Biden called for the FCC to reform its Lifeline program to increase the number of participating broadband providers, reduce fraud and abuse, and ultimately offer more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. And now, connection couldn’t be more important.
Ensure telehealth is widely accessible to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including through expanded funding for Sexual Assault Nurse Exams, and pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Exams for child victims of sexual abuse.
Ensure that people who need it most and are often underserved are receiving funding.
Expand funding for culturally specific services. Since 2005, the Violence Against Women Act has funded domestic and sexual violence programs offering trauma-informed and culturally specific services for survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities. Given the pandemic’s disparate impact on communities of color, it is imperative these programs have all the funding they need.
Protect immigrant women. In addition to ensuring that testing and treatment for COVID-19 is readily available to everyone, regardless of immigration status or English-language ability, Biden would take proactive steps to protect immigrant women, who are often the most vulnerable and least able to access supportive resources. The Trump Administration should immediately halt the implementation of its un-American new Public Charge rules, which may discourage immigrant women from seeking vital food and housing support they need to remain safe and healthy. It should also automatically extend immigration statuses and work authorizations set to expire within one year of the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020, and Congress should ensure that no immigrant who loses their status during this time, or during the 90 days after the national emergency declaration is ended, accrues unlawful presence that could impact their future immigration status. The Trump Administration should also follow the recommendation of public health officials and vastly reduce the number of people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol by releasing to their families or community-based care organizations those individuals in immigration detention who pose no risk to the community. Neither should Trump be wasting resources on ICE enforcement actions to terrorize immigrant families, especially during a pandemic. Sensitive locations should always be protected against ICE actions, and immigrant survivors who have applied for protection under the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act should not be detained or deported while their applications are in process.
Ensure tribes receive sufficient resources in all funding streams, and reaffirm Tribal sovereignty to support victims and hold offenders accountable. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured tribal governments have the power to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence non-Native Americans who assault indigenous women on tribal lands, through the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. This must be reaffirmed, and the federal government should provide emergency financial support to tribal governments and service providers so they can support Native women.
Make services accessible for older survivors and survivors with disabilities. Funding should be provided to ensure remote advocacy services are accessible to people who often cannot or do not wish to leave home, including for the National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline and other adaptive and inclusive services for survivors who need accommodation.
Enhance protections for vulnerable children and youth at-risk for abuse. Before the pandemic, at-risk kids had protective support from teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who were most likely to report abuse. Now, families are homebound under increasingly stressful circumstances, adding to the risk of child abuse or neglect. The National Parent Helpline is available to support overwhelmed parents and caregivers. As President, Biden would work with Congress to fund the Helpline to add texting service, as well as increase funding for child advocacy centers, and other child welfare programs that prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse.
Establish an Emergency Anti-Violence Task Force that includes representatives of advocacy groups, community-based organizations, and state and local governments, along with legal, housing, and public health experts, to consult with stakeholders, track the unique problems happening now, identify best practices and guidance for responding to them, work with agencies and Congress to adapt to them, and eventually create a report with both an analysis of the problems faced during the pandemic and shortcomings of policy levers, as well as a roadmap for future emergencies. The Task Force would also immediately work on ways to help leverage the private sector to play a role in the response. As President, Biden would immediately task his Office on Violence Against Women with using this information to create a preparedness plan for future national emergency, which should include ways to make programs and funding streams sufficiently flexible, and to determine ways to leverage public-private partnerships, such as with hotel chains and technology and telecommunications companies.
Ensure an Equitable Recovery Women and people of color have historically been left out or left behind in times of recovery — and we can’t make that mistake again. To rebuild a stronger, more inclusive middle class that will make our economy more resilient in any future crisis, when it comes time for economic recovery we must:
Require jurisdictions that receive funding to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial and gender disparities, and the Small Business Administration and Treasury should similarly track Paycheck Protection Program and other SBA program lending to ensure that minority and women business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are treated fairly.
Stop the exploitation of low-wage workers – most of whom are women – and who everyone now sees are essential and should be compensated as such. Biden will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, ensure overtime protections, and dismantle the barriers to higher-paying jobs for these workers.
Finish the Obama-Biden Administration’s work on ending unequal pay. The first bill signed into law during the Obama-Biden administration was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to fight back if they were unfairly paid less than their male coworkers. The Obama-Biden Administration also protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will build on this critical work by increasing pay transparency, making it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shifting the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increasing penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act.
Provide access to affordable, high quality child care. Biden will increase the child care tax credit to as much as $8,000 per family and expand access to quality, affordable child care through increased funding for grants to states to ensure low and moderate-income families can afford child care. And, he will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and national summer jobs programs, to keep kids active and learning after school hours. Biden also will provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds.
Permanently provide family, medical, and safe leave as well as sick and safe days. As President, Biden will work to provide the type of comprehensive 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave envisioned in the FAMILY Act sponsored by Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro. Biden will pay for this proposal by returning the estate tax to 2009 levels. Biden will also work to provide the type of coverage in the Healthy Families Act spearheaded by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray, which will ensure workers receive seven days of paid sick leave for routine personal and family health needs, as well as time for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek services.
Ensure women have access to fair and flexible scheduling, in addition to providing permanent paid sick and safe leave, and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Transform our education system by tripling funding for disadvantaged schools, fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, offering universal pre-K, providing 4 years of tuition at public colleges and under-resourced Minority Serving Institutions to families earning less than $125K per year, investing in community college and workforce training, and easing the burden of student debt.
Protect and build on Obamacare, ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance.
Provide retirement security. Biden will preserve and strengthen Social Security, including by providing a higher benefit for the oldest Americans, protecting widows and widowers from steep cuts in benefits, and eliminating penalties for teachers and other public-sector workers. And he’ll allow caregivers to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market.
Expand long overdue rights to domestic workers and farmworkers. More than a million women and 700,000 women farmworkers – many of whom are immigrants – care for our children, elderly, and people with disabilities, and pick our fruits and vegetables so we can put food on the table. Now more than ever the world sees just how essential they are. But they have far too long been left out of basic workplace protections. Biden will change that, starting by signing into law:
Senator Harris and Congresswoman Jayapal’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which, among other things, establishes a federal wage and standard board to set fair wage levels and define working conditions for domestic workers across the United States;
and Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act, to help provide immigrant women who are feeding the nation a path to legal status, workplace protections, and much-needed housing support.
He will also protect the pay of migrant farmworkers, unlike the Trump Administration, which has considered cutting it during a pandemic.
Address International Impacts of the Pandemic
COVID-19 isn’t just a threat to women across the United States. This is a global health crisis that also disproportionately impacts women around the globe. Domestic violence is rising, both in the developed world and in the developing world. For example, in Bogotá, Colombia, violence against women reports have increased 225% during lockdowns, while in Afghanistan, domestic violence rates that were already as high as 50% are compounded by reports of women’s shelters shutting down to protect against the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, women constitute an estimated 70% of workers in the health and social sectors globally, putting them on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 and increasing their risk of contracting the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to mean dramatically increased caregiving responsibilities for women, extended unemployment, and lost business and income as well as greater income inequality. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 provides insight into the impacts we can expect to see on adolescent girls, which include an increased vulnerability to physical and sexual abuse, an increase in domestic responsibilities, a loss of pathways to prevent child marriage or early childbearing, and a lower rate of return to school, limiting economic opportunity. And, among the more than 70 million displaced people around the world, women and girls are already among the most vulnerable. Now, in fragile states, displaced persons camps, or tightly populated migrant neighborhoods, they are among the least able to protect themselves against COVID-19. A Biden Administration will reassert global leadership and return a government-wide focus to championing the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by:
Elevating the voices of women in the response. As President, Biden will ensure the voices of women leaders help shape and spearhead efforts globally, leveraging their expertise, networks and skills to optimize the global response and recovery.
Prioritizing responses to gender-based violence internationally, human trafficking, and survivors’ lack of access to humanitarian assistance and employment opportunities. In addition, as President, Joe Biden will ensure that domestic violence victims once again have a pathway to claim asylum and will support the Safe from the Start Act, which calls for attention to preventing gender-based violence in humanitarian response.
Ensuring that global health and humanitarian aid prioritize women and remove barriers to accessing reproductive health services. As President, Biden will call on leaders globally to ensure that “essential services” — including sexual and reproductive health clinics, domestic violence shelters, and abortion service providers — remain available to serve women.
Calling for an expanded emphasis on education for girls and boys in refugee and displaced persons camps and supporting programs generally to help teachers, school staff, and communities implement inclusive learning methods for girls, reinforcing the message that girls and boys need equal access to opportunities. Already, research warns that girls in many countries will be less likely to go back to school once this pandemic ends. As President, Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration to promote girls’ education, and ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential.
Essential workers are providing life-saving medical care, cleaning our hospital rooms, delivering our food and other essential goods, stocking our grocery store shelves, getting us from place to place, keeping our cities’ lights on, and so much more. They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.
Joe Biden has said since the beginning of this campaign that American workers are the heart and soul of this country— too often, though, we’ve taken these workers and the work they do for granted.
But the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted this critical truth: all across this nation, it’s often our lowest-paid workers who have stepped up during this crisis.
Donald Trump’s foot-dragging and delays have only made it more challenging for workers.
These workers are putting themselves on the line every day. They are essential to our society – in times of crisis and beyond, and deserve not just our thanks and respect, but our support.
Joe Biden has a bold agenda to give these workers the long-term support they deserve — raising wages, guaranteeing quality, affordable health care, providing free tuition for public higher education, and encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.
But these workers can’t wait. They need emergency help now. Today, Joe Biden is calling on President Trump’s Administration to take four immediate actions to protect and support our essential workers:
(1) Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.
(2) Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act.
The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks for all frontline workers – from health care workers to grocery store workers – by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should fully empower a Supply Commander to coordinate the production and delivery of essential supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The Supply Commander would be tasked with ensuring equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
(3) Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces.
During the H1N1 epidemic, the Obama-Biden Administration tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with issuing detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers. Then, OSHA enforced the law based on those guidelines. The Trump Administration has only started enforcement efforts this week and is still refusing to do everything it can and should to protect workers’ health and safety.
The Trump Administration should:
Immediately release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) to give employers and frontline employees specific, enforceable guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID.
Finalize a permanent infectious disease standard. After H1N1, the Obama-Biden Administration spent years preparing a new, permanent infectious disease standard, which would have required health facilities and certain other high exposure workplaces to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. It handed it to the Trump Administration, but instead of moving it to rulemaking, it readily shelved it. They should immediately get to work bringing it to conclusion and expanding it to include all relevant workplaces.
Double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines. Under President Trump, OSHA currently has record low inspectors. Given the exigencies of this crisis, and the need for rigorous enforcement of workplace standards across the country, at least twice the number of inspectors are needed.
Work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers.
(4) Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk.
There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. The Trump Administration should immediately work with Congress to pass a bold premium pay initiative. Under the Senate Democrats’ “Heroes Fund” proposal, the federal government would step in and give essential workers a raise, with additional funding to attract workers to serve as health and home care workers and first responders. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Joe Biden called for in his March 12 plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers.