The White House released updated state fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century.
The fact sheets highlight how the historic legislation will deliver for states and territories across the country to repair roads and bridges, improve transportation options, build a network of EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs, help connect every American to reliable high-speed internet, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes for clean drinking water, protect against extreme weather events and cyberattacks and improve our nation’s airports.
In the coming days and weeks, we expect to receive additional data on the impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act state by state.
Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are linked below.
The White House provided this fact sheet of “Top 10 Programs” in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
Weatherization: Two-thirds of low-income U.S. households have high energy burdens, meaning they spend more than 6 percent of their income on utility bills. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
Wildfires: One estimate found that 4.5 million homes in the United States are at risk of wildfire. The bill invests $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources.
Floods: The cost of flood damage was approximately $17 billion annually in the last decade, and is expected to increase significantly due climate-related extreme weather and rising sea levels. The bill invests $12 billion in flood mitigation, including funding for FEMA flood mitigation grants, making infrastructure investments to increase coastal resilience, and improving mapping and data so that households and businesses can better protect themselves from future flood events.
Brownfields and superfund: 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $5 billion in addressing legacy pollution at these sites, creating good-paying union jobs and advancing economic and environmental justice.
Natural gas wells and coal mines: In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites, including orphan wells and abandoned land mines, are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. The deal invests $16 billion in creating good-paying union jobs capping these wells and mines.
Pipeline safety: More than 20,000 miles of cast iron pipelines—much of which was installed in the 1800’s and early 1900’s—transports natural gas underneath communities in the U.S. This infrastructure, which is prone to leaks and fugitive methane emissions, is mostly located in disadvantaged areas including older cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, New York, and St. Louis. Since 2010, the U.S. has experienced thousands of pipeline incidents, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths, tens of thousands of evacuations, and more than $4 billion in damages. The bill includes $1 billion for the “Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program” to modernize natural gas distribution pipelines, reducing incidents and fatalities, and avoiding economic losses.
Battery manufacturing: Today, the U.S. relies heavily on importing advanced battery components from abroad, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities that threaten to disrupt the availability and cost of these technologies, as well as the workforce that manufactures them. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $6B to spur U.S. advanced battery processing, manufacturing, and recycling, creating good-paying jobs and enabling American manufacturers to win the 21st century.
Safe Streets: Over 36,000 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, including over 6,200 pedestrians and about 850 bicyclists. The United States has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the industrialized world, double the rate in Canada and quadruple that in Europe. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes $5 billion for a first-of-its kind “Safe Streets for All” program to fund state and local “vision zero” plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for the most vulnerable of roadways users.
Transit station ADA program: More than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, nearly 1,000 transit stations are still not fully accessible, which prevents millions of older Americans and individuals with disabilities from fully enjoying public transit. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total of $2 billion for transit ADA, including $1.75 billion for All Stations Accessibility and $250 million for Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities. These programs will remove barriers to transportation service and expand transportation mobility options for Americans across the country.
Cybersecurity: The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems, critical infrastructure, and American businesses underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest about $2 billion to modernize and secure federal, state, and local IT and networks; protect critical infrastructure and utilities; and support public or private entities as they respond to and recover from significant cyberattacks and breaches.
On July 28, 2021, President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. In total, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet from the White House , which details what is included:
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, create good jobs, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.
The deal will create good-paying, union jobs. With the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.
President Biden believes that we must invest in our country and in our people by creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver progress towards those objectives for working families across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal:
Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever
Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Development Authority to build a clean, 21st century electric grid
The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results for working families. He believes demonstrating that democracies can deliver is a critical challenge for his presidency. Today’s agreement shows that we can come together to position American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.
Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects
One in five miles, or 173,000 total miles, of our highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. Bridges in poor condition pose heightened challenges in rural communities, which often may rely on a single bridge for the passage of emergency service vehicles. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years building on bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills passed out of committee earlier this year. This investment will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes a total of $17.5 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.
America has one of the highest road fatality rates in the industrialized world. The deal invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It will more than double funding directed to programs that improve the safety of people and vehicles in our transportation system, including highway safety, truck safety, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety.
America’s transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. The deal invests $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization. This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and devotes a larger share of funds from surface transportation reauthorization to transit in the history of the programs. It will repair and upgrade aging infrastructure, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations accessible to all users, and bring transit service to new communities. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options.
Passenger and Freight Rail
Unlike highways and transit, rail lacks a multi-year funding stream to address deferred maintenance, enhance existing corridors, and build new lines in high-potential locations. The deal positions Amtrak and rail to play a central role in our transportation and economic future. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The deal invests $66 billion in rail to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Within these totals, $22 million would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.
U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers. This is the first-ever national investment in EV charging infrastructure in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.
American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution. The deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.
Too often, past transportation investments divided communities – like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse – or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options. In particular, significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods. The deal creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding.
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The bill invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.
Resilience and Western Water Infrastructure
Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion. This includes funds to protect against droughts and floods, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The bill is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.
Clean Drinking Water
Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. The deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. The deal’s $65 billion investment ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.
The bill will also help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service. It will also help close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act, ending digital redlining, creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet, and establishing a new program to help low-income households obtain the devices required to access the internet.
In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells.
As the recent Texas power outages demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization. A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The deal’s $73 billion investment is the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.
In the years ahead, the deal, which will generate significant economic benefits, and it is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.
In moving remarks, President Joe Biden, only the first sitting president to acknowledge the Tulsa Race Massacre of 100 years ago, tackled systemic, institutional racism and laid out a plan for economic justice including improving access to homeownership (the most significant factor in family wealth), investments in minority-owned small businesses and disadvantaged communities, and said he would act to preserve voting rights. He pointed to the most significant threat against domestic tranquility – White Supremacy and the rise of domestic terrorists – drawing a line from the Tulsa Race Massacre a century ago and today, and tackled the latest assault by right-wingers to whitewash history, rather than take responsibility.
“We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, everything. That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides. And we’re a great nation. The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild”
“Only with truth can come healing and justice and repair.”
Biden said, “And there’s greater recognition that, for too long, we’ve allowed a narrowed, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner. “If you succeed, I fail. If you get ahead, I fall behind. If you get a job, I lose mine.” And maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up,” instead of “If you do well, we all do well.” (Applause.) We see that in Greenwood.
“This story isn’t about the loss of life, but a loss of living, of wealth and prosperity and possibilities that still reverberates today.”
He announced significant policies aimed at redressing generational discrimination:
“Today, we’re announcing two expanded efforts targeted toward Black wealth creation that will also help the entire community. The first is: My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing. That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a white family…
“I’m going to increase the share of the dollars the federal government spends to small, disadvantaged businesses, including Black and brown small businesses” from 10 percent to 15 percent.
Biden laid out a plan to use infrastructure investments to specifically improve lives in historically disadvantaged communities.
Then the President turned to voting rights, which Congressman john Lewis called “precious,” “almost sacred”… “The most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society”.
Biden declared, “This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen.. It’s simply un-American. It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented,” and vowed to ”today, let me be unequivocal: we’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again.” He said june would be a month of action, called upon voting rights groups to engage in voter registration campaigns and designated Vice President Kamala Harris as the point-person in his administration to get Congress to pass critical voting rights legislation, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
But returning to the Tulsa Massacre of 100 years ago, he said that violence resonates again in the rise of White Supremacy, Neo-Nazism, the resurrection of the KKK – the rise of hate crimes and terror against blacks, Asian-Americans, Jews – as was on display in Charlottesville NC that inspired Biden to run for president to “reclaim the soul of the nation.”
“Hate is never defeated; it only hides,” Biden declared. “And given a little bit of oxygen — just a little bit oxygen — by its leaders, it comes out of there from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away. We must not give hate a safe harbor.”
“Terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today. Not ISIS, not al Qaeda — white supremacists” and promised to soon lay out “a broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry.”
Here is a highlighted transcript:
I just toured the Hall of Survivors here in Greenwood Cultural Center, and I want to thank the incredible staff for hosting us here. And — (applause) — I mean that sincerely. Thank you.
In the tour, I met Mother Randle, who’s only 56  years old. (Laughter.) God love her. And Mother Fletcher, who’s 67  years old. (Laughter.) And her brother — her brother, Van Ellis, who’s 100 years old. (Laughter.) And he looks like he’s 60. Thank you for spending so much time with me. I really mean it. It was a great honor. A genuine honor.
You are the three known remaining survivors of a story seen in the mirror dimly. But no longer. Now your story will be known in full view.
The events we speak of today took place 100 years ago. And yet, I’m the first President in 100 years ever to come to Tulsa — (applause) — I say that not as a compliment about me, but to think about it — a hundred years, and the first President to be here during that entire time, and in this place, in this ground, to acknowledge the truth of what took place here.
For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place. And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing. It erases nothing. Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried, no matter how hard people try.
And so it is here. Only — only with truth can come healing and justice and repair. Only with truth, facing it. But that isn’t enough.
First, we have to see, hear, and give respect to Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher, and Mr. Van Ellis. (Applause.) To all those lost so many years ago, to all the descendants of those who suffered, to this community — that’s why we’re here: to shine a light, to make sure America knows the story in full.
May 1921: Formerly enslaved Black people and their descendants are here in Tulsa — a boom town of oil and opportunity in a new frontier.
On the north side, across the rail tracks that divided the city already segregated by law, they built something of their own, worthy — worthy of their talent and their ambition: Greenwood — a community, a way of life. Black doctors and lawyers, pastors, teachers; running hospitals, law practices, libraries, churches, schools.
Black veterans, like a man I had the privilege to giving a Command Coin to, who fought — volunteered and fought, and came home and still faced such prejudice. (Applause.) Veterans had been back a few years helping after winning the first World War, building a new life back home with pride and confidence, who were a mom-and — they were, at the time — mom-and-plack [sic] — mom-and-pop Black diners, grocery stores, barber shops, tailors — the things that make up a community.
At the Dreamland Theatre, a young Black couple, holding hands, falling in love. Friends gathered at music clubs and pool halls; at the Monroe family roller-skating rink. Visitors staying in hotels, like the Stradford.
All around, Black pride shared by the professional class and the working class who lived together, side by side, for blocks on end.
Mother Randle was just six years old — six years old — living with her grandmom. She said she was lucky to have a home and toys, and fortunate to live without fear.
Mother Fletcher was seven years old, the second of seven children. The youngest, being Mr. Van Ellis, was just a few months old. The children of former sharecroppers, when they went to bed at night in Greenwood, Mother Fletcher says they fell asleep rich in terms of the wealth — not real wealth, but a different wealth — a wealth in culture and community and heritage. (Applause.)
But one night — one night changed everything. Everything changed. While Greenwood was a community to itself, it was not separated from the outside.
It wasn’t everyone, but there was enough hate, resentment, and vengeance in the community. Enough people who believed that America does not belong to everyone and not everyone is created equal — Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Black Americans. A belief enforced by law, by badge, by hood and by noose.
And it speaks to that — lit the fuse. It lit it by the spark that it provided — a fuse of fury — was an innocent interaction that turned into a terrible, terrible headline allegation of a Black male teenager attacking a white female teenager.
A white mob of 1,000 gathered around the courthouse where the Black teenager was being held, ready to do what still occurred: lynch that young man that night. But 75 Black men, including Black veterans, arrived to stand guard.
Words were exchanged. Then a scuffle. Then shots fired. Hell was unleashed. Literal hell was unleashed.
Through the night and into the morning, the mob terrorized Greenwood. Torches and guns. Shooting at will. A mob tied a Black man by the waist to the back of their truck with his head banging along the pavement as they drove off. A murdered Black family draped over the fence of their home outside. An elderly couple, knelt by their bed, praying to God with their heart and their soul, when they were shot in the back of their heads.
Private planes — private planes — dropping explosives — the first and only domestic aerial assault of its kind on an American city here in Tulsa.
Eight of Greenwood’s nearly two dozen churches burned, like Mt. Zion — across the street, at Vernon AME.
Mother Randle said it was like war. Mother Fletcher says, all these years later, she still sees Black bodies around.
The Greenwood newspaper publisher A.J. Smitherman penned a poem of what he heard and felt that night. And here’s the poem. He said, “Kill them, burn them, set the pace… teach them how to keep their place. Reign of murder, theft, and plunder was the order of the night.” That’s what he remembered in the poem that he wrote.
One hundred years ago at this hour, on this first day of June, smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed and in rubble.
In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost. Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage. Ten thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in internment camps.
As I was told today, they were told, “Don’t you mention you were ever in a camp or we’ll come and get you.” That’s what survivors told me.
Yet no one — no arrests of the mob were made. None. No proper accounting of the dead. The death toll records by local officials said there were 36 people. That’s all. Thirty-six people.
But based on studies, records, and accounts, the likelihood — the likely number is much more, in the multiple of hundreds. Untold bodies dumped into mass graves. Families who, at the time, waited for hours and days to know the fate of their loved ones are now descendants who have gone 100 years without closure.
But, you know, as we speak, the process — the process of exhuming the unmarked graves has started. And at this moment, I’d like to pause for a moment of silence for the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, sons, and daughters, friends of God and Greenwood. They deserve dignity, and they deserve our respect. May their souls rest in peace.
[Pause for a moment of silence.]
My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. This was a massacre — (applause) — among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history.
As soon as it happened, there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories — from the news and everyday conversations. For a long time, schools in Tulsa didn’t even teach it, let alone schools elsewhere.
And most people didn’t realize that, a century ago, a second Ku Klux Klan had been founded — the second Ku Klux Klan had been founded.
A friend of mine, Jon Meacham — I had written — when I said I was running to restore the soul of America, he wrote a book called “The Soul of America” — not because of what I said. And there’s a picture about page 160 in his book, showing over 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members in full regalia, Reverend — pointed hats, the robes — marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Jesse, you know all about this. Washin- — Washington, D.C.
If my memory is correct, there were 37 members of the House of Representatives who were open members of the Klan. There were five, if I’m not mistaken — it could have been seven; I think it was five — members of the United States Senate — open members of the Klan. Multiple governors who were open members of the Klan.
Most people didn’t realize that, a century ago, the Klan was founded just six years before the horrific destruction here in Tulsa. And one of the reasons why it was founded was because of guys like me, who were Catholic. It wasn’t about African Americans, then; it was about making sure that all those Polish and Irish and Italian and Eastern European Catholics who came to the United States after World War One would not pollute Christianity.
The flames from those burning crosses torched every region — region of the country. Millions of white Americans belonged to the Klan, and they weren’t even embarrassed by it; they were proud of it.
And that hate became embedded systematically and systemically in our laws and our culture. We do ourselves no favors by pretending none of this ever happened or that it doesn’t impact us today, because it does still impact us today.
We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. (Applause.) We should know the good, the bad, everything. That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides. And we’re a great nation.
The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild. I come here to help fill the silence, because in silence, wounds deepen. (Applause.) And only — as painful as it is, only in remembrance do wounds heal. We just have to choose to remember.
We memorialize what happened here in Tulsa so it can be –so it can’t be erased. We know here, in this hallowed place, we simply can’t bury pain and trauma forever.
And at some point, there will be a reckoning, an inflection point, like we’re facing right now as a nation.
What many people hadn’t seen before or ha- — or simply refused to see cannot be ignored any longer. You see it in so many places.
And there’s greater recognition that, for too long, we’ve allowed a narrowed, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner. “If you succeed, I fail. If you get ahead, I fall behind. If you get a job, I lose mine.” And maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up,” instead of “If you do well, we all do well.” (Applause.) We see that in Greenwood.
This story isn’t about the loss of life, but a loss of living, of wealth and prosterity [prosperity] and possibilities that still reverberates today.
Mother Fletcher talks about how she was only able to attend school until the fourth grade and eventually found work in the shipyards, as a domestic worker.
Mr. Van Ellis has shared how, even after enlisting and serving in World War Two, he still came home to struggle with a segregated America.
Imagine all those hotels and dinners [diners] and mom-and-pop shops that could been — have been passed down this past hundred years. Imagine what could have been done for Black families in Greenwood: financial security and generational wealth.
If you come from backgrounds like my — my family — a working-class, middle-class family — the only way we were ever able to generate any wealth was in equity in our homes. Imagine what they contributed then and what they could’ve contributed all these years. Imagine a thriving Greenwood in North Tulsa for the last hundred years, what that would’ve meant for all of Tulsa, including the white community.
While the people of Greenwood rebuilt again in the years after the massacre, it didn’t last. Eventually neighborhoods were redlined on maps, locking Black Tulsa out of homeownerships. (Applause.) A highway was built right through the heart of the community. Lisa, I was talking about our west side — what 95 did to it after we were occupied by the military, after Dr. King was murdered. The community — cutting off Black families and businesses from jobs and opportunity. Chronic underinvestment from state and federal governments denied Greenwood even just a chance at rebuilding. (Applause.)
We must find the courage to change the things we know we can change. That’s what Vice President Harris and I are focused on, along with our entire administration, including our Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Marcia Fudge, who is here today. (Applause.)
Because today, we’re announcing two expanded efforts targeted toward Black wealth creation that will also help the entire community. The first is: My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing. That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a white family. (Applause.)
And I might add — and I need help if you have an answer to this; I can’t figure this one out, Congressman Horsford. But if you live in a Black community and there’s another one on the other side of the highway — it’s a white community; it’s the — built by the same builder, and you have a better driving record than they guy with the same car in the white community, you’re — can pay more for your auto insurance.
Shockingly, the percentage of Black American homeownership is lower today in America than when the Fair Housing Act was passed more than 50 years ago. Lower today. That’s wrong. And we’re committing to changing that.
Just imagine if instead of denying millions of Americans the ability to own their own home and build generational wealth, we made it possible for them to buy a home and build equity into that — into that home and provide for their families.
Second, small businesses are the engines of our economy and the glue of our communities. As President, my administration oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts for everything from refurbishing decks of aircraft carriers, to installing railings in federal buildings, to professional services.
We have a thing called — I won’t go into it all because there’s not enough time now. But I’m determined to use every taxpayer’s dollar that is assigned to me to spend, going to American companies and American workers to build American products. And as part of that, I’m going to increase the share of the dollars the federal government spends to small, disadvantaged businesses, including Black and brown small businesses.
Right now, it calls for 10 percent; I’m going to move that to 15 percent of every dollar spent will be spent (inaudible). (Applause.) I have the authority to do that.
Just imagine if, instead of denying millions of entrepreneurs the ability to access capital and contracting, we made it possible to take their dreams to the marketplace to create jobs and invest in our communities.
That — the data shows young Black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding, given the chance, as white entrepreneurs are. But they don’t have lawyers. They don’t have — they — they don’t have accountants, but they have great ideas.
Does anyone doubt this whole nation would be better off from the investments those people make? And I promise you, that’s why I set up the — a national Small Business Administration that’s much broader. Because they’re going to get those loans.
Instead of consigning millions of American children to under-resourced schools, let’s give each and every child, three and four years old, access to school — not daycare, school. (Applause.)
In the last 10 years, studies have been done by all the great universities. It shows that, if increased by 56 percent, the possibility of a child — no matter what background they come from; no matter what — if they start school at three years old, they have a 56 percent chance of going all through all 12 years without any trouble and being able to do well, and a chance to learn and grow and thrive in a school and throughout their lives.
And let’s unlock more than — an incredible creativity and innovation that will come from the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. (Applause.) I have a $5 billion program giving them the resources to invest in research centers and laboratories and high-demand fields to compete for the good-paying jobs in industries like — of the future, like cybersecurity.
The reason why they don’t — their — their students are equally able to learn as well, and get the good-paying job that start at 90- and 100,000 bucks. But they don’t have — they don’t have the back — they don’t have the money to provide and build those laboratories. So, guess what? They’re going to get the money to build those laboratories. (Applause.)
So, instead of just talking about infrastructure, let’s get about the business of actually rebuilding roads and highways, filling the sidewalks and cracks, installing streetlights and high-speed Internet, creating space — space to live and work and play safely.
Let’s ensure access to healthcare, clean water, clean air, nearby grocery stores — stock the fresh vegetables and food that — (applause) — in fact, deal with — I mean, these are all things we can do.
Does anyone doubt this whole nation would be better off with these investments? The rich will be just as well off. The middle class will do better, and everybody will do better. It’s about good-paying jobs, financial stability, and being able to build some generational wealth. It’s about economic growth for our country and outcompeting the rest of the world, which is now outcompeting us.
But just as fundamental as any of these investments I’ve discussed — this may be the most fundamental: the right to vote. (Applause.) The right to vote. (Applause.)
A lot of the members of the Black Caucus knew John Lewis better than I did, but I knew him. On his deathbed, like many, I called John, to speak to him. But all John wanted to do was talk about how I was doing. He died, I think, about 25 hours later.
But you know what John said? He called the right to vote “precious,” “almost sacred.” He said, “The most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society”.
This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen — even though I got started as a public defender and a civil rights lawyer — with an intensity and an aggressiveness that we have not seen in a long, long time.
It’s simply un-American. It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented. The creed “We Shall Overcome” is a longtime mainstay of the Civil Rights Movement, as Jesse Jackson can tell you better than anybody.
The obstacle to progress that have to be overcome are a constant challenge. We saw it in the ‘60s, but with the current assault, it’s not just an echo of a distant history.
In 2020, we faced a tireless assault on the right to vote: restrictive laws, lawsuits, threats of intimidation, voter purges, and more. We resolved to overcome it all, and we did. More Americans voted in the last election than any — in the midst of a pandemic — than any election in American history. (Applause.)
You got voters registered. You got voters to the polls. The rule of law held. Democracy prevailed. We overcame.
But today, let me be unequivocal: I’ve been engaged in this work my whole career, and we’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again.
I will have more to say about this at a later date — the truly unprecedented assault on our democracy, an effort to replace nonpartisan election administrators and to intimidate those charged with tallying and reporting the election results.
But today, as for the act of voting itself, I urge voting rights groups in this country to begin to redouble their efforts now to register and educate voters. (Applause.)
June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill. I hear all the folks on TV saying, “Why doesn’t Biden get this done?” Well, because Biden only has a majority of, effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.
But we’re not giving up. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed For the People Act to protect our democracy. The Senate will take it up later this month, and I’m going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal for its passage.
The House is also working on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is — which is critical — (applause) — to providing new legal tools to combat the new assault on the right to vote.
To signify the importance of our efforts, today I’masking Vice President Harris to help these efforts and lead them, among her many other responsibilities.
With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again, I promise you. But it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work. (Applause.)
And finally, we have to — and finally, we must address what remains the stain on the soul of America. What happened in Greenwood was an act of hate and domestic terrorism with a through line that exists today still.
Just close your eyes and remember what you saw in Charlottesville four years ago on television. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK coming out of those fields at night in Virginia with lighted torches — the veins bulging on their — as they were screaming. Remember? Just close your eyes and picture what it was.
Well, Mother Fletcher said when she saw the insurrection at the Capitol on January the 9th [6th], it broke her heart — a mob of violent white extremists — thugs. Said it reminded her what happened here in Greenwood 100 years ago.
Look around at the various hate crimes against Asian Americans and Jewish Americans. Hate that never goes away. Hate only hides.
Jesse, I think I mentioned this to you. I thought, after you guys pushed through, with Dr. King, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act — I thought we moved. But what I didn’t realize — I thought we had made enormous progress, and I was so proud to be a little part of it.
But you know what, Rev? I didn’t realize hate is never defeated; it only hides. It hides. And given a little bit of oxygen — just a little bit oxygen — by its leaders, it comes out of there from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away.
And so, folks, we can’t — we must not give hate a safe harbor.
As I said in my address to the joint session of Congress: According to the intelligence community, terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today. Not ISIS, not al Qaeda — white supremacists. (Applause.) That’s not me; that’s the intelligence community under both Trump and under my administration.
Two weeks ago, I signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which the House had passed and the Senate. My administration will soon lay out our broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry.
But I’m going to close where I started. To Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher, Mr. Van Ellis, to the descendants, and to all survivors: Thank you. Thank you for giving me the honor of being able to spend some time with you earlier today. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your commitment. And thank your children, and your grandchildren, and your unc- — and your nieces and your nephews.
To see and learn from you is a gift — a genuine gift. Dr. John Hope Franklin, one of America’s greatest historians — Tulsa’s proud son, whose father was a Greenwood survivor — said, and I quote, “Whatever you do, it must be done in the spirit of goodwill and mutual respect and even love. How else can we overcome the past and be worthy of our forebearers and face the future with confidence and with hope?”
On this sacred and solemn day, may we find that distinctly Greenwood spirit that defines the American spirit — the spirit that gives me so much confidence and hope for the future; that helps us see, face to face; a spirit that helps us know fully who we are and who we can be as a people and as a nation.
I’ve never been more optimistic about the future than I am today. I mean that. And the reason is because of this new generation of young people. They’re the best educated, they’re the least prejudiced, the most open generation in American history.
And although I have no scientific basis of what I’m about to say, but those of you who are over 50 — how often did you ever see — how often did you ever see advertisements on television with Black and white couples? Not a joke.
I challenge you — find today, when you turn on the stations — sit on one station for two hours. And I don’t know how many commercials you’ll see — eight to five — two to three out of five have mixed-race couples in them. That’s not by accident. They’re selling soap, man. (Laughter.) Not a joke.
Remember ol’ Pat Caddell? He used to say, “You want to know what’s happening in American culture? Watch advertising, because they want to sell what they have.”
We have hope in folks like you, honey. I really mean it. We have hope. But we’ve got to give them support. We have got to give them the backbone to do what we know has to be done. Because I doubt whether any of you would be here if you didn’t care deeply about this. You sure in the devil didn’t come to hear me speak. (Laughter.)
But I really mean it. I really mean it. Let’s not give up, man. Let’s not give up.
As the old saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” I know we’ve talked a lot about famous people, but I’m — my colleagues in the Senate used to kid me because I was always quoting Irish poets. They think I did it because I’m Irish. They think I did it because we Irish — we have a little chip on our shoulder. A little bit, sometimes.
That’s not why I did it; I did it because they’re the best poets in the world. (Laughter.) You can smile, it’s okay. It’s true.
There was a famous poet who wrote a poem called “The Cure at Troy” — Seamus Heaney. And there is a stanza in it that I think is the definition of what I think should be our call today for young people.
It said, “History teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope and history rhyme.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021:
9:06 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Good to be back. And Mitch and Chuck will understand it’s good to be almost home, down the hall. Anyway, thank you all.
Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President — (applause) — no President has ever said those words from this podium. No President has ever said those words, and it’s about time. (Applause.)
First Lady — (applause) — I’m her husband; Second Gentleman; Chief Justice; members of the United States Congress and the Cabinet; distinguished guests; my fellow Americans: While the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is just a little bit different — a reminder of the extraordinary times we’re in.
Throughout our history, Presidents have come to this chamber to speak to Congress, to the nation, and to the world to declare war, to celebrate peace, to announce new plans and possibilities.
Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.
I stand here tonight, one day shy of the 100th day of my administration — 100 days since I took the oath of office and lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation — we all did — that was in crisis.
The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again — (applause) — turning peril into possibility, crisis to opportunity, setbacks into strength.
We all know life can knock us down. But in America, we never, ever, ever stay down. Americans always get up. Today, that’s what we’re doing: America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness.
After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for takeoff, in my view. We’re working again, dreaming again, discovering again, and leading the world again.
We have shown each other and the world that there’s no quit in America — none.
One hundred days ago, America’s house was on fire. We had to act. And thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Speaker Pelosi; Majority Leader Schumer; and the overwhelming support of the American people — Democrats, independents, and Republicans — we did act.
Togetherwe passed the American Rescue Plan — one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history. We’re already seeing the results. (Applause.) We’re already seeing the results.
After I promised we’d get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into people’s arms in 100 days, we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in those 100 days. (Applause.)
Thanks to all the help of all of you, we’re marshalling — with your help, everyone’s help — we’re marshalling every federal resource. We’ve gotten vaccines to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 Community Health Centers where the poorest of the poor can be reached. We’re setting up community vaccination sites, developing mobile units to get to hard-to-reach communities.
Today, 90 percent of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site. Everyone over the age of 16 – everyone is now eligible to get vaccinated right now, right away. (Applause.) Go get vaccinated, America. Go and get the vaccination. They’re available. You’re eligible now.
When I was sworn in on January 20th, less than 1 percent of the seniors in America were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. One hundred days later, 70 percent of seniors in America over 65 are protected — fully protected.
Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80 percent since January — down 80 percent because of all of you. And more than half of all the adults in America have gotten at least one shot.
At a mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona, I asked a nurse — I said, “What’s it like?” She looked at me and she said, “It’s like every shot is giving a dose of hope” — was the phrase. “A dose of hope.”
A dose of hope for an educator in Florida who has a child suffering from an autoimmune disease — wrote to me, said she’s worried — that she was worrying about bringing the virus home. She said she then got vaccinated at a — at a large site, in her car. She said she sat in her car, when she got vaccinated, and just cried — cried out of joy and cried out of relief.
Parents see the smiles on their kids’ faces, for those who are able to go back to school because the teachers and school bus drivers and cafeteria workers have been vaccinated.
Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing hands against a window to say goodbye.
It means everything. Those things mean everything.
You know, there’s still — you all know it; you know it better than any group of Americans — there’s still more work to do to beat this virus. We can’t let our guard down.
But tonight I can say it: Because of you, the American people, our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements — logistical achievements this country has ever seen.
What else have we done in those first 100 days?
We kept our commitment — Democrats and Republicans — of sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85 percent of American households. We’ve already sent more than one — 160 million checks out the door. It’s making the difference. You all know it when you go home. For many people, it’s making all the difference in the world.
A single mom in Texas who wrote to me, she said she couldn’t work, but she said the relief check put food on the table and saved her and her son from eviction from their apartment.
A grandmother in Virginia who told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor — something she said she put off for months because she didn’t have the money.
One of the defining images, at least from my perspective, of this crisis has been cars lined up — cars lined up for miles. And not — not people who just barely ever start those cars — nice cars lined up for miles, waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t ever think I’d see that in America. And all of this is through no fault of their own. No fault of their own these people are in this position.
That’s why the Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger, and hunger is down sharply already.
We’re also providing rental assistance — you all know this, but the American people, I want to make sure they understand — keeping people from being evicted from their homes, providing loans to small businesses to reopen and keep their employees on the job.
During these 100 days, an additional 800,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act when I established the special sign-up period to do that — 800,000 in that period.
We’re making one of the largest one-time ever investments — ever — in improving healthcare for veterans. Critical investments to address the opioid crisis. And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year. (Applause.)
[Notably, the Republicans kept their seats and silence.]
And in the process, while this was all going on, the economy created more than 1,300,000 new jobs in 100 days — more jobs in the first — (applause) — more jobs in the first 100 days than any President on record.
The International Monetary Fund — (applause) — the International Monetary Fund is now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than 6 percent this year. That will be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades.
America is moving — moving forward — but we can’t stop now. We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century. We’re at a great inflection point in history.
We have to do more than just build back better — I mean “build back.” We have to build back better. We have to compete more strenuously than we have.
Throughout our history, if you think about it, public investment and infrastructure has literally transformed America — our attitudes, as well as our opportunities.
The transcontinental railroad, the interstate highways united two oceans and brought a totally new age of progress to the United States of America.
Universal public schools and college aid opened wide the doors of opportunity.
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon — now we’re on Mars; discovering vaccines; gave us the Internet and so much more.
These are the investments we made together as one country, and investments that only the government was in a position to make. Time and again, they propel us into the future.
That’s why I proposed the American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself. This is the largest jobs plan since World War Two.
It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure; jobs modernizing our roads, bridges, highways; jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors, transit lines.
It’s clean water. And, today, up to 10 million homes in America and more than 400,000 schools and childcare centers have pipes with lead in them, including in drinking water — a clear and present danger to our children’s health.
The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American can drink clean water. (Applause.)
And in the process, it will create thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs. It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed Internet, including 35 percent of the rural America that still doesn’t have it.
This is going to help our kids and our businesses succeed in the 21st-century economy.
And I am asking the Vice President to lead this effort, if she would —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Of course.
THE PRESIDENT: — because I know it will get done. (Applause.)
It creates jobs, building a modern power grid. Our grids are vulnerable to storms, hacks, catastrophic failures — with tragic results, as we saw in Texas and elsewhere during the winter storms.
The American Jobs Plan will create jobs that will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid. We can do that. (Applause.)
Look, the American Jobs Plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and back to their careers.
Two million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic — two million. And too often because they couldn’t get the care they needed to care for their child or care for an elderly parent who needs help.
Eight hundred thousand families are on a Medicare waiting list right now to get homecare for their aging parent or loved one with a disability. If you think it’s not important, check out in your own district.
Democrat or Republican — Democrat or Republican voters, their great concern — almost as much as their children — is taking care of an elderly loved one who can’t be left alone. Medicaid contemplated it, but this plan is going to help those families and create jobs for our caregivers with better wages and better benefits, continuing a cycle of growth.
For too long, we’ve failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis: “jobs.” Jobs. Jobs. (Applause.)
For me, when I think “climate change,” I think “jobs.”
The American Jobs Plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy-efficient buildings and homes. Electrical workers — IBEW members — installing 500,000 charging stations along our highways so we can own — (applause) — so we can own the electric car market. (Applause.)
Farmers — farmers planting cover crops so they can reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it. (Applause.)
Look, but think about it: There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. No reason. None. No reason. (Applause.)
So, folks, there’s no reason why American — American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries. I mean, there is no reason. We have this capacity. (Applause.) We have the brightest, best-trained people in the world.
The American Jobs Plan is going to create millions of good-paying jobs — jobs Americans can raise a family on — as my dad would then say, “with a little breathing room.”
And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American. (Applause.) Buy American.
And I might note, parenthetically — (applause) — that does not — that does not violate any trade agreement. It’s been the law since the ’30s: Buy American.
American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America to create American jobs. That’s the way it’s supposed to be and it will be in this administration. (Applause.)
And I made it clear to all my Cabinet people. Their ability to give exemptions has been strenuously limited. It will be American products.
Now I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you. So many of you — so many of the folks I grew up with feel left behind, forgotten in an economy that’s so rapidly changing. It’s frightening.
I want to speak directly to you. Because if you think about it, that’s what people are most worried about: “Can I fit in?”
Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come. It is an eight-year program. These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree; 75 percent don’t require an associate’s degree.
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America. That’s what it is. (Applause.)
And it recognizes something I’ve always said in this chamber and the other. Good guys and women on Wall Street, but Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class. (Applause.)
So that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act — the PRO Act — and send it to my desk so we can support the right to unionize. (Applause.)
And, by the way, while you’re thinking about sending things to my desk — (laughs) — let’s raise the minimum wage to $15. (Applause.)
No one — no one working 40 hours a week — no one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.
We need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women. And while we’re doing this, let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act to my desk as well — equal pay. It’s been much too long. And if you’re wondering whether it’s too long, look behind me. (Applause.)
And finally, the American Jobs Plan will be the biggest increase in nondefense research and development on record. We will see more technological change — and some of you know more about this than I do — we’ll see more technological change in the next 10 years than we saw in the last 50. That’s how rapidly artificial intelligence and so much more is changing.
And we’re falling behind the competition with the rest of the world.
Decades ago, we used to invest 2 percent of our gross domestic product in America — 2 percent of our gross domestic product — in research and development.
Today, Mr. Secretary, that’s less than 1 percent. China and other countries are closing in fast. We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future:advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy.
The Secretary of Defense can tell you — and those of you on — who work on national security issues know — the Defense Department has an agency called DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. The people who set up before I came here — and that’s been a long time ago — to develop breakthroughs that enhance our national security -– that’s their only job. And it’s a semi-separate agency; it’s under the Defense Department. It’s led to everything from the discovery of the Internet to GPS and so much more that has enhanced our security.
The National Institute of Health — the NIH –- I believe, should create a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. (Applause.)
And that would — here’s what it would do. It would have a singular purpose: to develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
I’ll still never forget when we passed the cancer proposal the last year I was Vice President — almost $9 million going to NIH. And if you excuse the point of personal privilege, I’ll never forget you standing and mentioning — saying you’d name it after my deceased son. It meant a lot.
But so many of us have deceased sons, daughters, and relatives who died of cancer. I can think of no more worthy investment. I know of nothing that is more bipartisan. So, let’s end cancer as we know it. (Applause.) It’s within our power. (Applause.) It’s within our power to do it. (Applause.)
Investments in jobs and infrastructure, like the ones we’re talking about, have often had bipartisan support in the past. Vice President Harris and I met regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the Jobs Plan. And I applaud a group of Republican senators who just put forward their own proposal.
So, let’s get to work. I wanted to lay out, before the Congress, my plan before we got into the deep discussions. I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different — they think are better. I welcome those ideas.
But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I just want to be clear: From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option. (Applause.)
Look, we can’t be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
Secretary Blinken can tell you, I spent a lot of time with President Xi — traveled over 17,000 miles with him; spent, they tell me, over 24 hours in private discussions with him. When he called to congratulate me, we had a two-hour discussion. He’s deadly earnest about becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world. He and others — autocrats — think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century with autocracies because it takes too long to get consensus.
To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children. That’s why I’ve introduced the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families and, in turn, America.
First is access to a good education. When this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best-educated, best-prepared nation in the world. It’s, I believe, the overwhelming reason that propelled us to where we got in the 21st — in the 20th century.
But the world has caught up, or catching up. They are not waiting. I would say, parenthetically: If we were sitting down, put a bipartisan committee together and said, “Okay, we’re going to decide what we do in terms of government providing for free education,” I wonder whether we’d think, as we did in the 20th century, that 12 years is enough in the 21st century. I doubt it. Twelve years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st Century.
That’s why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America, starting as early as we can.
The great universities of this country have conducted studies over the last 10 years. It shows that adding two years of universal high-quality preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old, no matter what background they come from, it puts them in the position to be able to compete all the way through 12 years. It increases exponentially their prospect of graduating and going on beyond graduation.
The research shows when a young child goes to school — not daycare — they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go to college or something after high school.
When you add two years of free community college on top of that, you begin to change the dynamic. (Applause.) We can do that. (Applause.)
And we’ll increase Pell Grants and invest in Historical Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, Minority-Serving Institutions. The reason is: They don’t have the endowments, but their students are just as capable of learning about cybersecurity, just as capable of learning about metallurgy — all the things that are going on that provide those jobs of the future.
Jill was a community college professor who teaches today as First Lady. She has long said — (applause). She has long — (applause). If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Joe, any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us.” She’ll be deeply involved in leading this effort. Thank you, Jill.
Second thing we need: American Families Plan will provide access to quality, affordable childcare. We guarantee — (applause). And I’m proposing a legislation to guarantee that low- and middle-income families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5. The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave and medical leave — family and medical leave. We’re one of the few industrial countries in the world — (applause).
No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones –- a parent, a spouse, or child.
And fourth, the American Family Plan puts directly into the pockets of millions of Americans. In March, we expanded a tax credit for every child in a family. Up to a $3,000 per child, if they’re under six years of age — I mean, excuse me — under six years of age, and $3,600 for children over six years of age.
With two parents, two kids, that’s $7,200 in the pockets that’s going to help to take care of your family. And that will help more than 65 million children and help cut [child] poverty in half. (Applause.) And we can afford it.
So we did that in the last piece of legislation we passed. But let’s extend that Child Care Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025. (Applause.)
The American Rescue Plan lowered healthcare premiums for 9 million Americans who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act. I know that’s really popular on this side of the aisle. (Laughter.) But let’s make that provision permanent so their premiums don’t go back up. (Applause.)
In addition to my Families Plan, I’m going to work with Congress to address, this year, other critical priorities for American families.
The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans, protecting people with preexisting conditions, protecting women’s health. And the pandemic has demonstrated how badly — how badly it’s needed. Let’s lower deductibles for working families on the Affordable Care — in the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.) And let’s lower prescription drug costs. (Applause.)
We know how to do this. The last President had that as an objective. We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America.
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America — nearly three times — for the same drug, nearly three times what other countries pay. We have to change that, and we can.
Let’s do what we’ve always talked about for all the years I was down here in this — in this body — in Congress. Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices. (Applause.)
And, by the way, that won’t just — that won’t just help people on Medicare; it will lower prescription drug costs for everyone.
And the money we save, which is billions of dollars, can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare coverage benefits without costing taxpayers an additional penny. It’s within our power to do it; let’s do it now. (Applause.)
We’ve talked about it long enough. Democrats and Republicans, let’s get it done this year. This is all about a simple premise: Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege in America. (Applause.)
So, how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plan? I made it clear, we can do it without increasing the deficits. Let’s start with what I will not do: I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000. It’s — but it’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to just begin to pay their fair share. (Applause.) Just their fair share.
Sometimes I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party. I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire, but pay your fair share.
A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero federal tax last year. Those 55 corporations made in excess of $40 billion in profit. A lot of companies also evade taxes through tax havens in Switzerland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas. It’s not right.
We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well. (Applause.)
We’re going to reward work, not just wealth. We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans — those making over $400,000 or more — back up to where it was when George W. Bush was President when he started: 39.6 percent. That’s where it was when George W. was President.
We’re going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than a million dollars a year and pay a lower tax rate on their capital gains than Americans who receive a paycheck.We’re only going to affect three tenths of 1 percent of all Americans by that action. Three tenths of 1 percent.
And the IRS is going to crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes. It’s estimated to be billions of dollars by think tanks that are left, right, and center.
I’m not looking to punish anybody. But I will not add a tax burden — an additional tax burden to the middle class in this country. They’re already paying enough. I believe what I propose is fair — (applause) — fiscally responsible, and it raises revenue to pay for the plans I have proposed, and will create millions of jobs that will grow the economy and enhance our financial standing in the country.
When you hear someone say that they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent or corporate America, ask them: “Whose taxes you want to raise instead? Whose are you going to cut?”
Look, the big tax cut of 2017 — remember, it was supposed to pay for itself — that was how it was sold — and generate vast economic growth. Instead, it added $2 trillion to the deficit. It was a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top.
Instead of using the tax saving to raise wages and invest in research and development, it poured billions of dollars into the pockets of CEOs. In fact, the pay gap between CEOs and their workers is now among the largest in history.
According to one study, CEOs make 320 times what the average worker in their corporation makes. It used to be in the — below a hundred.
The pandemic has only made things worse. Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic — working- and middle-class Americans. At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion — in the same exact period. Let me say it again: 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion during this pandemic. And they’re now worth more than $4 trillion.
My fellow Americans, trickle-down — trickle-down economics has never worked and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out. (Applause.)
You know, there’s a broad consensus of economists — left, right, center — and they agree what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth. These are among the highest-value investments we can make as a nation.
I’ve often said: Our greatest strength is the power of our example, not just the example of our power.
In my conversations with world leaders — and I’ve spoken to over 38, 40 of them now — I’ve made it known — I’ve made it known that America is back. And you know what they say? The comment that I hear most of all from them is they say, “We see America is back but for how long? But for how long?”
My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we’re back, but that we’re back to stay and that we aren’t going to go it alone. (Applause.) We’re going to do it by leading with our allies. (Applause.)
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time — from terrorism, to nuclear proliferation, mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change, as well as experi- — what we’re experiencing now with pandemics.
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus out. And our own vaccine supply — as it grows to meet our needs; and we’re meeting them — will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries, just as America was the arsenal of democracy for the world — (applause) — and in consequence, influenced the world. (Applause.)
But every American will have access before that occur- — every American will have access to be fully covered by COVID-19 — from the vaccines we have.
Look, the climate crisis is not our fight alone; it’s a global fight. The United States accounts, as all of you know, less than 15 percent of carbon emissions. The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent. That’s why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Accord — because if we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to ultimately matter.
I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America with all of the major economies of the world — China, Russia, India, the European Union — and I said I’d do it in my first 100 days.
I want to be very blunt about it: I had — my attempt was to make sure that the world could see there was a consensus, that we are at an inflection point in history. And consensus — the consensus is: If we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living to almost everyone around the world.
If you’ve watched any of it — and you were all busy; I’m sure you didn’t have much time — that’s what virtually every nation said, even the ones that aren’t doing their fair share.
The investments I’ve proposed tonight also advance the foreign policy, in my view, that benefits the middle class. That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.
In my discussions — in my discussions with President Xi, I told him, “We welcome the competition.We’re not looking for conflict.” But I made absolutely clear that we will defend America’s interests across the board.America will stand up to unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and American industries, like subsidies from state — to state-owned operations and enterprises and the theft of American technology and intellectual property.
I also told President Xi that we’ll maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific, just as we do with NATO in Europe — not to start a conflict, but to prevent one. (Applause.)
I told him what I’ve said to many world leaders: that America will not back away from our commitments — our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and to our alliances.
And I pointed out to him: No responsible American President could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated. An American President — President has to represent the essence of what our country stands for. America is an idea — the most unique idea in history: We are created, all of us, equal. It’s who we are, and we cannot walk away from that principle and, in fact, say we’re dealing with the American idea.
With regard to Russia, I know it concerns some of you, but I made very clear to Putin that we’re not going to seek escalation, but their actions will have consequence if they turn out to be true. And they turned out to be true, so I responded directly and proportionally to Russia’s interference in our elections and the cyberattacks on our government and our business. They did both of these things, and I told them we would respond, and we have.
But we can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interest. We did it when we extended the New START Treaty on nuclear arms, and we’re working to do it on climate change. But he understands we will respond.
On Iran and North Korea — nuclear programs that present serious threats to American security and the security of the world — we’re going to be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countriesthrough diplomacy, as well as stern deterrence.
And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan. (Applause.) We have — (applause) — we have, without hyperbole, the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have a son serving in a warzone.
Today we have servicemembers serving in the same warzone as their parents did. We have servicemembers in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11.
The War in Afghanistan, as we remember the debates here, were never meant to be multi-generational undertakings of nation-building. We went to Afghanistan to get terrorists — the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 — and we said we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to do it. If you’ve been to the upper Kunar Valley, you’ve kind of seen the gates of hell. And we delivered justice to bin Laden. We degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And after 20 years of value — valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring those troops home. (Applause.)
Look, even as we do, we will maintain an over-the-horizon capacity to suppress future threats to the homeland. And make no mistake: In 20 years, terrorists has — terrorism has metastasized. The threat has evolved way beyond Afghanistan. And those of you in the intelligence committees, the foreign relations committee, the defense committees, you know well: We have to remain vigilant against the threats to the United States wherever they come from. Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, other places in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.
And we won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism. We’re not going to ignore that either.
My fellow Americans, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation. It was nearly a year ago, before her father’s funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter. She’s a little tyke, so I was kneeling down to talk to her so I could look her in the eye. And she looked at me and she said, “My daddy changed the world.” Well, after the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was if — if we have the courage to act as a Congress.
We’ve all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans.Now is our opportunity to make some real progress. The vast majority of men and women wearing the uniform and a badge serve our communities, and they serve them honorably. I know them. I know they want — (applause) — I know they want to help meet this moment as well.
My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already.
I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in the very productive discussions with Democrats in the Senate. We need to work together to find a consensus. But let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. (Applause.)
The country supports this reform, and Congress should act — should act. We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe towards justice — real justice. And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways; a chance to deliver real equity — good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass it down two generations because you have an access to purchase a house. Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans — Black, white, Latino, Asian Americans, Native Americans.
Look, I also want to thank the United States Senate for voting 94 to 1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. (Applause.) You acted decisively. (Applause.) And you can see on television the viciousness of the hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year — this past year and for too long. I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk, which I will gladly, anxiously sign.
I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans. (Applause.) To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know your President has your back.
Another thing: Let’s authorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law for 27 years. (Applause.) Twenty-seven years ago, I wrote it. It’ll close the — the act that has to be authorized now will close the “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers. The court order said, “This is an abuser. You can’t own a gun.” It’s to close that loophole that existed.
You know, it’s estimated that 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner every month in America — 50 a month.Let’s pass it and save some lives. (Applause.)
And I need not — I need not tell anyone this, but gun violence is becoming an epidemic in America.
The flag at the White House was still flying at half-mast for the 8 victims in the mass shooting in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a mass shooting in Colorado.
And in the week in between those two events, 250 other Americans were shot dead in the streets of America — 250 shot dead.
I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue. In the ’90s, we passed universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired off in seconds. We beat the NRA. Mass shootings and gun violence declined. Check out the report in over 10 years. But in the early twe- — 2000s, the law expired, and we’ve seen daily bloodshed since. I’m not saying if the law continued, we wouldn’t see bloodshed.
More than two weeks ago in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest people I know — the survivors and families who lost loved ones to gun violence — I laid out several of the Department of Justice a- — actions that are being taken to — impact on this epidemic.
One of them is banning so-called “ghost guns.” These are homemade guns built from a kit that includes directions on how to finish the firearm. The parts have no serial numbers, so they show up at crime scenes and they can’t be traced. The buyers of these ghost gun kits aren’t required to pass any background check. Anyone, from a criminal or terrorist, could buy this kit and within 30 minutes have a weapon that’s lethal. But no more.
And I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well. (Applause.)
Look, I don’t want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democrat colleagues and close the loopholes requiring a background check on purchases of guns. We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And don’t tell me it can’t be done. We did it before, and it worked.
Talk to most responsible gun owners and hunters. They’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a weapon. What do you think — deer are wearing Kevlar vests? (Laughter.) They’ll tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
These kinds of reasonable reforms have overwhelming support from the American people, including many gun owners. The country supports reform and is — and Congress should act.
This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue. And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. From the very beginning, there were certain guns, weapons, that could not be owned by Americans. Certain people could not own those weapons ever.
We’re not changing the Constitution; we’re being reasonable. I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; I think it’s an American issue.
And here’s what else we can do: Immigration has always been essential to America. Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration. For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform, and we’ve done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it.
On day one of my presidency, I kept my commitment and sent a comprehensive immigration bill to the United States Congress. If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it so over 11 million undocumented folks — the vast majority are here overstaying visas. Pass it. We can actually — if you actually want to solve a problem, I’ve sent a bill to take a close look at it.
We have to — also have to get at the root problem of why people are fleeing, particularly to — to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador: the violence, the corruption, the gangs, and the political instability, hunger, hurricanes, earthquakes, natural disasters.
When I was President, my President — when I was Vice President, the President asked me to focus on providing the help needed to address the root causes of migration. And it helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave. The plan was working, but the last administration decided it was not worth it.
I’m restoring the program and asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic effort to take care of this. I have absolute confidence she’ll get the job done. (Applause.)
Now, look, if you don’t like my plan, let’s at least pass what we all agree on. Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for DREAMers — the young people who have only known America as their home. (Applause.)
And permanent protection for immigrants who are here on temporary protected status who came from countries beset by manmade and natural-made violence and disaster. (Applause.)
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables. (Applause.)
Look, immigrants have done so much for America during this pandemic and throughout our history. The country supports immigration reform. We should act. Let’s argue over it, let’s debate it, but let’s act. (Applause.)
And if we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote. Most people — (applause).
More people voted in the last presidential election than any time in American history, in the middle of the worst pandemic ever. It should be celebrated. Instead, it’s being attacked.
Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send it to my desk right away. (Applause.) The country supports it. The Congress should act now. (Applause.)
Look, in closing, as we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol, desecrating our democracy, remain vivid in all our minds.
Lives were put at risk — many of your lives. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned. The insurrection was an existential crisis –- a test of whether our democracy could survive. And it did.
But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent, as old as our Republic — still vital today.
Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us, created equal in the image of God, have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?
Can our democracy deliver the most — to the most pressing needs of our people?
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?
America’s adversaries –- the autocrats of the world –- are betting we can’t. And I promise you, they’re betting we can’t. They believe we’re too full of anger and division and rage.
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy. But they are wrong. You know it; I know it. But we have to prove them wrong.
We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.
In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in democracy to deliver. We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. We’re delivering real results to people; they can see it and feel it in their own lives.
Opening doors of opportunity, guaranteeing some more fairness and justice — that’s the essence of America. That’s democracy in action.
Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds — “We the People”. Well, it’s time to remember that “We the People” are the government — you and I. Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force that we have no control over. It’s us. It’s “We the People.”
In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us, “In America, we do our part.” We all do our part. That’s all I’m asking: that we do our part, all of us.
If we do that, we will meet the center challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong. Autocrats will not win the future. We will. America will. And the future belongs to America.
As I stand here tonight before you, in a new and vital hour of life and democracy of our nation, and I can say with absolute confidence: I have never been more confident or optimistic about America — not because I’m President, because what’s happening with the American people.
We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and “We the People” did not flinch.
At the very moment our adversaries were certain we would pull apart and fail, we came together. We united.
With light and hope, we summoned a new strength, new resolve to position us to win the competition of the 21st century, on our way to a union more perfect, more prosperous, and more just, as one people, one nation, and one America.
Folks, as I told every world leader I’ve ever met with over the years, it’s never ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America, and it still isn’t. (Applause.)
We are the United States of America. (Applause.) There is not a single thing — nothing — nothing beyond our capacity. We can do whatever we set our mind to do if we do it together. (Applause.) So let’s begin to get together. (Applause.)
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you for your patience. (Applause.)
There was so much about President Joe Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress (otherwise known as the State of the Union address) that was extraordinary, with the twin challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and domestic insurrection still hovering, but also the historic nature: Biden began by acknowledging the historic moment of “Madam Speaker” and “Madam Vice President” sitting on the podium behind him.
But there was a lot more to his review of his first 100 days in office that was historic: “Because of you, the American people, our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements this country has ever seen,” he declared. The economy created 1,300,000 new jobs in Biden’s first 100 days – more jobs in the first 100 days of any President, and the economy is on track to achieve 6% growth, the fastest growth rate in four decades.
“I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.”
His speech was long on specific proposals and praise for others, and very short on self-congratulations, even stepping on applause lines and speaking over and over about coming “together”. “Thanks to all the help of all of you, we’re marshalling — with your help, everyone’s help — we’re marshalling every federal resource.”
He laid out his plan – and rationale – for the biggest, most transformational investment in infrastructure in history, the American Jobs Plan: “These are the investments we made together as one country, and investments that only the government was in a position to make. Time and again, they propel us into the future.”
In a word, it represents “jobs” – a word he used 43 times.
He used jobs to justify investments in traditional infrastructure but also investments in climate action and research & development.
He proposed a new agency like DARPA, responsible for inventing the internet, for medicine, to ultimately eradicate cancer and deal with the epidemic of Alzheimer‘s. He is proposing expanding access to the Affordable Care Act, lowering premiums, and lowering the costof prescription drugs for everyone by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices.
“Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come. It is an eight-year program. These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced…. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”
His other big, trillion-dollar proposal is for the American Families Plan: in care – child care, parental and spousal care – paid family leave, and four more years of public education: two for pre-K and two more for community college.
He spoke of union rights and the need to raise the minimum wage to $15, pay equity.
These big, bold, transformational programs, he said, will be paid for by reforming tax code and collections. “Trickle-down economics has never worked and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out…What I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth. These are among the highest-value investments we can make as a nation.”
He addressed immigration reform, justice reform, voting rights, gun reform, and for good measure, told the LGBTQ and specifically transgender young people, “I’ve got your back.” He called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Police Reform Act in time for the one-year anniversary of his death at the hands of a police officer. “We have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already…
“We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe towards justice — real justice. And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways; a chance to deliver real equity — good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass it down two generations because you have an access to purchase a house. Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans — Black, white, Latino, Asian Americans, Native Americans.”
For the most part delivered in quiet, intimidate, personal tones, frequently speaking directly to the American people, and only in a few instances raising his voice rose in volume and intensity, especially in terms of the need for America to stand as a beacon of democracy, and ward off the looming vultures of autocracy licking their chops over a collapse.
Issues like fighting the pandemic, terrorism and the climate crisis cannot be done by any one nation alone.
“America will not back away from our commitments — our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and to our alliances…. America is an idea — the most unique idea in history: We are created, all of us, equal. It’s who we are, and we cannot walk away from that principle and, in fact, say we’re dealing with the American idea.”
And while saying firmly he will stand up to China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, and pursue terrorists everywhere, even as the US ends its forever war in Afghanistan, he declared emphatically, “We won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism. We’re not going to ignore that either.”
He did not shirk from raising intractable issues that have plagued America for decades, starting with gun reform saying, “I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well.
“Look, I don’t want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democrat colleagues and close the loopholes requiring a background check on purchases of guns. We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And don’t tell me it can’t be done. We did it before, and it worked.
“This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue. And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. From the very beginning, there were certain guns, weapons,that could not be owned by Americans. Certain people could not own those weapons ever.
“We’re not changing the Constitution; we’re being reasonable. I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; I think it’s an American issue.”
So is immigration. “Immigration has always been essential to America. Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration. For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform, and we’ve done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it.”
On his first day in office, Biden sent a comprehensive immigration reform bill to Congress. “If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it so over 11 million undocumented folks — the vast majority are here overstaying visas. Pass it. We can actually — if you actually want to solve a problem, I’ve sent a bill to take a close look at it.”
At least, he said, pass protection for DREAMers.
And finally, he told Congress, pass voting rights protections.
“Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?
“America’s adversaries –- the autocrats of the world –- are betting we can’t. And I promise you, they’re betting we can’t. They believe we’re too full of anger and division and rage. They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy. But they are wrong. You know it; I know it. But we have to prove them wrong.
“We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people…
“Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds – ‘We the People’. Well, it’s time to remember that ‘We the People’ are the government — you and I. Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force that we have no control over. It’s us. It’s ‘We the People.’
“In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us, ‘In America, we do our part.’ We all do our part. That’s all I’m asking: that we do our part, all of us.
“If we do that, we will meet the center challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong. Autocrats will not win the future. We will. America will. And the future belongs to America.”
President Biden held a historic Leaders Summit on Climate, in which he announced higher targets for the US to achieve, and underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution, linking climate action to economic growth. The White House issued this summary:
On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Days later, he took executive actions to ensure we tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad – all while creating jobs and strengthening our economy. This week, he held a historic summit with 40 world leaders to show that America is back.
Over the course of two days and eight sessions, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment.
On the first day of the summit, President Biden upped the ante. He announced the United States will target reducing emissions by 50-52 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. He underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution and creating good-paying, union jobs – noting that the countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of the future.
In the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration has mobilized a whole-of-government approach to unleash economic opportunities, create good jobs, and advance environmental justice. From the national to the local level and across all agencies, the federal government is not only working to help those hit hardest by climate impacts, but also creating a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future.
While the Biden-Harris Administration has committed itself to addressing the climate crisis, countries across the globe must also step up. Given that more than 85 percent of emissions come from beyond U.S. borders, domestic action must go hand in hand with international leadership. All countries – and particularly the major economies – must do more to bend the curve on global emissions so as to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. President Biden’s Leaders Summit helped ensure the international community is working together to tackle the climate crisis and support the most vulnerable. Together with the new United States 2030 target along with those announced in the run-up to and at the summit, more than half of the world’s economy is now committed to the pace of action we need to limit warming to 1.5 degree C. And this coalition is growing.
President Biden convened the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, a group the United States first convened during the George W. Bush Administration. Together, the 17 MEF economies are responsible for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and global GDP. At the Summit, alongside the United States, the other MEF participants committed to take the necessary steps to set the world up for success in this decisive decade. The heads of state and leaders of the MEF participants were also joined by the leaders of countries that are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, as well as countries charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. Business leaders, innovators, local officials, and indigenous and youth representatives participated in the summit, sharing their insights and planned contributions to help tackle the climate crisis.
For our part, the United States is leading the way with a range of bold new commitments across the federal government that demonstrate its leadership, create jobs, rally the rest of the world to step up, mobilize finance, spur transformational innovations, conserve nature, build resilience, strengthen adaptation and drive economic growth for communities. U.S. commitments include:
Enhancing climate ambition and enabling the transformations required to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. President Biden is galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical period. From reducing short-lived climate pollutants and supporting the most vulnerable to investing in nature-based solutions, these transformational changes are critical to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Just as importantly, they will create new, good-paying jobs today to drive tomorrow’s economy.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach is ensuring that climate considerations are incorporated across U.S. engagements both at home and abroad. Some of the initiatives that were announced today include:
Launching a Global Climate Ambition Initiative. The U.S. government will support developing countries in establishing net-zero strategies, implementing their nationally determined contributions and national adaptation strategies, and reporting on their progress under the Paris Agreement. The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), working with other agencies, will coordinate U.S. government efforts to support countries around the world to enhance and meet their climate goals in ways that further their national development priorities. We will engage strategically with governments, the private sector, civil society, and communities to support transformational policies and programs, build human and institutional capacity, and create momentum toward a zero-emissions, climate-resilient future.
Setting ambitious benchmarks for climate investments at DFC. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is committing to achieve a net zero investment portfolio by 2040, the earliest target of any G7 or G20 development finance institution (DFI), and to make at least one-third of all its new investments have a climate nexus beginning in FY 2023. DFC will make climate issues central to its development strategy for the first time and bring all of its tools to bear to ensure a just transition that supports sustainable economic growth in developing countries. Working with the Rockefeller Foundation, DFC will support distributed renewable energy and other innovative climate investments to benefit millions worldwide. It has released a rolling call for proposals for climate investment funds, is bringing onboard its first Chief Climate Officer, and has established a $50 million climate technical assistance facility. These pioneering goals are unique among its peer institutions, and DFC will collaborate with other DFIs and encourage them to raise their own ambitions.
Committing to climate investments at MCC. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will expand and deepen work to address climate change challenges across its investment portfolio and business operations—investing in climate-smart development and sustainable infrastructure. Over the next five years, MCC commits that more than 50 percent of its program funding will go to climate-related investments. MCC will promote low-carbon economic development, help countries transition away from fossil fuels, and maintain a coal-free policy across its portfolio of grants.
Launching a Greening Government Initiative. The Greening Government Initiative launch marks the first international convening on greening national plans for sustainable government operations. Co-chaired by Canada and the United States, GGI countries seek to lead by example in developing and implementing climate action plans that increase the resilience of and mitigate emissions from national government operations and real property. Through coordinating our national priorities and collaborating on common goals, we hope to foster and inspire a global “race to the top” of government efforts toward achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The United States and Canada will lead this initiative through cooperation in the management of national government procurement and real property, helping both nations achieve their individual goals of a net-zero emissions economy, 100 percent clean electricity usage, and a zero-emissions vehicle fleet.
Mobilizing financing to drive the net-zero transition and adapt to climate change. Finance plays a vital role in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and building a climate-resilient future. Current financial flows are inadequate for addressing the scale of the climate crisis. Through President Biden’s international climate finance plan, the U.S. government will make strategic use of multilateral and bilateral channels and institutions to assist developing countries in implementing ambitious emissions reduction measures, protect critical ecosystems, build resilience against the impacts of climate change, and promote the flow of capital toward climate-aligned investments and away from high-carbon investments. To more effectively mobilize public and private finance to address the climate crisis, the United States announced it is:
Scaling up international financing to address climate needs. The United States intends to double by 2024 our annual public climate finance to developing countries relative to the average level during the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). As part of this goal, the United States intends to triple its adaptation finance by 2024. The Biden Administration will work closely with Congress to meet these goals.
Issuing the first U.S. International Climate Finance Plan. The United States is publishing its first-ever U.S. international climate finance plan, which lays out how federal agencies and departments responsible for international climate finance will work together to deliver that finance more efficiently and with greater impact.
Launching an international dialogue on decreasing fiscal climate risk through national budgets. Earlier this month, the United States announced a more than $14 billion increase in the President’s Budget over FY 2021 enacted levels across the entire government to tackle the climate crisis, the largest in history. The United States is launching an international dialogue on aligning the budget with climate risks and opportunities. The dialogue will build both on U.S. leadership in climate budgeting and assessing climate risk and on the pioneering work already being done in multilateral fora. The United States will engage with participating countries through bilateral and multilateral channels to collaborate on cost-effective strategies across participating countries to increase climate investments while creating good-paying jobs. The dialogue will also explore how to improve climate risk analysis in national operations that could help countries optimize and expand investments in adaptation and reduce national exposure to the impacts of climate change.
Transforming energy systems. The potential of solar energy, wind power, and electricity storage technologies has improved dramatically over the past few years. But we need to go further and faster. To support accelerated action, new commitments include:
Establishing a Net-Zero Producers Forum. In support of efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury, the United States, together with the energy ministries from Canada, Norway, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, representing 40 percent of global oil and gas production, established a cooperative forum that will create pragmatic net-zero strategies, including methane abatement, advancing the circular carbon economy approach, development and deployment of clean-energy and carbon capture and storage technologies, diversification from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues, and other measures in line with each country’s national circumstances.
Establishing a U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The United States is working with allies and partners around the world to set ambitious 2030 targets for climate action and clean energy innovation and deployment. The U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership will elevate ambitious climate action as a core theme of U.S.-India collaboration and support the achievement of India’s ambitious targets, including reaching 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. The Partnership will aim to mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across sectors including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts.
Supporting ambitious renewable energy goals and pathways in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Department of State announced scaled-up technical assistance to countries participating in the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) initiative, a regional effort led by Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica to increase renewable energy capacity to at least 70 percent by 2030. Expanded U.S. support through the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory will center on peer learning and training on policies and technical measures for achieving high levels of renewable energy grid integration. U.S. support to enable current RELAC countries and motivate additional countries to join RELAC will be delivered in cooperation with the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium.
Supporting clean energy mineral supply chains. The Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) is a multinational effort founded by Australia, Botswana, Canada, Peru, and the United States to help build sustainable supply chains and promote sound sector governance for the minerals vital to technologies powering the energy transition, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and battery storage. The United States has committed more than $10.5 million in bilateral technical assistance in support of ERGI principles in more than ten countries around the world. The Initiative’s focus is now expanding to include greening mining operations, as well as re-use and recycling of key minerals and metals. The United States will also join the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining in support of international cooperation on the minerals and metals that make the renewable energy transition possible.
Revitalizing the transport sector. The transformation of the transport sector offers some of the biggest opportunities for deep emissions cuts, new jobs, and healthier cities. To jump-start this revolution, the United States is committing to:
Sparking the zero-emission transportation revolution – at home and abroad. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis and expanding ways for all modes of transportation to transition to zero emissions. This includes funding for lower-emission buses, expanding access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, using our public rights of way in climate-supportive ways, and working with partners around the world bilaterally, regionally, and in multilateral fora to help catalyze the transition to zero-emitting transportation as swiftly as possible.
Joining the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. The United States will join a coalition of governments representing more than half of new vehicle sales globally that is dedicated to accelerating the global transition to zero emission vehicles.
Reducing emissions from international shipping. The international shipping sector contributes approximately three percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the sector’s emissions are only projected to increase. In support of the global effort to keep within reach a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature increase, and in support of global efforts to achieve net-zero GHG emissions no later than 2050, the United States is committing to work with countries in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt a goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050 and to adopt ambitious measures that will place the sector on a pathway to achieve this goal.
Reducing emissions from international aviation. The United States is committed to working with other countries on a vision toward reducing the aviation sector’s emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net-zero emissions for our economy by 2050, as well as on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety. The United States intends to advance the development and deployment of high integrity sustainable aviation fuels and other clean technologies that meet rigorous international standards, building on existing partnerships, such as through ASCENT– the Aviation Sustainability Center – and pursue policies to increase the supply and demand of sustainable aviation fuels. In the International Civil Aviation Organization, we will engage in processes to advance a new long-term aspirational goal in line with our vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector, and continue to participate in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
Building workforces for the future and ensuring U.S. competitiveness. Climate action is an opportunity to spur job creation while enabling all communities and workers to benefit from the clean energy economy. To create opportunities for American-made solutions to tackle the climate crisis abroad, the United States is announcing new commitments to:
Launching a Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will launch the Global Partnership to connect U.S. industry to major energy and transportation infrastructure investments in emerging markets. This initiative will support the rebuilding of the U.S. middle class through the export of U.S.-manufactured goods and services, while enhancing economic recovery through climate-smart infrastructure development for our partners and allies globally. The Global Climate-Smart Infrastructure Partnership will leverage USTDA’s project preparation and partnership-building tools to support the use of U.S. technologies and services in overseas climate-smart infrastructure projects.
Creating the EXIM Chairman’s Council on Climate. The U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) will create a Chairman’s Council on Climate, a sub-committee of EXIM’s Advisory Committee dedicated to advising EXIM on how to better support U.S. exporters in clean energy, foster the transition to a low-carbon economy, and create clean U.S. jobs at home. Membership will be comprised of a wide range of representatives which could include, for example, members of U.S. industry, the financial sector, trade associations, labor, academia, think tanks, and civil society organizations. EXIM will open applications to the public in summer 2021.
Supporting workers and communities in the shift to a global clean energy future. As the United States moves towards a clean energy economy, it is committed to helping energy workers and communities address the challenges and equitably capitalize on the opportunities associated with this transition. The U.S. Secretary of Energy convened the energy ministers of Canada, India, and the European Commission, along with representatives from the labor and advocacy communities, to begin a discussion on global efforts to address this critical issue. To continue the dialogue, the Department of Energy announced that it is joining Canada, the European Union, and Chile to launch the Empowering People initiative at the Clean Energy Ministerial this June.
Promoting innovation to bring clean technologies to scale. Innovation will spur the technology and transformations necessary to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change at scale, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities to build the industries of the future. To build the future we want, the United States announced:
Clean energy innovation and manufacturing. The United States commits to accelerating the technology progress critical to advancing sustainable development and achieving a net-zero global economy. The effort will spur good-paying American jobs focused on developing, manufacturing, and exporting cost-effective products that support sustainable development across the world. The U.S. Department of Energy will define a series of performance targets and coherently leverage the diverse expertise and talent at American universities, businesses, and national laboratories to accelerate research and development in top linchpin technologies, beginning with: hydrogen, carbon capture, industrial fuels, and energy storage. The targets and roadmaps will look beyond incremental advances and aim, instead, at the game-changing breakthroughs that will secure American leadership in the manufacture of net-zero carbon technologies and support sustainable development around the world. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy will convene experts from American academia, business, and the national laboratories to announce the first of these moonshot-style ventures and catalyze the game-changing breakthroughs that will grow new businesses and new jobs domestically and export these net-zero carbon technologies all around the world.
Reinvigorating leadership and participation in Mission Innovation. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced plans to quadruple clean energy innovation funding over the next four years, and the United States is playing a key role in advancing international collaboration on innovation and supporting the launch of Mission Innovation 2.0, including:
Launching, and leading together with international partners, a major Mission Innovation international technology mission on carbon dioxide removal at COP26.
Joining Mission Innovation’s hydrogen mission and co-leading, with Denmark, a mission to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping, both slated to launch at the June 2021 Mission Innovation ministerial.
Planning to host the co-located 2022 Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings.
Leading the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate. The United States will lead the creation of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate along with the United Arab Emirates and in coordination with several other partner countries. The goal of this initiative is to accelerate innovation and research and development in agricultural and food systems in order to spur low-carbon growth and enhance food security. The initiative will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021 through the UK’s COP26 Campaign for Nature.
Joining the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT). The United States will join the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), along with co-founders Sweden and India. LeadIT convenes countries and companies committed to speeding innovation in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy-intensive sectors and speed progress to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Launching a Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium. To speed progress toward a carbon-free power system by 2035 at home and around the world, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, joined leading power system operators, world-class research institutes, and private institutions from countries at the forefront of power system transitions to launch this new consortium, which couples cutting-edge research with knowledge diffusion to share best-in-class operational, engineering, and workforce development solutions with power system operators around the world. The G-PST Consortium aims to help system operators to permanently change their emissions trajectories while simultaneously improving grid reliability, resiliency, and security and supporting economic growth.
Launching the FIRST Program to support the use of small modular reactors. In support of the Administration’s commitment to increasing reliable energy access worldwide while meeting carbon reduction targets, the Department of State is launching the Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program with an initial $5.3 million investment. FIRST provides capacity-building support to enable partner countries to benefit from advanced nuclear technologies and meet their clean energy goals under the highest standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.
Providing urgent support for vulnerable countries to adapt and build resilience to the climate crisis. The climate crisis is already posing challenges to communities at home and around the world. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when agriculture fields are flooded, wildfires destroy neighborhoods, and storms knock out power. Communities of color and low-income communities around the country are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Abroad, many vulnerable countries already are facing catastrophic climate impacts. They must build their resilience to the climate crisis now. To strengthen our capacity to help people, reduce future risks and improve resilience, the United States is announcing it is:
Supporting environmental justice and climate resilience. EPA will fund $1 million in grants/cooperative agreements through the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to work with underserved and vulnerable communities, including indigenous communities, in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to prepare them for climate-related impacts. This initiative will provide funding directly to community-based organizations to help them develop community-driven solutions to the challenges of climate change. These projects could involve vulnerable communities converting workers to clean jobs, addressing extreme weather impacts, transitioning to clean energy and/or transportation, or utilizing traditional ecological knowledge. Following a competitive process, the most innovative and impactful projects will be approved by consensus by the environment ministers of the three countries. The United States currently chairs the CEC Council.
Partnering with islands to lead on climate and energy resilience. The United States is committed to partnering with small islands in their efforts to combat the climate crisis in ways that reflect their unique cultures and development challenges by building resilience in the face of a changing climate. Working together, the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will launch a new partnership to advance the inclusion of locally generated climate information, knowledge, data and decision support tools in ongoing and emerging sustainability and resilience endeavors in island regions. The Department of State will support a unique island-led partnership, the Local2030 Island Network, which links U.S. island jurisdictions with those around the world in developing common solutions in a shared cultural context. NOAA will work with this network and other partners to enhance the capacity of island nations to integrate climate data and information, and it will apply effective coastal and marine resource management strategies to support sustainable development. DOE will launch the Energy Transitions Initiative – Global, which will focus on transforming the energy systems of and increasing resilience for islands and remote communities, starting in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific and growing to include other vulnerable communities. USAID, through the Pacific Climate Ready project and the Caribbean Energy and Resilience initiatives, will support small island developing states to strengthen their systems and capacities to become more climate resilient in ways that are country-driven, coordinated, inclusive, and equitable.
Reducing black carbon by investing in clean cookstoves. Household energy emissions have a significant impact on the climate, environment, human health, gender, and livelihoods. In addition, the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, can in the short term contribute significantly to keeping a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Given the urgent need for tangible, ambitious, and global action, the U.S. government is announcing that it is resuming and strengthening its commitment to the United Nations Foundation’s Clean Cooking Alliance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with the Clean Cooking Alliance, other governments, and partners to reduce emissions from home cooking and heating that contribute to climate change and also directly affect the health and livelihoods of almost 40 percent of the world’s population.
Mitigating black carbon health impacts in Indigenous Arctic communities. EPA, working through our partners in the Arctic Council, is pleased to announce the Black Carbon Health in Indigenous Arctic Communities project to be implemented by the Aleut International Association. Indigenous Arctic communities need tools to understand their exposure to black carbon emissions, to help them identify significant local sources, and to share best practices for preventing and mitigating the health impacts of air pollution and climate. The project will help these communities measure, analyze, and addresses black carbon exposure and strengthen their capacity to develop and promote black carbon mitigation strategies.
Implementing nature-based solutions. Nature is a critical part of reaching net-zero emissions and enhancing community resilience. The world’s ocean and forests are critical carbon sinks and a source of life and livelihoods. Recognizing nature’s vital role, the United States is announcing new resources and support for:
Investing in tropical forests to drive towards a net-zero world. Halting deforestation globally, and restoring forests and other ecosystems, is critical to reaching a net-zero emissions world by 2050. The United States is joining together with other governments and private sector companies today to announce the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition. The LEAF Coalition expects to mobilize at least $1 billion this year to incentivize tropical and subtropical countries in reducing emissions from forests by paying for verified emissions reductions that meet a high environmental and social standard. This is a crucial component to raising global climate ambition and to halting and reversing deforestation by 2030.
Funding nature-based approaches to coastal community and ecosystem resilience.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and additional governmental and private partners will provide $34 million for nature-based approaches through the National Coastal Resilience Fund. These projects will advance restoration or enhancement of natural features, such as coastal wetlands, dunes, and coral reefs, to protect coastal communities and infrastructure from flooding, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife. NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation commit to advancing the science and practice of implementing nature-based approaches to coastal resilience with international communities of practice by participating in exchanges and dialogues to share the lessons and innovations learned from these projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners will also provide $78 million in grants to help conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetlands in Canada, Mexico, and the United States through the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
Promoting resilience in the Southern Ocean. The United States is supporting the three marine protected area proposals in the Southern Ocean before the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). These unique areas are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and they must be protected. The United States is calling on all CCAMLR members to adopt these marine protected areas at this year’s meeting.
Promoting safety and security at home and abroad. Climate change has been identified by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a critical national security threat and threat multiplier. As a result, DoD has undertaken assessments of the impacts that the climate crisis has on American military instillations. Today the United States is announcing:
Conducting climate exposure assessments on all U.S. installations. The DoD is announcing a plan to complete climate exposure assessments on all major U.S. installations within 12 months and all major installations outside the continental U.S. within 24 months using the Defense Climate Assessment Tool (DCAT). The DCAT helps identify the climate hazards to which DoD installations are most exposed, which is the first step in addressing the potential physical harm, security impacts, and degradation in readiness resulting from global climate change.
Supporting assessments in partner countries around the world. The DoD is also announcing its commitment to share the DCAT with a number of attending allied partners and militaries.
Supporting action at every level. Fully addressing the climate crisis requires an all-of-society response. President Biden is committed to working with sub-national actors, business, civil society, indigenous communities, and youth to facilitate collective ambitious action that yields lasting results.
Advancing subnational and non-state engagement abroad. The United States will step up engagement with subnational governments and non-state actors around the world to accelerate climate action. It will also partner with U.S. cities, states, territories, and Tribes in the context of its diplomatic outreach globally, supporting their engagement at UN Climate Change summits and working with other countries to elevate similar efforts.
Catalyzing subnational action and participation in COP26. The United States endorses Race To Zero, a global campaign for net-zero targets from businesses, cities, and regions, and will work to seek additional U.S participants. The United States also announced an intent to commission analysis of the emission reduction potential from subnational leadership worldwide and to work with national and subnational partners globally to achieve this potential.
Today’s announcements are additional steps in the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance an unprecedented whole-of-government response to climate change while creating good-paying, union jobs and advancing environmental justice. On his first day in office, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and one week later he signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As part of this Order, the President charged federal agencies to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis. From reducing emissions to advancing a just transition, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to working hand in hand with international leaders, civil society, businesses, and communities and getting countries around the world to step up and meet this global challenge.
Building on Past U.S. Leadership, including Efforts by States, Cities, Tribes, and Territories, the New Target Aims at 50-52 Percent Reduction in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Pollution from 2005 Levels in 2030
On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030 – building on progress to-date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis.
The announcement – made during the Leaders Summit on Climate that President Biden is holding to challenge the world on increased ambition in combating climate change – is part of the President’s focus on building back better in a way that will create millions of good-paying, union jobs, ensure economic competitiveness, advance environmental justice, and improve the health and security of communities across America.
Biden has said often that when he hears the phrase “climate action,” he thinks “jobs.”
This is a fact sheet from the White House:
On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement and set a course for the United States to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad, reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. As part of re-entering the Paris Agreement, he also launched a whole-of-government process, organized through his National Climate Task Force, to establish this new 2030 emissions target – known as the “nationally determined contribution” or “NDC,” a formal submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Today’s announcement is the product of this government-wide assessment of how to make the most of the opportunity combating climate change presents.
PUSHING PROGRESS, CREATING JOBS, AND ACHIEVING JUSTICE
The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now. Climate change poses an existential threat, but responding to this threat offers an opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance environmental justice. Creating jobs and tackling climate change go hand in hand – empowering the U.S. to build more resilient infrastructure, expand access to clean air and drinking water, spur American technological innovations, and create good-paying, union jobs along the way.
To develop the goal, the Administration analyzed how every sector of the economy can spur innovation, unleash new opportunities, drive competitiveness, and cut pollution. The target builds on leadership from mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, businesses, faith groups, cultural institutions, health care organizations, investors, and communities who have worked together tirelessly to ensure sustained progress in reducing pollution in the United States.
Building on and benefiting from that foundation, America’s 2030 target picks up the pace of emissions reductions in the United States, compared to historical levels, while supporting President Biden’s existing goals to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. There are multiple paths to reach these goals, and the U.S. federal, state, local, and tribal governments have many tools available to work with civil society and the private sector to mobilize investment to meet these goals while supporting a strong economy.
SUPPORTING AMERICAN WORKERS
This target prioritizes American workers. Meeting the 2030 emissions target will create millions of good-paying, middle class, union jobs – line workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks; autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them; engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement; and farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.
The health of our communities, well-being of our workers, and competitiveness of our economy requires this quick and bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must:
Invest in infrastructure and innovation. America must lead the critical industries that produce and deploy the clean technologies that we can harness today – and the ones that we will improve and invent tomorrow.
Fuel an economic recovery that creates jobs. We have the opportunity to fuel an equitable recovery, expand supply chains and bolster manufacturing, create millions of good-paying, union jobs, and build a more sustainable, resilient future.
Breathe clean air and drink clean water and advance environmental justice. We can improve the health and well-being of our families and communities – especially those places too often left out and left behind.
Make it in America. We can bolster our domestic supply chains and position the U.S. to ship American-made, clean energy products — like EV batteries – around the world.
MEETING THE MOMENT
The target is consistent with the President’s goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050 and of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the science demands. To develop the target, the Administration:
Used a whole-of-government approach: The NDC was developed by the National Climate Task Force using a whole-of-government approach, relying on a detailed bottom-up analysis that reviewed technology availability, current costs, and future cost reductions, as well as the role of enabling infrastructure. Standards, incentives, programs, and support for innovation were all weighed in the analysis. The National Climate Task Force is developing this into a national climate strategy to be issued later this year.
Consulted important and diverse stakeholders: From unions that collectively bargain for millions of Americans who have built our country and work to keep it running to groups representing tens of millions of advocates and young Americans, the Administration listened to Americans across the country. This also included groups representing thousands of scientists; hundreds of governmental leaders like governors, mayors, and tribal leaders; hundreds of businesses; hundreds of schools and institutions of higher education; as well as with many specialized researchers focused on questions of pollution reduction.
Explored multiple pathways across the economy: The target is grounded in analysis that explored multiple pathways for each economic sector of the economy that produces CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gases: electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, and lands.
Each policy considered for reducing emissions is also an opportunity to support good jobs and improve equity:
The United States has set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricityby 2035, which can be achieved through multiple cost-effective pathways each resulting in meaningful emissions reductions in this decade. That means good-paying jobs deploying carbon pollution-free electricity generating resources, transmission, and energy storage and leveraging the carbon pollution-free energy potential of power plants retrofitted with carbon capture and existing nuclear, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.
The United States can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades and electrification in buildings through support for job-creating retrofit programs and sustainable affordable housing, wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves, and adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings. The United States will also invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction, including for high-performance electrified buildings.
The United States can reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector by reducing tailpipe emissions and boosting the efficiency of cars and trucks; providing funding for charging infrastructure; and spurring research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts that drive forward very low carbon new-generation renewable fuels for applications like aviation, and other cutting-edge transportation technologies across modes. Investment in a wider array of transportation infrastructure, including transit, rail, and biking improvements, will make more choices available to travelers.
The United States can reduce emissions from forests andagricultureand enhance carbon sinks through a range of programs and measures including nature-based solutions for ecosystems ranging from our forests and agricultural soils to our rivers and coasts. Ocean-based solutions can also contribute towards reducing U.S. emissions.
The United States can address carbon pollution from industrial processes by supporting carbon capture as well as new sources of hydrogen—produced from renewable energy, nuclear energy, or waste—to power industrial facilities. The government can use its procurement power to support early markets for these very low- and zero-carbon industrial goods.
The United States will also reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane, hydrofluorocarbons and other potent short-lived climate pollutants. Reducing these pollutants delivers fast climate benefits.
In addition, the United States will invest ininnovation to improve and broaden the set of solutions as a critical complement to deploying the affordable, reliable, and resilient clean technologies and infrastructure available today.
America must act— and not just the federal government, but cities and states, small and big business, working communities. Together, we can seize the opportunity to drive prosperity, create jobs, and build the clean energy economy of tomorrow.
President Joe Biden provided the rationale for his American Jobs Plan in remarks on April 7, justifying the $2 trillion plan as a “once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.” While saying he was willing to hear other ideas and compromise on such things as raising the corporate tax rate to 28% (still lower than 35% rate up until 2017), doing nothing is “not an option.” Here is an edited transcript of his remarks:
Last weekend, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I announced my plan to rebuild what I refer to as the “backbone of America” through the American Jobs Plan.
It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges; it’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.
It’s the single largest investment in American jobs since World War Two, and it’s a plan that puts millions of Americans to work to fix what’s broken in our country: tens of thousands of miles of roads and highways, thousands of bridges in desperate need of repair.
But it also is a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow — not just yesterday; tomorrow — for American jobs, for American competitiveness.
Last week, I said that once Congress is back from recess, I’d get to work right away because we have no time to lose. So here we are.
Democrats, Republicans will have ideas about what they like and what they don’t like about our plan. That’s — that’s a good thing. That’s the American way. That’s the way democracy works. Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes are certain.
In the next few weeks, the Vice President and I will be meeting with Republicans and Democrats to hear from everyone. And we’ll be listening. We’ll be open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations.
But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction simply is not an option.
Now, since I announced this plan, I’ve heard from my Republican friends say that it’s — many of them say it’s too big. They say, “Why not focus on traditional infrastructure, fix what we’ve already got — the roads and the highways that exist and the bridges?”
I’m happy to have that debate. But I’d like to tell you my view. We are America. We don’t just fix for today; we build for tomorrow.
Two hundred years ago, trains weren’t “traditional” infrastructure either until America made a choice to lay down tracks across the country. Highways weren’t “traditional” infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across state lines.
The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs, and it’s evolving again today.
We need to start seeing infrastructures through its effect on the lives of working people in America. What is the foundation today that they need to carve out their place in the middle class to make it — to live, to go to work, to raise their families with dignity, to ensure that good jobs will be there for their kids, no matter who they are or what ZIP Code they live in?
That’s what infrastructure means in the 21st century. It still depends on roads and bridges, ports and airports, rail and mass transit, but it also depends on having reliable, high-speed Internet in every home. Because today’s high-speed Internet is infrastructure.
It depends on the electric grid — a grid that won’t collapse in a winter storm or be compromised by hackers at home or abroad. It depends on investing in “Made in America” goods from every American community, including those that have historically been left out — Black, Latino, Asian American, Native Americans, rural communities.
Talk to folks around the country about what really makes up the foundation of a good economy. Ask a teacher or a childcare worker if having clean drinking water — non-contaminated drinking water in our schools, in our childcare centers is part of that foundation — when we know that the lead in our pipes slows a child’s development when they drink that water.
Ask the entrepreneur whose small business was destroyed by the second 100-year flood in the last 10 years in Iowa — or wildfires in the West that burned 5 million acres last year, an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey. More fires than ever. Or the devastating damage — seeing more frequent and more intense hurricanes and storms on the East and Gulf Coasts.
Ask all those farmers and small-business owners and homeowners whether investing in clean energy to fight the effects of climate change is part of infrastructure.
Ask folks in rural America, where more than 35 percent of the people lack a reliable, high-speed Internet, limiting their ability to conduct business or engage in remote learning for their schools. Ask them whether investing in Internet access will lead to better jobs in town, new markets for farmers, and better opportunities for their kids.
And I’m serious about this. Ask the moms and dads in the “sandwich generation” — the folks carrying enormous personal and financial strains trying to raise their children and care for their parents — their elderly parents or members of their families with a disability. Ask them what sort of infrastructure they need to build a little better life, to be able to breathe a little bit.
It’s expanded services for seniors. It’s homecare workers, who go in and cook their meal, help them get around and live independently in their home, allowing them to stay in their homes — and I might add, saving Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
It’s better wages and benefits and opportunities for caregivers, who are disproportionately women, women of color, and immigrants. Or ask our wounded warriors and military families.
To my Republican colleagues in Congress, shouldn’t we modernize VA hospitals, update them? Many of them are more than 50 years old.
How about the estimated 450,000 post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, who, when they make that emergency call — or their husband, wife, son, daughter makes that call to the VA hospital — “Dad needs help, we have to bring him in.” And they hear, “You have to wait. We don’t have room now. Come back. Call me back in 8 days, 10 days, 12 days.”
Look at more suicides in the military than people getting shot. Is it really your position, my friends, that our veterans don’t deserve the most modern facilities? We could catch that cancer diagnosis quicker, with access to better roads, cleaner water, high-speed Internet that delivers information faster and more of it.
Above all, infrastructure is about meeting the needs of a nation and putting Americans to work and being able to do and get paid for doing — having good jobs. Plumbers and pipefitters replacing those, literally, thousands of miles of — of dangerous lead pipes. They’re still out there.
Everybody remembers what happened in Flint. There’s hundreds of Flints all across America. How many of you know, when you send your child to school, the fountain they’re drinking out of is not fed by a lead pipe? How many of you know the school your child is in still has asbestos in the walls and lacks the ventilation? Is that not infrastructure?
Line workers and electricians laying transmission lines for a modern grid, providing over 500,000 charging stations on the highways we are going to build to accommodate electric vehicles so we can own the future.
Construction workers and engineers building modern hospital — modern hospitals and homes for American families. Healthcare workers, steelworkers, folks who work in the cutting-edge labs.Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created by our American Jobs Plan can be filled by people who don’t have a college degree. Seventy-five percent don’t need an associate’s degree.
As I said last week, this is a blue-collar blueprint for increasing opportunity for the American people. It also includes the biggest investment in non-defense research and development on record.
I promise you — this is not part of my speech — but I promise you, you’re all going to be reporting over the next six to eight months how China and the rest of the world is racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future, attempting to own the future. The technology, quantum computing, investing significant amounts of money and dealing with cancer and Alzheimer’s — that’s the infrastructure of a nation.
There’s a new book out about how our — we’ve fallen behind. America is no longer the leader of the world because we’re not investing. It used to be we invested almost 2.7 percent of our GDP in infrastructure. Now it’s about 0.7 percent. When we were investing in it, we were the leader in the world.
I don’t know why we don’t get this. One of the only — a few major economies in the world whose public investment in research and development has declined as a percentage of GDP in the last 25 years — declined: the United States of America — that led the world.
Why does this matter? Investing in research and development help lead to lithium batteries, LED technology, the Internet itself. It helped lead to vaccine breakthroughs that are helping us beat COVID-19; to the Human Genome Project, which has led to breakthroughs in how we understand and fight cancer and other diseases.
Government — meaning, the taxpayers — funded this research. Government.
When we stop investing in research, we stop investing in the jobs of the future, and we give up leading the world.And when we do invest in research, what we’re really doing is raising the bar on what we can imagine.
Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas, or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane.
Imagine your children growing up to work in innovation, good-paying jobs in fields that haven’t even been invented yet, like the parents of every computer programmer, every graphic designer, every renewable energy worker once did — imagined.
We invest today so that these jobs will be here in America tomorrow, so America can lead the world that is — as it’s historically done.
That’s why I brought back scientists into the White House. We need to think.
Look, do we think the rest of world is waiting around? “We’re not going to make those kinds of investments,” the rest of the world is saying. Take a look. Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development? I promise you, they are not waiting, but they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace.
You’ve heard me say it before: I think this generation is going to be marked by the competition between democracies and autocracies, because the world is changing so rapidly. The autocrats are betting on democracy not being able to generate the kind of unity needed to make decisions to get in that race. We can’t afford to prove them right. We have to show the world — and much more importantly, we have to show ourselves — that democracy works; that we can come together on the big things. It’s the United States of America for God’s sake.
Of course, building the infrastructure of tomorrow requires major investments today.
As I said last week, I’m open to ideas about how to pay for this plan, with one exception: I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year. If others have ideas out there on how to pay for this investment without violating that rule, they should come forward.
There’s all kinds of opportunities. Just list all the tax breaks that I find difficult to explain: wealthy deductions, $360 billion if you cap them; top rate of 39 percent, which it used to be for a hundred — for years, all the way to the Bush administration; almost a quarter of a trillion dollars, corporate minimum tax; and the fossil fuel giveaways at $40 billion, et cetera. I could go on.
But let me tell you what I proposed, how to do it. We’re going to raise the corporate tax rate. It was 35 percent for the longest time, which was too high. Barack and I thought it was too high during our administration. We all agreed five years ago that it should come down somewhat, but the previous administration reduced it all the way down to 21 percent.
What I’m proposing is that we meet in the middle: 28 percent. Twenty-eight percent — we’ll still have lower corporate rates than any time between World War Two and 2017. It will generate over a trillion dollars in taxes over 15 years.
A new, independent study put out last week found that at least 55 of our largest corporations use the various loopholes to pay zero federal income tax in 2020. It’s just not fair. It’s not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers.
We’re going to — we’re going to try to put an end to this. Not fleece them — 28 percent. If you’re a mom, a dad, a cop, firefighter, police officer, et cetera, you’re paying close to that in your income tax.
I’ve also proposed a global minimum tax, which is being proposed around the world for U.S. corporations, of 21 percent. Let me tell you that means. It means that companies aren’t going to be able to hide their income in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, in tax havens. We’re going to also eliminate deductions used by corporations for offshoring jobs and shifting assets overseas. They offshore the jobs, shift the assets overseas, and then don’t have to pay taxes on all they make there.
And we’ll significantly ramp up IRS enforcement against corporations and the super wealthy who either failed to report their income or underreported. Estimated, that would raise tens of billions of dollars. It adds up to more than what I proposed in just 15 years. It’s honest. It’s fair. It’s fiscally responsible. And it pays for what we need and reduces the debt over the long haul.
And, by the way, I didn’t hear any of our friends, who are criticizing this plan, say that the corporate tax cut, which added $2 trillion to the debt — the Trump tax cut, $2 trillion — $1.9 trillion in debt — wasn’t paid for, the vast majority of which went to the top 1 percent of the wage earners. I didn’t hear anybody hollering in this recovery — the so-called — before I became President — this “K-shaped” recovery, where billionaires made $300 billion more dollars during this period. Where’s the outrage there?
I’m not trying to punish anybody. But damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.
Let me close by saying this: Whatever partisan divisions there are around other issues, there don’t have to be around this one. The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future. These aren’t Republican bridges, Democratic airports, Republican hospitals, or a Democratic power grid. Think of the transcontinental railroad, Interstate Highway System, or the Space Race. We’re one nation, united and connected.
As I said last week, I’m going to bring Republicans to the White House. I invite them to come. We’ll have good-faith negotiations. And any Republican who wants to get this done, I invite. I invite them. We have to get this — things done.
We’re at an inflection point in American democracy. This is a moment where we prove whether or not democracy can deliver. Whether it can lay the foundation for an economy built from the bottom up and the middle out, not trickle-down economics from the very top. Whether it can lay a good foundation for good jobs in a 21st century economy.
I tell the kids — the young people who work for me and to all my kids — when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years. We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds — supersonic speeds. Be able to, figuratively, if you may — if we decided to do it, traverse the world in about an hour, travel 21,000 miles an hour. So much is changing. We have got to lead it.
I believe democracy can come through when the American people come together. We saw it in the American Rescue Plan. We’re seeing it with the Jobs Plan. And the American Rescue Plan, which got so badly criticized — how many of my Republican colleagues have you seen gone on your stations or your newspapers and say, “Boy, people in my state really like it”? Because it would be improper having permission. The number of Republicans and Democrats who were hesitant and have called me saying, “God, this really works.”
Overwhelming majority of the American people — Democrats, Republics, and independents — support infrastructure investments that meets the moment.
So, I urge the Congress: Listen to your constituents and, together, we can lay a foundation for an economy that works for everyone and allows America to remain the world leader. When we do that, I believe, as I said last week, that in 50 years from now, when people look back, they’ll say this was the moment, together, that we won America’s future. I really believe that.
Thank you all. And God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.
Q Mr. President, are you willing to go lower than the 28 percent corporate tax rate?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m willing to listen to that. I’m willing to — I’m wide open to, but we’ve got to pay for this. We got to pay. There’s many other ways we can do it, but I’m willing to negotiate that.
I’ve come — I’ve come forward with the best, most rational way — in my view, the fairest way, to pay for it. But there are many other ways as well, and I’m open.
Q Will you have failed on your promise of bipartisanship if you don’t get Republicans on board with this plan? Your first plan passed along party lines.
THE PRESIDENT: Look, what I said was I would try to work with my friends on the other side. There are things we’re working on together — some of which we’ve passed and some we will pass.
But the last plan I laid out what was available, what I was suggesting, and how I’d deal with it. And a bipartisan group came to see me. And then a Republican group came to see me. And they started off at $600 billion, and that was it.
If they come forward with a plan that did the bulk of it and it was a billion — three or four, two or three — that allowed me to have pieces of all that was in there, I would have been — I would’ve been prepared to compromise, but they didn’t. They didn’t move an inch. Not an inch.
But, for example, I am dealing with a bipartisan group that came to see me. Now it’s about — what? — three, four weeks ago when they came about computer chips and about — and they said, “Look, we have to have our own supply. We have to work together.” We’re working on that. Chuck Schumer and, I think, McConnell are about to introduce a bill along those lines.
So I’m prepared to work. I really am. But to automatically say that the only thing that’s infrastructure is a highway, a bridge, or whatever — that’s just not rational. It really isn’t.
I think the vast majority of Americans think everything from the sewer pipes, to the — to the — the sewer facilities, to the water pipes — I think they’re infrastructure.
Today, the White House released state-by-state fact sheets that highlight the urgent need in every state across the country for the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Jobs Plan. The fact sheets highlight the number of bridges and miles of road in each state in poor condition, the percentage of households without access to broadband, the billions of dollars required for water infrastructure, among other infrastructure needs.
Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are linked below.
These fact sheets are the latest in a series from the White House highlighting the benefits of the American Jobs Plan for communities. Additional issue-based fact sheets will be released in the coming days and weeks. Fact sheets on how the American Jobs Plan Advances Racial Equity and the American Jobs Plan Supports Rural America have been released in recent weeks.
The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China.