Category Archives: Joe Biden

Biden Economic Policies Produce $1.3 Trillion Decrease in Deficit, Largest 1-Year Decline in History

The White House is justifiably touting a $1.3 trillion decrease in the budget deficit – the largest one-year decline in U.S. history – to demonstrate the success of its fiscal policies, and particularly, its success in getting control of the coronavirus pandemic and justifying its FY2023 budget proposal. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration is justifiably touting a $1.3 trillion decrease in the budget deficit – the largest one-year decline in U.S. history – to demonstrate the success of its fiscal policies, and particularly, its success in getting control of the coronavirus pandemic and justifying its FY2023 budget proposal. Here’s a statement from the White House:

When the President took office, the pandemic was raging in communities across the country and our economy was struggling to recover from the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. The economy shrunk, and the unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent. And, the deficit had risen to $3.1 trillion in 2020—yet with trillions in resources, the Trump Administration didn’t secure vaccines for all Americans, most schools were closed, and testing and medical equipment shortages continued.

Even before the pandemic, the Trump tax cuts had added $2 trillion to deficits over a decade. The deficit increased every year of the previous administration.

Unlike his predecessor, President Biden prioritized fiscal responsibility. In the face of the extraordinary challenges he inherited, the President made clear that bold action was needed to jumpstart the economic recovery. He knew that robust investment to change the course of the pandemic and support workers, families, and small businesses was not only the right strategy to build a stronger economy, but also to decrease the deficit. A strong economic recovery would result in less emergency spending and drive future deficits down. In March 2021, he signed into law the historic American Rescue Plan.

The President’s Budget shows that this strategy paid off. The strongest economic growth in four decades, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has also contributed to a historic decline in the deficit—by fueling strong revenue growth and allowing the Administration to responsibly phase down emergency pandemic-related spending. The President’s Budget projects that the deficit in 2022 will be more than $1.3 trillion lower than last year’s—the largest ever one-year decline in our country’s history. It will be less than half of the 2020 deficit the President inherited.

The President is now working to build on that progress and further reduce the deficit by reforming the tax system so that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. As the Budget shows, with these reforms, we can cut costs for families, continue growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out, and put America on a sound fiscal course for the future—shrinking the deficit the President inherited by two-thirds as a share of the economy.

President Biden’s Strategy to Combat the Pandemic and Jumpstart the Economy is Driving Down Deficits

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the President’s strategy to control the pandemic, in 2021 our economy grew at 5.7 percent, the fastest rate in nearly 40 years. We created more than 6.5 million jobs, the most our country has ever recorded in a single year. The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8 percent, lower than the Congressional Budget Office had projected in its pre-American Rescue Plan baseline at any point over the next decade. And between the start and the end of 2021, we went from about 41,000 to more than 200 million Americans vaccinated, and from most schools closed to 99 percent of schools are open for in-person learning.

The Administration’s economic success and success in controlling the pandemic is lowering the deficit in two ways.

First, because of the historic pace of our economic and labor market recovery, the economy no longer needs the kind of emergency support it received last year. With businesses open and people back at work, the Federal Government will spend about $1 trillion less on pandemic and economic support in 2022 than in 2021. That includes hundreds of billions of dollars less support to businesses, which are now making investments and creating jobs without the need for help. Likewise, after historic drops in both the overall unemployment rate and the long-term unemployment rate—the share of people out of work for more than six months—we no longer need emergency unemployment assistance, and ongoing Unemployment Insurance claims are at their lowest level since 1970.  

Second, a stronger economy means higher incomes for households and higher earnings for businesses. Because of this economic progress, the government is projected to collect more than $300 billion in additional revenues compared to last year, a nearly 10 percent increase.

The President’s Budget Continues to Lower Deficits

Even before the pandemic, the Trump Administration added $2 trillion to deficits over 10 years through tax cuts that largely helped wealthy people and large corporations. President Biden believes in a different approach: growing the economy from the middle out, not the top down, and paying for all new investments by ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and large corporations pay their fair share.

As he made clear in his State of the Union address, the President is committed to working with Congress to enact legislation that lowers costs for American families, expands the productive capacity of the American economy, and further reduces the deficit: by reducing prescription drug costs and fixing the tax code to ensure corporations and wealthy people pay the taxes they already owe and close loopholes they exploit.

The President’s FY 2023 Budget also proposes additional smart, targeted investments designed to spur durable economic growth, create jobs, reduce cost pressures, and foster shared prosperity—while more than fully offsetting their cost. The Budget reduces deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Under the Budget policies, deficits as a share of the economy would fall to less than one-third of the 2020 level the President inherited. Overall, the Budget details an economically and fiscally responsible path forward—addressing the long-term fiscal challenges facing our country while making investments that will produce stronger economic growth and broadly shared prosperity for generations to come.

Biden: ‘Budgets are statements of values. This budget values fiscal responsibility, safety, security, investments in equitable growth and to build a better America’

What’s in the Biden FY2023 Budget

President Biden presents his FY2023 budget: “Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span

This is President Joe Biden’s statement about his FY2023 budget proposal:

Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.

My Administration is on track to reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.3 trillion this year, cutting in half the deficit from the last year of the previous Administration and delivering the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history. That’s the direct result of my Administration’s strategy to get the pandemic under control and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. We spent less money than the last Administration and got better results: strong economic growth, which has increased revenues and allowed us to responsibly scale back emergency spending. My budget will continue that progress, further reducing the deficit by continuing to support the economic growth that has increased revenues and ensuring that billionaires and large corporations pay their fair share.

At the same time, my budget will make investments in securing our nation and building a better America. We will secure our communities by putting more police on the street to engage in accountable community policing, hiring the agents needed to help fight gun crime, and investing in crime prevention and community violence intervention.

I’m calling for one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world.  In addition, I’m calling for continued investment to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine with US support for Ukraine’s economic, humanitarian, and security needs. 

My budget also makes the investments needed to reduce costs for families and make progress on my Unity Agenda – including investments to cut the costs of child care and health care; help families pay for other essentials; end cancer as we know it; support our veterans; and get all Americans the mental health services they need.

All told, it is a budget that includes historic deficit reduction, historic investments in our security at home and abroad, and an unprecedented commitment to building an economy where everyone has a chance to succeed.

And here’s what in the Biden budget:

FACT SHEET:
The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2023

Under the President’s leadership, America is on the move again. We created more than 6.5 million jobs in 2021, the most our country has ever recorded in a single year. Our economy grew at 5.7 percent, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years. And the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent, the fastest decline in recorded history. At the same time, the deficit fell last year—by around $300 billion. This progress was a direct result of the President’s strategy to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out and his effective management of the American Rescue Plan—a strategy that was built on smart, fiscally prudent investments that helped jumpstart our economy.
 
As our historic economic and labor market recovery continues, the President’s Budget projects that the deficit in 2022 will be more than $1.3 trillion lower than last year’s—the largest ever one-year decline in our country’s history. The strongest economic growth in four decades, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has also contributed to a historic decline in the deficit—by fueling strong revenue growth and allowing the Administration to responsibly phase down emergency pandemic-related spending.
 
Today, the President released a Budget that details his vision to expand on our economic and fiscal progress—investing in our economy and our people while cutting deficits, improving our country’s long-term fiscal outlook, and keeping the economic burden of debt low.
 
As he made clear in his State of the Union address, the President is committed to working with Congress to enact legislation that lowers costs for American families, expands the productive capacity of the American economy, and further reduces the deficit: by reducing prescription drug costs and fixing the tax code to ensure corporations and wealthy people pay the taxes they already owe and close loopholes they exploit.
 
The President’s FY 2023 Budget also proposes additional smart, targeted investments designed to spur durable economic growth, create jobs, reduce cost pressures, and foster shared prosperity. These investments are more than fully paid-for through tax reforms that ensure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, while also fulfilling the President’s ironclad promise that no one earning less than $400,000 per year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. Overall, the Budget reduces deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and deficits under the Budget policies would fall to less than one-third of the 2020 level the President inherited.
 
The Budget improves our country’s long-term fiscal outlook while also delivering on the ambitious agenda the President laid out in his State of the Union address—to build a better America, reduce costs for families, advance equity, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. It proposes significant new investments in proven strategies to reduce gun crime and keep our communities safe. It makes additional investments in the American people that will help lay a stronger foundation for shared growth and prosperity. It advances a bipartisan unity agenda through proposals to take on the mental health crisis, combat the opioid epidemic, support our veterans, and accelerate progress against cancer. And during what will be a decisive decade, it strengthens our military and leverages America’s renewed strength at home to meet pressing global challenges, deepen partnerships and alliances, and manage crises as they arise.
 
PUTTING THE NATION ON A SOUND FISCAL AND ECONOMIC COURSE
 
The Budget proposes smart, targeted, fully-offset investments while also cutting deficits, improving our country’s long-term fiscal outlook, and keeping the economic burden of debt low. The Budget’s investments are more than paid for with tax reforms focused on making sure the rich and the largest corporations pay their fair share, reducing deficits by over $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
 

  • Proposes a New Minimum Tax on Billionaires. The tax code currently offers special treatment for the types of income that wealthy people enjoy. This special treatment, combined with sophisticated tax planning and giant loopholes, allows many of the very wealthiest people in the world to end up paying a lower tax rate on their full income than many middle-class households. To finally address this glaring problem, the Budget includes a minimum tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires who so often pay indefensibly low tax rates. This minimum tax would apply only to the wealthiest 0.01 percent of households—those with more than $100 million—and over half the revenue would come from billionaires alone. It would ensure that, in any given year, they pay at least 20 percent of their total income in Federal income taxes.
  • Ensures Corporations Pay Their Fair Share. The Budget also includes an increase to the rate that corporations pay in taxes on their profits. Corporations received an enormous tax break in 2017. While their profits have soared, their investment in our economy did not: the tax breaks did not trickle down to workers or consumers. Instead of allowing some of the most profitable corporations in the world to avoid paying their fair share, the Budget raises the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, still the lowest tax rate faced by corporations since World War II except in the years after the 2017 tax cut. This increase is complemented by other changes to the corporate tax code that incentivize job creation and investment in the United States and ensure that large corporations pay their fair share.
  • Prevents Multinational Corporations from Using Tax Havens to Game the System. For decades, American workers and taxpayers have paid the price for a tax system that has rewarded multinational corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas. Last year, the Administration rallied more than 130 countries to agree to a global minimum tax that will ensure that profitable corporations pay their fair share and will incentivize U.S. multinationals to create jobs and invest in the United States. The Budget contains additional measures to ensure that multinationals operating in the United States cannot use tax havens to undercut the global minimum tax.

 
Advancing Legislation to Lower Costs, Reduce the Deficit, and Expand Productive Capacity
 
The President is committed to working with Congress to sign legislation that lowers costs for American families, reduces the deficit, and expands the productive capacity of the American economy. That means cutting costs for prescription drugs, healthcare premiums, child care, long-term care, housing, and college; reducing energy costs by combatting climate change and accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy; supporting families by providing access to free, high-quality preschool, up to two years of free community college, nutritious food at school and resources to purchase food over the summer months, and paid family and medical leave and by continuing the enhanced Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit; and providing health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. The President believes these proposals must be paired with reforms that ensure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, including ensuring that they pay the taxes they already owe.
 
Because discussions with Congress continue, the President’s Budget includes a deficit neutral reserve fund to account for a future agreement, preserving the revenue from tax and prescription drug reforms the President proposed last year for this legislation for the investments needed to bring down costs for American families and expand our productive capacity.
 
BUILDING A BETTER AMERICA
 
The Budget includes smart, targeted investments in the American people that will help build a better America. It will keep our communities safe and combat violent crime; promote job creation and expand the productive capacity of our economy; improve our public health infrastructure; ensure America leads the world in combating the climate crisis; and advance equity and opportunity for all. It strengthens our military and leverages America’s renewed strength at home to meet pressing global challenges, deepen partnerships and alliances, and manage crises as they arise.
 
Combating Crime to Keep Our Communities Safe
 

  • Puts More Police Officers on the Beat. The Budget provides $3.2 billion in discretionary resources for State and local grants, and $30 billion in mandatory re­sources to support law enforcement, crime preven­tion, and community violence intervention, including putting more officers for community policing on the beat across the Nation.
  • Provides More Tools to Tackle Gun Violence. The Budget provides $1.7 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to expand multijurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces with additional personnel, increase regulation of the firearms industry, enhance ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, and modernize the National Tracing Center.
  • Increases Federal Law Enforcement Capacity to Combat Violent Crime. Under the President’s Budget, key Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service will have the resources they need fight violent crime, including through fugitive apprehension and enforcement operations. The Budget also ensures U.S. Attorneys have the necessary support to prosecute violent crimes.
  • Strengthens Civil Rights Enforcement. The Budget makes important investments to support law enforcement while addressing longstanding inequities and strengthening civil rights protections. The Budget invests $367 million, an increase of $101 million over the 2021 enacted level, at the Department of Justice to support police reform, the prosecution of hate crimes, enforcement of voting rights, and efforts to provide equitable access to justice.
  • Supports Criminal Justice System Reform. The Budget includes $100 million for a historic multi-agency collaboration to provide comprehensive workforce development services to people in the Federal prison system and proposes $106 million to support the deployment of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s law enforcement officers.

 
Promoting Job Creation, Reducing Cost Pressures, and Boosting Productive Capacity
 

  • Increases Affordable Housing Supply. In communities throughout the country, rents are skyrocketing and homeownership is becoming increasingly out of reach. This strains family budgets and holds back our economy – making it harder for workers to afford to live near good jobs and good transportation options. To address the critical shortage of affordable housing in communities throughout the Nation, the Budget proposes $50 billion for housing construction and supply – addressing existing market gaps and helping to stabilize housing prices over the long-term. This includes funding, via the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for state and local housing finance agencies and their partners to provide grants, revolving loan funds, and other streamlined financing tools to boost housing supply, with a particular focus on housing types that have traditionally been difficult to finance using existing Federal financing but have the potential to boost supply and density in supply-constrained communities. The Budget also includes grants to advance and reward state and local jurisdictions’ efforts to remove barriers to affordable housing development. It also includes modifying Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to better incentivize new unit production, and funding for the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to support financing of new construction and substantial rehabilitation that creates net new units of affordable rental and for sale housing.
     
  • Accelerates Efforts to Move More Goods Faster through American Ports and Waterways. The Budget continues support for the historic levels of Federal investment to modernize America’s port and waterway infrastructure provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It includes $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program to strengthen maritime freight capacity, as well as $1.7 billion in spending for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to facilitate safe, reliable, and environmentally sustainable navigation at coastal ports. 
  • Strengthens the Nation’s Supply Chains through Domestic Manufacturing. To help ignite a resurgence of American manufacturing and strengthen domestic supply chains, the Budget provides $372 million, an increase of $206 million over the 2021 enacted level, for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) manufacturing programs to launch two additional Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in 2023 and continue support for the two institutes funded in 2022. The Budget includes a $125 million increase for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to make America’s small and medium manufacturers more competitive. The Budget also invests $200 million for a new Solar Manufacturing to build domestic capacity in solar energy supply chains while moving away from imported products.
  • Expands Access to Registered Apprenticeships and Equips Workers with Skills They Need to Obtain High-Quality Jobs. The Budget invests $303 million, a $118 million increase above the 2021 enacted level, to expand Registered Apprenticeship opportunities in high growth fields, such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care, and transportation, while increasing access for historically underrepresented groups, including people of color and women. In addition, the Budget invests $100 million to help community colleges work with the public workforce development system and employers to design and deliver high-quality workforce training programs. The Budget also provides $100 million for a new Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness program, which will support training programs focused on growing industries, enabling disadvantaged workers to enter on-ramps to middle class jobs, and creating the skilled workforce the economy needs to thrive.
  • Fosters Competitive and Productive Markets and Targets Corporate Concentration. The Budget reflects the Administration’s commitment to vigorous marketplace competition through robust enforcement of antitrust law by including historic increases of $88 million for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (ATR) and $139 million for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

 
Restoring American Leadership and Confronting Global Threats
 

  • Supports United States’ European Allies and Partners. The Budget includes $6.9 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and countering Russian aggression to support Ukraine, the United States’ strong partnerships with NATO allies, and other European partner states by bolstering funding to enhance the capabilities and readiness of U.S. Forces, NATO allies, and regional partners in the face of Russian aggression.
  • Defends Freedom Globally. To support American leadership in defending democracy, freedom, and security worldwide, the Budget includes nearly $1.8 billion for the State Department and USAID to support a free and open, connected, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific Region and the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and $400 million for the Countering the People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund. In addition, the Budget provides nearly $1 billion in assistance to Ukraine for State Department, USAID, and Department of Defense to counter Russian malign influence and to meet emerging needs related to security, energy, cyber security issues, disinformation, macroeconomic stabilization, and civil society resilience.
     
  • Promotes Integrated Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific and Globally. The Budget proposes $773 billion for the Department of Defense. To sustain and strengthen deterrence, the Budget prioritizes China as the Department’s pacing challenge. DOD’s 2023 Pacific Deterrence Initiative highlights some of the key investments the Department is making that are focused on strengthening deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region. DOD is building the concepts, capabilities, and posture necessary to meet these challenges, working in concert with the interagency and our allies and partners to ensure our deterrence is integrated across domains, theaters, and the spectrum of conflict.
  • Renews America’s Leadership in International Institutions. The Budget continues the Administration’s efforts to lead through international organizations by meeting the Nation’s commitments to fully fund U.S. contributions and to pay United Nations peacekeeping dues on time and in full. The Budget also provides $1.4 billion for the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). This investment restores the United States’ historical role as the largest World Bank donor to support the development of low- and middle-income countries, which benefits the American people by increasing global stability, mitigating climate and health risks, and developing new markets for U.S exports.
  • Advances Equity and Equality Globally. The Budget provides $2.6 billion to advance gender equity and equality across a broad range of sectors. This includes $200 million for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund to advance the economic security of women and girls. This total also includes funding to strengthen the participation of women in conflict prevention, resolution, and recovery through the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Act.
  • Advances American Leadership in Global Health, Including Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness. The Budget includes $10.6 billion to bolster U.S. leadership in addressing global health and health security challenges. Within this total, the Budget supports a $2 billion contribution to the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment, for an intended pledge of $6 billion over three years, to save lives and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and to support the Global Fund’s expanding response to COVID-19 and global health strengthening. This total also includes $1 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to future infections disease outbreaks, including the continued expansion of Global Health Security Agenda capacity-building programs and a multilateral financial intermediary fund for health security and pandemic preparedness

 
Strengthening America’s Public Health & Advancing Cures for Cancer and Other Diseases
 

  • Prepares for Future Pandemics and Other Biological Threats. In addition to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States must catalyze advances in science, technology, and core capabilities to prepare for future biological threats. The Budget makes transformative investments in pandemic preparedness across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—$81.7 billion available over five years—to enable an agile, coordinated, and comprehensive public health response to protect American lives, families, and the economy.
     
  • Builds Advanced Public Health Systems and Capacity. The Budget includes $9.9 billion to build capacity at CDC and state and local levels to improve the core immunization program, expand public health infrastructure in States and Territories, strengthen the public health workforce, support efforts to modernize public health data collection, increase capacity for forecasting and analyzing future outbreaks, including at the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, and conduct studies on Long COVID to inform diagnosis and treatment options.
     
  • Transforms Mental Health Care. The United States faces a mental health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget proposes reforms to health coverage and invests in the behavioral health workforce. It provides sustained and increased funding for community-based centers and clinics, and mental health staff in schools, makes historic investments in youth mental health and suicide prevention programs, and strengthens access to crisis services by building out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and crisis services infrastructure. These resources will help build system capacity, connect more Americans to care, and create a system of support to improve mental health for all.
  • Advances Maternal Health and Health Equity. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with an unacceptably high mortality rate for Black and American Indian and Alaska Native women. The Budget includes $470 million to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates, expand maternal health initiatives in rural communities, implement implicit bias training for healthcare providers, create pregnancy medical home projects, and address the highest rates of perinatal disparities. The Budget also expands maternal and other health initiatives in rural communities to improve access to high-quality care.
  • Accelerates Innovation through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H)The Budget proposes a major investment of $5 billion for ARPA-H, significantly increasing direct Federal research and development (R&D) spending in health to improve the health of all Americans. With an initial focus on cancer and other diseases such as diabetes and dementia, this major investment will drive transformational innovation in health technologies and speed the application and implementation of health breakthroughs.

 
Taking Historic Steps to Combat the Climate Crisis and Advance Environmental Justice
 

  • Invests in Clean Energy Infrastructure and Innovation. The Budget invests $3.3 billion to support clean energy projects that will create good paying jobs, continue to cut to cost of clean energy, and drive progress toward President Biden’s climate goals. Investments include $502 million to weatherize and retrofit low-income homes, including $100 million for a new LIHEAP Advantage pilot to electrify and decarbonize low-income homes, and $260 million to support energy efficiency improvements to USDA-assisted multifamily homes. In addition, the Budget provides $150 million to electrify Tribal homes and transition Tribal colleges and universities to renewable energy, and $80 million for a new Grid Deployment Office to build the grid of the future.
  • Strengthens Climate Resilience. The Budget provides more than $18 billion for climate resilience and adaptation programs across the Federal Government. These critical investments will reduce the risk of damages from floods and storms, restore the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems, and make HUD-assisted multifamily homes more climate resilient. In line with President Biden’s commitment to ensure the American’s fighting wildfires earn $15 an hour, the Budget includes $1.8 billion in the Forest Service and Department of the Interior to strengthen the Federal firefighting workforce, increase capacity, and improve firefighter compensation.
  • Advances Equity and Environmental Justice. The Budget provides historic support for underserved communities, and advances the President’s Justice40 commitment to ensure 40 percent of the benefits of Federal investments in climate and clean energy reach disadvantaged communities. The Budget includes $1.45 billion to bolster the EPA’s environment justice efforts that will help create good-paying jobs, clean up pollution, implement Justice40, advance racial equity, and secure environmental justice for communities that too often have been left behind
     
  • Achieves the President’s Historic Climate Pledge. The Budget includes over $11 billion in international climate finance, meeting the President’s pledge to quadruple international climate finance a year early. This funding will accelerate the global energy transition to net zero emissions by 2050; help developing countries build resilience to the growing impacts of climate change, including through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience and other programs; and support the implementation of the President’s Plan to Conserve Global Forests. Among these critical investments are $1.6 billion for the Green Climate Fund, a critical multilateral tool for financing climate adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries and support for a $3.2 billion loan to the Clean Technology Fund to finance clean energy projects in developing countries.
     

Expanding Economic Opportunity, Advancing Equity, and Strengthening our Democracy

  • Makes Historic Investments in K-12 Schools and Education Beyond High School. The Budget more than doubles funding for Title I compared to the 2021 enacted level through a combination of discretionary and mandatory funding. This substantial funding, which serves 25 million students in nearly 90 percent of school districts across America, is a major step toward fulfilling the President’s commitment to addressing long-standing funding disparities between under-resourced schools—which disproportionately serve students of color—and their wealthier counterparts. The Budget increases support for children with disabilities by providing a $3.3 billion increase for IDEA Grants to States – the largest two-year increase ever for the program. The budget also doubles funding for IDEA Grants for Infants and Families and proposes to reforms to increase equitable access to early intervention services with a proven record for improving academic and developmental outcomes. The Budget also provides $1 billion in sustainable funding to help schools increase the number of school counselors, psychologists, social workers and other health professionals. The Budget provides an additional $438 million for Full Service Community Schools, ramping up the mental health and wraparound supports in schools for students and their families. The Budget proposes to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029, beginning with a historic $2,175 increase over the 2021-2022 school year, thereby expanding access and helping nearly 6.7 million students afford college.
     
  • Advances Child and Family Well-Being in the Child Welfare System. The Budget proposes to expand and incentivize the use of evidence-based foster care prevention services to keep families safely together and to reduce the number of children entering foster care, while also targeting resources to reduce the overrepresentation of children and families of color in the child welfare system. For children who do need to be placed into foster care, the Budget provides States with support to place more children with relatives or other adults who have an existing emotional bond with the child and fewer children in group homes and institutions while also providing additional funding to improve the educational outcomes of foster youth and support youth who age out of care without a permanent caregiver.
  • Guarantees Adequate and Stable Funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The Budget significantly increases IHS’s funding over time, and shifts it from discretionary to mandatory funding. For the first year of the proposal, the Budget includes $9.1 billion in mandatory funding, an increase of $2.9 billion above 2021. After that, IHS funding would automatically grow to keep pace with healthcare costs and population growth and gradually close longstanding service and facility shortfalls. Providing IHS stable and predictable funding will improve access to high quality healthcare, rectify historical underfunding of the Indian Health system, eliminate existing facilities backlogs, address health inequities, and modernize IHS’ electronic health record system.

Protects Our Elections and the Right to Vote. As our democracy faces threats across the country—and to provide state and local election officials with a predictable funding stream for critical capital investments and increased staffing and services—the Budget proposes $10 billion in new elections assistance funding to be allocated over ten years. The Budget also proposes to fund an expansion of U.S. Postal Service delivery capacity in underserved areas and support for vote-by-mail, including making ballots postage-free and reducing the cost of other election-related mail for jurisdictions and voters.

Biden Takes Action to Reduce Pain of ‘Putin’s Price Hike’ at the Pump

Americans are recoiling at rising prices at the pump, failing to appreciate that Europeans are seeing prices rise 45%, and despite the fact our supplies are not impacted by the embargo on Russian oil. Rather, Big Oil continues to record record profits, use windfall profits to buy back stock, reward shareholders and pay bonuses to CEOs. President Biden is appealing to the companies’ “patriotism” by pumping more supply and not pocketing quite as much, and also warning against price-gouging. He is also pushing the oil companies to utilize unused leases. The White House provided a fact sheet detailing how President Biden is responding to what he has dubbed “Putin’s Price Hike” at the pump © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Americans are recoiling at rising prices at the pump, failing to appreciate that Europeans are seeing prices rise 45%, and despite the fact our supplies are not impacted by the embargo on Russian oil. Rather, Big Oil continues to record record profits, use windfall profits to buy back stock, reward shareholders and pay bonuses to CEOs. President Biden is appealing to the companies’ “patriotism” by pumping more supply and not pocketing quite as much, and also warning against price-gouging. He is also pushing the oil companies to utilize unused leases. Here is a fact sheet from the White House of how President Biden is responding to what he has dubbed “Putin’s Price Hike” at the pump: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Americans face rising prices at the pump because of Putin’s Price Hike.  Since Putin accelerated his military build-up around Ukraine, gas prices have increased by nearly a dollar per gallon.  Because of Putin’s war of choice, less oil is getting to market, and the reduction in supply is raising prices at the pump for Americans.  President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to help American families who are paying more out of pocket as a result.  That is why President Biden announced a two-part plan to ease the pain that families are feeling by increasing the supply of oil starting immediately and achieving lasting American energy independence that reduces demand for oil and bolsters our clean energy economy. 
 
Immediately Increasing Supply
 
At the start of this year, gas was about $3.30 a gallon.  Today, it’s over $4.20, an increase of nearly $1.  And now, a significant amount of Russian oil is not making it to market.  The President banned the import of Russian oil – which Republicans and Democrats in Congress called for and supported.  It was the right thing to do.  But, as the President said, Russian oil coming off the global market would come with a cost, and Americans are seeing that at the pump.
 
The first part of the President’s plan is to immediately increase supply by doing everything we can to encourage domestic production now and through a historic release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to serve as a bridge to greater supply in the months ahead.
 
Increasing Domestic Production
 
The fact is that there is nothing standing in the way of domestic oil production. The United States is already approaching record levels of oil and natural gas production. There are oil companies that are doing the right thing and committing to ramp up production now.  Right now, domestic production is expected to increase by 1 million barrels per day this year and nearly 700,000 barrels per day next year.
 
Still, too many companies aren’t doing their part and are choosing to make extraordinary profits and without making additional investment to help with supply.  One CEO even acknowledged that, even if the price goes to $200 a barrel, they’re not going to step up production. 
 
Right now, the oil and gas industry is sitting on more than 12 million acres of non-producing Federal land with 9,000 unused but already-approved permits for production. Today, President Biden is calling on Congress to make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing. Companies that are producing from their leased acres and existing wells will not face higher fees. But companies that continue to sit on non-producing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre.
 
Historic Release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a Bridge Through the Crisis

After consultation with allies and partners, the President will announce the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average – every day – for the next six months. The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time. This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.
 
The Department of Energy will use the revenue from the release to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in future years. This will provide a signal of future demand and help encourage domestic production today, and will ensure the continued readiness of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to respond to future emergencies.  
 
President Biden is coordinating this action with allies and partners around the world, and other countries are expected to join in this action, bringing the total release to well over an average 1 million barrels per day.
 
Achieving Real American Energy Independence
 
The United States is the largest oil producer in the world and is a net energy exporter.  Despite that, the actions of a dictator half a world away can still impact American families’ pocketbooks. The President will announce his commitment to achieving real energy independence – which centers on reducing our dependence on oil altogether.
 
The President will call on Congress to pass his plan to speed the transition to clean energy that is made in America.  His plan will help ensure that America creates millions of good-paying union jobs in clean, cutting-edge industries for generations to come. And it will save American families money in the immediate future – including more than $950 a year in gas savings from taking advantage of electric vehicles, and an additional $500 a year from using clean electricity like solar and heat pumps to power their homes.   
 
And, the President will issue a directive, authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act to secure American production of critical materials to bolster our clean energy economy by reducing our reliance on China and other countries for the minerals and materials that will power our clean energy future.  Specifically, the DPA will be authorized to support the production and processing of minerals and materials used for large capacity batteries–such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese—and the Department of Defense will implement this authority using strong environmental, labor, community, and tribal consultation standards. The sectors supported by these large capacity batteries—transportation and the power sector—account for more than half of our nation’s carbon emissions.  The President is also reviewing potential further uses of DPA – in addition to minerals and materials – to secure safer, cleaner, and more resilient energy for America.
 
This week alone, President Biden announced historic efforts to increase energy efficiency and lower costs for consumers.  The Department of Energy opened applications for more than $3 billion in new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding—ten times the historical funding levels of the Weatherization Assistance Program—for energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in thousands of homes that will save families hundreds of dollars on utility bills.  The Administration also advanced smart standards that will lower consumer costs, including a roadmap of 100 actions this year that will save families $100 annually through more efficient home appliances and equipment, as well as new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks to save drivers money at the pump.  And the Administration is seeking additional opportunities to ramp up the deployment of heat pumps to displace fuel burned in buildings, as well as programs to drive efficiency, electrification, and use of clean fuels in the industrial sector.

Biden Signs Executive Order Ensuring Responsible Innovation in Digital Assets, Crytpocurrencies

Outlines First Whole-of-Government Strategy to Protect Consumers, Financial Stability, National Security, and Address Climate Risks

President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

Digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, have seen explosive growth in recent years, surpassing a $3 trillion market cap last November and up from $14 billion just five years prior. Surveys suggest that around 16 percent of adult Americans – approximately 40 million people – have invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrencies. Over 100 countries are exploring or piloting Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency.

[My personal belief is that Russian oligarchs, looking for places to stash their billions, had something to do with the run-up in value. The administration stated that the use of cryptocurrency we do not think is a viable workaround to the set of financial sanctions we’ve imposed across the entire Russian economy and, in particular, to its central bank,” but that does not take into account purchases that might have been made before sanctions were imposed, or these new protections. A request for comment was unanswered.]

The White House provided this fact sheet detailing Biden’s whole-of-government strategy to protect consumers, financial stability, national security and address climate risks posted by digital assets: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security, and climate risk. The United States must maintain technological leadership in this rapidly growing space, supporting innovation while mitigating the risks for consumers, businesses, the broader financial system, and the climate. And, it must play a leading role in international engagement and global governance of digital assets consistent with democratic values and U.S. global competitiveness.
 
That is why President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.

Specifically, the Executive Order calls for measures to:

  • Protect U.S. Consumers, Investors, and Businesses by directing the Department of the Treasury and other agency partners to assess and develop policy recommendations to address the implications of the growing digital asset sector and changes in financial markets for consumers, investors, businesses, and equitable economic growth. The Order also encourages regulators to ensure sufficient oversight and safeguard against any systemic financial risks posed by digital assets.
     
  • Protect U.S. and Global Financial Stability and Mitigate Systemic Risk by encouraging the Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify and mitigate economy-wide (i.e., systemic) financial risks posed by digital assets and to develop appropriate policy recommendations to address any regulatory gaps.
     
  • Mitigate the Illicit Finance and National Security Risks Posed by the Illicit Use of Digital Assets by directing an unprecedented focus of coordinated action across all relevant U.S. Government agencies to mitigate these risks. It also directs agencies to work with our allies and partners to ensure international frameworks, capabilities, and partnerships are aligned and responsive to risks.
     
  • Promote U.S. Leadership in Technology and Economic Competitiveness to Reinforce U.S. Leadership in the Global Financial System by directing the Department of Commerce to work across the U.S. Government in establishing a framework to drive U.S. competitiveness and leadership in, and leveraging of digital asset technologies. This framework will serve as a foundation for agencies and integrate this as a priority into their policy, research and development, and operational approaches to digital assets.
     
  • Promote Equitable Access to Safe and Affordable Financial Services by affirming the critical need for safe, affordable, and accessible financial services as a U.S. national interest that must inform our approach to digital asset innovation, including disparate impact risk. Such safe access is especially important for communities that have long had insufficient access to financial services.  The Secretary of the Treasury, working with all relevant agencies, will produce a report on the future of money and payment systems, to include implications for economic growth, financial growth and inclusion, national security, and the extent to which technological innovation may influence that future.
     
  • Support Technological Advances and Ensure Responsible Development and Use of Digital Assets by directing the U.S. Government to take concrete steps to study and support technological advances in the responsible development, design, and implementation of digital asset systems while prioritizing privacy, security, combating illicit exploitation, and reducing negative climate impacts.
     
  • Explore a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) by placing urgency on research and development of a potential United States CBDC, should issuance be deemed in the national interest. The Order directs the U.S. Government to assess the technological infrastructure and capacity needs for a potential U.S. CBDC in a manner that protects Americans’ interests. The Order also encourages the Federal Reserve to continue its research, development, and assessment efforts for a U.S. CBDC, including development of a plan for broader U.S. Government action in support of their work. This effort prioritizes U.S. participation in multi-country experimentation, and ensures U.S. leadership internationally to promote CBDC development that is consistent with U.S. priorities and democratic values.

The Administration will continue work across agencies and with Congress to establish policies that guard against risks and guide responsible innovation, with our allies and partners to develop aligned international capabilities that respond to national security risks, and with the private sector to study and support technological advances in digital assets.

Biden Signs Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

President Joe Biden was flanked by women who are the first to hold key roles of Vice President and Speaker of the House. This week, he signed the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an act he originally authored and has championed ever since. His administration has taken significant actions to improve women’s rights and gender equity, against a backlash from Republican-led states that are passing laws to overturn women’s reproductive rights and civil rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This week, President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation passed by Congress as part of the Omnibus appropriations package. In remarks at the signing, President Biden reflected on having authored the original VAWA, and during Women’s History Month, when Republican-led states are passing cruel and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s reproductive rights and their rights to self-determination, said:
 
It really wasn’t so long ago this country didn’t want to talk about violence against women, let alone as being a national epidemic, something the government had to address. 
 
     As a society, we literally looked away.  We looked away.  In many places, it wasn’t a crime.  And I don’t recall — I don’t recall how many times I was told in the prelude to writing the legislation that it’s a “family affair.”  “You don’t understand, Biden.  It’s a family affair.”
 
     When I began, along with others, to pursue this legislation to change this — this issue, we were told that we would literally be responsible for the “disintegration” of American families in the major press.  It wasn’t just the wackos; it was in the mainstream press.
 
     And we talked about creating shelters to give survivors a way out because so many don’t have a way out, and their children — by the way, the vast majority of children on the street with their mothers are there because she’s a victim of domestic violence….

This law broke the dam of congressional resistance and cultural resistance.  And it brought this hidden epidemic out of the shadows.  You know, its introduction — it introduced our nation to so many brave survivors who those stories changed the way America saw the issue.  I mean, in the literal sense, it’s hard to believe — even when I go back and think of when — how it started and where it was. 
 
As a practical matter, things began to shift — the legal and social burdens — away from survivors and onto perpetrators and where they belonged.  It made addressing general — excuse me — gender violence a shared priority with a determined, coordinated response.  It created a hotline, as I said, for millions of women who have used the hotline.  And again, I’ll never forget being told the first time — I said, “What did you do?”  She said, “I got behind the drapes and I held the phone.  And I prayed to God — prayed to God — don’t let him hear this.  Pray God.  Pray God.”
 
It supported shelters and rape crisis centers, housing and legal assistance, creating lifesaving options for women and children all across the country.  And it helped train police officers, advocates, prosecutors, judges, court personnel to make the entire justice system fair and more responsive to the needs of survivors. ..

Even in 1994, we knew that there was much more we had to do — you know, that it was only the beginning.  That’s why, because of all of you in this room, every time we’ve reauthorized this law, it’s been improved.  It’s not like we didn’t know we wanted to do these other things in the beginning.  It’s we did as much as we could and keep trying to add to it. 

Broadening from domestic violence to include stalking and sexual assault in 2000.  That was the change made. 
 
Expanding access to services for immigrants and communities of color in 2005.  That was a change. 
 
Restoring jurisdiction of Tribal courts — (applause) — over non-Native domestic violence offenders who abuse women in Indian Country.  We did that in 2013. 
 
Extending protections to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, in 2013. ..

The law kept growing stronger.  It’s not like we didn’t know in 2005 we should be dealing with the things we dealt with in 2013.  It was getting it done. 
 
Each link in the chain that we’re building made a difference — makes a difference. 
 
Yesterday, I signed the Bipartisan Government Funding Bill…And, consequentially, we forged the next link in the chain…

So we established a new civil rights — a new civil rights cause of action for those whose intimate images were shared on the public screen.  How many times have you heard — I’ll bet everybody knows somebody somewhere along the line that in an intimate relationship, what happened was the guy takes a revealing picture of his naked friend, or whatever, in a compromising position, and then literally, in a sense, blackmails or mortifies that person — sends it out, put it online.
 
We’re giving survivors real resources against abuse now.  Ex-partners and stalkers who seek to humiliate and hurt them.
 
We’ve created — you created new programs to help end the backlog of the rape kits.  And those rape kits, by the way, I don’t know — you ought to go to your major cities, those of you in the House and Senate — this group probably has — which I have done.  And this backlog is so significant.  You could solve literally a significant portion of —
 
Look, the only thing I learned that’s worse than — for a woman — worse than a woman who is abused or raped and says, “It’s Charlie who did it,” and no one believes her — him against her.  And when — you can take a look.  If you take a look at those rape kits and you went through them all, you could identify and arrest probably 40, 50 percent of the rapists in America.  They’re all there.  Their DNAs are there.  It’s all in line.  And run it against the whole panoply.  Very few rapists rape only once.
 
So, look, that — you know, there’s a lot that goes unprocessed.  And we have to make sure survivors get compensation, and if there have been delays in their cases — you know, we’ve made improvements in the National Criminal Background Check System to help states investigate and prosecute cases when abuses — when abusers who are barred from purchasing firearms attempt to do so.  That, we’ve done federally.  Quite frankly, this held — that’s one of the things that held up this bill for much too long.  Much too long…

Through the American Rescue Plan, the administration directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services — (applause) — because they’re badly needed.
 
And we’ve worked with local public housing authorities to make sure that survivors trapped in a bad situation can find safe new housing options in public housing.  (Applause.)  Because they don’t have (inaudible) to go.  You.
 
And we also made landmark reforms in military justice to help end the epidemic of sexual violence and harassment in our armed forces — (applause) — fundamentally changing how the military investigates, prosecutes sexual assault, domestic violence, and other related crimes…

Earlier this month, I signed a bar- — bipartisan bill that ends what we know as forced arbitration.  That’s wonderful, isn’t it?  (Applause.)  No, no, but I mean the small print to sign a contract, and the small print says you can’t do anything if your boss, male or female — if you end up getting abused and if you end up doing something — you know, you can’t — you have to do it internally.  No more.  (Applause.)  No more.  Really.
 
And 80 percent of the people who sign those don’t even know what’s in the — in the contract.
 
The mechanism has prevented too many survivors of abuse and harassment in the workplace from having the choice to get their day in court. 
 
Look, these are just a few of the steps you’ve all taken and how much you’ve improved this legislation.  But as everyone in this room knows, this work is not going to stop.  It never stops.
 
Today, one year since a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were women of Asian descent, these horrific murders are a reminder that we still have work to do to put an end to misogyny and racism and all forms of hate we have.
 
We’re never going to get it all done, but we can’t ever stop trying.  As long as there are women in this country and around the world who live in fear of violence, there’s more we have to do to fulfill this sacred commitment.  No one — no one, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should experience abuse.  Period.  And if they do, they should have the services and support they need to get through it.  And we’re not going to rest.
 
But in the meantime, all of you should be enormously proud of what you’ve accomplished.  This reauthorization is testament to the power of your voices and your tireless dedication to changing things for the better.
 
  

Fact Sheet:  Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

 
One of the driving forces of President Biden’s career has been fighting back against abuses of power.  That force led him to write and champion the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a U.S. Senator, landmark legislation that first passed in 1994.  In the nearly three decades since, he has worked with Members of Congress from both parties to pass legislation to renew and strengthen VAWA three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013.  Each time, he worked to expand access to safety and support for all survivors and increase prevention efforts.  Preventing and responding to gender-based violence wherever it occurs, and in all of its forms, has remained a cornerstone of the President’s career in public service—from VAWA reauthorization to a national campaign to combat campus sexual assault to reforms to address sexual assault and harassment in the military.  
 
While incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault have declined significantly since VAWA first took effect—and efforts to increase access to services, healing, and justice for survivors have improved with each iteration of VAWA—much work remains. 
 
The 2022 reauthorization of VAWA strengthens this landmark law, including by:
 

  • Reauthorizing all current VAWA grant programs until 2027 and, in many cases, increasing authorization levels. 
     
  • Expanding special criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands; and supporting the development of a pilot project to enhance access to safety for survivors in Alaska Native villages.
     
  • Increasing services and support for survivors from underserved and marginalized communities—including for LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; funding survivor-centered, community-based restorative practice services; and increasing support for culturally specific services and services in rural communities.
     
  • Establishing a federal civil cause of action for individuals whose intimate visual images are disclosed without their consent, allowing a victim to recover damages and legal fees; creating a new National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals; and supporting State, Tribal, and local government efforts to prevent and prosecute cybercrimes, including cyberstalking and the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images.
     
  • Improving prevention and response to sexual violence, including through increased support for the Rape Prevention and Education Program and Sexual Assault Services Program; expansion of prevention education for students in institutions of higher education; and enactment of the Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act, which requires state victim compensation programs to allow sexual assault survivors to file for compensation without being unfairly penalized due to rape kit backlogs.
     
  • Strengthening the application of evidence-based practices by law enforcement in responding to gender-based violence, including by promoting the use of trauma-informed, victim-centered training and improving homicide reduction initiatives.
     
  • Improving the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including through enhanced training for sexual assault forensic examiners.
     
  • Updating the SMART Prevention Program and the CHOOSE Youth Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
     
  • Enacting the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denial Notification Act to help state law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases against individuals legally prohibited from purchasing firearms who try to do so.

 
Over the past year, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps to prevent and respond to gender-based violence at home and abroad:
 

  • Increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services.  Directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) in response to the pandemic, including $49.5 million for culturally-specific community-based organizations that help survivors from historically marginalized communities access the services and support they need. The ARP also provided approximately 70,000 housing choice vouchers to local Public Housing Authorities in order to assist individuals and families, including those who are fleeing, or attempting to flee, from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. 
     
  • Reformed the military justice system to address sexual assault, harassment, and related crimes. Signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which included sweeping reforms to the military justice system—the most significant since the Uniform Code of Military Justice was established more than seventy years ago—and implemented the President’s campaign promise to address the scourge of sexual assault in our armed forces. In conjunction with the President’s Executive Order on military justice reform, this bipartisan, historic law adopts core recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault, as called for by President Biden, and fundamentally shifts how the military prosecutes and investigates sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other serious crimes, and increases prevention initiatives and support for survivors. 
     
  • Ended forced arbitration for sexual assault and harassment.  Signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021—bipartisan legislation that empowers survivors of sexual assault and harassment by giving them a choice to go to court instead of being forced into arbitration.
     
  • Directed action to protect students from campus sexual assault.  Directed the Department of Education to review Title IX regulations and other agency actions to ensure that all students have an educational environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of sex.  The Department is developing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking currently under review that will address the need for protection for students who experience campus sexual assault while treating all students fairly.
     
  • Increased resources for survivors of crime, including gender-based violence.  Signed into law the Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which passed Congress with strong bipartisan support and expands the allocation of resources for the Crime Victims Fund. This has already resulted in an increase of hundreds of millions of dollars of non-taxpayer funding for essential and lifesaving services to crime victims around the country, including survivors of gender-based violence.
     
  • Led multinational effort to address online harassment and abuse.  Launched the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse during the 2022 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, together with the governments of Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. This multinational initiative will align countries, international organizations, and civil society to better prioritize, understand, and address the growing scourge of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
     
  • Prioritized the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People, including gender-based violence.  Issued an executive order directing the Departments of Justice, Interior, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to create a strategy to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans and to address the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples, which disproportionately affect Native women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals; the Department of the Interior established the Missing and Murdered Unit to pursue justice for missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
     
  • Strengthened regional leadership on violence against Indigenous women and girls.  Re-launched the United States’ leadership and participation in the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls with the Governments of Mexico and Canada. The White House will host the Fourth Convening of the Trilateral Working Group this summer to improve and reaffirm our respective national and regional commitments to prevent and respond to violence against Indigenous women and girls through increased access to justice and prevention services.

 
On International Women’s Day in 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order creating the White House Gender Policy Council and calling for the development of the first-ever government-wide National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, as well as an update to the 2016 United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. These strategies will provide a roadmap to guide the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government effort to end gender-based violence—and in so doing, create a society where survivors are supported and all people can live free from abuse.

Biden Administration Makes Historic Investments To Create Opportunity and Build Wealth in Rural America 

During the State of the Union, President Biden will cite the historic investments the Biden Administration is making to create opportunity and build wealth in rural America, $1 billion will go toward Energy Improvement in Rural or Remote Areas to support entities in rural or remote areas to increase environmental protection from the impacts of energy use and improve resilience, reliability, safety, and availability of energy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to take up a large measure of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union speech, he is unlikely to have enough time or space to detail his accomplishments and his agenda going forward. Here are more details from the White House about the Biden Administration’s historic investments to create opportunity and build wealth in rural America:

President Biden is committed to ensuring that rural Americans have the opportunity to succeed – and that they can find that opportunity in rural America. This commitment is not just vital for rural Americans, but vital for the country as a whole. For centuries, rural Americans have driven the country’s economic growth and provided the country and the world with food and fuel—and they continue to do so today. They are small business owners revitalizing Main Streets. They care for our land, ensuring that all Americans have access to nature and recreation.

In its first year, the Biden Administration has made historic investments in rural communities through the American Rescue Plan: slashing poverty and lowering costs, creating jobs and new economic opportunities, and expanding access to health care. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a once-in-a-generation federal investment so that all rural Americans gain access to clean drinking water, are able to use high-speed broadband internet for education and business, and have safe roads and bridges for both people and goods. In addition, the Administration has invested $2.8 billion in coal and power plant communities, ensuring that these communities that fueled our country’s industrial revolution will continue to thrive in decades to come.

In the year ahead, the Biden Administration will partner with rural America to determine how best to invest these unprecedented federal resources to support local priorities.

Lowering costs for working families in rural America

The Biden Administration is building a stronger, more equitable economy that does not leave anyone behind, including rural communities that for too long have faced underinvestment and persistent poverty. Already, because of the Administration’s support for working families through the American Rescue Plan, rural poverty is estimated to have fallen by 70 percent in 2021. President Biden knows working families are the backbone of our economy, and is delivering for them in rural America.

  • Tax relief for rural working families. The American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children over the age of six, and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under the age of six, while raising the age limit from 16 to 17 for 2021. The President’s plans call for extending this critical tax cut, which expired in December 2021. The American Rescue Plan also ensured that all lower- and moderate-income families were eligible for the full expanded child tax credit. In addition, the American Rescue Plan nearly tripled the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children to $1,500, benefitting about 2.7 million rural workers.
     
  • Lowering rural Americans’ rent and mortgage payments and energy and water bills. The American Rescue Plan enabled single-family, COVID-affected borrowers with mortgages backed by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to refinance their mortgages and provided rental assistance to 26,000 rural tenants. Rural Americans have also benefitted from the Department of the Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Homeowner Assistance Fund, which together provided tens-of-billions of dollars to keep people safely housed during the pandemic. In addition, the American Rescue Plan provided $4.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program—more than doubling typical annual funding—and $500 million for the first-ever federal water assistance program, lowering water and wastewater bills for rural households.
     
  • Lower child care costs and support child care providers. Even before the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of rural Americans lived in areas where there is a significant shortage of licensed child care slots, with nine infants and toddlers for every one child care slot in rural America. Rural children are less likely to be enrolled in pre-K programs than urban and suburban children. The pandemic made it harder for rural families to access these programs – with 1 in 11 licensed child care providers closing before between December 2020 and March 2021. The President secured $39 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to provide a lifeline to child care providers so they could stay open without raising prices for families. This funding has already reached more than 150,000 child care providers, including those across rural America. The American Rescue Plan also provided funding to all 1,600 Head Start grantees, which serve the vast majority of rural counties and sometimes serve as the only provider in a rural community. This funding helped allow these grantees to serve 91% of Head Start children fully in-person, compared to 38% in December 2020. Early care and education were out of reach for too many rural families before the pandemic, which is why the President has also called on Congress to cut child care spending in half for most families, offer every 3- and 4-year old free preschool, and boost the number of high-quality child care programs in high-need areas, including in rural America.
  • Helping states and local governments – as well as tribes and territories – provide additional direct assistance to lower families’ costs. The American Rescue Plan delivered $350 billion for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, providing support for critical investments in 3,000 counties and 30,000 small towns. These funds offer the flexibility local governments need to address their communities’ most pressing needs. Already, over 20 states and scores of counties have used these funds to directly help families, including critical food assistance, utility assistance, and other help with basics for the hardest hit families. For example, Macon-Bibb County, GA committed $2.5 million to fight food insecurity in the community, including funds to address food deserts and support local food banks; New Hanover County, NH has committed $1 million to support homeowners who are behind on their mortgage; and Doña Ana County, NM has committed $1.2 million in direct medical relief funds for COVID-19 medical bills.
  • Lowering costs and improving access to an education beyond high school for rural students. The Department of Education (ED) is investing $198 million in American Rescue Plan funding for competitive grants for rural colleges and universities that serve a high percentage of low-income students and are experiencing enrollment declines. With this funding, rural institutions can cover the cost of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as testing and personal protective equipment; support their students’ ability to meet basic needs by providing meal vouchers, childcare subsidies, and mental health services; facilitate continued enrollment and re-enrollment through support services such as academic counseling; and expand workforce programs that lead to in-demand jobs.  
     
  • Improved access to affordable, nutritious food for rural Americans. Through the American Rescue Plan, USDA expanded access to the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program, including through the summer, to allow families with children receiving school meals to purchase healthy food more easily. The American Rescue Plan also increased SNAP benefits by 15% through September 2021. Beginning on October 1, 2021, USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan update increased SNAP benefits by $36.30 per person per month on average. These updates will increase the well-being of 2.9 million people in rural areas, including 800,000 children, reducing rural poverty by 11 percent and rural child poverty by 20 percent. USDA also invested $1 billion, including $500 million in American Rescue Plan funding, in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to support and expand emergency food access so states, food banks, and local organizations can reliably serve their communities, with a focus on reaching rural and underserved areas.

 
Creating jobs in rural America and supporting rural-led economic development

The Biden Administration is committed to expanding opportunity to all corners of the country. That means good-paying, union jobs and economic opportunity in rural communities so that today’s workers can live with dignity and security, and rural youth can see a bright future right in their hometowns. As of October 2021, the unemployment rate in rural counties that experience persistent poverty had returned to pre-pandemic levels, ranging from 3.4 percent to 4.7 percent. President Biden will continue building on that progress and the many efforts across the Administration to create jobs and build wealth in rural America.

  • Build resilient rural economies. The American Rescue Plan invested a historic $3 billion in the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) to build local economies that are resilient to future economic shocks, including a $300 million Coal Communities Commitment. In December 2021, EDA announced 60 finalists for its $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which will support regional coalitions to develop transformative projects that strengthen regional industry clusters. These finalists include 12 coal communities, and more than 80% of the finalists propose to serve rural communities, including ten proposals focused on growing or developing agriculture and natural resource industries.
     
  • Revitalize America’s energy communities. In February 2021, President Biden established the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization to identify and deliver resources to the coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities that have powered our country for generations. The working group identified 25 communities across the country for immediate strategic investment. Since then, member agencies have delivered more than $2.8 billion in federal investment to these communities, including $167 million through USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program and the Electric Loan Program. The working group also established a resource clearinghouse with more than $181 billion in open and planned funding opportunities for energy communities, to facilitate access to federal programs.
     
  • Invest in state and local workforce programs and small business support. More than half of all states are using the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to retain and train workers for new and better jobs, and over 20 states have provided direct support to small businesses. Wisconsin’s $9.4 million investment in American Rescue Plan funds in University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s regional workforce development strategy recruits and connects rural workers and students with careers in healthcare, education, and social services – areas where the state has critical shortages. Gallatin County, MT is investing $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds to develop and expand programs in construction trades, welding, fabrication, manufacturing and healthcare. And, local governments are using American Rescue Plan funds to retain essential workers across the country, from Erie, NY to St. Croix County, WI to Umatilla County, OR.
     
  • Support outreach and technical assistance to rural businesses. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot Program, funded by the American Rescue Plan, is reducing barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs – including those in rural America – often face in accessing the resources they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses. The program is providing a total of $100 million to 51 nonprofits, state and local governments, universities, and tribal entities that will work with organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to provide technical assistance to small businesses in underserved communities.
     
  • Advance workforce development solutions in rural communities. The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative (WORC) is a partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority to support workers in rural communities impacted by economic transitions, especially in the energy sector. WORC funds provide job training and support services to dislocated workers, incumbent workers, and new entrants to the workforce to help connect them with good jobs in high-demand occupations. In 2021, DOL announced a third round of WORC grants for $29 million to 23 organizations, demonstrating the Biden Administration’s ongoing commitment to strengthening economic stability and opportunities for workers in rural communities.
     
  • Grow rural America’s outdoor recreation economy by expanding hunting and fishing. To help expand rural America’s outdoor recreation economy, the Biden Administration last year opened new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 2.1 million acres of public lands, the largest such expansion in U.S. history. The Administration also recently announced a record $1.5 billion in annual funding through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program to support state and local outdoor recreational opportunities, and wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. These efforts, along with a new Task Force on Collaborative Conservation that the Administration launched in partnership with the Western Governors Association, will support America’s hunting and fishing traditions and help power the continued growth of the nation’s outdoor economy. In addition, the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are collaborating to invest $2.8 billion under the Great American Outdoors Act to improve access, experiences, and partnerships for outdoor recreation that not only promote tourism but also protect America’s public lands while creating jobs and opportunities in rural communities. EDA is also investing $750 million in American Rescue Plan funding through the Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program, including $510 million that has already been provided to states.

 
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities

The COVID-19 pandemic spared no part of the country, but rural communities have faced additional challenges that impact the delivery of services and assistance, including limited health care infrastructure and clinicians. As our nation turned the tide of the pandemic from crisis to recovery, the Biden Administration worked to ensure rural communities have the tools they need to combat COVID-19, keep schools open and safe, and come back stronger than before.

  • Safely reopen rural schools and help students make up for lost learning time. The American Rescue Plan surged $130 billion to our states, territories, tribes, and local communities to help them safely reopen our schools and keep them open, while addressing the impacts of the pandemic on students, including on their learning and mental health. Roughly $16 billion of these funds went to rural communities and $850 million went to Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools and Tribally-controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs). These are critical resources that are helping rural communities and school districts meet key challenges, including funds that school districts can use to address staff shortages. In addition, investments in broadband in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be critical to supporting the education of young people in rural communities and closing the homework gap. As part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to reopen healthy learning environments, USDA issued a broad range of flexibilities and provided significant additional resources to allow school meal programs across the country to return to serving nutritious meals in fall 2021.
     
  • Dedicated COVID-19 testing for rural hospitals and clinics. The Biden Administration delivered $425 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation in 4,200 rural health clinics, and $398 million in funding to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation for over 1,500 small rural hospitals. HHS provided up to $100,000 per clinic and up to $230,000 per hospital to increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing in rural communities, and broaden efforts to respond to and mitigate the spread of the virus in ways tailored to community needs.
     
  • Deliver rapid tests to rural health clinics. HHS is currently distributing millions of rapid over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests to rural health clinics that reach uninsured and underserved communities, often among those hardest-hit by the pandemic.
     
  • Increase vaccine education and outreach efforts in rural communities. The Biden Administration awarded over $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to rural health clinics across the country to support vaccine outreach in rural communities. This funding is being used to assist rural residents in accessing vaccinations, as well as education and outreach efforts around the benefits of vaccination. 
     
  • Expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and supplies, while strengthening rural health care providers. The American Rescue Plan provided $500 million for USDA to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program. The program provides $350 million to help rural hospitals and local communities increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, medical supplies, telehealth, and food assistance, and support the construction or renovation of rural health care facilities. It also provides recovery funds that compensate for lost revenue or staffing expenses due to COVID-19. In addition, the program provides up to $125 million in grants to plan and implement models that help improve the long-term viability of rural health care providers, including health care networks that allow rural providers to collectively address community challenges and develop innovative solutions.

Improving access to health care and lowering health care costs for rural communities

Rural communities face persistent disparities in health outcomes and access to care, including higher rates of uninsured individuals, health care workforce shortages, and often difficulty reaching the nearest hospital. In many rural communities, the hospital is the largest employer in the area, providing jobs and supporting the local economy. Yet, rural hospitals have increasingly closed their doors, including 19 in 2020 alone. And rural hospital closures have been pervasive in non-expansion states. Of the ten states with the most rural hospital closures since 2010, most are in non-expansion states —the only two that are not, Oklahoma and Missouri, just began their expansions in 2021. Moreover, rural counties in the South are racially and ethnically diverse, and in some non-expansion states, rural hospitals that closed were more likely to be in counties with a higher share of Black residents. Similar disparities exist for rural hospitals at risk of closure. The Biden Administration is taking action to improve the health of rural communities by ensuring rural Americans have the health care and coverage they need and deserve and helping rural hospitals stay open.

  • Lower health care costs for rural Americans. The American Rescue Plan has done more to lower costs and expand access to health care than any action since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It has made quality coverage more affordable than ever—with families saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums, and four out of five consumers finding quality coverage for under $10 a month. The President’s plan continues these savings, keeping health insurance affordable for millions of Americans, including those living in rural communities.
     
  • Expand rural health care coverage and keep rural hospitals open. Since President Biden took office, nearly 700,000 rural Americans have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan. Throughout 2021, the Administration ensured that rural Americans who needed coverage could sign up for it, including through the most recent HealthCare.gov Open Enrollment period in which over 1.8 million rural Americans enrolled in coverage. The President’s plan builds on that progress, expanding Medicaid coverage in those states that have refused to expand it. Closing this gap is estimated to reduce the risk of rural hospital closure by 62%. Rural hospital closures deprive people living in rural areas of crucial services, including access to emergency care. To fill this gap, HHS will establish a new provider type, Rural Emergency Hospitals, which will allow facilities to offer emergency department services, observation care, and/or outpatient services in rural areas.
     
  • Support rural health care providers. The American Rescue Plan provided $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to help compensate health care providers who serve rural Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) patients for lost revenue and increased expenses associated with COVID-19. In December 2021, HHS announced that it distributed $7.5 billion of these funds to 40,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and six territories. These funds help ensure that providers can effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including supporting recruitment and retention efforts amidst workforce shortages and staff burnout, and place them on stable financial footing to continue serving their communities into the future.
     
  • Increase the number of health care providers in rural communities. The Administration made a historic $1.5 billion investment, including $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan, in its health workforce loan repayment and scholarship programs. More than 22,700 primary care clinicians funded by these programs now serve in underserved communities, including rural and tribal communities—the largest number ever. This group of health care providers includes nearly 20,000 National Health Service Corps members, more than 2,500 Nurse Corps nurses, and approximately 250 awardees under a new program, the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program. Currently, one-third of HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration workforce serves in a rural community where health care access may be especially limited or require patients to travel long distances to receive treatment. HHS is also making $48 million from the American Rescue Plan available to expand public health capacity in rural and tribal communities through health care job development, training, and placement. This will increase the number of well-trained health care professionals and connect them with future employers, including hospitals and clinics in rural areas.
     
  • Expand access to pulmonary rehabilitation services. This year, HHS will support a demonstration project to enhance access to pulmonary rehabilitation services in Critical Access Hospitals that serve rural communities with high rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., and adults in rural areas are almost twice as likely to have it compared to those in urban areas.
     
  • Expand Veterans Affairs training programs for rural providers outside of the VA system. The Rural Interprofessional Faculty Development Initiative, developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is an innovative two-year training program designed to provide teaching and training skills for clinicians in rural settings, preparing rural clinicians to take on faculty roles, mentor medical professionals to serve in rural America, and grow the healthcare workforce in rural communities. In 2021, VA launched a new joint initiative with HHS, adding non-VA community clinicians to the program. This joint initiative will benefit up to 40 rural communities each year and enable rural clinicians to better train the next generation of clinicians who will serve rural America.
     
  • Increase access to telehealth. Telehealth services greatly increased during the pandemic and the Biden-Harris Administration has issued several telehealth supports including research conducted by NIH; funding for broadband, smart phones and internet connectivity; and an expansion of eligible services that can be delivered via telehealth, including a new rule that expands access to tele-mental health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will also now pay for mental health visits furnished via telehealth when they are provided by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers. This policy expands access to Medicare beneficiaries, especially those living in rural and other underserved areas.
     
  • Ensure access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. In January, HHS announced the availability of $13 million in funding to increase access to behavioral health care services and address health inequities in rural America, including through evidence-based, trauma-informed treatment for substance use disorder.
     
  • Address America’s mental health crisis. Through the American Rescue Plan, the Administration has made significant investments in expanding access to mental health and substance use services. The President’s FY22 budget also calls for investments in the mental health care workforce that will help address the shortage of professionals in rural and underserved areas. The Administration is committed to additional actions to address the mental health crisis by building workforce capacity, connecting more people to care, and creating a continuum of support for all Americans.
     
  • Support states in making public health investments through the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Over two thirds of states and hundreds of communities have already committed funds from the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to address public health needs in their communities. For example, the State of Colorado is investing in an online training curriculum for providers in rural areas on mental health and substance use disorders to improve behavioral health supports. Bowie County, TX partnered with Christus St. Michael Hospital to provide vaccines at the hospital facility and several mobile vaccine clinics throughout the county, to reach the rural area of the county.

 
Rebuilding rural America’s infrastructure with a once-in-a-generation investment

For far too long, critical infrastructure needs in rural communities have been ignored. Building on an initial investment in the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers on the President’s promises to provide high speed internet, safe roads and bridges, modern wastewater systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, and good paying jobs in every rural community. A generational investment in rural America, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will spend billions of dollars to revitalize and rebuild rural communities across the country.

  • Provide high-speed internet to every home and making internet affordable for low-income rural Americans. 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 areas across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $65 billion to make high-speed internet available to all Americans, bring down high-speed internet prices across the board, and provide technical assistance to rural communities seeking to expand broadband. In addition, it will help families afford internet service by providing eligible households with a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet services, as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet.
  • Invest in critical rural broadband and water infrastructure through the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Through the American Rescue Plan’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, 20 states have expanded access to high-speed internet and 21 states are improving water and sewer infrastructure, including lead removal. Additionally, many local communities are leveraging American Rescue Plan funds to expand broadband services in rural areas. For example, Kandiyohi County, MN made an initial $1.3 million investment in a project that will expand high-speed broadband to rural townships. Miami County, FL allocated $1.4 million to help fund an expansion of high-speed internet to rural parts of the county, including to underserved students in low-income areas. Oconto County, WI approved $2 million to provide high-speed wireless internet to underserved rural areas.
     
  • Create good-paying jobs cleaning up legacy pollution in rural communities. The President is committed to creating good-paying jobs in rural communities across the country and ensuring those communities are safe, high-quality places to live. Legacy pollution from industries that extracted natural resources from rural areas and left behind huge quantities of environmental degradation has held back the economic growth and success of rural communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is creating good-paying jobs cleaning up these sites by investing $4.7 billion through an interagency initiative to plug, remediate, and restore dangerous orphan well sites across the country; nearly $11.3 billion to create good-paying union jobs and catalyze economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned mine lands; and $1 billion to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country.
     
  • Improve rural Americans’ access to transit systems and functional highway systems to they can get to school and work and bring their products to market. Limited access to transportation options in rural and remote areas impedes American’s access to jobs, basic services, and their communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests billions of dollars to make sure rural families can get where they need to go, including through a $4.58 billion investment in Rural Area Formula Grants at the Department of Transportation (DOT). This program will support 1,300 rural transit systems by enabling them to purchase transit vehicles and infrastructure, plan transit more effectively, and fund operations. This investment builds on $282 million in American Rescue Plan funding that helped rural transit systems maintain and restore service during the pandemic.
     
  • Ensure clean drinking water and basic sanitation in rural homes. Across the country, including in rural and Tribal communities, pipes and treatment plants are aging and polluted drinking water endanger public health. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s transformative $55 billion investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure will fundamentally change quality of life for millions of Americans by eliminating lead pipes, providing critical access to sanitation, ensuring access to affordable clean drinking water, and reducing drought.
     
  • Build rural communities resilient to natural disasters and the threats of climate change. Last year, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses over $1 billion – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. These included damaging floods, wildfires, and wind storms across rural America. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will improve the resilience of rural communities by investing $3.5 billion to improve home energy efficiency for low-income families, reducing energy costs, improving household comfort and safety, and cutting pollution.
     
  • Invest in resilience and restoration on national forest lands. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will restore our national forests through the planting of 1.2 billion trees over the next decade, coupled with landmark investments in science-based hazardous fuels treatments that will protect communities from wildfire. The resources in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide a critical down payment to implement the USDA Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to reduce wildfire, which has a goal of treating 50 million acres across Federal and non-Federal lands. 
     
  • Provide high-quality, safe roads and bridges for rural communities. While Americans living in rural areas account for just 20% of the population, they comprise nearly half of all roadway fatalities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will deliver safer roads, bridges, railway crossings, and other critical improvement to the quality and safety of our roadways. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also invests $1.2 billion to complete the Appalachian Development Highway System, connecting the rural regions of Appalachia, creating jobs, and linking businesses with domestic and international markets.
     
  • Upgrade electric and transmission infrastructure in rural America. Power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. For example, the recent Texas power outages caused estimated losses of up to $90 billion for the state. At times, rural communities can be without power for days during these outages. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $1 billion in Energy Improvement in Rural or Remote Areas to support entities in rural or remote areas to increase environmental protection from the impacts of energy use and improve resilience, reliability, safety, and availability of energy.
     
  • Explore the use of materials made from bioproducts to open up new market opportunities for farmers. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $10 million in grants to support research on the economic, social and environmental benefits of using materials derived from bioproducts in the development and manufacturing of construction and consumer products.

 
Strengthening the food system and creating market opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, American farmers, ranchers, processors, farmworkers, and other workers across the supply chain continued to adapt and put food on the table for American families, despite disruptions and other challenges. The Biden-Harris Administration is building on lessons learned during the pandemic to transform the food system so that it is more competitive, balanced, and equitable for everyone working in food and agriculture.

  • Address supply chain disruptions for families and farmers. As part of a whole-of-government response to tackle new and emerging near-term supply chain disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and historic economic recovery, President Biden established a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force in June, bringing together industry, labor, and federal partners to alleviate bottlenecks and higher input costs for farmers, address rising prices at the grocery store, and support agricultural exporters. For example, USDA is leveraging $100 million in American Rescue Plan funds to offer a Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, making available nearly $1 billion in loan guarantees to back private investment in processing and food supply infrastructure that will strengthen the food supply chain for the American people and create jobs in rural communities.
     
  • Advance equity in agriculture. In February 2022, USDA held the first meeting of the new USDA Equity Commission, which is supported by the American Rescue Plan and will evaluate USDA programs and services and recommend how USDA can reduce barriers for accessing them.  Additionally, USDA has begun to deploy American Rescue Plan funds to support technical assistance and access to land, credit, and markets for historically underserved producers. USDA provided $50 million in Natural Resource Conservation Funds to organizations working with underserved communities and another approximately $75 million in American Rescue Plan funding to 20 organizations to provide technical assistance to connect underserved producers with USDA programs and services. Additionally, in July 2021, USDA rolled out the Heirs’ Property Relending Program, which provides funds to assist heirs in resolving ownership and succession issues on farmland with multiple owners.
     
  • Support a fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain. In, January 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, outlining how USDA will invest an additional $900 million in American Rescue Plan funding. As part of this effort, USDA recently announced $150 million in grants for new and expanded processing through a new Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, $25 million to provide technical assistance support, and $40 million to support workforce development and training, including at community and junior colleges and Minority-Serving Institutions. As part of the Action Plan, USDA will invest $500 million in additional grants and lending to further strengthen financing for independent processing, along with $85 million in additional funding for workforce development and to promote innovation in this sector. This work builds on the $100 million already available to reduce overtime and holiday inspection fees to help small processing plants keep up with unprecedented demand. This also builds on USDA’s December 2021 announcement of $32 million in pandemic assistance funds to more than 160 meat and poultry processors, helping them get federally inspected so they can reach more customers.
     
  • Issue stronger rules under the Packers & Stockyards Act and new rulemaking on “Product of USA” labeling to protect farmers, ranchers, and consumers, as well as promote an all-of-government approach to strengthening competition. USDA has begun work on three proposed rules to provide greater clarity and strengthen enforcement under the Packers & Stockyards Act, and USDA will also pursue rulemaking to ensure the “Product of USA” label for meat products meets consumer expectations and allows for fair and competitive markets. In February 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and USDA launched a new joint initiative to better coordinate their enforcement efforts, including a new portal—FarmerFairness.gov—for reporting concerns about potential violations of competition laws. And today, the President is announcing an historic agreement between the DOJ and the Federal Maritime Commission to put more cops on the beat to ensure large, foreign ocean carriers cannot take advantage of U.S. farmers, businesses, and consumers.
     
  • Ensuring nutritious food gets to those who need it while opening up new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. In December 2021, USDA committed $1.5 billion in funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to help schools make direct food purchases and access food purchased by USDA and will also invest in cooperative agreements with state and Tribal governments to purchase foods from local underserved producers. All purchases will support domestic agriculture. Additionally, in December 2021, USDA announced a new Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program that will award up to $400 million for emergency food assistance purchases of domestic local foods. Utilizing American Rescue Plan funds, these purchases will expand local and regional markets and place an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved farmers and ranchers.
     
  • Ensuring all of agriculture benefits from financial assistance to address the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance under the previous administration’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The Biden-Harris Administration worked to fill those gaps to help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to underserved communities, small and medium sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops. USDA announced ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ to distribute resources more equitably and committed to directing at least $6 billion to the agricultural producers and sectors that needed assistance the most. This includes re-opening signup for CFAP2, $700 million in grants to provide relief to farm and food workers affected by COVID-19; $700 million to provide relief for small producers, processors, farmers markets and seafood vessels affected by COVID-19; and $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers. As a result, there was a fourfold increase in participation among historically underserved producers in CFAP2 since April 2021.  
     
  • Invest in farmworker training. DOL’s National Farmworker Jobs Program provides grants to community-based organizations and public agencies to enable farmworkers to receive skills training, career services and other critical services like housing assistance to help them obtain, retain and advance in the agricultural sector. DOL awarded $87 million in career services and training grants across the United States and Puerto Rico and $6.2 million in housing grants.
  • Pay farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to be part of the solution to climate change. In February 2022, USDA launched a $1 billion investment in partnerships to support America’s climate-smart farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. The new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity will finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart production practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits. USDA has also invested $50 million in new 118 partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The new Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements will fund two-year projects to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are new to farming, low-income, historically underserved, or military veterans.
  • Reward farmers, ranchers, and forest owners for their voluntary conservation efforts. Recognizing the critical role that America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest-owners play in the stewardship of the nation’s lands, waters, and wildlife, the Administration is, as part of the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, expanding support for voluntary conservation efforts on private lands. USDA, for example, has made changes to its Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to remove barriers to access and provide partners increased flexibility to participate in and benefit from the program.  USDA enrolled 5.3 million new acres in the Conservation Reserve Program by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. 
     
  • Support renewable fuel producers and infrastructure. USDA has dedicated $700 million to provide economic relief to biofuel producers and restore renewable fuel markets affected by the pandemic, and committed to $100 million to increase the sales and use of higher blends of bioethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.
     
  • Facilitate U.S. agricultural products in reaching export markets. USDA is working with the Port of Oakland to set up a new “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers. The new site, supported by Commodity Credit Corporation funds, will provide access to equipment and provide trucks faster turns without having to wait for in-terminal space. The Port of Oakland is a potential model for other ports experiencing similar issues. The Administration also continues to call on ocean carriers to mitigate disruptions to agricultural shippers by restoring full and fair service to the Port of Oakland. In addition, over $600 million in American Rescue Plan resources have already been announced to strengthen the port workforce and improve facility efficiency at our most critical ports, from California and Florida to Massachusetts and Louisiana.
     
  • Ensure trade rules work for American farmers and ranchers. The United States prevailed in the first dispute settlement panel proceeding under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), bringing the U.S. dairy sector one step closer to realizing the full benefits of the USMCA. The Administration scored another trade policy win when Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Hanoi in August 2021, securing a commitment from the Vietnamese government to reduce tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. This will give U.S. corn, wheat, and pork producers greater access to our seventh-largest agricultural export market, in line with competitors from countries that have free trade agreements with Vietnam. These actions contributed to a record-shattering $177 billion in exports of U.S. farm and food products in 2021.

What’s Behind President Biden’s Remarks on the Economy in his First State of the Union Address

President Joe Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi at his Speech to the Nation in 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to take up a large measure of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union speech, he is unlikely to have enough time or space to detail his accomplishments and his agenda going forward. Here are more details from the White House about what the President will say about the economy:

President Biden ran for office with a new economic vision: to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down. On Tuesday, the President will make a strong case that the Biden-Harris economic strategy is producing historic results, and lay out his plan to tackle the economic challenges ahead. He will underscore that during his first year in office, due in large part to the American Rescue Plan, entrepreneurship and business investment rebounded, the economy achieved its fastest job growth in American history, the fastest economic growth in nearly 40 years, and a faster recovery than every other advanced economy. And, he will emphasize that this progress is occurring amidst an historic shift from the old, outdated trickle-down approach to one that centers on workers, families, and small businesses.
 
During his first State of the Union Address, the President will also make clear that there is more work to do to rebuild the economy towards resilience, security, and sustainability. Too many families continue to feel the squeeze of higher costs. The President will make clear that price increases that become entrenched are pernicious, and eat away at the economic progress the country is making. The President will lay out his plan to lower costs for American families while continuing an historically strong economic recovery by:

  1. Making more things in America, strengthening our supply chains, and moving goods faster and cheaper;
     
  2. Reducing the cost of everyday expenses working families face and reducing the deficit;
     
  3. Promoting fair competition to lower prices, help small businesses thrive, and protect consumers; and
     
  4. Eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers all across America.

 
Making more things in America, strengthening our supply chains, and moving goods faster and cheaper:
President Biden will make clear that he believes one of the best ways to lower costs over the long run is to increase the productive capacity of our economy—put simply, to make more things in America with more American workers contributing and earning a good living. He will describe the emerging manufacturing comeback, with American companies betting on America again because of the Administration’s commitment to domestic industrial revitalization and technological development. He will note that in just the last year, the economy added 375,000 manufacturing jobs and companies announced nearly $200 billion in investments for semiconductor, electric vehicle, battery, and critical mineral production and manufacturing in the United States. He will recount how Intel recently announced a new $20 billion factory outside of Columbus, Ohio that will create 7,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 permanent jobs – another sign of the strength of the American economy.
 
President Biden will also announce specific goals for implementation of his landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure law (BIL), a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s economic competitiveness that will strengthen supply chains and move goods to market faster and more efficiently, encouraging more companies to choose America. Over the next year:
 

  • States, territories, Tribes and local governments will start to improve 65,000 miles of roads and 1,500 bridges with federal funding, representing a 44% and 50% increase respectively from average annual improvement levels over the past six years.
     
  • The Federal Aviation Administration will be able to invest in over 600 airport infrastructure projects, including preserving 400 pavement projects on taxiways and runways.
     
  • Communities will invest in an estimated 15,000 new buses, ferries and subway cars, improving commutes for working Americans, families, and students across the country and reducing greenhouse emissions.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will advance over 500 projects across 52 states and territories to strengthen supply chains, improve waterways, and reduce flooding.
     
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will work with state and local governments to fund more than 400 new water projects from replacing lead service lines to improving drinking water systems.
     
  • States, Tribes, and other partners will use BIL funds to reclaim over 15,000 acres of abandoned mine lands, as well as launch new reclamation efforts that will ultimately address tens of thousands of additional acres across the country.
     
  • The Interior Department’s new Orphan Well Program will start work plugging, capping, and remediating over 8,000 abandoned oil & gas well sites in communities across the country.
     
  • The Interior Department will increase its work to reduce the risk of wildfires to communities by more than 30 percent – removing over 300,000 acres of burnable fuels in the places where communities and wildlands meet – as well as the start of work to reduce wildfire risk on an additional 250,000 acres across the country.
     
  • The Department of Energy will take steps to launch a first-of-its kind $140 million demonstration facility to extract and separate rare earth elements and other critical minerals from coal ash, mine tailings, acid drainage, and other legacy fossil fuel waste to sustainably produce materials key to next-generation clean energy technologies.
     
  • The Department of Energy will make available nearly $3 billion to bolster domestic manufacturing of advanced batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage.
     

To build on these investments and spur more private-sector investment in the United States, the President will also call on Congress to send him bipartisan competitiveness legislation like the COMPETES and USICA bills that have passed the House and the Senate to invest in innovation, manufacturing, and economic development capacity across all of America so America can outcompete China and the rest of the world in the industries of the future.
 
Reducing the cost of everyday expenses working families face:
President Biden will call on Congress to send him legislation that lowers costs of everyday expenses working families face and lowers the deficit by rewarding work, not wealth. He will lay out specific, practical measures that would reduce costs for families right now, including prescription drug costs and health care premiums, child care and pre-k costs, and energy costs. He will point to the other ideas he has proposed on areas ranging from housing to care for seniors and people with disabilities to higher education affordability to direct tax relief for families. These efforts build on the support provided in the American Rescue Plan that has helped reduce the cost of health care, helped more than 5000 universities and community colleges make higher education more affordable, made work pay better for low-income workers through an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and provided historic middle class tax relief for tens of millions of working families through an expanded Child Tax Credit.
 
The President will make clear that we can lower costs while lowering the deficit by rewarding work, not wealth. He will outline proposals to make sure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, while making clear that no one making under $400,000 a year should see their taxes increased.
 
The President will call on Congress to send him a bill that lowers costs and lowers the deficit without delay. American families need relief from higher costs, and they need it now.

Promoting fair competition to lower prices, help small businesses thrive, and protect consumers:
President Biden will explain that we can also lower costs by promoting fair competition in the U.S. economy. The Administration has taken decisive actions in the first year to stop the trend of corporate consolidation, increase competition, and deliver concrete benefits to America’s consumers, workers, farmers, and small businesses. He will also announce new actions the Biden-Harris Administration is taking this year to tackle some of the most pressing competition and consumer protection problems across our economy. Specifically, he will announce new steps to:
 

  • Lower consumer prices and level the playing field for American businesses in ocean shipping. The President will explain that most traded goods—everything from the housewares you buy online to the agricultural products that American farmers market overseas—are transported by oceangoing vessels. However, the ocean shipping industry is now dominated by just a small number of giant, foreign-owned companies. Three global alliances—groups of ocean carriers that work together—now control 80% of global container ship capacity and 95% on the critical East-West trade lines. And, since the beginning of the pandemic, these carriers have been increasing shipping costs through higher rates and fees. The President will note that the foreign carriers are now seeing record profits, while prices for American consumers and businesses have risen. To combat this problem, the President will announce steps to lower consumer prices and level the playing field for American businesses in ocean shipping, including launching a new Federal Maritime Commission and Department of Justice initiative to promote competition in the ocean freight transportation system. He will also note that the Federal Maritime Commission is ramping up its oversight of the global shipping industry to address complaints about the unfair fees the carriers charge to American businesses. Read the full Biden-Harris Plan to Lower Consumer Prices and Level the Playing Field in Ocean Shipping here.
     
  • Protect seniors and other nursing home residents by cracking down on unsafe nursing homes. The President will explain that while the federal government spends tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on nursing homes annually, these federal funds too often flow to nursing homes with bad track records and dangerous conditions. He will explain that 200,000 residents and staff in nursing homes have died from COVID-19, representing nearly 23% of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. He will also stress that despite well-documented, widespread health and safety violations, there has been little or no accountability. To protect seniors and crack down on unsafe nursing homes, President Biden will call on Congress to provide nearly $500 million to CMS Survey and Certification, a 24% increase, to support health and safety inspections at nursing homes. He will also announce that the Biden-Harris Administration will, among other new initiatives, establish a new minimum staffing ratio to protect residents, expand penalties for poor performing nursing homes and beef up scrutiny, improve transparency and Americans’ ability to comparison shop for the best home, strengthen value-based payment to ensure taxpayers pay for quality care, and continue to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at nursing homes across the country. Read the full Biden-Harris Plan to Protect Seniors by Cracking Down on Unsafe Nursing Homes here.

Eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers all across America:
President Biden will reflect on one of the strongest labor market recoveries in American history. Specifically, the President will note that during his first year in office, the economy added more than 6.6 million jobs; the unemployment rate fell at its fastest pace on record; the number of number of workers filing for unemployment insurance declined by more than 70 percent; and millions of Americans have entered and reentered the labor force, with the largest increase in the labor force participation rate in more than 25 years. He will highlight the important role that the American Rescue Plan played in positioning employers to hire and workers to rejoin the labor force and find higher quality jobs. Earlier this year, he directed the Secretary of Labor to work with states to reinstate work search requirements for unemployment insurance recipients.

To further our economic recovery and increase the productive capacity of our economy, the President will announce his Administration’s plan to ensure everyone who wants to work should have the opportunity to find a high-quality job. Specifically, he will express his support for:
 

  • Enacting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. President Biden will express his firm belief that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to organize or join a union, and the right to bargain collectively with their employer, without fear of intimidation, coercion, threats, and anti-union propaganda. He will reiterate that the middle class built America and unions built the middle class. And, he will emphasize that empowering workers is central to the Biden-Harris strategy to grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. The President will call on Congress to pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, ensuring that more private-sector workers and many more public-sector workers nationwide have a genuine right to organize and bargain collectively.
     
  • Expanding skills-based hiring and increasing access to registered apprenticeships and training. President Biden will reiterate his commitment to creating pathways to the middle class for all Americans. He will stress that millions of Americans without a college degree are needlessly disadvantaged in the pursuit of good jobs, even when they have the skills and knowledge employers need. To support skills-based hiring, President Biden will announce that his Administration will explore using federal and procurement dollars to by hire based on skills rather than educational qualifications alone, , including through boosting hiring of people from Registered Apprenticeships and labor-management partnership training programs. Additionally, the Administration remains committed to strengthening the pipeline for more underserved communities to access these opportunities. As an example, the Administration has supported and increased access to quality trucking jobs by expanding Registered Apprenticeship programs for drivers; and developing more seamless paths for veterans and underrepresented communities, such as women, to access good driving jobs. He will state that the Administration is supporting and challenging employers to move towards skill-based hiring, including through a new budget proposal to invest in skills-based hiring research tools and technical assistance. This effort builds on the American Rescue Plan’s critical workforce investments in the past year – with more than half of states already committing Fiscal Recovery Funds to training and apprenticeships and efforts to hire and retain critical workers – and catalyzing investments in place-based regional workforce strategies through the Commerce Department’s Good Jobs Challenge.
  • Expanding programs in high-demand fields at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). President Biden will explain that research has found that HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs are vital to helping underrepresented students achieve economic mobility, including in STEM fields. However, he will also stress that these institutions have significantly fewer resources than other top colleges and universities, undermining their ability to grow and support more students. To address this persistent problem, and building on the progress made by the American Rescue Plan providing the largest investment through the Department of Education ever in these institutions, the President will call on Congress to expand existing institutional aid grants to HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, which can be used by these institutions to strengthen their academic, administrative, and fiscal capabilities, including by creating or expanding educational programs in high-demand fields (e.g., STEM, computer sciences, nursing, and allied health).
     
  • Providing up to more than $2,000 in additional assistance to low-income students by increasing the Pell Grant award. President Biden will note that broad access to education beyond high school is increasingly important for economic growth and competitiveness in the 21st century, but also remind us that higher education has become unaffordable for too many families. Over 6 million students depend on Pell Grants to finance their education, yet the amount of money in these grants has not kept up with the rising cost of college and DREAMers still do not have access. During his State of the Union Address, President Biden will call on Congress to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $2,000.
     
  • Supporting paycheck fairness. President Biden will note that women in the U.S. who work full-time, year-round are paid only 83 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, on average. He will also express his belief that ensuring equal pay is essential to advancing America’s values of fairness and equity as well as our economic strength here at home and our competitiveness abroad. President Biden will use his State of the Union Address as an opportunity to call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will take important steps towards the goal of ending pay discrimination.
     
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. President Biden will recount that throughout the pandemic, millions of American workers have put their lives on the line to keep their communities and country functioning, including the 40 percent of frontline workers who are people of color. The President will express his belief that hard-working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to work multiple jobs. The President already issued executive actions to ensure 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors are paid a minimum of $15 per hour – because investing in workers also makes employers, including the government, work better and faster. The President will call on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities so that workers across the country can have a little breathing room and provide opportunity for their families.
     
  • Creating a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. President Biden will stress that nearly four of five private sector workers – and 90 percent of the lowest wage workers – have no access to paid family leave, which is a critical input for economic growth and competitiveness in the 21st century. He will call on Congress to pass comprehensive paid family and medical leave legislation so millions of American workers can take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one or heal from their own serious illness.

Biden Lays Down the Law for Putin: ‘We are Ready to Respond Decisively to a Russian Attack on Ukraine’

President Joe Biden:  “This is about more than just Russia and Ukraine.  It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty — for liberty, the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force.  That’s our vision.  And toward that end, I’m confident that vision, that freedom will prevail. If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world to oppose its aggression.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

I feel so much more secure with President Joe Biden managing the Russia crisis – it’s threat to invade Ukraine. Russia is threatening the worst violence in Europe since World War II, and this bit of brinksmanship is the worst since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Biden is using just the right measure of carrots and sticks and showing extraordinary leadership in keeping the allies together, on the same page. Putin miscalculated Biden, incorrectly assessing the Afghanistan exit as weakness and lack of resolve instead of fortitude and competence (the largest air lift in that short amount of time remarkably). In  his speech, Biden spoke directly to Americans and the allies in stating the importance in defending democracy and Ukraine’s self-determination and sovereignty against Russian imperialistic, autocratic aggression, recognizing that just like Chamberlain and Hitler, appeasement (as after Russia invaded Georgia and then took Crimea), would not stop with Ukraine.

Biden spoke directly to the Russian people, too, noting that they are not the enemy, but Putin acting out of ego and selfish obsession with power, putting their lives and economy at risk. He was firm and clear about what Russia would face if Putin stepped a foot into Ukraine territory – releasing declassified intel to take away Putin’s ability to mount a false-flag operation or cyberattack. And he spoke to Americans as well, to prepare us for the fall-out – such as higher energy prices. Preserving democracy has a cost, he said, while giving assurances his administration was doing what it could to mitigate the bad impacts. And he has been on top of the planning – with table-top exercises to react to whatever happens.

He was firm that while he is interested in a diplomatic, rather than military, solution, he has no interest in appeasement.

Imagine if Trump were in the Oval Office – he’d shut down NATO, shut down United Nations and give his puppetmaster a green light (What did Trump react to, today? His accounting firm, Mazar’s, firing the Trump Organization as a client, saying they couldn’t vouch for the reliability of its tax returns from 2011-2020.)

Here’s a highlighted transcript of Biden’s speech—Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Today, I’d like to provide an update on the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine.
 
From the beginning of this crisis, I have been absolutely clear and consistent: The United States is prepared no matter what happens. 
 
We are ready with diplomacy — to be engaged in diplomacy with Russia and our Allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole. 
 
And we are ready to respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility.
 
Through all of the events of the last few weeks and months, this has been our approach.  And it remains our approach now.
 
So, today I want to speak to the American people about the situation on the ground, the steps we’ve taken, the actions we’re prepared to take, and what’s at stake for us and the world, and how this may impact on us here at home.
 
For weeks now, together with our Allies and partners, my administration has engaged in non-stop diplomacy.
 
This weekend I spoke again with President Putin to make clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States, and the nations of Europe to address legitimate security concerns if that’s what — his wish.  Their security concerns and ours.
 
President Putin and I agreed that our teams should continue to engage toward this end along with our European Allies and partners.
 
Yesterday, the Russian government publicly proposed to continue the diplomacy.  I agree.  We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed.  I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns.
 
The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish a security environment in Europe.
 
We’re proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures.  These measures would apply to all parties — NATO and Russia alike.
 
And we’re willing to make practical, results-oriented steps that can advance our common security.  We will not sacrifice basic principles, though.
 
Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity.  They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate.
 
But that still leaves plenty of room for diplomacy and for de-escalation.  That’s the best way forward for all parties, in our view.  And we’ll continue our diplomatic efforts in close consultation with our Allies and our partners.
 
As long as there is hope of a diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and avoids the incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it.
 
The Russian Defense Ministry reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine.
 
That would be good, but we have not yet verified that.  We have not yet verified that Russian military units are returning to their home bases.  Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position.  And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border.
 
An invasion remains distinctly possible.  That’s why I’ve asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it’s too late to leave safely.  It is why we have temporarily relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border. 
 
And we’ve been transparent with the American people and with the world about Russia’s plans and the seriousness of the situation so that everyone can see for themselves what is happening.  We have shared what we know and what we are doing about it.
 
Let me be equally clear about what we are not doing:
 
The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia.  Ukraine is not threatening Russia. 
 
Neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine.  We do not — do not have plans to put them there as well.
 
We’re not targeting the people of Russia.  We do not seek to destabilize Russia.
 
To the citizens of Russia: You are not our enemyAnd I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine — a country and a people with whom you share such deep ties of family, history, and culture.
 
Seventy-seven years ago, our people fought and sacrificed side by side to end the worst war in history.
 
World War Two was a war of necessity.  But if Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be a war of choice, or a war without cause or reason.
 
I say these things not to provoke but to speak the truth — because the truth matters; accountability matters.
 
If Russia does invade in the days or weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense, and the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense.
 
If Russia attacks Ukraine, it’ll be met with overwhelming international condemnation.  The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction.
 
Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound.
 
The United States and our Allies and partners will respond decisively.  The West is united and galvanized.
 
Today, our NATO Allies and the Alliance is as unified and determined as it has ever been.   And the source of our unbreakable strength continues to be the power, resilience, and universal appeal of our shared democratic values.
 
Because this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine.  It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world, for liberty — for liberty, the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force.  That’s our vision.  And toward that end, I’m confident that vision, that freedom will prevail.
 
If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world to oppose its aggression.
 
The United States and our Allies and partners around the world are ready to impose powerful sanctions on [and] export controls, including actions we did not pursue when Russia invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014.  We will put intense pressure on their largest and most significant financial institutions and key industries.
 
These measures are ready to go as soon and if Russia moves.  We’ll impose long-term consequences that will undermine Russia’s ability to compete economically and strategically.
 
And when it comes to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not happen.
 
While I will not send American servicemen to fight Russia in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military with equipment to help them defend themselves.  We have provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose. 
 
And make no mistake: The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power.  An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us.  And the United States commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct. 
 
Already, in response to Russia’s build-up of troops, I have sent additional U.S. forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank.
 
Several of our Allies have also announced they’ll add forces and capabilities to ensure deterrence and defense along NATO’s eastern flank.
 
We will also continue to conduct military exercises with our Allies and partners to enhance defensive readiness. 
 
And if Russia invades, we will take further steps to reinforce our presence in NATO, reassure for our Allies, and deter further aggression.
 
This is a cause that unites Republicans and Democrats.  And I want to thank the leaders and members of Congress of both parties who have forcefully spoken out in defense of our most basic, most bipartisan, most American principles.
 
I will not pretend this will be painless.  There could be impact on our energy prices, so we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets and offset rising prices.
 
We’re coordinating with major energy consumers and producers.  We’re prepared to deploy all the tools and authority at our disposal to provide relief at the gas pump. 
 
And I will work with Congress on additional measures to help protect consumers and address the impact of prices at the pump.
 
We are not seeking direct confrontation with Russia, though I have been clear that if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully.
 
And if Russia attacks the United States or our Allies through asymmetric means, like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond. 
 
We’re moving in lockstep with our NATO Allies and partners to deepen our collective defense against threats in cyberspace.
 
Two paths are still open.  For the sake of the historic responsibility Russia and the United States share for global stability, for the sake of our common future — to choose diplomacy.

 
But let there be no doubt: If Russia commits this breach by invading Ukraine, responsible nations around the world will not hesitate to respond. 
 
If we do not stand for freedom where it is at risk today, we’ll surely pay a steeper price tomorrow. 
 
Thank you.  I’ll keep you informed.
 

FACT SHEET: The New Small Business Boom Under the Biden-Harris Administration

Market in Mendocino, California. Since day one in office, President Biden has focused on providing America’s small businesses with the tools and resources they need to reopen, rehire, and build back better. To-date, the Biden-Harris Administration has distributed more than $400 billion in critical relief to more than 6 million small businesses © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Since day one in office, President Biden has focused on providing America’s small businesses with the tools and resources they need to reopen, rehire, and build back better. To-date, the Biden-Harris Administration has distributed more than $400 billion in critical relief to more than 6 million small businesses.

President Biden’s efforts have not only helped millions of Main Street businesses keep their lights on and employees on payroll, they have enabled a remarkable rebound in small business activity, with small business demand for labor and inventories near record highs. According to a leading survey of small business owners, the share of small businesses planning to create new jobs in the next three months is higher than it ever was at any point during the previous Administration. Another recent survey of small business owners found that 71 percent are optimistic about their own performance in 2022, up from 63 percent one year ago. The broader economic recovery – one of the fastest on record – has also helped spur a surge in entrepreneurship. Americans are applying to start new businesses at a record rate, up about 30 percent compared to before the pandemic.



The historically high level of new business applications has taken place amidst the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic bottom-up approach to economic recovery. Soon after taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration enacted the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which provided direct relief to families and small businesses and supported the vaccination of more than 200 million Americans. Through the combination of ARP investments and existing emergency relief programs, the Biden-Harris Administration distributed more than $400 billion in critical relief to more than 6 million small businesses. The ARP also provided thousands of entrepreneurs with the personal and financial security to launch their own business.  This support included $1,400 per-person Economic Impact Payments, expanded Child Tax Credit payments of up to $300 per child per month, Affordable Care Act credits and COBRA premium support to ensure health care coverage remained available, and an expansion of the Employer Retention Credit, including expanding eligibility to recent startups. 

Despite the historic progress made to-date, the Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to helping America’s new small businesses grow, create jobs, and provide the essential goods and services our communities depend on. Specifically, the Biden-Harris Administration is:Expanding access to low cost loans and investments. The Treasury Department is working with all states and territories plus 400 Tribal governments on standing up small business lending and investment programs as part of the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) established through the ARP. and By this summer, the first wave of programs will launch, unlocking billions of dollars in new lending and investment capital for small businesses in big cities and small towns all across America. Small businesses can also continue to access the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) traditional 7a, 504, and microloan programs, which collectively reached record high loan volume in Fiscal Year 2021 by providing $44.8 billion through more than 61,000 loans.

Increasing access to billions of dollars in federal contracts for small businesses. Last year, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its strategy for increasing the share of federal procurement dollars that go to socially disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2025.  President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes a historic procurement effort designed to support small businesses and tackle long standing inequities in the contracting system. Among other things, the legislation directs DOT to attempt to award more than $37 billion in federal contracts to small disadvantaged business contractors.

Helping small businesses hire new employees and reach new customers by providing universal broadband.  Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs and increasingly important for small business owners all across America. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure, helping ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet and creating new opportunities for small businesses nationwide.

12 States Set New Records on Low Unemployment as National Rate Fell to 3.9% 

Meanwhile, new employment data continues to show that the labor market has improved under President Biden, with 42 states reporting drops in unemployment in December and 12 states reaching record lows. No states experienced a decline in employment. Year-over-year payroll figures have now increased in 48 states and DC. 

“Thanks to the President’s economic plan and his success in getting Americans vaccinated, the unemployment rate nationally dropped to 3.9% – four years earlier than expected, wages are up, and 6.4 million jobs have been created – the most in any one year on record. The President’s economic strategy is working: strengthening our economic growth and creating millions of jobs across the country,” the White House stated.

Biden Administration Details Ways Partnership with Nation’s Mayors Improved Lives, What Build Back Better Could Further Achieve

Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, and set up mass vaccination sites. As a result, in less than one year, over 200 million Americans have been vaccinated © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the occasion of President Joe Biden’s address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, January 21, the White House issued a fact sheet detailing some of the ways the Biden-Harris Administration is working with Mayors to deliver for communities across the country, and what passing the Build Back Better agenda could mean:
 
Getting Shots in Arms and Saving Lives
Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
 
Working with local governments, the Administration has shipped over 160 million pieces of personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, masks – to protect frontline health care workers in cities across the United States. Since first launching surge response teams on July 1st, the Administration has deployed over 3,000 personnel to 39 states and 4 U.S. territories. The Administration also recently worked with several mayors and local jurisdictions to surge federal testing support and federal test sites to several cities.
 
Over 115 mayors across the country joined the White House, HHS, and We Can Do This campaign to launch a Mayors Challenge to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations. This campaign was instrumental in increasing the adult vaccination rate through mayors sharing best practices and launching innovative efforts to boost vaccinations, including grassroots outreach, mobile and neighborhood vaccine clinics, incentives, prizes, and other efforts.

  • Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney as co-lead of the Mayors Challenge, launched the #HotVaccinatedSummer campaign with the Richmond Health Department focused on taking the vaccine to residents through mobile vaccination units, pop-up vaccine sites at grocery stores, food pantries, apartment complexes, and churches, and neighborhood block parties.
     
  • Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, mayors of Louisiana’s two largest cities, launched a month-long, inter-city “New Orleans vs Baton Rouge COVID challenge” to motivate citizens to get vaccinated.
     
  • Detroit, MI Mayor Mike Duggan launched an innovative “Good Neighbor Program” where residents received gift cards for driving their neighbors to get vaccinated, as well as a door-to-door vaccination education canvassing effort.
     
  • San Antonio, TX Mayor Ron Nirenberg along with making pop-up vaccine clinics accessible, collaborated with local artists to create murals reminding residents of the importance of getting vaccinated.

Getting People Back to Work
President Biden has grown the economy faster than any first-year administration ever with 6.4 million jobs added, the most in one year on record. The unemployment rate is 3.9% – four years faster than projected because of the American Rescue Plan. The Biden-Harris agenda has provided substantial resources to state and local governments to expand and improve America’s workforce development system so that workers of all kinds from diverse communities will be prepared and successful in good-paying union jobs.
 
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included $350 billion in state and local fiscal recovery funds that governments can use to assist workers who want and are available to work – including job training, public jobs programs, job fairs, childcare, transportation, hiring bonuses, and subsidized employment efforts). The ARP also invested $3 billion in the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to assist communities in their efforts to build back better from the pandemic, including $1 billion for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $500 million for a Good Jobs Challenge that will support sector partnerships that bring employers, unions, non-profits, community colleges, training providers, and local governments together to enhance local training and hiring efforts.

  • Building Bridges to Infrastructure Jobs:
    • Washington, DC is using ARP resources to expand the city’s Infrastructure Academy to ensure a diverse workforce is ready to fill the infrastructure jobs that will be created by the historic bipartisan infrastructure law.
    • Milwaukee, WI has dedicated ARP funds to launch a lead abatement workforce development program and an Earn and Learn program which assists young people entering manufacturing and other high-skill jobs.
    • Phoenix, AZ is using Rescue Plan funds to partner with local community colleges and the private sector on job training programs that not only will re-skill and re-employ individuals for new careers in high demand workforce areas, such as manufacturing, construction, and the region’s emerging semiconductor industry.
       
  • Supporting our Essential Education Workers:
    • Seattle, WA used ARP fiscal recovery funds to provide premium pay for local child care workers, up to $835 per worker who have been there for at least 6 months.
       
  • Bolstering our Health Care Workforce:
    • Chicago, IL is leveraging ARP funds to build a 2,200 public health workforce working as vaccine ambassadors and addressing vaccine resistance.
    • New York City is dedicating ARP funds to bolster their public health workforce through the New York City Public Health Corps program, which will focus on a range of public health needs – from vaccine access, to primary care, to mental health counseling.

Building a Better America
Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running with a focus on fostering strong partnerships and working with mayors to implement the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild crumbling road and bridges, replace lead pipes, help provide high-speed internet to every family in America, and produce concrete results that change people’s lives for the better. These results will create good-paying, union jobs, support domestic manufacturing and supply chains, and position the United States to win the 21st century. As the Administration implements the law, it is following through on President Biden’s commitment to ensure investments advance equity and racial justice, reach communities all across the country – including rural communities, communities of color, and disability communities – and strengthen the nation’s resilience to climate change. Since the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration has it the ground running. Some of the key actions since the law’s passage include:

  • Understanding the importance of strong partnership with local governments to deliver results on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the White House appointed Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans and former President of the US Conference of Mayors, as Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $27 billion in funding to replace, repair, and rehabilitate bridges across the country over the next five years, including many locally-owned “off system” bridges.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will invest more than $14 billion of funding for over 500 projects across 52 states and territories. These key projects will strengthen the nation’s supply chain, provide significant new economic opportunities nationwide, and bolster our defenses against climate change.
     
  • USDOT awarded $1 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants to invest in 90 major projects across 47 states funding that will be boosted by an additional $7.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
     
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at USDOT announced $3 billion for 3,075 airports across the country that can use investments to upgrade critical infrastructure.
     
  • The Vice President announced the Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which includes action items focused on collaboration with local partners to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes over the next decade. As part of this plan, EPA announced $7.4 billion in funding allocations for states to upgrade America’s aging water infrastructure, sewerage systems, pipes and service lines, and more.
     
  • The Federal Communications Commission launched the Affordable Connectivity Program providing broadband subsidies of up to $30/month for low-income households (up to $75/month for households on Tribal Lands) and up to $100 towards the purchase of a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.
     
  • EPA announced $1 billion in funding to clean up 49 Superfund sites across 24 states to accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country, stop toxic waste from harming communities, and create good-paying jobs.
     
  • The Department of the Interior released initial guidance for the states interested in applying for funding to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells that reduce methane emissions and create jobs, with 26 states expressing interest in a portion of the $4.7 billion in funding for well plugging, remediation and restoration available in infrastructure programs.
     
  • The Department of Energy launched a new Building a Better Grid initiative to accelerate the deployment of new transition lines, and it released a notice of intent to inform the design and implementation of this historic investment.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes billions of dollars in competitive funding available to cities, towns, and municipalities across dozens of new and existing programs. As local governments begin to rebuild and reinvest in their communities, the Biden-Harris Administration stands ready to support local leaders as they combine funding streams, organize around their priorities, and build local support for long overdue infrastructure projects. The White House released a fact sheet highlights 25 already available or soon-to-be-available sources of funding that local governments – particularly cities – can compete or apply for directly. The White House will also be releasing a comprehensive guidebook of all available funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the coming weeks.
 
Addressing Supply Chain Blockages
As our economy has turned back on from the unprecedented shutdown resulting from the pandemic, our supply chains have been strained. The Administration is working closely with  mayors and local governments across the country to mitigate supply chain blockages and ensure shelves are stocked.

  • The Administration’s port envoy has held weekly meetings with city-owned ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to identify ways to reduce congestion and move toward 24/7 operations, which reduces the emissions and traffic in communities.
     
  • The Department of Transportation awarded more than $241 million in discretionary grants to improve ports facilities and address supply chain disruptions in 19 cities, including Houston, TX; Brunswick, GA; Bay St Louis, MS; Tell City, IN; Alpena, MI; Delcambre, LA; Oakland, CA; Portsmouth, VA; Tacoma, WA; and Long Beach, CA.
     
  • The Administration is working to help schools experiencing challenges purchasing and reliably obtaining food for their meal plans. USDA has committed $1.5 billion for schools and states to purchase foods including funding to purchase local foods from historically underserved producers and announced an adjustment in school meal reimbursements that put an estimated $750 million more into school meal programs across the nation this year.

Advancing Local Climate Action
On Day One, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, reestablished U.S. leadership, and renewed the federal government’s partnership with the states, cities, Tribes, and localities that carried forward America’s progress on climate. Since then, President Biden has deployed clean wind and solar energy across the country, jumpstarted an electric vehicle future that will be built in America, advanced environmental justice in underserved communities, and taken aggressive action to make our country more resilient to climate change and extreme weather.
 
Today, President Biden will announce how the Biden-Harris Administration is teaming up with states, cities, labor, and industry to launch the Building Performance Standards Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between 33 state and local governments dedicated to delivering cleaner, healthier, and more affordable buildings. States and cities part of the coalition will design and implement building performance standards that create good paying union jobs, lower the cost of energy bills for consumers, keep residents and workers safe from harmful pollution, and cut emissions from the building sector.
 
The Administration is also empowering local leaders to advance climate solutions across other sectors—for example:

  • The Department of Energy set a new National Community Solar Partnership target of powering 5 million homes by 2025, with on-demand technical assistance available to local governments, and launched the SolarAPP+ tool to help them speed up permitting of rooftop solar installations.
     
  • The Department of Transportation announced $182 million in grants for transit agencies to deploy zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including awards to the Chicago Transit Authority; Anaheim, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Lawrence, KS; Jackson, MS; Fayetteville, NC; Lincoln, NE; Norman, OK; and more.
     
  • The EPA announced $50 million for environmental justice initiatives using ARP funds, including water infrastructure job training in Baltimore, MD; indoor air quality improvements in Fort Collins, CO; and outreach on asthma and environmental hazards in Hartford, CT. 
     
  • FEMA announced $1 billion for the FY2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, available for cities and other levels of government to proactively invest in community resilience to hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters.
     
  • In November 2021, President Biden and 15 bipartisan mayors representing communities across the country participated in COP26, where the President announced bold plans to reduce methane emissions, create clean energy jobs, and build back better with infrastructure initiatives that advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis.

Addressing Gun Violence and Crime
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with mayors across the country on actions to reduce gun violence and has provided historic levels of funding for community-oriented policing and expanding community violence interventions (CVI) – neighborhood-based programs proven to combat gun violence. The Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – including $350 billion in state and local funding – available to state and local governments for law enforcement purposes to advance community policing strategies and community violence interventions.

  • Working with 16-jurisdictions, the White House launched the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts and philanthropic organizations committed to using ARP funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure and share best practices. 
     
  • Cities including Milwaukee, WI; Albuquerque, NM; Syracuse, NY; and Mobile, AL responded to the President’s call by committing and deploying ARP funds for advancing community-oriented policing.
  • Mayors from cities across the country including Seattle, WA; Buffalo, NY; and Atlanta, GA have committed to deploy ARP fund for community violence interventions following a memo from Senior White House advisors on how state and local officials can implement ARP funding into CVI work.
     
  • Cities across the country including St. Louis, MO and Tucson, AZ committed to investing ARP funding in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance abuse and mental health services.

Prevent Housing Instability and Homelessness
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration partnered with mayors across the country to keep Americans housed. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included over $21 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. These funds, together with $25 billion signed into law under the previous Administration but implemented under this Administration, enabled households to catch up on rent and avoid evictions. State and local grantees obligated over $25 billion in ERA in 2021, and these funds contributed to a historically low eviction filing rate. Also included within ARP were $5 billion in supplemental funding for HOME, which enables state and local governments to create and preserve affordable housing, and $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers to help people experiencing and at risk of homelessness secure housing.

  • In June, 46 cities joined the White House to create eviction prevention action plans as part of a first-of-its-kind summit. More than 100 eviction diversion programs were created or expanded as part of this partnership with the White House and local leaders.
     
  • Mayors from Louisville, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Boston shared best practices in subsequent White House events including strategies to prevent evictions and distribute rental assistance to renters and landlords in need.
     
  • Dozens of mayors have signed onto House America, a federal initiative aimed at maximizing the ARP resources to address homelessness. The goal of this initiative is to cumulatively re-house 100,000 households experiencing homelessness and add 20,000 new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline by the end of 2022.

Building an Orderly, Fair, and Humane Immigration System
The Biden-Harris Administration is working to build a humane, orderly, and fair 21st century immigration system at the border and beyond. One that invests in smart technology and infrastructure at the border, that prioritizes our resources and values immigrants living in our country and contributing to our communities for generations, and that once again welcomes refugees and is a beacon of light for those seeking safe haven.
 
Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration took steps to undo the wrongdoings of the previous Administration, including getting rid of the Muslim ban, taking steps to protect DACA recipients, and restoring our asylum system. On day one, President Biden also sent his immigration bill to Congress – The U.S. Citizenship Act – which laid out the components needed to build an updated immigration system that reflects our values and responds to our hemisphere’s current needs.
 
Working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and non-profit organizations in Mexico and the United States, the Administration assisted 13,000 people in the wind down of the Migrant Protection Protocol to fight their cases in the United States. The Administration also designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haiti, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Burma, and expanded to El Salvador and Honduras.
 
The President tasked Vice President Harris with leading efforts to address the root causes of migration from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Vice President announced $310 million in urgent humanitarian relief in April 2021, in addition to the President’s FY22 budget request for $861 million for Central America. The Vice President also secured $1.2 billion from the private sector to create job programs and invest in the economic stability and prosperity for our partner countries. In addition to the work the Vice President is leading, the Administration is working with countries in South America and leaders in the hemisphere to address migration as a regional issue that necessitates regional leadership and a regional response.
 
The Administration remains committed to immigration reform, to restoring asylum, and to working with partners to ensure the safety, security, and dignity of immigrants in the region:

  • Engaged mayors and cities to amplify the broad sweeping impact President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act would have on all 11 million undocumented immigrants, including farm workers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status.
  • Partnered with cities including San Diego, Long Beach, Pomona, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to stand up Emergency Influx Sites to provide temporary shelter and care for thousands of unaccompanied children.
     
  • Awarded $110 million in supplemental humanitarian funding to the National Board for Emergency Food and Shelter Program eligible to cities and services providers providing humanitarian assistance to migrants at the southern border.
     
  • Regularly engaged bipartisan border mayors to discuss and coordinate rebuilding America’s border management and asylum systems that were previously gutted by the prior administration. Additionally, engaged local elected leaders in the Rio Grande Valley, San Diego, and El Centro border sectors to protect border communities from the physical dangers resulting from the previous administration’s approach to border wall construction.

Welcoming Refugees and Resettlement Efforts
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken a whole-of-America approach to safely, securely, and effectively welcome more than 76,000 Afghan allies to the United States through the Operation Allies Welcome.
 
In close coordination with Departments and Agencies across the Federal government, the Administration has worked with state and local officials; refugee resettlement organizations; veterans; faith, private sector, and non-profit leaders to ensure Afghans are set up for success in their new communities. The White House Operation Allies Welcome team provided briefings to USCM and visited resettlement sites in six states to engage with local officials and stakeholders on the frontlines of welcoming our Afghan allies. In his capacity as OAW Coordinator, Jack Markell attended the 2021 USCM Summer Meeting in Dayton, Ohio to brief mayors on their important role in the resettlement effort.

  • USCM Past President Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin led the effort for USCM’s resolution in support of Afghan resettlement and welcomed briefings from senior Administration officials to keep mayors updated on resettlement efforts
     
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner worked with local resettlement agencies to raise more than $8.5 million dollars for the Houston Afghan Resettlement Fund (HARF) to help the local resettlement agencies provide additional services for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt collaborated with the local resettlement agency to identify additional funding stream to for affordable housing for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Lansing Mayor Andy Schor worked with the local school district to ensure a warm welcome to arriving Afghans students and families.
     

Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg coordinated with state, county, and local leaders to create a new coalition called the American Network of Services for Afghanistan Refugees (ANSAR) to assist in meeting the needs of Afghan families.

In addition to President Biden, ten members of the President’s Cabinet spoke at the USCM Winter Meeting, including Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and EPA Administrator Regan. Senior Administration officials including ARP Coordinator Gene Sperling, Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez will also speak at the event.