Category Archives: News & Photo Features

White House: Renewed US Leadership at COP26 Raises International Ambition to Tackle Climate Crisis

International Community Put Forward Innovative Efforts to Build a Clean Energy Economy and Create Jobs 

The United States Will Continue to Push for Action Beyond Glasgow and Keep 1.5 Degrees Celsius Goal Alive 

 

Youth strike for Climate Action, NYC 2019. Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, rolled back actions to reduce emissions contributing to global warming, promoted coal and fossil fuels, but Biden has immediately put the United States back on track and back in a global leadership role to take aggressive action to address the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House put out this Fact Sheet summarizing the results of United States engagement in COP26 and renewed priority to combat the climate crisis and “keep 1.5 alive”.

“President Biden reiterated that tackling the climate crisis requires the whole of society – communities, businesses, states, local governments, Tribal nations and nations around the world – to come together to deliver economic prosperity, peace, and security.”

On day one at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), President Joe Biden made clear that Glasgow must raise global ambition during this decisive decade of climate action to preserve our shared future. The President reiterated that tackling the climate crisis requires the whole of society – communities, businesses, states, local governments, Tribal nations and nations around the world – to come together to deliver economic prosperity, peace, and security.

The President and United States have led by the power of example, taking bold steps to reduce emissions and create economic opportunity at home and abroad, while rallying other countries to step up. On his first day in office, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, restored U.S. leadership on the world stage, and reestablished our position to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad. He convened the first-ever Leaders Summit on Climate that affirmed the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition and convened a U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.

Congress passed President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which will expand access to clean drinking water, make unprecedented investments in clean energy infrastructure, and is a critical step towards reaching our goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. When paired with the Build Back Better Framework which the President also looks forward to signing into law, these once-in-a-generation investments will reduce our emissions by well over one gigaton this decade – ensuring we meet President Biden’s commitment to reduce U.S. emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels in 2030 and unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy that combats climate change, advances environmental justice, and creates good-paying, union jobs.
 
Today, as COP26 ended, over 190 countries concluded negotiations on a text that includes a global commitment to tackle the climate crisis and keep the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. The text sets out a path to increase the commitments and actions of countries starting next year, outlines new rules of the road for the Paris Agreement that will provide transparency for countries to turn words into actions, and doubles the amount of support that is going to vulnerable countries to enhance their resilience to the crisis. But it is not enough. More work remains as we leave Glasgow to get where science tells us we need to be and the United States will continue to push for more progress at home and abroad in this decisive decade for climate action.  
 
As the U.S. engaged in intensive diplomacy and partnership with countries around the world, collective action increased global ambition, innovation and action to tackle the climate crisis. At the close of COP26:

  • 90% of the world’s GDP now has net zero commitments and 154 countries put forward new climate action plans to cut emissions or “NDCs”. In April, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030 and convened the Leaders Summit on Climate to secure stronger targets from world leaders.  
     
  • The United States and European Union announced that over 100 countries, covering nearly half of global methane emissions and almost 70% of global GDP signed the Global Methane Pledge, including six of the world’s top 10 methane emitters. This complements the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan – bold steps announced by President Biden to redouble efforts from across the government to dramatically reduce U.S. methane emissions, cut consumer costs, protect workers and communities, maintain and create thousands of high-quality, union jobs, and promote U.S. innovation and manufacturing of critical new technologies. 
     
  • Developed countries made progress towards the $100 billion climate finance mobilization goal. In April, President Biden has released the first-ever U.S. International Climate Finance Plan and announced a quadrupling of the U.S. international climate finance pledge at the UN General Assembly in September, including the largest U.S. commitment ever made to reduce climate impacts on those most vulnerable to climate change worldwide. 
     
  • The U.S. announced our first-ever contribution to the Adaptation Fund which at COP26 received $356 million in new support from contributing national and regional governments. President Biden announced the launch of the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), a whole-of-government initiative that will serve as the cornerstone of the U.S. Government response to addressing the increasing impacts of the global climate crises in order to enhance global stability. 
     
  • Twenty-five countries, including the United States, and five financial institutions pledged to end new international finance for unabated fossil fuel energy by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit, reorienting tens of billions of dollars of public finance and trillions of private finance towards low carbon priorities. 
     
  • Over $20 billion of new public and philanthropic finance has been committed to support developing countries to transition away from coal.  
     
  • Countries representing 90% of global forest cover pledged to reduce deforestation to zero by 2030, backed by the biggest ever commitment of public funds for forest conservation and a global roadmap to make 75% of forest commodity supply chains sustainable. Twelve countries signed the Global Forest Finance Pledge: a target of $12 billion to combat deforestation. The United States released the Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks, a first-of-its-kind, whole-of-government effort to preserve global ecosystems which serve as vital carbon sinks. 
     
  • The United States launched the First Movers Coalition with more than 25 Founding Members including some of the largest companies in the world, across a wide range of industries, with hundreds of billions of dollars in purchasing power. The buyers’ clubs assembled by this initiative will create early market demand for innovations across eight “need-to-abate” sectors—steel, trucking, shipping, aviation, aluminum, concrete, chemicals, and direct air capture—which represent more than one-third of the world’s carbon emissions today, and is expected to grow in the coming decades. 
     
  • China joined the United States, the world’s two biggest economies and emitters, in committing in a new Joint Declaration to collaborate on increased ambition to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius warming within reach, and China for the first time committed to develop a plan to address methane emissions and accelerate its coal phase-down. 
     
  • The United States, UK, EU, France, and Germany announced a partnership with South Africa to chart a course from coal to clean energy through the creation of new jobs and opportunities for South African coal communities. This partnership will seek to prevent up to 1-1.5 gigatons of emissions over the next 20 years in support of South Africa’s accelerated transition to a low emission, climate resilient economy, and aims to mobilize $8.5 billion for the first phase of financing, through various mechanisms including grants, concessional loans, investments, risk sharing, and other instruments for private sector mobilization. This partnership comes as the United States continues to redouble efforts to invest in our nation’s energy communities, including delivering the largest investment in American history to tackle legacy pollution while creating thousands of new good paying jobs as part of the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.
     

The United States and the United Arab Emirates launched the Agricultural Innovation Mission alongside more than 30 countries and more than 45 non-government partners to increase and accelerate agricultural and food systems innovation in support of climate action. The initiative has already garnered an $4 billion in increased investment in climate smart agriculture and food systems innovation, with the United States planning to mobilize $1 billion over five years. 

Biden Proclaims Veterans Day: ‘Our nation has only one truly sacred obligation: to properly equip military, care for veterans on return’

President Biden pays his respects to the fallen at Arlington Cemetery, April 14, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC

All too often, especially in the Trump years, veterans and active military have been used as props and as pawns to achieve personal and political gain. Trump demeaned Senator John McCain’s heroism as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and later called those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, “losers and suckers” and repeatedly questioned the intelligence of those who serve and couldn’t be bothered to visit the graves of Americans who died in World War I in a cemetery while in France.

Well before Joe Biden became President, he and First Lady Jill Biden were activists on behalf of the military, veterans and military families. As Second Lady, Jill Biden teamed with then First Lady Michelle Obama to create Joining Forces – the White House initiative to support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors – to solve many of the problems that military families and veterans face. Now, as President, Biden has advanced policies on behalf of active military, veterans and their families and the First Lady continues her work with Joining Forces.

I often have problems each Veterans Day and Memorial Day because these events shroud the horrors of war in glory – necessary because otherwise no one would sign up. And I have often warned about the difference between lying the nation into war as George W. Bush did to invade Iraq, and Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon did during Vietnam, using war for political gain, as Reagan did in invading Grenada, being used by callous business interests to make their fortune, like World War I, and a justified war like World War II.

This Veterans Day, November 11, 2021, Biden’s Proclamation is genuine and speaks to this administration’s commitment: “Our Nation has only one truly sacred obligation:  to properly prepare and equip our service members when we send them into harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they return home.” — Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com

VETERANS DAY, 2021

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 
A PROCLAMATION

For generations, millions of Americans have answered the call to serve — taking the sacred oath to defend and preserve our Nation’s ideals of liberty and democracy.  These patriots represent the best of us.  On Veterans Day, we honor their service, dedication, and valor and are forever grateful for their sacrifice. 

Our Nation has only one truly sacred obligation:  to properly prepare and equip our service members when we send them into harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they return home.  For our 19 million veterans, that means ensuring that they have access to the support and resources for a future of security, opportunity, and dignity.  This is even more important as we continue to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our obligation to support our Nation’s veterans and their families is personal for me and the entire Biden family, and I remain committed to ensuring that every veteran receives the care and support they have earned.  The recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create millions of good jobs for veterans and grow opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. My Build Back Better framework also prioritizes improvements to VA health care, ensuring that every veteran — including our often-underserved female and LGBTQ+ veterans — receives competent, world-class health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Last month, the White House Gender Policy Council released the first-ever United States Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality, which included the unique needs and contributions of women service members and veterans.  And the Department of Veterans Affairs is also working to get every eligible veteran the information and opportunity they need to register and vote, protecting their voice in the democracy they fought to preserve. 

Ensuring veterans have timely access to services and benefits is at the center of my Administration’s commitment to fulfilling our sacred obligation.  This includes addressing the adverse health effects of service-related exposures.  In August, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will begin processing disability claims for respiratory conditions connected to exposure during military service in Southwest Asia and other areas.  My Administration also added three conditions to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to Agent Orange, ending the long wait for disability benefits for many Vietnam era veterans.  In the coming months, we are committed to taking additional action to address potential adverse health effects associated with military environmental exposures.  

So many of our veterans carry the scars from their service — both visible and invisible — and it is our Nation’s responsibility to help them heal. Too many veterans and service members have considered suicide or taken their own lives, and addressing this tragedy is a national responsibility. That is why I have made military and veteran suicide prevention a top priority, and earlier this month, I released a new comprehensive, cross-sector public health strategy to reduce military and veteran suicide. Implementing this approach will unite us around a common mission and accelerate meaningful improvements in suicide prevention programs, helping us live up to our sacred obligation to those who have served in our Nation’s Armed Forces.

Fulfilling our Nation’s promise to our veterans and military families, caregivers, and survivors is not only a moral imperative — it is crucial to our national security and to maintaining the finest military the world has ever known.  We are a Nation that keeps our promises.  That is why my Administration is dedicated to a whole-of-government approach in responding to the needs of our veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors. 

Through the First Lady’s work with Joining Forces — the White House initiative to support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors — my Administration is addressing employment and entrepreneurship, military and veteran child education, and health and well-being for veteran families.  Earlier this year, the First Lady met with military and veteran families to learn how we can better support and prioritize their needs, and in September, Joining Forces and the National Security Council released a report outlining the first round of Administration-wide commitments and proposals that support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors.  These efforts will honor our sacred obligation to support our veteran families and ensure they receive the resources they need to thrive. 

On Veterans Day, we honor our Nation’s veterans, who have given so much to protect our freedoms and the freedom of others around the globe.  They represent the highest ideals of our country.  While we can never fully repay the debt we owe these heroes, we will honor their service and provide them the care and support they deserve. We also salute and show gratitude for all who ensure our Armed Forces remain strong, united, and unmatched…

I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor, courage, and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate ceremonies and private prayers.  I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States of America and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. And I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities, to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

Biden: Infrastructure Deal Will Strengthen Nation’s Resilience, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Help Battle Climate Crisis

Solar array at farm in the Finger Lakes of New York. The Bipartisan infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will help strengthen the nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand access to clean drinking water and build up a clean power grid © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet provided by the White House spells out how the bipartisan infrastructure package just passed will arm the government in battling the climate crisis:

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more.

Here’s more: 

President Biden has made combatting the climate crisis a central priority of his Administration, including throughout his legislative agenda. Climate change is already impacting almost every aspect of life in the United States. Extreme heat waves, catastrophic wildfires, and severe drought are taking American lives and livelihoods. In the last year alone, extreme weather has cost America more than $100 billion – often hitting historically underserved groups the hardest, particularly low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities. In just the last few months, nearly 1 in 3 Americans have been hit by a severe weather disaster and 2 in 3 Americans have suffered through dangerous heat waves. Delayed action on climate also sets us back in the global race on manufacturing and innovation, preventing us from harnessing the economic opportunity that this moment represents.
 
As President Biden emphasized at COP26 in Glasgow, climate change poses an existential threat to people, economies, and countries across the world – and it requires swift and bold action to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. President Biden has been clear: the climate crisis is a blinking code red for our nation. We must take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis in a way that strengthens our nation’s resilience, cuts consumer costs, and ensures the U.S. can compete and win in the race for the 21st century. This moment demands urgent investments the American people want and our nation needs – investments that will bolster America’s competitiveness, resilience, and economy all while creating good-paying jobs, saving people money, and building an equitable clean energy economy of the future. 
 
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more. When coupled with the Build Back Better Framework, these historic investments will help reduce our emissions by well over one gigaton this decade – ensuring we meet President Biden’s commitment to reduce U.S. emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels in 2030, create a 100% carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. Together, these once-in-a-generation investments will unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy that combats climate change, advances environmental justice, and creates good-paying, union jobs.
 
President Biden promised to work across the aisle and unify the country to deliver results for working families. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a critical step towards reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, and is paired with the Build Back Better Framework to realize his full vision to grow our economy, lower consumer costs, create jobs, reduce climate pollution, and ensure more Americans can participate fully and equally in our economy.

BIPARTISIAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL
 
Public Transit
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repairing, upgrading, and modernizing the nation’s transit infrastructure. The deal will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color who are twice as likely to take public transportation and often lack sufficient public transit options. In addition, it will help transit workers who are disproportionally workers of color.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States. The deal is also a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The deal will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop – and funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.

Clean School Buses
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, to help school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests in zero- and low-emission school buses, in addition to more than $5 billion in funding for public transit agencies to adopt low- and no-emissions buses. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.

Modern Infrastructure
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.

Resilience
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, and floods – in addition to a major investment in the weatherization of American homes.

Clean Drinking Water
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and help to clean up the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack access to safe drinking water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead service pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.

Legacy Pollution
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. Millions of Americans also live within a mile of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells – a large, continuing course of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is a major cause of climate change. The bill will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities, create good-paying, union jobs, and advance long overdue environmental justice This investment will benefit communities of color like the 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans who live within three miles of a Superfund site – a higher percentage than for Americans overall.
 
Clean Energy Transmission
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal’s more than $65 billion investment is the largest investment in clean energy transmission and the electric grid in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It also invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.

Biden: House Passes Once-In-A-Generation $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will upgrade our nation’s airports and ports to strengthen our supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation. This will improve U.S. competitiveness, create more and better jobs at these hubs, and reduce emissions. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.

Upon the House passing the historic, $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, President Joe Biden issued this statement:

Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation.

The United States House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century.

It will create good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. Jobs that will transform our transportation system with the most significant investments in passenger and freight rail, roads, bridges, ports, airports, and public transit in generations.

This will make it easier for companies to get goods to market more quickly and reduce supply chain bottlenecks now and for decades to come. This will ease inflationary pressures and lower costs for working families.

The bill will create jobs replacing lead water pipes so every family can drink clean water.

It will make high-speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America.

This bill will make historic and significant strides that take on the climate crisis. It will build out the first-ever national network of electric vehicle charging stations across the country. We will get America off the sidelines on manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries, and electric vehicles to grow these supply chains, reward companies for paying good wages and for sourcing their materials from here in the United States, and allow us to export these products and technologies to the world.

It will also make historic investments in environmental clean-up and remediation, and build up our resilience for the next superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes that cost us billions of dollars in damage each year.

I’m also proud that a rule was voted on that will allow for passage of my Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives the week of November 15th.

The Build Back Better Act will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people.

It will lower bills for healthcare, child care, elder care, prescription drugs, and preschool. And middle-class families get a tax cut.

This bill is also fiscally responsible, fully paid for, and doesn’t raise the deficit. It does so by making sure the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share and doesn’t raise taxes a single cent on anyone making less than $400,000 per year. 

I look forward to signing both of these bills into law.

Generations from now, people will look back and know this is when America won the economic competition for the 21st Century.

FACT SHEET:
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

 

Today, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated “infrastructure week” without ever agreeing to build infrastructure. The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. After the President put forward his plan to do exactly that and then negotiated a deal with Members of Congress from both parties, this historic legislation is moving to his desk for signature.

This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads. It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years.
 
This historic legislation will:                               

Deliver clean water to all American families and eliminate the nation’s lead service lines. Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country. From rural towns to struggling cities, the legislation will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead service pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.

Ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet. Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. And, according to the latest OECD data, among 35 countries studied, the United States has the second highest broadband costs. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation will also help lower prices for internet service and help close the digital divide, so that more Americans can afford internet access.
 
Repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users. In the United States, 1 in 5 miles of highways and major roads, and 45,000 bridges, are in poor condition. The legislation will reauthorize surface transportation programs for five years and invest $110 billion in additional funding to repair our roads and bridges and support major, transformational projects. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes the single largest investment in repairing and reconstructing our nation’s bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system. It will rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country as well as thousands of smaller bridges. The legislation also includes the first ever Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities, which claimed more than 20,000 lives in the first half of 2021.

Improve transportation options for millions of Americans and reduce greenhouse emissions through the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history. America’s public transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. Communities of color are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options. The transportation sector in the United States is now the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation includes $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization.  In total, the new investments and reauthorization in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal provide $89.9 billion in guaranteed funding for public transit over the next five years — the largest Federal investment in public transit in history. The legislation will expand public transit options across every state in the country, replace thousands of deficient transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Upgrade our nation’s airports and ports to strengthen our supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation. This will improve U.S. competitiveness, create more and better jobs at these hubs, and reduce emissions. Decades of neglect and underinvestment in our infrastructure have left the links in our goods movement supply chains struggling to keep up with our strong economic recovery from the pandemic. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will make the fundamental changes that are long overdue for our nation’s ports and airports so this will not happen again. The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The legislation invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and waterways and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will strengthen our supply chains and support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.

Make the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. U.S. passenger rail lags behind the rest of the world in reliability, speed, and coverage. China already has 22,000 miles of high-speed rail, and is planning to double that by 2035. The legislation positions rail to play a central role in our transportation and economic future, investing $66 billion in additional rail funding to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s creation, 50 years ago and will create safe, efficient, and climate-friendly alternatives for moving people and freight.

Build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers. U.S. market share of plug-in EV sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. That needs to change. The legislation will invest $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers in the United States. This is a critical step in the President’s strategy to fight the climate crisis and it will create good U.S. manufacturing jobs. The legislation will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. This investment will support the President’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs, reduce emissions, improve air quality, and create good-paying jobs across the country.

Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country and deploy cutting-edge energy technology to achieve a zero-emissions future. According to the Department of Energy, power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal’s more than $65 billion investment includes the largest investment in clean energy transmission and grid in American history. It will upgrade our power infrastructure, by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewables and clean energy, while lowering costs. And it will fund new programs to support the development, demonstration, and deployment of cutting-edge clean energy technologies to accelerate our transition to a zero-emission economy. 
 
Make our infrastructure resilient against the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The legislation makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, floods and wildfires, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The legislation is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.
 
Deliver the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The bill will invest $21 billion clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities, create good-paying union jobs, and advance long overdue environmental justice This investment will benefit communities of color as, it has been found that 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall.

COP26: Biden, Global Leaders Commit to Addressing Climate Crisis Through Infrastructure Development

At COP26, Biden and global leaders agreed that climate-smart infrastructure development should play an important role in boosting economic recovery and sustainable job creation. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Building on the June 2021 commitment of G7 Leaders to launch a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership to meet global infrastructure development needs, U.S. President Biden and European Commission President von der Leyen hosted a discussion on the margins of COP26 with UK Prime Minister Johnson, Barbadian Prime Minister Mottley, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, Colombian President Duque, Ecuadorian President Lasso, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Tshisekedi, Indian Prime Minister Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida, and Nigerian President Buhari on how infrastructure initiatives must simultaneously advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. 

Global leaders discussed how the Build Back Better World, Global Gateway and Clean Green Initiatives will jumpstart investment, sharpen focus, and mobilize resources to meet critical infrastructure needs to support economic growth, while ensuring that this infrastructure is clean, resilient, and consistent with a net-zero future.  President Lasso, Prime Minister Modi, President Buhari, and President Duque shared their perspectives on the challenges their countries have previously faced with infrastructure development and principles they would like to see from future infrastructure initiatives.  UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney and World Bank Group President David Malpassspoke on the imperative of mobilizing investment from the private sector, international financial institutions and multilateral development banks, including through country platforms, to achieve these goals. 

***

President Biden, President von der Leyen, and Prime Minister Johnson endorsed five key principles for infrastructure development:

1.Infrastructure should be climate resilient and developed through a climate lens.

We commit to build resilient, low- and zero-carbon infrastructure systems that are aligned with the pathways towards net-zero emissions by 2050, which are needed to keep the goal of limiting global average temperature change to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. Further, we commit to viewing all projects carried out through infrastructure development partnerships through the lens of climate change.

2.Strong and inclusive partnerships between host countries, developed country support, and the private sector are critical to developing sustainable infrastructure.

Infrastructure designed, financed, and constructed in partnership with those whom it benefits will last longer, be more inclusive, and generate greater and more sustainable development impacts. We will consult with stakeholders—including representatives of civil society, governments, NGOs, and the private sector to better understand their priorities and development needs.

3.Infrastructure should be financed, constructed, developed, operated, and maintained in accordance with high standards.

We resolve to uphold high standards for infrastructure investments, promoting the implementation of the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investments as the baseline. Environmental, Social and Governance standards help safeguard against graft and other forms of corruption; mitigate against climate risks and risks of ecosystem degradation; promote skills transfer and preserve labor protections; avoid unsustainable costs for taxpayers; and, crucially, promote long-term economic and social benefits for partner countries.

4.A new paradigm of climate finance—spanning both public and private sources—is required to mobilize the trillions needed to meet net-zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

The world must mobilize and align the trillions of dollars in capital over the next three decades to meet net-zero by 2050, the majority of which will be needed in developing and emerging economies. Mobilizing capital at this scale requires a collaborative effort from all of us, including governments, the private sector, and development finance institutions, as well as better mechanisms to match finance and technical assistance with country projects, including through country partnerships.

5.Climate-smart infrastructure development should play an important role in boosting economic recovery and sustainable job creation.

Infrastructure investment should also drive job creation and support inclusive economic recovery. We believe our collective efforts to combat the climate crisis can present the greatest economic opportunity of our time: the opportunity to build the industries of the future through equitable, inclusive, and sustainable economic development worldwide.

***
President Biden, European Commission President von der Leyen, and Prime Minister Johnson called on countries around the world to make similar commitments and take action to spur a global transformation towards reliable, climate-smart infrastructure.

New York Governor Hochul Signs into Law Nation’s Toughest Restrictions on Ghost Guns

From left to right: Jacob Dixon; CEO of Choice For All, Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Linda Beigel Schulman, Senator Brad Hoylman, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator John Brooks, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

WESTBURY, NY (October 28, 2021) – Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed landmark legislation to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks. The move follows action by the New York State Senate and Assembly, who passed the legislation in June, 2021. Together, The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act (S.13a), sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), and The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act (S.14a), sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), create the strongest protections from these dangerous weapons in the nation.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul: “gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively,” said Governor Hochul. “Working with partners at all levels, my administration will continue to crack down on the distribution and possession of dangerous weapons and put an end to the gun violence epidemic.”

“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun–period. For too long, the unfinished receiver loophole let anyone get their hands on all the parts needed to build an untraceable, unregistered AR-15 without ever going through a background check, but today, we’re taking historic action here in New York to close that dangerous loophole for good” said State Senator Anna M. Kaplan. 

“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun—period,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I’m proud to be the sponsor of the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act because I know it’s going to save lives, just like Scott Beigel did when he gave his life to protect his students from gunfire during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’m grateful for my partners in this effort, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Chuck Lavine, and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, each of whom have shown extraordinary leadership to make sure our state is combating the scourge of gun violence. And most importantly, I want to thank Scott Beigel’s parents Linda and Michael, for never giving up the fight to ensure that our communities are safe from gun violence.” 

State Senator Brad Hoylman: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check. I’m deeply grateful for the advocacy and support of Jose Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, along with Assembly Member Rosenthal, Senator Kaplan, Assembly Member Levine, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Governor Hochul for their leadership on this important issue.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, gun violence has spiked; so have sales of firearms and ghost guns. At the beginning of the pandemic, gun manufacturers reported massive sales of ghost gun kits; at least 16 manufacturers told customers they were experiencing shipping delays due to a high volume of orders. 

Ghost guns continue to pose a threat, both in New York and nationwide. Last week, a Queens man who had been ordering gun parts online was caught with an arsenal of do-it-yourself “ghost guns”ProPublica reported that the “Boogaloo Boys,” a right-wing militia group involved with the January 6 Capitol riots, have embraced ghost guns as one of their preferred weapons.

“The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act”, sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Charles Lavine, specifically addresses the proliferation of “unfinished receivers” or “80% Receivers” which can be purchased online without a background check and which are easily converted into operable firearms by people with limited skills. The legislation:

  • Defines what constitutes an unfinished frame or receiver
  • Makes possession of an unfinished frame or receiver by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer illegal
  • Prohibits the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by persons who are otherwise lawfully prohibited from possessing such weapons
  • Makes it illegal to sell or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
Assemblymember Charles Lavine. “It is incumbent upon the states to enact common-sense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Amidst an epidemic of gun violence plaguing the United States, I commend my good friend Governor Kathy Hochul for supporting and signing this bill which I sponsored in the Assembly,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine. “It is incumbent upon the states to enact common-sense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.  This new law further strengthens New York’s existing gun safety laws, already among the toughest in the country.  It also significantly increases protection to our community and our children by creating much more accountability.  It is intended, just as Scott intended, to save lives.” 

Senator Kaplan and Assemblymember Lavine’s legislation is named in memory of Scott J. Beigel, the hero teacher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who lost his life during the shooting over three years ago while shielding his students from gunfire. Beigel’s parents, Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman of Long Island, are nationally recognized advocates in the fight against gun violence. 

Linda Beigel Schulman has put her grief at losing her son Scott, a teacher who died protecting his students at Parkland, into unceasing activism to prevent gun violence. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speaking to the crowded room  at the “Yes We Can” community center in Westbury, Long Island, Linda Beigel Schulman reflected back to Feb 13, 2018, when she spoke to Scott, exchanged, “I love yous” and “Have a good rest of today. I’ll speak to you tomorrow.” “He walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and gave his last breath after saving lives. A 19 year old shot him 16 times with an AR15 assault rifle. I made a vow to myself and my son to do everything to end gun violence…Nothing will bring Scott back, but these new laws today will save lives.”

“The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act” sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, prohibits the sale and possession of unregistered ghost guns and ensures law enforcement will be able to track the manufacture and sale of all guns in New York. The legislation:

  • Defines a “ghost gun” as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that isn’t serialized and registered in accordance with either state or federal law
  • Prohibits the possession of ghost guns by anyone but a licensed gunsmith
  • Prohibits the sale of ghost guns entirely
  • Prohibits the manufacture or assembly of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith
  • Requires New York gunsmiths to serialize all firearms, rifles, shotguns, or unfinished frames or receivers they manufacture or assemble, and to register any such gun, or unfinished frame or receiver that isn’t otherwise covered by federal serialization law with the Division of State Police
“Ghost guns have exploded in popularity as people have taken to the internet to evade New York’s strong laws requiring background checks and licensing, to gain access to deadly weapons they can construct in the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Ghost guns have exploded in popularity as people have taken to the internet to evade New York’s strong laws requiring background checks and licensing, to gain access to deadly weapons they can construct in the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Closing the ghost gun loophole by signing the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, along with the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receivers Act, will help to keep our communities safe. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing these bills into law. I look forward to working with the Executive to passing more legislation to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence in the future.”

Senator Hoylman and Assemblymember Rosenthal’s legislation is named in memory of Jose Webster, a young man from The Bronx killed by gun violence in 2011. Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, has become a gun violence prevention advocate.

The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, S.13a, will take effect in 180 days. Individuals who currently possess an unfinished frame or receiver as defined in the new law have 360 days from today to either voluntarily surrender the unfinished frame or receiver to authorized law enforcement officials, or bring the piece into compliance with the law regarding serialization and registration. 

The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, S.14a, will take effect in 180 days. There is a six month grace period to turn in ghost guns or have them registered and serialized.

Legislation S.7152/A.6522 adds firearms capable of being concealed and designed to resemble toys to the definition of a ‘disguised gun’ and prohibits their manufacture, design, or sale. Weapons capable of causing severe injury and death but that resemble toys are unjustifiably deceptive, and pose a clear threat to the safety of both children, who may mistake them for actual toys, and the public at large. 

State Senator John Brooks:No one should live in fear of gun violence, not when walking down the street, serving our communities in law enforcement, while learning at schools, spending time at home, or anywhere else.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The gun violence epidemic has stolen the lives of so many in our state and country, and we have only seen the problem grow worse in recent years,” said Senator John Brooks. “Common sense measures like this legislation to crackdown on disguised guns are critical to protecting New Yorkers. No one should live in fear of gun violence, not when walking down the street, serving our communities in law enforcement, while learning at schools, spending time at home, or anywhere else. I am thankful to local law enforcement for the support they provided in getting this bipartisan bill passed and I applaud Governor Hochul for her continued effort to keep New Yorkers safe.” 

“I am proud to sponsor this critically important legislation that will prohibit the design, manufacture and possession of disguised guns in New York State,” said Assemblymember Steve Stern. “These weapons put our law enforcement personnel at a dangerous disadvantage in situations when they are facing down the barrel of a gun and have a split second to decide if it is a toy or a real weapon, a split second that could make the difference between life or death. This legis will protect our entire community and save lives.  I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their bi-partisan support of this legislation and applaud Governor Hochul’s strong leadership on this important issue.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: “Nassau County is rated the safest community in America for two years in a row. But I won’t rest until everyone in county feels it is the safest.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, speaking directly to Linda Biegel Schulman and husband Michael: “I know your story, your pain, and the fact you are out everyday to fight for common sense gun laws is inspiring. Nassau County is rated the safest community in America for two years in a row. But I won’t rest until everyone in county feels it is the safest.”

A moment between Linda Beigel Schulman and Governor Kathy Hochul after the signing of gun violence prevention bills aimed at restricting ghost guns © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Hochul added, “it is nothing short of extraordinary – so many affected. To have lost someone you treasured, when you lose a child, it is more than heartbreak, it is a permanent mark on your soul. So many retreat in pain, suffer in silence. It takes an extraordinary person to say, I won’t suffer in silence.

“This is a new era of collaboration, we are changing things. What we accomplished solidifies New York as having the toughest gun laws in the nation.”

Gun violence prevention activists from Moms Demand Action © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Thousands Join NYC March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice

Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

Thousands gathered in Foley Square, in front of the federal court house, to hear calls for justice, equal rights and full personhood for women in face of the assault on abortion rights from Texas and dozens of states and the right wing majority Supreme Court’s deference and then marched up to Washington Square Park, bringing their messages of “Save Roe” “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries”, “Hands off Our Privates” “We Won’t Go Back” and “Ruth Sent Us.” (See: NYC Joins Millions Across Country in Rallies, Marches for Women’s Reproductive Freedom)

Here are some highlights:

We Demand Abortion Justice”. Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“I Love Someone Who Has Had an Abortion.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Break All the Chains.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“No Going Back.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Protect Our Rights.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Pro Roe”. Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“We Are Not Your Incubators.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Safe Accessible Abortions for Everyone.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Baby.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“My Body. My Choice.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Resistance Revival Chorus sings for Reproductive Freedom. Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NYC Joins Millions Across Country in Rallies, Marches for Women’s Reproductive Freedom

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

“Remember Roe v Wade.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Thousands gathered in Foley Square, in front of the federal court house, to protest for justice, equal rights and full personhood for women in face of the assault on abortion rights from Texas and dozens of states and the right wing majority Supreme Court’s deference. The timing was key, just days before the Supreme Court begins its session in which it will hear a Mississippi case banning abortions after 15 weeks. Texas SB8 bans abortions after six-weeks, the theoretical point when a fetus has a heartbeat, and deputizes vigilantes and bounty hunters to enforce it against anyone even suspected of aiding a woman who gets an abortion and collect $10,000.

“Ruth Sent Me.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rana Abdelhamid, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rana Abdelhamid: “This is not about religion, not about life. They called us ‘hysterical’ for warning about the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s time for congress to do what’s right and protect our constitutional right to abortion. End the filibuster. We know what it is to have our bodies policed. Abolition Justice!

Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU: We stand with women in Texas, Mississippi and all over the country. Abortion Justice. Reproductive Justice. Make New York a safe haven, close every loophole in state law, so anyone can come for reproductive health. We won’t turn back. We will be at every polling place in every election. Hold elected leaders accountable.

Heidi Sieck, Vote Pro Chooce, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Heidi Sieck, Vote Pro Choice: Reproductive freedom and abortion justice are at stake. Small, massively overfunded group of white supremacist, Christian conservatives have invested in state legislatures, built an anti-choice infrastructure. They stole two Supreme Court seats. That changes now. Over 80 percent support reproductive freedom. Pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (that passed the House, but not the senate), end the filibuster, rebalance Supreme Court. In November, 2021, 40,000 seats are up for election. Every ingle elected has a role to protect reproductive rights. Not just congress but state and local. Run for office, donate to VoteProChoice.us.

Batala NY, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney: They have been chipping away at abortion rights for years, but now they are bulldozing our rights into the ground.Last week, chaired House Oversight Committee on Texas SB8, when three Congresswomen told their abortion stories. Women are speaking out. In December, Mississippi comes before the Supreme Court. For my entire time in Congress we hadn’t had a pro-choice majority, until this year. We passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, codifying Roe. It has to pass in the Senate. We could pass it except for the filibuster. We have to carve out an exception. There is no democracy if women cannot control their own bodies, make their own reproduction choices. It is so outrageous, I can’t believe we are still fighting for this.

Brita Filter, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Brita Filter: Abortion rights are LGBTQ rights.

“My Body, My Business.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congressman Jerry Nadler, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressman Jerry Nadler, who, over 50 years ago, lobbied the New York State Assembly to legalize abortion: It’s been 30 days since women were stripped of their constitutional rights, their freedom to make their own decisions of their lives, their bodies. That’s 30 days too many.

Amsi, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amsi: The battle for reproductive rights is not new. It’s been long, hard, frustrating.

Pascale Bernard, Planned Parenthood of New York City, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Pascale Bernard, Planned Parenthood of New York City: History is repeating. We have been here before. Enough is enough. Women in Texas are having to drive to Oklahoma, having to choose between paying for an abortion or feeding their children. People are scared. Justice Ginsburg told us to dissent, she left a roadmap to protect reproductive rights. We are lucky in New York, but we nee dto close loopholes, we need an abortion fund so women can come to New York for care, for safety.

Cathy Rojas, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cathy Rojas, a teacher and candidate for NYC mayor running as a Socialist: We need to build a sustainable people-powered movement ion New York City, In Texas, where people were freezing and is one of worst states to live – hunger, poverty of children, maternal mortality – they are leading the attack on abortion rights. So when claim is about protecting life, is really about protecting profit over lives.The right wing don’t give a damn about lives. Instead of dealing with the real crises are attacking abortion rights. Congress is ineffective at passing laws for basic necessities, but quick to bail out banks and the ultra rich. They always find time to attack women, LGBTQ and the vulnerable. This is not just about a bad law, but the whole damn system – the bigots, the politicians for hire, the courts up to the Supreme Court, the corporate control of the media, the police and ICE. I am fed up with capitalism. We need systemic change.

“Legalize Abortion, Once and For All.” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Band Betty, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Band Betty: We are one-fourth through the 21st century. I don’t see flying cars or universal health care. I see women being told to be ashamed. Until women have equal rights in the Constitution, we will continue to see how the state commands our fate.

Rev. Nori Rost of New York Society of Ethical Culture, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rev. Nori Rost, New York Society of Ethical Culture: They are “protecting” a fetus with a heartbeat? How about fighting for people who already have a heart beat. Anti-choice, anti-woman is nothing new – it is about subjugation, oppression. We will not give up, shut up, slow down, sit down until all people have agency over their own body. We are among millions marching as one, we will not be stopped.

Jeannie Park, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jeannie Park (Warriors in the Garden): Abortion bans have no humanity, no exception for rape, incenst. 3 million have experienced rape, the next 3 million will be forced to carry to term. The penalty to abort is more severe than to rape. Women’s bodies are more regulated than guns. What does it mean to be pro life if you only value certain lives. Encouraging vigilantes, bounty hunters is too lcose to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. I will not go back.

Miriam Elhajli, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Miriam Elhajli sings a song 100 years old, “Wagoner’s Lad,” and sounding so much like Joan Baez who sang it:  “Oh, hard is the fortune of all woman kind/She’s always controlled, she’s always confined/Controlled by her parents until she’s a wife/A slave to her husband the rest of her life”

Carol Jenkins, ERA Coalition, Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Carol Jenkins, Co-President and CEO of The ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality: The Equal Rights Amendment has been around for 100 years; it has been 50 years since passed in Congress, now 38 states have ratified it, so could be published in the Constitution. The only hold up is a time limit, put into the introduction, not the amendment. The root of sexism, misogyny, and racism is in the Constitution, written by slaveholding white males. Everything we’ve been doing since has been to repair what was left out of the Constitution. We have to put the ERA on list of things, so we don’t have to keep repairing the Constitution. Congress has removed the timeline twice, it is now in the Senate. We are done having to beg for rights, gather in the streets and ask “please”. Go to ERACoalition.org.

Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC organizers Rose Baseil Massa and Juliet Aguerre, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Abortion is a Human Right!” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“My Body, My Choice,” Women’s March for Reproductive Freedom and Justice, NYC, October 2, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See next: THOUSANDS JOIN NYC MARCH FOR REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM AND JUSTICE

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© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Agencies Respond to President Biden’s Call for All-of-Government Action to Strengthen Opportunities to Register and Vote

Federal agencies, in response to President Biden ‘s Executive Order directing federal agencies to devise strategic plans to protect and expand access to the ballot, have responded with “creative and impactful ways to strengthen nonpartisan voter registration and participation.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Federal agencies have responded directly to President Biden’s call for all-of-government action to promote opportunities to register and vote.

“Within weeks of taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to do everything in their power to protect and expand access to the ballot. Today, as we mark National Voter Registration Day, I’m pleased that these agencies have submitted strategic plans outlining a range of creative and impactful ways to strengthen nonpartisan voter registration and participation,” Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice said in a written statement. “In the coming months, we will work with agencies to further build out their capacity to provide relevant information to the public, help eligible voters better understand their opportunities for engagement, and facilitate participation in the electoral process. It is vital that we make it easier for all Americans to vote, and this is an important step by the Administration to do just that.”

Here is a fact sheet provided by the White House of what agencies are doing:

As President Biden has said, democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend, strengthen, and renew it to ensure free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people. Too many Americans face significant obstacles to exercising their sacred, fundamental right to vote. For generations, discriminatory policies have suppressed the votes of Black Americans and other voters of color. Voters of color are more likely than white voters to face long lines at the polls and are disproportionately burdened by overly restrictive voter identification laws and limited opportunities to vote by mail. Native Americans likewise face limited opportunities to vote by mail and frequently lack sufficient polling places and voter registration opportunities near their homes. Lack of access to language assistance is an obstacle for many voters.  People with disabilities face longstanding barriers to exercising their right to vote, especially when it comes to legally required accommodations to vote privately and independently. Members of our military also face unnecessary challenges to exercising their right to vote.
 
While the President continues to call on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which includes bold reforms to make it more equitable and accessible for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote, he also knows we can’t wait to act. That is why on March 7, the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the President signed an Executive Order to leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting, helping deliver on the promise of Congressman Lewis’ fight against these anti-voter burdens and the fight of so many others seeking to protect the right to vote before and since. Today, more than a dozen agencies across the federal government are announcing steps they are taking to respond to the President’s call for an all-of-government action to promote voting access and to further the ability of all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.
 
The Executive Order is only part of the President’s efforts to protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process. For months, Vice President Harris has engaged the American people; civil and voting rights advocacy groups; pollworkers; and other voting populations around the country that have been historically marginalized to advance the Administration’s efforts to protect the right to vote. The President has appointed strong civil rights leadership at the Department of Justice. And he has partnered with civil rights organizations, the business community, faith leaders, young Americans, and others to activate an all-hands-on-deck effort to protect this sacred right and uphold democratic values.
 
The Executive Order called for each agency to submit to Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice a strategic plan outlining the ways that the agency can promote nonpartisan voter registration and voter participation. These strategic plans are just the beginning of each agency’s commitments. In the weeks and months to come, agencies will further build out their capacity to get relevant information out to the public, help eligible voters better understand their opportunities for engagement, and facilitate participation in the electoral process. 
 
New key early actions to implement the President’s Order include:

  • The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service will encourage the provision of nonpartisan voter information through its borrowers and guaranteed lenders, who interface with thousands of residents in the process of changing their voting address every year. In addition, Rural Development agencies — which are spread throughout field offices across the country where rural Americans can apply for housing, facilities, or business assistance — will take steps to promote access to voter registration forms and other pertinent nonpartisan election information among their patrons.
     
  • The Department of Defense will support a comprehensive approach to information and voting awareness for servicemembers and civilian personnel voting at home, in addition to the structure currently assisting members of the military stationed away from home and citizens overseas.  The Department will develop materials in additional languages and send nonpartisan information at regular intervals before federal elections to ensure that eligible servicemembers and their families — particularly first-time voters — have opportunities to register and vote if they wish.
     
  • The Department of Education will prepare a tool kit of resources and strategies for increasing civic engagement at the elementary school, secondary school, and higher education level, helping more than 67 million students — and their families — learn about civic opportunities and responsibilities.  The Department will also remind educational institutions of their existing obligation and encourage institutions to identify further opportunities to assist eligible students with voter registration.
     
  • The General Services Administration will ensure vote.gov is a user-friendly portal for Americans to find the information they need most to register and vote.  Available in over ten languages and in a format accessible for voters with disabilities, vote.gov will make it easier for eligible users to register to vote or confirm their registration status.  Agencies across the federal government will link to vote.gov to encourage Americans to participate in the electoral process.
     
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living will launch a new voting access hub to connect older adults and people with disabilities to information, tools and resources to help them understand and exercise their right to vote. The Indian Health Service will offer its patients assistance with voter registration.  The President’s Budget also requests a 25% increase in grants for the Administration for Community Living to distribute to state Protection and Advocacy systems, to provide a range of services that ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in the electoral process.
     
  • The Department of Homeland Security will invite state and local governments and nonpartisan nonprofit organizations to register voters at the end of naturalization ceremonies for the hundreds of thousands of citizens naturalized each year, and will develop a new online resource on voting for recently naturalized citizens.  The Department will also provide information and resources for voters impacted by a disaster or emergency event through its training preparedness initiatives.
     
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development will communicate with public housing authorities (PHAs) — more than 3000 authorities, managing approximately 1.2 million public housing units — through a letter to Executive Directors that provides useful information to PHAs about permissible ways to inform residents of non-partisan voter registration information and services. The Department will also assist relevant HUD-funded service providers by highlighting and sharing promising practices that improve non-partisan voting registration and voting access for people experiencing homelessness.
     
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services will create and distribute a toolkit of resources and strategies that libraries, museums, and heritage and cultural institutions can use to promote civic engagement and participation in the voting process.
     
  • The Department of the Interior will disseminate information on registering and voting, including through on-site events, at schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education and Tribal Colleges and Universities, serving about 30,000 students.  The Department will also, where possible, offer Tribal College and University campuses for designation by states as voter registration agencies under the National Voter Registration Act.
     
  • The Department of Justice has created an online resource for the public that will provide links to state-specific information about registering and voting; detail the Department’s enforcement of federal voting rights laws and guidance it has issued to jurisdictions on the scope of those laws; and explain how to report potential violations.  The Department will also provide information about voting to individuals in federal custody, facilitate voting by those who remain eligible to do so while in federal custody, and educate individuals before reentry about voting rules and voting rights in their states.  And after the Census Bureau determines localities with specific responsibilities for language access, the Department will deliver guidance and conduct outreach to each covered jurisdiction to facilitate compliance.
     
  • The Department of Labor will issue guidance encouraging states to designate the more than 2,400 American Job Centers, which provide employment, training, and career services to workers in every state, as voter registration agencies under the National Voter Registration Act. The Department of Labor will continue to require Job Corps centers to implement procedures for enrollees to vote, and where local law and leases permit, encourage Job Corps centers to serve as polling precincts.  The Department will also provide guidance that grantees can use federal workforce development funding, where consistent with program authority, to conduct nonpartisan voter registration efforts with participants.
     
  • The Department of Transportation will communicate guidance to transit systems — including more than 1,150 rural public transit systems and more than 1,000 urban public transit systems — to consider providing free and reduced fare service on election days and consider placing voter registration materials in high-transit stations.  The Department will also work with state and local entities seeking to mitigate traffic and construction impacts on routes to the polls, particularly in underserved communities.
     
  • The Department of the Treasury will include information about registration and voter participation in its direct deposit campaigns for Americans who receive Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and other federal benefit payments.
     
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide materials and assistance in registering and voting for tens of thousands of inpatients and residents, including VA Medical Center inpatients and residents of VA nursing homes and treatment centers for homeless veterans.  The Department will also facilitate assistance in registering and voting for homebound veterans and their caregivers through VA’s home-based and telehealth teams

“Our nation and democracy are stronger when everyone participates, and weaker when anyone is left out,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a written statement. 

“Today, as we celebrate National Voter Registration Day, we must continue the work of protecting the fundamental right to vote. The Senate must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. In addition, the President and I continue to use all the tools available to us to help advance that right. On the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in March 2021, President Biden issued the Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting.  That order instructs federal agencies to deploy resources available to them to work to promote voting access.  Agencies across the federal government have submitted strategic plans on precisely how they plan to do that.  The President and I will help ensure these plans are fully implemented, and we will continue to work closely with these agencies to bring a whole-of-government approach to making voting accessible for all Americans.”

How Biden’s Build Back Better Framework Will Support the ‘Sandwich Generation’

President Biden’s Build Back Better plan will address the caregiving crisis by lowering costs both for families with young children and households with elderly members – and for millions of sandwich generation adults © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House provided this fact sheet on how President Biden’s Build Back Better framework will support the “sandwich generation”:

Too many Americans struggle with the high costs of raising children, caring for a sick family member, providing long-term care for people with disabilities or older adults, and addressing the myriad other caregiving challenges.  These pressures are particularly acute for those with multiple caregiving responsibilities.  As of 2018, more than one-in-ten parents (12 percent, or over 8 million parents) had a child under 18 in the home and were providing unpaid care to an adult, making them part of the “sandwich generation.”  This work is especially likely to fall on women, as 5 million mothers are part of the sandwich generation, compared to 3.2 million fathers.  Three-quarters of these mothers are employed, and more than half work full-time, making their schedules especially hard-stretched. 

These millions of sandwich generation adults are caring for multiple generations of family members with few or no formal support, leading them to face difficult, if not impossible, decisions and high economic costs.  
 
The price of child care has risen sharply, increasing faster than incomes over the last several decades.  Child care prices increased by 210 percent from 1990 to 2019, while the median family income rose by 143 percent during the same period.  Research suggests that lower-income families experience these cost pressures more than higher-income families, which means that basic goods and services, including child care, cut into family budgets more today than in the past. In turn, only 57 percent of children under six years old have parents who report that there are good options for child care where they live. And the United States is one of the only countries in the world that does not guarantee paid leave – 95 percent of the lowest wage workers, who are predominately women and workers of color, lack any access to paid family and medical leave. Still, the United States invests fewer public dollars in early childhood education and care relative to gross domestic product (GDP) than almost all developed countries – ranking 35th out of 37 countries tracked by OECD.
 
The need for high-quality, accessible, and affordable elder care is also increasing. By 2060, there will be nearly 95 million adults over the age of 65, which is almost twice the number of adults over the age of 65 in 2016.  People age 65 today are estimated to have an almost 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services in their remaining years, and 20 percent will need care for five or more years.
 
Meanwhile, there are not enough care workers to provide the care that is needed, in part because care jobs are often not family-sustaining jobs, making it challenging to recruit and retain a high-skilled workforce. Child care workers are among the most underpaid workers – the average pay is only $24,320 a year and nearly half of child care workers rely on public assistance. With low pay, child care workers turn over frequently – national estimates suggest that 26 to 40 percent of the workforce leave their job each year.  Similarly, home care workers are extremely underpaid and 40 to 60 percent of home care workers turn over each year – high levels of churn even relative to other low-wage jobs. An analysis conducted in 2017 estimates that there will be a national shortage of 151,000 direct care workers by 2030 and 355,000 workers by 2040.
 
Limited access to high-quality care leaves many Americans to fill the gap in professional caregiving by providing unpaid care to their loved ones.  The disproportionate caregiving burden that women bear makes them more likely to reduce working hours, choose lower-paying jobs, or leave the labor force entirely, all of which contribute to the gender wage gap and reduce family economic security.
 
To keep the middle-class in reach for millions of Americans and strengthen our economic security, we need to address our caregiving crisis. President Biden’s Build Back Better plan will lower costs both for families with young children and households with elderly members – and for millions of sandwich generation adults.
 
The President’s Build Back Better plan: 

  • Expands Access to Long-Term Care Services under Medicaid. Families feel the financial impact of caring for aging relatives and family members with disabilities, and there is a financial strain for people with disabilities living independently to ensure that they are getting care in their homes. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people who need better care are unable to access it, even though they qualify under Medicaid. Aging relatives and people with disabilities deserve high-quality care that meets their unique needs and personal choices. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest billions toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based services (HCBS).
  • Cuts costs of child care by more than half for most American families.  The President’s plan also enables families to access more convenient, higher quality care where workers receive a better wage and benefits.  It fully covers the cost of high-quality child care for young children for the most hard-pressed working families, and ensures that families earning up to 1.5 times their state’s median income will pay no more than seven percent of their income for high-quality child care for all children under age five.  In addition to reducing the cost of child care and freeing up money for other spending, providing access to affordable, high-quality child care also increases parents’ incomes, as they continue working and earn more over time.
  • Offers universal free preschool to all three- and four-year old children. Only about one-fifth of all preschool aged children are enrolled in a preschool program, and free preschool will help offset the costs of child care that families face or help parents providing unpaid caregiving to go back to work. The President is calling for a national-state partnership that offers preschool to all families in the setting of their choice – whether in a school, Head Start, or child care setting. These investments will especially benefit low-income families and families of color, whose children are less likely to be enrolled in preschool.
  • Lowers Seniors’ Health Care Costs.  The Build Back Better plan would reduce health insurance premiums, saving 9 million people an average of $50 per person per month, and add dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare.  By closing the Medicaid coverage gap for low-income Americans, the President’s plan would help 4 million people gain coverage. President Biden’s plan will lower prescription drug costs for Americans by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, so consumers are no longer at the whim of pharmaceutical companies.  Lowering these costs will help reduce the burdens families face. Take, for example, a family in Arizona with two parents who together earn $85,000 per year and care for an elderly parent who needs arthritis medicine, which costs $5,500 per year out-of-pocket, and an eye exam to get a new pair of glasses.  Prescription drug reform like that outlined in the Build Back Better plan would cap out-of-pocket costs for the elderly parent’s prescription drugs, saving the family $2,400 per year, while new vision benefits under Medicare would pay for the elderly parent’s eye exam and new glasses and lenses.
  • Creates a National Comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave Program.  The program will ensure workers receive partial wage replacement to take time to bond with a new child; care for a seriously ill loved one; deal with a loved one’s military deployment; find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence; heal from their own serious illness; or take time to deal with the death of a loved one.  This program guarantees twelve weeks of annual paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave, and also ensures workers get three days of bereavement leave per year, by year 10.  The program will provide workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80 percent for the lowest wage workers.  A study of California’s paid leave program, which began in 2004, indicated that paid leave also helped to reduce nursing-home utilization: About one in ten person-years spent in nursing homes were prevented by paid leave, likely because the policy gave workers sufficient flexibility to provide informal care to family members on the side.
  • Boosts compensation of child care and home care workers. The President’s plan would ensure child care and preschool teachers are paid a living wage, one that is comparable to kindergarten teachers if they have similar credentials. The President’s plan to expand HCBS under Medicaid will support well-paying caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain. Investment in higher labor standards for care workers improves these jobs and attracts more workers to the care industry.
  • Significantly Expands the Child Tax Credit.  The Build Back Better plan increases the amount of the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child six-years-old and above, and from $2000 to $3,600 per child for children under six.  It also makes 17-year-olds eligible for the first time, and makes the credit fully refundable on a permanent basis, so that low-income families—the families that need the credit the most—can benefit from the full tax credit.  For a family with two parents who earn a combined $100,000 per year and have two children under six, the Child Tax Credit expansion means the family’s credit would go from $4,000 total to $7,200 total, an additional $3,200 per year in tax relief.  For a family with two parents who earn a combined $24,000 per year and have two children under six, the expansion means even more; they would see roughly $4,400 in additional tax relief because the full credit was not previously available to them.

Provides low- and middle-income families a tax cut based on care expenses.  Families would receive a tax credit for up to half of their expenses related to caring for a child under age 13 or a loved one with disabilities.  This would extend the dramatic expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) enacted in the American Rescue Plan.  With this expanded credit, families earning $125,000 can receive up to a total of $4,000 for one dependent or $8,000 for two or more.  And families earning up to $400,000 would get at least as generous of a credit as they receive today.