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White House: How American Families Plan Will Support Children, Teachers, and Working Families in Rural America

President Biden knows a strong middle-class is the backbone of America and that rural and tribal communities are essential to the economic growth of our country. Rural communities require targeted investments that meet the needs of their children and families, along with workforce development for those providing childcare and education. The American Families Plan represents a generation-defining investment in rural America, and a commitment to grow the middle-class and expand the benefits of economic growth to all Americans. By extending and building upon the provisions of the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan would cut the rural poverty rate by more than 21 percent and the rural child poverty rate by 50 percent, relative to the projected poverty rate for 2022 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House issued a fact sheet explaining how President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan will support children, teachers and working families in rural America:

President Biden knows a strong middle-class is the backbone of America and that rural and tribal communities are essential to the economic growth of our country. Rural communities require targeted investments that meet the needs of their children and families, along with workforce development for those providing childcare and education. The American Families Plan represents a generation-defining investment in rural America, and a commitment to grow the middle-class and expand the benefits of economic growth to all Americans. All told, by extending and building upon the provisions of the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan would cut the rural poverty rate by more than 21 percent and the rural child poverty rate by 50 percent, relative to the projected poverty rate for 2022.
 
UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL FOR 3- AND 4-YEAR OLDS
 
Low population density, physical isolation, and broad spatial distribution make access to preschool more challenging for low-income families in rural areas. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Provide free universal pre-school to all 3- and 4-year-olds, benefitting 5 million children. This historic investment in America’s future will first prioritize high-need areas and enable communities and families to choose the settings that work best for them, whether that’s a preschool classroom in a public school, a center, or a Head Start program. The President’s plan will invest in tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or other credential that supports their work as an educator or their work to become an early childhood educator. And educators will receive job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work. All employees in participating Pre-K programs and Head Start will earn at least $15 per hour, and those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation and benefits similar to elementary school teachers.

FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND OTHER POSTSECONDARY INVESTMENTS
 
There are approximately 250 rural community colleges across the U.S., with an even greater number of community colleges that serve a primarily rural student population. Colleges and universities are important anchor institutions in rural communities, providing jobs to residents, attracting businesses, and boosting local economies.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Provide two years of free community college so that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college without paying tuition and fees.
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400 to provide additional assistance to low-income students and also allow DREAMers to access the grant.
  • Provide grants to increase college retention and completion, allowing states, territories, and Tribes to support the adoption and expansion of evidence-based practices and promising solutions that help students complete their degrees.
  • Increase funding to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and the students they serve. This will provide two years of subsidized tuition, as well as funding to support institutional development and the strengthening of the health care workforce, which will benefit rural areas where the need for physicians, nurses, and other providers continues to limit access to care.

Education and Preparation for Teachers
 
More than 9 million students—nearly one in five students—attend a rural school in the U.S. But these schools face challenges in hiring and retaining teachers, particularly in special education and specialized instruction.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, and strengthen pipelines for teachers of color. President Biden is calling on Congress to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year while earning their degree and expand it to early childhood educators. The President’s plan would also invest $3.2 billion to cultivate and recruit teachers from the communities that schools serve, provide year-long, paid residency programs, and invest in teacher preparation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs.
  • Support the development of special education teachers. There has been a 17 percent  decline in the number of special educators over the last decade. Additionally, while only about half of the students receiving special education services are white, approximately 82 percent of special education teachers are white. The American Families Plan will invest $900 million in personnel preparation funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), funding pathways to additional certifications and strengthening existing teacher preparation programs for special educators.
  • Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials. President Biden is calling on Congress to create a new fund to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance. This fund will support over 100,000 educators, with priority for public school teachers with at least two years of experience at schools with a significant number of low-income students or significant teacher shortages.
  • Invest in educator leadership. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $2 billion in programs that leverage teachers as leaders to multiply their impact within their school, such as high-quality mentoring programs that leverage current teachers as mentors for new teachers, which improve student outcomes and increase teacher retention rates while keeping great teachers in the classroom.

Child Care
 
Lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care is making it hard for parents to work and provide for their families. Many rural families have to go without care, and without sufficient demand, it can be challenging for centers to afford to operate. Over half of rural families live in a child care desert, meaning there are few or no child care options. In particular, rural families disproportionately lack access to child care centers serving infants and toddlers.  
 
The American Families Plan builds on investments in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and will further expand access to high-quality child care in rural areas.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Make child care more affordable. Families will pay only a portion of their income on child care based on a sliding scale. For the most-hard pressed working families, child care costs for their young children would be fully covered and families earning up to 1.5 times their state median income will spend no more than 7% of their income on child care for young children.
  • Ensure this child care is high quality. The American Families plan will ensure child care providers, including centers and home-based providers, receive funding to provide the true cost of quality early childhood education—including a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities.
  • Invest in the care workforce across rural America. Early childhood educators are among the most underpaid workers in the country and nearly half rely on public income support programs. The typical child care worker earned $12.24 per hour in 2020—while receiving few, if any, benefits, leading to high turnover and lower quality of care.  The American Families Plan will ensure a $15 minimum wage for early childhood educators. Those with comparable qualifications to elementary school teachers will receive comparable compensation and benefits. And, the American Families Plan will ensure educators receive job-embedded coaching and professional development, along with additional training opportunities.

Paid Leave
 
Paid family and medical leave supports workers and families and is a critical investment in the strength and equity of our economy. However, many rural workers lack access to paid family and medical leave programs, particularly low-wage workers. According to one nation-wide survey, over fifty percent of non-metro (including rural) workers said they would very likely face hardship if they had to take a few months of unpaid time off work, compared to 40 percent of metro area workers. Furthermore, many small rural businesses struggle to compete for and retain talent compared to urban areas. These businesses often cannot afford to provide workplace supports like paid family and medical leave. Rural areas are also more likely to have older populations, increasing the need for both medical and caregiving leave. One study found that California’s paid leave program accounted for an 11-percent relative decline in elderly nursing home usage, saving costs for both the state and families.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Create 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. It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one. 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. We estimate this program will cost $225 billion over a decade.


Nutrition
 
With higher child poverty rates and longer distances to grocery stores, accessing nutritious food can be challenging for families in rural areas. Eighty-six percent of counties with high child food insecurity are rural, and children in rural areas are 25 percent more likely to be obese than those in urban areas. To foster positive long-term health outcomes through nutrition security, President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide. The Summer EBT Demonstrations help low-income families with children eligible for free- and reduced-price meals during the school year purchase food during the summer. The American Families Plan builds on the American Rescue Plan’s support for Summer Pandemic-EBT by making the successful program permanent and available to all 29 million children receiving free- and reduced-price meals. Research shows that this program decreases food insecurity among children and leads to positive changes in nutritional outcomes.
  • Expand school meal programs. Currently, just 70 percent of eligible schools have adopted Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows high-poverty schools to provide meals free of charge to all of their students—breaking down barriers for students who may be eligible for school meals but may not apply for them due to stigma or not fully understanding the application process. The President’s plan will allow more schools in high poverty districts to offer meals free of charge to all of their students by reimbursing a higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through CEP. Additionally, the plan will target elementary schools by lowering the threshold for CEP eligibility for elementary schools. The plan will also expand direct certification to automatically enroll more students for school meals based on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income data. This will especially help rural schools, which often have limited administrative capacity for food purchasing and accounting.
  • Launch a healthy foods incentive demonstration to further improve the nutrition standards of school meals and support the development of healthy lifestyles throughout the school environment.

 
Tax Cuts for America’s Families and Workers
 
While the American Rescue Plan provided meaningful relief to hundreds of millions of Americans, that was just a first step. Now is the time to build back better, to help families and workers who for too long have felt the squeeze of stagnating wages and an ever-increasing cost-of-living.  Direct assistance to families in the form of tax credits paid on a regular basis lifts children and families out of poverty, makes it easier for families to make ends meet, and boosts the academic and economic performance of children over time. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and Americans facing illness should never have to worry about how they are going to pay for their treatment. No one should face a choice between buying life-saving medications or putting food on the table. President Biden has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug costs for everyone by letting Medicare negotiate prices, reducing health insurance premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, creating a public option and the option for people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance. The American Families Plan will build on the American Rescue Plan and continue our work to make health care more affordable.  The biggest improvement in health care affordability since the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan provided two years of lower health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own. With those changes, more than three in four uninsured people living in rural areas are now eligible for low-cost health care, and more than four in five current HealthCare.gov enrollees in rural counties are eligible for low-cost health care. The American Families Plan will make a $200 billion investment to make those premium reductions permanent. As a result, nine million people will save hundreds of dollars per year on their premiums, and four million uninsured people will gain coverage.  The Families Plan will also invest in maternal health and support the families of veterans receiving health care services.
  • Extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the CTC permanently fully refundable. Rural child poverty rates are higher than the national average, and more than 200 rural counties qualify as “persistent-poverty counties,” meaning they have experienced poverty rates of 20 percent or higher for at least 30 years.  The President is calling for extending the Child Tax Credit expansion first enacted in the American Rescue Plan, which increases the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for 6-year-olds and above and $3,600 per child for children under 6. It also makes 17-year-olds eligible for the first time and makes the credit fully refundable, meaning that the nearly half of low-income rural families that historically did not qualify for the full credit because they earned too little, can now receive the same credit as middle-income families. If extended, this would be the single largest contributor to this plan’s historic impact of lifting a projected 620,000 children in non-metro areas out of poverty in 2022 and cutting rural child poverty in half.
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. To help even more families, President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) enacted in the American Rescue Plan. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. Making the American Rescue Plan expansion of CDCTC permanent will also ensure the credit will continue to be fully refundable, making it more equitable by allowing low-income working families to receive the full value of the credit towards their eligible child care expenses regardless of how much they owe in taxes.
  • Make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion for childless workers permanent. President Biden believes our tax code should reward work and not wealth. And that means rewarding people who work hard every day at modest wages to provide their communities with essential services. Before this year, the federal tax code taxed low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty — the only group of workers treated this way. The American Rescue Plan addressed this problem by roughly tripling the EITC for childless workers, benefitting 17 million low-wage workers, many of whom are essential workers including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers. For example, a childless worker who works 30 hours per week at $9 per hour earns income that, after taxes, leaves them below the federal poverty line. By increasing her credit to more than $1,100, EITC expansion helps pull such workers out of poverty. The President is calling on Congress to make this expansion permanent. All told, the expansion will directly benefit more than one in five rural workers without children.


To view this fact sheet in your browser, click here
 

White House: American Families Plan Advances Equity and Racial Justice

President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan will support children, teachers and working families and advance equity and racial justice © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House issued a fact sheet explaining how President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan will support children, teachers and working families and advances equity and racial justice:

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing the whole of the federal government to advance equity and racial justice. Today, the President announced a historic new set of investments to deliver on his vision of a more equitable America through the American Families Plan. The American Families Plan will help restore the promise of America for communities who have been left behind and locked out of opportunity—investing in teachers and students, empowering workers and their families, and reimagining a tax code that rewards work over wealth. By extending and building upon the provisions of the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan would lift more than 10 million people out of poverty in 2022. This means a 29 percent reduction in Black poverty, a 31 percent reduction in Latino poverty, and a 15 percent reduction in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander poverty, relative to the projected poverty rate for 2022. Among children, it would reduce poverty by more than 47 percent.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will deliver a fairer and more equitable America by:

  • Closing opportunity gaps for low-income children and children of color by providing universal access to preschool, and making quality, affordable child care more accessible across the nation.
  • Investing in educational opportunity for underserved communities by providing two years of free community college for Americans, including DREAMers; making Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs), and other Minority-serving Institutions (MSIs) more affordable; increasing the value of Pell Grants to help more low-income students attend college; and ensuring more students are supported through completion.
  • Empowering teachers by investing in the training and support they need and ensuring more teachers of color can reach the classroom.
  • Creating a right to paid family and medical leave to ensure working parents and caregivers, including workers of color and low-wage workers, can equitably access the time off they need to support their families.
  • Closing gaps in our social safety net to ensure that kids have the nutritious food they need to be healthy and succeed in school.
  • Extending the American Rescue Plan’s historic expansions of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to provide income support and cut poverty among families and workers.

Together, these investments will give millions of children across the country a fair shot at the American dream.

UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL 3- AND 4-YEAR-OLDS
 
Preschool is critical to ensuring that children start kindergarten with the skills and supports that set them up for success in school. In fact, research shows that kids who attend universal Pre-K are more likely to take honors classes and less likely to repeat a grade, and another study finds low-income children who attend universal programs do better in math and reading as late as eighth grade. Unfortunately, most children, and especially children of color and low-income children, do not have access to the full range of high-quality pre-school programs available to their peers. In addition, children with disabilities benefit from inclusive, accessible pre-school programs with their peers, and all children benefit when we create socio-economically diverse Pre-K classrooms where all students thrive. 
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Close opportunity gaps by providing universal pre-school to all 3- and 4-year-olds. President Biden is calling for a national partnership with states to offer free, high-quality, accessible, and inclusive preschool to all 3-and 4-year-olds—benefitting 5 million children. This historic investment in America’s future will first prioritize high-need areas and enable communities and families to choose the setting that works best for them, whether that’s a preschool classroom in a public school, a center, or a Head Start program. The President’s plan will also ensure that all publicly-funded preschool is high-quality with low student-to-teacher ratios, a high-quality and developmentally appropriate curriculum, and supportive classroom environments that are inclusive for all students. The President’s plan will leverage investments in tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or other credential that supports their work as an educator or their work to become an early childhood educator. And, educators will receive job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work. All employees in participating Pre-K programs and Head Start will earn at least $15 per hour, and those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation commensurate with that of kindergarten teachers. These investments will give American children a head start and pave the way for the best-educated generation in U.S. history

 
FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND OTHER POSTSECONDARY INVESTMENTS
 
For much of the 20th century, graduating from high school was a gateway to a stable job and a living wage. But over the last 40 years, we have seen the most growth in jobs requiring higher levels of job preparation, including education and training. Today, 70 percent of jobs are held by people with more than a high school degree. American workers, and especially workers of color, need support to build their skills, increase their earnings, remain competitive, and share in the benefits of the new economy. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Offer two years of free community college to all Americans, including DREAMers. Community colleges provide educational opportunities for students who are often underserved by four-year universities, including first-generation students, students of color, low-income students, and adult learners. President Biden’s proposal creates a federal-state, -territory, and -tribal partnership that allows first-time college students and workers wanting to reskill to enroll in a community college to earn a degree or credential for free. Students can use the benefit for up to three years and, if circumstances warrant, up to four years, recognizing that many students’ lives and other responsibilities can make full-time enrollment difficult. If all states, territories, and tribes participate, about 5.5 million students would pay $0 in tuition and fees.
  • Provide up to approximately $1,400 in additional assistance to low-income students by increasing the Pell Grant award. Nearly 60 percent of Black, almost half of Latino, half of American Indian or Alaska Native, and more than one-third of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students depend on Pell Grants to help pay for college. But the grant has not kept up with the rising cost of postsecondary education; over the last 50 years, the maximum Pell Grant value has plummeted from nearly 80 percent of the cost of a four-year college degree to just 30 percent — leading millions of low-income students to take out debt to finance their education. The American Families Plan would increase the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400 and allow DREAMers to access the funding.
  • Increase college retention and completion rates. Just 40 percent and 54 percent of first-time Black and Latino students at four-year colleges and universities, respectively, go on to earn their degree, compared to 64 percent of white students. And overall, just 40 percent of community college students, who are disproportionately low-income and people of color, graduate within 6 years. The President is proposing a $62 billion formula grant program that will provide funding to states, territories, and Tribes to support retention and completion activities at colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students, including wraparound services ranging from child care and mental health services to faculty and peer mentoring; emergency basic needs grants; practices that recruit and retain faculty; transfer agreements between colleges; and evidence-based remediation programs.
  • Provide two years of subsidized tuition and expand programs in high-demand fields at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Research has found that HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs are vital to helping underrepresented students move to the top of the income ladder. But despite their record of success, these institutions have significantly fewer resources than other top colleges and universities, undermining their ability to grow and support more students. The President is calling for $39 billion to provide tuition subsidies to low- and middle-income students attending HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. The President is also calling for $5 billion to expand existing institutional aid grants to HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, which can be used by these institutions to strengthen their academic, administrative, and fiscal capabilities, including by creating or expanding educational programs in high-demand fields (e.g., STEM, computer sciences, nursing, and allied health), with an additional $2 billion funding directed towards building a pipeline of skilled health care workers with graduate degrees. These proposed investments, combined with the $45 billion proposed in the American Jobs Plan targeted to these institutions, will enable America’s HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to help advance underrepresented students and make the U.S. more competitive on the global stage.

 
EDUCATION AND PREPARATION FOR TEACHERS
 
Few people have a bigger impact on a child’s life than a great teacher. Unfortunately, the U.S. faces a large and growing teacher shortage. Before the pandemic, schools across the nation needed an estimated additional 100,000 certified teachers, resulting in key positions going unfilled, granting of emergency certifications, or teachers teaching out of their certification area. Shortages of certified teachers disproportionately impact schools with higher percentages of students of color, which  have a higher proportion of teachers that are uncertified and higher shares of inexperienced teachers, exacerbating educational disparities. President Biden is calling for investments to improve the impact of new teachers entering the profession, increase retention rates, and increase the number of teachers of color, all of which will improve student outcomes.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, and strengthen pipelines for underrepresented teachers, including teachers of color. Our country faces a serious teacher shortage problem, which disproportionately impacts students of color. The percentage of teachers in their first or second year of teaching in schools with the highest percentage of students of color is 7 percentage points higher than schools with the lowest percentage of students of color (17 percent vs. 10 percent). The percentage of teachers who are uncertified is more than three times as large (4.8 percent  vs. 1.3 percent). At the same time, while teachers of color can have a particularly strong impact on students of color, around one in five teachers are people of color, compared to more than half of K-12 public school students. These disparities help drive gaps in student outcomes. Strengthening the teacher pipeline and improving teacher preparation, supporting teachers so they stay in the classroom, and investing in the recruitment and preparation of underrepresented teachers will help narrow persistent educational disparities.   President Biden is calling on Congress to invest in America’s teachers, including by doubling scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year, which would help underrepresented teachers, including teachers of color, access high-quality teacher preparation programs that best prepare them for the work ahead. The plan also will invest $2.8 billion in Grow Your Own programs and year-long, paid teacher residency programs, which have a greater impact on student outcomes, teacher retention, and are more likely to enroll underrepresented teacher candidates, including candidates of color; and invest $400 million in teacher preparation programs at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs.
  • Support the development of special education teachers. There has been a 17 percent  decline in the number of special educators over the last decade. Additionally, while only about half of the students receiving special education services are white, approximately 82 percent of special education teachers are white. The American Families Plan will invest $900 million in personnel preparation funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), funding pathways to additional certifications, and strengthening existing teacher preparation programs for special educators.
  • Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials. Many teachers are eager to answer the call to get certified in areas their schools need, like bilingual education, but are deterred due to the high cost of getting an additional certification. President Biden is calling on Congress to create a new fund to provide more than 100,000 educators with the opportunity to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance. This will particularly benefit students with disabilities and English learners.
  • Invest in educator leadership. Millions of teachers – and the students they educate – would stand to benefit from greater mentorship and leadership opportunities. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $2 billion to support programs that leverage teachers as leaders, such as high-quality mentorship programs for new teachers and underrepresented teachers, including teachers of color.

 
CHILD CARE
 
High-quality early care and education helps ensure that children can take full advantage of education and training opportunities later in life, especially for children from low-income families, who face learning disparities before they even can go to preschool. One study by Nobel Laureate James Heckman found that every dollar invested in a high-quality, comprehensive birth to five program for the most economically disadvantaged children resulted in $7.30 in benefits as children grew up healthier, were more likely to graduate high school and college, and earned more as adults. But we have grave disparities when it comes to child care in our country. One analysis finds that more than half of Latino and Native American families live in child care deserts. Difficulty finding high-quality, affordable child care leads some parents, especially mothers, to drop out of the labor force entirely, some to reduce their work hours, and others to turn down a promotion – leading to lifetime consequences in terms of earnings, savings, and retirement. Lack of affordable child care can be especially challenging for the families of the nearly 7 in 10 Black women who are their families’ primary or sole breadwinners.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Ensure low- and middle-income families can access affordable child care for children under the age of five. Under the President’s plan, families will pay only a portion of their income based on a sliding scale. For the most hard-pressed working families, child care costs for their young children would be fully covered and families earning 1.5 times their state median income will spend no more than 7 percent of their income on child care for their young children. The plan will also provide families with a range of inclusive and accessible options to choose from for their child, from child care centers to family child care providers to Early Head Start programs.
  • Invest in high-quality care. The last time the U.S. prioritized major, long-term investments in child care was when President Roosevelt signed the Lanham Act to provide free, high-quality child care in an effort to support women going to work during World War II. Not only did it enable women to work, but children who participated experienced long-lasting economic benefits, proving most beneficial for the most disadvantaged children.  Under the President’s plan, child care providers will receive funding to support the true cost of quality early childhood education–including a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are accessible and inclusive of children with disabilities. These investments support positive interactions between educators and children that promote children’s social-emotional and cognitive development.
  • Invest in the care workforce, including the women of color who make up a substantial percentage of the field. More investment is needed to support early childhood providers and educators, more than nine in ten of whom are women and more than four and ten of whom are women of color. They are among the most underpaid workers in the country. The typical child care worker earned $12.24 per hour in 2020, and one report found nearly half rely on public income support programs. The American Families Plan includes a $15 minimum wage for early childhood educators and ensures that those with similar qualifications as kindergarten teachers receive comparable compensation and benefits.

When fully implemented, the President’s plan will provide 3 million children from low- and middle-income families with high quality care, saving the average family $14,800 a year on child care expenses.
 
PAID LEAVE
 
Paid family and medical leave supports workers and families and is a critical investment in the strength and equity of our economy. Paid leave has been found to reduce racial disparities in wage loss between workers of color and white workers, improve child health and well-being, support employers by improving employee retention and reducing turnover costs, and increase women’s labor force participation. However, currently, 95 percent of the lowest wage workers, mostly women and workers of color, lack access to any paid family leave. Sixty-two percent of Black adults and 73 percent of Latino adults are either ineligible for or cannot afford to take unpaid leave, compared to 60 percent of white adults. Additionally, Black and Latina mothers are more likely than white women to report being let go by an employer or quitting their jobs after giving birth in order to have some leave. 
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. Paid family and medical leave can help reduce racial disparities in wage loss between workers of color and white workers. People with disabilities may also have less access to paid leave due to higher rates of part time and low wage employment. 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. It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one. 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. The plan has an inclusive definition of family, ensuring workers can care for and be cared by a loved one who is not related by blood, which will greatly impact LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities. We estimate this program will cost $225 billion over a decade.

NUTRITION
 
The pandemic has added urgency to the moral travesty of nutrition insecurity among children, which disproportionately affects low-income families and children of color. No one should have to worry about whether they can provide nutritious food for themselves or their children. A poor diet jeopardizes a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school. Nutrition insecurity can also have long-lasting negative impact on overall health and put children at higher risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide. The Summer EBT Demonstrations help low-income families with children eligible for free- and reduced-price meals during the school year purchase food during the summer. The American Families Plan builds on the American Rescue Plan’s support for Summer Pandemic-EBT by making the successful program permanent and available to all 29 million children receiving free- and reduced-price meals. Research shows that this program decreases food insecurity among children and led to positive changes in nutritional outcomes.
  • Expand school meal programs. Currently, just 70 percent of eligible schools have adopted Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows high-poverty schools to provide meals free of charge to all of their students—breaking down barriers for students who may be eligible for school meals but may not apply for them due to stigma or not fully understanding the application process. The President’s plan will allow more schools in high poverty districts to offer meals free of charge to all of their students by reimbursing a higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through CEP. Additionally, the plan will target elementary schools by reimbursing an even higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement through CEP and lowering the threshold for CEP eligibility for elementary schools. The plan will also expand direct certification to automatically enroll more students for school meals based on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income data.
  • Facilitate re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals through SNAP eligibility. Individuals convicted of a drug-related felony are currently ineligible to receive SNAP benefits unless a state has taken the option to eliminate or modify this restriction. Denying these individuals—many of whom are parents of young children—SNAP benefits jeopardizes nutrition security and poses a barrier to re-entry into the community in a population that already faces significant hurdles to obtaining employment and stability. SNAP is a critical safety net for many individuals as they search for employment to support themselves and their families. This restriction disproportionately impacts African Americans, who are convicted of drug offenses at much higher rates than white Americans. 

TAX CUTS FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES AND WORKERS
 
While the American Rescue Plan provided meaningful relief for hundreds of millions of Americans, that is just a first step. Now is the time to build back better, to help families and workers who for too long have felt the squeeze of stagnating wages and an ever-increasing cost-of-living.  Direct assistance to families in the form of tax credits paid on a regular basis lifts children and families out of poverty, makes it easier for families to make ends meet, and boosts the academic and economic performance of children over time.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and Americans facing illness should never have to worry about how they are going to pay for their treatment. No one should face a choice between buying life-saving medications or putting food on the table.  President Biden has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug costs for everyone by letting Medicare negotiate prices, reducing health insurance premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, creating a public option and the option for people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance. The American Families Plan will build on the American Rescue Plan and continue our work to make health care more affordable.  The biggest improvement in health care affordability since the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan provided two years of lower health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own. With these changes, about three in four uninsured Black adults and nearly four in five uninsured Hispanic or Latino adults are now eligible for low-cost health care. The American Families Plan will make those premium reductions permanent, a $200 billion investment.  As a result, nine million people will save hundreds of dollars per year on their premiums, and four million uninsured people will gain coverage.  The Families Plan will also invest in maternal health and support the families of veterans receiving health care services.
  • Extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the CTC permanently fully refundable. The President is calling for the Child Tax Credit expansion, first enacted in the American Rescue Plan, to be extended.  This legislation expands the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child six-years old and above, and $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. The expanded Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan will benefit nearly 66 million children, and is the single largest contributor to the plan’s historic reductions in child poverty, including by 52 percent for Black children, 45 percent for Latino children, 37 percent for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander children, and 61 percent for Native American children.
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. To help even more low- and middle-income families, President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) expansion enacted in the American Rescue Plan. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The CDCTC will be fully refundable, making the credit more equitable by allowing low-income working families to receive the full value of the credit towards their eligible child care expenses regardless of how much they owe in taxes. This is a dramatic expansion of support to low- and middle-income families. In 2019, a family claiming a CDCTC for the previous year got less than $600 on average towards the cost of care, and many low-income families got nothing.
  • Make the Earned Income Tax Credit expansion for childless workers permanent. President Biden believes our tax code should reward work and not wealth. And that means rewarding workers who work hard every day at modest wages to provide their communities with essential services. Before this year, the federal tax code taxed low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty — the only group of workers it treated this way. The American Rescue Plan addressed this problem by roughly tripling the EITC for childless workers, benefitting 17 million low-wage workers, many of whom are essential workers including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers. For example, a childless worker who works 30 hours per week at $9 per hour earns income that, after taxes, leaves them below the federal poverty line. By increasing her EITC to more than $1,100, this EITC expansion helps pull such workers out of poverty. The President is calling on Congress to make this expansion permanent. Extending these changes will give a critical boost in earnings of an estimated 2.8 billion Black, 2.8 million Latino, and 678,000 Asian American workers.


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President Biden Tells Nation ‘We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and “We the People” did not flinch’

President Biden, putting the Reagan canard to pasture, tells nation in his State of the Union Address: “It’s time to remember that ‘We the People’ are the government — you and I.  Not some force in a distant capital.  Not some powerful force that we have no control over.  It’s us.  It’s ‘We the People’… ‘We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and ‘We the People’ did not flinch.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

Here is a highlighted transcript of President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021:

9:06 P.M. EDT
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Good to be back.  And Mitch and Chuck will understand it’s good to be almost home, down the hall.  Anyway, thank you all.
 
Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President — (applause) — no President has ever said those words from this podium.  No President has ever said those words, and it’s about time.  (Applause.)
 
First Lady — (applause) — I’m her husband; Second Gentleman; Chief Justice; members of the United States Congress and the Cabinet; distinguished guests; my fellow Americans: While the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is just a little bit different — a reminder of the extraordinary times we’re in.
 
Throughout our history, Presidents have come to this chamber to speak to Congress, to the nation, and to the world to declare war, to celebrate peace, to announce new plans and possibilities.
 
Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.
 
I stand here tonight, one day shy of the 100th day
of my administration — 100 days since I took the oath of office and lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation — we all did — that was in crisis.
 
The worst pandemic in a century.  The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
 
Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again — (applause) — turning peril into possibility, crisis to opportunity, setbacks into strength.
 
We all know life can knock us down.  But in America, we never, ever, ever stay down.  Americans always get up.  Today, that’s what we’re doing: America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness.
 
After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for takeoff, in my view.  We’re working again, dreaming again, discovering again, and leading the world again.
 
We have shown each other and the world that there’s no quit in America — none.
 
One hundred days ago, America’s house was on fire.  We had to act.  And thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Speaker Pelosi; Majority Leader Schumer; and the overwhelming support of the American people — Democrats, independents, and Republicans — we did act.
 
Together we passed the American Rescue Plan — one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.  We’re already seeing the results.  (Applause.)   We’re already seeing the results. 
 
After I promised we’d get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into people’s arms in 100 days, we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in those 100 days.  (Applause.)
 
Thanks to all the help of all of you, we’re marshalling — with your help, everyone’s help — we’re marshalling every federal resource.  We’ve gotten vaccines to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 Community Health Centers where the poorest of the poor can be reached.  We’re setting up community vaccination sites, developing mobile units to get to hard-to-reach communities.
 
Today, 90 percent of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site.  Everyone over the age of 16 – everyone is now eligible to get vaccinated right now, right away.  (Applause.)  Go get vaccinated, America.  Go and get the vaccination.  They’re available.  You’re eligible now.
 
When I was sworn in on January 20th, less than 1 percent of the seniors in America were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  One hundred days later, 70 percent of seniors in America over 65 are protected — fully protected.  
 
Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80 percent since January — down 80 percent because of all of you.  And more than half of all the adults in America have gotten at least one shot.
 
At a mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona, I asked a nurse — I said, “What’s it like?”  She looked at me and she said, “It’s like every shot is giving a dose of hope” — was the phrase.  “A dose of hope.”
 
A dose of hope for an educator in Florida who has a child suffering from an autoimmune disease — wrote to me, said she’s worried — that she was worrying about bringing the virus home.  She said she then got vaccinated at a — at a large site, in her car.  She said she sat in her car, when she got vaccinated, and just cried — cried out of joy and cried out of relief.
 
Parents see the smiles on their kids’ faces, for those who are able to go back to school because the teachers and school bus drivers and cafeteria workers have been vaccinated.
 
Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing hands against a window to say goodbye.
 
It means everything.  Those things mean everything.
 
You know, there’s still — you all know it; you know it better than any group of Americans — there’s still more work to do to beat this virus.  We can’t let our guard down.
 
But tonight I can say it: Because of you, the American people, our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements — logistical achievements this country has ever seen.
 
What else have we done in those first 100 days?
 
We kept our commitment — Democrats and Republicans — of sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85 percent of American households.  We’ve already sent more than one — 160 million checks out the door.  It’s making the difference.  You all know it when you go home.  For many people, it’s making all the difference in the world.
 
A single mom in Texas who wrote to me, she said she couldn’t work, but she said the relief check put food on the table and saved her and her son from eviction from their apartment.
 
A grandmother in Virginia who told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor — something she said she put off for months because she didn’t have the money. 
 
One of the defining images, at least from my perspective, of this crisis has been cars lined up — cars lined up for miles.  And not — not people who just barely ever start those cars — nice cars lined up for miles, waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk.
 
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t ever think I’d see that in America.  And all of this is through no fault of their own.  No fault of their own these people are in this position.
 
That’s why the Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger, and hunger is down sharply already. 
 
We’re also providing rental assistance — you all know this, but the American people, I want to make sure they understand — keeping people from being evicted from their homes, providing loans to small businesses to reopen and keep their employees on the job.
 
During these 100 days, an additional 800,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act when I established the special sign-up period to do that — 800,000 in that period.
 
We’re making one of the largest one-time ever investments — ever — in improving healthcare for veterans.  Critical investments to address the opioid crisis.  And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year.  (Applause.)
 
      [Notably, the Republicans kept their seats and silence.]

And in the process, while this was all going on, the economy created more than 1,300,000 new jobs in 100 days — more jobs in the first — (applause) — more jobs in the first 100 days than any President on record.
 
The International Monetary Fund — (applause) — the International Monetary Fund is now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than 6 percent this year.  That will be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades.
 
America is moving — moving forward — but we can’t stop now.  We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century.  We’re at a great inflection point in history.
 
We have to do more than just build back better — I mean “build back.”  We have to build back better.  We have to compete more strenuously than we have.
 
Throughout our history, if you think about it, public investment and infrastructure has literally transformed America — our attitudes, as well as our opportunities.
 
The transcontinental railroad, the interstate highways united two oceans and brought a totally new age of progress to the United States of America.
 
Universal public schools and college aid
opened wide the doors of opportunity.
 
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon — now we’re on Mars; discovering vaccines; gave us the Internet and so much more.
 
These are the investments we made together as one country, and investments that only the government was in a position to make.  Time and again, they propel us into the future.
 
That’s why I proposed the American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.  This is the largest jobs plan since World War Two.
 
It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure; jobs modernizing our roads, bridges, highways; jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors, transit lines. 
 
It’s clean water.  And, today, up to 10 million homes in America and more than 400,000 schools and childcare centers have pipes with lead in them, including in drinking water — a clear and present danger to our children’s health.
 
The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American can drink clean water.  (Applause.)
 
And in the process, it will create thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs.  It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed Internet, including 35 percent of the rural America that still doesn’t have it.
 
This is going to help our kids and our businesses succeed in the 21st-century economy.
 
And I am asking the Vice President to lead this effort, if she would —
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Of course.
 
THE PRESIDENT:  — because I know it will get done.  (Applause.)
 
It creates jobs, building a modern power grid.  Our grids are vulnerable to storms, hacks, catastrophic failures — with tragic results, as we saw in Texas and elsewhere during the winter storms.
 
The American Jobs Plan will create jobs that will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid.  We can do that.  (Applause.)
 
Look, the American Jobs Plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and back to their careers.
 
Two million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic — two million.  And too often because they couldn’t get the care they needed to care for their child or care for an elderly parent who needs help.
 
Eight hundred thousand families are on a Medicare waiting list right now to get homecare for their aging parent or loved one with a disability.  If you think it’s not important, check out in your own district.
 
Democrat or Republican — Democrat or Republican voters, their great concern — almost as much as their children — is taking care of an elderly loved one who can’t be left alone.  Medicaid contemplated it, but this plan is going to help those families and create jobs for our caregivers with better wages and better benefits, continuing a cycle of growth.
 
For too long, we’ve failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis: “jobs.”  Jobs.  Jobs.  (Applause.) 
 
For me, when I think “climate change,” I think “jobs.”
 
The American Jobs Plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy-efficient buildings and homes.  Electrical workers — IBEW members — installing 500,000 charging stations along our highways so we can own — (applause) — so we can own the electric car market.  (Applause.)
 
Farmers — farmers planting cover crops so they can reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.  (Applause.)
 
Look, but think about it: There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.  No reason.  None.  No reason.  (Applause.)
 
So, folks, there’s no reason why American — American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.  I mean, there is no reason.  We have this capacity.  (Applause.)  We have the brightest, best-trained people in the world.
 
The American Jobs Plan is going to create millions of good-paying jobs — jobs Americans can raise a family on — as my dad would then say, “with a little breathing room.”
 
And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American.  (Applause.)  Buy American.
 
And I might note, parenthetically — (applause) — that does not — that does not violate any trade agreement.  It’s been the law since the ’30s: Buy American. 
 
American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America to create American jobs.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be and it will be in this administration.  (Applause.)
 
And I made it clear to all my Cabinet people.  Their ability to give exemptions has been strenuously limited.  It will be American products.
 
Now I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you.  So many of you — so many of the folks I grew up with feel left behind, forgotten in an economy that’s so rapidly changing.  It’s frightening. 
 
I want to speak directly to you.  Because if you think about it, that’s what people are most worried about: “Can I fit in?”
 
Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come.  It is an eight-year program.  These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.
 
Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree; 75 percent don’t require an associate’s degree.
 
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.  That’s what it is.  (Applause.)
 
And it recognizes something I’ve always said in this chamber and the other.  Good guys and women on Wall Street, but Wall Street didn’t build this country.  The middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class.  (Applause.)
 
So that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act — the PRO Act — and send it to my desk so we can support the right to unionize.  (Applause.)
 
And, by the way, while you’re thinking about sending things to my desk — (laughs) — let’s raise the minimum wage to $15.  (Applause.)
 
No one — no one working 40 hours a week — no one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.
 
We need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women.  And while we’re doing this, let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act to my desk as well — equal pay.  It’s been much too long.  And if you’re wondering whether it’s too long, look behind me.  (Applause.)
 
And finally, the American Jobs Plan will be the biggest increase in nondefense research and development on record.  We will see more technological change — and some of you know more about this than I do — we’ll see more technological change in the next 10 years than we saw in the last 50.  That’s how rapidly artificial intelligence and so much more is changing.
 
And we’re falling behind the competition with the rest of the world.
 
Decades ago, we used to invest 2 percent of our gross domestic product in America — 2 percent of our gross domestic product — in research and development. 
 
Today, Mr. Secretary, that’s less than 1 percent. 
China and other countries are closing in fast.  We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future:advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy.
 
The Secretary of Defense can tell you — and those of you on — who work on national security issues know — the Defense Department has an agency called DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency.  The people who set up before I came here — and that’s been a long time ago — to develop breakthroughs that enhance our national security -– that’s their only job.  And it’s a semi-separate agency; it’s under the Defense Department.  It’s led to everything from the discovery of the Internet to GPS and so much more that has enhanced our security.
 
The National Institute of Health — the NIH –- I believe, should create a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.  (Applause.)
 
And that would — here’s what it would do.  It would have a singular purpose: to develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
 
I’ll still never forget when we passed the cancer proposal the last year I was Vice President — almost $9 million going to NIH.  And if you excuse the point of personal privilege, I’ll never forget you standing and mentioning — saying you’d name it after my deceased son.  It meant a lot.
 
But so many of us have deceased sons, daughters, and relatives who died of cancer.  I can think of no more worthy investment.  I know of nothing that is more bipartisan.  So, let’s end cancer as we know it.  (Applause.)  It’s within our power.  (Applause.)  It’s within our power to do it.  (Applause.)
 
Investments in jobs and infrastructure, like the ones we’re talking about, have often had bipartisan support in the past.  Vice President Harris and I met regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the Jobs Plan.  And I applaud a group of Republican senators who just put forward their own proposal.
 
So, let’s get to work.  I wanted to lay out, before the Congress, my plan before we got into the deep discussions.  I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different — they think are better.  I welcome those ideas. 
 
But the rest of the world is not waiting for us.  I just want to be clear: From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.  (Applause.)
 
Look, we can’t be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
 
Secretary Blinken can tell you, I spent a lot of time with President Xi — traveled over 17,000 miles with him; spent, they tell me, over 24 hours in private discussions with him.  When he called to congratulate me, we had a two-hour discussion.  He’s deadly earnest about becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world.  He and others — autocrats — think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century with autocracies because it takes too long to get consensus. 
 
To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children.  That’s why I’ve introduced the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families and, in turn, America.
 
First is access to a good education.  When this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best-educated, best-prepared nation in the world.  It’s, I believe, the overwhelming reason that propelled us to where we got in the 21st — in the 20th century. 
 
But the world has caught up, or catching up.  They are not waiting.  I would say, parenthetically: If we were sitting down, put a bipartisan committee together and said, “Okay, we’re going to decide what we do in terms of government providing for free education,” I wonder whether we’d think, as we did in the 20th century, that 12 years is enough in the 21st century.  I doubt it.  Twelve years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st Century.
 
That’s why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America, starting as early as we can.
 
The great universities of this country have conducted studies over the last 10 years.  It shows that adding two years of universal high-quality preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old, no matter what background they come from, it puts them in the position to be able to compete all the way through 12 years.  It increases exponentially their prospect of graduating and going on beyond graduation.
 
The research shows when a young child goes to school — not daycare — they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go to college or something after high school.
 
When you add two years of free community college on top of that, you begin to change the dynamic.  (Applause.)  We can do that.  (Applause.) 
 
And we’ll increase Pell Grants and invest in Historical Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, Minority-Serving Institutions.  The reason is: They don’t have the endowments, but their students are just as capable of learning about cybersecurity, just as capable of learning about metallurgy — all the things that are going on that provide those jobs of the future.
 
Jill was  a community college professor who teaches today as First Lady.  She has long said — (applause).  She has long — (applause).  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Joe, any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us.”  She’ll be deeply involved in leading this effort.  Thank you, Jill.
 
Second thing we need: American Families Plan will provide access to quality, affordable childcare.  We guarantee — (applause).  And I’m proposing a legislation to guarantee that low- and middle-income families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5.  The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.
 
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave  and medical leave — family and medical leave.  We’re one of the few industrial countries in the world — (applause). 
 
No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones –- a parent, a spouse, or child.
 
And fourth, the American Family Plan puts directly into the pockets of millions of Americans.  In March, we expanded a tax credit for every child in a family.  Up to a $3,000 per child, if they’re under six years of age — I mean, excuse me — under six years of age, and $3,600 for children over six years of age.
 
With two parents, two kids, that’s $7,200 in the pockets that’s going to help to take care of your family.  And that will help more than 65 million children and help cut [child] poverty in half.  (Applause.)  And we can afford it. 
 
So we did that in the last piece of legislation we passed. But let’s extend that Child Care Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025.  (Applause.)  
 
The American Rescue Plan lowered healthcare premiums for 9 million Americans who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  I know that’s really popular on this side of the aisle.  (Laughter.)  But let’s make that provision permanent so their premiums don’t go back up.  (Applause.)  
 
In addition to my Families Plan, I’m going to work with Congress to address, this year, other critical priorities for American families. 
 
The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans, protecting people with preexisting conditions, protecting women’s health.  And the pandemic has demonstrated how badly — how badly it’s needed.  Let’s lower deductibles for working families on the Affordable Care — in the Affordable Care Act.  (Applause.)  And let’s lower prescription drug costs.  (Applause.) 
 
We know how to do this.  The last President had that as an objective.  We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America. 
 
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America — nearly three times — for the same drug, nearly three times what other countries pay.  We have to change that, and we can. 
 
Let’s do what we’ve always talked about for all the years I was down here in this — in this body — in Congress.  Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices.  (Applause.)
 
And, by the way, that won’t just — that won’t just help people on Medicare; it will lower prescription drug costs for everyone. 
 
And the money we save, which is billions of dollars, can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare coverage benefits without costing taxpayers an additional penny.  It’s within our power to do it; let’s do it now.  (Applause.)
 
We’ve talked about it long enough.  Democrats and Republicans, let’s get it done this year.  This is all about a simple premise: Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege in America.  (Applause.) 
 
So, how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plan?  I made it clear, we can do it without increasing the deficits.  Let’s start with what I will not do: I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000.  It’s — but it’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to just begin to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)  Just their fair share. 
 
Sometimes I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party.  I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire, but pay your fair share.
 
A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero federal tax last year.  Those 55 corporations made in excess of $40 billion in profit.  A lot of companies also evade taxes through tax havens in Switzerland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.  And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.  It’s not right. 
 
We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well.  (Applause.)
 
We’re going to reward work, not just wealth.  We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans — those making over $400,000 or more — back up to where it was when George W. Bush was President when he started: 39.6 percent.  That’s where it was when George W. was President. 
 
We’re going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than a million dollars a year and pay a lower tax rate on their capital gains than Americans who receive a paycheck.   We’re only going to affect three tenths of 1 percent of all Americans by that action.  Three tenths of 1 percent. 
 
And the IRS is going to crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.  It’s estimated to be billions of dollars by think tanks that are left, right, and center. 
 
I’m not looking to punish anybody.  But I will not add a tax burden — an additional tax burden to the middle class in this country.  They’re already paying enough.  I believe what I propose is fair — (applause) — fiscally responsible, and it raises revenue to pay for the plans I have proposed, and will create millions of jobs that will grow the economy and enhance our financial standing in the country.
 
When you hear someone say that they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent or corporate America, ask them: “Whose taxes you want to raise instead?  Whose are you going to cut?” 
 
Look, the big tax cut of 2017 — remember, it was supposed to pay for itself — that was how it was sold — and generate vast economic growth.  Instead, it added $2 trillion to the deficit.  It was a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top.  
 
Instead of using the tax saving to raise wages and invest in research and development, it poured billions of dollars into the pockets of CEOs.  In fact, the pay gap between CEOs and their workers is now among the largest in history. 
 
According to one study, CEOs make 320 times what the average worker in their corporation makes.  It used to be in the — below a hundred. 
 
The pandemic has only made things worse.  Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic — working- and middle-class Americans.  At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion — in the same exact period.  Let me say it again: 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion during this pandemic.  And they’re now worth more than $4 trillion. 
 
My fellow Americans, trickle-down — trickle-down economics has never worked and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out. (Applause.) 
 
You know, there’s a broad consensus of economists — left, right, center — and they agree what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.  These are among the highest-value investments we can make as a nation. 
 
I’ve often said: Our greatest strength is the power of our example, not just the example of our power.  
 
In my conversations with world leaders — and I’ve spoken to over 38, 40 of them now — I’ve made it known — I’ve made it known that America is back.  And you know what they say?  The comment that I hear most of all from them is they say, “We see America is back but for how long?  But for how long?”
 
My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we’re back, but that we’re back to stay and that we aren’t going to go it alone.  (Applause.)  We’re going to do it by leading with our allies.  (Applause.)   
 
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our timefrom terrorism, to nuclear proliferation, mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change, as well as experi- — what we’re experiencing now with pandemics. 
 
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus out.  And our own vaccine supply — as it grows to meet our needs; and we’re meeting them — will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries, just as America was the arsenal of democracy for the world — (applause) — and in consequence, influenced the world.  (Applause.)  
 
But every American will have access before that occur- — every American will have access to be fully covered by COVID-19 — from the vaccines we have.
 
Look, the climate crisis is not our fight alone; it’s a global fight.  The United States accounts, as all of you know, less than 15 percent of carbon emissions.  The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent.  That’s why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Accord — because if we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to ultimately matter.
 
I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America with all of the major economies of the world — China, Russia, India, the European Union — and I said I’d do it in my first 100 days.
 
I want to be very blunt about it: I had — my attempt was to make sure that the world could see there was a consensus, that we are at an inflection point in history.  And consensus — the consensus is: If we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living to almost everyone around the world.
 
If you’ve watched any of it — and you were all busy; I’m sure you didn’t have much time — that’s what virtually every nation said, even the ones that aren’t doing their fair share.
 
The investments I’ve proposed tonight also advance the foreign policy, in my view, that benefits the middle class.  That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.
 
In my discussions — in my discussions with President Xi, I told him, “We welcome the competition.  We’re not looking for conflict.”  But I made absolutely clear that we will defend America’s interests across the board.  America will stand up to unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and American industries, like subsidies from state — to state-owned operations and enterprises and the theft of American technology and intellectual property.
 
I also told President Xi that we’ll maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific, just as we do with NATO in Europe — not to start a conflict, but to prevent one.  (Applause.) 
 
I told him what I’ve said to many world leaders: that America will not back away from our commitments — our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and to our alliances.
 
And I pointed out to him: No responsible American President could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated.  An American President — President has to represent the essence of what our country stands for.  America is an idea — the most unique idea in history: We are created, all of us, equal.  It’s who we are, and we cannot walk away from that principle and, in fact, say we’re dealing with the American idea.
 
With regard to Russia, I know it concerns some of you, but I made very clear to Putin that we’re not going to seek escalation, but their actions will have consequence if they turn out to be true.  And they turned out to be true, so I responded directly and proportionally to Russia’s interference in our elections and the cyberattacks on our government and our business.  They did both of these things, and I told them we would respond, and we have.
 
But we can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interest.  We did it when we extended the New START Treaty on nuclear arms, and we’re working to do it on climate change.  But he understands we will respond.
 
On Iran and North Korea — nuclear programs that present serious threats to American security and the security of the world — we’re going to be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy, as well as stern deterrence.
 
And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan.  (Applause.)  We have — (applause) — we have, without hyperbole, the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.  I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have a son serving in a warzone. 
 
Today we have servicemembers serving in the same warzone as their parents did.  We have servicemembers in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11.
 
The War in Afghanistan, as we remember the debates here, were never meant to be multi-generational undertakings of nation-building.  We went to Afghanistan to get terrorists — the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 — and we said we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to do it.  If you’ve been to the upper Kunar Valley, you’ve kind of seen the gates of hell.  And we delivered justice to bin Laden.  We degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  And after 20 years of value — valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring those troops home.  (Applause.) 
 
Look, even as we do, we will maintain an over-the-horizon capacity to suppress future threats to the homeland.  And make no mistake: In 20 years, terrorists has — terrorism has metastasized.  The threat has evolved way beyond Afghanistan.  And those of you in the intelligence committees, the foreign relations committee, the defense committees, you know well: We have to remain vigilant against the threats to the United States wherever they come from.  Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, other places in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. 
 
And we won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism.  We’re not going to ignore that either.
 
My fellow Americans, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation.  It was nearly a year ago, before her father’s funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter.  She’s a little tyke, so I was kneeling down to talk to her so I could look her in the eye.  And she looked at me and she said, “My daddy changed the world.”  Well, after the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was if — if we have the courage to act as a Congress. 
 
We’ve all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans.  Now is our opportunity to make some real progress.  The vast majority of men and women wearing the uniform and a badge serve our communities, and they serve them honorably.  I know them.  I know they want — (applause) — I know they want to help meet this moment as well.
 
My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already. 
 
I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in the very productive discussions with Democrats in the Senate.  We need to work together to find a consensus.  But let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.  (Applause.) 
 
The country supports this reform, and Congress should act — should act.  We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe towards justice — real justice.  And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways; a chance to deliver real equity — good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass it down two generations because you have an access to purchase a house.  Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans — Black, white, Latino, Asian Americans, Native Americans.
 
Look, I also want to thank the United States Senate for voting 94 to 1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  (Applause.)  You acted decisively.  (Applause.)  And you can see on television the viciousness of the hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year — this past year and for too long.  I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk, which I will gladly, anxiously sign.
 
I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans.  (Applause.)  To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know your President has your back.
 
Another thing: Let’s authorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law for 27 years.  (Applause.)  Twenty-seven years ago, I wrote it.  It’ll close the — the act that has to be authorized now will close the “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.  The court order said, “This is an abuser.  You can’t own a gun.”  It’s to close that loophole that existed. 
 
You know, it’s estimated that 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner every month in America — 50 a month.  Let’s pass it and save some lives.  (Applause.)
    
And I need not — I need not tell anyone this, but gun violence is becoming an epidemic in America.
 
The flag at the White House was still flying at half-mast for the 8 victims in the mass shooting in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a mass shooting in Colorado.
 
And in the week in between those two events, 250 other Americans were shot dead in the streets of America — 250 shot dead.
 
I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue.  In the ’90s, we passed universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired off in seconds.  We beat the NRA.  Mass shootings and gun violence declined.  Check out the report in over 10 years.  But in the early twe- — 2000s, the law expired, and we’ve seen daily bloodshed since.  I’m not saying if the law continued, we wouldn’t see bloodshed.  
 
More than two weeks ago in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest people I know — the survivors and families who lost loved ones to gun violence — I laid out several of the Department of Justice a- — actions that are being taken to — impact on this epidemic. 
 
One of them is banning so-called “ghost guns.”  These are homemade guns built from a kit that includes directions on how to finish the firearm.  The parts have no serial numbers, so they show up at crime scenes and they can’t be traced.  The buyers of these ghost gun kits aren’t required to pass any background check.  Anyone, from a criminal or terrorist, could buy this kit and within 30 minutes have a weapon that’s lethal.  But no more.
 
And I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well.  (Applause.)
 
Look, I don’t want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democrat colleagues and close the loopholes requiring a background check on purchases of guns.  We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  And don’t tell me it can’t be done.  We did it before, and it worked.
 
Talk to most responsible gun owners and hunters. They’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a weapon.  What do you think — deer are wearing Kevlar vests?  (Laughter.)  They’ll tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
 
These kinds of reasonable reforms have overwhelming support from the American people, including many gun owners.  The country supports reform and is — and Congress should act.
 
This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue.  And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.  You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.  From the very beginning, there were certain guns, weapons, that could not be owned by Americans.  Certain people could not own those weapons ever. 
 
We’re not changing the Constitution; we’re being reasonable.  I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; I think it’s an American issue.
 
And here’s what else we can do: Immigration has always been essential to America.  Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration.  For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform, and we’ve done nothing about it.  It’s time to fix it.
 
On day one of my presidency, I kept my commitment and sent a comprehensive immigration bill to the United States Congress.  If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security.  If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it so over 11 million undocumented folks — the vast majority are here overstaying visas.  Pass it.  We can actually — if you actually want to solve a problem, I’ve sent a bill to take a close look at it. 
 
We have to — also have to get at the root problem of why people are fleeing, particularly to — to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador: the violence, the corruption, the gangs, and the political instability, hunger, hurricanes, earthquakes, natural disasters.
 
 
When I was President, my President — when I was Vice President, the President asked me to focus on providing the help needed to address the root causes of migration.  And it helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave.  The plan was working, but the last administration decided it was not worth it.
 
I’m restoring the program and asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic effort to take care of this.  I have absolute confidence she’ll get the job done.  (Applause.)
 
Now, look, if you don’t like my plan, let’s at least pass what we all agree on.  Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for DREAMers — the young people who have only known America as their home.  (Applause.) 
 
And permanent protection for immigrants who are here on temporary protected status who came from countries beset by manmade and natural-made violence and disaster.  (Applause.)
 
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.  (Applause.) 
 
Look, immigrants have done so much for America during this pandemic and throughout our history.  The country supports immigration reform.  We should act.  Let’s argue over it, let’s debate it, but let’s act.  (Applause.)
 
And if we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote.  Most people — (applause).  
 
More people voted in the last presidential election than any time in American history, in the middle of the worst pandemic ever.  It should be celebrated.  Instead, it’s being attacked.
 
Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send it to my desk right away.
  (Applause.)  The country supports it.  The Congress should act now.  (Applause.)
 
Look, in closing, as we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol, desecrating our democracy, remain vivid in all our minds.
 
Lives were put at risk — many of your lives.  Lives were lost.  Extraordinary courage was summoned.  The insurrection was an existential crisis –- a test of whether our democracy could survive.  And it did.
 
But the struggle is far from over.  The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent, as old as our Republic — still vital today. 
 
Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us, created equal in the image of God, have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?
 
Can our democracy deliver the most — to the most pressing needs of our people? 
 
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?
 
America’s adversaries –- the autocrats of the world –- are betting we can’t.  And I promise you, they’re betting we can’t.  They believe we’re too full of anger and division and rage.
 
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.  But they are wrong.  You know it; I know it.  But we have to prove them wrong.
 
We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.
 
In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in democracy to deliver.  We’re vaccinating the nation.  We’re creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.  We’re delivering real results to people; they can see it and feel it in their own lives.
 
Opening doors of opportunity, guaranteeing some more fairness and justice — that’s the essence of America.  That’s democracy in action.
 
Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds — “We the People”.  Well, it’s time to remember that “We the People” are the government — you and I.  Not some force in a distant capital.  Not some powerful force that we have no control over.  It’s us.  It’s “We the People.”
 
In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us, “In America, we do our part.”  We all do our part.  That’s all I’m asking: that we do our part, all of us.
 
If we do that, we will meet the center challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.  Autocrats will not win the future.  We will.  America will.  And the future belongs to America.
 
As I stand here tonight before you, in a new and vital hour of life and democracy of our nation, and I can say with absolute confidence: I have never been more confident or optimistic about America — not because I’m President, because what’s happening with the American people.
 
We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and “We the People” did not flinch.
 
At the very moment our adversaries were certain we would pull apart and fail, we came together.  We united.
 
With light and hope, we summoned a new strength, new resolve to position us to win the competition of the 21st century, on our way to a union more perfect, more prosperous, and more just, as one people, one nation, and one America.
 
Folks, as I told every world leader I’ve ever met with over the years, it’s never ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America, and it still isn’t.  (Applause.)
 
We are the United States of America.  (Applause.)  There is not a single thing — nothing — nothing beyond our capacity.  We can do whatever we set our mind to do if we do it together.  (Applause.)  So let’s begin to get together.  (Applause.)
 
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.  Thank you for your patience.  (Applause.)
 
10:12 P.M. EDT
 

Biden SOTU Address: ‘Autocrats will not win the future. We will. The future belongs to America’

President Joe Biden at his first State of the Union speech: “I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

There was so much about President Joe Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress (otherwise known as the State of the Union address) that was extraordinary, with the twin challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and domestic insurrection still hovering, but also the historic nature: Biden began by acknowledging the historic moment of “Madam Speaker” and “Madam Vice President” sitting on the podium behind him.

But there was a lot more to his review of his first 100 days in office that was historic: “Because of you, the American people, our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements this country has ever seen,” he declared. The economy created 1,300,000 new jobs in Biden’s first 100 days – more jobs in the first 100 days of any President, and the economy is on track to achieve 6% growth, the fastest growth rate in four decades.

“I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.”

His speech was long on specific proposals and praise for others, and very short on self-congratulations, even stepping on applause lines and speaking over and over about coming “together”. “Thanks to all the help of all of you, we’re marshalling — with your help, everyone’s help — we’re marshalling every federal resource.”

He laid out his plan – and rationale – for the biggest, most transformational investment in infrastructure in history, the American Jobs Plan: “These are the investments we made together as one country, and investments that only the government was in a position to make.  Time and again, they propel us into the future.”

In a word, it represents “jobs” – a word he used 43 times.

He used jobs to justify investments in traditional infrastructure but also  investments in climate action and research & development.

He proposed a new agency like DARPA, responsible for inventing the internet, for medicine, to ultimately eradicate cancer and deal with the epidemic of Alzheimer‘s. He is proposing expanding access to the Affordable Care Act, lowering premiums, and lowering the costof prescription drugs for everyone by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices.

“Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come.  It is an eight-year program.  These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced…. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

His other big, trillion-dollar proposal is for the American Families Plan: in care – child care, parental and spousal care – paid family leave, and four more years of public education: two for pre-K and two more for community college.

He spoke of union rights and the need to raise the minimum wage to $15, pay equity.

These big, bold, transformational programs, he said, will be paid for by reforming tax code and collections. “Trickle-down economics has never worked and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out… What I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.  These are among the highest-value investments we can make as a nation.”

He addressed immigration reform, justice reform, voting rights, gun reform, and for good measure, told the LGBTQ and specifically transgender young people, “I’ve got your back.” He called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Police Reform Act in time for the one-year anniversary of his death at the hands of a police officer. “We have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already…

“We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe towards justice — real justice. And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways; a chance to deliver real equity — good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass it down two generations because you have an access to purchase a house.  Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans — Black, white, Latino, Asian Americans, Native Americans.

For the most part delivered in quiet, intimidate, personal tones, frequently speaking directly to the American people, and only in a few instances raising his voice rose in volume and intensity, especially in terms of the need for America to stand as a beacon of democracy, and ward off the looming vultures of autocracy licking their chops over a collapse.

Issues like fighting the pandemic, terrorism and the climate crisis cannot be done by any one nation alone.

“America will not back away from our commitments — our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and to our alliances…. America is an idea — the most unique idea in history: We are created, all of us, equal.  It’s who we are, and we cannot walk away from that principle and, in fact, say we’re dealing with the American idea.”

And while saying firmly he will stand up to China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, and pursue terrorists everywhere, even as the US ends its forever war in Afghanistan, he declared emphatically, “We won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism.  We’re not going to ignore that either.”

He did not shirk from raising intractable issues that have plagued America for decades, starting with gun reform saying, “I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well.  

“Look, I don’t want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democrat colleagues and close the loopholes requiring a background check on purchases of guns.  We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  And don’t tell me it can’t be done.  We did it before, and it worked.

“This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue.  And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.  You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.  From the very beginning, there were certain guns, weapons,that could not be owned by Americans.  Certain people could not own those weapons ever. 
 
“We’re not changing the Constitution; we’re being reasonable.  I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; I think it’s an American issue.”

So is immigration. “Immigration has always been essential to America.  Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration.  For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform, and we’ve done nothing about it.  It’s time to fix it.”

On his first day in office, Biden sent a comprehensive immigration reform bill to Congress. “If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security.  If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it so over 11 million undocumented folks — the vast majority are here overstaying visas.  Pass it.  We can actually — if you actually want to solve a problem, I’ve sent a bill to take a close look at it.”

At least, he said, pass protection for DREAMers. 

And finally, he told Congress, pass voting rights protections.

“Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?
 
“America’s adversaries –- the autocrats of the world –- are betting we can’t.  And I promise you, they’re betting we can’t.  They believe we’re too full of anger and division and rage. They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.  But they are wrong.  You know it; I know it.  But we have to prove them wrong.
 
“We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people…

“Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds – ‘We the People’.  Well, it’s time to remember that ‘We the People’ are the government — you and I.  Not some force in a distant capital.  Not some powerful force that we have no control over.  It’s us.  It’s ‘We the People.’ 

“In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us, ‘In America, we do our part.’  We all do our part.  That’s all I’m asking: that we do our part, all of us.
 
“If we do that, we will meet the center challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.  Autocrats will not win the future.  We will.  America will.  And the future belongs to America.”

See a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s speech:

___________________

© 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

Biden to Pitch $1 Trillion American Families Plan in Joint Speech to Congress

It’s about the children: President Joe Biden is expected to lay out his American Families Plan – a $1 trillion investment over 10 years “in our kids, our families and our economic future” including universal pre-K, paid parental leave, child care, free community college – in his first speech to the joint session of Congress on the eve of his 100th day in office. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden is expected to lay out his American Families Plan – a $1 trillion investment “in our kids, our families and our economic future” over 10 years, including universal pre-K, paid parental leave, child care, free community college and how he proposes to pay for it ($800 billion in tax enforcement, higher rates for the wealthiest payers and corporations) – in his first speech to the joint session of Congress on the eve of his 100th day in office.

The White House provided a fact sheet:

Today, President Biden announced the American Families Plan, an investment in our kids, our families, and our economic future.
 
In March, the President signed into law the American Rescue Plan, which continues to provide immediate relief to American families and communities. Approximately 161 million payments of up to $1,400 per person have gone out to households, schools are reopening, and 100 percent of Americans ages 16 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The Rescue Plan is projected to lift more than five million children out of poverty this year, cutting child poverty by more than half. While too many Americans are still out of work, we are seeing encouraging signs in the labor market, as businesses begin to rehire and some of the hardest hit sectors begin to reopen.
 
But the President knows that we need to do more. It is not enough to restore where we were prior to the pandemic. We need to build a stronger economy that does not leave anyone behind – we need to build back better. President Biden knows a strong middle class is the backbone of America. He knows it should be easier for American families to break into the middle class, and easier to stay in the middle class. He knows that we need to continue to enable those who dropped out of the workforce – particularly the approximately two million women who left due to COVID – to rejoin and stay in the workforce. And, he knows that, unlike in past decades, policies to make life easier for American families must focus on bringing everyone along: inclusive of gender, race, or place of residence – urban, suburban, or rural.
 
The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan are once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s future.  The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s physical infrastructure and workforce, and spark innovation and manufacturing here at home. The American Families Plan is an investment in our children and our families—helping families cover the basic expenses that so many struggle with now, lowering health insurance premiums, and continuing the American Rescue Plan’s historic reductions in child poverty. Together, these plans reinvest in the future of the American economy and American workers, and will help us out-compete China and other countries around the world.
 
To grow the middle class, expand the benefits of economic growth to all Americans, and leave the United States more competitive, President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Add at least four years of free education. Investing in education is a down payment on the future of America. As access to high school became more widely available at the turn of the 20th Century, it made us the best-educated and best-prepared nation in the world. But everyone knows that 12 years is not enough today. The American Families Plan will make transformational investments from early childhood to postsecondary education so that all children and young people are able to grow, learn, and gain the skills they need to succeed. It will provide universal, quality-preschool to all three- and four- year-olds. It will provide Americans two years of free community college. It will invest in making college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). And, it will invest in our teachers as well as our students, improving teacher training and support so that our schools become engines of growth at every level.
     
  • Provide direct support to children and families. Our nation is strongest when everyone has the opportunity to join the workforce and contribute to the economy. But many workers struggle to both hold a full-time job and care for themselves and their families. The American Families Plan will provide direct support to families to ensure that low- and middle-income families spend no more than seven percent of their income on child care, and that the child care they access is of high-quality. It will also provide direct support to workers and families by creating a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that will bring the American system in line with competitor nations that offer paid leave programs. The system will also allow people to manage their health and the health of their families. And, it will provide critical nutrition assistance to families who need it most and expand access to healthy meals to our nation’s students – dramatically reducing childhood hunger.
     
  • Extend tax cuts for families with children and American workersWhile the American Rescue Plan provided meaningful relief for hundreds of millions of Americans, too many families and workers feel the squeeze of too-low wages and the high costs of meeting their basic needs and their aspirations. At the same time, the wealthiest Americans continue to get further and further ahead. The American Families Plan will extend key tax cuts in the American Rescue Plan that benefit lower- and middle-income workers and families, including the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. In addition to making it easier for families to make ends meet, tax credits for working families have been shown to boost child academic and economic performance over time. The American Families Plan will also extend the expanded health insurance tax credits in the American Rescue Plan. These credits are providing premium relief that is lowering health insurance costs by an average of $50 per person per month for nine million people, and will enable four million uninsured people to gain coverage. 

Leading economic research has shown that the investments proposed in the American Families Plan will yield significant economic returns – boosting productivity and economic growth, producing a larger, more productive, and healthier workforce on a sustained basis, and generating savings to states and the federal government. Evidence shows that a dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs for low-income children will result in up to $7.30 in benefits, including increased wages, improved health, and reduced crime. Parental paid leave has been shown to keep mothers in the workforce, increasing labor force participation and boosting economic growth. And, sustained tax credits for families with children have been found to yield a lifetime of benefits, ranging from higher educational attainment to higher lifetime earnings
 
In all, the American Families Plan includes $1.8 trillion in investments and tax credits for American families and children over ten years. It consists of about $1 trillion in investments and $800 billion in tax cuts for American families and workers. Alongside the American Families Plan, the President will be proposing a set of measures to make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their share in taxes, while ensuring that no one making $400,000 per year or less will see their taxes go up. When combined with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, this legislation will be fully paid for over 15 years, and will reduce deficits over the long term.  
 
ADD AT LEAST FOUR YEARS OF FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION, CLOSE EQUITY GAPS, AND MAKE COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE

Early in the 20th century, the United States set a new global standard by expanding access to free public education through high school. Direct public investment in our children’s future propelled U.S. economic growth and enhanced our global competitiveness. Now, mounting evidence suggests that 12 years of school is no longer sufficient to prepare our students for success in today’s economy. Research tells us that we must invest early to support our children’s development and readiness for academic success; our transforming economy requires that we provide every student the opportunity to obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate. 
 
That is why the American Families Plan calls for an additional four years of free, public education for our nation’s children. Specifically, President Biden is calling for $200 billion for free universal pre-school for all three- and four-year-olds and $109 billion for two years of free community college so that every student has the ability to obtain a degree or certificate. In addition, he is calling for an over $80 billion investment in Pell Grants, which would help students seeking a certificate or a two- or four-year degree. Recognizing that access to postsecondary education is not enough, the American Families Plan includes $62 billion to invest in evidence-based strategies to strengthen completion and retention rates at community colleges and institutions that serve students from our most disadvantaged communities. This is alongside a $46 billion investment in HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. President Biden is also calling for $9 billion to train, equip and diversify American teachers in order to ensure that our high school graduates are ready for success. These investments, combined with those laid out in the President’s American Jobs Plan, will boost earnings, expand employment opportunities, and enable the U.S. to win the 21st century.
 
UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL THREE- AND FOUR-YEAR-OLDS
 
Preschool is critical to ensuring that children start kindergarten with the skills and supports that set them up for success in school. In fact, research shows that kids who attend universal pre-K are more likely to take honors classes and less likely to repeat a grade, and another study finds low-income children who attend universal programs do better in math and reading as late as eighth grade. Unfortunately, many children, but especially children of color and low-income children, do not have access to the full range of high-quality pre-school programs available to their more affluent peers. In addition to providing critical benefits for children, preschool has also been shown to increase labor force participation among parents – especially women — boosting family earnings and driving economic growth.  By some estimates, the benefits of a universal pre-K system to U.S. GDP are more than three times greater than the investment needed to provide this service.

  • President Biden is calling for a national partnership with states to offer free, high-quality, accessible, and inclusive preschool to all three-and four-year-olds, benefitting five million children and saving the average family $13,000, when fully implementedThis historic $200 billion investment in America’s future will prioritize high-need areas and enable communities and families to choose the settings that work best for them. The President’s plan will also ensure that all publicly-funded preschool is high-quality, with low student-to-teacher ratios, high-quality and developmentally appropriate curriculum, and supportive classroom environments that are inclusive for all students. The President’s plan will leverage investments in tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or another credential that supports their work as an educator, or to become an early childhood educator. And, educators will receive job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work. All employees in participating pre-K programs and Head Start will earn at least $15 per hour, and those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation commensurate with that of kindergarten teachers. These investments will give American children a head start and pave the way for the best-educated generation in U.S. history.

 FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND OTHER POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION INVESTMENTS
For much of the 20th century, graduating from high school was a gateway to a stable job and a living wage. But over the last 40 years, we have seen the most growth in jobs requiring higher levels of job preparation, including education and training. Today, 70 percent of jobs are held by people with more than a high school degree. American workers need and deserve additional support to build their skills, increase their earnings, remain competitive, and share in the benefits of the new economy. President Biden’s plan will expand access to affordable postsecondary education, laying the groundwork for innovation and inclusive economic growth for all Americans. Specifically, President Biden’s plan will:
 

  • Offer two years of free community college to all Americans, including DREAMers. The current crisis has led to a steep college enrollment decline, particularly for low-income students and students of color. As of Fall 2020, high-minority and high-poverty high schools saw a 9.4 percent and 11.4 percent decline in college enrollment, respectively. But even before the pandemic, cost remained a barrier to attending and graduating from community college for many Americans. President Biden’s $109 billion plan will ensure that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college to earn a degree or credential for free. Students can use the benefit over three years and, if circumstances warrant, up to four years, recognizing that many students’ lives and other responsibilities can make full-time enrollment difficult. If all states, territories, and Tribes participate, about 5.5 million students would pay $0 in tuition and fees.
  • Provide up to approximately $1,400 in additional assistance to low-income students by increasing the Pell Grant award. While nearly 7 million students depend on Pell Grants, the grant has not kept up with the rising cost of college. Over the last 50 years, the value of Pell Grants has plummeted. The maximum grant went from covering nearly 80 percent of the cost of a four-year college degree to under 30 percent — leading millions of low-income students to take out debt to finance their education. One in three community college students receive Pell Grants to pay for their education. Among students of color, nearly 60 percent of Black, half of American Indian or Alaska Native, almost half of Latino, and over one-third of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students rely on Pell Grants to pay for college. The American Families Plan will increase the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400, a down payment on President Biden’s commitment to double the maximum award. The plan also allows DREAMers to access Pell Grants.
     
  • Increase college retention and completion rates. An education beyond high school can lead to higher pay, financial stability, social mobility, and better health outcomes. It also has public benefits such as a reduction in crime rates and higher civic engagement. However, far too many students enter college but do not graduate. Research shows that only approximately three out of five students finish any type of degree or certificate program within six years. To complete, students need additional support. The President is proposing a bold $62 billion grant program to invest in completion and retention activities at colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students, particularly community colleges. States, territories, and Tribes will receive grants to provide funding to colleges that adopt innovative, proven solutions for student success, including wraparound services ranging from child care and mental health services to faculty and peer mentoring; emergency basic needs grants; practices that recruit and retain diverse faculty; transfer agreements between colleges; and evidence-based remediation programs.
     
  • Provide two years of subsidized tuition and expand programs in high-demand fields at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Research has found that HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs are vital to helping underrepresented students move to the top of the income ladder. For example, while HBCUs are only three percent of four-year universities, their graduates make up approximately 80 percent of Black judges, half of Black lawyers and doctors, and 25 percent of Black undergraduates earning STEM degrees. Yet, these institutions have significantly less resources than other top colleges and universities, undermining their ability to grow and support more students. President Biden is calling on Congress to make a historic investment in HBCU, TCU, and MSI affordability. Specifically, he is calling for a new $39 billion program that provides two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in a four-year HBCU, TCU, or MSI. The President is also calling for $5 billion to expand existing institutional aid grants to HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, which can be used by these institutions to strengthen their academic, administrative, and fiscal capabilities, including by creating or expanding educational programs in high-demand fields (e.g., STEM, computer sciences, nursing, and allied health), with an additional $2 billion directed towards building a pipeline of skilled health care workers with graduate degrees. These investments, combined with the $45 billion proposed in the American Jobs Plan targeted to these institutions, will enable America’s HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to tackle longstanding inequities in postsecondary education and make the U.S. more competitive on the global stage.

EDUCATION AND PREPARATION FOR TEACHERS
 
Few people can have a bigger impact on a child’s life than a great teacher. Unfortunately, the U.S. faces a large and growing teacher shortage. Before the pandemic, schools across the nation needed an estimated additional 100,000 certified teachers, resulting in key positions going unfilled. Shortages of certified teachers disproportionately impact schools with higher percentages of students of color, which  have a higher proportion of teachers that are uncertified and in their first or second year, exacerbating educational disparities. At the same time, while teachers of color can have a particularly strong impact on students of color, around one in five teachers are people of color, compared to more than half of K-12 public school students. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $9 billion in American teachers, addressing shortages, improving training and supports for teachers, and boosting teacher diversity.
 
These investments will improve the quality of new teachers entering the profession, increase retention rates and increase the number of teachers of color, all of which will improve student outcomes like academic achievement and high school graduation ratesresulting in higher long-term earnings, job creation and a boost to the economy. In addition, as more teachers stay in the profession, a virtuous cycle is created, wherein districts save money on recruiting and training new teachers and can invest those funds back into programs that directly impact students.
 
Specifically, President Biden’s plan will: 

  • Address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, and strengthen pipelines for teachers of color. President Biden is calling on Congress to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year while earning their degree, strengthening the program, and expanding it to early childhood educators. The President’s plan also invests $2.8 billion in Grow Your Own programs and year-long, paid teacher residency programs, which have a greater impact on student outcomes, teacher retention, and are more likely to enroll teacher candidates of color. His plan targets $400 million for teacher preparation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs and $900 million for the development of special education teachers.
  • Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials. Many teachers are eager to answer the call to get certified in areas their schools need, like special education, but are deterred due to the high cost of professional programs. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $1.6 billion to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance. This funding will support over 100,000 educators, with priority for public school teachers with at least two years of experience at schools with a significant portion of low-income students or significant teacher shortages. All funds will be available immediately, flowing through the states, and available until expended.
     
  • Invest in educator leadership. Millions of teachers – and the students they educate – would stand to benefit from greater mentorship and leadership opportunities. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $2 billion to support programs that leverage teachers as leaders, such as high-quality mentorship programs for new teachers and teachers of color. These programs are proven tools to improve both student outcomes and teacher retention by providing new teachers with the support they need. The President’s plan will also leverage teachers as leaders of other key priorities within their school buildings, and compensate teachers for this work, recognizing the incredible expertise of our veteran educators, and their value in supporting the next generation of great teachers.
     

PROVIDE DIRECT SUPPORT TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
 
The hope of a middle-class life has gotten further and further out of reach for too many American families, as the costs of raising children – from child care to taking paid leave time to care for a new child or when a child is ill – have grown. Middle-class families and those trying to break into the middle class increasingly feel the strain of these rising costs, while wage growth has failed to keep up. These rising costs impact our economy as a whole as well. In part due to the lack of family friendly policies, the United States has fallen behind its competitors in female labor force participation. One study found that a lack of child care options costs the United States economy $57 billion per year in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue. Another study found that lack of paid leave options cost workers $22.5 billion each year in lost wages.
 
CHILD CARE
 
The high cost of child care continues to make it hard for parents – especially women — to work outside the home and provide for their families. Difficulty in finding high-quality, affordable child care leads some parents to drop out of the labor force entirely, some to reduce their work hours, and others to turn down a promotion. When a parent drops out of the workforce, reduces hours, or takes a lower-paying job early in their careers—even temporarily—there are lifetime consequences on earnings, savings, and retirement. These costs are especially significant for mothers and people of color, exacerbating inequality and harming the economic security of their families, as 91 percent of the income gains experienced by middle-class families over the last forty years were driven by women’s earnings.
 
High-quality early care and education lay a strong foundation so that children can take full advantage of education and training opportunities later in life. The evidence is clear: for early years, quality care is education. This especially important for children from low-income families, who too often start school without access to high-quality educational opportunities. A study by Nobel Laureate James Heckman found that every dollar invested in a  high-quality, birth to five program for the most economically disadvantaged children resulted in $7.30 in benefits as children grew up healthier, were more likely to graduate high school and college, were less likely to be involved in crime, and earned more as adults.
 
Building on the American Jobs Plan’s investments in school and child care infrastructure and workforce training, President Biden’s American Families Plan will ensure low and middle-income families pay no more than 7 percent of their income on high-quality child care, saving the average family $14,800 per year on child care expenses, while also generating lifetime benefits for three million children, supporting hundreds of thousands of child care providers and workers, allowing roughly one million parents, primarily mothers, to enter the labor force, and significantly bolstering inclusive and equitable economic growth. Specifically, President Biden’s plan will invest $225 billion to: 

  • Make care affordable. Families will pay only a portion of their income based on a sliding scale. For the most hard-pressed working families, child care costs for their young children would be fully covered and families earning 1.5 times their state median income will pay no more than 7 percent of their income. The plan will also provide families with a range of options to choose from for their child, from child care centers to family child care providers, Early Head Start, and public schools that are inclusive and accessible to all children.  
     
  • Invest in high-quality care. Child care providers will receive funding to cover the true cost of quality early childhood care and education–including a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities. These investments support positive interactions that promote children’s social-emotional and cognitive development.
     
  • Invest in the care workforce. More investment is needed to support early childhood care providers and educators, more than nine in ten of whom are women and more than four and ten of whom are women of color. They are  among the most underpaid workers in the country and nearly half receive public income support programs. The typical child care worker earned $12.24 per hour in 2020—while receiving few, if any, benefits, leading to high turnover and lower quality of care. This investment will mean a $15 minimum wage for early childhood staff and ensure that those with similar qualifications as kindergarten teachers receive comparable compensation and benefits. And, it will ensure child care workers receive job-embedded coaching and professional development, along with additional training opportunities funded by the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. These investments will lead to better quality care, while also enabling these workers to care for their own families, reducing government spending on income support programs and increasing tax revenues.  The Families Plan will also invest in maternal health and support the families of veterans receiving health care services.

 PAID LEAVE
 
The United States has fallen behind our economic competitors in the number of women participating in the labor force. The pandemic has exacerbated this problem, pushing millions of people—especially women—out  of the workforce, eroding more than 30 years of progress in women’s labor force participation and resulting in a $64 billion loss in wages and economic activity per year. A lack of family-friendly policies, such as paid family and medical leave for when a worker need time to care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or recover from their own serious illness, has been identified as a key reason for the U.S. decline in competitiveness. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid leave. Nearly one in four mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth and one in five retirees left or were forced to leave the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill family member. Further, today nearly four of five private sector workers have no access to paid leave. 95 percent of the lowest wage workers, mostly women and workers of color, lack any access to paid family leave.
 
Paid family and medical leave supports workers and families and is a critical investment in the strength and equity of our economy. President Biden’s American Families Plan will: 

  • Create 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. It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one. 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. We estimate this program will cost $225 billion over a decade.

 President Biden’s paid leave plan has broad benefits for working families and the economy as a whole. Studies have shown that, under state paid leave laws, new mothers are 18 percentage points more likely to be working a year after the birth of their child.  In addition, paid leave can reduce racial disparities in wage loss between workers of color and white workers, improve child health and well-being, support employers by improving employee retention and reducing turnover costs, and increase women’s labor force participation. Over 30 million workers, including 67 percent of low-wage workers, do not have access to a single paid sick day. Low-wage and part-time workers, a majority of whom are women, are less likely to have access to paid sick days. 
 
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the need for a national paid sick leave policy, to help workers and their loved ones quickly recover from short-term illness and prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, the President calls upon Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act which will require employers to allow workers to accrue seven days paid sick leave per year to seek preventative care for them or their family– such as getting a flu shot, recovering from short-term illness, or caring for a sick child or family member or a family member with disability-related needs.
 
NUTRITION
 
The pandemic has added urgency to the issue of nutrition insecurity, which disproportionately affects low-income families and families of color. No one should have to worry about whether they can provide nutritious food for themselves or their children. A poor diet jeopardizes a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school. Nutrition insecurity can also have long-lasting negative impact on overall health and put children at higher risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Today, one-fifth of American children are obese, and research shows that childhood obesity increases the likelihood of obesity in adulthood. In addition to the incredible financial burden on the health care system, diet-related diseases carry significant economic and national security implications by decreasing work productivity, increasing job absenteeism, and threatening military readinessrecent study found that U.S. children are getting their healthiest meals at school, demonstrating that school meals are one of the federal government’s most powerful tools for delivering nutrition security to children.  To ensure the nutritional needs of families are met, President Biden’s plan will invest $45 billion to:
 

  • Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide. The Summer EBT Demonstrations helps low-income families with children eligible for free and reduced-price meals during the school year purchase food during the summer. Research shows that this program decreases food insecurity among children and has led to positive changes in nutritional outcomes. The American Families Plan builds on the American Rescue Plan’s support for Summer Pandemic-EBT by investing more than $25 billion to make the successful program permanent and available to all 29 million children receiving free and reduced-price meals.
     
  • Expand school meal programs. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows high-poverty schools to provide meals free of charge to all of their students. It is currently available to individual schools, groups of schools within a district, or an entire district with at least 40 percent of students participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The program is particularly important because some families whose children would be eligible for free meals may not apply for them due to stigma or not fully understanding the application process. In addition, other families in high-poverty schools may still be facing food insecurity but make just enough to not qualify for free school meals. However, only 70 percent of eligible schools have adopted CEP, because some schools would receive reimbursement below the free meal rate. The President’s plan will fund $17 billion to expand free meals for children in the highest poverty districts (those with at least 40 percent of students participating in SNAP) by reimbursing a higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through CEP. Additionally, the plan will expand free meals for children in elementary schools by reimbursing an even higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement through CEP and lowering the threshold for CEP eligibility for elementary schools to 25 percent of students participating in SNAP. Targeting elementary students will drive better long-term health outcomes by ensuring low-income children are receiving nutritious meals at an early age. The plan will also expand direct certification to automatically enroll more students for school means based on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income data. This proposal will provide free meals to an additional 9.3 million children, with about 70 percent in elementary schools.
     
  • Launch a healthy foods incentive demonstration. To build on progress made during the Obama Administration to improve the nutrition standards of school meals, this new $1 billion demonstration will support schools that are further expanding healthy food offerings. For example, schools adopting specified measures that exceed current school meal standards will receive an enhanced reimbursement as an incentive.
     
  • Facilitate re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals through SNAP eligibility. Individuals convicted of a drug-related felony are currently ineligible to receive SNAP benefits unless a state has taken the option to eliminate or modify this restriction. Denying these individuals—many of whom are parents of young children—SNAP benefits jeopardizes nutrition security and poses a barrier to re-entry into the community in a population that already faces significant hurdles to obtaining employment and stability. SNAP is a critical safety net for many individuals as they search for employment to support themselves and their families. This restriction disproportionately impacts African Americans, who are convicted of drug offenses at much higher rates than white Americans. 

 
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
 
The unemployment insurance (UI) system is a critical lifeline to workers at the hardest times. During the pandemic, it saved millions from poverty and helped people put food on the table. But, the system is in desperate need of reform and strengthening.  Too often Americans found themselves waiting weeks to get the benefits they deserved.  Too often the benefits Americans would automatically receive would’ve been too low and would not have gone long enough absent Congress stepping in.  Too often the safeguards to prevent fraud in the system have been insufficient. And it has been unemployed people of color who have borne the brunt of the UI system’s weaknesses. President Biden is committed to strengthening and reforming the system for the long term.  That’s why he won $2 billion in the American Rescue Plan to put toward UI system modernization, equitable access, and fraud prevention.  And, that’s why he wants to work with Congress to automatically adjust the length and amount of UI benefits unemployed workers receive depending on economic conditions. This will ensure future legislative delay doesn’t undermine economic recovery and it will enable permanent reform of the system to provide the safety net that workers deserve in the hardest times.

TAX CUTS FOR AMERICA’S FAMILIES AND WORKERS
 
While the American Rescue Plan provided meaningful relief for hundreds of millions of Americans, that is just a first step. Now is the time to build back better, to help families and workers who for too long have felt the squeeze of stagnating wages and an ever-increasing cost-of-living.  Direct assistance to families in the form of tax credits paid on a regular basis lifts children and families out of poverty, makes it easier for families to make ends meet, and boosts the academic and economic performance of children over time. But if Congress does not act, millions of American families and workers will see their taxes go up at the end of the year. 
 
President Biden believes we must extend the American Rescue Plan’s expanded tax credits that lifted millions of children out of poverty, made it easier for families to afford child care, and ensured that low-income workers without children would not continue to be taxed into poverty.
 
Specifically, President Biden’s plan will:
 

  • Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and Americans facing illness should never have to worry about how they are going to pay for their treatment. No one should face a choice between buying life-saving medications or putting food on the table.  President Biden has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug costs for everyone by letting Medicare negotiate prices, reducing health insurance premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, creating a public option and the option for people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance. The American Families Plan will build on the American Rescue Plan and continue our work to make health care more affordable.  The American Rescue Plan included a historic investment in reducing Americans’ health care costs.  The biggest improvement in health care affordability since the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan provided two years of lower health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own, saving families an average of $50 per person per month.  The American Families Plan will make those premium reductions permanent, a $200 billion investment.  As a result, nine million people will save hundreds of dollars per year on their premiums, and four million uninsured people will gain coverage.  The Families Plan will also invest in maternal health and support the families of veterans receiving health care services. 
     
  • Extend the Child Tax Credit increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the Child Tax Credit permanently fully refundable. The President is calling for the Child Tax Credit expansion, first enacted in the American Rescue Plan, to be extended.  This legislation expands the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for six-years old and above, and $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. The expanded Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan benefited nearly 66 million children, and it was the single largest contributor to the plan’s historic reductions in child poverty.

    For a family with two parents earning a combined $100,000 per year and two children under six, the Child Tax Credit expansion means an additional $3,200 per year in tax relief. For a family with two parents earning a combined $24,000 per year and two children under six, the expansion means even more, with a credit increase of than $4,400 because the full credit was not previously fully available to them.

    The credit would also be delivered regularly. This means that families will not need to wait until tax season to receive a refund. Instead, they will receive regular payments that allow them to cover household expenses as they arise.

    The American Families Plan will make permanent the full refundability of the Child Tax Credit, while extending the other expansions to the Child Tax Credit through 2025—when the 2017 law’s individual provisions expire. The President is committed to working with Congress to achieve his ultimate goal of making permanent the Child Tax Credit as well as all of the expansions he signed into law in the American Rescue Plan.
     
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. To help families afford child care, President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) expansion enacted in the American Rescue Plan. Families will receive a tax credit for as much as half of their spending on qualified child care for children under age 13, up to a total of $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. A 50 percent reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year, while families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit with benefits at least as generous as those they receive today. The credit can be used for expenses ranging from full-time care to after school care to summer care.

    This is a dramatic expansion of support to low- and middle-income families. In 2019, a family claiming a CDCTC for the previous year got less than $600 on average towards the cost of care, and many low-income families got nothing. If Congress fails extend the CDCTC expansion, more than 6 million families could see their taxes go up at the end of the year – many by thousands of dollars – making obtaining affordable child care more difficult. Importantly, this tax credit works in tandem with the American Families Plan’s direct investments in childcare affordability for families with young children.
     
  • Make the Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion for childless workers permanent. Before this year, the federal tax code taxed low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty — the only group of workers it treated this way. The American Rescue Plan addressed this problem by roughly tripling the EITC for childless workers, benefitting 17 million low-wage workers, many of whom are essential workers including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers. For example, a childless worker who works 30 hours per week at $9 per hour earns income that, after taxes, leaves them below the federal poverty line. By increasing her EITC to more than $1,100, this EITC expansion helps pull such workers out of poverty.

    The President is calling on Congress to make this expansion permanent. President Biden believes our tax code should reward work and not wealth. And that means rewarding workers who work hard every day at modest wages to provide their communities with essential services.
     
  • Give IRS the authority to regulate paid tax preparers. Tax returns prepared by certain types of preparers have high error rates. These preparers charge taxpayers large fees while exposing them to costly audits.  As preparers play a crucial role in tax administration, and will be key to helping many taxpayers claim the newly-expanded credits, IRS oversight of tax preparers is needed. The President is calling on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that will give the IRS that authority.

 
TAX REFORM THAT REWARDS WORK – NOT WEALTH
 
The President’s tax agenda will not only reverse the biggest 2017 tax law giveaways, but reform the tax code so that the wealthy have to play by the same rules as everyone else. It will ensure that high-income Americans pay the tax they owe under the law—ending the unfair system of enforcement that collects almost all taxes due on wages, while regularly collecting a smaller share of business and capital income. The plan will also eliminate long-standing loopholes, including lower taxes on capital gains and dividends for the wealthy, that reward wealth over work. Importantly, these reforms will also rein in the ways that the tax code widens racial disparities in income and wealth. 
 
President Biden’s plan uses the resulting revenue to rebuild the middle class, investing in education and boosting wages. It will also give tax relief to middle-class families, dramatically reducing child poverty and cutting the cost of child care in half for many families. The result of the President’s individual tax reforms will be a tax code with fewer loopholes for the wealthy and more opportunity for low- and middle-income Americans.
 
Altogether, these tax reforms focused on the highest income Americans would raise about $1.5 trillion across the decade. In combination with the American Jobs Plan, which produces long-term deficit reduction through corporate tax reform, all of the investments would be fully paid for over the next 15 years.
 
President Biden’s plan will: 

  • Revitalize enforcement to make the wealthy pay what they owe.  We have a two-tiered system of tax administration in this country: regular workers pay the taxes they owe on wages and salaries while some wealthy taxpayers aggressively plan to avoid the tax laws.  Those with the highest incomes generate income in opaque categories where misreporting rates can reach 55 percent. A recent study found that the top one percent failed to report 20 percent of their income and failed to pay over $175 billion in taxes that they owed. But today, the IRS does not even have the resources to fully investigate this evasion. As a result of budget cuts, audit rates on those making over $1 million per year fell by 80 percent between 2011-2018.

    The President’s proposal would change the game—by making sure the wealthiest Americans play by the same set of rules as all other Americans.It would require financial institutions to report information on account flows so that earnings from investments and business activity are subject to reporting more like wages already are.It would also increase investment in the IRS, while ensuring that the additional resources go toward enforcement against those with the highest incomes, rather than Americans with actual income less than $400,000. Additional resources would focus on large corporations, businesses, and estates, and higher-income individuals. Altogether, this plan would raise $700 billion over 10 years.
     
  • Increase the top tax rate on the wealthiest Americans to 39.6 percent. One of the 2017 tax cut’s clearest giveaways to the wealthy was cutting the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, exclusively benefitting the wealthiest households—those in the top one percent. This rate cut alone gives a couple with $2 million in taxable an annual tax cut of more than $36,400. The President’s plan restores the top tax bracket to what it was before the 2017 law, returning the rate to 39.6 percent, applying only to those within the top one percent.
     
  • End capital income tax breaks and other loopholes for the very top. The President’s tax reform will end one of the most unfair aspects of our tax system: that the tax rate the wealthy pay on capital gains and dividends is less than the tax rate that many middle-class families pay on their wages. Households making over $1 million—the top 0.3 percent of all households—will pay the same 39.6 percent rate on all their income, equalizing the rate paid on investment returns and wages. Moreover, the President would eliminate the loophole that allows the wealthiest Americans to entirely escape tax on their wealth by passing it down to heirs. Today, our tax laws allow these accumulated gains to be passed down across generations untaxed, exacerbating inequality. The President’s plan will close this loophole, ending the practice of “stepping-up” the basis for gains in excess of $1 million ($2.5 million per couple when combined with existing real estate exemptions) and making sure the gains are taxed if the property is not donated to charity. The reform will be designed with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business. Without these changes, billions in capital income would continue to escape taxation entirely.

    The President is also calling on Congress to close the carried interest loophole so that hedge fund partners will pay ordinary income rates on their income just like every other worker. While equalizing tax rates on wages and capital gains will address this disparity, permanently eliminating carried interest is an important structural change that is necessary to ensure that we have a tax code that treats all workers fairly.  The President would also end the special real estate tax break—that allows real estate investors to defer taxation when they exchange property—for gains greater than $500,000, and the President would also permanently extend the current limitation in place that restricts large, excess business losses, 80 percent of which benefits those making over $1 million.

    Finallyhigh-income workers and investors generally pay a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on their earnings, but the application is inconsistent across taxpayers due to holes in the law. The President’s tax reform would apply the taxes consistently to those making over $400,000, ensuring that all high-income Americans pay the same Medicare taxes.

To view this fact sheet in your browser, click here

Global Leaders Respond to Biden’s Call for Action to Address Climate Crisis

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland. Iceland was one of 40 participants at the roundtable at President Joe Biden’s Leaders Climate Summit, responding to the call for action to address the climate crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This summary of outcomes of President Joe Biden’s historic Leaders on Climate, held April 22-23, 2021, was provided by the White House:

 After fulfilling his promise to bring America back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate this week to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science. The United States and other countries announced ambitious new climate targets ensuring that nations accounting for half of the world’s economy have now committed to the emission reductions needed globally to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees C within reach.  Many leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition as well on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Summit, which was the largest virtual gathering of world leaders, convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (the world’s 17 largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters) and included the leaders of other countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts or charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy.  President Biden was joined at the Summit by Vice President Harris, members of the President’s Cabinet, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, as well as senior representatives of other countries and leaders from business and civil society. The full agenda and list of participants is available at https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/.

With the science telling us that the world needs to significantly increase the scale and speed of climate action, President Biden considered it vital to host this Summit within his first 100 days in office to make clear that it is a top U.S. priority to combat the climate crisis at home and abroad.   

Vice President Harris opened the Summit by emphasizing the intertwined imperatives of addressing the climate crisis, creating jobs, and protecting the most vulnerable communities.  Her remarks set the stage for the launch of the Summit’s five sessions, which were live-streamed [https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/].   

President Biden began Session 1 (“Raising Our Climate Ambition”) by framing enhanced climate action as necessary both to address the crisis and to promote economic opportunity, including the creation of good-paying, union jobs.  He told Summit participants that the United States will halve its greenhouse gas emissions within this decade, noting that countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of a clean energy future.  To enshrine this commitment, the United States submitted a new “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement setting an economy-wide emissions target of a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels in 2030. Secretary of State Blinken conveyed a strong sense of urgency in tackling the climate crisis, noting that this is a critical year and a decisive decade to take action.  He noted the U.S. resolve to work with other countries to engage in all avenues of cooperation to “save our planet.” 

Participants noted the need to work rapidly over the course of this decade to accelerate decarbonization efforts and are taking a range of actions to that end. Announcements during this Session included, among others:

  • Japan will cut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26% reduction goal.
  • Canada will strengthen its NDC to a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • India reiterated its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the “U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.
  • Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation.
  • The United Kingdom will embed in law a 78% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.
  • The European Union is putting into law a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.
  • The Republic of Korea, which will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in May, will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal.
  • China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.   
  • Brazil committed to achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030, and double funding for deforestation enforcement.
  • South Africa announced that it intends to strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025.
  • Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

Session 2 (“Investing in Climate Solutions”) addressed the urgent need to scale up climate finance, including both efforts to increase public finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries and efforts to catalyze trillions of dollars of private investment to support the transition to net zero emissions no later than 2050.  President Biden stressed the importance of developed countries meeting the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year in public and private finance to support developing countries.  He also announced that the Administration intends to seek funding to double, by 2024, annual U.S. public climate finance to developing countries, compared to the average level of the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). This would include tripling public finance for adaptation by 2024. President Biden also called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and announced that his Administration will undertake a series of steps to promote the measurement, disclosure, and mitigation of material climate risks to the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Yellen highlighted the role of multilateral development banks in supporting the transition. She also said that the Treasury Department will use all its tools and expertise to help support climate action. Special Envoy Kerry moderated a discussion among leaders from government, international organizations, and multilateral and private financial institutions. These leaders noted the importance of concessional finance to leverage much larger sums of private capital, as well as to provide finance to technologies, activities, and geographies where private capital is not flowing.  They noted the urgent need to increase finance for adaptation and resilience in developing countries.  The participants also recognized the need for governments to embrace key policies, including meaningful carbon pricing, enhanced disclosure of climate-related risks, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Several of the private financial institutions expressed their support for coalitions such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Net Zero Banking Alliance.  They also referred to recent commitments by U.S. banks to invest $4.16 trillion in climate solutions over the next ten years.

Session 3 elevated four specific topics for more focused consideration by government officials and, in some cases, a broader range of stakeholders. 

  • The discussion on climate action at all levels, hosted by U.S. EPA Administrator Regan and including participation from a wide range of governors, mayors, and indigenous leaders from around the world, illustrated the importance of marshalling a multi-level “all-of-society” approach to climate action.  The Session showcased States, cities, and indigenous groups that are committed to an equitable vision for advancing bold climate ambition and building resilience on the ground.  Participants discussed the critical importance of building just and inclusive societies and economies as they accelerate efforts to transform their communities in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Participants discussed not only the importance of leadership at all levels of society and government, but also the importance of collaboration between national and subnational governments to catalyze additional ambition.
  • The discussion on adaptation and resilience, hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, focused on innovative ways in which countries from a wide variety of regions are responding to climate change in the areas of water and coastal management, food security, and human impacts. On the theme of coastal and water management, panelists offered up innovative solutions to prepare for water-related climate challenges, such as locally-owned disaster insurance instruments, relocation, and the use of green and blue bonds to finance nature-based solutions. Focusing on food security and climate, participants highlighted the need for better technology to address a changing agricultural landscape as well as the importance of supporting small-scale farmers. On human health and security, the discussion centered on scaling up locally-led solutions to climate vulnerability, emphasizing that economic opportunities are key to keeping communities healthy and stable. The session emphasized that adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. 
  • The discussion on nature-based solutions, hosted by Interior Secretary Haaland, addressed how achieving net zero by 2050 is not possible without natural climate solutions, such as stopping deforestation and the loss of wetlands and restoring marine and terrestrial ecosystems.  She announced U.S. support of a proposal to protect the Southern Ocean through the three marine protected area proposals under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). All participants highlighted their support for protecting and conserving land and marine areas to sequester carbon and build climate resilience, and several made announcements.  Seychelles is dedicating a chapter of its enhanced NDC to ocean-based solutions and is committing to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with support. Canada, for its part, is committing $4 billion in its new federal budget for land and ocean protection. In addition, Costa Rica underlined its co-leadership of the High-Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the intention to have 30% of its ocean under protection by 2022; Peru highlighted that more than a fifth of its NDC measures are associated with nature-based solutions; Indonesia discussed its Presidential decree to permanently freeze new license for logging and peatland utilization, as well as its mangrove rehabilitation program; and Gabon noted that its intact and logged forests absorb four times more CO2 annually than its total emissions across all sectors.  Representatives of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and of the Kharia Tribe of India highlighted the need to recognize the contributions and traditional knowledge of local and indigenous communities in ecosystem protection.  
  • The discussion on climate security was hosted by Defense Secretary Austin.  His remarks were followed by remarks from both Director of National Intelligence Haines and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas-Greenfield, who then moderated a panel discussion.  Speakers included NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, defense officials from Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Spain, and the UK, as well as the Philippines’ finance minister.  A common theme throughout the discussion was how climate impacts exacerbate security concerns and, as a result, affect military capabilities, heighten geopolitical competition, undermine stability, and provoke regional conflicts.  Participants further emphasized that their nations and regions are vulnerable to extreme weather events, including sea level rise, cyclones, typhoons, drought, and increasing temperatures.  All of these intensify underlying political, social, and economic conditions, which in turn can lead to food insecurity and water scarcity, violent extremism, and mass population movement, with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations, especially women.  Defense officials noted that their ministries are increasingly called upon to respond to disasters, which taxes their resources, thus elevating the need for enhanced disaster preparedness and response.  In looking at their own operations and readiness, they showcased current efforts to decrease their militaries’ emissions, emphasizing how incorporating climate considerations into their operational planning can increase the agility of their forces.  Additionally, they described the benefits of collaboration between defense ministries on shared climate risks. Participants highlighted the NATO climate security action plan and called on countries to incorporate climate considerations more broadly into multilateral fora, including UN peacekeeping missions.  Perhaps most noteworthy, this was the first-ever U.S. Secretary of Defense convening of Secretaries of Defense focused on climate change.  

Session 4 (“Unleashing Climate Innovation”) explored the critical innovations needed to speed net-zero transitions around the world and highlighted the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society in bringing new and improved technologies to market. Energy Secretary Granholm and Commerce Secretary Raimondo emphasized the economic rewards from investing in innovation as multi-trillion dollar markets for clean technologies emerge in the coming decades and announced reinvigorated U.S. international leadership on innovation. The discussion underscored the urgent need for innovation: 45% of the emissions reductions needed for a swift net-zero transition must come from technologies that are not commercially available, according to the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Bill Gates urged investment to drive down “green premium” prices of most zero-carbon technologies compared with fossil fuel alternatives. Several leading countries — Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kenya, Norway, and Singapore — described their approaches to investing in mitigation and adaptation technologies. These included clean fuels such as hydrogen, renewables such as offshore wind and geothermal energy, energy storage, clean desalination, carbon capture, advanced mobility, sustainable urban design, and monitoring technologies to verify emissions and stop deforestation. Leaders from the private sector, including from GE Renewables, Vattenfall, and X, as well as from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, focused on training the diverse innovators of the future and investing in technologies for digitalized, electrified, decarbonized, and resilient energy systems. Special Envoy Kerry closed by emphasizing that raising our innovation ambition enables us to raise the world’s climate ambition. 

Several speakers made announcements during this Session: Denmark announced a technology mission under Mission Innovation to decarbonize the global shipping sector, in collaboration with the United States, and that it will build the world’s first energy islands to produce clean fuels and supply power to Europe. The United Arab Emirates launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate in partnership with the United States, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay. Bill Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive public, private, and philanthropic capital to scale up critical emerging technologies. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems to decarbonize urban systems. GE Renewable Energy announced that the GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to increase the diversity of the next generation of engineers. And X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, announced a Moonshot for the electric grid. 

President Biden began Session 5 (“The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action”) by recognizing the opportunity that ambitious climate action presents to countries around the world to create good, high quality jobs. He noted that countries that prioritize policies that promote renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle manufacturing, methane abatement, and building retrofits, among other actions, would likely reap the rewards of job growth and economic prosperity in the years ahead. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Tai, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, and National Climate Advisor McCarthy underscored that the climate agenda could be a race to the top for countries that are pursuing the most ambitious methods to tackle the crisis, noting the American Jobs Plan that President Biden has proposed. 

Participants echoed this vision and elaborated their own projects and programs to maximize the economic benefits of their climate actions. Leaders of countries recognized that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for countries to build back better and invest in the industries of the future. Community, tribal, private sector, and labor leaders also weighed in on the opportunities that decarbonization provided. Panelists noted that climate action presents economic opportunities to all parts of society, from energy workers to vehicle manufacturers, from large businesses to small. In particular, there was general alignment among both country representatives and other participants that governments should promote equitable opportunities for workers and that labor unions can play a key role in promoting high quality employment opportunities for people around the world. To that end, Poland announced that they had just concluded negotiations with coal mine labor unions to ensure a just transition of workers as part of their coal-fired power phasedown. In response to the discussion, President Biden closed by emphasizing that climate action might represent the largest economic opportunity of this century and urging leaders to stay focused.
 
In between the five Sessions, several other speakers provided important perspectives. Youth speaker Xiye Bastida, declaring that climate justice is social justice, underlined that youth need to be a part of decision-making processes and called for a stop to fossil fuel subsidies and extraction. Current and future Conference of Parties Presidents Minister Carolina Schmidt (Chile) and MP Alok Sharma (UK) discussed the urgency of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Minister Schmidt noted that COP25 included, for the first time, a mandate to address the ocean-climate nexus, while MP Sharma noted that we must put the world on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 through long-term targets and aligned NDCs, as well as immediate action, such as phasing out coal. Pope Francis, who has been a climate leader for many years, underlined the need to “care for nature so that nature may care for us.” Chair Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality highlighted the Biden Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and introduced Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; she underlined the need to build back better to lift up the communities struggling with climate impacts and environmental injustice.  Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, noted the key role of cities and businesses in tackling the climate crisis.

Alongside the Summit, Special Envoy Kerry hosted two Ministerial Roundtables to provide a broader group of countries an opportunity to contribute to the discussions.  He heard from representatives of more than 60 countries from all over the world, reflecting a wide range of regions, geographic features, and national circumstances, and summarized their input for leaders on the second day of the Summit.  Many Roundtable participants expressed concern about the inadequacy of global climate action to date and/or shared the unprecedented climate impacts they are experiencing. At the same time, participants enthusiastically reported on the significant, exciting efforts they are undertaking to confront the climate crisis, even while facing the global pandemic. Beyond many commitments to net zero emissions, enhanced NDCs, and innovative adaptation efforts, participants included a carbon-negative country, countries that have successfully decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions, leaders in carbon storage, countries with extensive forest cover, issuers of green bonds, and countries focusing on gender-responsive approaches and the participation of indigenous communities.  It was notable that many of those passionately embracing climate solutions contribute far less than 1% of global emissions.  The Roundtables contributed to the Summit’s sense of urgency as countries rally around increased ambition on the road to Glasgow.

Roundtable participants represented:  Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, The Bahamas, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Zambia. 

A list of new climate-related initiatives announced by the United States at or around the Summit can be found in this Fact Sheet [https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/23/fact-sheet-president-bidens-leaders-summit-on-climate/].  

Biden Convenes Historic Leaders Summit on Climate, Reestablishing US Global Leadership: ‘America is Back’

President Biden held a historic Leaders Summit on Climate,  in which he announced higher targets for the US to achieve, and underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution, linking climate action to economic growth. The White House issued this summary:

Over the course of two days and eight sessions of his historic Climate Summit, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span.org.

On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Days later, he took executive actions to ensure we tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad – all while creating jobs and strengthening our economy. This week, he held a historic summit with 40 world leaders to show that America is back.

Over the course of two days and eight sessions, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment.

On the first day of the summit, President Biden upped the ante. He announced the United States will target reducing emissions by 50-52 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. He underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution and creating good-paying, union jobs – noting that the countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of the future.

In the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration has mobilized a whole-of-government approach to unleash economic opportunities, create good jobs, and advance environmental justice. From the national to the local level and across all agencies, the federal government is not only working to help those hit hardest by climate impacts, but also creating a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future.

While the Biden-Harris Administration has committed itself to addressing the climate crisis, countries across the globe must also step up. Given that more than 85 percent of emissions come from beyond U.S. borders, domestic action must go hand in hand with international leadership. All countries – and particularly the major economies – must do more to bend the curve on global emissions so as to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. President Biden’s Leaders Summit helped ensure the international community is working together to tackle the climate crisis and support the most vulnerable. Together with the new United States 2030 target along with those announced in the run-up to and at the summit, more than half of the world’s economy is now committed to the pace of action we need to limit warming to 1.5 degree C. And this coalition is growing.

President Biden convened the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, a group the United States first convened during the George W. Bush Administration. Together, the 17 MEF economies are responsible for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and global GDP. At the Summit, alongside the United States, the other MEF participants committed to take the necessary steps to set the world up for success in this decisive decade. The heads of state and leaders of the MEF participants were also joined by the leaders of countries that are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, as well as countries charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. Business leaders, innovators, local officials, and indigenous and youth representatives participated in the summit, sharing their insights and planned contributions to help tackle the climate crisis.

For our part, the United States is leading the way with a range of bold new commitments across the federal government that demonstrate its leadership, create jobs, rally the rest of the world to step up, mobilize finance, spur transformational innovations, conserve nature, build resilience, strengthen adaptation and drive economic growth for communities. U.S. commitments include:

Enhancing climate ambition and enabling the transformations required to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. President Biden is galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical period. From reducing short-lived climate pollutants and supporting the most vulnerable to investing in nature-based solutions, these transformational changes are critical to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Just as importantly, they will create new, good-paying jobs today to drive tomorrow’s economy.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach is ensuring that climate considerations are incorporated across U.S. engagements both at home and abroad. Some of the initiatives that were announced today include:

  • Launching a Global Climate Ambition Initiative. The U.S. government will support developing countries in establishing net-zero strategies, implementing their nationally determined contributions and national adaptation strategies, and reporting on their progress under the Paris Agreement. The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), working with other agencies, will coordinate U.S. government efforts to support countries around the world to enhance and meet their climate goals in ways that further their national development priorities. We will engage strategically with governments, the private sector, civil society, and communities to support transformational policies and programs, build human and institutional capacity, and create momentum toward a zero-emissions, climate-resilient future.
  • Setting ambitious benchmarks for climate investments at DFCThe U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is committing to achieve a net zero investment portfolio by 2040, the earliest target of any G7 or G20 development finance institution (DFI), and to make at least one-third of all its new investments have a climate nexus beginning in FY 2023. DFC will make climate issues central to its development strategy for the first time and bring all of its tools to bear to ensure a just transition that supports sustainable economic growth in developing countries. Working with the Rockefeller Foundation, DFC will support distributed renewable energy and other innovative climate investments to benefit millions worldwide. It has released a rolling call for proposals for climate investment funds, is bringing onboard its first Chief Climate Officer, and has established a $50 million climate technical assistance facility. These pioneering goals are unique among its peer institutions, and DFC will collaborate with other DFIs and encourage them to raise their own ambitions.
  • Committing to climate investments at MCC. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will expand and deepen work to address climate change challenges across its investment portfolio and business operations—investing in climate-smart development and sustainable infrastructure. Over the next five years, MCC commits that more than 50 percent of its program funding will go to climate-related investments. MCC will promote low-carbon economic development, help countries transition away from fossil fuels, and maintain a coal-free policy across its portfolio of grants.
  • Launching a Greening Government InitiativeThe Greening Government Initiative launch marks the first international convening on greening national plans for sustainable government operations. Co-chaired by Canada and the United States, GGI countries seek to lead by example in developing and implementing climate action plans that increase the resilience of and mitigate emissions from national government operations and real property. Through coordinating our national priorities and collaborating on common goals, we hope to foster and inspire a global “race to the top” of government efforts toward achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The United States and Canada will lead this initiative through cooperation in the management of national government procurement and real property, helping both nations achieve their individual goals of a net-zero emissions economy, 100 percent clean electricity usage, and a zero-emissions vehicle fleet.

Mobilizing financing to drive the net-zero transition and adapt to climate changeFinance plays a vital role in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and building a climate-resilient future. Current financial flows are inadequate for addressing the scale of the climate crisis. Through President Biden’s international climate finance plan, the U.S. government will make strategic use of multilateral and bilateral channels and institutions to assist developing countries in implementing ambitious emissions reduction measures, protect critical ecosystems, build resilience against the impacts of climate change, and promote the flow of capital toward climate-aligned investments and away from high-carbon investments. To more effectively mobilize public and private finance to address the climate crisis, the United States announced it is:

  • Scaling up international financing to address climate needs. The United States intends to double by 2024 our annual public climate finance to developing countries relative to the average level during the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). As part of this goal, the United States intends to triple its adaptation finance by 2024. The Biden Administration will work closely with Congress to meet these goals.
  • Issuing the first U.S. International Climate Finance Plan. The United States is publishing its first-ever U.S. international climate finance plan, which lays out how federal agencies and departments responsible for international climate finance will work together to deliver that finance more efficiently and with greater impact.
  • Launching an international dialogue on decreasing fiscal climate risk through national budgets. Earlier this month, the United States announced a more than $14 billion increase in the President’s Budget over FY 2021 enacted levels across the entire government to tackle the climate crisis, the largest in history. The United States is launching an international dialogue on aligning the budget with climate risks and opportunities. The dialogue will build both on U.S. leadership in climate budgeting and assessing climate risk and on the pioneering work already being done in multilateral fora. The United States will engage with participating countries through bilateral and multilateral channels to collaborate on cost-effective strategies across participating countries to increase climate investments while creating good-paying jobs. The dialogue will also explore how to improve climate risk analysis in national operations that could help countries optimize and expand investments in adaptation and reduce national exposure to the impacts of climate change.

Transforming energy systemsThe potential of solar energy, wind power, and electricity storage technologies has improved dramatically over the past few years. But we need to go further and faster. To support accelerated action, new commitments include:

  • Establishing a Net-Zero Producers Forum. In support of efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury, the United States, together with the energy ministries from Canada, Norway, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, representing 40 percent of global oil and gas production, established a cooperative forum that will create pragmatic net-zero strategies, including methane abatement, advancing the circular carbon economy approach, development and deployment of clean-energy and carbon capture and storage technologies, diversification from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues, and other measures in line with each country’s national circumstances.
  • Establishing a U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The United States is working with allies and partners around the world to set ambitious 2030 targets for climate action and clean energy innovation and deployment. The U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership will elevate ambitious climate action as a core theme of U.S.-India collaboration and support the achievement of India’s ambitious targets, including reaching 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. The Partnership will aim to mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across sectors including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts.
  • Supporting ambitious renewable energy goals and pathways in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Department of State announced scaled-up technical assistance to countries participating in the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) initiative, a regional effort led by Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica to increase renewable energy capacity to at least 70 percent by 2030. Expanded U.S. support through the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory will center on peer learning and training on policies and technical measures for achieving high levels of renewable energy grid integration. U.S. support to enable current RELAC countries and motivate additional countries to join RELAC will be delivered in cooperation with the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium.
  • Supporting clean energy mineral supply chains. The Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) is a multinational effort founded by Australia, Botswana, Canada, Peru, and the United States to help build sustainable supply chains and promote sound sector governance for the minerals vital to technologies powering the energy transition, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and battery storage. The United States has committed more than $10.5 million in bilateral technical assistance in support of ERGI principles in more than ten countries around the world. The Initiative’s focus is now expanding to include greening mining operations, as well as re-use and recycling of key minerals and metals. The United States will also join the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining in support of international cooperation on the minerals and metals that make the renewable energy transition possible.

Revitalizing the transport sector. The transformation of the transport sector offers some of the biggest opportunities for deep emissions cuts, new jobs, and healthier cities. To jump-start this revolution, the United States is committing to:                                                                                       

  • Sparking the zero-emission transportation revolution – at home and abroad. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis and expanding ways for all modes of transportation to transition to zero emissions. This includes funding for lower-emission buses, expanding access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, using our public rights of way in climate-supportive ways, and working with partners around the world bilaterally, regionally, and in multilateral fora to help catalyze the transition to zero-emitting transportation as swiftly as possible.
  • Joining the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. The United States will join a coalition of governments representing more than half of new vehicle sales globally that is dedicated to accelerating the global transition to zero emission vehicles.
  • Reducing emissions from international shipping. The international shipping sector contributes approximately three percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the sector’s emissions are only projected to increase. In support of the global effort to keep within reach a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature increase, and in support of global efforts to achieve net-zero GHG emissions no later than 2050, the United States is committing to work with countries in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt a goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050 and to adopt ambitious measures that will place the sector on a pathway to achieve this goal.
  • Reducing emissions from international aviation. The United States is committed to working with other countries on a vision toward reducing the aviation sector’s emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net-zero emissions for our economy by 2050, as well as on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety. The United States intends to advance the development and deployment of high integrity sustainable aviation fuels and other clean technologies that meet rigorous international standards, building on existing partnerships, such as through ASCENT– the Aviation Sustainability Center – and pursue policies to increase the supply and demand of sustainable aviation fuels. In the International Civil Aviation Organization, we will engage in processes to advance a new long-term aspirational goal in line with our vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector, and continue to participate in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Building workforces for the future and ensuring U.S. competitivenessClimate action is an opportunity to spur job creation while enabling all communities and workers to benefit from the clean energy economy. To create opportunities for American-made solutions to tackle the climate crisis abroad, the United States is announcing new commitments to:

  • Launching a Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will launch the Global Partnership to connect U.S. industry to major energy and transportation infrastructure investments in emerging markets. This initiative will support the rebuilding of the U.S. middle class through the export of U.S.-manufactured goods and services, while enhancing economic recovery through climate-smart infrastructure development for our partners and allies globally. The Global Climate-Smart Infrastructure Partnership will leverage USTDA’s project preparation and partnership-building tools to support the use of U.S. technologies and services in overseas climate-smart infrastructure projects.
  • Creating the EXIM Chairman’s Council on Climate. The U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) will create a Chairman’s Council on Climate, a sub-committee of EXIM’s Advisory Committee dedicated to advising EXIM on how to better support U.S. exporters in clean energy, foster the transition to a low-carbon economy, and create clean U.S. jobs at home. Membership will be comprised of a wide range of representatives which could include, for example, members of U.S. industry, the financial sector, trade associations, labor, academia, think tanks, and civil society organizations. EXIM will open applications to the public in summer 2021.
  • Supporting workers and communities in the shift to a global clean energy future. As the United States moves towards a clean energy economy, it is committed to helping energy workers and communities address the challenges and equitably capitalize on the opportunities associated with this transition. The U.S. Secretary of Energy convened the energy ministers of Canada, India, and the European Commission, along with representatives from the labor and advocacy communities, to begin a discussion on global efforts to address this critical issue. To continue the dialogue, the Department of Energy announced that it is joining Canada, the European Union, and Chile to launch the Empowering People initiative at the Clean Energy Ministerial this June.

Promoting innovation to bring clean technologies to scaleInnovation will spur the technology and transformations necessary to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change at scale, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities to build the industries of the future. To build the future we want, the United States announced:

  • Clean energy innovation and manufacturing. The United States commits to accelerating the technology progress critical to advancing sustainable development and achieving a net-zero global economy. The effort will spur good-paying American jobs focused on developing, manufacturing, and exporting cost-effective products that support sustainable development across the world. The U.S. Department of Energy will define a series of performance targets and coherently leverage the diverse expertise and talent at American universities, businesses, and national laboratories to accelerate research and development in top linchpin technologies, beginning with: hydrogen, carbon capture, industrial fuels, and energy storage. The targets and roadmaps will look beyond incremental advances and aim, instead, at the game-changing breakthroughs that will secure American leadership in the manufacture of net-zero carbon technologies and support sustainable development around the world. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy will convene experts from American academia, business, and the national laboratories to announce the first of these moonshot-style ventures and catalyze the game-changing breakthroughs that will grow new businesses and new jobs domestically and export these net-zero carbon technologies all around the world.
  • Reinvigorating leadership and participation in Mission Innovation. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced plans to quadruple clean energy innovation funding over the next four years, and the United States is playing a key role in advancing international collaboration on innovation and supporting the launch of Mission Innovation 2.0, including:
    • Launching, and leading together with international partners, a major Mission Innovation international technology mission on carbon dioxide removal at COP26.
    • Joining Mission Innovation’s hydrogen mission and co-leading, with Denmark, a mission to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping, both slated to launch at the June 2021 Mission Innovation ministerial.
    • Planning to host the co-located 2022 Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings.
  • Leading the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate. The United States will lead the creation of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate along with the United Arab Emirates and in coordination with several other partner countries. The goal of this initiative is to accelerate innovation and research and development in agricultural and food systems in order to spur low-carbon growth and enhance food security. The initiative will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021 through the UK’s COP26 Campaign for Nature. 
  • Joining the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT)The United States will join the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), along with co-founders Sweden and India. LeadIT convenes countries and companies committed to speeding innovation in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy-intensive sectors and speed progress to net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Launching a Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium. To speed progress toward a carbon-free power system by 2035 at home and around the world, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, joined leading power system operators, world-class research institutes, and private institutions from countries at the forefront of power system transitions to launch this new consortium, which couples cutting-edge research with knowledge diffusion to share best-in-class operational, engineering, and workforce development solutions with power system operators around the world. The G-PST Consortium aims to help system operators to permanently change their emissions trajectories while simultaneously improving grid reliability, resiliency, and security and supporting economic growth.
  • Launching the FIRST Program to support the use of small modular reactors. In support of the Administration’s commitment to increasing reliable energy access worldwide while meeting carbon reduction targets, the Department of State is launching the Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program with an initial $5.3 million investment. FIRST provides capacity-building support to enable partner countries to benefit from advanced nuclear technologies and meet their clean energy goals under the highest standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.

Providing urgent support for vulnerable countries to adapt and build resilience to the climate crisisThe climate crisis is already posing challenges to communities at home and around the world. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when agriculture fields are flooded, wildfires destroy neighborhoods, and storms knock out power. Communities of color and low-income communities around the country are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Abroad, many vulnerable countries already are facing catastrophic climate impacts. They must build their resilience to the climate crisis now. To strengthen our capacity to help people, reduce future risks and improve resilience, the United States is announcing it is:

  • Supporting environmental justice and climate resilienceEPA will fund $1 million in grants/cooperative agreements through the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to work with underserved and vulnerable communities, including indigenous communities, in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to prepare them for climate-related impacts. This initiative will provide funding directly to community-based organizations to help them develop community-driven solutions to the challenges of climate change. These projects could involve vulnerable communities converting workers to clean jobs, addressing extreme weather impacts, transitioning to clean energy and/or transportation, or utilizing traditional ecological knowledge. Following a competitive process, the most innovative and impactful projects will be approved by consensus by the environment ministers of the three countries. The United States currently chairs the CEC Council.
  • Partnering with islands to lead on climate and energy resilience. The United States is committed to partnering with small islands in their efforts to combat the climate crisis in ways that reflect their unique cultures and development challenges by building resilience in the face of a changing climate. Working together, the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will launch a new partnership to advance the inclusion of locally generated climate information, knowledge, data and decision support tools in ongoing and emerging sustainability and resilience endeavors in island regions. The Department of State will support a unique island-led partnership, the Local2030 Island Network, which links U.S. island jurisdictions with those around the world in developing common solutions in a shared cultural context. NOAA will work with this network and other partners to enhance the capacity of island nations to integrate climate data and information, and it will apply effective coastal and marine resource management strategies to support sustainable development. DOE will launch the Energy Transitions Initiative – Global, which will focus on transforming the energy systems of and increasing resilience for islands and remote communities, starting in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific and growing to include other vulnerable communities. USAID, through the Pacific Climate Ready project and the Caribbean Energy and Resilience initiatives, will support small island developing states to strengthen their systems and capacities to become more climate resilient in ways that are country-driven, coordinated, inclusive, and equitable.
  • Reducing black carbon by investing in clean cookstovesHousehold energy emissions have a significant impact on the climate, environment, human health, gender, and livelihoods. In addition, the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, can in the short term contribute significantly to keeping a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Given the urgent need for tangible, ambitious, and global action, the U.S. government is announcing that it is resuming and strengthening its commitment to the United Nations Foundation’s Clean Cooking Alliance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with the Clean Cooking Alliance, other governments, and partners to reduce emissions from home cooking and heating that contribute to climate change and also directly affect the health and livelihoods of almost 40 percent of the world’s population.
  • Mitigating black carbon health impacts in Indigenous Arctic communitiesEPA, working through our partners in the Arctic Council, is pleased to announce the Black Carbon Health in Indigenous Arctic Communities project to be implemented by the Aleut International Association. Indigenous Arctic communities need tools to understand their exposure to black carbon emissions, to help them identify significant local sources, and to share best practices for preventing and mitigating the health impacts of air pollution and climate. The project will help these communities measure, analyze, and addresses black carbon exposure and strengthen their capacity to develop and promote black carbon mitigation strategies.

Implementing nature-based solutionsNature is a critical part of reaching net-zero emissions and enhancing community resilience. The world’s ocean and forests are critical carbon sinks and a source of life and livelihoods. Recognizing nature’s vital role, the United States is announcing new resources and support for:

  • Investing in tropical forests to drive towards a net-zero world. Halting deforestation globally, and restoring forests and other ecosystems, is critical to reaching a net-zero emissions world by 2050. The United States is joining together with other governments and private sector companies today to announce the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition. The LEAF Coalition expects to mobilize at least $1 billion this year to incentivize tropical and subtropical countries in reducing emissions from forests by paying for verified emissions reductions that meet a high environmental and social standard. This is a crucial component to raising global climate ambition and to halting and reversing deforestation by 2030.
  • Funding nature-based approaches to coastal community and ecosystem resilience. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and additional governmental and private partners will provide $34 million for nature-based approaches through the National Coastal Resilience Fund. These projects will advance restoration or enhancement of natural features, such as coastal wetlands, dunes, and coral reefs, to protect coastal communities and infrastructure from flooding, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife. NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation commit to advancing the science and practice of implementing nature-based approaches to coastal resilience with international communities of practice by participating in exchanges and dialogues to share the lessons and innovations learned from these projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners will also provide $78 million in grants to help conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetlands in Canada, Mexico, and the United States through the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
  • Promoting resilience in the Southern OceanThe United States is supporting the three marine protected area proposals in the Southern Ocean before the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). These unique areas are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and they must be protected. The United States is calling on all CCAMLR members to adopt these marine protected areas at this year’s meeting.

Promoting safety and security at home and abroadClimate change has been identified by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a critical national security threat and threat multiplier. As a result, DoD has undertaken assessments of the impacts that the climate crisis has on American military instillations. Today the United States is announcing:

  • Conducting climate exposure assessments on all U.S. installationsThe DoD is announcing a plan to complete climate exposure assessments on all major U.S. installations within 12 months and all major installations outside the continental U.S. within 24 months using the Defense Climate Assessment Tool (DCAT). The DCAT helps identify the climate hazards to which DoD installations are most exposed, which is the first step in addressing the potential physical harm, security impacts, and degradation in readiness resulting from global climate change.
  • Supporting assessments in partner countries around the world. The DoD is also announcing its commitment to share the DCAT with a number of attending allied partners and militaries.

Supporting action at every levelFully addressing the climate crisis requires an all-of-society response. President Biden is committed to working with sub-national actors, business, civil society, indigenous communities, and youth to facilitate collective ambitious action that yields lasting results.

  • Advancing subnational and non-state engagement abroadThe United States will step up engagement with subnational governments and non-state actors around the world to accelerate climate action. It will also partner with U.S. cities, states, territories, and Tribes in the context of its diplomatic outreach globally, supporting their engagement at UN Climate Change summits and working with other countries to elevate similar efforts.
  • Catalyzing subnational action and participation in COP26. The United States endorses Race To Zero, a global campaign for net-zero targets from businesses, cities, and regions, and will work to seek additional U.S participants. The United States also announced an intent to commission analysis of the emission reduction potential from subnational leadership worldwide and to work with national and subnational partners globally to achieve this potential.

Today’s announcements are additional steps in the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance an unprecedented whole-of-government response to climate change while creating good-paying, union jobs and advancing environmental justice. On his first day in office, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and one week later he signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As part of this Order, the President charged federal agencies to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis. From reducing emissions to advancing a just transition, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to working hand in hand with international leaders, civil society, businesses, and communities and getting countries around the world to step up and meet this global challenge.
 

Biden Sets New 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target to Spur jobs, Innovation

Building on Past U.S. Leadership, including Efforts by States, Cities, Tribes, and Territories, the New Target Aims at 50-52 Percent Reduction in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Pollution from 2005 Levels in 2030
 

California wind farm. On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030 – building on progress to-date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030 – building on progress to-date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis.   
 
The announcement – made during the Leaders Summit on Climate that President Biden is holding to challenge the world on increased ambition in combating climate change – is part of the President’s focus on building back better in a way that will create millions of good-paying, union jobs, ensure economic competitiveness, advance environmental justice, and improve the health and security of communities across America.

Biden has said often that when he hears the phrase “climate action,” he thinks “jobs.”

This is a fact sheet from the White House:
 
On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement and set a course for the United States to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad, reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.  As part of re-entering the Paris Agreement, he also launched a whole-of-government process, organized through his National Climate Task Force, to establish this new 2030 emissions target – known as the “nationally determined contribution” or “NDC,” a formal submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Today’s announcement is the product of this government-wide assessment of how to make the most of the opportunity combating climate change presents. 
 
PUSHING PROGRESS, CREATING JOBS, AND ACHIEVING JUSTICE
 
The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now.  Climate change poses an existential threat, but responding to this threat offers an opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance environmental justice. Creating jobs and tackling climate change go hand in hand – empowering the U.S. to build more resilient infrastructure, expand access to clean air and drinking water, spur American technological innovations, and create good-paying, union jobs along the way.
 
To develop the goal, the Administration analyzed how every sector of the economy can spur innovation, unleash new opportunities, drive competitiveness, and cut pollution. The target builds on leadership from mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, businesses, faith groups, cultural institutions, health care organizations, investors, and communities who have worked together tirelessly to ensure sustained progress in reducing pollution in the United States.
 
Building on and benefiting from that foundation, America’s 2030 target picks up the pace of emissions reductions in the United States, compared to historical levels, while supporting President Biden’s existing goals to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. There are multiple paths to reach these goals, and the U.S. federal, state, local, and tribal governments have many tools available to work with civil society and the private sector to mobilize investment to meet these goals while supporting a strong economy. 
 
SUPPORTING AMERICAN WORKERS
 
This target prioritizes American workers. Meeting the 2030 emissions target will create millions of good-paying, middle class, union jobs – line workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks; autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them; engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement; and farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.
 
The health of our communities, well-being of our workers, and competitiveness of our economy requires this quick and bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must:

  • Invest in infrastructure and innovation. America must lead the critical industries that produce and deploy the clean technologies that we can harness today – and the ones that we will improve and invent tomorrow.
  • Fuel an economic recovery that creates jobs. We have the opportunity to fuel an equitable recovery, expand supply chains and bolster manufacturing, create millions of good-paying, union jobs, and build a more sustainable, resilient future.
  • Breathe clean air and drink clean water and advance environmental justice. We can improve the health and well-being of our families and communities – especially those places too often left out and left behind.
  • Make it in America. We can bolster our domestic supply chains and position the U.S. to ship American-made, clean energy products — like EV batteries – around the world.

 
MEETING THE MOMENT
 
The target is consistent with the President’s goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050 and of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the science demands.  To develop the target, the Administration:

  • Used a whole-of-government approach: The NDC was developed by the National Climate Task Force using a whole-of-government approach, relying on a detailed bottom-up analysis that reviewed technology availability, current costs, and future cost reductions, as well as the role of enabling infrastructure.  Standards, incentives, programs, and support for innovation were all weighed in the analysis.  The National Climate Task Force is developing this into a national climate strategy to be issued later this year.
  • Consulted important and diverse stakeholders: From unions that collectively bargain for millions of Americans who have built our country and work to keep it running to groups representing tens of millions of advocates and young Americans, the Administration listened to Americans across the country. This also included groups representing thousands of scientists; hundreds of governmental leaders like governors, mayors, and tribal leaders; hundreds of businesses; hundreds of schools and institutions of higher education; as well as with many specialized researchers focused on questions of pollution reduction.
  • Explored multiple pathways across the economy: The target is grounded in analysis that explored multiple pathways for each economic sector of the economy that produces CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gases: electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, and lands. 

Each policy considered for reducing emissions is also an opportunity to support good jobs and improve equity:

  • The United States has set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, which can be achieved through multiple cost-effective pathways each resulting in meaningful emissions reductions in this decade. That means good-paying jobs deploying carbon pollution-free electricity generating resources, transmission, and energy storage and leveraging the carbon pollution-free energy potential of power plants retrofitted with carbon capture and existing nuclear, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.
  • The United States can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades and electrification in buildings through support for job-creating retrofit programs and sustainable affordable housing, wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves, and adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings. The United States will also invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction, including for high-performance electrified buildings.
  • The United States can reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector by reducing tailpipe emissions and boosting the efficiency of cars and trucks; providing funding for charging infrastructure; and spurring research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts that drive forward very low carbon new-generation renewable fuels for applications like aviation, and other cutting-edge transportation technologies across modes. Investment in a wider array of transportation infrastructure, including transit, rail, and biking improvements, will make more choices available to travelers.
  • The United States can reduce emissions from forests and agriculture and enhance carbon sinks through a range of programs and measures including nature-based solutions for ecosystems ranging from our forests and agricultural soils to our rivers and coasts. Ocean-based solutions can also contribute towards reducing U.S. emissions.
  • The United States can address carbon pollution from industrial processes by supporting carbon capture as well as new sources of hydrogen—produced from renewable energy, nuclear energy, or waste—to power industrial facilities.  The government can use its procurement power to support early markets for these very low- and zero-carbon industrial goods.
  • The United States will also reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane, hydrofluorocarbons and other potent short-lived climate pollutants. Reducing these pollutants delivers fast climate benefits.
  • In addition, the United States will invest in innovation to improve and broaden the set of solutions as a critical complement to deploying the affordable, reliable, and resilient clean technologies and infrastructure available today.

America must act— and not just the federal government, but cities and states, small and big business, working communities.  Together, we can seize the opportunity to drive prosperity, create jobs, and build the clean energy economy of tomorrow.

Biden on Derek Chauvin Verdict: ‘We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country-let that be George Floyd’s legacy’

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin being led away to jail after being found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd. President Joe Biden declared, “We must not turn away.  We can’t turn away.  We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.  It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden gave remarks immediately following the jury verdict that found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty for the death of George Floyd, saying “We must not turn away.  We can’t turn away.  We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.  It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.” Here is a highlighted transcript:

Today, a jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May.
 
It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism
the Vice President just referred to — the systemic racism that is a stain our nation’s soul; the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans; the profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day.

The murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the Civil Rights era in the ‘60s — protests that unified people of every race and generation in peace and with purpose to say, “Enough.  Enough.  Enough of the senseless killings.”

Today — today’s verdict is a step forward.  I just spoke with the Governor of Minnesota, who thanked me for the close work with his team. 

And I also just spoke with George Floyd’s family again — a remarkable family of extraordinary courage.  Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back.  But this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.

Let’s also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare.  For so many people, it seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors: a brave young woman with a smartphone camera; a crowd that was traumatized — traumatized witnesses; a murder that lasts almost 10 minutes in broad daylight for, ultimately, the whole world to see; officers standing up and testifying against a fellow officer instead of just closing ranks, which should be commended; a jury who heard the evidence, carried out their civic duty in the midst of an extraordinary moment, under extraordinary pressure.
 
For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver a just — just basic accountability.
 
We saw how traumatic and exhausting just watching the trial was for so many people.  Think about it, those of you who are listening — think about how traumatic it was for you.  You weren’t there.  You didn’t know any of the people. 

But it was difficult, especially for the witnesses who had to relive that day.

It’s a trauma on top of the fear so many people of color live with every day when they go to sleep at night and pray for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
 

Again — as we saw in this trial, from the fellow police officers who testified — most men and women who wear the badge
serve their communities honorably.
 
But those few who fail to meet that standard
must be held accountable.  And they were today; one was.  No one should be above the law.  And today’s verdict sends that message.
 
But it is not enough.  We can’t stop here.

In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen and occur again; to ensure that Black and brown people or anyone — so they don’t fear the interactions with law enforcement, that they don’t have to wake up knowing that they can lose their very life in the course of just living their life.  They don’t have to worry about whether their sons or daughters will come home after a grocery store run or just walking down the street or driving their car or playing in the park or just sleeping at home.

And this takes acknowledging and confronting, head on, systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing and in our criminal justice system more broadly. 

You know, state and local government and law enforcement needs to step up, but so does the federal government.  That’s why I have appointed the leadership at the Justice Department that I have, that is fully committed to restoring trust between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to serve and protect.  I have complete confidence in the Attorney General — General Garland’s leadership and commitment. 

I have also nominated two key Justice Department nominees — Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke — who are eminently qualified, highly respected lawyers who have spent their entire careers fighting to advance racial equity and justice. 

Vanita and Kristen have the experience and the skill necessary to advance our administration’s priorities to root out unconstitutional policing and reform our criminal justice system, and they deserve to be confirmed. 

We also need Congress to act.  George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago.  There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name.  You just heard the Vice President speak of it.  She helped write it.  Legislation to tackle systemic misconduct in police departments, to restore trust between law enforcement and the people that are entrusted to serve and protect.  But it shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done.

In my conversations with the Floyd family — and I spoke with them again today — I assured them that we’re going to continue to fight for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act so we can — I can sign it into law as quickly as possible.  And there’s more to do. 

Finally, it’s the work we do every day to change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies — that’s the work we have to do.  Only then will full justice and full equality be delivered to all Americans.  And that’s what I just discussed with the Floyd family. 

The guilty verdict does not bring back George.  But through the family’s pain, they are finding purpose so George’s legacy will not be just about his death, but about what we must do in his memory.

I also spoke to Gianna — George’s (inaudible) — George’s young daughter, again.  When I met her last year — I’ve said this before — at George’s funeral, I told her how brave I thought she was.  And I, sort of, knelt down to hold her hand.  I said, “Daddy’s looking down on you.  He’s so proud.”  She said to me then — I’ll never forget it — “Daddy changed the world.”

Well, I told her this afternoon, “Daddy did change the world.”  Let that be his legacy: a legacy of peace, not violence — of justice. 

Peaceful expression of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate, but violent protest is not.  And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment — agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice; who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, to fan the flames of hate and division; who will do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice.  We can’t let them succeed.
 
This is the time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans.  There can never be any safe harbor for hate in America.

I’ve said it many times: The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years — a tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.

At our best, the American ideal wins out.  So we can’t leave this moment or look away, thinking our work is done.  We have to look at it as we did for those 9 minutes and 29 seconds.  We have to listen.  “I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.”  Those were George Floyd’s last words.  We can’t let those words die with him.  We have to keep hearing those words.

We must not turn away.  We can’t turn away.  We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.  It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.

May God bless you.  And may God bless the — George Floyd and his family.

Thank you for taking the time to be here.  This can be a moment of significant change. 

Biden Declares Way Forward in Afghanistan: ‘It’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home’

President Joe Biden pays his respects to the fallen at Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery where recent war dead are buried, including many of the women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Biden, announcing that US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan, America’s longest war, by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the terror attacks, keeps a tally of how many have died in Afghanistan, 2,448, and 20,722 wounded © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On April 14, speaking from the Treaty Room in the White House, President Joe Biden declared that American troops would be out of Afghanistan, America’s longest war, by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the terror attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda that left 3000 dead New York, Washington DC and Shanksville, PA. here is a highlighted transcript:

Good afternoon.  I’m speaking to you today from the Roosevelt — the Treaty Room in the White House.  The same spot where, on October of 2001, President George W. Bush informed our nation that the United States military had begun strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.  It was just weeks — just weeks after the terrorist attack on our nation that killed 2,977 innocent souls; that turned Lower Manhattan into a disaster area, destroyed parts of the Pentagon, and made hallowed ground of a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and sparked an American promise that we would “never forget.”

We went to Afghanistan in 2001 to root out al Qaeda, to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan.  Our objective was clear.  The cause was just.  Our NATO Allies and partners rallied beside us.  And I supported that military action, along with overwhelming majority of the members of Congress.

More than seven years later, in 2008, weeks before we swore the oath of office — President Obama and I were about to swear — President Obama asked me to travel to Afghanistan and report back on the state of the war in Afghanistan.  I flew to Afghanistan, to the Kunar Valley — a rugged, mountainous region on the border with Pakistan.  What I saw on that trip reinforced my conviction that only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country, and that more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government. 

I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again.  We did that.  We accomplished that objective. 

I said, among — with others, we’d follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be.  That’s exactly what we did, and we got him.  It took us close to 10 years to put President Obama’s commitment into form.  And that’s exactly what happened; Osama bin Laden was gone. 

That was 10 years ago.  Think about that.  We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago, and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since.  Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear, even as the terrorist threat that we went to fight evolved.

Over the past 20 years, the threat has become more dispersed, metastasizing around the globe: al-Shabaab in Somalia; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Nusra in Syria; ISIS attempting to create a  [caliphate] in Syria and Iraq, and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. 

With the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes little sense to me and to our leaders.  We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal, and expecting a different result. 

I’m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats.  I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.

After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the Vice President, as well as with Mr. Ghani and many others around the world, I have concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war.  It’s time for American troops to come home. 

When I came to office, I inherited a diplomatic agreement, duly negotiated between the government of the United States and the Taliban, that all U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just three months after my inauguration.  That’s what we inherited — that commitment. 

It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something.  So, in keeping with that agreement and with our national interests, the United States will begin our final withdrawal — begin it on May 1 of this year. 

We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.  We’ll do it — we’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.  And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do. 
 
And the Taliban should know that if they attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal. 

Our allies and partners have stood beside us shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and we’re deeply grateful for the contributions they have made to our shared mission and for the sacrifices they have borne.

The plan has long been “in together, out together.”  U.S. troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO Allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11th. 
 
But — but we’ll not take our eye off the terrorist threat.  We’ll reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent reemergence of terrorists — of the threat to our homeland from over the horizon.  We’ll hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan soil.  The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well.  And we’ll focus our full attention on the threat we face today. 
 
At my direction, my team is refining our national strategy to monitor and disrupt significant terrorist threats not only in Afghanistan, but anywhere they may arise — and they’re in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

I spoke yesterday with President Bush to inform him of my decision. While he and I have had many disagreements over policies throughout the years, we’re absolutely united in our respect and support for the valor, courage, and integrity of the women and men of the United States Armed Forces who served.  I’m immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone that they have shown through nearly two decades of combat deployments.  We as a nation are forever indebted to them and to their families. 

You all know that less than 1 percent of Americans serve in our armed forces.  The remaining 99 percent of them — we owe them.  We owe them.  They have never backed down from a single mission that we’ve asked of them.

I’ve witnessed their bravery firsthand during my visits to Afghanistan.  They’ve never wavered in their resolve.  They’ve paid a tremendous price on our behalf.  And they have the thanks of a grateful nation.

While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue.  We’ll continue to support the government of Afghanistan.  We will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defenses and Security Forces. 

And along with our partners, we have trained and equipped a standing force of over 300,000 Afghan personnel today and hundreds of thousands over the past two decades.  And they’ll continue to fight valiantly, on behalf of the Afghans, at great cost.  They’ll support peace talks, as we will support peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, facilitated by the United Nations.  And we’ll continue to support the rights of Afghan women and girls by maintaining significant humanitarian and development assistance.

And we’ll ask other countries — other countries in the region — to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey.  They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan. 

And over the next few months, we will also determine what a continued U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan will look like, including how we’ll ensure the security of our diplomats.

Look, I know there are many who will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust U.S. military presence to stand as leverage.  We gave that argument a decade.  It’s never proved effective — not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan, and not when we were down to a few thousand.

Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way — U.S. boots on the ground.  We have to change that thinking.  American troops shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip between warring parties in other countries.  You know, that’s nothing more than a recipe for keeping American troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. 

I also know there are many who will argue that we should stay — stay fighting in Afghanistan because withdrawal would damage America’s credibility and weaken America’s influence in the world.  I believe the exact opposite is true. 

We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago.  That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. 

Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us.  We have to track and disrupt terrorist networks and operations that spread far beyond Afghanistan since 9/11.

We have to shore up American competitiveness to meet the stiff competition we’re facing from an increasingly assertive China.  We have to strengthen our alliances and work with like-minded partners to ensure that the rules of international norms that govern cyber threats and emerging technologies that will shape our future are grounded in our democratic values — values — not those of the autocrats. 
 
We have to defeat this pandemic and strengthen the global health system to prepare for the next one, because there will be another pandemic. 
 
You know, we’ll be much more formidable to our adversaries and competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20. 
 
And finally, the main argument for staying longer is what each of my three predecessors have grappled with: No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan forever, but they insist now is not the right moment to leave. 

In 2014, NATO issued a declaration affirming that Afghan Security Forces would, from that point on, have full responsibility for their country’s security by the end of that year.  That was seven years ago. 

So when will it be the right moment to leave?  One more year, two more years, ten more years?  Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent? 
 
“Not now” — that’s how we got here.  And in this moment, there’s a significant downside risk to staying beyond May 1st without a clear timetable for departure. 
 
If we instead pursue the approach where America — U.S. exit is tied to conditions on the ground, we have to have clear answers to the following questions: Just what conditions require to — be required to allow us to depart?  By what means and how long would it take to achieve them, if they could be achieved at all?  And at what additional cost in lives and treasure?

I’m not hearing any good answers to these questions.  And if you can’t answer them, in my view, we should not stay.  The fact is that, later today, I’m going to visit Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60, and that sacred memorial to American sacrifice. 

Section 60 is where our recent war dead are buried, including many of the women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There’s no — there’s no comforting distance in history in Section 60.  The grief is raw.  It’s a visceral reminder of the living cost of war. 

For the past 12 years, ever since I became Vice President, I’ve carried with me a card that reminds me of the exact number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That exact number, not an approximation or rounded-off number — because every one of those dead are sacred human beings who left behind entire families.  An exact accounting of every single solitary one needs to be had. 

As of the day — today, there are [2,448] U.S. troops and personnel who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel — our Afghanistan conflicts.  20,722 have been wounded. 

I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a warzone.  And throughout this process, my North Star has been remembering what it was like when my late son, Beau, was deployed to Iraq — how proud he was to serve his country; how insistent he was to deploy with his unit; and the impact it had on him and all of us at home. 

We already have service members doing their duty in Afghanistan today whose parents served in the same war.  We have service members who were not yet born when our nation was attacked on 9/11. 

War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking.  We were attacked.  We went to war with clear goals.  We achieved those objectives.  Bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is degraded in Iraq — in Afghanistan.  And it’s time to end the forever war. 

Thank you all for listening.  May God protect our troops.  May God bless all those families who lost someone in this endeavor.