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Biden Administration Implements a National Strategy for COVID-19 Response, Pandemic Preparedness

Surprise! There wasn’t any Trump Administration plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. And those supplies that were supposedly held in reserve? The jokes on you – there aren’t any. The incoming Biden Administration – locked out of meaningful engagement during the transition – finds it has to basically create a vaccine distribution program almost from scratch, while holding to a goal of administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Surprise! There wasn’t any Trump Administration plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. And those supplies that were supposedly held in reserve? The jokes on you – there aren’t any. The incoming Biden Administration – locked out of meaningful engagement during the transition – finds it has to basically create a vaccine distribution program almost from scratch, while holding to a goal of administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days. As each day continues to post new record numbers of deaths (well over 400,000 now, with as many as 100,000 more deaths by February forecast), hospitalizations choking state’s health care systems, the number of infections soaring over 22 million and new strains that are even more transmissible, Biden’s first Executive Order, signed within minutes of entering the White House, was to require mask-wearing at federal facilities and in interstate commerce, while launching a national, patriotic campaign to mask-up for 100 days. And the first order of business for the Biden Administration has been to introduce, for the first time, a national strategy to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic that has so devastated lives and livelihoods.

Here it is: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response
and Pandemic Preparedness

January 21, 2021

Executive Summary


We can and will beat COVID-19. America deserves a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is driven by science, data, and public health — not politics. Through the release of the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, the United States is initiating a coordinated pandemic response that not only improves the effectiveness of our fight against COVID-19, but also helps restore trust, accountability and a sense of common purpose in our government.
 
On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that there were 59 cases of coronavirus-related pneumonia. Just one year later, the United States has experienced over 24 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 400,000 COVID-19 deaths. America has just 4% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases and 20% of all COVID-19 deaths. And our nation continues to experience the darkest days of the pandemic, with record numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Over 77,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 in December, and across our nation businesses are closing, hospitals are full, and families are saying goodbye to their loved ones remotely.
 
The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. It outlines an actionable plan across the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including twelve initial executive actions that will be issued by President Biden during his first two days in office:
 
The National Strategy is organized around seven goals:

  1. Restore trust with the American people.
  2. Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.
  3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, treatments, data, health care workforce, and clear public health standards.
  4. Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.
  5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers.
  6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
  7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.

 
To execute on the National Strategy, the White House will establish a COVID-19 Response Office responsible for coordinating the pandemic response across all federal departments and agencies. Through implementation of the National Strategy, the United States will make immediate progress on the seven goals. To monitor outcomes, the National Strategy will establish a data-driven, evidence-based approach to evaluating America’s progress in the fight against COVID-19.
 
The federal government cannot solve this crisis alone. Full implementation of the National Strategy for COVID-19 will require sustained, coordinated, and complementary efforts of the American people, as well as groups across the country, including State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments; health care providers; businesses; manufacturers critical to the supply chain; civic, religious and civil rights organizations; and unions. It will also require a global effort to contain the virus and advance health security.
 
America has always risen to the challenge and we will do so now. In collaboration with the people of this country, the United States government will lead an effective COVID-19 response that gets us back to our lives and loved ones. As we’ve seen during this pandemic, we can’t solve our problems as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is together as fellow Americans and as the United States of America.
 

On the eve of his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden  along with Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and Douglas Emhoff  participated in a memorial honoring the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19, as 400 lights lit the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. This was the first-ever lighting around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial. “To heal, we must remember.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Goal 1: Restore trust with the American people.

The federal government should be the source of truth for the public to get clear, accessible, and scientifically accurate information about COVID-19. To rebuild the trust of the American people, the National Strategy will signal clear public leadership and a commitment to a robust whole-of-government response that puts science first. The federal government will be transparent with the American people, maintaining an open line of communication with the public and all stakeholders. To continue to restore trust, the United States will:
 
Establish a national COVID-19 response structure where decision-making is driven by science and equity. The Biden-Harris Administration has developed a unified plan to rebuild expert leadership across the government and regain the trust of the American public. As part of the strategy, on his first day in office, President Biden issued Executive Order Organizing and Mobilizing the U.S. Government to Provide a Unified And Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security establishing a White House COVID-19 national response structure to coordinate across the U.S. Government and restoring the White House Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense established by the Obama-Biden Administration. The COVID-19 Response office will establish clear lines of communications with all governors, state public health officials and immunization managers, and local leaders.
 
Conduct regular expert-led, science-based public briefings. The federal government will conduct regular, expert-led, science-based public briefings and release regular reports on the state of the pandemic. Experts and scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also develop clear, evidence-based, metric-driven public health guidance and effectively and frequently communicate and distribute guidance and updates to the American people.
 
Publicly share data around key response indicators. Metrics and metric-driven public health guidance will be essential to controlling the pandemic. President Biden will issue Executive Order Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats directing steps to enhance federal agencies’ collection, production sharing, and analysis of, and collaboration with respect to, data to support an equitable COVID-19 response and recovery. As further detailed in National Strategy Goals Two, Three, and Six, the federal government will track a range of performance measures and data including cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions, and will make real-time information readily available to the public and to policymakers at the federal, state, and local level. The CDC will also maintain a public dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases at the county level, so that Americans can gauge the level of transmission in their own communities to make their own informed choices.
 
Engage the American people. The federal government cannot solve this crisis alone. It will take regular engagement with the public, state and local leaders, the private sector, unions, community volunteers, and health care providers to guide policy and implementation. The Administration will prioritize outreach to state and local governments, the public and private sectors, vulnerable communities, students, workers, and community leaders, using input from these stakeholders to drive the government’s COVID-19 response.
 
Lead science-first public health campaigns. The Administration will lead world-class public education campaigns — covering topics like masking, testing, vaccinations and vaccine hesitancy — designed with diversity and inclusivity in mind, including communications in multiple languages, to maximize reach and effectiveness. The campaigns will be coordinated, across national, state, and local levels, and engage with the private and public sector. They will be anchored by science and fact-based public health guidance. The Administration will work to counter misinformation and disinformation by ensuring that Americans are obtaining science-based information.
 

Goal 2: Mount a safe, effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign.

The United States will spare no effort to ensure Americans can get vaccinated quickly, effectively, and equitably. The federal government will execute an aggressive vaccination strategy, focusing on the immediate actions necessary to convert vaccines into vaccinations, including improving allocation, distribution, administration, and tracking. Central to this effort will be additional support and funding for state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments — and improved line of sight into supply — to ensure that they are best prepared to mount local vaccination programs. At the same time, the federal government will mount an unprecedented public campaign that builds trust around vaccination and communicates the importance of maintaining public health measures such as masking, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing even as people receive safe and effective vaccinations. To mount a safe, effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign, the United States will:
 
Ensure the availability of safe, effective vaccines for the American public. The national vaccination effort will be one of the greatest operational challenges America has ever faced. To ensure all Americans can be vaccinated quickly, the President has developed a plan for expanding vaccine manufacturing and purchasing COVID-19 vaccine doses for the U.S. population by fully leveraging contract authorities, including the Defense Production Act; deploying onsite support to monitor contract manufacturing operations; and purchasing additional FDA-authorized vaccines to deliver as quickly as possible. The effort includes prioritizing supplies that could cause bottlenecks, including glass vials, stoppers, syringes, needles, and the “fill and finish” capacity to package vaccine into vials.
 
Accelerate getting shots into arms and get vaccines to the communities that need them most. The success of the national vaccination effort will depend on reaching communities across the United States. To achieve this, the federal government will take a series of steps to simplify and strengthen the allocation and distribution process. In order to expand the supply available to states, the Administration will end the policy of holding back significant levels of doses, instead holding back a small reserve and monitoring supply to ensure that everyone receives the full regimen as recommended by the FDA. The United States will accelerate the pace of vaccinations by encouraging states and localities to move through the priority groups more quickly — expanding access to frontline essential workers and individuals over the age of 65, while staying laser-focused on working to ensure that the highest-risk members of the public, including those in congregate facilities, can access the vaccine where and when they need it. The Administration will also improve the allocation process by providing states and localities with clear, consistent projections to inform their planning. Through it all, the United States will work to ensure that the vaccine is distributed quickly, effectively and equitably, with a focus on making sure that high-risk and hard-to-reach communities are not left behind.
 
Create as many venues as needed for people to be vaccinated. The federal government — in partnership with state and local governments — will create as many venues for vaccination as needed in communities and settings that people trust. This includes, but is not limited to federally run community vaccination centers, in places like stadiums and conference centers, federally-supported state and locally operated vaccination sites in all 50 states and 14 territories,  pharmacies and retail stores, federal facilities like Veterans Affairs hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, physician offices, health systems, urgent care centers, and mobile and on-site occupational clinics
 
Focus on hard-to-reach and high-risk populations. As the United States accelerates the pace of vaccinations nationwide, we remain focused on building programs to meet the needs of hard-to-reach and high-risk populations, and meeting communities where they are to make vaccinations as accessible and equitable as possible. The federal government will deploy targeted strategies to meet the needs of individuals at increased risk and others who need to take extra precautions, according to the CDC, as well as the communities hardest hit by this pandemic. Local public health officials will play a critical role.
 
Fairly compensate providers, and states and local governments for the cost of administering vaccinations. Fairly compensating providers, and state and local governments for the costs of vaccine administration will be critical to expanding vaccination participation. President Biden will work with Congress to expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 100 percent for vaccinations of Medicaid enrollees—with the goal of alleviating state costs for administration of these vaccines and supporting states in their work to meet the needs of their communities. The Department of Health and Human Services will ask the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to consider whether current payment rates for vaccine administration are appropriate or whether a higher rate may more accurately compensate providers. The federal government will fund vaccine supply and will greatly expand funding for vaccine administration by allowing state and local governments to reimburse vaccination administration expenses through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and by ensuring that workforce and equipment expenses for state and local-run sites are also eligible.
 
Drive equity throughout the vaccination campaign and broader pandemic response. The federal government will drive equity in vaccinations by using demographic data to identify  communities hit hardest by the virus and supporting them, ensuring no out-of-pocket costs for vaccinations, and making sure vaccines reach those communities. Working with state, local, and community-based organizations and trusted health care providers, like community health centers, will be central to this effort.
 
Launch a national vaccinations public education campaign. The United States will build public trust through an unprecedented vaccination public health campaign at the federal, State, Tribal, territorial, local and community level. The public education campaign will support vaccination programs, address vaccine hesitancy, help simplify the vaccination process for Americans, and educate the public on effective prevention measures. The campaign will be tailored to meet the needs of diverse communities, get information to trusted, local messengers, and outline efforts to deliver a safe and effective vaccine as part of a national strategy for beating COVID-19.
 
Bolster data systems and transparency for vaccinations. The operational complexity of vaccinating the public will make robust data and its use in decision-making related to vaccinations more important than ever. The federal government, with CDC, will track distribution and vaccination progress, working hand-in-hand with states and localities to support their efforts. The Administration will build on and strengthen the federal government’s approach to data collection related to vaccination efforts, removing impediments and developing communication and technical assistance plans for jurisdictions and providers. The Administration, through HHS and other federal partners, will rely on data to drive decision-making and the national vaccinations program.
 
Monitor vaccine safety and efficacy. The Administration will ensure that scientists are in charge of all decisions related to vaccine safety and efficacy. The FDA will also continue to honor its commitment to make relevant data on vaccine safety and efficacy publicly available and to provide opportunities for public, non-governmental expert input. Through expanded and existing systems, the CDC and FDA will ensure ongoing, real-time safety monitoring. Through it all, the Administration will communicate clearly with the American public to continue to build trust around the vaccine and its benefits for individuals, their families and communities.
 
Surge the health care workforce to support the vaccination effort. A diverse, community-based health care workforce is essential to an effective vaccination program. The United States will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow qualified professionals to administer vaccines and encourage states to leverage their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate.

President Joe Biden’s first Executive Order is to mandate mask-wearing at federal facilities and interstate commerce in order to mitigate the surge in the coronavirus pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Goal 3: Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, treatment, data, workforce, and clear public health standards.

A comprehensive national public health effort to control the virus — even after the vaccination program ramps up — will be critical to saving lives and restoring economic activity. The federal government will partner with state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders to implement a cohesive strategy to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 and release clear public health guidance to the public about what to do and when, including implementing mask mandates; expanding testing; strengthening the public health workforce; modernizing data collection and reporting capabilities for COVID-19 and future epidemics; and providing equitable access to treatment and clinical care. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through clear public health standards, the United States will:
 
Implement masking nationwide by working with governors, mayors, and the American people. The President has asked the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis and wear masks. He has issued Executive Order Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing which directs compliance with CDC guidance on masking and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors. Additionally, the President will issue Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel which directs applicable agencies to take immediate action to require mask-wearing on some airplanes, trains, and certain other forms of public transportation in the United States. He has called on governors, public health officials, mayors, business leaders, and others to implement masking, physical distancing, and other CDC public measures to control COVID-19.
 
Scale and expand testing. To control the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopen schools and businesses, America must have wide-spread testing. A national testing strategy is a cornerstone to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and controlling outbreaks, and clear federal guidance and a unified national approach to implementation are essential. The President will issue Executive Order Establishing the National Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats which establishes the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to oversee implementation of a clear, unified approach to testing. The federal government will expand the rapid testing supply and double test supplies and increase testing capacity. The Administration will also increase onshore test manufacturing, fill testing supply shortfalls, enhance laboratory capacity to conduct testing over the short- and long-term, and expand surveillance for hotspots and variants.
 
Effectively distribute tests and expand access to testing. The federal government will support school screening testing programs to help schools reopen. The Administration will also stand up a dedicated CDC Testing Support Team, fund rapid test acquisition and distribution for priority populations, work to spur development and manufacturing of at-home tests and work to ensure that tests are widely available. Through Executive Order Establishing the National Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats the President will direct agencies to facilitate testing free of charge for those who lack health insurance and to clarify insurers’ obligation to cover testing. The federal government will also provide testing protocols to inform the use of testing in congregate settings, schools, and other critical areas and among asymptomatic individuals. Further, technical assistance will support more widespread adoption of testing to improve timely diagnosis and public confidence in the safety of settings like schools.
 
Prioritize therapeutics and establish a comprehensive, integrated COVID-19 treatment discovery and development program. Effective treatments for COVID-19 are critical to saving lives. The federal government will establish a comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated preclinical drug discovery and development program, with diverse clinical trials, to allow therapeutics to be evaluated and developed rapidly in response to COVID-19 and other pandemic threats. This includes promoting the immediate and rapid development of therapeutics that respond to COVID-19 by developing new antivirals directed against the coronavirus family, accelerating research and support for clinical trials for therapeutics in response to COVID-19 with a focus on those that can be readily scaled and administered, and developing broad-spectrum antivirals to prevent future viral pandemics. President Biden will issue Executive Order Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatment for COVID-19 which also outlines steps to bolster clinical care capacity, provide assistance to long-term care facilities and intermediate care facilities for people with disabilities, increase health care workforce capacity, expand access to programs designed to meet long-term health needs of patients recovering from COVID-19, and support access to safe and effective COVID-19 therapies for those without coverage.
 
Develop actionable, evidence-based public health guidance. CDC will develop and update public health guidance on containment and mitigation that provides metrics for measuring and monitoring the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 in health care facilities, schools, workplaces, and the general public, including metric-driven reopening guidance that the federal government communicates widely. Informed by up-to-date national and state data, the CDC will provide and update guidance on key issues such as physical distancing protocols, testing, contact tracing, reopening schools and businesses, and masking. The CDC also will provide focused guidance for older Americans and others at higher risk, including people with disabilities. 
 
Expand the U.S. public health workforce and increase clinical care capacity for COVID-19.
In addition to supporting the surge in health care workers for vaccination efforts detailed in Goal Two, the federal government will also build and support an effective public health workforce to fight COVID-19 and the next public health threat. As part of the President’s commitment to provide 100,000 COVID-19 contact tracers, community health workers, and public health nurses, the Administration will establish a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps, provide support for community health workers, and mobilize Americans to support communities most at-risk. The United States will also provide technical support for testing, contact tracing, and other urgent public health workforce needs to better prepare for public health crises.
 
Improve data to guide the response to COVID-19. Federal agencies will make increased use of data to guide the public health response against COVID-19. To that end, Agencies will collect, aggregate, share, and analyze non-personally identifiable data, and take steps to make it publicly available and in a machine-readable form to enhance COVID-19 response efforts. And the federal government will facilitate evidence-based decision-making through focused data-based projects. These efforts will require collaboration with state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to aggregate and analyze data for critical decisions to track access to vaccines and testing, reopen schools and businesses, address disparities in COVID-19 infections and health outcomes, and enhance critical monitoring capacity where needed. In addition, critical response activities such as workforce mobilization and vaccination appointment scheduling may require new technology solutions. The federal government will provide technical support to ensure that these systems meet mission critical requirements to support a robust response.
 

Goal 4: Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.

It’s past time to fix America’s COVID-response supply shortage problems for good. The United States will immediately address urgent supply gaps, which will require monitoring and strengthening supply chains, while also steering the distribution of supplies to areas with the greatest need. As new vaccines, testing protocols, and treatments are developed, they will also need to be manufactured in sufficient supply. To respond to this unprecedented operational challenge, the President is immediately expanding emergency relief by giving state and local governments the support they need. To make vaccines, tests, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and other critical supplies available for the duration of the pandemic, the President has directed the use of all available legal authorities, including the Defense Production Act (DPA), instructing departments and agencies to expand the availability of critical supplies, to increase stockpiles so that PPE is available to be used in the recommended safe manner, and to start to fill all supply shortfalls immediately. To expand emergency relief and strengthen the supply chain, the government will:
 
Increase emergency funding to states and bolster the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response. The President will issue a Presidential Memorandum entitled  Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States, directing FEMA to fully reimburse states for the cost of National Guard personnel and emergency supplies, including emergency supplies like PPE for schools and child care providers.
 
Fill supply shortfalls by invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA). The United States is taking immediate action to fill supply shortfalls for vaccination supplies, testing supplies, and PPE. The President will issue Executive Order A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain which directs agencies to fill supply shortfalls using all available legal authorities, including the DPA, and the United States has identified twelve immediate supply shortfalls that will be critical to the pandemic response, including shortages in the dead-space needle syringes available to administer the vaccine. The President has directed relevant agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including the DPA, to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in these twelve categories of critical supplies, including taking action to increase the availability of supplies like N95 masks, isolation gowns, nitrile gloves, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sample collection swabs, test reagents, pipette tips, laboratory analysis machines for PCR tests, high-absorbency foam swabs, nitrocellulose material for rapid antigen tests, rapid test kits, low dead-space needles and syringes, and all the necessary equipment and material to accelerate the manufacture, delivery, and administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
 
Identify and solve urgent COVID-19 related supply gaps and strengthen the supply chain.The A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain executive order will also direct federal agencies to fill supply shortfalls using all available legal authorities.The federal government will focus on the near-term goal of building a stable, secure, and resilient supply chain with increased domestic manufacturing in four key critical sectors:

  • Antigen and molecular-based testing;
  • PPE and durable medical equipment;
  • Vaccine development and manufacturing; and
  • Therapeutics and key drugs.

 
The federal government will immediately focus on procuring supplies that will be critical to control the spread of COVID-19 by initiating contracts, entering into purchase commitments, making investments to produce supplies and expanding manufacturing capacity.
 
Secure the pandemic supply chain and create a manufacturing base in the United States. To respond more effectively to this crisis, and ensure that the United States is able to respond more quickly and efficiently to the next pandemic, we need a resilient, domestic public health industrial base. The U.S. Government will not only secure supplies for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but also build toward a future, flexible supply chain and expand an American manufacturing capability where the United States is not dependent on other countries in a crisis. To this end, A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain will direct the development of a new Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy.
 
Improve distribution and expand availability of critical materials. After conducting a review of existing COVID-19 and related pandemic supply chain distribution plans and working in consultation with state and regional compacts, the United States will coordinate distribution plans, prioritizing areas of highest-risk and highest need, and set up a structure to improve the distribution of critical materials. To work toward expanding the affordability and accessibility of supplies, A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain will direct the Department of Defense (DOD), HHS, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop recommendations to address the pricing of COVID-19 supplies. The federal government will also reduce the opacity of the market for critical supplies and supply chains by clearly and rapidly communicating with states, health care providers, and manufacturers about federal interventions.
 

Goal 5: Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel, while protecting workers.

Reopening schools, businesses, travel, and our economy will require major, unified federal investments in rapid testing, an expanded rapid response public health workforce, clear guidance and protections, and support for people to stay home when they are infected to stop the spread of COVID-19. At the same time that the United States takes immediate steps to achieve an overall decrease in COVID-19 spread, it will also support the safe operation of schools, businesses, and travel. To protect workers and safely reopen, schools, businesses, and travel, the United States will:
 
Implement a national strategy to support safely reopening schools. The United States is committed to ensuring that students and educators are able to resume safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible, with the goal of getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open in 100 days. The President will issue Executive Order Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers which directs a national strategy for safely reopening schools, including requiring the Departments of Education and HHS to provide guidance on safe reopening and operating, and to develop a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse to share lessons learned and best practices from across the country. Presidential Memorandum Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States will restore full reimbursement for eligible costs necessary to support safe school reopening through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and the President has called on Congress to provide at least $130 billion in dedicated funding to schools, $350 billion in flexible state and local relief funds that will help districts avoid lay-offs and close budget gaps, and additional resources so that schools can safely reopen, including funds to implement screening testing. The Administration will release a handbook that helps schools and local leaders implement the precautions and strategies necessary for safe reopening. It will also work with states and local school districts to support screening testing in schools, including working with states to ensure an adequate supply of test kits.
 
Support safe operations at child care centers and at-home providers. With enrollments down and costs up due to COVID-19 precautions, child care providers are struggling to stay afloat while providing vital services to their communities. Due to increased costs and lower enrollment, a recent survey of child care providers showed that most child care providers expect that they will close within a few months without relief, or are uncertain how long they can stay open.[1] If not addressed, child care providers will close and millions of parents will be left to make devastating choices between caring for their children and working to put food on the table. President Biden has called on Congress to provide $25 billion in emergency stabilization to support hard-hit child care providers through the pandemic. These funds would help providers pay rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as cover pandemic-related costs like personal protective equipment, ventilation supplies, smaller group sizes, and alterations to physical spaces that improve safety. The President has also called on Congress to provide $15 billion to help families struggling to afford child care.
 
Support equitable reopening and operation in higher education. College enrollment for high school graduates was down more than 20% in 2020 compared to 2019, and students from low-income families are nearly twice as likely to report canceling their plans to attend college. Reopening and keeping colleges open is critical to ensuring that all Americans have a shot at a college credential — but it must be done safely, to protect the health of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. To support colleges through the pandemic, President Biden has requested that Congress provide an additional $35 billion in emergency stabilization funds for higher education.
 
Protect workers and issue stronger worker safety guidance. It is critical that the federal government protect the health and safety of America’s workers and take swift action to prevent workers from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The President will issue Executive Order  Protecting Worker Health and Safety which directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue updated guidance on COVID-19 worker protections. It also directs OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to consider whether emergency temporary standards, including with respect to mask-wearing, are necessary. President Biden is taking steps to cover workers not typically covered by OSHA or MSHA by directing agencies like the Department of Transportation to keep workers safe. He has also called on Congress to extend and expand emergency paid leave; to allow OSHA to issue standards covering a broad set of workers, like many public workers on the frontlines; to provide additional funding for worker health and safety enforcement, and to provide grant funding for organizations to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19.  
 
Provide guidance and support to safely open businesses. To maintain safe operations during the pandemic, businesses need to know how to change their practices to protect employees and customers. As the conditions of the pandemic continue to evolve and more Americans get vaccinated, the business community needs clear information from the federal government on what to expect and how to adapt their operations. Many businesses affected by the pandemic–particularly the smallest ones–need additional support to adjust their physical spaces and purchase PPE and supplies. The United States will immediately work to prioritize funds under the recent COVID relief package to the companies hardest hit by COVID-19 and in compliance with public health restrictions, ensuring that small businesses have the funds they need to operate safely. Further, the Small Business Administration will work with the Department of Labor to disseminate updated OSHA guidance on worker safety and support businesses in implementing the updated guidance.
 
Promote Safe Travel. Ensuring that people can safely travel will be critical for families and to jumpstarting the economy, which is why the President will issue an executive order that requires mask-wearing on certain public modes of transportation and at ports of entry to the United States. For international air travel, Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel will require a recent negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure and quarantine on arrival, consistent with CDC guidelines. The Executive Order will also direct agencies to develop options for expanding public health measures for domestic travel and cross-border land and sea travel and calls for incentives to support and encourage compliance with CDC guidelines on public transportation.
 

Goal 6: Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated severe and pervasive health inequities among communities defined by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, sexual orientation/gender identity, and other factors. Addressing this pandemic’s devastating toll is both a moral imperative and pragmatic policy. The federal government will address disparities in rates of infection, illness and death.  Each of the goals of this National Strategy include comprehensive actions that will address these disparities and advance equity. In addition, the United States will:
 
Establish the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The President will issue Executive Order Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery which establishes a high-level task force to address COVID-19 related health and social inequities and help coordinate an equitable pandemic response and recovery. The Task Force will convene national experts on health equity and provide recommendations on how to mitigate COVID-19 health inequities.
 
Increase data collection and reporting for high risk groups. The fragmented and limited availability of data by race, ethnicity, geography, disability and other demographic variables delays recognition of risk and a targeted response. President Biden will issue the Executive Order Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats directing federal agencies to expand their data infrastructure to increase collection and reporting of health data for high risk populations, while reaffirming data privacy. Using these data, the federal government will identify high-risk communities, track resource distribution and evaluate the effectiveness of the response. Finally, HHS will optimize data collection from public and private entities to increase the availability of data by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, and other demographic variables, as feasible.
 
Ensure equitable access to critical COVID-19 PPE, tests, therapies and vaccines. The continued surge of COVID-19 highlights the critical importance of meaningful access to PPE, tests, therapies, and vaccines to prevent spread and reduce illness and death in high-risk populations and settings. The federal government will center equity in its COVID-19 response, providing PPE, tests, vaccines, therapeutics and other resources in a fair and transparent way. A targeted, stakeholder- and data-informed vaccination communication campaign will be launched to encourage vaccination in all communities. Additionally, the CDC will work with states and localities to update their pandemic plans. Finally, through prioritizing diverse and inclusive representation in clinical research and strengthening enforcement of anti-discrimination requirements, the federal government will increase access to effective COVID-19 care and treatment.
 
Expand access to high quality health care. The federal government will work to expand affordable coverage to increase access to care during this pandemic, and the Task Force will provide recommendations to align federal incentives with improved clinical outcomes. Specific actions include efforts to increase funding for community health centers, provide greater assistance to safety net institutions, strengthen home- and community-based services, expand mental health care, and support care and research on the effects of long COVID.
 
Expand the clinical and public health workforce, including community-based workers. In order to assure equitable PPE distribution, testing, contact tracing, social support for quarantine and isolation and vaccination, there must be sufficient workforce to serve the communities in greatest need. The federal government will augment the health workforce, including with community based workers, as outlined in Goal Three above, to help fill this critical gap. The federal government will create a United States Public Health Workforce Program of new community based workers to assist with testing, tracing and vaccination. Additionally, it will deploy federal workers to assist with the COVID-19 response in under-resourced areas.
 
Strengthen the social service safety net to address unmet basic needs. With millions of families already struggling pre-pandemic to meet basic needs, including food, housing and transportation, COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges. These challenges contribute to difficulties by many to adhere to public health guidance regarding social distancing and quarantine/isolation. This Administration is committed to addressing these needs in multiple ways, including providing paid sick leave, child care support, and rental assistance, with requested Congressional appropriations. Additionally, it will undertake agency actions to designate COVID-19 health equity leads and extend eligibility and enrollment flexibilities for select programs during the pandemic, as well work with community-based, multi-sector organizations to align health and social interventions.
 
Support communities most at-risk for COVID-19. The federal government is committed to supporting populations that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Whether residing in congregate settings (such as prisons, nursing and group homes, and homeless shelters), serving as essential workers, living as a person with a disability, or bearing the burden of chronic medical conditions, these vulnerable populations are disproportionately composed of people of color. The CDC will develop and update clear public health guidance for such high-risk populations and settings to further minimize the risk of COVID infection, and work with states to update their pandemic plans to incorporate such guidance as necessary.

Goal 7: Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.

U.S. international engagement to combat COVID-19, promote health, and advance global health security is urgent to save lives, promote economic recovery, and develop resilience against future biological catastrophes. America’s withdrawal from the world stage has impeded progress on a global COVID-19 response and left the U.S. more vulnerable to future pandemics. The Biden-Harris Administration will restore America’s role in leading the world through global crises, advancing global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda, including by supporting the international pandemic response effort, providing humanitarian relief and global health assistance, and building resilience for future epidemics and pandemics. The President will issue a National Security Directive that directs steps to restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness. In addition, the United States of America will:
 
Restore the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization and seek to strengthen and reform it. The World Health Organization (WHO) is essential to coordinating the international response to COVID-19 and improving the health of all peopleOn his first day in office, the President sent letters informing the UN Secretary-General and the WHO Director General of his decision to cease the previous Administration’s process of withdrawal from the WHO and meet its financial obligations. The United States is participating in the WHO Executive Board meeting this month, and will take actions to strengthen and reform the WHO.
 
Surge the international COVID-19 public health & humanitarian response. The United States will commit to multilateralism in the international COVID-19 public health and humanitarian response. The President will restore U.S. leadership on the global COVID-19 response and health security, laying out an active role for the United States in surging the health and humanitarian response to COVID-19, and supporting global vaccine distribution and research and development for treatments, tests, and vaccines. The United States will support the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, join the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, and seek to strengthen other existing multilateral initiatives, such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The United States will also take steps to enhance humanitarian relief and support for the capacity of the most vulnerable communities to prevent, detect, respond to, mitigate, and recover from impacts of COVID-19, such as food insecurity and gender-based violence.
 
Restore U.S. leadership to the international COVID-19 response and advance global health security and diplomacy. The United States will promote sustainable global health and global health security, rebuild health security alliances, elevate U.S. efforts to support the Global Health Security Agenda, and revitalize U.S. leadership. The United States will advance global health security financing, promote efforts to harmonize crisis response and early warning for public health emergencies, and strengthen global pandemic supply chains. The United States will also work within the UN Security Council and with partners to strengthen multilateral public health and humanitarian cooperation on the COVID-19 response, global institutions to combat disease, and a global health security architecture to prevent, detect, and respond to future biological threats.
 
Build better biopreparedness and expand resilience for biological threats. The United States is committed to strengthening U.S. biopreparedness and capacity to counter COVID-19 and future biological threats. The President has immediately restored the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, originally established by the Obama-Biden administration. He has reconstituted White House and Administration-wide infrastructure for monitoring and responding to emerging biological risks. And to improve the United States’ preparedness, the Administration will work to secure funding and Congressional support to establish an integrated, National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics to modernize global early warning and trigger systems to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats. The United States will also review and seek to strengthen our pandemic supply chain, public health workforce, medical countermeasure development and distribution, bioeconomic investment and technology-related risks.

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[1] https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/our-work/public-policy-advocacy/naeyc_policy_crisis_coronavirus_december_survey_data.pdf

Memo from Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to Incoming White House Senior Staff on First 10 Days of Biden Administration

(Psst: I’m sharing with you inside information on Joe Biden’s first actions in the first days of becoming President of the United States. Has anyone been this prepared, this ready from Day One to act on what was promised during the campaign? Or for that matter, to have key appointments and personnel standing by.)
White House, Washington DC (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Memo from Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to Incoming White House Senior Staff on the First Ten Days of the Administration
From:         Ron Klain, Chief of Staff
To:               Incoming White House Senior Staff
Re:               Overview of First Ten Days
Date:           January 16, 2021
  President-elect Biden is assuming the presidency in a moment of profound crisis for our nation. We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis. All of these crises demand urgent action. In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world. 

During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to take immediate action to start addressing these crises and build back better. As president, he will keep those promises and sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made. These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises. President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.

These actions will change the course of COVID-19, combat climate change, promote racial equity and support other underserved communities, and rebuild our economy in ways that strengthen the backbone of this country: the working men and women who built our nation. While the policy objectives in these executive actions are bold, I want to be clear: the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President. 

Full achievement of the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy objectives requires not just the executive actions the president-elect has promised to take, but also robust Congressional action. The president-elect made the case for his first major legislative proposal earlier this week, and will continue to advance legislative solutions to critical problems, such as in the immigration bill he will send to Congress on his first day in office; the build back better recovery proposal to create millions of good-paying union jobs that he will unveil in the coming weeks; and his ongoing support for legislation related to voting rights, the minimum wage, combatting violence against women, and more. 

In order to highlight the actions the president-elect is taking, we are spreading these initial executive actions over a ten-day period. An outline of the president-elect’s plan for this period appears below. This list is not exhaustive; additional actions will be added as they complete a final legal clearance process.

On Inauguration Day, President-elect Biden will sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises, restore humanity to our immigration system, and make government function for the people. As previously announced, he will ask the Department of Education to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions of Americans with federal student loans, re-join the Paris Agreement, and reverse the Muslim Ban. The president-elect will launch his “100 Day Masking Challenge” by issuing a mask mandate on federal property and inter-state travel — part of a critical effort to begin to bend the curve on COVID. And, we will take action to extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and provide more than 25 million Americans greater stability, instead of living on the edge every month. 

On January 21, the president-elect will sign a number of executive actions to move aggressively to change the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses, including by taking action to mitigate spread through expanding testing, protecting workers, and establishing clear public health standards. 

On January 22, the president-elect will direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis. 

Between January 25 and February 1, the president-elect will sign additional executive actions, memoranda and Cabinet directives. The president-elect will fulfill his promises to strengthen Buy American provisions so the future of America is made in America. He will take significant early actions to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities. He will take action to begin fulfilling campaign promises related to reforming our criminal justice system. The president-elect will sign additional executive actions to address the climate crisis with the urgency the science demands and ensure that science guides the administration’s decision making. President-elect Biden will take first steps to expand access to health care – including for low-income women and women of color. He will fulfill his promises to restore dignity to our immigration system and our border policies, and start the difficult but critical work of reuniting families separated at the border. And, President-elect Biden will demonstrate that America is back and take action to restore America’s place in the world. 

As noted above, this list is not comprehensive. More items and more details will be forthcoming in the days ahead.

Of course, these actions are just the start of our work. Much more will need to be done to fight COVID-19, build our economy back better, combat systemic racism and inequality, and address the existential threat of the climate crisis. But by February 1st, America will be moving in the right direction on all four of these challenges — and more — thanks to President-elect Joe Biden’s leadership. 

Biden Elevates Science to Cabinet Rank: ‘Science is about Discovery, Hope, Possibility’

March for Science in New York City, 2017. Americans are hungry to restore America’s global leadership in science and technology and the breakthroughs that benefit humanity. Said Biden in announcing his team of science advisors, “We know that science is discovery, not fiction. It’s also about hope. And that’s America. It’s in the DNA of this country. We’re on the cusp of some of the most remarkable breakthroughs that will fundamentally change our way of life. We can make more progress in the next 10 years than we made in the last 50 years. But we also face some of the most dire crises in generations, where science is critical to whether we meet this moment of peril with the promise we know that is in reach.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Everything about Joe Biden who takes the oath of office of President of the United States on January 20 at 12:01 pm is polar opposite his predecessor, but is most clear in his focus, emphasis and respect for science. And each one of his speeches announcing his administration appointments could stand as an Inaugural Address – again, polar opposite to “American Carnage” that turned out not to be an assessment but Trump’s agenda. Each of his nominees and appointees has been expert, experienced, intelligent and dedicated to their mission as well as public service. In announcing his key science advisors, Biden said that the single word he used to explain the United States was “possibilities.”

That’s what the people on this stage — and the departments they will lead — represent.  They are the ones asking the most American of questions — what’s next? What is the next big breakthrough? How can we make the impossible possible?

“They were asking questions as a call to action. To inspire. To help us imagine the future and figure out how to make it real and improve the lives of the American people…

“We know that science is discovery, not fiction. It’s also about hope. And that’s America. It’s in the DNA of this country. We’re on the cusp of some of the most remarkable breakthroughs that will fundamentally change our way of life. We can make more progress in the next 10 years than we made in the last 50 years. But we also face some of the most dire crises in generations, where science is critical to whether we meet this moment of peril with the promise we know that is in reach.”

Biden has  charged his team to focus on five key areas: the pandemic and public health; the economy and shared prosperity; solving the climate crisis with American jobs; restoring America’s technological leadership in the global marketplace; and ensuring health and trust in science and technology in the nation.

“These are each questions that are calls to action.”  

Biden nominated:

Dr. Eric Lander to be Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, an office that is being elevated to Cabinet rank.

Biden appointed:

Dr. Alondra Nelson as Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Frances Arnold  as Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Dr. Maria Zuber as Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Dr. Francis Collins will stay on as Director of the National Institutes of Health

Biden added, “to the American people, this is the team that will help restore your faith in America’s place on the frontier of science and discovery and hope.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks in Wilmington, Del., January 16, 2021 announcing his key science advisors: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good afternoon.

Two of the most extraordinary, yet least known, departments at the White House are the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

They are composed of some of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world.

When I was vice president I had an intense interest in everything they were doing and I paid enormous attention to these issues. 

As president, I’ll pay great attention to these issues again. 

When I travelled the world as vice president, I was often asked to explain America to other world leaders. 

And I remember one conversation vividly I had with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader. 

He asked me if I could explain America to him. And I said, “Yes, I could. In one word: Possibilities.”

Possibilities.

That’s what the people on this stage —  and the departments they will lead — represent. 

They are the ones asking the most American of questions — what’s next? What is the next big breakthrough? How can we make the impossible possible?

And they weren’t just asking questions for the sake of it.

They were asking questions as a call to action.

To inspire. To help us imagine the future and figure out how to make it real and improve the lives of the American people.

This the team that asks us to imagine every home in America being powered by renewable energy within the next 10 years.

Imagine 3D printers restoring tissues after traumatic injuries and hospitals printing organs for organ transplants.

Imagine, and then rally the scientific community to do it. 

Using science, data, and discovery was a governing philosophy of the Obama-Biden administration.

On everything from the economy and environment, to criminal justice reform and national security. And, on health care.

For example, a belief in science led to our efforts to map the human brain and to develop more precise and individualized medicine.

And it led to our ongoing mission to end cancer as we know it — something that is deeply personal to my family, to Kamala’s family, and countless families across America.

When President Obama asked me to lead the Cancer Moonshot, I knew we had to inject a sense of urgency in the fight.

We believed we could double the rate of progress and do in five years what would take ten.

Jill and I traveled around the country and the world, meeting with thousands of cancer patients and their families, physicians, researchers, philanthropists, technology leaders, and heads of states.

We sought to better understand and break down the silos and stovepipes that prevent sharing of information and impede advances in cancer research and treatment, while building a focused and coordinated effort at home and abroad.

We made progress, but there is so much more we can do.

When I announced that I would not run for president in 2015, I said that I had only one regret  —  that I wouldn’t be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it. 

As president, I will do everything we can to get it done. 

It will be a top priority for me and Kamala, and a signature issue for Jill as First Lady.

We know that science is discovery, not fiction. It’s also about hope.

And that’s America. It’s in the DNA of this country.

We’re on the cusp of some of the most remarkable breakthroughs that will fundamentally change our way of life.

We can make more progress in the next 10 years than we made in the last 50 years.

But we also face some of the most dire crises in generations, where science is critical to whether we meet this moment of peril with the promise we know that is in reach.

In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt asked his science advisor: how could the United States further advance scientific research in the crucial years following the Second World War. The response led to some of the most groundbreaking discoveries over the last 75 years. 

We can do it again.

So today, I am proud to announce the team of some of the country’s most brilliant and accomplished scientists to lead the way. 

I’m asking them to focus on five key areas to start.

First, the pandemic and what can we learn about what is possible,  or what should be possible, to address the widest range of our public health needs?

Second, the economy, and how can we build back better to ensure prosperity is fully shared across America and among all Americans?

Third, how can science help us confront the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity?

Fourth, how can we ensure the United States leads the world in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially as we compete with China and other nations?

And fifth, how can we ensure the long-term health and trust in science and technology in our nation? 

These are each questions that are calls to action.

And I am honored to announce the team that is answering the call to serve.

As Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy — I nominate Dr. Eric Lander.

A pioneer in the scientific community. A principal leader of the Human Genome Project.

It’s not hyperbole to suggest that Dr. Lander’s work has changed the course of human history.

His role in helping us map the genome pulled back the curtain on human disease, allowing scientists ever since — and for generations to come — to explore the molecular basis for some of the most devastating illnesses affecting our world.

And the applications of his pioneering work are poised to lead to incredible cures and breakthroughs in the years to come.  Dr. Lander now serves as the president and founding director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard — the world’s foremost non-profit genetic research organization.

I came to appreciate Dr. Lander’s extraordinary mind when he served as a Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Obama-Biden administration.

I’m grateful we can work together again.

I have always said that the Biden-Harris administration will also lead with science and truth.

That’s how we’re going to overcome this pandemic and build our country back better than before. And that’s why, for the first time in history, I will be elevating the Presidential Science Advisor to Cabinet rank.

As Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, I appoint Dr. Alondra Nelson.

A professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. President of the Social Science Research Council.

And one of America’s leading scholars, an award-winning author and researcher exploring the connections between science and our society.

The daughter of a military family — her Dad served in the Navy, while her mom was an Army cryptographer.

Dr. Nelson developed a love of technology from a young age — tinkering with the early computing products and code-breaking equipment she grew up with in her home.

And that passion forged a lifelong curiosity about the inequities and the power dynamics that sit beneath the surface of scientific research and the technologies we build.

Dr. Nelson has fused those insights into science and technology and society, like few before her in history.

Breaking new ground in our understanding of the role that science plays in American life, and opening the door to a future in which science better serves all people.

As Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, I appoint Dr. Frances Arnold.

Director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at CalTech. One of the world’s leading experts in protein engineering. A lifelong champion of renewable energy solutions who has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Not only is she the first woman to be elected to all three of the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering, she is also the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. 

A daughter of Pittsburgh — she worked as a cab driver and a jazz club server before making her way to Princeton and Berkeley and a career on the leading edge of human discovery.

She survived breast cancer, and overcame tragic losses in her family, while rising to the top of a field still overwhelmingly dominated by men.

Her passion has been a steadfast commitment to renewable energy for the betterment of our planet and of humankind.

She is an inspiring figure to scientists across fields and across nations.

And I want to thank Dr. Arnold for agreeing to join us as Co-Chair of the first all-woman team to lead the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which leads me to the next member of the team.

As Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, I appoint Dr. Maria Zuber.

A trailblazing geophysicist and planetary scientist. 

A former chair of the National Science Board.

The first woman to lead a science department at MIT, and the first woman to lead a NASA robotic planetary mission.

Growing up in coal country — in a small town in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles south of Scranton — she dreamed of exploring outer space.

Reading every book she could find and listening to her mom’s stories about watching the earliest rocket launches on television.

Maria became the first person in her family to go to college — and never let go of her dream.

Today, she oversees the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT and leads the institution’s Climate Action Plan.

She has played a leadership role in ten NASA missions.

Her groundbreaking work in planetary mapping has generated some of the most accurate  topographic maps humanity has ever produced of the Moon and of Mars.

Not only is she an explorer of outer space, she is one of our most accomplished explorers in generations.

I am honored that she has agreed to answer this call to service and to help us chart new courses of discovery.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Francis Collins, who could not be here today, will stay on as Director of the National Institutes of Health at this critical moment.

I’ve known Dr. Collins for many years and worked with him closely. He is brilliant, a pioneer, and a true leader.

Above all, he is a model public servant and I am honored and thankful to be working with him again. 

To each of you and your families, thank you for your willingness to serve in the administration.

And to the American people, this is the team that will help restore your faith in America’s place on the frontier of science and discovery and hope.

Biden Reinforces Policy to ‘Reward Work over Wealth’ in Nominations for Commerce, Labor

President-Elect Joe Biden put the finishing touches on his cabinet with his nominations for Commerce, Labor and the Small Business Administration © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We look forward to these announcements by President-Elect Joe Biden of his nominees for his cabinet. Biden has provided soothing calm, hope for a better future from the painful chaos, dysfunction and outright sabotage that we have daily had to endure in the four horrid years of the Trump Dis-Administration. What a contrast: Biden has continued his pattern of hiring people with extraordinary expertise, achievements, and who notably reflect the American people in gender and background, and also notably are people who are first or second generation Americans and who come from modest means. But there is nothing modest about their achievements. Today, Biden introduced his Economic Team: his nominees for Secretary of Labor, most notably Boston’s mayor who comes from a union organizing background (cementing Biden’s promise to promote, not just tolerate union-organizing and his belief that the middle class is what made America and unions made the middle class); Commerce and Small Business Administration. The overriding themes: to “reward work, not wealth,” boost small businesses and entrepreneurs, invest in a clean economy and to give everyone an equal shot at the American Dream.

His team will enact COVID-19 relief to bolster small businesses, aid hardest hit industries, people who are unemployed for no fault of their own; raise the minimum wage to $15; reinstate worker protections; incentivize entrepreneurship and shift to a clean economy.

With these announcements, Biden said, he has finished naming his cabinet: Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again, who will restore trust in our government again, and who are ready to go on Day One. This is a Cabinet that looks like America.”

Here are highlighted remarks of Biden and his nominees: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good afternoon.

Today, I am pleased to announce the latest members of our economic team.

And with their announcements, I am proud to announce that we have finished naming our Cabinet.

Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again, who will restore trust in our government again, and who are ready to go on Day One.

This is a Cabinet that looks like America.

That taps into the full range of talents we have in our nation.

And a historic Cabinet.

This will be the first Cabinet ever that is evenly composed of women and men.

It will be the first Cabinet ever with a majority of people of color.

It has more than a dozen history-making appointments, including the first woman Treasury Secretary, the first African American Defense Secretary, the first openly gay Cabinet member, the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

We are also on track to name a record 50 high-level appointees subject to Senate confirmation before Inauguration Day. 

More than any President-elect ever.

I have done my job.

It is my hope and expectation that the Senate will confirm these nominees promptly and fairly.

That’s especially the case for nominees for Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security who I nominated back in November.

Given what our country has been through the last four years and the last few days, and given the threats and risks in this world, they should be confirmed as close to January 20th as possible. There should be no vacancies at State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security.

And as we remain in this dark winter of the pandemic, and with an economic crisis that’s deepened, we have no time to lose on the entire team.

Consider the December jobs report released today.

The anxiety and fear of the women and men out there reminds me of when President Obama and I were sworn in during the Great Recession in 2009.

This December jobs report shows millions of Americans are still hurting through no fault of their own.

We lost 140,000 jobs — the first negative jobs report since the height of the pandemic in the spring.

More people have just lost a job while many have been out of work for a long time.

The ongoing gap in Black and Latino unemployment remains much too large.

And in many ways, the jobs report is a pandemic report.

With the pandemic raging, people are losing work and losing hope.

The hospitality industry, restaurants and bars, lost more than 372,000 jobs.

State and local governments are slashing jobs — 20,000 local educators lost their jobs last month.

In the midst of this pandemic, there are millions of people out of work and unable to pay rent or the mortgage.


They’re waiting in line for hours at a food bank. In the United States of America, people are waiting miles in their cars waiting for a meal.

And they’re left staring at the ceiling at night, unable to sleep, wondering if they will ever be okay.

The bottom line is the jobs report shows we need to provide more immediate relief 
for working families and businesses now.

Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but to avoid the broader economic costs due to long-term unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and businesses failing.

And by acting now, the vast majority of leading economists suggest this is what the economy needs.

In fact, economic research confirms that with conditions like today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing, will help the economy, reduce scarring in the workforce, increase growth, and reduce our national debt burden.

As I’ve said before, the bipartisan COVID relief package passed in December is an important step, but just a downpayment.

Next week, I will be laying out the groundwork for the next COVID economic relief package that meets this critical moment for our economy and country.

For example, the vaccines give us hope, but their rollout has been a travesty. 

This will be the greatest operational challenge we have ever faced, and we’re going to need billions of dollars to get the vaccines from a vial and into the arms of millions of Americans. 

We’re also going to need tens of billions of dollars to help reopen our schools safely.

State, local, and tribal communities need tens of billions of dollars to keep educators, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders and public health workers on the job.

We need more direct relief flowing to families and small businesses, including finishing the job and getting people $2,000 in relief. $600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.

I also hope that Democratic control of the House and Senate will raise the odds of prompt action 
on increasing the minimum wage. 

I’ve long said that we need to reward work, not wealth in this country. 

People in both parties now recognize it’s time to raise the minimum wage so hardworking people earn at least $15 an hour. 

No one who works 40 hours a week in America should still live below the poverty line. 

They are entitled to a minimum of $15 an hour.

A big focus will also be on small businesses and how to correct the current Administration’s failures to get relief to Main Street small businesses that are most in need. 

Mom and pop stores are the backbone of our economy.

They are the glue that holds communities together.

But today, more than 1 in 4 small businesses are not open.

At least 400,000 are closed for good.

As of a month ago, a third of Black-owned businesses, more than a fifth of Latino-owned businesses, and more than a quarter of Native American-owned businesses have less than a month of reserves to cover expenses. 

The previous rounds of economic relief last year helped millions of small businesses stay afloat and keep employees on the payroll.

But there were clear problems.

Black and Brown-owned small businesses had less access to the relief.  

Mom and pop shops were often last in line, while big, well-connected businesses jumped in front of the line and got more relief and got it faster.

And at every turn, the Trump Administration has undermined accountability for every tax dollar spent, weakening oversight and routinely firing Inspectors General.

So it’s no surprise that an independent watchdog found that tens of thousands of ineligible companies received relief they shouldn’t have, including from fraud and abuse that siphoned off support for the very businesses most in need. 

The good news is that the relief package passed last month provides additional aid to small businesses and workers. But as I have said from the beginning, we need to make sure that relief and future relief reaches everyone who needs it.

These relief dollars will start to flow quickly, potentially while the current Administration is still in office. And they may send out money that we won’t have any control over. 

But for what we do have control over, I want to be clear about my priorities for distributing this emergency aid swiftly and equitably. 

Our focus will be on the small businesses on Main Street that aren’t wealthy and well-connected and that are facing real economic hardships through no fault of their own. 

Our priority will be on Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American-owned small businesses, and women-owned businesses, finally having equal access to the resources needed to reopen and rebuild. 

We will make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low-income communities, in big cities, small towns, and rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief.

Think of the mom and pop owner with a couple of employees who can’t just pick up a phone and call a banker, or who doesn’t have lawyers and accountants to help them through the complicated rules to know if they even qualify, or who simply didn’t know there was even relief available in the first place. 

And as we saw in this morning’s jobs report, restaurants, bars, and the hospitality industry have been slammed by the virus. We will direct relief to these businesses and others that have been hit hardest. We owe them that support to help them get through the other side of this crisis.

And I promise you, we will investigate and prosecute waste and fraud in these programs so that money goes to companies that deserve it and will use it to help their employees and communities. 

“Congress needs to act as quickly as possible on all of the issues I just laid out,” President-Elect Biden said, introducing his nominees for Commerce, Labor and Small Business Administration. “That is how we can contain the pandemic and build back better with an economy that works for all Americans. And this is the team that will help get it done.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

When I implemented the Recovery Act, we invested more than $800 billion to help our economy recover and rebuild with less than two-tenths of one percent of waste, fraud, and abuse.

We know how to do this.

We know how important predictability and clarity are to small businesses.  

From day one, our Administration will work to ensure that small businesses and financial institutions in every community understand the rules for these programs, the resources available to them, and where they can turn for technical assistance if they need it. 

We will have navigators to help guide them through each step of the process until the money they need is in their bank account.

And to the lenders participating in these programs, you should move quickly without delay to begin extending relief. But I urge you to not disburse these funds in the same old, inequitable ways. 

Here’s my commitment in return — we will make our expectations of you crystal clear so that you can quickly and equitably deliver relief to the communities you serve, unlike what has been happening during this crisis

The bottom line is we are in the midst of the most unequal economic and jobs crisis in modern history.

Congress needs to act as quickly as possible on all of the issues I just laid out.

That is how we can contain the pandemic and build back better with an economy that works for all Americans.

And this is the team that will help get it done.

For Secretary of Commerce, I nominate Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.

A daughter of a working-class family who knows what it’s like when a parent’s factory job is shipped overseas.

She never took her parents’ sacrifices for granted.

Always remembers where she came from.

She became a successful entrepreneur who created jobs on Main Street and brought businesses back from the edge.

She became a state Treasurer who invested in local communities and took on financial predators.

And today, she is one of the most effective and forward-thinking governors in the United States of America — the first woman ever to lead the Ocean State.

She’s created an innovative loan program that’s helped minority-owned and women-owned businesses access the capital they need but wasn’t always available to them.

She’s worked with employers to design skills-training programs so that local workers would be equipped to take on good-paying jobs in their own communities.

She has put Rhode Island on a path of achieving 100% renewable energy, and she will be a key player in helping position the United States as the global leader in the 21st Century clean energy economy.

And she knows what her fellow governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, are dealing with on the frontlines of the pandemic and economic crises and how we can all partner together as one nation to contain COVID-19 and build back better.

I’m honored she is joining the team.

In her remarks, Raimondi said, “We invested in our people — in their skills, their opportunities, and their dreams. We helped new businesses launch and sparked others to hire and grow responsibly. That’s the same vision, the same faith in American workers and entrepreneurs that I see in the Build Back Better agenda.

“It’s a vision for an inclusive recovery that lifts up those who have been left behind. It’s a vision for a national effort that provides skills, training, and wraparound supports to get Americans back to work. It’s a vision for rebuilding American manufacturing and bringing back jobs that have gone overseas.”



For Secretary of Labor, I nominate Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston.

Son of Irish immigrants from County Galway. 

They moved to Boston.

Marty was born and raised in Dorchester.

I know him. Tough as nails.

Diagnosed with cancer at age 7, beat it at age 11. 

Joined the Laborers Union Local 223 at age 21.

Elected to the state legislature.

Became union president.

Then graduated from college at age 42.

He is now in his second term as the successful mayor of an iconic American city, and who always puts working people first.

Fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.

Providing frontline workers with emergency child care and the protective equipment they need.

Marty understands like I do that the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.

He’s seen how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis.

Health care workers keeping our hospitals safe, clean, and effective.
 
Public service workers fighting against budget shortfalls to keep communities afloat.

Port workers, car haulers, warehouse workers, and folks keeping our air and rail systems running.

They are literally what’s keeping us going.

And they deserve a Secretary of Labor who knows how to build their power as workers.

Who knows that when I say our future will be made in America, it will be a future built by American workers.  

A future with historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing, and so much more that will create millions of good-paying union jobs.

Marty knows worker power means not just protecting the right to unionize but encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.

It means protecting pensions.

Ensuring worker safety.

Increasing the minimum wage.

Ensuring workers are paid for the overtime they earned, like we fought to do in the Obama-Biden Administration, but this Administration weakened.

And making sure that we have a trade policy where for every decision we make, unions are at the table, focused on winning good jobs for American workers.

This is one of the most important departments to me. 

I trust Mayor Walsh, and I’m honored he accepted.

But I also want to say that I did give serious consideration to nominating my friend Senator Bernie Sanders to this position. I’m confident he could’ve done a fantastic job.  

I can think of no more passionate and devoted ally of working people in this country.  

But after Tuesday’s result in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate on a tied vote, Bernie and I agreed that we cannot put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont.  

He agreed we couldn’t take that chance.  

But we also discussed how we would work together, travel the country, helping Marty, and meet with the working men and women who feel forgotten and left behind in the economy. 

And we agreed that we will work closely on our shared agenda to increase worker power 
and protect the dignity of work for all working people. 

I thank Bernie for his continued friendship and leadership and I look forward to us working together along with Marty. 

Mayor Walsh said, “Now we have the opportunity to put power back into the hands of working people. And that is a good thing for our economy and our country.

“We can defend workers’ rights. We can strengthen collective bargaining. We can grow union membership. And we can create millions of good-paying jobs with investments in infrastructure, clean energy, high-tech manufacturing — along with the workforce training to help people get those good jobs.”



For Administrator of the Small Business Administration, I nominate Isabel Guzman.

She grew up in California, working alongside her father in the small veterinary businesses he built.

She developed an early understanding of what small businesses mean to their employees, the neighborhoods they support, and the families whose dreams they represent.

She dedicated her career to creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurs as a senior official in the Obama-Biden Small Business Administration.

As the Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, she works tirelessly to ensure that everyone with an entrepreneurial spark has a fair and equal shot to get off the ground and succeed.

The Biden-Harris Administration will be locked in on helping small businesses recover, rebuild, and remain the engines of our economy.

And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery. 

I am grateful that she has accepted this call to serve.

Guzman in her remarks, said, “All of our small businesses are critical to our collective success as a nation. Their American dreams fuel our economy, bring new ideas to transform our lives for the better, and enliven every main street in America. And now more than ever, our small businesses need us.  

“I share your commitment to help strengthen the many small business owners who have seen their dreams and livelihoods impacted by COVID-19. And to create opportunities and instill greater equity for all of the new startups that will lead us to recovery. “



For Deputy Commerce Secretary, I nominate a good and loyal friend, Don Graves.

Don is a longtime trusted advisor. 

He was there at the Treasury Department during the depths of the Great Recession, helping small businesses weather the storm and stay afloat.

When President Obama asked me to lead the effort to get Detroit out of bankruptcy and off its back he said I could take anyone in the Administration.  So, I went to the Treasury Department and asked for Don to come over and work on it full-time.

It was the best decision we made in that effort. He did a great job working with city and state officials on its road to recovery. It’s about the small details like the number of buses and street lights that are needed.

He also helped me lead our national strategy to equip our workers with the skills they need for the good-paying jobs of the 21st Century, in health care, IT, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and more.

And he was there to help me launch the National Cancer Moonshot and marshal the full resources of the federal government to help end cancer as we know it.

A cancer survivor himself, diagnosed and treated while he was working for me, Don knows about hope and resilience.

I’m grateful to him and his wonderful family for answering the call to serve once again.

Graves laid out the standard for Biden’s economic team: “To revive the economy through the pandemic and build it back better.  To advance racial equity across the board and to meet the existential threat of climate change with American jobs and ingenuity. 

“With your leadership, I know this Administration will provide the American people the support they need to thrive, and the opportunity to turn their hopes into lives of dignity and respect they deserve.”

Biden Introduces His ‘Justice League’ to Champion the Rule of Law, Independent Judiciary

Judge Merrick Garland, President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee to become Attorney General:The essence of the Rule of Law is that like cases are treated alike.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Just a day after the unprecedented attempted insurrection at the Capitol and four years of tearing down the Rule of Law in Donald Trump’s quest to emulate the dictators he so admires, President-Elect Joe Biden’s introduction of his “Justice League” – the Attorney General, Deputy and Assistants – brought a welcome, calming reassurance. As with his other teams – health and human services, national security, climate and environment – Biden’s Justice nominees “have the experience, judgment, and moral compass that these roles demand, as well as an abiding commitment to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States,” Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris said.

Biden set aside discussing the calls to remove Trump using the 25th Amendment or impeaching him for a second time before the term ends at 12:01 pm on January 20, but used yesterday’s “unprecedented assault on our democracy,” the mob attack on the Capitol while both chambers of Congress were in the process of certifying Biden-Harris election incited by Trump, to reaffirm his commitment to restoring an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and equal justice for all – all of which were subverted by a dictator wannabe demanding loyalty.

Indeed, it was the reason Biden sought the presidency, after seeing the White Supremacists march in Charlottesville. He evoked that image – as well as the differences in how Black Lives Matter protesters were treated compared to the mob that invaded the Capitol Building, rampaging and ransacking it. “Not only did we see a failure to protect one of the three branches of our government, we also saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice.”

Biden declared, “I made it clear from the moment I entered this race what I believed was at stake nothing less than who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and what we believe, what we will be. And at the center of that belief is one of the oldest principles this nation has long held — we are a government of laws — not people….

“The judiciary doesn’t serve the will of the president, or exist to protect him or her….Our president is not above the law.  Justice serves the people — it doesn’t protect the powerful. And it is blind….

I want it to be clear to those who lead the department and those who serve there.  You don’t work for me. Your loyalty isn’t to me. It is to the law. To the Constitution. To the people of this nation. To guarantee justice.”

Here are Biden’s remarks, highlighted, and highlights from the nominees: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden, introducing his team to lead the Department of Justice: “I want it to be clear to those who lead the department and those who serve there.  You don’t work for me. Your loyalty isn’t to me. It is to the law. To the Constitution. To the people of this nation. To guarantee justice.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Yesterday was one of the darkest days in the history of our nation.

An unprecedented assault on our democracy.

An assault on the citadel of liberty, the United States Capitol itself.

An assault on the rule of law.

An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: ratifying the will of the people 

in choosing the leadership of their government.

We grieve the loss of life. We grieve the desecration of the people’s house.

But what we witnessed yesterday was not dissent. It was disorder. 

It was not protest. It was chaos.

They weren’t protestors. Don’t dare call them protestors.

They were rioters, a mob.

Insurrectionists. 

Domestic terrorists. 

It’s that basic and that simple.

And I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming.

But that isn’t true. We could.

For the past four years we’ve had a president who has made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, and the rule of law clear in everything he has done.

He has unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy.

And yesterday was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack.

He has attacked the free press who dared to question his power, repeatedly calling the free press the enemy of the people. 

Language that has long been used by autocrats and dictators all over the world to hold on to power. 

Language that is being used now by autocrats and dictators across the world, only this time with the imprimatur of the outgoing President of the United States. 

He has attacked our intelligence services who dared to tell the American people the truth about the efforts of a foreign power to elect him four years ago, choosing instead to believe the word of Vladimir Putin over the word of those who had sworn their allegiance to this nation — many of whom had risked their lives in service in this nation.

He deployed the United States military, tear-gassing peaceful protestors in the pursuit of a photo opportunity in service of his reelection. Even holding the Bible upside down.

An action that led to an apology from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the outspoken denunciation of the use of the military for domestic political purposes from scores of former military leaders and Secretaries of Defense.

He thought he could stack the courts with friendly judges who would support him no matter what. 

He went so far as to say he needed nine justices on the Supreme Court because he thought the election would end up in the Supreme Court and they would hand him the election. 

And he was stunned, truly stunned, when the judges he appointed didn’t do his bidding, but instead acted with integrity, followed the Constitution, and upheld the rule of law. 

Not just once or twice, or three times — but over 60 times. 

In more than 60 cases, in state after state after state, and then at the Supreme Court judges, including people he considered quote “his” judges, “Trump judges” — the courts looked at the allegations Trump was making and determined they were without merit. 

Nothing was judged to put the election in question or doubt.

You want to understand the importance of democratic institutions in this country? 

Take a look at the judiciary in this nation. 

Take a look at the pressure it was just subjected to by the sitting president of the United States. 

At every level, it rose to the moment during this election. 

Did its job. 

Acted with complete fairness and impartiality. 

With complete honor and integrity. 

When history looks back at the moment we just passed through, it will say our democracy survived in no small part because of the men and women who represent the independent judiciary in this nation. 

We owe them a deep, deep debt of gratitude.

And then there is his attack on the Department of Justice. 

Treating the Attorney General as his personal lawyer and the department as his personal law firm. 

Through it all, we would hear the same thing from this president — my generals, my judges, my Attorney General.

And then yesterday. 

The culmination of the attack on our institutions of democracy. 

This time the Congress itself. 

Inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, to threaten the elected Representatives of the people of this nation and even the Vice President, to stop the United States Congress from ratifying the will of the people in a just-completed free and fair election. 

Trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans who summoned the courage in the face of a pandemic that threatened their health and their lives to cast their sacred ballot.

I made it clear from the moment I entered this race what I believed was at stake nothing less than who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and what we believe, what we will be.

And at the center of that belief is one of the oldest principles this nation has long held — we are a government of laws — not people.

I said it many times in the campaign. 

Our democratic institutions are not relics of another age. 

They are what set this nation apart. 

They are the guardrails of our democracy. 

They are why no president is a king. 

No Congress is the House of Lords. 

The judiciary doesn’t serve the will of the president, or exist to protect him or her. 

We have three co-equal branches of government. 

Our president is not above the law. 

Justice serves the people — it doesn’t protect the powerful.

And it is blind.

What we saw yesterday in plain view was another violation of a fundamental tenet of this nation.

Not only did we see a failure to protect one of the three branches of our government, we also saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice.

No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protestors yesterday that they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob that stormed the Capitol. 

We all know that’s true. And that is totally unacceptable. And the American people saw it in plain view and I hope it sensitized them to what we have to do.

Not many people know it, but the reason the Department of Justice was formed in 1870 was to enforce the Civil Rights Amendments that grew out of the Civil War — the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. 

To stand up to the Klan. 

To take on domestic terrorism. 

This original spirit must once again guide and animate its work.

So as we stand here today, we do so in the wake of yesterday’s events. 

Events that could not more vividly demonstrate some of the most important work we have to do in this nation. 

Committing ourselves to the rule of law in this nation. 

Invigorating our democratic institutions. 

Carrying out equal justice under the law in America.

There is no more important place for us to do this work than at the Department of Justice.

And there are no more important people to carry out this work than the people I am announcing today.

More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, and the independence of the Department of Justice in this nation.

I want it to be clear to those who lead the department and those who serve there. 

You don’t work for me. Your loyalty isn’t to me. 

It is to the law.

To the Constitution. To the people of this nation. To guarantee justice.

For Attorney General of the United States, I nominate Judge Merrick Garland.

One of the most respected jurists of our time.

Brilliant yet humble.

Distinguished yet modest.

Full of character and decency.

Supreme Court clerk.

Served in the Justice Department during the Carter, Bush 41,  and Clinton Administrations,

where he embraced the Department’s core values of independence and integrity.

As federal prosecutor he took on terrorism and corruption and violent crime always with utmost professionalism and duty to the oath he swore.

Nominated by President Clinton to be a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful court in America.

Throughout such a long and distinguished career, he has earned the praise and admiration of members of the bar and bench, and politicians of both parties.

And despite his busy schedule and prestigious position, he still makes time to volunteer 

regularly tutoring students in Northeast D.C. as he has for more than 20 years.

This is about character.

It is no surprise why President Obama nominated Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. 

He embodies honor, decency, integrity — fidelity to the rule of law and judicial independence.

It’s those same traits he will now bring as the Attorney General of the United States, not as the personal attorney to the President.

He will restore trust in the rule of law and equal justice under law.

I fully expect that he will receive a fair hearing and swift confirmation.

And once he is confirmed, I will move promptly to nominate his replacement on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and I expect that the distinguished nominee will receive a prompt and fair hearing as well. 

Judge Merrick Garland, President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee to become Attorney General: Equal Justice Under Law is that all citizens are protected in the exercise of their civil rights. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As everyone who watched yesterday’s events in Washington now understands — if they did not before — the Rule of Law is not just some lawyer’s turn-of-phrase.  It is the very foundation of our democracy,” Garland said.

“The essence of the Rule of Law is that like cases are treated alike:  That there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends and another for foes; one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; one rule for the rich and another for the poor — or different rules depending on one’s race or ethnicity.  

“And the essence of its great corollary, Equal Justice Under Law, is that all citizens are protected in the exercise of their civil rights. …

“These principles — ensuring the Rule of Law and making real the promise of Equal Justice Under Law — are the great principles upon which the Department of Justice was founded and for which it must always stand.  

“They echo today in the priorities that lie before us — from ensuring racial equity in our justice system to meeting the evolving threat of violent extremism.

“If confirmed, those are the principles to which I will be devoted as Attorney General.”

For Deputy Attorney General I nominate Lisa Monaco.

A fifteen-year veteran of the Department of Justice, Lisa knows the department inside and out.

She is a definition of what a public servant should be — decent, trusted, and honorable.

A top-flight prosecutor who took on public corruption, corporate fraud, and violent crime.   

Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI. 

The first woman ever to be confirmed as Assistant Attorney General for National Security,

where she elevated cybersecurity to a top priority — which is even more consequential today.

And at the White House, she was the top homeland security and counterterrorism advisor to President Obama and me. 

She coordinated our fight against Al-Qaeda and ISIL. She  helped lead our response to the Ebola crisis. 

And when the bombs went off at the finish line on Patriot’s Day in Boston, her hometown , she coordinated the federal government’s response with local and state law enforcement to get to the bottom of this horrible tragedy. 

I know she will help restore the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice that she reveres.

Lisa Monaco, nominated for Deputy Attorney General: “A chance for this team and the career professionals who make up the Justice Department to reaffirm its norms and traditions, to do justice without fear or favor, to keep the American people safe and to do so always consistent with the rule of law.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The soul of the Justice Department lives in the integrity of its career professionals, in the independence of its investigations and prosecutions, and in the principles it brings to bear as it stewards the ideal of justice in America,” Monaco said.

“Today, we are at another inflection point. Some of the challenges we face are familiar — racial inequality; the need for criminal justice reform; domestic terrorism and threats to public safety.

“Some of the tasks are enduring — like the importance of working closely with law enforcement to ensure public safety and build trust in our communities.

“Some of the challenges are evolving — like mounting cyber threats.

“I’m confident that the Department of Justice is up to all these challenges, but what is most critical in the days ahead is not a challenge at all — but an opportunity.

“A chance for this team and the career professionals who make up the Justice Department to reaffirm its norms and traditions, to do justice without fear or favor, to keep the American people safe and to do so always consistent with the rule of law.”

For Associate Attorney General, the number 3 job at the Department — I nominate Vanita Gupta.

One of the most respected civil rights lawyers in America.

Started her career at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

Then on to the ACLU.

And then to the Justice Department during the Obama-Biden Administration where she led the Civil Rights Division.  

At every step, with every case, she has fought for greater equity and to right the wrongs in our justice system where they existed.

And she has done so by bringing people together, earning praise from across the ideological spectrum for her approach to solving some of the thorniest problems we face.

During the Obama-Biden Administration, Vanita was put in charge of investigating abuse of power in police departments in Ferguson, Missouri, and other communities torn apart by acts of violence and racial injustice.

She helped institute common-sense police reforms to build greater equity, safety, and trust.

She was commended for her work both by law enforcement and by those advocating for changes in the criminal justice system. 

That is a rare achievement — and it speaks volumes about her capacity to unite people in common purpose, which this is all about.

Born in Philadelphia and a proud daughter of immigrants from India, if confirmed, Vanita will be the first woman of color to serve as Associate Attorney General.  

I am grateful that Vanita is leaving her current job leading one of the premier civil rights organizations in the world to answer the call to serve once again and ensure our justice system is even more fair and equitable.

Vanita Gupta, Biden’s nominee for Associate Attorney General: “Justice is the only department named for a value. By virtue of that name — that value of justice — we know the Department carries a unique charge and North Star. At its best, it is the keeper of a sacred promise — the promise of equal justice for all.  That no one is above the law.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There are many agencies in our federal government — but only one which bears the name of a value,” Gupta said.

By virtue of that name — that value of justice — we know the Department carries a unique charge and North Star.

At its best, it is the keeper of a sacred promise — the promise of equal justice for all. 

That no one is above the law. 

When this promise is pursued with vigor, it brings light to our nation and serves as a beacon to the world.

But when abandoned, we degrade our democracy and sow the division we’ve come to know all too well…

This moment demands bold leadership

The Department of Justice, as it has done throughout history, will have to uncover and reckon with hard truths; hold people, companies, and institutions accountable to our Constitution and laws; 

drive change where there is injustice; and heal a nation starving for decency and hope.

Now is the time to ensure our economic system works for everyone, to protect the health and safety of the American people, and to harness all DOJ levers for civil rights, justice reform, and climate justice.

For Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, I nominate Kristen Clarke, who has also spent her career advocating for greater equity in the justice system.

A daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Kristen is also one of the most distinguished civil rights attorneys in America.

A proud native of Brooklyn, New York she began her legal career in the very same office she is now nominated to lead.

Her previous tenure with the Justice Department saw her take on some of the most complex civil rights cases — from voting rights and redistricting challenges to prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking.

She has earned accolades throughout her career — including as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for her home state of New York, where she led the charge to end the school-to-prison pipeline and root out discrimination in housing and law enforcement.

She currently leads one of the nation’s top civil rights organizations, where she promotes greater equity in voting rights, in our education system, our housing system, our justice system, and so much more.

Now, she will return full circle to pursue that vital work where her career began.

The Civil Rights Division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice, and the heart of that fundamental American ideal, that we are created equal and deserve to be treated equally.

I am honored she accepted the call to return to make real that promise for all Americans.

“Not everyone is blessed with the opportunities I enjoyed,” Clarke said. “That awareness has animated my life’s work — it’s what brought me to the Department of Justice where I started my career — and it’s what brings me back for this homecoming today. ..The clarion call of equal justice under law is what binds us together as a nation.”

Biden said, “To each of you, thank you for your service and that of your families. 

And to the American people, this is the team that will restore your trust and faith in our institutions of democracy.

One of the reasons I ran for president was when I saw those people coming out of the fields in Charlottesville, shouting hate, a young woman killed, and when asked, the President of the United States said there are good people on both sides. 

That’s why I ran. There is no more important or heartfeld effort on my part than restoring the independence and integrity of our Justice Department.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops and those who have sworn to protect the American people.

President-Elect Biden Names his Health Care, COVID-19 Team, Outlines First 100-Days Strategy: Masking, Vaccinations, Schools

President-Elect Joe Biden introduced the individuals he will nominate to key health and COVID positions in remarks in Wilmington, DE, and declared three key actions he would take in the first 100 days of his administration to turn around the skyrocketing rates of coronavirus sickness, hospitalizations and deaths: promote masking, facilitate vaccinations, and opening schools. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden introduced the individuals he will nominate to key health and COVID positions in remarks in Wilmington, DE, and declared three key actions he would take in the first 100 days of his administration to turn around the skyrocketing rates of coronavirus sickness, hospitalizations and deaths: promote masking, facilitate vaccinations, and opening schools.

The key health and COVID members – widely hailed for their expertise and accomplishments – include:

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Xavier Becerra

Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response Team: Jeff Zients

Surgeon General of the United States: Dr. Vivek Murthy

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr. Rochelle Walensky

COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair: Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith

Head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor on COVID-19: Dr. Anthony Fauci

Here are remarks, as prepared for delivery, highlighted:

President-Elect Joe Biden lays out his 100-days strategy to get control of COVID-19 that is devastating lives and livelihoods: masking, vaccinations, schools (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-feetures.com

President-Elect Joe Biden

Today, I am announcing our health care and COVID team at a critical time, as we near the end of one of the toughest years we’ve faced as a nation. 
 
More than 285,000 Americans are dead because of COVID-19 — and counting. 

Last week, COVID-19 was the number one cause of death in America.

For Black, Latino, and Native Americans — who are nearly three times as likely to die from it — COVID-19 is a mass casualty event.

For families and friends left behind, it’s a gaping hole in your heart that will never fully heal. 

And as a country, we’ve been living with this pandemic for so long that we’re at risk of becoming numb to its toll on us. 
 
We’re resigned to feel there is nothing we can do. That we can’t trust one another. That we must accept the death, the pain, and the sorrow.

We are in the midst of this deadly pandemic that has infected almost 15 million Americans — one out of every 22 of our people — often with devastating consequences to their health. 

And at this very moment, what is the outgoing Administration asking the Supreme Court of the United States to do? 
To repeal in its entirety the Affordable Care Act.!

A law that’s on the frontlines against the pandemic.

That protects more than 100 million Americans who live with pre-existing conditions — which now includes lung scarring and heart damage from COVID-19. 

That provides coverage to more than 20 million Americans who get the care they need if they’re showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The law that fulfills our moral obligation that, here in America, health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few.

But I know that out of our collective pain, we will find our collective purpose — to control the pandemic, to save lives, and to heal as a nation.
 
Today, I am pleased to announce the team that will do just that.
 
It’s a team of world-class experts at the top of their fields. Crisis-tested. Defined by a deep sense of duty, honor, and patriotism.
 
They are ready on Day One to spare no effort and get the pandemic under control, so we can get back to work, back to our lives, and back to our loved ones. 
 
They will lead the COVID-19 response across our government to accelerate testing, fix our supply chain, and distribute the vaccine.
 
They will work with my economic team — because controlling the pandemic, delivering better health care, and reviving the economy go hand in hand.
 
They will work with my foreign policy and national security team — because we can only beat this virus if we beat it everywhere.
 
And today I am announcing that — in consultation with Dr. Tony Fauci — we’ve developed the first three objectives and new initiatives that I am asking this team to complete during my first 100 days in office.  
 
My first 100 days won’t end COVID-19. I cannot promise that. We did not get into this mess quickly, and it’s going to take time to fix.  
 
But I am convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.
 
First, my 100 day masking plan. 
 
It starts with my signing an order on Day One to require masks where I can — like federal buildings and interstate travel on planes, trains, and buses. 
 
I’ll be working with governors and mayors to do the same in states and cities.  
 
We are going to require masks wherever possible, but this goes beyond government action.  
 
And so, as a new President, I’m going to speak directly to the American people.  
 
We need your help. Wear a mask for 100 days. 
 
It’s the easiest thing you can do to reduce COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.  
 
Help yourself, your family, your community. Whatever your politics or point of view — mask up for 100 days.  
 
100 days to make a difference.  
 
It’s not a political statement — it’s a patriotic act.
 
It won’t be the end of our efforts. But it’s a necessary and easy start.
 
Second, this team will help get at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of Americans in 100 days.
 
We will follow the guidance of scientists and get vaccines to those most at-risk.
 
That includes health care personnel and people in long-term care; and, as soon as possible, that will include educators.
 
This will be the most efficient mass vaccination plan in U.S. history. I credit everyone who has gotten us to this point, but developing the vaccine is one herculean task.
 
Distributing it is another.
 
And vaccines in a vial only work if they are injected into the arms of people, especially those most at risk.
 
This will be one of the hardest and most costly operational challenges in our history. 
 
We’re going to need Congress to fully fund vaccine distribution to all corners of our country. 
 
I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress around a $900 billion economic relief package, which I’ve said is critical now, but this package is only a start for more action early next year.
 
We must also focus significant resources on the direct public health response to COVID-19. 
 
Our preliminary review of the Trump Administration’s vaccine distribution plan confirms media reports.
 
Without urgent action this month by Congress to put sufficient resources into vaccine distribution and manufacturing — which the bipartisan group is working on — there is a real chance that, after an early round of vaccinations, the effort will slow and stall.
 
Let me repeat: We need Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now or
millions of Americans may wait months longer — months longer — than they otherwise would have to to get their vaccinations. 
 
And then we will need additional action next year to fund the rest of our distribution efforts. 
 
We also need the Trump Administration to act now to purchase the doses it has negotiated with Pfizer and Moderna and to work swiftly to scale manufacturing for the U.S. population and the world.
 
This can be fixed. 
 
If it does, my team will be able to get at least 100 million vaccinations done in my first 100 days.

Third, it should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school. 

If Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators, and staff, and if states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.

That’s right, we will look to have most of the schools open in 100 days if Congress provides the funding we need.

Masking. Vaccinations. Opening schools.
 
These are three key goals for my first 100 days.
 
But we will still have much to do in the year ahead. And sadly, much difficulty, too. We will be far, far from done.
 
Yet, it is possible that after 100 days, we will be much further along in the fight against the pandemic.
 
And I’m grateful for the members of my core COVID team, that I will now introduce, to lead the way.

For Secretary of Health and Human Services, I nominate Xavier Becerra.

He’s currently Attorney General of California, leading the second largest Justice Department in America — only behind the United States Department of Justice.

For nearly 25 years before that, he was a Congressman representing Los Angeles, one of America’s largest and most diverse cities.

Xavier spent his career fighting to expand access to health care, reduce racial health disparities, protect the Affordable Care Act, and take on powerful special interests who prey on and profit off people’s health — from opioid manufacturers to Big Tobacco.

During the pandemic, he’s protected the safety of frontline healthcare workers, rooted out fraud from bad actors taking advantage of people, and stood up for homeowners trying to pay their mortgage during the devastating economic crisis.

And as HHS Secretary, he will skillfully oversee the CDC and FDA, Medicare and Medicaid.

No matter what happens in the Supreme Court, he will lead our efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act. 
 
He’ll work to dramatically expand coverage and take bold steps to lower health care and prescription drug costs.

Xavier is the key leader who will lead the key agency charged with protecting the health and wellness of the American people. 

He will also be the first Latino leading HHS, a son from a working-class immigrant family that came from Mexico. 

A true public servant who has dedicated his career in service to the people, and in service to this country that we all love.

To serve as the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response Team, I’m turning to a world-class manager and leader, Jeff Zients.

I’ve known Jeff for a long time — from the first and last days of the Obama-Biden White House, and throughout the campaign, and now the transition.

There’s no one else you want to help manage some of the most consequential and complex priorities of a country.

Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.

Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

He was there during the Great Recession, as we went from crisis to recovery to resurgence over eight years.

He was there to lead the team and help implement the Affordable Care Act — to get HealthCare.gov up and working at a critical moment. That was a monumental feat that required vision, patience, and fortitude and expertise.

Well-respected across the aisle, and around the country from business and labor leaders to entrepreneurs and educators.

Chairman of the Board of Children’s National Medical Center, one of the world’s top children’s hospitals.

Jeff knows how to build and lead a team. How to identify and solve problems.

And how to fully mobilize the federal government on behalf of the health, safety, and prosperity of the American people.

For Surgeon General of the United States, I nominate Dr. Vivek Murthy.

A renowned physician and research scientist. A trusted national leader on health care, and for me, a trusted advisor during this campaign and transition.

This will be his second time serving as America’s Doctor, having served in this role under President Obama.

During his tenure, he took on some of the most pressing public health issues we face — from the opioid crisis to threats to America’s mental health.

I’ve asked Dr. Murthy to serve again as Surgeon General — but with expanded responsibilities. 

He will be a key public voice on our COVID response, to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine.

But he will also be a key advisor to me and help lead an all-government approach to broader public health issues — mental health, addiction and substance use disorders, social and environmental determinants of health, and so much more.

Above all, he will help restore faith in this country as a place of possibilities.

A son of Indian immigrants, who raised their children to always believe in the promise of America.

Dr. Murthy will be one of my most trusted public health and medical advisors — and I’m grateful for his continued public service.

For Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I appoint Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

She is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at one of the country’s preeminent hospitals, Massachusetts General in Boston.  

A distinguished professor at Harvard Medical School. A world-class physician.

One of the nation’s foremost experts on the testing, treatment, and eradication of viruses.

She has served on the front lines of the COVID crisis. She has conducted groundbreaking research on vaccine delivery, including how to reach underserved communities that are too often hit first and the hardest.

Dr. Walensky’s work was instrumental in helping the world mitigate one public health crisis — HIV/AIDS. 

It inspired her as a young doctor to pursue her pioneering research in virus containment.

Now, she will bring her experience to bear against COVID-19.

She is uniquely qualified to restore morale and public trust. 

She will marshal our finest scientists and public health experts at the CDC to turn the tide on the urgent crisis facing us today.

Because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, I concluded we need a COVID-19 Equity Task Force.

To chair it, I appoint Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. One of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities.

Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management at the Yale School of Medicine.

Founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center.

And co-chair of my COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board.

Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead our efforts to provide care to the communities most in need and most affected by the pandemic and most often overlooked.

She will ensure that fairness and equity are at the center of every part of our response.

This is a central front in our fight against the pandemic, and I am grateful Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead this charge.

And finally, as both head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and my chief medical advisor on COVID-19 — I am pleased that Dr. Tony Fauci will be a member of my core COVID team.

By now, he needs no introduction.

But he will have my gratitude when I’m president, the seventh president he will have served.

We’ve known each other a long time.

I’ve seen him take on HIV/AIDS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika, COVID-19, and every infectious disease in between, over his nearly forty years of service to our country.

Trusted. A truth teller. A patriot.

Like every good doctor, he will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.

This is my core COVID and health care team.

Before January 20, we will be adding more leaders to oversee vaccine distribution, supply chain, testing, and other key functions.

To each of you on this team, you have my gratitude for answering the call to serve. And to your families, thank you. We could not do this without them, or without you.

And to the American people, I know we’ve all had a lot of sleepless nights this year. 

So many of you staring at the ceiling late at night, worrying if you’re going to be okay. 

All I can tell you is the truth.

We’re in a dark winter. Things may well get worse before they get better. A vaccine may soon be available. But we need to level with each other.

It will take longer than we would like to distribute it to all corners of our country. 

We will need to persuade enough Americans to take it. 

It’s daunting, but I promise you that we will make progress starting on Day One. 
 
But we didn’t get into this mess quickly, and it’ll take time to fix. 
 
That’s the truth, and telling you the truth is what this team, Vice President-elect Harris, and I will always do.

This is one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced.

But I know that we will overcome — and heal — together as one nation.

To all of the front-line health professionals and first responders, the grocery store workers and delivery truck drivers, the educators, parents, and our children. 

Thank you. 

Thank you for everything you have done to get us through this crisis thus far.

We will never give up on you.

And we will never give up on our country.

We can do this, together.

To all those we have lost in this pandemic, and all those sick and suffering, our hearts go out to you. 

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

Remarks by Attorney General Xavier Becerra

Along with Carolina, my wife, and Natalia, Olivia, Clarisa, and Yvonne: greetings from California.

Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, I am honored and excited to join your team. 

The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services has never been as vital or as urgent as it is today.

The COVID pandemic and its economic fallout have thrust families into crisis. 

Too many Americans are sick or have lost loved ones.

Too many have lost their jobs, and with that, their healthcare and hope.

You have made it clear, Mr. President-elect, that to build back a prosperous America we need a healthy America. That, then, will be Job One for your team at HHS.

Fifty-five years ago, during another time of hardship, former Health Secretary — and fellow Californian — John Gardner said:

“What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”

Gardner went on to help President Lyndon Johnson build the Great Society — ushering in Medicare, Medicaid, and Civil Rights that brought greater equity, greater opportunity, and greater hope to all Americans.

Now it is our turn to discover the breathtaking opportunities before us in the midst of hardship and pain.

It is our turn to build up and to back up our doctors and medical professionals, our hospitals and clinics, battling the coronavirus; our turn to restore faith and confidence in our leaders to deliver solutions that unite and heal us and inoculate us from fear; our turn to spur our brightest minds to launch the next generation of innovative medicines and cures. 

And, it is our turn to build a nation where, as the President-elect so often says, health care is a right — not a privilege.

At HHS, tackling pandemics, saving lives, and keeping us healthy should be our calling card. 

And we won’t forget that there is a second “H” in HHS…The “human” services — the work we do for our children, seniors, and disabled — they will stand tall in a Biden-Harris HHS. 

Almost a year ago, on New Year’s Day, my father Manuel passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family. We got to celebrate Christmas together. And, when the end came, my dad knew we were there with him. 

No one should ever have to die alone in a hospital bed, loved ones forced to stay away. That seems so contrary to the values of a great nation — the values that drew my parents, like generations before and after them, to come to America. 

Manuel and Maria Teresa had only their health and hope when they arrived in California. A road construction worker with a sixth grade education and a clerical worker who arrived in her teens from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. 

They built a pretty good partnership that lasted 67 years. Along the way they sent four kids to college and the military.

They opened the door for me. I am enormously grateful to them.

Now, President-elect Biden has offered me a breathtaking opportunity to work with his team to shape our healthcare future.

I share the president-elect and vice-president-elect’s determination to rebuild unity and civility in America. We know it takes hard work. We know we must do it together. We know it will be key to building critical momentum and support for the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus.

Those values and priorities will help us emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more just, and more equitable nation. Literally, there are millions of small business owners and tens of millions of workers who are counting on us. 

I am proud to have this chance to implement the president-elect’s vision for a better America through the challenging assignments that are in store for the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for this opportunity to serve.

Dr. Vivek Murthy will reprise his role as Surgeon General of the United States © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Dr. Vivek Murthy

Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for your trust and confidence.

When I left my role as Surgeon General, I never dreamed I would have an opportunity to serve again. 

And in this moment of crisis, when so many Americans have fallen sick and lost loved ones, when people are losing jobs and struggling with childcare, I feel grateful to be able to do everything I can to end this pandemic. 

While this is a daunting task, we absolutely have what it takes to get the job done. 

We have world class scientists. 

We have courageous medical professionals who are risking their lives to care for the ill. 

We have companies on the cusp of delivering vaccines, and we are blessed with generous, compassionate people all across America who are stepping up to help those who are struggling.

If we all work together, we will overcome this pandemic and return to our lives. 

But COVID 19 is not the only health crisis we face — if anything, it has underscored a host of other epidemics that are devastating families and shortening lifespans: addiction, the opioid crisis, and spiraling mental health concerns; glaring racial disparities and high rates of diabetes and heart disease. 

These challenges are both caused and exacerbated by broader societal issues — from the economic strains families face to the disconnection and loneliness many of us feel.

In my new, expanded role, I will work to bring a health perspective to our policies across government so that  our schools, workplaces, and communities can be forces for strengthening our health and well being.

But the truth is that the best policies — and the best vaccines and treatments — will not heal our nation unless we overcome the fear, anxiety, anger, and distrust so many Americans are feeling right now. 

So more than anything, I will come to this role as a doctor — one who learned the most important lessons about medicine not in medical school, but in the clinic my parents opened when they first came to America as immigrants decades ago. 

As a child, I saw how they took the time not just to diagnose illnesses, but to ask about their patients’ families and lives, happily poring over photos of children and grandchildren taken from wallets, listening deeply to people’s stories and struggles, often running well over the appointment time. 

They taught me that the best doctor is not an authority figure who writes prescriptions, but rather a partner in healing — someone who sees patients in their fullest humanity and empowers them to take control of their health.

That is the kind of doctor I have always tried to be. 

And if confirmed, that is the approach I will take as I serve as America’s doctor. 

I will dedicate myself to caring for every American, driven always by science and facts, by head and heart — and endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India can be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of the entire nation. 

That is a testament to the promise of America — one that I will work to fulfill every day as Surgeon General.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky is being hailed as Biden’s pick asDirector of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Dr. Rochelle Walensky

 Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, I’m honored by the trust you’ve placed in me to serve the American people at this critical moment.

I want to thank my amazing husband and our three wonderful sons for answering this call along with me. 

As all doctors and public servants know, these jobs ask a great deal not only of us, but of our families.

The pandemic that brought me here today is actually one that struck America and the world more than thirty years ago.

Because my medical training happened to coincide with some of the most harrowing years of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

As a medical student, I saw firsthand how the virus ravaged bodies and communities.

Inside the hospital, I witnessed many people lose strength and hope.
While outside the hospital, I witnessed those same patients — mostly gay men and members of vulnerable communities — be stigmatized and marginalized, by their nation and many of its leaders.

A scientific breakthrough came in 1995, when the FDA approved the first AIDS cocktail, and we saw the first glimmers of hope.

I’ve dedicated my career ever since to researching and treating infectious disease and to ending the HIV/AIDS crisis for good.

Now, a new virus is ravaging us.

It is striking hardest, once again, at the most vulnerable — the marginalized; the under-served.

Nearly 15 million Americans have been infected.

Nearly 285,000 of our loved ones are gone.

The pain is accelerating, our defenses have worn down.

We are losing life, and hope, at an alarming rate.

I never anticipated that I would take on a role helping lead our national response.

Government service was never part of my plans.

But every doctor knows that when a patient is coding, your plans don’t matter.

You run to the code.

And when a nation is coding, if you are called to serve, you serve.

You run to take care of people; to stop the bleeding, to stabilize, to give them hope and a fighting chance to come back stronger.


That’s what doctors do.

And I’m honored to get to work with an administration that understands that leading with science is the only way to deliver breakthroughs, to deliver hope, and to bring our nation back to its full strength.

To the American people, and to each and every person at the CDC, I promise to work with you to harness the power of American science — to fight this virus and prevent unnecessary illness and deaths — so that we can all get back to our lives.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Remarks by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith

 Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for the opportunity to serve the American people.

I’m proud to go to work with leaders who are deeply committed to science and to centering equity in our response to the pandemic.

Not as a secondary concern, or as a box to check — but as a shared value, woven into all of the work we do and prioritized by every member of the Biden-Harris team.

I’m enormously thankful to my research team, my colleagues, to President Salovey and the leadership at Yale for supporting me in this work.

And I’m grateful to all of the researchers and advocates who’ve blazed the trail, whose work on health equity and racial justice too often went unbelieved or overlooked across the generations.

Most of all, I’m thankful to my family, to Jessie and our three children, for their unwavering support and humor.

And to my mother, and her mother, for modeling kindness, generosity, and courageous leadership through service.

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was six years old, and I am a proud general internal medicine physician today.

But as I grew up, I came to understand that there were deeper dimensions to health, beyond what I saw in the human biology textbooks I borrowed from my mother’s bookshelf.

I grew up on St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A place where people too often died too young — from preventable conditions.

My own father had his first stroke in his forties and was left paralyzed.

I learned there was a term for what we were: an “underserved community” — marginalized by place and by race.

In my medical training, I saw countless patients whose conditions were shaped by factors having nothing to do with science — and everything to do with broader social inequities.

Now, the COVID-19 crisis has laid those inequities bare.

It is not a coincidence, or a matter of genetics, that more than 70 percent of African Americans, and more than 60 percent of Latinx Americans, personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19.

The same disparities ingrained in our economy, our housing system, our food system, our justice system, and so many other areas of our society have conspired, in this moment, to create a ‘grief gap’ that we cannot ignore.

It is our societal obligation to ensure equitable access to testing, treatments, and vaccines.

Equitable support for those who are hurting.

And equitable pathways to opportunity as we emerge from this crisis and rebuild — including for the most marginalized communities: the undocumented, the incarcerated, and the homeless.

I’m grateful for the chance to continue this work, to earn trust and find success through genuine partnerships with the people and communities who’ve been hit the hardest during — and before — this crisis.

On this team, you will be heard, you will be counted, and you will be valued.

Remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Pre-recorded Message

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, thank you so much for asking me to be part of this COVID response team.

I hope that you don’t mind that the reason that I am sending this video is because a close friend and colleague at the NIH, Dr. Harvey Alter, is receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine at the same time, and we wanted to attend the ceremony at the NIH to show our support.

Such an achievement is a reminder of the incredible public servants we have at the NIH and of America’s place as a pioneer in science and medicine.

I believe — as you do — that in the fight against this pandemic, we must lead with science. And that a key piece of our ongoing work is communicating consistently with the American people.

Whether it’s maintaining social distancing and not congregating indoors; or the 100 day challenge you described on masking; or to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

These actions are bold, but they are doable and essential to help the public avoid unnecessary risks, to help us save lives, reopen schools and business, and to eventually beat the pandemic. 

I look forward to advising you on these most urgent priorities and to working with this team of world-class experts whom I have known for many years and deeply respect.

I have been through many public health crises before, but this is the toughest one we have ever faced as a nation.

The road ahead will not be easy. We have got a lot of hard and demanding work to do in the next year.

But, as we have done during previous crises, I also know we can get through this pandemic together, as a nation.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this effort. 

Jeff Zients, selected to be the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response Team. “There’s no one else you want to help manage some of the most consequential and complex priorities of a country,” Biden said. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Jeff Zients

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris — I am honored by your trust in me and humbled by the task at hand. And I am hopeful because of your leadership. 

As it is for both of you, everything starts with family for me. And I am forever grateful for the love and support of my wife, our children, and our parents. 

Mr. President-elect, we’ve known each other for a long time, and our relationship has been forged under immense pressure: the severity of the Great Recession; the challenge of implementing the Affordable Care Act; and the daily decisions a White House makes that affect the lives of millions of Americans. 

You and President Obama knew how to build a team with the right diversity of backgrounds and views. A team to make progress on difficult situations and capture enormous opportunities. 

That’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my career. 

I am not a doctor or public health expert. In fact, we’ve got the best ones in the world on this team. 

But I know management and execution. And the key part of the role you’ve asked me to take on is the last part, “Coordinator.” 

It’s about empowering experts, developing a culture of teamwork, and maintaining a focus on strategy and execution. 

It’s knowing that leadership requires expertise, transparency, and prioritization. It also requires trust, truth, and integrity. 

To the American people, that’s what this team will provide. 

We will utilize the full capacity of the federal government to get this pandemic under control. 

To harness and examine the data to expand testing. To deliver equipment and PPE to those on the frontlines. To provide resources for schools and businesses to operate safely. To address the racial disparities and inequities of this pandemic. To rejoin the global fight against COVID-19 — because no one is safe until everyone is safe. 

And with our collective expertise, we will oversee the rollout of the vaccine which, as the president-elect said, will be one of the greatest operational challenges our country has ever faced. 

And we will also pull the country together — across governments at the federal, state, and local levels, and across the private sector. 

And as we begin this vital work, Mr. President-elect, I remember what you told me when we were implementing the Affordable Care Act. 

Your message was: I know this is no small task; I know you and the team are feeling tremendous pressure to succeed; and we want and need the team to pull this off. 

You then said, “I know you and the team can do this, but I need you to promise me one thing: That you will always, always, give it to us straight because we have to understand the challenge we’re facing. Because most of all, we are in this together. And together we can do this.”

President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the American people, this team will always tell it to you straight. 

The work ahead will not be easy. But we know what needs to be done. And we will get it done, together. 

Remarks by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

Congratulations Mr. President-elect on nominating and appointing this outstanding team to get this pandemic under control.

And thank you to these accomplished physicians, experts, and public servants for answering the call to serve the American people in this hour of need.

Over Thanksgiving, the president-elect and I called health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Just to thank them.

We wanted to express our gratitude — and our nation’s gratitude — for everything they have been doing. For every sacrifice they have made.

That day, I spoke with a registered nurse named Maureen in Pennsylvania and Talisa in Illinois. 

They shared stories we’ve all heard. 

We’ve all heard the stories about grandmothers and grandfathers, loved ones and friends spending their last moments alone. 

We’ve all heard about nurses and physicians who are physically and mentally exhausted trying to keep up with ever-increasing caseloads. Those on the frontline who say to each other, it’s a matter of when, not if, they get the virus. 

We’ve all heard about health care workers without the supplies and equipment they need to care for patients and save lives. 

So, today, we have a message for Talisa, Maureen, and all Americans: help is on the way.  

And it’s long overdue.

The scale of this pandemic is heartbreaking.

Almost 15 million cases. More than 2,800 deaths. In a single day.

And then, there’s the economic devastation.  The lost jobs. The small businesses shuttered. 

Not to mention what’s happening to our schools. The parents and teachers who are being stretched to their limits. And the toll it’s all taking on the mental health and well-being of our children who risk falling behind.

Opening our schools and economy safely and responsibly, getting this virus under control — all of it starts with listening to experts and leaders like these; Americans who reflect the very best of our nation. 

They are top physicians, public health experts, and public servants. 

And they are the team the American people need and deserve. 

To make sure testing and treatment are free for everyone. 
 
To make sure vaccines are safe, free, and equitably distributed. 

To make sure we are better prepared for future pandemics and other health threats.

And to make sure quality, affordable health care is available to all.

From an early age, I saw the lifesaving work that our health care professionals provide, especially for the most vulnerable among us. 
 
You see, my mother was a breast cancer researcher, and my sister and I spent many hours roaming the halls of the hospital where she worked. 

It’s why I co-founded an auxiliary group to help patients at the county hospital in Oakland more than twenty years ago. 

It’s why we need to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act. 

And it’s why we have to listen to frontline health care workers like Maureen and Talisa. 

During our conversation, Talisa said: 

“We wouldn’t send our soldiers to battle without the gear they need. And we shouldn’t send our doctors and nurses to fight this pandemic without the gear they need.” 

She is right. 

And President-elect Biden and I — along with this world-class team — will make sure we are doing everything we can, to save lives and contain this pandemic once and for all.

Getting this virus under control is one of the defining challenges of our time. 

And we will do what the American people have always done in the face of a great challenge. 

We will stand together and defeat it.

President-Elect Biden Presents his Foreign Policy, National Security Team

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: “Today’s nominees and appointees come from different places. They bring a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives. And they also share something else in common: an unwavering belief in America’s ideals.  An unshakeable commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. And they understand the indispensable role of America’s leadership in the world. These women and men are patriots and public servants to their core, and they are the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today in Wilmington Delaware, President-Elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, presented his nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in his administration. Collectively, they brought a sigh of relief – their professionalism, expertise, their values. For the first time in four years, you had a sense of a functioning government, working on behalf of its people and building upon its ideals and values. Here are highlights from their remarks:

President-Elect Joe Biden:

Today, I am pleased to announce nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in my Administration.

It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure.

And it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back. 

Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies. And ready to stand up for our values. 

In fact, in calls from world leaders in the weeks since we won this election, I’ve been struck by how much they are looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.

This team meets this moment.

They embody my core belief that America is strongest when it works with its allies.

Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — made possible through decades of experience working with our partners.

That’s how we truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay. 

It’s how we counter terrorism and extremism. Control this pandemic and future ones. 

Deal with the climate crisis, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats and emerging technologies, the spread of authoritarianism, and so much more.

And while this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking or unchanged habits.

For example, we are going to have the first woman lead the intelligence community, the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and a groundbreaking diplomat at the United Nations.

We are going to have a principal on the National Security Council whose full-time job is to fight climate change — for the first time ever.

And my national security team will be coordinated by one of the youngest national security advisors in decades.

Experience and leadership. Fresh thinking and perspective. And, an unrelenting belief in the promise of America

I’ve long said that America leads not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

I am proud to put forward this incredible team that will lead by example.

As Secretary of State, I nominate Tony Blinken. 

There is no one better prepared for this job. 

He will be a Secretary of State who previously served in top roles on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the State Department.

And he delivered for the American people in each place. 

For example, leading our diplomatic efforts in the fight against ISIS. Strengthening America’s alliances and position in the Asia-Pacific. Guiding our response to the global refugee crisis with compassion and determination.

He will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department, where his career in government began. And he starts off with the kind of relationships around the world that many of his predecessors had to build over years. 

I know. I’ve seen him in action. He is one of my closest and most trusted advisors.

And I know him, and his family — immigrants and refugees, a Holocaust survivor who taught him to never take for granted the very idea of America as a place of possibilities.

He is ready on Day One.

As Secretary of Homeland Security, I nominate Alejandro Mayorkas.

This is one of the hardest jobs in government. The DHS Secretary needs to keep us safe from threats at home and from abroad.

And it’s a job that plays a critical role in fixing our broken immigration system.

After years of chaos, dysfunction, and absolute cruelty at DHS, I am proud to nominate an experienced leader who has been hailed by both Democrats and Republicans.  

Ali, as he goes by, is a former U.S Attorney. Former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Former DHS Deputy Secretary.

Helped implement DACA. Prevented attacks on the homeland.  Enhanced our cybersecurity. Helped communities recover from natural disasters. Combatted Ebola and Zika.

And while DHS affects everyone, given its critical role in immigration matters, I am proud that for the first time ever, the Department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values.

And one more thing — today is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Ali.

As Director of National Intelligence, I nominate Avril Haines, the first woman in this post.

To lead our intelligence community, I did not pick a politician or a political figure.

I picked a professional.  

She is eminently qualified: Former Deputy Director of the CIA. Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama.  

A fierce advocate for telling the truth and levelling it with decision makers.  

I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble.

Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that.

Above all, if she gets word of a threat coming to our shores — like another pandemic or foreign interference in our elections — she will not stop raising the alarms until the right people take action.  

People will be able to take her word, because she always calls it like she sees it.

We are safer with Avril on the watch.

As the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, I nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A seasoned and distinguished diplomat with 35 years in the Foreign Service, who never forgot where she came from, growing up in segregated Louisiana.

The eldest of eight. Her Dad couldn’t read or write, but she says he was the smartest person she knew. First in her family to graduate from high school, then college, with the whole world literally ahead of her, as her Dad and Mom taught her to believe.

Posts in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Liberia — where she was known as “the People’s Ambassador.”

Willing to meet with anyone  — an ambassador, a student, working people struggling to get by  — and always treating them with the same level of dignity and respect. 

She was our top State Department official in charge of Africa policy during the Ebola crisis.  

She’s received overwhelming support from her fellow career Foreign Service Officers. And she will have cabinet status because I want to hear her voice on major foreign policy decisions.

As my National Security Advisor, I choose Jake Sullivan.

He’s a once-in-a-generation intellect with the experience and temperament for one of the toughest jobs in the world.

When I was Vice President, he served as my National Security Advisor.

He was a top advisor to Secretary of State Clinton. He helped lead the early negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal. Helped broker the Gaza ceasefire in 2012. Played a key role in the Asia-Pacific rebalance in our Administration.

And in this campaign for the presidency, he served as one of my most trusted advisors  on both foreign and domestic policy, including helping me develop our COVID-19 strategy.

Jake understands my vision that economic security is national security.

He will help steer what I call a foreign policy for the Middle Class, for families like his growing up in Minnesota, where he was raised by parents who were educators and taught him the values of hard work, decency, service, and respect. 

What that means is to win the competition for the future, we need to keep us safe and secure, and build back better than ever.

We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality — and do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries.

And before I talk about the final person for today, let me talk about this new position.

For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings — that’s a fancy way of saying they’ll have a seat at every table around the world.

For the first time ever, there will be a principal on the National Security Council who will make sure climate change is on the agenda in the Situation Room.  

And for the first time ever, we will have a Presidential envoy on climate.

And he will be matched with a high-level White House Climate Policy Coordinator and policy-making structure — to be announced in December — that will lead efforts here in the U.S. to combat the climate crisis and mobilize action to meet this existential threat. 

Let me be clear: I don’t for a minute underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change.  

But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that.  

As for the man himself, if I had a former Secretary of State who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement, or a former Presidential nominee, or a former leading Senator, or the head of a major climate organization for the job, it would show my commitment to this role.  

The fact that I picked the one person who is all of these things speaks unambiguously.  

The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.

To this team — thank you for accepting the call to serve.

And to your families, thank you for your sacrifice. We could not do this without you.

Together, these public servants will restore America’s global leadership and moral leadership. 

They will ensure our service members, diplomats, and intelligence professionals can do their jobs free of politics. 

They will not only repair, they will reimagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation. 

And they will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.

To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans. 

And as more states certify the results of the election, there is progress to wrap up our victory.

I am pleased to have received ascertainment from GSA, to carry out a smooth and peaceful transition of power so our team can prepare to meet the challenges at hand — to control the pandemic, build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American people.

And to the United States Senate, I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing, and that we can work across the aisle in good faith — move forward as a country.

Let’s begin the work to heal and unite America and the world.

Thank you. May God bless you. May God protect our troops.

I’ll now turn it over to the new team, starting with our next Secretary of State, Tony Blinken

Nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

That’s who we are. 

That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.  

Now, we must proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence.  

Humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. We cannot flip a switch to solve them. We need to partner with others.  

But also, confidence, because America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.

That’s where the men and women of the State Department — foreign service officers and civil servants — come in. I’ve witnessed their passion, energy, and courage to keep us safe, secure, and prosperous.  I’ve seen them bring luster to a word that deserves our support: diplomacy.  

If confirmed, it will be the honor of my life to help lead them.

Nominee for Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas

The Department of Homeland Security has a noble mission: to help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome. There are more than 240,000 career employees who selflessly dedicate their talent and energy to this mission. Many risk their lives in doing so. I would be honored to return to the Department and support these dedicated public servants in fulfilling their responsibilities and realizing our country’s greatest hopes, all in partnership with the communities we serve.

Nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Avril Haines

I know, Mr. President-elect and Madame Vice President-elect, that you have selected us not to serve you, but to work on behalf of the American people — to help advance our security, prosperity, and values. That, the call to service in this role, is what makes this nomination such a tremendous honor. 

If afforded the opportunity to do so, I will never forget that my role on this team is unique. Rather than that of a policy advisor, I will represent to you, Congress, and the American public, the patriots who comprise our Intelligence Community. Mr. President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power, and that will be my charge as Director of National Intelligence. We have worked together for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise — that you value the perspective of the Intelligence Community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult. I assure you there will be those times. 

And, finally, to our intelligence professionals, the work you do — oftentimes under the most austere conditions imaginable — is indispensable. It will become even more complex because you will be critical to helping this administration position itself not only against threats such as cyber attacks, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons but also those challenges that will define the next generation — from climate change, to pandemics, and corruption.

It would be the honor of a lifetime to be able to work alongside you once again to take on these challenges together.

Nominee for United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Mr. President-elect, I’ve often heard you say how all politics is personal. That’s how you build relationships of trust and bridge disagreements and find common ground.

In my thirty-five years in the Foreign Service across four continents, I put a Cajun spin on it. It’s called Gumbo diplomacy. Wherever I was posted around the world, I’d invite people of different backgrounds and beliefs to make a roux, chop onions for the holy trinity, and make homemade gumbo — my way to break down barriers, connect with people, and start to see each other on a human level: a bit of lagniappe as we say in Louisiana. 

That’s the charge in front of us today. The challenges we face — a global pandemic, the global economy, the global climate crisis, mass migration and extreme poverty, social justice — are unrelenting and interconnected. But they’re not unsolvable if America is leading the way.

Appointment for National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

I pledge to you and to the American people that I will work relentlessly in service of the mission you have given us: To keep our country and our people safe. To advance our national interests. And to defend our values.

I pledge to the exceptional national security team you have named today — and to the brilliant and diverse career professionals in national security across our government — that I will manage a humane and rigorous decision-making process that honors their work…

Sir, we will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism. But you have also tasked us with reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad: the pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruption, threats to democracy, racial injustice, and inequality in all forms. The work of the team before you today will contribute to progress across all of these fronts.

You have also tasked us with putting people at the center of our national security. The alliances we rebuild, the institutions we lead, the agreements we sign — all of them should be judged by a basic question: will this make life better, easier, safer, for working families across this country? Our foreign policy has to deliver for these families.

And you have tasked us with helping unite America through our work, to pull people together to tackle big challenges….

I promise an open door to those who disagree. Our whole team can learn from them and it will make us better. 

To the American people, I had the honor of serving as Joe Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice president. I learned a lot about a lot. About diplomacy. About policy. Most importantly, about human nature. I watched him pair strength and resolve with humanity and empathy.

That is the person America elected. That is also America itself.

So Mr. President-elect, thank you for giving this kid from the heartland an extraordinary opportunity to serve the country I love so much. 

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Former Secretary of State John Kerry

Mr. President-elect — you’ve put forward a bold, transformative climate plan that lives up to the moment. But you’ve also underscored that no country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States, for all our economic might, is responsible for only 15% of global emissions. The world must come to this table to solve this problem. 

You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one, and you’re right to recognize that Paris alone does not get the job done. 

At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together – or we will all fail, together.

Failure is not an option.

Success means tapping into the best of American ingenuity, creativity, and diplomacy — from brainpower to alternative energy power — using every tool we have to get where we need to go.

No one should doubt the determination of the country that went to the moon, cured supposedly incurable diseases, and beat back global tyranny to win World War II. We will immediately, again, work with friends and partners to meet this challenge too.

The road ahead is exciting. It means creating millions of middle-class jobs. It means less pollution in our air and in our ocean. It means making life healthier for citizens across the world. And it means we will strengthen the security of every nation on earth.

In addressing the climate crisis, Joe Biden is determined to seize the future. 

Fifty-seven years ago, this week, Joe Biden and I were college kids when we lost the president who inspired us both to try and make a difference, a president who reminded us that here on Earth, “God’s work must truly be our own.” 

President Joe Biden will trust in God, and he will also trust in science to guide our work on earth to protect God’s creation.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris:

Congratulations Mr. President-elect on bringing together this extraordinary team. 

I have always believed in the nobility of public service, and these Americans embody it. 

Their lives and careers are a testament to the dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to civic responsibility that have strengthened our democracy — and kept America’s promise alive — for more than two hundred years.

President-elect Biden and I have long known that when we were elected, we would inherit a series of unprecedented challenges upon walking into the White House. 

Addressing these challenges starts with getting this pandemic under control, opening our economy responsibly, and making sure it works for working people. 

And we also know that overcoming our challenges here at home is a necessary foundation for restoring and advancing our leadership around the world.

And we are ready for that work. 

We will need to reassemble and renew America’s alliances; rebuild and strengthen the national security and foreign policy institutions that keep us safe and advance our nation’s interests; and confront and combat the existential threat of climate change that endangers us all…. 

I can say with confidence that they are — to a person — the right women and men for these critical positions. 

And I look forward to working alongside them on behalf of the American people — and on behalf of a President who will ask tough questions; demand that we be guided by facts; and expect our team to speak the truth. No matter what. 

A President who will be focused on one thing and one thing only: doing what’s best for The People of the United States of America… 

Today’s nominees and appointees come from different places. They bring a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives. And they also share something else in common: an unwavering belief in America’s ideals. 

An unshakeable commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 

And they understand the indispensable role of America’s leadership in the world. 

These women and men are patriots and public servants to their core, and they are the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead.