Tag Archives: Joe Biden

Biden Administration Takes Action to Promote Semiconductor Manufacturing in the US; Intel Building $20 Billion Facility

Intel Announces $20 Billion Ohio Facility; Latest Company to Invest in U.S., Strengthen Domestic Supply Chains


President Joe Biden, in his press conference marking the end of his first year in office, rightly touted among his accomplishments efforts to revitalize US manufacturing, thereby addressing supply chain and inflation issues, while also creating well-paying jobs. Intel has announced a new $20 billion factory outside Columbus, Ohio to manufacture semiconductors, critical to US manufacturing © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

The White House released this fact sheet about how the Biden Administration is bringing semiconductor manufacturing back to the United States:

Semiconductors are an essential building block in the goods and products that Americans use every day. These computer chips are critical to a range of sectors and products from cars to smartphones to medical equipment and even vacuum cleaners. They help power our infrastructure from our grid to our broadband. The United States used to lead the world in global semiconductor manufacturing. But in recent decades, the U.S. lost its edge—our share of global semiconductor production has fallen from 37 percent to just 12 percent over the last 30 years. 

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the fragility in the global semiconductor supply chain. Experts estimate that the global chip shortage knocked off a full percentage point from U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) last year. U.S. autoworkers faced furloughs and production shut downs due to pandemic-driven disruptions in Asian semiconductor factories, contributing to large increases in the price of cars for U.S. consumers. One-third of the annual price increases in core consumer price index (CPI) last year was due to high car prices alone.

The Biden-Harris Administration has been working around the clock with Congress, our international allies and partners, and the private sector to expand U.S. chip manufacturing capacity, bring back critical American manufacturing jobs, address the chip shortage, and ensure we are not exposed to these disruptions again. Today, Intel will announce a new $20 billion factory outside Columbus, Ohio.

Today’s announcement is the latest marker of progress in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to ramp up domestic manufacturing for critical goods like semiconductors, tackle near-term supply chain bottlenecks, revitalize our manufacturing base, and create good jobs here at home. This investment will create 7,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 permanent jobs, another sign of the strength of the American economy.

To accelerate this progress, the President is urging Congress to pass legislation to strengthen U.S. research and development and manufacturing for critical supply chains, including semiconductors. The Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) in June and the Administration is working with the House and Senate to finalize this legislation. It includes full funding for the CHIPS for America Act, which will provide $52 billion to catalyze more private-sector investments and continued American technological leadership.

Since the beginning of 2021, the semiconductor industry has announced nearly $80 billion in new investments in the United States through 2025, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. These investments will create tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs, support U.S. technological leadership, and promote security and resilience in global semiconductor supply chains. In addition to Intel’s announcement today, investments include:

  • A $17 billion Samsung factory in Texas – the result of sustained work by the Administration, including the President’s meeting with President Moon of the Republic of Korea in May.
  • Texas Instruments investing up to $30 billion in Texas;
  •  A new Global Foundries factory in New York state;
  • Cree’s intention to spend $1 billion to expand a current plant in North Carolina;
  • SK Group investments in a new U.S. R&D center; and
  • Micron to expanding U.S. production.

The Biden-Harris Administration has led a whole of government effort to secure these critical investments.

  • President Biden prioritized domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research and development (R&D) shortly after taking office, designating semiconductor supply chains as a centerpiece of his national supply chain initiative launched in February 2021.
     
  • In June, the Commerce Department issued a set of recommendations on how to secure the U.S. semiconductor supply chain. Since that time, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese have held regular follow-up engagements with industry leaders and diplomatic partners and allies to advance practical solutions to strengthen the global semiconductor supply chain. This includes White House has met with the CEOs of multiple semiconductor companies in this effort. 
     
  • In October, President Biden hosted a global summit on supply chains with the heads of state from 14 countries and the European Union on the margins of the G20 in Italy to discuss supply chain disruptions, with a focus on semiconductors. The President also focused on semiconductor supply chain resilience in his bilateral meetings with foreign leaders and directed the Administration to cooperate with Europe on strengthening global supply chains through the U.S.-E.U. Trade and Technology Council (TTC) and through the Quad’s focus on critical technologies.

Investments in new foundries are critical to the long-term resilience of our semiconductor supply chains. At the same time, the Administration is working to address the near-term disruptions in semiconductor supply chains that have contributed to challenges in a number of manufacturing sectors and to price increases for U.S. consumers.

  • In April 2021, the President hosted a virtual summit with leading firms that produce chips and those that use chips to identify practical ways to discuss actions they could to address the disruptions resulting from the global chip shortage. By the end of the year, the participants had announced new partnerships between semiconductor companies and U.S. automakers to strengthen the resiliency of the automotive chip supply chain.
     
  • In the summer, the Administration worked with governments and companies around the world to mitigate COVID-related disruptions to semiconductor manufacturing and in September 2021 established a global early alert system to identify and address pandemic-related disruptions.
     
  • The Commerce Department promoted transparency in semiconductor supply chains, including through a Fall 2021 survey on the chips shortage to identify the key chokepoints in the semiconductor supply chains. Over 150 responses were received from all parts of the supply chain – producers, consumers, and intermediaries – include responses from nearly all the major semiconductor producers and the major automakers. The results of the survey will be released publicly by the end of January 2021.
     

The U.S. Department of Defense has used Defense Production Act authorities to strengthen supply chains for key defense-related semiconductors.

President Biden Pushes for Voting Rights: ‘This is a defining moment in history. To protect democracy, change the Senate rules’

“To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules..to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights,President Joe Biden declared in a speech in Atlanta, “cradle of civil rights,” demanding passage of laws to voting rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

President Joe Biden delivered a forceful speech delivered in Atlanta, Georgia, the “cradle of civil rights,” demanding the Senate pass voting rights protections, at one point slamming his hand down on the podium. The “institutionalist” who spent decades in the Senate, he came out as supporting overturning the filibuster – a relic of segregation and Jim Crow – which has been weaponized by Republicans, giving tyrannical control of the minority over the majority.

“To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules..to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights,” he declared.

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks:

In our lives and the lives of our nation — the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before from everything that followed.  They stop time.  They rip away the trivial from the essential.  And they force us to confront hard truths about ourselves, about our institutions, and about our democracy.
 
In the words of Scripture, they remind us to “hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate.”
 
Last week, [Vice] President Harris and I stood in the United States Capitol to observe one of those “before and after” moments in American history: January 6th insurrection on the citadel of our democracy.
 
Today, we come to Atlanta — the cradle of civil rights — to make clear what must come after that dreadful day when a dagger was literally held at the throat of American democracy.
 
We stand on the grounds that connect Clark Atlanta — Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and near Spellman College — the home of generations of advocates, activists, educators and preachers; young people, just like the students here, who have done so much to build a better America.  (Applause.)
 
We visited the sacred Ebenezer Baptist Church and paused to prayed at the crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King, and spent time with their family.  And here in the district — as was pointed out — represented and reflected the life of beloved friend, John Lewis.
 
In their lifetimes, time stopped when a bomb blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and murdered four little girls.
 
[Time] stopped when John and many others seeking justice were beaten and bloodied while crossing the bridge at Selma named after the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
 
They stopped — time stopped, and they forced the country to confront the hard truths and to act — to act to keep the promise of America alive: the promise that holds that we’re all created equal but, more importantly, deserve to be treated equally.  And from those moments of darkness and despair came light and hope.
 
Democrats, Republicans, and independents worked to pass the historic Civil Rights Act and the voting rights legislation.  And each successive generation continued that ongoing work.
 
But then the violent mob of January 6th, 2021, empowered and encouraged by a defeated former president, sought to win through violence what he had lost at the ballot box, to impose the will of the mob, to overturn a free and fair election, and, for the first time — the first time in American history, they — to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
 
They failed.
  They failed.  (Applause.)  But democracy’s victory was not certain, nor is democracy’s future.
 
That’s why we’re here today to stand against the forces in America that value power over principle, forces that attempted a coup — a coup against the legally expressed will of the American people — by sowing doubt, inventing charges of fraud, and seeking to steal the 2020 election from the people.
 
They want chaos to reign.  We want the people to rule.
  (Applause.)
 
But let me be clear: This is not about me or Vice President Harris or our party; it’s about all of us.  It’s about the people.  It’s about America.
 
Hear me plainly: The battle for the soul of America is not over.  We must stand strong and stand together to make sure January 6th marks not the end of democracy but the beginning of a renaissance of our democracy.  (Applause.)
 
You know, for the right to vote and to have that vote counted is democracy’s threshold liberty.  Without it, nothing is possible, but with it, anything is possible.
 
But while the denial of fair and free elections is un-democratic, it is not unprecedented.
 
Black Americans were denied full citizenship and voting rights until 1965.  Women were denied the right to vote until just 100 years ago.  The United States Supreme Court, in recent years, has weakened the Voting Rights Act.  And now the defeated former president and his supporters use the Big Lie about the 2020 election to fuel torrent and torment and anti-voting laws — new laws designed to suppress your vote, to subvert our elections.
 
Here in Georgia, for years, you’ve done the hard work of democracy: registering voters, educating voters, getting voters to the polls.  You’ve built a broad coalition of voters: Black, white, Latino, Asian American, urban, suburban, rural, working class, and middle class. 
 
And it’s worked: You’ve changed the state by bringing more people, legally, to the polls.  (Applause.)  That’s how you won the historic elections of Senator Raphael Warnock and Senator Jon Ossoff.  (Applause.) 
 
You did it — you did it the right way, the democratic way.
 
And what’s been the reaction of Republicans in Georgia?  Choose the wrong way, the undemocratic way.  To them, too many people voting in a democracy is a problem.  So they’re putting up obstacles.
 
For example, voting by mail is a safe and convenient way to get more people to vote, so they’re making it harder for you to vote by mail. 
 
The same way, I might add, in the 2020 Election, President Trump voted from behind the desk in the White House — in Florida. 
 
Dropping your ballots off to secure drop boxes — it’s safe, it’s convenient, and you get more people to vote.  So they’re limiting the number of drop boxes and the hours you can use them. 
 
Taking away the options has a predictable effect: longer lines at the polls, lines that can last for hours.  You’ve seen it with your own eyes.  People get tired and they get hungry.
 
When the Bible teaches us to feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty, the new Georgia law actually makes it illegal — think of this — I mean, it’s 2020, and now ’22, going into that election — it makes it illegal to bring your neighbors, your fellow voters food or water while they wait in line to vote.  What in the hell — heck are we talking about?  (Laughter and applause.)
 
I mean, think about it.  (Applause.)  That’s not America.  That’s what it looks like when they suppress the right to vote. 
 
And here’s how they plan to subvert the election: The Georgia Republican Party, the state legislature has now given itself the power to make it easier for partisan actors — their cronies — to remove local election officials. 

Think about that.  What happened in the last election?  The former president and allies pursued, threatened, and intimidated state and local election officials.
 
Election workers — ordinary citizens — were subject to death threats, menacing phone calls, people stalking them in their homes.
 
Remember what the defeated former president said to the highest-ranking election official — a Republican — in this state?  He said, quote, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” 
 
Pray God.  (Laughter.)  He didn’t say that part.  (Laughter.)
 
He didn’t say, “Count the votes.”  He said, “find votes” that he needed to win.
 
He failed because of the courageous officials — Democrats, Republicans — who did their duty and upheld the law.  (Applause.)
 
But with this new law in Georgia, his loyal- — his loyalists will be placed in charge of state elections.  (Laughs.)  What is that going to mean?  Well, the chances for chaos and subversion are even greater as partisans seek the result they want — no matter what the voters have said, no matter what the count.  The votes of nearly 5 million Georgians will be up for grabs if that law holds.
 
It’s not just here in Georgia.  Last year alone, 19 states not proposed but enacted 34 laws attacking voting rights.  There were nearly 400 additional bills Republican members of state legislatures tried to pass.  And now, Republican legislators in several states have already announced plans to escalate the onslaught this year.
 
Their endgame?  To turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion — something states can respect or ignore.
 
Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion.  It’s no longer about who gets to vote; it’s about making it harder to vote.  It’s about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.
 
It’s not hyperbole; this is a fact. 
 
Look, this matters to all of us.  The goal of the former president and his allies is to disenfranchise anyone who votes against them.  Simple as that.  The facts won’t matter; your vote won’t matter.  They’ll just decide what they want and then do it.
 
That’s the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies. 

We must be vigilant.
 
And the world is watching.  I know the majority of the world leaders — the good and the bad ones, adversaries and allies alike.  They’re watching American democracy and seeing whether we can meet this moment.  And that’s not hyperbole.
 
When I showed up at the G7 with seven other world leaders — there were a total of nine present — Vice President Harris and I have spent our careers doing this work — I said, “America is back.”  And the response was, “For how long?”  “For how long?” 

As someone who’s worked in foreign policy my whole life, I never thought I would ever hear our allies say something like that.
 
Over the past year, we’ve directed federal agencies to promote access to voting, led by the Vice President.  We’ve appointed top civil rights advocates to help the U.S. Department of Justice, which has doubled its voting rights enforcement staff.
 
And today, we call on Congress to get done what history will judge: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act.  (Applause.)  Pass it now — (applause) — which would prevent voter suppression so that here in Georgia there’s full access to voting by mail, there are enough drop boxes during enough hours so that you can bring food and water as well to people waiting in line. 
 
The Freedom to Vote Act takes on election subversion to protect nonpartisan electors [election] officials, who are doing their job, from intimidation and interference.
 
It would get dark money out of politics, create fairer district maps and ending partisan gerrymandering.  (Applause.)
 
Look, it’s also time to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
  (Applause.) 
 
I’ve been having these quiet conversations with the members of Congress for the last two months.  I’m tired of being quiet!  (Applause.)
 
Folks, it’ll restore the strength of the Voting Rights Act of ’65 — the one President Johnson signed after John Lewis was beaten, nearly killed on Bloody Sunday, only to have the Supreme Court weaken it multiple times over the past decade.
 
Restoring the Voting Rights Act would mean the Justice Department can stop discriminatory laws before they go into effect — before they go into effect.  (Applause.) 
The Vice President and I have supported voting rights bills since day one of this administration.  But each and every time, Senate Republicans have blocked the way.  Republicans oppose even debating the issue.  You hear me?

I’ve been around the Senate a long time.  I was Vice President for eight years.  I’ve never seen a circumstance where not one single Republican has a voice that’s ready to speak for justice now.

When I was a senator, including when I headed up the Judiciary Committee, I helped reauthorize the Voting [Rights] Act three times.  We held hearings.  We debated.  We voted.  I was able to extend the Voting Rights Act for 25 years.

In 2006, the Voting Rights Act passed 390 to 33 in
the House of Representatives and 98 to 0 in the Senate with votes from 16 current sitting Republicans in this United States Senate.  Sixteen of them voted to extend it.

The last year I was chairman, as some of my friends sitting down here will tell you, Strom Thurmond voted to extend the Voting Rights Act.  Strom Thurmond.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Wow.

THE PRESIDENT:   You can say that again: “Wow.”  You have no idea how damn ha- — how darn hard I worked on that one.  (Laughter and applause.)

But, folks, then it was signed into law, the last time, by President George W. Bush.

You know, when we got voting rights extended in the 1980s, as I’ve said, even Thurmond supported it.  Think about that.  The man who led one of the longest filibusters in history in the United States Senate in 1957 against the Voting Rights Act [Civil Rights Act].  The man who led and sided with the old Southern Bulls in the United States Senate to perpetuate segregation in this nation.  Even Strom Thurmond came to support voting rights.

But Republicans today can’t and won’t.  Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect America’s right to vote.  Not one.  Not one.

We have 50-50 in the United States Senate.  That means we have 51 presidents.  (Laughter.)  You all think I’m kidding.  (Laughter.)

I’ve been pretty good at working with senators my whole career.  But, man, when you got 51 presidents, it gets harder.  Any one can change the outcome.

Sadly, the United States Senate — designed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body — has been rendered a shell of its former self.  It gives me no satisfaction in saying that, as an institutionalist, as a man who was honored to serve in the Senate.
 
But as an institutionalist, I believe that the threat to
our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote. 
 
Let the majority prevail.  (Applause.)  And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.
  (Applause.)

You know, last year, if I’m not mistaken, the filibuster was used 154 times.  The filibuster has been used to generate compromise in the past and promote some bipartisanship.  But it’s also been used to obstruct — including and especially obstruct civil rights and voting rights.

And when it was used, senators traditionally used to have to stand and speak at their desks for however long it took, and sometimes it took hours.  And when they sat down, if no one immediately stood up, anyone could call for a vote or the debate ended.

But that doesn’t happen today.  Senators no longer even have to speak one word.  The filibuster is not used by Republicans to bring the Senate together but to pull it further apart.

The filibuster has been weaponized and abused.

While the state legislatures’ assault on voting rights is simple — all you need in your House and Senate is a pure majority — in the United States Senate, it takes a supermajority: 60 votes, even to get a vote — instead of 50 — to protect the right to vote.

State legislatures can pass anti-voting laws with simple majorities.  If they can do that, then the United States Senate should be able to protect voting rights by a simple majority.  (Applause.)

Today I’m making it clear: To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed — (applause) — to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.  (Applause.)  

When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.  
 
I make this announcement with careful deliberation, recognizing the fundamental right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow.
 
And I make it with an appeal to my Republican colleagues, to those Republicans who believe in the rule of law: Restore the bipartisan tradition of voting rights. 

The people who restored it, who abided by it in the past were Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush.  They all supported the Voting Rights Act.

Don’t let the Republican Party morph into something else.  Restore the institution of the Senate the way it was designed to be.

Senate rules were just changed to raise the debt ceiling so we wouldn’t renege on our debt for the first time in our history and prevent an economic crisis.  That was done by a simple majority.

As Senator Warnock said a few weeks ago in a powerful speech: If we change the rules to protect the full faith and credit of the United States, we should be able to change the rules to protect the heart and soul of our democracy.  (Applause.)  He was right.

In the days that followed John Lewis’s death, there was an outpouring of praise and support across the political spectrum.

But as we stand here today, it isn’t enough just to praise his memory.  We must translate eulogy into action.  We need to follow John Lewis’s footsteps.  We need to support the bill in his name.

Just a few days ago, we talked about — up in the Congress and in the White House — the event coming up shortly to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday.  And Americans of all stripes will praise him for the content of his character.

But as Dr. King’s family said before, it’s not enough to praise their father.  They even said: On this holiday, don’t celebrate his birthday unless you’re willing to support what he lived for and what he died for.  (Applause.)

The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation’s history.

We will choose — the issue is: Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice? 

I know where I stand.  I will not yield.  I will not flinch.  I will defend the right to vote, our democracy against all enemies — foreign and, yes, domestic.  (Applause.)

And the question is: Where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?  Every senator — Democrat, Republican, and independent — will have to declare where they stand, not just for the moment, but for the ages.

Will you stand against voter suppression?  Yes or no?  That’s the question they’ll answer.  Will you stand against election subversion?  Yes or no?  Will you stand for democracy?  Yes or no?

And here’s one thing every senator and every American should remember: History has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters’ rights.  And it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion.
 
So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? 

At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?  Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor?  Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?

This is the moment to decide to defend our elections, to defend our democracy.  (Applause.)

And if you do that, you will not be alone.  That’s because the struggle to protect voting rights has never been borne by one group alone.

We saw Freedom Riders of every race.  Leaders of every faith marching arm in arm.  And, yes, Democrats and Republicans in Congress of the United States and in the presidency.

I did not live the struggle of Douglass, Tubman, King, Lewis, Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, and countless others — known and unknown.

I did not walk in the shoes of generations of students who walked these grounds.  But I walked other grounds.  Because I’m so damn old, I was there as well.  (Laughter.)

You think I’m kidding, man.  (Laughter.)  It seems like yesterday the first time I got arrested.  Anyway — (laughter).

But their struggles here — they were the ones that opened my eyes as a high school student in the late — in the late ’50s and early ’60s.  They got me more engaged in the work of my life.

And what we’re talking about today is rooted in the very idea of America — the idea that Annell Ponder, who graduated
from Clark Atlanta, captured in a single word.  She was a teacher and librarian who was also an unyielding champion of voting rights.

In 1963 — when I was just starting college at university — after registering voters in Mississippi, she was pulled off a bus, arrested, and jailed, where she was brutally beaten.

In her cell, next to her, was Fannie Lou Hamer, who described the beating this way, and I quote: “I could hear the sounds of [the] licks and [the] horrible screams…They beat her, I don’t know [for] how long.  And after a while, she began to pray, and asked God to have mercy on those people.”

Annell Ponder’s friends visited her the next day.  Her face was badly swollen.  She could hardly talk.

But she managed to whisper one word: “Freedom.”  “Freedom” — the only word she whispered.

After nearly 250 years since our founding, that singular idea still echoes.  But it’s up to all of us to make sure it never fades, especially the students here — your generation that just started voting — as there are those who are trying to take away that vi- — vote you just started to be able to exercise. 

But the giants we honor today were your age when they made clear who we must be as a nation.  Not a joke.  Think about it.  In the early ’60s, they were sitting where you’re sitting.  They were you.  And like them, you give me much hope for the future.

Before and after in our lives — and in the life of the nation — democracy is who we are, who we must be — now and forever.  So, let’s stand in this breach together.  Let’s love good, establish justice in the gate. 

And remember, as I said, there is one — this is one of those defining moments in American history: Each of those who vote will be remembered by class after class, in the ’50s and ’60s — the 2050s and ’60s.  Each one of the members of the Senate is going to be judged by history on where they stood before the vote and where they stood after the vote. 

There’s no escape.  So, let’s get back to work. 

As my grandfather Finnegan used to say every time I walked out the door in Scranton, he’d say, “Joey, keep the faith.”  Then he’d say, “No, Joey, spread it.” 

Let’s spread the faith and get this done.  (Applause.) 

May God bless you all.  And may God protect the sacred right to vote.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  I mean it.  Let’s go get this done.  Thank you.

VP Kamala Harris: ‘We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom – the freedom to vote’

“The assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party….The American people have waited long enough.  The Senate must act,” Vice President Kamala Harris declared in a speech on voting rights in Atlanta. “We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom: the freedom to vote.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden came out forcefully to demand protection of voting rights and election integrity in speeches in Atlanta and called for removing the filibuster, weaponized as an obstacle to Senate action. Republicans in the Senate and House immediately twisted and attacked the Democrats’ desire to assure free and equal access to the ballot and fair counting as an attempt to hijack elections, rather than preserve the foundational element of democracy, dismissing what Republican-dominated legislatures are doing around the country to – by simple majority vote – enact voter suppression, gerrymandered maps and rules that allow them to subvert elections by overturning the will of the majority.

The assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party….The American people have waited long enough.  The Senate must act,” Harris declared. “We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom: the freedom to vote. Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Harris’ remarks:

Last week, one year after a violent mob breached the United States Capitol, the President of the United States and I spoke from its hallowed halls and we made clear: We swore to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.  And we will.  We will fight.  (Applause.)  We will fight to safeguard our democracy.  We will fight to secure our most fundamental freedom: the freedom to vote. 

And that is why we have come to Atlanta today — to the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement; to the district that was represented by the great Congressman John Lewis — (applause) — on the eve of the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  (Applause.)

More than 55 years ago, men, women, and children marched from Selma to Montgomery to demand the ballot.  And when they arrived at the State Capitol in Alabama, Dr. King decried what he called “normalcy” — the normalcy, the complacency that was denying people the freedom to vote.

The only normalcy anyone should accept, Dr. King said, is the “normalcy of justice.”  And his words resonate today.

Over the past few years, we have seen so many anti-voter laws that there is a danger of becoming accustomed to these laws, a danger of adjusting to these laws as though they are normal, a danger of being complacent, complicit.

Anti-voter laws are not new in our nation, but we must not be deceived into thinking they are normal.

We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it more difficult for students to vote is normal.

We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it illegal to help a voter with a disability vote by mail is normal.  (Applause.)

There is nothing normal about a law that makes it illegal to pass out water or food to people standing in long voting lines.  (Applause.)

And I have met with voters in Georgia.  I have heard your outrage about the anti-voter law here and how many voters will likely be kept from voting.

And Georgia is not alone.  Across our nation, anti-voter laws could make it more difficult for as many as 55 million Americans to vote.  That is one out of six people in our country.

And the proponents of these laws are not only putting in place obstacles to the ballot box, they are also working to interfere with our elections to get the outcomes they want and to discredit those they don’t.

That is not how a democracy should work.

My fellow Americans: Do not succumb to those who would dismiss this assault on voting rights as an unfounded threat — who would wave this off as a partisan game.

The assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party.

And if we stand idly by, our entire nation will pay the price for generations to come.

As Dr. King said, “The battle is in our hands.”  And today, the battle is in the hands of the leaders of the American people, those in particular that the American people sent to the United States Senate.

Two landmark bills sit before the United States Senate: the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.  (Applause.) 

And these two bills represent the first real opportunity to secure the freedom to vote since the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act nearly a decade ago.

We do not know when we will have this opportunity again.  Senate Republicans have exploited arcane rules to block these bills.

And let us be clear: The Constitution of the United States gives the Congress the power to pass legislation.  And nowhere — nowhere — does the Constitution give a minority the right to unilaterally block legislation. (Applause.)

The American people have waited long enough.  The Senate must act.

And the bottom line is this: Years from now, our children and our grandchildren, they will ask us about this moment.  They will look back on this time, and they will ask us not about how we felt — they will ask us what did we do.

We cannot tell them that we let a Senate rule stand in the way of our most fundamental freedom.  Instead, let us tell them that we stood together as people of conscience and courage. 

Let us tell them we acted with the urgency that this moment demands. 

And let us tell them we secured the freedom to vote, that we ensured free and fair elections, and we safeguarded our democracy for them and their children.

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Takes Action to Restore, Strengthen American Democracy

Restoring Ethics, Transparency, and the Rule of Law.The Administration will continue working with Congress to restore democratic guardrails to prevent future abuses of presidential power and curtail corruption, with legislation that is consistent with our constitutional principles and that appropriately addresses the balance of powers between the three branches of our federal government. In doing so, the Administration will work to ensure that no branch is able to abuse its authority or undermine a co-equal branch’s constitutional prerogatives, no matter who is in power © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Just before President Joe Biden convenes world leaders for a Summit for Democracy, the Biden-Harris administration released a fact sheet on actions it is taking to restore and strengthen American Democracy:

From the first day in office and every day since, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken decisive action to restore and strengthen American democracy, from cracking down on corruption and promoting transparency to taking critical steps to ensure the federal government works for every American — no matter what they look like or where they live. This cause will be a guiding principle throughout the President’s time in office, and that includes prioritizing the fight to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect the sacred right to vote in free, fair, and secure elections.
 
Sustaining democracy is also a shared challenge and commitment for our allies and partners overseas. Against the backdrop of a rise in authoritarianism and increasing threats to democracy around the world, President Biden is convening world leaders for a Summit for Democracy to provide an opportunity to listen, learn, and share how governments and non-governmental actors can strengthen their commitment to democratic principles and practices, and their responsiveness to the people they serve.
 
As President Biden made clear in his first Address to the Joint Session of Congress on April 28, 2021, “We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.” Demonstrating that democracy can deliver to improve people’s lives and address the greatest challenges of our time — and that we, the people, can work together to address the threats facing our democracy — is at the heart of the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to Build Back Better.
 
Last month, after working across the aisle to negotiate with Members of Congress from both parties, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This once-in-a-generation investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs, grow the economy sustainably and equitably, and shows that democracy can deliver results for the American people. President Biden continues to work with Congress to enact the Build Back Better Act, historic legislation that will cut the cost of child care and elder care, invest in affordable housing, position the U.S. to tackle the climate crisis, make health care and prescription drugs more affordable, and much more — fully paid for by ensuring the wealthiest individuals and corporations pay their fair share. These transformational pieces of legislation also make critical investments in American democracy, including: 

  • Delivering Broadband Access and Digital Literacy Skills. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet, close the digital divide, and fund digital literacy initiatives to provide individuals with the skills needed to critically evaluate information online. These investments will democratize access to information, services, and opportunity while promoting information awareness and education.
     
  • Foster Civic Engagement and a Culture of National Service. The Build Back Better Act will create a new Civilian Climate Corps (CCC), bringing together a diverse generation of over 300,000 Americans to work together in common purpose to conserve our public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, and address the changing climate. It will provide AmeriCorps with a historic $15 billion investment to expand service opportunities and increase the living allowance and education award for all AmeriCorps members, making national service a more accessible pathway to good-paying union jobs for more Americans of all backgrounds.
     
  • Investing in Civic Infrastructure. The Build Back Better Act contains $3 billion to create a new Community Restoration and Revitalization Fund, which will fund community-led civic infrastructure projects to create shared amenities that spark local economic activity, provide services, and strengthen communities’ civic fabric.
     
  • Supporting Local Journalism. The Build Back Better Act will provide tax credits for local newsrooms to hire journalists, helping to stabilize newsroom budgets in the face of unprecedented challenges and sustaining Americans’ access to the independent journalism that informs citizens and holds the powerful accountable.

The Biden-Harris Administration firmly believes that renewing democracy around the globe begins by working diligently and transparently to strengthen its foundations at home. The Administration is taking bold action across the Summit’s three broad themes: strengthening democracy and defending against authoritarianism; fighting corruption; and promoting respect for human rights.

Strengthening Democracy and Defending Against Authoritarianism
In addition to pressing for essential legislation to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy, the Biden-Harris Administration is using available authorities and resources to defend the right to vote. The Administration has also advanced a broad range of actions to repair the fabric of our democracy, from bolstering workers’ rights and unions, an essential bulwark of democratic societies, to combating domestic violent extremism. Building on the work of the past year, new announcements we will be highlighting this week include:

Ensuring Compliance with Voting Rights Laws. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken a variety of steps to help protect the right to vote, including doubling the number of voting rights attorneys, taking steps to ensure compliance with voting rights statutes, and issuing guidance on (1) the civil and criminal statutes that apply to post-election audits, (2) methods of voting, including early voting and voting by mail, and (3) the vote-dilution protections that apply to all jurisdictions under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as they engage in redistricting.
 

Making it Easier for Americans to Register to Vote. Federal agencies continue to robustly implement President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting, including among many other things:
 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make it easier for consumers using HealthCare.gov to connect to voter registration services and receive assistance. CMS will also work with states on improving access to voter registration.
 

The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide materials and assistance in registering and voting for tens of thousands of inpatients and residents, including VA Medical Center inpatients and residents of VA nursing homes and treatment centers for homeless veterans.  The Department will also facilitate assistance in registering and voting for homebound veterans and their caregivers through VA’s home-based and telehealth teams. 
 

The U.S. Small Business Administration became the first federal agency to request designation as a voter registration agency pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act, committing to offer Americans seeking services at the agency’s District Field Offices the opportunity to register to vote.
 

Combating Misinformation and Disinformation. Today, the White House announced that an interagency Information Integrity Research and Development Working Group will develop and release a first-of-its-kind strategic plan concerning government-wide research and development to better understand the full information ecosystem; design strategies for preserving information integrity and mitigating the effects of information manipulation, including mis- and disinformation; support information awareness and education; and foster a multi-disciplinary and collaborative research environment.

 
Fighting Corruption
Since Day One, the administration has worked to earn and keep the trust of Americans by cracking down on corruption and promoting an accountable and transparent government that works for the people, from  requiring all appointees to take a stringent ethics pledge, to releasing the President’s and Vice-President’s taxes, to issuing policies to restore DOJ’s independence. In addition to the steps we’ve already taken, this week we will be highlighting actions including:
 

  • Developing a Strategy on Countering Corruption. The Biden-Harris Administration released the first-ever United States Strategy on Countering Corruption, outlining a whole-of-government approach to elevating the fight against corruption both at home and abroad. The Strategy includes the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) publishing proposed regulations requiring companies to identify to FinCEN the real people who own or control them, making it harder for criminals to launder illicit proceeds through shell companies. The Strategy also commits FinCEN to launching a regulatory process for potential new reporting and recordkeeping requirements to increase transparency in real estate transactions, diminishing the ability of corrupt actors to launder ill-gotten proceeds through real estate purchases.
     
  • Restoring Ethics, Transparency, and the Rule of Law. The Administration will continue working with Congress to restore democratic guardrails to prevent future abuses of presidential power and curtail corruption, with legislation that is consistent with our constitutional principles and that appropriately addresses the balance of powers between the three branches of our federal government. In doing so, the Administration will work to ensure that no branch is able to abuse its authority or undermine a co-equal branch’s constitutional prerogatives, no matter who is in power.

 
Promoting Respect for Human Rights
The Biden-Harris Administration has centered equity and the advancement of fundamental rights as a priority to ensure that all Americans are able to fully participate in our democracy and have a fair shot at the American dream. The Administration has worked to embed equity across many fronts, including taking concrete steps to advance gender equality; accelerate LGBTQI+ equality; expand access and inclusion for Americans with disabilities; support and respect Native communities; combat hate crimes; and reform our criminal justice system. In addition to all of the work that has happened over the past year, this week we are proud to highlight new announcements including: 

  • Combating Human Trafficking. In a new National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, the Biden-Harris Administration is reaffirming its commitment to addressing this abhorrent crime, which disproportionately impacts some of the most vulnerable and underserved members of our society. The plan lays out foundational pillars of U.S. and global anti-trafficking efforts — prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.
     
  • Closing the Racial Wealth Gap. The Biden-Harris Administration — the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world — recently announced new reforms to the federal procurement process that will increase equity, help close the racial wealth gap, and level the playing field for underserved small businesses. The President is delivering on his goal of increasing the share of federal procurement dollars to small disadvantaged businesses, which Black-owned, Latino-owned, and other minority-owned businesses are presumed to qualify, by 50 percent by 2025. This ambitious target will mean an additional $100 billion for underserved small businesses over the next five years.
     
  • Promoting Equality for Transgender and Gender Diverse Americans. Building on the State Department’s announcement that it will offer a third gender marker on U.S. passports, the White House is convening an interagency policy committee to advance a coordinated federal approach to expanding access to accurate and inclusive federal identity documents for transgender and gender diverse people.

Democracy is always a work-in-progress, a constant striving to build a more perfect union. Following the Summit, the Biden-Harris Administration and democracies across the globe will convene governmental, civil society, and private sector partners during a year of consultation, coordination, and action (“Year of Action”) to advance democracy, after which time President Biden intends to again gather world leaders to showcase our collective progress and forge a path forward. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue its steadfast work to strengthen democracy, with additional actions and commitments to be announced throughout the year to come.

For a more comprehensive accounting of the Biden-Harris Administration’s record of accomplishments and ongoing efforts to restore and reinvigorate American democracy, you can go to WH.Gov.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FACT SHEET:
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House Memo: ‘The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All’

White House staff issued a memo to “All Interested Parties”: The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

In a nutshell, President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda comes down to this: seizing this rare opportunity to grow the economy in such a way so that all benefit, or continuing a system that benefits a small slice of society while holding back the rest, states a “memo” from White House Senior Staff to “Interested Parties”. Re: “The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All”

  
Memo: The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All
To: Interested Parties
From: White House Senior Staff
 
America is at a crossroads right now: whether to create sustained economic growth that benefits everybody by addressing the challenges that have held back working families for decades, or maintain the status quo of a failed strategy to invest government resources in tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy.
 
The choice in front of us is simple. We can pass a plan that 17 Nobel Prize winning economists last week said would boost our economy and ease long-term inflationary pressures. We can pass a plan that last week the Economic Policy Institute said would support 4 million jobs per year over the decade. Or we can prioritize the interests of the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations over building an economy that works for everyone.
 
These are the choices in front of us:
 
1. We can continue to give the wealthiest 0.1% of households – those making $2 million a year – an annual tax cut of $36,000
…OR we can dramatically reduce child poverty by providing a tax cut to nearly 40 million households and the parents of 90% of American children through a historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit.

  • Economic impact: Last week, 450 economists, including four Nobel Prize winners, highlighted in an open letter the clear evidence of the economic benefits of the CTC – including higher long-term earnings for children in families receiving credit. This led the economists to conclude that “the net cost to taxpayers of the expansion has been estimated to be as little as approximately 16 cents for every $1 of new benefits.”

 
2. We can let pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on drugs that we depend on and allow nearly 1 in 4 Americans to struggle to afford prescription drugs…
OR we can lower drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, expand health care coverage to 4 million uninsured people, and reduce health insurance premiums – saving 9 million people an average of $50 per month.

  • Economic impact: Reducing drug and healthcare would mean putting more money in Americans’ pockets that they can use to drive demand for U.S. goods and services. And, studies show that making health care more affordable enables more Americans to work, boosting employment and expanding the labor market.

 
3. We can let the wealthiest 1% of Americans evade $160 billion per year in taxes
… OR we can enforce our existing tax laws and invest that money to make universal preschool a reality – benefiting more than 5 million families and bringing down the crushing costs of child care for middle class families, which will help the average family save $13,000 per year. 

  • Economic impact: Investing in universal preschool would help grow our economy for generations to come: research shows that every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs for low-income children yields more than $7 in benefits. The Economic Policy Institute study released last week projected that the President’s plan would support 1.1 million caregiving jobs per year this decade.

 
4. We can continue to allow large, profitable corporations to take advantage of tax loopholes
… OR we can require big corporations to finally pay their fair share and use that money to invest in small businesses – the engine of our economy in communities throughout the country.

  • Economic impact: Supporting small businesses would help grow our economy in a way that benefits everyone: small businesses account for 44% of U.S. GDP, create two-thirds of net new jobs, and employ nearly half of America’s workers.

             
5. We can continue to let 55 Fortune 500 companies pay $0 in taxes on more than $40 billion in profits per year
…OR we can eliminate loopholes like the ones that allow companies to shift jobs and profits overseas and use that money to address the threat of climate change and make critical investments so that our communities are more resilient against extreme weather events. These companies have said we need to take on the existential threat of climate change; now they face a real choice – pay a little more or continue to allow extreme weather events to devastate communities around the country.

  • Economic impact: Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. The climate investments in the Build Back Better plan would support more than 750,000 green jobs per year over the coming decade, and prevent economic shocks brought on from extreme weather events.

 
6. We can allow the middle class to be taxed more for their work than the richest are taxed on their investment income
…OR we can ask the top 0.3% to pay a higher tax rate on their investment income and use that money to drive down housing costs for the 10.5 million renters paying more than half of their incomes on rent and boost housing supply with the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes.

 
7. We can keep the corporate tax rate for the top 1% most profitable corporations at the lowest rate it has been since World War II
OR we can make a modest increase to the corporate tax rate and use that money to reduce the crushing cost of child and elder care for middle class families. The President’s child care proposal would provide high-quality child care for children up to age 5, saving the average family $14,800 per year.

  • Economic impact: Investments in child care improve worker productivity, workforce participation, family incomes, and business revenue. One study found a $57 billion annual cost to the economy due to child-care related lost earnings and productivity.

 
8. We can accept a tax system where a teacher pays a higher tax rate than a hedge fund manager
OR we can restore fairness in our tax code and expand paid family and medical leave to the nearly four in five private sector workers and 95% of lowest wage workers who currently lack it – so that millions of Americans no longer have to decide between keeping their jobs or caring for loved ones and their personal health.

  • Economic impact: Comprehensive paid and medical leave policies would increase labor force participation and lead to better outcomes for workers and businesses. The adoption of a paid leave program is associated with a 4.6% increase in revenue per full-time employee and 6.8% increase in profit per full-time employee.

The President believes that these choices are easy. He chooses leveling the playing field to ensure the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations pay their fair share and working-class families get a fighting chance to succeed and prosper. He chooses tackling the existential threats facing our country and making investments to position our nation for success for generations to come. These are the choices we face now.

Biden to Rally Allies, Partners & Institutions to Address the Major Challenges of Our Time in Speech to UN General Assembly

President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One at J.F. Kennedy International Airport for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he will rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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

President Joe Biden will use his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly to rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time: “COVID-19; climate change; emerging technologies; rules of the road on trade and economics; investments in clean infrastructure; a modern approach to counterterrorism; and vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War,” said a senior administration official during a press call to preview the President’s speech.

“The speech will drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force and that require the cooperation of many nations around the world as well as nonstate actors from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations and international institutions,” he said.

These big, hard challenges “will define the scope and shape of prosperity and security for the people of the United States and for people of the world in the years ahead.”

The President “will reinforce the notion that our futures and our fortunes are really interconnected and bound up with one another.  And so, we all have to work together to cooperate in service of solving problems and seizing opportunities that lie before us.”

After arriving at Kennedy International Airport, President Biden was to have his first extended one-on-one meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to discuss issues including Afghanistan and Yemen, as well as big global challenges like COVID-19 and climate change. 

President Joe Biden is greeted upon his arrival at J.F. Kennedy International Airport by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

At the end of the week, the President will host the first-ever in-person Quad Summit, “a gathering of likeminded, democratic partners to tackle these big challenges — COVID, climate, economic investment, technology.”
 
He will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia in New York on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom in the evening in Washington; Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India on Friday, as well as an engagement with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan on Friday in Washington. 
 
On Wednesday, President Biden will host a summit on COVID-19 “to rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better to be able to handle the next pandemic. 
 
“He believes that it is high time for the world to come together — and not just national leaders, but he’s placing a heavy emphasis on international institutions, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations — all of the actors who collectively have the capacity to beat COVID-19.  And he is going to call for an all-hands-on-deck effort that can end this pandemic much more rapidly than if we allow for things to unfold without the kind of focused, sustained energy and effort that is required,” the official said.
 
The summit will involve setting bold goals to hit on everything from vaccinations to the supply of lifesaving medications and technologies.  And it will also set out a pattern of high-level meetings through the coming months to ensure that we are holding ourselves and the world accountable to following through on achieving these goals. 
 
The United States will also have a series of announcements about further contributions above and beyond what has already been contributed to ending the pandemic globally.

Earlier in the day, the Biden administration announced it was easing up restrictions on foreign travel into the United States, by opening access to foreign nationals who have been vaccinated and have had a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel. In addition, airlines will be required to keep information for contact tracing, should that be necessary.  The new, strict protocols will be in place by early November.  

“Critically for our European partners and for the UK, this policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November.  We’ll be moving to a consistent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States. 
 
“But we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to develop a protocol that will permit travel by individuals and families and business people from the E.U. and the UK, as well as from Brazil and India and other countries, to the United States with proof of vaccination.”

Responding to a question about the controversy over the United States selling nuclear submarines to Australia – which angered France –and whether this would be a new precedent for the United States to sell nuclear technology, the official said, “This is a unique set of circumstances involving a unique actor — Australia – which is a model nonproliferation citizen in the world, has incredibly high standards, has a history of proving out its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It has proven that not just by word but by deed, decade after decade. 

“And so, President Biden felt that with the unique case of Australia and then a unique set of safeguards for this material — the highest possible standards of safeguarding the HEU, stewardship of the HEU, consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in consultation with the relevant international bodies — that we will be able to show that this is not a broad precedent that opens the doors but rather a very narrow-use case involving the combination of a unique set of circumstances.”

There is no plan to sell such technology to South Korea or any others.

With respect to President Macron, he said, President Biden plans to discuss the way forward, and reinforce his deep commitment to the U.S. alliance with France – “an alliance that has fostered security, stability, and prosperity around the world for decades.  The President wants to communicate his desire to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and to talk about specific practical measures that we can undertake together. 

“We understand the French position.  We don’t share their view, in terms of how this all developed, but we understand their position.  And we will continue to be engaged in the coming days on this.  And we look forward to the phone call between President Biden and President Macron once its time is fixed on the books.  We think that will be an important moment and opportunity for the two leaders to speak directly with one another.”

He countered an assertion that the Afghanistan evacuation and the unilateral decision with Australia warrant criticism that the U.S. is not engaging with its partners and that it’s moving on its own.

“If you look at the most significant challenges, the highest-priority issues facing the world today, you see the United States has been deeply engaged with allies and partners and with the relevant international institutions. 
 
“The President is hosting a summit on COVID-19 on Wednesday where allies, partners, and even competitors have been invited to talk about how we find a collective way forward. 
 
“The United States and the European Union are holding a ministerial-level meeting of the Trade and Technology Council on September 29th.  This will be an opportunity to talk about how we shape a common way forward on our economy and on emerging technologies, and it’s an unprecedented vehicle to be able to do that. 
 
“So, when you walk through those significant issues — the depth and richness of the engagement with our allies and partners, the work that we have done with the European Union, the work we have done with Asian allies and partners, the deepening of the Quad as a vital part of the institutional framework of Asia — I think the picture is actually quite positive, despite the differences in perspective on Afghanistan and the issues we are dealing with France right now.”

He said that the US and France can find a productive pathway forward, working together on critical security issues. 
 
“So, if you look at the totality of the Biden foreign policy — of the ways in which we have worked on the big issues and done so very much in coordination, consultation, and common action with allies and partners, and then you look at the months ahead and what’s on the docket and the trajectory that we’re setting for ourselves — the President feels very good about the path forward and about how American foreign policy can play a vital role in rallying the world and especially rallying like-minded democracies to solve the great challenges of our time.”

Hosting the leaders of the Quad fundamentally is a demonstration of the priority Biden’s foreign policy is placing of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations designed to focus on 21st century challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and clean-energy,  partnering on emerging technologies in cyberspace, promoting high-standards infrastructure, and an overarching commitment at the core of the Quad to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.

 ____________________________

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Biden Launches Aggressive Plan, Including Vaccine Mandates, More Testing, Treatments to Combat COVID-19

President Joe Biden, declaring that America has lost patience with the 25 percent of Americans – 80 million – who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in face of a surging Delta variant, put away the carrot and took out the stick, issuing new executive orders that will mandate vaccinations for all federal workers and workers for federal contractors, personnel in hospitals and medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid, and requiring corporations with over 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing – orders that will cover about two-thirds of all American workers. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden, declaring that America has lost patience with the 25 percent of Americans – 80 million – who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in face of a surging Delta variant, put away the carrot and took out the stick, issuing new executive orders that will mandate vaccinations for all federal workers and workers for federal contractors, personnel in hospitals and medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid, and requiring corporations with over 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing – orders that will cover about two-thirds of all American workers.

“What makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.  These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.

“We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal…

“My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools.  It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov.”

Key to the plan is the mandate vaccinations in various instances

“This is not about freedom or personal choice.  It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
 
“My job as President is to protect all Americans.” 

To the unvaccinated, the President said, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.  But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.”  “If only.”

Here’s a highlighted transcript of his speech on September 9, 2021:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, my fellow Americans.  I want to talk to you about where we are in the battle against COVID-19, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do.
 
And it starts with understanding this: Even as the Delta variant COVID-19 has been hitting this country hard, we have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools.
 
If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing, and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.
 
It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time.  Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free.
 
You might be confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19.  So before I outline the new steps to fight COVID-19 that I’m going to be announcing tonight, let me give you some clear information about where we stand.
 
First, we have made considerable progress in battling COVID-19.  When I became President, about 2 million Americans were fully vaccinated.  Today, over 175 million Americans have that protection
 
Before I took office, we hadn’t ordered enough vaccine for every American.  Just weeks in office, we did.  The week before I took office, on January 20th of this year, over 25,000 Americans died that week from COVID-19.  Last week, that grim weekly toll was down 70 percent.
 
And in the three months before I took office, our economy was faltering, creating just 50,000 jobs a month.  We’re now averaging 700,000 new jobs a month in the past three months.
 
This progress is real.  But while America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact.
 
We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while.
  The highly contagious Delta variant that I began to warn America about back in July spread in late summer like it did in other countries before us.
 
While the vaccines provide strong protections for the vaccinated, we read about, we hear about, and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their death beds, among the unvaccinated over these past few weeks. 
 
This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot. 
 
And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.  Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.  This is totally unacceptable.
 
Third, if you wonder how all this adds up, here’s the math:  The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing.  Nearly three quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one quarter has not gotten any.  That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated.  And in a country as large as ours, that’s 25 percent minority.  That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are.
 
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or [pancreatitis], or cancer.
 
And fourth, I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness from COVID-19.  I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation.  But the world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low. 
 
In fact, based on available data from the summer, only one of out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day.
 
These are the facts. 
 
So here’s where we stand: The path ahead, even with the Delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter.  But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.  These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. 
 
We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal. 
 
As your President, I’m announcing tonight a new plan to require more Americans to be vaccinated, to combat those blocking public health. 
 
My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools.  It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov.  WhiteHouse.gov.
 
The measures — these are going to take time to have full impact.  But if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate, that in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.
 
First, we must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements.  Of the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated, many said they were waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration — the FDA.  Well, last month, the FDA granted that approval.
 
So, the time for waiting is over.  This summer, we made progress through the combination of vaccine requirements and incentives, as well as the FDA approval.  Four million more people got their first shot in August than they did in July. 
 
But we need to do more.  This is not about freedom or personal choice.  It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
 
My job as President is to protect all Americans. 
 
So, tonight, I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
 
Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News.
 
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.  We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
 
My plan will extend the vaccination requirements that I previously issued in the healthcare field.  Already, I’ve announced, we’ll be requiring vaccinations that all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid, because I have that federal authority.
 
Tonight, I’m using that same authority to expand that to cover those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.
 
If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.  Simple.  Straightforward.  Period.
 
Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all.  And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.
 
If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated.  If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce. 
 
And tonight, I’m removing one of the last remaining obstacles that make it difficult for you to get vaccinated.
 
The Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated.  No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated.
 
Today, in total, the vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans –- two thirds of all workers. 
 
And for other sectors, I issue this appeal: To those of you running large entertainment venues — from sports arenas to concert venues to movie theaters — please require folks to get vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition of entry.
 
And to the nation’s family physicians, pediatricians, GPs — general practitioners –- you’re the most trusted medical voice to your patients.  You may be the one person who can get someone to change their mind about being vaccinated. 
 
Tonight, I’m asking each of you to reach out to your unvaccinated patients over the next two weeks and make a personal appeal to them to get the shot.  America needs your personal involvement in this critical effort.
 
And my message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for?  What more do you need to see?  We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient.
 
The vaccine has FDA approval.  Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. 
 
We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.  But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.”  “If only.”
 
It’s a tragedy.  Please don’t let it become yours.
 
The second piece of my plan is continuing to protect the vaccinated.
 
For the vast majority of you who have gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated.  I understand the anxiety about getting a “breakthrough” case.
 
But as the science makes clear, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19.  
 
In fact, recent data indicates there is only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.
 
You’re as safe as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way — keep it that way, keep you safe.
 
That’s where boosters come in — the shots that give you even more protection than after your second shot.
 
Now, I know there’s been some confusion about boosters.  So, let me be clear: Last month, our top government doctors announced an initial plan for booster shots for vaccinated Americans.  They believe that a booster is likely to provide the highest level of protection yet.
 
Of course, the decision of which booster shots to give, when to start them, and who will give them, will be left completely to the scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control.
 
But while we wait, we’ve done our part.  We’ve bought enough boosters — enough booster shots — and the distribution system is ready to administer them.
 
As soon as they are authorized, those eligible will be able to get a booster right away in tens of thousands of sites across the country for most Americans, at your nearby drug store, and for free
 
The third piece of my plan is keeping — and maybe the most important — is keeping our children safe and our schools open.  For any parent, it doesn’t matter how low the risk of any illness or accident is when it comes to your child or grandchild.  Trust me, I know. 
 
So, let me speak to you directly.  Let me speak to you directly to help ease some of your worries.
 
It comes down to two separate categories: children ages 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine now, and children ages 11 and under who are not are yet eligible.
 
The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated.  They get vaccinated for a lot of things.  That’s it.  Get them vaccinated.
 
As with adults, almost all the serious COVID-19 cases we’re seeing among adolescents are in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds — an age group that lags behind in vaccination rates.
 
So, parents, please get your teenager vaccinated.
 
What about children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet?  Well, the best way for a parent to protect their child under the age of 12 starts at home.  Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver around them should be vaccinated.  
 
Children have four times higher chance of getting hospitalized if they live in a state with low vaccination rates rather than the states with high vaccination rates. 
 
Now, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re wondering when will the vaccine be available for them.  I strongly support an independent scientific review for vaccine uses for children under 12.  We can’t take shortcuts with that scientific work. 
 
But I’ve made it clear I will do everything within my power to support the FDA with any resource it needs to continue to do this as safely and as quickly as possible, and our nation’s top doctors are committed to keeping the public at large updated on the process so parents can plan.
 
Now to the schools.  We know that if schools follow the science and implement the safety measures — like testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems that we provided the money for, social distancing, and vaccinations — then children can be safe from COVID-19 in schools.
 
Today, about 90 percent of school staff and teachers are vaccinated.  We should get that to 100 percent.  My administration has already required teachers at the schools run by the Defense Department — because I have the authority as President in the federal system — the Defense Department and the Interior Department — to get vaccinated.  That’s authority I possess. 
 
Tonight, I’m announcing that we’ll require all of nearly 300,000 educators in the federal paid program, Head Start program, must be vaccinated as well to protect your youngest –– our youngest — most precious Americans and give parents the comfort.
 
And tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff.  Some already have done so, but we need more to step up. 
 
Vaccination requirements in schools are nothing new.  They work.  They’re overwhelmingly supported by educators and their unions.  And to all school officials trying to do the right thing by our children: I’ll always be on your side. 
 
Let me be blunt.  My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions.  Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs.  Talk about bullying in schools.  If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way. 
 
The Department of Education has already begun to take legal action against states undermining protection that local school officials have ordered.  Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100 percent.  I promise you I will have your back. 
 
The fourth piece of my plan is increasing testing and masking.  From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing.  In order to better detect and control the Delta variant, I’m taking steps tonight to make testing more available, more affordable, and more convenient.  I’ll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home. 
 
While that production is ramping up, my administration has worked with top retailers, like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger’s, and tonight we’re announcing that, no later than next week, each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months.  This is an immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35 percent reduction.
 
We’ll also expand free testing at 10,000 pharmacies around the country.  And we’ll commit — we’re committing $2 billion to purchase nearly 300 million rapid tests for distribution to community health centers, food banks, schools, so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests.  This is important to everyone, particularly for a parent or a child — with a child not old enough to be vaccinated.  You’ll be able to test them at home and test those around them.
 
In addition to testing, we know masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19.  That’s why when I came into office, I required masks for all federal buildings and on federal lands, on airlines, and other modes of transportation.  
 
Today — tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration — the TSA — will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask.  If you break the rules, be prepared to pay. 
 
And, by the way, show some respect.  The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong; it’s ugly. 
 
The fifth piece of my plan is protecting our economic recovery.  Because of our vaccination program and the American Rescue Plan, which we passed early in my administration, we’ve had record job creation for a new administration, economic growth unmatched in 40 years.  We cannot let unvaccinated do this progress — undo it, turn it back. 
 
So tonight, I’m announcing additional steps to strengthen our economic recovery.  We’ll be expanding COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.  That’s a program that’s going to allow small businesses to borrow up to $2 million from the current $500,000 to keep going if COVID-19 impacts on their sales. 
 
These low-interest, long-term loans require no repayment for two years and be can used to hire and retain workers, purchase inventory, or even pay down higher cost debt racked up since the pandemic began.  I’ll also be taking additional steps to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. 
 
Sixth, we’re going to continue to improve the care of those who do get COVID-19.  In early July, I announced the deployment of surge response teams.  These are teams comprised of experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the Defense Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — to areas in the country that need help to stem the spread of COVID-19. 
 
Since then, the federal government has deployed nearly 1,000 staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, into 18 states.  Today, I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country. 
 
Additionally, we’re increasing the availability of new medicines recommended by real doctors, not conspiracy theorists.  The monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 70 percent for unvaccinated people at risk of developing sefe- — severe disease. 
 
We’ve already distributed 1.4 million courses of these treatments to save lives and reduce the strain on hospitals.  Tonight, I’m announcing we will increase the average pace of shipment across the country of free monoclonal antibody treatments by another 50 percent.
 
Before I close, let me say this: Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus.  And as we continue to battle COVID-19, we will ensure that equity continues to be at the center of our response.  We’ll ensure that everyone is reached.  My first responsibility as President is to protect the American people and make sure we have enough vaccine for every American, including enough boosters for every American who’s approved to get one. 
 
We also know this virus transcends borders.  That’s why, even as we execute this plan at home, we need to continue fighting the virus overseas, continue to be the arsenal of vaccines. 
 
We’re proud to have donated nearly 140 million vaccines over 90 countries, more than all other countries combined, including Europe, China, and Russia combined.  That’s American leadership on a global stage, and that’s just the beginning.
 
We’ve also now started to ship another 500 million COVID vaccines — Pfizer vaccines — purchased to donate to 100 lower-income countries in need of vaccines.  And I’ll be announcing additional steps to help the rest of the world later this month.
 
As I recently released the key parts of my pandemic preparedness plan so that America isn’t caught flat-footed when a new pandemic comes again — and it will — next month, I’m also going to release the plan in greater detail.
 
So let me close with this: We have made so much progress during the past seven months of this pandemic.  The recent increases in vaccinations in August already are having an impact in some states where case counts are dropping in recent days.  Even so, we remain at a critical moment, a critical time.  We have the tools.  Now we just have to finish the job with truth, with science, with confidence, and together as one nation.
 
Look, we’re the United States of America.  There’s nothing — not a single thing — we’re unable to do if we do it together.  So let’s stay together.
 
God bless you all and all those who continue to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic.  And may God protect our troops.
 
Get vaccinated.

Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Reached: Here’s What’s Included

New York City shows off a new electric bus at the Heroes Parade honoring healthcare and city frontline workers. The bipartisan infrastructure deal struck by the Biden Administration invests $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, including $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses and deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On July 28, 2021, President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. In total, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet from the White House , which details what is included:

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, create good jobs, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.
 
The deal will create good-paying, union jobs. With the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.
 
President Biden believes that we must invest in our country and in our people by creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver progress towards those objectives for working families across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal:

  • Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever
  • Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
  • Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
  • Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
  • Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
  • Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Development Authority to build a clean, 21st century electric grid

The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results for working families. He believes demonstrating that democracies can deliver is a critical challenge for his presidency. Today’s agreement shows that we can come together to position American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.
 
Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects
 
One in five miles, or 173,000 total miles, of our highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. Bridges in poor condition pose heightened challenges in rural communities, which often may rely on a single bridge for the passage of emergency service vehicles. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years building on bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills passed out of committee earlier this year.  This investment will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes a total of $17.5 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.
 
Safety
 
America has one of the highest road fatality rates in the industrialized world. The deal invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It will more than double funding directed to programs that improve the safety of people and vehicles in our transportation system, including highway safety, truck safety, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety.
 
Public Transit
 
America’s transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. The deal invests $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization.  This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and devotes a larger share of funds from surface transportation reauthorization to transit in the history of the programs. It will repair and upgrade aging infrastructure, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations accessible to all users, and bring transit service to new communities. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles.  And, it will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options.
 
Passenger and Freight Rail
 
Unlike highways and transit, rail lacks a multi-year funding stream to address deferred maintenance, enhance existing corridors, and build new lines in high-potential locations. The deal positions Amtrak and rail to play a central role in our transportation and economic future. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The deal invests $66 billion in rail to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Within these totals, $22 million would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.
 
EV Infrastructure
 
U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers. This is the first-ever national investment in EV charging infrastructure in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop.  Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.

Electric Buses
 
American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution. The deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.
 
Reconnecting Communities
 
Too often, past transportation investments divided communities – like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse – or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options. In particular, significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods. The deal creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure.  The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding.
 
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
 
The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The bill invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.
 
Resilience and Western Water Infrastructure
 
Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion. This includes funds to protect against droughts and floods, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The bill is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.

Clean Drinking Water
 
Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. The deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
 
High-Speed Internet

Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. The deal’s $65 billion investment ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.

The bill will also help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service. It will also help close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act, ending digital redlining, creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet, and establishing a new program to help low-income households obtain the devices required to access the internet.
 
Environmental Remediation

In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells.
 
Power Infrastructure
 
As the recent Texas power outages demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization. A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The deal’s $73 billion investment is the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history.  It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.
 
Offsets
 
In the years ahead, the deal, which will generate significant economic benefits, and it is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.

Dating Apps Answer White House Call to Action, Launch New Efforts to Encourage COVID Vaccinations

Okay to date again! In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America – Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo – are launching new features and incentives to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo to create badges displaying vaccination status and offer vaccinated Americans free premium benefits

In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America will launch new features to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. These companies join organizations across the country that have answered the President’s call by stepping up and offering incentives and information to help Americans get vaccinated. 

Today, dating apps are announcing that they will offer a variety of features such as:

  • Badges showing vaccination status
  • Access to free premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes for vaccinated people
  • In-app promotions and links to vaccines.gov or the text code for users
  • Filters so individuals can see individuals who have been vaccinated

According to research from OKCupid, people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more Matches than people who don’t plan to get vaccinated. Specific actions by dating apps will launch over the next several weeks, including:

  • Tinder: Members will be able to add stickers to their profile including “I’m Vaccinated” or “Vaccines Save Lives.” And vaccinated users will have access to free premium content like a “Super Like” to help them stand out among potential matches. Tinder will also launch a “Vaccine Center” with a suite of resources to education and connect users with their nearest vaccination site. Tinder is the world’s biggest non-gaming app.
  • OkCupid: Daters will be able toadd an “I’m Vaccinated” profile badge and be featured within OkCupid’s “Vaccinated Stacks,” a new matching system that lets users search by vaccination status. Vaccinated people will also receive a free “Boost” to move their profile to the front of a daters’ stack. The campaign will begin on May 24 and will continue to help daters “Match on What Matters.”
  • Bumble and Badoo will enable all U.S. customers to add a “vaccinated” badge to their profiles. In addition, Bumble and Badoo will give vaccinated users complimentary credits for premium features such as Spotlight and Superswipes across both apps. The apps will also leverage their network of influencers to amplify the need to get vaccinated as part of a push this summer.
  • BLK will add a new “Vaxified” profile badge for singles to show their support in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. When vaccinated individuals add the badge to their profile, they will receive a free “Boost” on the app to be one of the first profiles seen by potential matches. The features will launch on June 1. BLK is the largest dating app made for Black singles.
  • Chispa will add a new “Vacunado” profile badge for Latinx singles to show their support for ending the pandemic. Vaccinated individuals who add the badge will get a free “Boost,” making them one of the first profiles to be seen by their matches. The feature will be available starting June 1. Chispa is the largest dating app for Latino singles in English and Spanish.
  • Hinge: Hinge will encourage users to share their vaccination status on their profile and give vaccinated users a free “Rose,” which is premium content that indicates to other users that they’re especially excited to get to know them. As the dating app “designed to be deleted,” Hinge is focused on helping its community get back out on dates and in safe relationships.
  • Match: Members will have the option to add a new “Vaccinated” badge to their profile to display their vaccine status, with vaccinated Americans getting access to a free “Boost” to help them stand out on the app.
  • Plenty of Fish: Members will be able to add an “I Got My Shot” badge to their profiles in early June. Those who participate will receive 20 Live! credits to use on the Plenty of Fish Live! streaming feature. In the spirit of Plenty of Fish’s mission to create low pressure dating experiences, this campaign will provide members with one less question to ask so they can start building meaningful connections.

More than 60% of U.S. adults have gotten at least one vaccine shot. It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated, with more than 80,000 locations with vaccines and 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccine. Find out more about where to get vaccinated by visiting Vaccines.gov or texting their zip code 438829.