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FACT SHEET: Biden Announces New Initiatives at COP27 to Strengthen US Leadership in Tackling Climate Crisis

At the 27th U.N. Climate Conference (COP27), President Biden announced new initiatives to strengthen U.S. leadership tackling the climate crisis and galvanize global action and commitments. President Biden demonstrated that the United States is following through on its existing commitments and initiatives while also accelerating new and expanded domestic and global efforts © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

The White House issued this fact sheet on new initiatives President Joe Biden announced at COP27 to strengthen US leadership in tackling climate change:

Today at the 27th U.N. Climate Conference (COP27), President Biden announced new initiatives to strengthen U.S. leadership tackling the climate crisis and galvanize global action and commitments. President Biden demonstrated that the United States is following through on its existing commitments and initiatives while also accelerating new and expanded domestic and global efforts. As President Biden said at last year’s COP in Glasgow, this is a decisive decade – and the United States is acting to lead a clean energy future that leverages market forces, technological innovation, and investments to tackle the climate crisis.  The initiatives the President announced today also reflect the global imperative to support vulnerable developing country partners in building resilience to a changing climate, helping them cope with a problem they did not create.
 
In less than 18 months, President Biden has renewed United States leadership in the fight against climate change.  The President is delivering on his Day One promises, positioning the United States to achieve our ambitious climate goals. President Biden has spearheaded the most significant domestic climate action in U.S. history, including passing the historic Inflation Reduction Act, signing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, spurring a new era of clean American manufacturing, enhancing energy security at home and abroad, and driving down the costs of clean energy for consumers in the U.S. and around the world.
 
These efforts reflect President Biden’s belief that climate security, energy security, food security, and water security go hand-in-hand. As Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine disrupts energy markets, strains economies with rising prices, and threatens vulnerable countries with severe food shortages, efforts to accelerate climate action, growing clean energy economies, climate smart agriculture, and global resilience have become all the more urgent.
 
The initiatives the President is announcing and that the U.S. delegation will highlight throughout COP27 include:

  • Bolstering Global Climate Resilience – including doubling the U.S. pledge to the Adaptation Fund to $100 million and announcing over $150 million in new support to accelerate the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) efforts across Africa.  These build on the over $20 million that President Biden has announced this year to accelerate PREPARE’s work in Small Island Developing States.
     
  • Accelerating Global Climate Action – including launching a new initiative to support Egypt in deploying 10 GW of new wind and solar energy while decommissioning five GW of inefficient natural gas generation, strengthening proposed domestic methane regulations in the oil and gas sector that would reduce U.S. methane from covered sources by 87 percent below 2005 levels as well as other domestic and international action to tackle methane emissions and advance the Global Methane Pledge, and announcing new actions that would make the United States the first national government to require major suppliers to set Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reduction goals – leveraging the Federal Government’s over $630 billion in annual purchasing power.
     
  • Catalyzing Investment at The Scale Required to Tackle the Climate Crisis – including launching new and innovative approaches that strategically use public finance to unlock billions in private investment, such as the “Climate Finance +” initiative that will support developing countries in issuing green bonds; launching the Sustainable Banking Alliance to deepen developing countries’ sustainable financial markets; and making strategic investments that help to mobilize billions in private finance and facilitate the export of U.S. clean technologies.
     
  • Engaging All of Society in Tackling the Climate Crisis – including launching a Climate Gender Equity Fund, an Indigenous Peoples Finance Access Facility, and new exchanges to empower youth across the world to be leaders on resilience and clean energy in their communities.

The comprehensive list of announcements by the U.S. delegation at COP27 includes:
 
BOLSTERING GLOBAL CLIMATE RESILIENCE:
 
President Biden announced additional efforts to further accelerate the implementation of his Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), which aims to help more than half a billion people in developing countries adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change this decade.   These initiatives reflect the fact that a dollar invested in adaptation can result in $4-10 or more in benefits.  These additional efforts, as well as those announced by the United States during COP27, subject to Congressional notification and the completion of domestic procedures, include:

  • Doubling Our Pledge to the Adaptation Fund to $100 million – In Glasgow, we announced our intent to make our first-ever contribution to the Adaptation Fund through an initial pledge of $50 million.  Today, President Biden announced that the United States will double this multi-year pledge to $100 million.
     
  • Accelerating Adaptation in Africa – President Biden announced over $150 million to accelerate PREPARE’s work across the continent, in support of the Adaptation in Africa initiative he and President El-Sisi announced in June.  This includes U.S. support for:
     
    • Expanding access to early-warning systems for all of Africa – According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, better early-warning systems and adaptation can cut the number of people who need emergency assistance in half by 2030 — and from 200 million to just 10 million by 2050.  Today, President Biden announced new U.S. support to accelerate these efforts, including through a $13.6 million contribution to the Systematic Observations Financing Facility that will help fill weather, water, and climate observation gaps in Africa.  The United States will also invest $15 million to support the co-development and deployment of early-warning systems in Africa, leveraging the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s long-standing relationships with national and regional weather services across Africa.  Our scientists and emergency preparedness experts will work side by side with African partners to bring early warnings to Africa and support communities, leaders, businesses, and people in applying this information to reduce impacts and save lives. 
       
    • Building the capacity of African decision makers of today and tomorrow to accelerate adaptation across the continent for years to come – This includes contributing $10 million to support the launch of a new adaptation center in Egypt – the Cairo Center for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience, announced by Egypt, which will build adaptation capacity across the African continent.  As part of our support for the Cairo Center, we are also working with African universities and central ministries to raise awareness of climate risk and strengthen capacity to apply adaptation solutions to manage those risks, especially when it comes to fiscal policy, budgeting and planning.  The United States is contributing an additional $2 million to the Resilience and Adaptation Mainstreaming Program to build the capacity of governments to manage climate risks and access finance.
       
    • Supporting locally-led efforts to adapt to climate impacts – This includes an additional $3.5 million in support for the Least Developed Countries Initiative for Effective Adaptation & Resilience, which is helping African countries like Uganda, Malawi, Gambia, and Burkina Faso to enhance access to adaptation finance for the most vulnerable.
       
    • Expanding access to risk-based insurance for the most vulnerable – This includes working with multilateral development banks and supporting the G7 Global Shield against Climate Risks to protect vulnerable people — in Africa as well as the Caribbean, Central America, and the Pacific.   In this context, the United States is enhancing its support for regional risk insurance pools, including contributing $12 million to the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Program and $12 million to ARC Ltd, helping countries cope with extreme weather events, food insecurity, and other issues exacerbated by climate change.
       
    • Mobilizing the private sector for adaptation and resilience – – The United States is contributing an additional $25 million to the African Union’s flagship Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI), which is hosted by the Egyptian government, to launch the AAI Food Security Accelerator, which will dramatically speed- and scale-up private sector investments in climate resilient food security in Africa. With U.S. support, the Accelerator will help identify, structure and de-risk a pipeline of transformative adaptation investments in food security, helping to unlock private capital that is already standing ready to invest in these innovative solutions, ranging from cold storage logistics to climate resilient agriculture and post harvesting processes. The United State is also launching a Call to Action to the private sector to tap into their ability to develop innovative adaptation solutions in ways that the public sector cannot, providing an additional $3.8 million to CRAFT TA Facility, and $2 million to launch an adaptation window of the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance to help develop new financial instruments and mechanisms to harness private investment in adaptation.
       
    • Further supporting climate smart food systems in Africa – This includes helping countries and communities to adapt their food systems to climate impacts, through at least $100 million in adaptation funding in FY 2022.  USAID also invested more than $300 million in Resilient Food Security Activities in FY 2022 across Africa that supports agricultural development and food security.  This year, Feed the Future expanded to eight additional African countries, the new Global Food Security Strategy further elevated inclusive and climate-resilient food systems, and climate information services work was expanded.  These efforts are yielding results.  For example, in 2022 in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, climate-resilient maize varieties were planted on seven million hectares across 13 African countries.  These heat, drought, and flood resistant maize varieties provided a 25% yield advantage, benefiting more than 44 million people.
       
    • Advancing Climate Security Through Sahel-Climate Advocacy and Peacebuilding with Pastoralists – This initiative aims to reduce the risk of farmer-herder climate change-related conflict in communities spanning the border of Niger and Benin by concurrently increasing herders’ access to political participation in local and national government and improving herders’ and farmers’ access to climate forecasts of rainfall, droughts, and other environmental factors.
       
  • Accelerating Adaptation in SIDS – The United States has also announced over $20 million to accelerate PREPARE’s work in SIDS.  This includes:
     
    • Expanding early-warning systems in the Pacific SIDS – This includes $15 million to increase the capacity of developing countries to understand, anticipate and prepare for climate impacts to public health and safety, food security, water resources, and coastal areas, which President Biden announced at the historic U.S.- Pacific Island Leaders Summit.  NOAA will also provide university scholarships to five individuals from the region to communication increase the pipeline of qualified forecasters able to deliver climate-smart decision support.  Additionally, NOAA will install roughly 20 satellite units across the region ensuring these forecasts and products reach the last mile.
       
    • Supporting climate resilience and sustainable development in SIDS through the Local2030 Islands Network – This includes advancing island-led resilience through engagement and technical support through the Network, which currently includes 20 island economies representing diverse geographical regions across the globe, with the largest concentration of members currently in the Pacific and Caribbean.  NOAA will expand its support for the Network to foster peer-to-peer learning opportunities, such as communities-of-practice, and support capacity-building activities, including training, research, extension and engagement, leveraging $4.5 million in new funding.
       
    • Supporting storm surge mapping – Starting with the Federated States of Micronesia, NOAA and USAID will develop storm surge risk maps to improve understanding of storm surge flooding vulnerability from landfalling tropical cyclones, providing critical information to save lives and avoid climate impacts.
       
  • Supporting Climate Affected Vulnerable Migrants – The United States announced a contribution of $5 million to the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund to support climate-affected vulnerable migrants.  This program underscores our commitment to the vision of the Global Compact for Migration, including improving cooperation on international migration.  It also advances the Biden Administration’s climate strategy, reflected in the 2021 White House Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration, to address the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations across the globe.

 
ACCELERATING GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION:
 
President Biden believes that tackling the climate crisis and keeping the 1.5-degree C temperature goal within reach requires “all hands on deck” – demanding the mobilization of local, state, and national governments, the private sector, and philanthropies. At COP27, President Biden and his Administration announced new initiatives to advance this objective, including:

  • Accelerating Egypt’s Clean Energy Economy, Enhancing Climate Ambition, and Supporting Energy Security – Germany and the United States announced over $250 million in resources to unlock $10 billion in commercial investment to support Egypt’s clean energy economy.  The program will deploy 10 GW of new wind and solar energy while decommissioning five GW of inefficient natural gas generation.  This program, coordinated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will support Egypt’s Country Platform for the Nexus of Food, Water, and Energy (NWFE).  Egypt committed to enhance its Nationally Determined Contribution to incorporate a commitment to quadruple its installed renewables capacity share to 42% by 2030.  Egypt also committed to adopt an ambitious 2050 long-term strategy with a view to explore a net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target and kick-start the development of green hydrogen.  Additionally, Egypt committed to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles, sustainable public transport, and other solutions for reducing GHG emissions from transport.  The three countries committed to cooperate on reducing methane emissions from Egypt’s oil and gas sector.  These commitments will yield major climate benefits by reducing Egypt’s power sector emissions by about one fifth and cutting methane pollution.  They will also enhance energy security by freeing up over two billion cubic meters of gas.
     
  • Expanding the Global Methane Pledge to Rapidly Reduce Global Temperatures While Boosting Energy Security – Reducing methane emissions is the fastest way to lower global temperatures in the near term, avoid dangerous climate tipping points, and alleviate global adaptation burdens.  Limiting warming to 1.5°C will require dramatic reductions in global methane emissions of at least 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels, as called for in the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) launched by the United States and European Union at COP26.  The GMP has now been endorsed by over 130 countries representing over half of global methane emissions.

    The oil and gas sector represents the fastest and deepest methane emissions reductions opportunities to achieve the GMP target.  Capturing flared and leaked gas in the oil and gas sector is also a critical near-term solution to boost global gas supplies and support energy security, as 260 billion cubic meters of gas are currently wasted every year from flaring and methane emissions within the sector.  This is why President Biden launched the GMP Energy Pathway at the Major Economies Forum in June 2022, alongside the European Union and 11 other countries, to accelerate global reductions in fossil energy methane.

    Today, President Biden announced major new U.S. actions and welcomed new international actions to rapidly reduce methane emissions, particularly in the energy sector, including:
     
    • Strengthening proposed domestic methane standards in the oil and gas sector that would reduce wasted energy and harmful emissions from covered sources by 87 percent below 2005 levels while delivering economic benefits  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is strengthening the agency’s proposed standards to cut methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry.  If finalized, these standards will protect workers and communities, maintain and create high-quality, union-friendly jobs, and promote U.S. innovation and manufacturing of critical new, all while delivering significant economic benefits through increased recovery of wasted gas.  The new proposal also includes a ground-breaking “Super-Emitter Response Program” that would require operators to respond to credible third-party reports of high-volume methane leaks. 
       
    • Updating the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan – Building upon the first-ever U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan released at COP26, President Biden today unveiled an updated plan showcasing enhanced ambition and progress to achieve deep methane reductions in the United States, while cutting consumer costs, spurring job creation, and securing economic gains. The plan includes more than $20 billion of new investments to reduce methane emissions from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and annual appropriations.  The updated plan outlines how the Administration is taking over 50 actions to tackle methane emissions at home.
       
    • Welcoming over 130 countries which have now endorsed the Global Methane Pledge – The GMP now covers over half of global methane emissions and over two-thirds of the global economy.  In its first year, the GMP has spurred implementation including significant progress on national methane action plans and new landmark policies and initiatives across all major sectors.
       
    • Launching a Joint Declaration from Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels – Launched alongside the European Union, Japan, Canada, Norway, and the United Kingdom, the declaration unites major energy importers and exporters to minimize flaring, methane, and CO2 emissions across the fossil energy value chain to the fullest extent practicable.  These countries will support enhanced policy action, cooperation on methane measurement, and public and private sector engagement to achieve these goals.
       
    • Welcoming the launch of the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) – Today, the UN Environment Programs’ International Methane Emissions Observatory launched MARS, a new system to tackle methane “super-emitters” by providing countries and companies with data to enable action on major emissions sources.
       
    • Welcoming enhanced action on methane mitigation from international partners, including Nigeria, Canada, and Mexico – All of these countries are among the 20 largest emitters of methane in the oil and gas sector.  Nigeria celebrated the finalization and publication of its first-ever methane regulations in its oil and gas sector.  Canada reaffirmed its commitment to reduce oil and gas methane emissions by at least 75% by 2030 below 2012 levels through strengthened regulatory action and industry partnerships.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and PEMEX also launched cooperation to reduce methane emissions in Mexico’s oil and gas sector, tackling an emissions source that rivals the emissions from Mexico’s entire power sector.  The U.S Trade and Development Agency is also supporting partners in methane abatement by leveraging the best-in-class technical expertise of U.S. industry in this area, including by funding a series of three reverse trade missions in 2023 to familiarize partners with the latest U.S. methane abatement technologies and services.
       
  • Launching the Green Shipping Challenge – Following President Biden’s call to action at his June 2022 MEF, the United States and Norway launched the Green Shipping Challenge at COP27, with more than 40 major announcements from countries, ports, and companies on the actions they are taking to help align the shipping sector with the goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.  For our part, the United States announced initiatives including: three new bilateral workstreams focused on facilitating green shipping corridors with the Republic of Korea, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the development of a U.S. maritime decarbonization strategy, and the launch of a Green Shipping Corridors Initiation Project with $1.5 million, subject to Congressional notification and the completion of domestic procedures, to support feasibility studies for green shipping corridors involving developing countries. These efforts build on U.S. leadership in zero-emission shipping, including $3 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act to support zero-emission port equipment, technology, and climate action plans; more than $700 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make U.S. ports more efficient and resilient; and U.S. efforts at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to advance a goal of phasing out greenhouse gas emissions from the international shipping sector to zero no later than 2050.
     
  • Accelerating Zero Emissions Solutions in Ukraine and the EU Through Advanced Nuclear:  This announcement launches two projects that showcase the use of innovative small modular reactor (SMR) technologies for powering global decarbonization efforts and providing options to achieve net-zero economies in hard-to-abate energy sectors.  These include (i) commencing a 2-year Ukraine Clean Fuels from SMRs Pilot demonstration project in Ukraine to efficiently produce clean hydrogen fuels from SMR and cutting-edge electrolysis technologies and to establish new avenues to achieve food security through production of clean ammonia for fertilizer production, and (ii) launching a new initiative, Project Phoenix, to move Europe from coal-fired plants to SMRs while retaining and retraining local jobs through U.S. support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies and supporting activities.
     
  • Establishing an International Climate Hub for Climate-Smart Agriculture – Modeled after USDA domestic Climate Hubs, USDA intends to create an International Climate Hub to further support global science-based, climate-informed decision-making.  USDA Climate Hubs serve as the premier model for developing and delivering science-based, region-specific information and technologies to U.S. agricultural and natural resource managers that enable climate-informed decision-making.  By creating a new International Climate Hub, USDA will help support goals set out in PREPARE, the Global Methane Pledge, and the Global Fertilizer Challenge.  By sharing the best practices and research on climate-smart agriculture and forestry, including those gained from international coalitions and research consortia, we can help address climate change on a global-scale, build out new and better markets for U.S. products and make agriculture production more efficient and productive everywhere. 
     
  • Announcing New Initiatives for Governments to Lead by Example
    • Engaging U.S. Federal Government suppliers – Today, President Biden announced historic new action that would make the United States the first national government to require major suppliers to set Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reduction goals.  This action would reduce GHGs and protect the Federal Government’s supply chains from climate-related financial risks.  As the world’s single largest buyer of goods and services – with over $630 billion in spending last year alone, climate change poses significant financial risks to the Federal Government.  Through the Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Proposed Rule, major Federal Government contractors would be required to publicly disclose their GHG emissions and climate-related financial risks and set science-based emissions reduction targets.
       
    • Launching the Net-Zero Government Initiative – This initiative leverages the catalytic role of national governments in accelerating the implementation and achievement of countries’ climate targets.   Participating countries commit to achieving net-zero emissions from national government operations by no later than 2050, developing a roadmap and interim targets by COP28 that outlines their pathway for getting there, and publishing the roadmap upon completion.  Over 15 countries will join the United States in this Initiative.
       
    • Launching the Subnational Climate Action Leaders’ Exchange – The U.S. State Department and Bloomberg Philanthropies are supporting a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Subnational Climate Action Leaders Exchange (SCALE), to help cities, states, and regions develop and implement net-zero, climate-resilient targets and roadmaps.  SCALE will empower subnational champions to drive ambition at the national and international level and will leverage action and advocacy organized around a set of high-level goals needed to keep a 1.5-aligned, climate-resilient future within reach.  In its first phase, SCALE will focus on accelerating implementation of the Global Methane Pledge and its call for a 30 percent reduction in methane emissions by 2030.
       
  • Launching the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative – This initiative accelerates game-changing climate innovations and supercharges the public and private climate innovation ecosystem to help the United States meet President Biden’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.  To launch the initiative, the White House Climate Policy Office, Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Science and Technology Policy released a new report, U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals, which describes 37 game-changing R&D opportunities identified across U.S. Federal agencies. With inclusive and intentional innovation, these innovations can help propel the United States and the rest of the world towards an affordable, equitable, net-zero energy system.

 
CATALYZING INVESTMENT AT THE SCALE REQUIRED TO TACKLE THE CLIMATE CRISIS
 
The United States is committed to not only meeting President Biden’s ambitious goal to quadruple U.S. climate finance to over $11 billion a year and working with other countries to meet the goal of mobilizing $100 billion, but also to using public finance in new and innovative ways to unlock the much larger pools of capital that will be required to tackle the climate crisis.  These efforts are in direct support of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.  These efforts include:

  • Launching “Climate Finance +” – The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID are collaborating to accelerate the use of innovative finance mechanisms that aim to leverage billions in new public and private investment in low and lower-middle income countries.  This Climate Finance + effort will support potential green bonds and other climate-related financing through MCC technical assistance in Indonesia, Mozambique, and Zambia and USAID support for the development of green bonds in at least five additional countries via public-private partnerships.
     
  • Investing over $2.3 billion in Innovative Financing for Climate in 2022 through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation – The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 it invested more than $2.3 billion to combat the climate crisis through mitigation and resilience projects that have a positive developmental impact.  Recognizing the urgent need to scale up private-investment in adaptation efforts in developing countries, DFC has announced a major push to accelerate its investments in this area.  In FY 2022, more than $390 million of the agency’s investments went to projects that helped to bolster developing countries’ resilience, and an additional $200 million went to deals that will generate adaptation co-benefits.  Building on this momentum, DFC is accepting climate adaptation business proposals for financing to support resilience in developing countries, with an emphasis on four sectors: agriculture, water, built environment, and health.  DFC’s investments also helped support clean energy solutions that provide reliable, affordable energy to help developing countries meet rising demand and support economic development. 
     
  • Unlocking Billions in Finance and Facilitating U.S. Clean Technology Exports Through Strategic Investments by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and U.S. Export-Import Bank – In April 2021, President Biden announced the launch of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s (USTDA) Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure to connect U.S. industry to major clean energy and transportation infrastructure projects in emerging economies.  At COP27, USTDA announced that it has already funded more than 50 activities through the Partnership that will help its partners in developing and middle-income countries achieve their energy and transportation sector climate mitigation and adaptation goals.  These activities are designed to help unlock more than $65 billion in climate finance and support more than $15 billion in U.S. exports.  Additionally, the U.S. Export-Import Bank announced that it has provided over $175 million in financing to support U.S. exports of climate friendly technologies, its highest volume of authorizations for clean technology exports in years.
     
  • Launching the Sustainable Banking Alliance –USAID will help deepen the sustainable financial sectors in developing countries by partnering with community financial institutions and banking associations across the globe to develop tools and capacity focused on climate financing, climate risk, and carbon accounting and will encourage climate finance target-setting for community banks.  The activity will be launched with two pilot countries, Colombia and Rwanda, with an initial total budget of just over $1 million.  The Alliance supports USAID’s Action Plan for Climate and SDG Investment.

 
ENGAGING ALL OF SOCIETY IN TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS:
 
President Biden believes that tackling the climate crisis must take an inclusive approach, engaging all members of society.  At COP27, the United States announced new initiatives to advance this objective, including:

  • Launching the Climate Gender Equity Fund – With initial seed funding of $6 million, USAID is co-launching a new Climate Gender Equity Fund in, partnership with Amazon, which will leverage private sector contributions to help provide women climate leaders with technical skills, networks, and capital to develop and scale climate solutions.  The Fund is enabled by USAID’s commitment to gender-responsive climate action, including its allocating more than $21 million from the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund, surpassing its $14 million COP26 commitment.
     
  • Investing in Climate Leadership for Egyptian Women – USAID is spurring climate action by investing in education and skills building for women and youth.  USAID has made a $23 million initial investment in a new nine-year program that aims to build a more inclusive Egyptian workforce, with an emphasis on sectors with the potential to contribute to climate goals such as environment and energy.  
     
  • Launching the Indigenous Peoples Finance Access Facility – This Facility will enable the continued climate stewardship by Indigenous peoples and local communities improving their access to climate finance.  This three-year, $2 million-dollar program, implemented by Indigenous peoples within Conservation International, will provide trainings, tools, and workshops to build long-term capacity and enhance access to climate finance.
     
  • Empowering Youth as Resilience and Clean Energy Leaders – The U.S. State Department is launching two three-week, in-person On-Demand Youth Leadership Program exchanges for approximately 40 high school-aged youth and adult mentors from the United States and countries across Africa to develop a deeper understanding among young leaders about climate adaptation and clean energy and to foster their ability to provide solutions to the climate crisis in their home communities. The exchanges are scheduled for spring 2023.

FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Administration’s National Security Strategy

Read the full strategy here


President Joe Biden outlined much of his National Security Strategy in his address to the United Nations General Assembly © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

The White House released this fact sheet outlining the Biden-Harris Administration National Security Strategy:

President Biden’s National Security Strategy outlines how the United States will advance our vital interests and pursue a free, open, prosperous, and secure world. We will leverage all elements of our national power to out-compete our strategic competitors; tackle shared challenges; and shape the rules of the road.

The Strategy is rooted in our national interests: to protect the security of the American people, to expand economic opportunity, and to realize and defend the democratic values at the heart of the American way of life. In pursuit of these objectives, we will:

  • Invest in the underlying sources and tools of American power and influence;
  • Build the strongest possible coalition of nations to enhance our collective influence to shape the global strategic environment and to solve shared challenges; and
  • Modernize and strengthen our military so it is equipped for the era of strategic competition.

COOPERATION IN THE AGE OF COMPETITION
In the early years of this decisive decade, the terms of geopolitical competition will be set while the window of opportunity to deal with shared challenges will narrow. We cannot compete successfully to shape the international order unless we have an affirmative plan to tackle shared challenges, and we cannot do that unless we recognize how heightened competition affects cooperation and act accordingly.

Strategic Competition. The most pressing strategic challenge we face as we pursue a free, open, prosperous, and secure world are from powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy.

  • We will effectively compete with the People’s Republic of China, which is the only competitor with both the intent and, increasingly, the capability to reshape the international order, while constraining a dangerous Russia.
  • Strategic competition is global, but we will avoid the temptation to view the world solely through a competitive lens, and engage countries on their own terms.

Shared Challenges. While this competition is underway, people all over the world are struggling to cope with the effects of shared challenges that cross borders—whether it is climate change, food insecurity, communicable diseases, or inflation. These shared challenges are not marginal issues that are secondary to geopolitics. They are at the very core of national and international security and must be treated as such.

  • We are building the strongest and broadest coalition of nations to enhance our collective capacity to solve these challenges and deliver for the American people and those around the world.
  • To preserve and increase international cooperation in an age of competition, we will pursue a dual-track approach. On one track, we will work with any country, including our competitors, willing to constructively address shared challenges within the rules-based international order and while working to strengthen international institutions. On the other track, we will deepen cooperation with democracies at the core of our coalition, creating a latticework of strong, resilient, and mutually reinforcing relationships that prove democracies can deliver for their people and the world.

INVESTING AT HOME
The Biden-Harris Administration has broken down the dividing line between domestic and foreign policy because our strength at home and abroad are inextricably linked. The challenges of our age, from strategic competition to climate change, require us to make investments that sharpen our competitive edge and bolster our resilience.

  • Our democracy is at the core of who we are and is a continuous work in progress. Our system of government enshrines the rule of law and strives to protect the equality and dignity of all individuals. As we strive to live up to our ideals, to reckon with and remedy our shortcomings, we will inspire others around the world to do the same.
  • We are complementing the innovative power of the private sector with a modern industrial strategy that makes strategic public investments in our workforce, strategic sectors, and supply chains, especially in critical and emerging technologies.
  • A powerful U.S. military helps advance and safeguard vital U.S. national interests by backstopping diplomacy, confronting aggression, deterring conflict, projecting strength, and protecting the American people and their economic interests. We are modernizing our military, pursuing advanced technologies, and investing in our defense workforce to best position America to defend our homeland, our allies, partners, and interests overseas, and our values across the globe.

OUR ENDURING LEADERSHIP
The United States will continue to lead with strength and purpose, leveraging our national advantages and the power of our alliances and partnerships. We have a tradition of transforming both domestic and foreign challenges into opportunities to spur reform and rejuvenation at home. The idea that we should compete with major autocratic powers to shape the international order enjoys broad support that is bipartisan at home and deepening abroad.

  • Our alliances and partnerships around the world are our most important strategic asset that we will deepen and modernize for the benefit of our national security.
  • We place a premium on growing the connective tissue on technology, trade and security between our democratic allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific and Europe because we recognize that they are mutually reinforcing and the fates of the two regions are intertwined.
  • We are charting new economic arrangements to deepen economic engagements with our partners and shaping the rules of the road to level the playing field and enable American workers and businesses—and those of partners and allies around the world—to thrive.
  • As we deepen our partnerships around the world, we will look for more democracy, not less, to shape the future. We recognize that while autocracy is at its core brittle, democracy’s inherent capacity to transparently course-correct enables resilience and progress.

AFFIRMATIVE ENGAGEMENT
The United States is a global power with global interests; we are stronger in each region because of our engagement in the others. We are pursuing an affirmative agenda to advance peace and security and to promote prosperity in every region.

  • As an Indo-Pacific power, the United States has a vital interest in realizing a region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure, and resilient. We are ambitious because we know that we and our allies and partners hold a common vision for the region’s future.
  • With a relationship rooted in shared democratic values, common interests, and historic ties, the transatlantic relationship is a vital platform on which many other elements of our foreign policy are built. To effectively pursue a common global agenda, we are broadening and deepening the transatlantic bond.
  • The Western Hemisphere directly impacts the United States more than any other region so we will continue to revive and deepen those partnerships to advance economic resilience, democratic stability, and citizen security.
  • A more integrated Middle East that empowers our allies and partners will advance regional peace and prosperity, while reducing the resource demands the region makes on the United States over the long term.
  • In Africa, the dynamism, innovation, and demographic growth of the region render it central to addressing complex global problems.

Biden Reacts to June Inflation Report: Inflation Still Unacceptably High But Data Out of Date, Does Not Reflect Drop in Gas Prices

High energy prices account for half of the increase in June’s CPI report, but prices have been falling for almost a month © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden reacted to the June inflation report saying that while inflation is still unacceptably high, the report is out-of-date, failing to take into account that gas prices – which accounts for a significant amount of the inflation rate – have gone down for nearly 30 days, reducing the price at the pump by 40 cents since mid-June. Still, he said, “inflation is our most pressing economic challenge,” just as it is around the world. Here is his statement the June CPI Inflation report as provided by the White House:

While today’s headline inflation reading is unacceptably high, it is also out-of-date. Energy alone comprised nearly half of the monthly increase in inflation. Today’s data does not reflect the full impact of nearly 30 days of decreases in gas prices, that have reduced the price at the pump by about 40 cents since mid-June. Those savings are providing important breathing room for American families. And, other commodities like wheat have fallen sharply since this report.
 
Importantly, today’s report shows that what economists call annual “core inflation” came down for the third month in a row, and is the first month since last year where the annual “core” inflation rate is below six percent.  
 Inflation is our most pressing economic challenge. It is hitting almost every country in the world. It is little comfort to Americans to know that inflation is also high in Europe, and higher in many countries there than in America.  But it is a reminder that all major economies are battling this COVID-related challenge, made worse by Putin’s unconscionable aggression.
 
Tackling inflation is my top priority – we need to make more progress, more quickly, in getting price increases under control. Here is what I will do:
 
First, I will continue to do everything I can to bring down the price of gas. I will continue my historic release of oil from our strategic petroleum reserve. I will continue working with our European allies to put a price cap on Russian oil – sapping Putin of oil revenue. And, I will continue to work with the U.S. oil and gas industry to increase production responsibly — already, the U.S. is producing 12.1 million barrels of oil per day and is on track to break records.
 
But I will also continue to insist – as I have with urgency recently – that reductions in the price of oil must produce lower gas prices for consumers at the pump.  The price of oil is down about 20% since mid-June, but the price of gas has so far only fallen half as much. Oil and gas companies must not use this moment as an excuse for profiting by not passing along savings at the pump.  
 
Second, I will urge Congress to act, this month, on legislation to reduce the cost of everyday expenses that are hitting American families, from prescription drugs to utility bills to health insurance premiums and to make more in America.
 
Third, I will continue to oppose any efforts by Republicans – as they have proposed during this campaign year — to make things worse by raising taxes on working people, or putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years.
 
Finally, I will continue to give the Federal Reserve the room it needs to help it combat inflation.

Biden at Event Commemorating Passage of Safer Communities Act: ‘More Has To Be Done’

President Joe Biden at a White House ceremony marking the passage of the Safer Communities Act, the first significant gun safety legislation in almost 30 years: “This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns. And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

President Joe Biden signed the landmark Safer Communities Act – the first significant gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years – almost immediately after Congress  passed the legislation, in the few minutes before departing for the G7 summit in Europe. On July 11, in an event at the White House, he commemorated the passage, acknowledging the long struggle by activists and key figures in Congress, but said “more has to be done.”

This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns. And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more.”

Here is a transcript of his remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everyone.  Doc, thank you.  Your heroism in treating the wounded children in Uvalde, many of whom you’ve known their whole lives — their whole lives — and treated them with normal child problems as a pediatrician, it’s something we’ll never forget.

And, Garnell, it’s good to see you again.  I know how tough it is.  A lot of people in here have been victims of gun violence — lost sons, daughters, husbands, wives.  They understand your pain.  And every time you stand up to talk about it, even for a good cause, it brings it all back like it happened yesterday.  But thank you for the courage to do it.

Jill and I will never forget the time we spent with you and your families. 

And I want to thank — thank the Vice President Harris and the Second Gentleman; and members of the Cabinet, eight of whom are here today; as well as mayors and elected officials from across the country.

I want to particularly thank the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Highland Park for being here.  We’ve had — (applause) — no, I mean it sincerely.  We had a number of conversations immediately after the attack in Highland Park.  And I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve handled things.  It’s been extraordinary.  And as the three of us have discussed, we have more to do.

I also want to thank the bipartisan group of senators who worked so hard to get this done, especially Senators Murphy — (applause); Sinema — (applause); Cornyn and Tillis.  (Applause.)  I hope it doesn’t get you in trouble mentioning your name.  Thank you for the courage. 

As well as all of the members of Congress who have worked on these issues for a long time, 80 of whom are with us today.  (Applause.) 

And I’m sorry Senators Schumer and Blumenthal can’t be here today, but they’re working from home, overcoming mild cases of COVID.

I know how hard it is to get things done because I know how hard it was to write the first gun legislation — at least the first from my career — that was passed nearly 30 years ago.  That’s how long ago it was.

And as I look out in this crowd, I see so many advocates and families, many of whom have become friends, whose lives have been shattered by gun violence and who have made it their purpose to save other lives.

I’ve spent so much time with so many of you over the years that we’ve actually become personal friends.  And I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to continue to fight for other families.

Nothing can bring back your loved ones, but you did it to make sure that other families don’t have to experience the same loss and pain that you’ve experienced.

And you have felt and you feel the price of inaction, that this has taken too long, with too much of a trail of bloodshed and carnage.  And I know public policy can seem remote, technical, and distant from our everyday lives.  But because of your work, your advocacy, your courage, lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this.  (Applause.)

What we are doing here today is real, it’s vivid, it’s relevant.  The action we take today is a step designed to make our nation the kind of nation we should be.  It’s about the most fundamental of things — the lives of our children, of our loved ones. 

We face, literally, a moral choice in this country — a moral choice with profound, real-world implications.

Will we take wise steps to fulfill the responsibility to protect the innocent and while keeping faith with constitutional rights?

Will we match thoughts and prayers with action? 

I say yes.  (Applause.)  And that’s what we’re doing here today.  (Applause.)

Today is many things.  It’s proof that despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to do more than that!

THE PRESIDENT:  Because make no mistake — sit down.  You’ll hear what I have to say if you think —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to do more than that! 

THE PRESIDENT:  You —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to open an office in the White House.  (Inaudible.)  I’ve been trying to tell you this for years.  (Inaudible.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  President Biden!  Yeah!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  We have one.  Let me finish my comments.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let him talk.  Let him talk.  No one — okay?

Because make no mistake about it: This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns.

And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more — (applause) — to take away from the legislation, it is not — that’s not what we can do.  It’s to take the — the take-away from this is that now — now we’re opening to get much more done. 

Senator Murphy has said: When you look at the biggest social issues America has faced throughout our history, quote, “Success begets success.”  And that’s when you, quote, “finally move that mountain.”  You can — you can ignite a movement when you do that for more progress to follow. 

We have finally moved that mountain — a mountain of opposition, obstruction, and indifference that has stood in the way and stopped every effort at gun safety for 30 years in this nation.  (Applause.)

And now is the time to galvanize this movement, because that’s our duty to the people of this nation. 

That’s what we owe those families in Buffalo, where a grocery store became a killing field.

It’s what we owe those families in Uvalde, where an elementary school became a killing field. 

That’s what we owe those families in Highland Park, where, on July 4th, a parade became a killing field.

And that’s what we owe all those families represented here today and all over this country the past many years, across our schools, places of worship, workplaces, stores, music festivals, nightclubs, and so many other everyday places that have turned into killing fields. 

     And that’s what we owe the families all across this nation where, every day, tragic killings that don’t make the headlines are more than passing mention — a little more than passing mention in the local news.  (Applause.) 

Neighborhoods and streets have been turned into killing fields as well.

Today’s legislation is an important start.  And here are the key things that it does: It provides $750 million in crisis intervention and red-flag laws so the parent, a teacher, a counselor can flag for the court that a child, a student, a patient is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that makes them a danger to themselves and to others.

Fort Hood, Texas, 2009: 13 dead, 30 more injured.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 1918 [2018]: 17 dead, 17 injured.

In both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds.

In both places, red-flag laws could have stopped both those shooters.  (Applause.)

You know, this new law requiring — requires young people under 21 to [under]go enhanced background checks before purchasing a gun. 

How many more mass shootings do we have to see where a shooter is 17, 18 years old and able to get his hands on a weapon and go on a killing spree?

You know, it closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”  If you’re convicted of assault against your girlfriend or boy- — you can’t buy a gun.  You can’t do it.  (Applause.)

According to a recent study, in over 50 percent of mass shootings, the shooter shot a family member or a partner.

So if we keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, we can save the lives of their partners, and we can also stop more mass shootings.

One, this law includes the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases explicit federal crimes.  (Applause.)

It clarifies who needs to register as a federally licensed gun dealer and run background checks before selling a single weapon.  (Applause.)

It invests in anti-violence programs that work directly
with the communities most at risk for gun crimes.  (Applause.) 

And this law also provides funding vital for funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country — (applause) — including the trauma experienced by the survivors of gun violence.

It will not save every life from the epidemic of gun violence, but if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved.

It matters.  It matters.  But it’s not enough, and we all know that.

In preparation for today’s signing, I asked to send me their story — people to send me their stories about their experience with gun violence.  I received over 2,500 responses in 24 hours.  I didn’t get to read them all, but I read some.

A 17-year-old wrote me saying, quote, “A school shooting sophomore year shattered every sense of normalcy I’ve ever felt.  Almost three years later, I still have nightmares.”

A 24-year-old wrote about growing up in what was a, quote, “seemingly endless era of gun violence.”

A 40-year-old wrote me about two friends shot and killed by abusive partners and former partners.

Someone else wrote me about a 6-year-old child who was sitting near his father’s coffin, was asking, quote, “Why is Daddy in that scary box?  Wake up, Daddy.  Wake up Daddy.”  His father had been gunned down. 

I read these stories and so many others.  So many others.  And, you know, I see the statistics.  Over 40,000 people died from gunshot wounds last year in the United States, 25,000 by suicide.

I think: Can this really be the United States of America?  Why has it come to this?  We all know a lot of the reasons: gun lobby, gun manufacturers, special interest money, the rise of hyper-partisan tribal politics in the country where we don’t debate the issues on the merits and we just rather turn on each other from our corners and attack the other side.

Regardless, we’re living in a country awash in weapons of war — weapons that weren’t designed to hunt are not being used — the weapons designed that they’re purchasing are designed as weapons of war to take out an enemy.

What is the rationale for these weapons outside war zones?  Some people claim it’s for sport or to hunt.  But let’s look at the facts: The most common rounds fired from an AR-15 move almost twice as fast as that from a handgun.  Coupled with smaller, lighter bullets, these weapons maximize the damage done coupled with those bullets, and human flesh and bone is just torn apart.

And as difficult as it is to say, that’s why so many people and some in this audience — and I apologize for having to say it — need to provide DNA samples to identify the remains of their children.  Think of that. 

It’s why trauma surgeons who train for years for these moments know it’s unlikely that someone shot with a high-powered assault weapon will make it long enough for the ambulance to get them to the hospital.

It’s why these scenes of destruction are resembling nothing like a weekend hunting trip for deer or elk.

And yet, we continue to let these weapons be sold to people with no training or expertise.

Case in point: America has the finest fighting force in the world.  We provide our service members with the most lethal weapons on Earth to protect America.

We also require them to receive significant training before they’re allowed to use these weapons.

We require extensive background checks on them and mental health assessments on them.  (Applause.)

We require that they learn how to lock up and store these weapons responsibly.  (Applause.)

We require our military to do all that.  These are commonsense requirements.  But we don’t require the same commonsense measures for a stranger walking into a gun store to purchase an AR-15 or some weapon like that.

     It makes no sense.  Assault weapons need to be banned.  They were banned.  (Applause.)  I led the fight in 1994.  And then, under pressure from the NRA and the gun manufacturers and others, that ban was lifted in 2004.

In that 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down.  When the law expired in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. 

They’re the facts.  I’m determined to ban these weapons again and high-capacity magazines — (applause) — that hold 30 rounds and that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes.  I’m not going to stop until we do it.

     Here’s another thing we should do: We should have safe storage laws, requiring personal liability for not locking up your gun.  (Applause.)

The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns and assault weapons that were too easy to access — weapons he used to kill his mother and then murder 26 people, including 20 innocent first graders.

If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it and keep it under lock and key.  (Applause.)

Responsible gun owners agree: No one else should have access to it, so lock it up, have trigger locks.  And if you don’t and something bad happens, you should be held responsible.  (Applause.)

I have four shotguns; two are mine and two are my deceased son’s.  They’re locked up, lock and key.  Every responsible gun owner that I know does that.

We should expand background checks to better keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under domestic violence restraining orders.  (Applause.) 

Expanded background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, agree on.

My fellow Americans, none of what I’m talking about infringes on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

I’ve said it many times: I support the Second Amendment.

But when guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America — let me say that again — guns are the number one killer of children in the United States.  More than car accidents.  More than cancer.  And over the last two decades, more high-school [school-age] children have died from gun shots than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.  Think of that.  Then we can’t just stand by.  We can’t let it happen any longer.

With rights come responsibilities.

Yes, there’s a right to bear arms, but we also have the right to live freely — (applause) — without fear for our lives in a grocery store, in a classroom, on a playground, at a house of worship, in a store, at a workplace, a nightclub, a festival, in our neighborhoods and our streets.  (Applause.)

The right to bear arms is not an absolute right that dominates all others.

The perennial price for living in a community with others is being neighbors, of being fellow citizens, is that we obey the laws and customs that ensure what that Fra- — what the Framers called “domestic tranquility.”

That’s what civilization is.  That’s what we have been at our best.  That’s what America must always be: a place where we preserve the rights but fulfill our responsibilities.

I know this: There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, and our fellow Americans.

When I spoke to the nation after Uvalde, I shared how a grandmother who had lost her granddaughter gave me and Jill a handwritten letter.  We spent four hours, almost five hours with her.

And I read it.  It reads, quote, “Erase the invisible line that is dividing our nation to come up with a solution and fix what is broken and to make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again.”  End of quote.

That’s why we’re here.  That’s why we’re here.

Today, I want to thank those in Congress, both Democrat and Republicans, who erased that invisible line dividing our nation and moved us forward on gun safety.

It’s an important step.  (Applause.)  And now we must look forward.  We have so much more work to do.

And I might add, there is $75 million in there for mental health reasons — a whole range of other things I’m not going to take time to go into today, but it’s important.  (Applause.)

May God bless all of us with the strength to finish the work left undone and — on behalf of the lives we’ve lost and the lives we can save. 

May God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Biden Administration Warns Congress of Severe Consequences of Failing to Authorize Additional COVID-19 Response Funding

Among the consequences if Congress does not provide additional COVID response funding is fewer vaccinations for Americans should there be a fall surge. Biden’s war-level mobilization to combat COVID has saved 2.2 million lives (more than 900,000 have already died), prevented 17 million hospitalizations and 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration is sounding the alarm for the urgent need for Congress to provide funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response and is underscoring the severe consequences of their inaction: Fewer vaccines, treatments, and tests for the American people, and fewer shots in arms around the world.

The White House laid out the consequences in a fact sheet:
 
Over the past 15 months, the Biden Administration has used the resources Congress provided to mobilize a comprehensive COVID-19 response. As a result, the United States has made tremendous progress in our fight against the virus—saving over 2 million American lives, safely reopening our schools, creating jobs at a record pace, returning to more normal routines, and averting $900 billion in health care costs.

The Biden Administration launched COVID.gov, a one-stop shop website to help all people in the United States gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area. The Administration has worked over the past 15 months to set up over 90,000 vaccination sites, make more than 400 million high-quality masks available for free, send free tests to peoples’ homes, and stand up new test-to-treat sites where people can get tested and receive life-saving antivirals all in one place. Now, with a click of a button, people will be able to find where to access all of these tools, as well as receive the latest CDC data on the level of COVID-19 in their community.

As part of COVID.gov, a new Test-to-Treat locator will help people access pharmacies and community health centers across the nation where people can get tested for COVID-19 and receive appropriate treatments if they need them.

President Biden also implemented a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID and associated conditions.
 
In March, the President laid out a comprehensive National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to keep America moving forward safely, by ensuring that lifesaving tools like vaccines and treatments remain free and widely available to Americans, by preparing for potential surges and new variants, and by getting more shots in arms around the world. Executing this plan remains essential to sustaining the progress we have made and saving more lives. There has been an uptick in cases in parts of the country and, while cases will continue to fluctuate, this virus has proven itself to be unpredictable. Without funding, the United States will be unprepared for whatever comes next.
 
COVID-19 isn’t waiting on Congress to negotiate. Other countries will not wait. Time is of the essence. Congress must act urgently to help save more American lives and ensure we remain prepared.

Congressional inaction on additional COVID-19 response funding means:
 
Fewer Vaccines for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot secure enough booster shots for every American, if they are needed in the fall. At this moment, the United States has enough supply to support one booster shot for Americans age 16 and over, and additional boosters for immunocompromised individuals and those age 50 and older. However, if additional booster shots are authorized and recommended for the general population, we will not have the supply necessary to provide free and easy access to them for all Americans. At this time last year, the Administration was contracting for future boosters that could ultimately be needed starting in September; this allowed us to make those booster shots free and widely available as soon as they were authorized. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) needs to begin contracting for boosters imminently so that the agency can conclude contractual negotiations as soon as May to ensure delivery of sufficient supply by September. Other countries are already placing orders for future needs and as a result, will get supply before it is available for Americans. Just yesterday, Pfizer submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization for its booster for kids ages 5 to 11. If these boosters are authorized and recommended, we would not have enough supply for every child in that age group. Not having enough supply to support booster shots for everyone, if needed, puts American lives at risk, and is a completely avoidable outcome.
     
  • The Administration cannot secure new COVID-19 vaccines to protect against multiple variants for the American people. Vaccine manufacturers are working on developing vaccines that could offer broader and longer-lasting protection than our existing vaccines—and there is ongoing discussion among scientific and medical experts, including FDA’s panel of outside experts, about the potential need for vaccines with new formulations in the future to better protect us from variants. Just this month, Moderna released data on a new vaccine that could potentially offer better protection against multiple variants. The company also announced that it expects to release data on an Omicron-specific vaccine soon. This means that there could be more effective vaccines available as soon as this fall that can enhance the protection Americans receive from getting vaccinated. The United States should be securing these vaccines today, but without funding, the Administration cannot purchase doses for the American people or even ensure that America is in line for them. This could mean people in other countries have access to the best lifesaving vaccines before Americans. Vaccines have proven to be our single-most important tool in protecting people, and the best ones should be available for the American people.

Fewer Treatments for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot restock the nation’s supply of lifesaving treatments. To date, the Administration has distributed over 9.6 million courses of treatment across the country, working with states and territories, Tribes, pharmacies, federal health centers, and other partners to provide them to Americans for free. Due to a lack of funding, we have already missed the opportunity to purchase additional supply of these lifesaving treatments. To stretch our supply as much as possible, last month, the Administration was forced to cut the number of monoclonal antibody treatments distributed to states by over 30 percent. Ensuring these treatments remain free, widely available, and easy to access for people who need them is crucial to our nation moving forward safely.
     
  • The Administration cannot invest in promising treatments or secure newer, even better treatments for the American people. The federal government will not be able to invest in next-generation treatments that have the potential to provide broader protection against future variants or to treat people who may not be able to take full advantage of current treatments. Several candidates may be promising, and the United States will lose an opportunity to secure its spot in line and to support ramped-up manufacturing capacity of these treatments if we do not have funding to secure supply prior to a potential authorization or approval. Given COVID-19’s potential to mutate, it is also prudent to support and secure a range of effective treatments that attack the virus in different ways to guard against future variants.
     
  • The Administration will have to scale back purchases of treatments that protect immunocompromised Americans. The Administration has secured more than 1 million courses of Evusheld, a preventive therapy for immunocompromised people. Due to lack of funding, we have had to substantially scale back our plans to purchase additional supply. This therapy takes months to produce, and at this point, we are at risk of missing out on supply that will be delivered in the last few months of 2022. Congressional inaction will put immunocompromised individuals at greater risk as we enter this fall.

Fewer Tests for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot sustain domestic testing manufacturing capacity and will be unprepared for another surge in testing demand. Omicron drove unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing around the world. As cases have fallen dramatically, so has demand for testing. Demand will continue to decrease over time, and as a result, domestic manufacturers will start ramping down production across the next several weeks and months. Federal investments are a crucial way to preserve the domestic testing manufacturing capacity we have built over the last 15 months. Without these investments, it will take manufacturers months to ramp back up to rebuild capacity, so failure to invest now will leave us with insufficient testing capacity and supply if we see another surge in cases and demand for testing increases once again. This would mean empty store shelves, long lines at testing sites, and slower results which will have life-or-death consequences for people who need to take lifesaving treatments within days of becoming symptomatic. That should not be allowed to happen.

Fewer Shots in Arms Around the World:

  • The United States cannot supercharge our effort to get more shots in arms, putting us at greater risk for more variants that may prove to be even more dangerous than the ones we have faced to date. The U.S. has now delivered over half a billion adult vaccines to 114 countries. Countries need funding and assistance to turn vaccines into vaccinations. Without additional funding for our global response, we will not have resources to help get more shots in arms in countries in need—which is one of the best ways we can prevent future variants. We will also lack funding to provide oxygen and other lifesaving supplies, and our global genomic sequencing capabilities will fall off—undermining our ability to detect any emerging variants around the world.

“The reason we’ve been so successful in the past is because I was able to work with drug manufacturers, but without funding, we cannot pre-order,” President Biden stated. “We’re running out of supplies for therapeutics – antiviral pills – we desperately need. … We’ve donated more vaccinations to the world than all nations combined…. Without additional funding, we won’t be able to continue to supply. … No delays, no excuses, just action now.”

Report: Biden COVID-19 Vaccination Program Saved 2.2 Million Lives, 17 Million Hospitalizations, $900 Billion in Health Care Costs

President Biden gets his second booster. A report from Commonwealth Fund finds that Biden’s “relentless efforts to get Americans vaccinated saved millions of American lives. Our vaccination campaign saved 2.2 million American lives, prevented 17 million hospitalizations, prevented 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs,” stated White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

new study out today from the Commonwealth Fund shows that President Biden’s relentless efforts to get Americans vaccinated saved millions of American lives. Our vaccination campaign saved 2.2 million American lives, prevented 17 million hospitalizations, prevented 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs. 
 
This is the result of the Biden Administration’s efforts to use every tool to make vaccinations easy and convenient for every American, Congress providing us the vital resources we needed, and the American people stepping up and doing their part. 
 
We mounted a historic vaccination effort and invested in tests and treatments – empowering Americans with more tools than ever before to protect themselves. Together, we’ve spared millions of families the immeasurable loss that too many others have suffered, and turned unthinkable pain into extraordinary purpose and progress. 
 
Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are now holding up critical funding we need to make even more progress – to save even more lives. Make no mistake: Inaction will leave our nation less prepared for any future surges and variants. It will mean fewer vaccines, treatments, and tests for the American people. This is deeply disappointing – and it should be unacceptable to every American. We’ve worked too hard and come too far to leave ourselves and our economy vulnerable to an unpredictable virus. The virus is not waiting on Congress to negotiate. Congress must act with urgency. 

Biden Administration Accelerates Whole-of-Government Effort to Prevent, Detect, and Treat Long COVID

Vaccination is still the best way to avoid death, hospitalization or the debilitating effects of COVID, still, the Biden Administration is accelerating a whole-of-government effort to prevent, detect, and treat Long COVID. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As President Biden just took action to expand access to the Affordable Care Act – amid calls by Republicans once again to repeal it if they regain control of Congress – it is important to keep in mind that 75 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and millions of them are experiencing the effects of Long- OVID, and thus have pre-existing conditions. Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is known, protects people with pre-existing conditions as well as ends lifetime caps on coverage and keeps children on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. There were 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions before the coronavirus.

Biden has said that health care is a right, not a privilege, and has taken several actions – besides expanding access (some 30 million now take advantage of affordable Obamacare) – to improve health care. That includes mounting the massive vaccination program that has saved millions of lives, testing and new treatments; he is trying to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, particularly insulin (from $4000 month to $35/month), and launched a $5 billion research program to address some of the worst killers including cancer and Alzheimer’s. Now the Biden Administration is accelerating the whole-of-government effort to prevent, detect and treat Long COVID. Here’s a fact sheet from the White House–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The U.S. has made tremendous progress in our fight against COVID-19. Today, Americans have the tools they need to protect against and treat the virus. At the same time, millions of individuals continue to experience prolonged illness from COVID-19, known as “Long COVID.” Many report debilitating, lasting symptoms that can persist long after the acute COVID-19 infection has resolved, and can manifest in anyone who has had COVID-19. These symptoms often look like those associated with other chronic medical conditions.
 
The Administration has mobilized to advance our nation’s understanding of Long COVID and its associated conditions, promote high-quality care for patients, and help individuals access supportive services—especially for those from communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The President’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan makes clear that we are committed to accelerating these efforts, with additional support and resources from Congress.
 
President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID and associated conditions. The Presidential Memorandum also directs HHS to issue a report outlining services and supports across federal agencies to assist people experiencing Long COVID, individuals who are dealing with a COVID-related loss, and people who are experiencing mental health and substance use issues related to the pandemic. This report will specifically address the long-term effects of COVID-19 on high-risk communities and efforts to address disparities in access to services and supports.
 
Today’s announcement builds on the Administration’s ongoing work to implement the recommendations of the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. It also builds on a number of additional actions the Administration is taking to support the millions of Americans experiencing Long COVID and their families by delivering high-quality care and expanding access to services and supports, as well as actions to advance efforts to detect, prevent, and treat Long COVID.
 
These actions include:
 
Delivering high-quality care for individuals experiencing Long COVID: As a complex condition that can affect multiple organ systems, Long COVID may require care and coordination across multiple medical specialties. The Administration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in new members of the disability community and has had a tremendous impact on people with disabilities. The Administration will continue to center the voices of patients in this work and is advancing efforts to deliver high-quality, high-value care to people experiencing Long COVID—especially communities hardest-hit by COVID-19. In collaboration with patients, payers, and providers across the care continuum, the Administration will accelerate and disseminate clinical support and best practices to promote coordinated, integrated care models and expand access to high-quality care in communities across the country.

  • Launching Centers of Excellence and promoting evidence-based care models: Through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget will invest in a multi-year initiative, beginning with $20 million in FY23, to investigate how health care systems can best organize and deliver care for people with Long COVID, provide telementoring and expert consultation for primary care practices, and advance the development of multispecialty clinics to provide complex care. This work would fund institutions across the country that bring together leading researchers and care providers across the full care continuum – including hospitals, health centers, long-term care services and supports, and other providers – and promote the implementation of new evidence into care, especially for disproportionately affected populations. As information emerges on effective Long COVID treatments and care, AHRQ in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH)—in collaboration with clinical leaders, professional societies, and the national academies—will build on existing interim clinical guidance to get providers and patients the care information they need.
     
  • Expanding and strengthening Long COVID clinics: Across the country, 18 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities have already established Long COVID care programs, consolidating multidisciplinary clinical expertise in locations veterans know and trust. The VA will expand on the success of these programs by establishing additional Long COVID programs and robust referral and follow-up systems across its facilities. These programs, and others established by hospitals and health systems across the country, are serving as a source of rapid learning and long-term research on best practices and new therapies, along with the broader provider, patient, and scientific community. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) will launch the Health+ project to gain insights into the experiences and patient journeys of people living with Long COVID and associated conditions, to help inform high-quality care and contribute to standardized best practices at Long COVID clinics.
  • Promoting provider education and clinical support: The Administration will continue to work with providers to advance our recognition and understanding of Long COVID and associated conditions, including by sharing culturally competent information and resources through platforms like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Learning Network and Indian Health Service (IHS) provider education and partnerships with academic institutions. The Administration will also launch targeted clinician and medical coder education on the ICD-10-CM code (U09.9) effective last year to support diagnosis, billing, and tracking of Long COVID. To further support equitable access to high-quality care in communities hard-hit by the pandemic, the Administration, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will continue to build sustainable telementoring programs and networks in rural and medically underserved communities. HHS will additionally convene experts across the country to provide recommendations to our nation’s providers on best practices in the identification and management of the mental and behavioral health disorders associated with Long COVID.  
  • Bolstering health insurance coverage for Long COVID care: The Administration is working to make Long COVID care as accessible as possible. CMS has clarified that, under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) requirement that state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs cover treatments for COVID-19, states must also cover treatments and therapies for Long COVID. Additionally, the essential health benefits (EHB) provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) generally provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, including Long COVID, though coverage and cost-sharing details vary by plan. CMS has also expanded Medicare coverage for pulmonary rehabilitation services for Long COVID care beginning in the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule. Moving forward, the Administration will continue to assess opportunities to enhance access to care for Long COVID and its associated symptoms through Medicare, Medicaid, insurance marketplace coverage, and other options. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will also increase awareness of Long COVID among Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) Program carriers—serving over 8.2 million federal employees, retirees, and their families—and call on them to closely monitor care for individuals with Long COVID. OPM will additionally enhance enrollee education on plans’ coverage of the assessment and treatment of Long COVID and associated symptoms such as respiratory illness and chronic fatigue.

 
Making services and supports available for individuals experiencing Long COVID: The Administration continues to work to understand Long COVID and its impact across populations, including how it interacts with other medical and physical conditions. Individuals with Long COVID may need help doing things they did by themselves in the past, or may need accommodations in their daily activities based on changes in their abilities. In addition to the Long COVID guidance package released during the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Administration is raising awareness of Long COVID as a potential cause of disability, and strengthening services and supports available for individuals experiencing Long COVID.

  • Raising awareness of Long COVID as a potential cause of disability: To protect individuals with Long COVID from discrimination, HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have released guidance explaining that some individuals with Long COVID may have a disability under civil rights laws, including the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Education (ED) also released a resource to support children, students, educators, schools, service providers, and families—providing information about Long COVID as a disability and about schools’ and public agencies’ responsibilities for the provision of services and reasonable modifications to children and students for whom Long COVID is a cause of a disability. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) are continuing to disseminate resources to help people with Long COVID understand if they have a disability, educate people on their rights, and to inform organizations of their obligations.
     
  • Translating research into inclusive disability policy: Through the Social Security Administration’s close collaboration with research agencies and other entities, the Administration will continue to clarify and update policy guidance as the science develops to support inclusive disability policy and claims adjudication processes through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) programs for individuals experiencing Long COVID. This includes building on its Emergency Message on Evaluating Cases with COVID-19 and continuing to be responsive to findings from the medical and scientific communities about the types of evidence that can help establish impairments and identify functional limitations linked to Long COVID, when appropriate. Additionally, ACL and the Department of Labor (DOL) continue to elevate experiences of individuals with disability due to Long COVID, including on return-to-work.
     
  • Connecting people with the resources they need: The Administration will help connect people with Long COVID to information, resources, and service and support options. This includes incorporating multilingual information and support into the CDC-INFO call centerDisability Information and Access Line (DIAL), and call centers run by CMS—which together receive over 3 million calls each month—and providing Long COVID-specific trainings for customer service representatives. Through ACL’s DIAL and Eldercare Locator, the Administration will also continue to connect older adults and individuals with disabilities to critical local services, such as transportation to receive care. IHS will additionally train business office and benefit administrator staff to assist Tribal communities in navigating Long COVID. SAMHSA will additionally collaborate with stakeholders to advance our understanding of the mental health effects of COVID-19 and promote high-quality mental and behavioral health care services for those who need it.
     
  • Strengthening support for workers experiencing Long COVID: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and DOL recently released guidance on access to equitable employment opportunities for people experiencing the impact of COVID-19 and the symptoms of Long COVID. To protect workers experiencing Long COVID, DOL, in coordination with the EEOC, will continue supporting enforcement of the ADA, and other federal disability related nondiscrimination requirements for all workers. DOL’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN) also helps individuals with Long COVID remain in or return to their jobs. This includes both resources to empower workers to request and negotiate accommodations, as well as resources for employers on effective accommodation strategies. Additionally, through the legal networks funded by ACL, the Administration will continue to support legal assistance related to Long COVID to older adults and people with disabilities.

 
Advancing the nation’s understanding of Long COVID: Robust data and information are essential to our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term effects. The Administration will support and accelerate research to understand, prevent, diagnose, treat, advance non-discrimination for, and otherwise support individuals with Long COVID. This includes efforts to better identify and characterize Long COVID – including with respect to its frequency, severity, duration, and risk factors; account for its impact on hard-hit and high-risk populations; and better understand its symptoms—including anxiety and depression, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, heart palpitations, disordered sleep, chest and joint pain, and headache. These symptoms may look like those associated with other chronic medical conditions—including dysautonomia, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). In collaboration with patients, academia, providers, and other stakeholders, the Administration will continue to take critical steps to advance our scientific understanding in order to prevent, detect, and treat Long COVID.

  • Launching the first-ever National Research Action Plan on Long COVID: Today, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to coordinate a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID. This effort, building on the landmark Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative and other initiatives across the federal government, will advance our understanding of Long COVID, foster the development of new treatments and care models, and inform services, support, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID.
     
  • Accelerating enrollment into the RECOVER Initiative: Last year, the NIH launched its $1.15 billion RECOVER Initiative to advance our understanding of and ability to predict, treat, and prevent Long COVID. To help catalyze progress, the Administration will accelerate the enrollment of approximately 40,000 individuals with and without Long COVID into RECOVER’s longitudinal observational arm—in addition to advancing RECOVER’s pathobiology studies, EHR studies, and clinical trials. Equity remains at the center of the Administration’s COVID-19 response efforts, and RECOVER will focus on enrolling individuals across all ages, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses—including pregnant people, individuals with disabilities, and those from the communities hardest hit by the pandemic. RECOVER will also continue to bolster its patient-centered approach, leveraging its National Community Engagement Group—comprised of patient representatives across its pathobiology task forces and executive, steering, and oversight committees—to enable patients to shape research design and execution, listen for community feedback, and learn from patients’ first-hand experience.
     
  • Making further investments to advance Long COVID research and surveillance: Building on the $50 million CDC has already invested, the President’s FY23 budget has requested $25 million to answer key questions on the characteristics, risk factors, underlying mechanisms, and health impacts of Long COVID—through clinician engagement, electronic health data analyses, and grant funding. This includes through the Innovative Support for Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infections Registry (INSPIRE) study by CDC, which will follow nearly 6,000 individuals nationwide for up to 18 months, and other dedicated research in Tribal and other hard-hit, high-risk communities.
     
  • Leveraging the power of federal data: With its robust, national health care databases, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wealth of information on the risks and burdens of COVID-19. Using data from over 600,000 individuals with COVID-19, the VA will continue advancing its work to assess the different health impacts of COVID-19 over time. This includes building on its already published analyses relying on EHR data on kidneycardiovascular, and mental health outcomes in people who have gotten COVID-19, through a national study surveying infected Veterans and uninfected controls about persistent symptoms. Additionally, the Department of Defense (DOD) has launched the Epidemiology, Immunology, and Clinical Characteristics of Emerging Infectious Diseases with Pandemic Potential (EPICC) study of Military Health System beneficiaries to help determine effects of COVID-19 and define clinical strategies to address them. This foundational study will not only support our military medical readiness but also our broader understanding of the disease.
     
  • Identifying workplace interventions that help keep individuals connected: To inform the development of inclusive disability policies and benefits, the DOL is scaling its work to identify early intervention strategies for workers who experience injuries or illnesses, including Long COVID, when working. DOL is expanding beyond its initial pilot study—to Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Vermont—to help workers find alternatives as they decide whether to stay at or return to work following an illness like Long COVID.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The President’s Budget Continues to Lower Deficits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden Administration Launches COVID.gov, a New One-Stop Shop Website for Vaccines, Tests, Treatments, Masks and Latest COVID-19 Information

Website will Feature a New Test-to-Treat Locator Tool to Help People Access the Over 2,000 Locations that Offer COVID-19 Tests and Antiviral Pills at One Convenient Location
 
Administration Continues to Urge Congress to Provide Funding Immediately to Help Keep These Life-Saving Protections Readily Available to All

President Joe Biden sits for his second booster shot, just approved by the CDC for people 50+ or immune-compromised, moments after announcing the new COVID.gov site, where anyone can find Test-to-Treat sites, get lifesaving tools including vaccines, tests, treatments, and updates on COVID-19 in their area © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

Today, the Biden Administration is launching COVID.gov, a new one-stop shop website to help all people in the United States gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area. The Administration has worked over the past 14 months to set up over 90,000 vaccination sites, make more than 400 million high-quality masks available for free, send free tests to peoples’ homes, and stand up new test-to-treat sites where people can get tested and receive life-saving antivirals all in one place. Now, with a click of a button, people will be able to find where to access all of these tools, as well as receive the latest CDC data on the level of COVID-19 in their community.

As part of COVID.gov, a new Test-to-Treat locator will help people access pharmacies and community health centers across the nation where people can get tested for COVID-19 and receive appropriate treatments if they need them. President Biden announced the Test-to-Treat initiative in his State of the Union address earlier this month. Since that time, the Administration has already launched over 2,000 of these sites, plus more than 240 sites across Veteran’s Health Administration and Department of Defense facilities to serve veterans, military personnel, and their families. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the Administration is ensuring locations are established in our most hard-hit and high-risk communities.

Because of the lifesaving tools we now have, America is in a new moment in the pandemic. The country is moving forward safely and people are getting back to their more normal routines. To ensure we’re sustaining and building on this progress and protecting and preparing for new variants, earlier this month, the President released his National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The President was clear that in order to execute on this plan and to stay ahead of the virus, the Administration needs additional funding from Congress—including $22.5 billion in immediate emergency funds. To date, Congress has failed to provide those funds and the country is already suffering the consequences. In the last two weeks, the Administration has had to stop reimbursing health care providers for treating the uninsured, cancel monoclonal antibody orders and cut states’ supply, reduce orders of treatments for the immunocompromised, and pull the U.S. out of line for future vaccine and next-generation treatment purchases. These issues disproportionately impact our hardest-hit and highest-risk populations, including communities of color and individuals with disabilities. The Administration continues to urge Congress to act quickly, as the consequences will continue to get worse in the coming weeks.

Protecting the American people from COVID-19 now and into the future relies on affordable and accessible tools like vaccines, treatments, tests and high-quality masks. Through efforts like COVID.gov and Test-to-Treat, the Administration continues to take steps to make these tools even more readily available. Now, we need Congress to do its part and continue to fund the COVID-19 response.

Today’s announcements include:

Launch of COVID.gov, A New One-Stop-Shop Website Where Individuals Can Find Where to Access Vaccines, Tests, Treatments, and High-Quality Masks. Today, the Administration launched COVID.gov, a new website to help people access vaccines, tests, treatments, and high-quality masks. COVID.gov also provides people an easy way to find the level of COVID-19 in their community. Early last year, the Administration launched Vaccines.gov and an associated call line to help people locate and make appointments at vaccine sites near them. In January of this year, the Administration launched COVIDTests.gov where people could order tests and have them shipped to their homes for free. COVID.gov will allow individuals to access both of these services at one convenient, easy-to-use website. It will also offer information about where to find free high-quality masks and, for the first time, where to access COVID-19 treatments.

COVID.gov will be available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese and is accessible for those using assistive technologies. The Administration is also making all of these COVID-19 tools available over the phone through the National Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489), which supports over 150 languages. For individuals with disabilities who may need additional support, the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to help at 1-888-677-1199 or via email at DIAL@usaginganddisability.org

New Locator Tool to Help Individuals Access the Over 2,000 Test-to-Treat Sites Across the Country. Today, as part of COVID.gov, the Administration launched a new Test-to-Treat locator tool to help the public access lifesaving drugs if they are sick with COVID-19. President Biden announced in his State of the Union address the creation of the Test-to-Treat initiative. This program creates one-stop-shop locations where people can get a COVID-19 test and receive an oral antiviral treatment, if appropriate for them because they test positive and face high risks from COVID. Since the launch earlier this month, there are now over 2,000 Test-to-Treat locations nationwide, including in pharmacy-based clinics, federally-qualified community health centers (FQHCs), and long-term care facilities. As has been the case since December, people can still be tested and treated by their own health care providers who can appropriately prescribe these oral antivirals at locations where they are being distributed, now more easily identified than ever by the Test to Treat locator.  

Test-to-Treat Available for All Patients in Veteran’s Health Administration and Military Personnel and Their Families. Test-to-Treat is now available for all Veterans Affairs (VA) patients in VA clinics across the country. Linking patients who test positive with treatments that are appropriate for them is the standard of care in VA clinics. Each test done in the VA is linked to a care team, and accompanied by review, patient counseling, and consideration for treatment indication and eligibility. The VA also allows individuals with a positive home test result to have a virtual visit to connect with counseling and to receive oral medication if appropriate. VA sites have access to oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19, and treatment generally is provided on site or delivered via expedited mail. In addition, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made one-stop Test-to-Treat available at more than 60 DoD Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) across the country, with hundreds more primed to start operating soon. MTF patients across the country—including active duty service members and TRICARE beneficiaries—can access Test-to-Treat at facilities in their communities. 

Hundreds of Test-to-Treat Locations in FQHCs and Indian Health Service Facilities Across the Country to Protect Hard-Hit and High-Risk Communities from COVID-19. Test-to-Treat locations also are available in more than 240 FQHCs and Indian Health Service (IHS) Facilities across the country, ensuring access to lifesaving treatments in some of our hardest-hit and highest-risk communities. The number of these locations will continue to grow in the coming weeks, as more and more FQHCs, Rural Health Clinics, and IHS locations come online with Test-to-Treat programs. These community providers will continue to serve as trusted messengers in raising awareness about the availability of lifesaving treatments, and also partner with community-based organizations to reach specific high-risk populations, including individuals with disabilities.