Tag Archives: President Biden

Biden Reacts to June Inflation Report: Inflation Still Unacceptably High But Data Out of Date, Does Not Reflect Drop in Gas Prices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Joe Biden reacted to the June inflation report saying that while inflation is still unacceptably high, the report is out-of-date, failing to take into account that gas prices – which accounts for a significant amount of the inflation rate – have gone down for nearly 30 days, reducing the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While today’s headline inflation reading is unacceptably high, it is also out-of-date.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.

On 1-Year Anniversary of American Rescue Plan, Highlighting the Difference in People’s Lives

ARP powered historic jobs recovery – with the largest calendar increase in jobs on record, unemployment down to 3.8%, and record drops in Hispanic Unemployment and Youth Unemployment – and ensured less scarring than any recovery in memory.

Among the ways the American Rescue Plan, signed a year ago, had a positive impact on people’s lives is funding the distribution of 200 million vaccines and millions of therapeutics, saving lives and spurring the biggest, fastest rebound in the economy in the world © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the focus on Ukraine’s desperate fight against Russia’s criminal war and President Joe Biden’s role in marshaling the free world in its defense, little attention is being paid to the Biden Administration’s domestic actions that are having real achievements. On the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan, the White House highlighted the difference the ARP is making in ordinary people’s lives; – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Lowering Health Care Costs and Increasing Health Coverage

  • 14.5 million Americans – the most ever – signed up for ACA marketplace plans due to, on average, 50% lower costs in premiums for returning consumers.
    • Nationwide, existing consumers with a new or updated plan selection after ARP saved an average of $67 (or 50%) per consumer per month on premiums, totaling $537 million per month in savings. In twenty states and the District of Columbia, existing consumers saved over $75 per month, on average, due to the ARP.
       
  • 5.8 million more Americans have health insurance today than a year ago. Between 2016 and 2019, 3.6 million Americans lost coverage.
     
  • A family of four is saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums. Four out of five consumers could find quality coverage for under $10 a month.
     

Investing in Mental Health:

  • $3 billion invested in expanding access to mental health and substance use services at the state level – largest one-time investment in history for mental health and substance use programs.
     
  • Billions more in American Rescue Plan funding are being used to address mental health challenges affecting our children, including through hiring school social workers and counselors. With the help of American Rescue Plan K-12 funding, schools have already seen a 65% increase in social workers, and a 17% increase in counselors. 

 
Fighting COVID

  • Distributed 200 million vaccines, and millions of therapeutics using ARP dollars.
     
  • 375 million at-home tests per month now available; before ARP, no at-home tests.
     
  • $14.5 billion to address COVID for America’s veterans, including support for 37,000 homeless veterans.

 
Getting Kids Back in School

  • Today, 99% of schools are openBefore ARPonly 46% of schools were open in-person.
     
  • Major Investments in Keeping Schools Open, Combatting Learning Loss & Addressing Mental Health Challenges: Independent experts estimate based on school district plans that 59% of school districts are using ARP funds to hire/retain teachers and counselors, 35% are using ARP funds to hire/retain psychologists and mental health staff, and 52% are using ARP funds for HVAC and ventilation.
     
  • A survey from the School Superintendents Association indicated 82% of superintendents plan to use funds to expand social, emotional, mental and physical health and development.

 
Supporting Working Families

  • Expanded Child Tax Credit for Working Families – Helping Deliver Record Lows in Child Poverty.
    • The 2021 CTC will reach a record nearly 40 million families with 65 million children.
    • Expanded $3,000 credit for kids age 6-17 and $3,600 for kids under 6
    • Experts estimate that the Child Tax Credit was the main driver in the American Rescue Plan bringing child poverty to record lows in 2021– including record low Black and Hispanic child poverty.
       
  • Economic Impact Payments for Vast Majority of Americans
    • Over 170 million Economic Impact Payments to 85% of all Americans – including an additional 19+ million payments to Social Security beneficiaries, 3 million payments to SSI beneficiaries, and 320,000 payments to Veterans who would not have received these benefits under normal tax filing requirements.
       
  • Ensured Kids didn’t go hungry in the summer
    • Estimated 30 million kids fed with first nationwide Summer supplemental nutrition program – more than 10x higher than 2019 summer meals for kids.
       
  • Unprecedented Emergency Rental Relief and Eviction Prevention
    • Over 4 million Emergency Rental Assistance payments to tenants in a single year – by orders of magnitude the largest eviction prevention effort in history.
    • Eviction filings at just 60% of historic averages in 5 months after CDC moratorium – even though some had projected an eviction tsunami.
       
  • More than doubled the amount of LIHEAP – the most ever going to help with Heating and Cooling Costs of well over 5 million households

 
Helping People Get Back to Work

  • Most One-Time Support for Childcare Providers Ever to Keep Them Open and Operating
    • 150,000+ providers supported by childcare stabilization payments so far, the most support for childcare providers ever.
    • More than 5 million children served by these providers.
       
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for Workers
    • Tripled EITC for 17 million workers without dependent children from $540 to $1500 – first increase since 1993 – and extended the credit to younger & older workers.
    • Helping millions of front-line workers: This expansion will help nearly 1.8 million cashiers and retail salespeople; almost 1 million cooks and food prep workers; and more than 850,000 nurses and health aides, 500,000 janitors, 400,000 truck and delivery drivers, and 300,000 childcare workers.
       
  • Getting Americans Back to Work with State and Local Investments
    • Over half of states and scores of cities across the country have invested in workforce development, apprenticeships, training, and premium pay for essential workers – with premium pay to nearly 750,000 essential workers.
    • State and local governments added 467,000 jobs in 2021 – best year since 2001.

Staying True to Our Veterans:

  • ARP provided resources for veterans currently receiving housing support, including an estimated 37,000 homeless veterans.
     
  • ARP cancelled health care copayment charges for 2.5 million veterans during the pandemic – worth $1 billion.
     
  • ARP Child Tax Credit expansion meant that roughly 5 million children in veteran and Active Duty families are receiving the credit for 2021, per CBPP estimates.
     
  • ARP invested in 16,000 veterans’ health care with ARP funds for 158 State Veterans Homes operations and for State Veterans Home renovations and capital projects.
  • ARP funding is enabling the Veterans Benefits Administration to reduce the claims backlog from 212,000 in March 2021 to 100,000 by September 2022.  

 
Rescuing and Transforming Our Communities:

  • Dozens of cities and 21 states have already committed ARP Fiscal Recovery Funds to public safety, including critical investments in gun crime prevention – hiring and retaining police officers for community policing and investing in critical technology to take on increases in gun and other violent crimes, and supporting evidence-based community violence interventions and summer youth employment.
     
  • State and local, Education and HUD investments in affordable housing and fighting homelessness:
    • ARP Department of Education program to provide services and enable full attendance for students experiencing homelessness will reach 1.5 million children. 
    • ARP added about 70,000 emergency vouchers to the rental market through HUD.
    • ARP funded new housing counseling program which is expected to provide 80,000 housing counseling sessions.
    • Roughly half of cities and states are investing some portion of their State and Local Funds in housing assistance and investments  from New Jersey’s $750 million eviction prevention and utilities program to Austin and Travis County’s $200 million ARP investment in a comprehensive plan to take on its homelessness crisis.
       
  • Broadband Investments underway across the country: 20 states have already invested Fiscal Recovery Funds to expand broadband access – in addition to $10 billion Capital Projects Fund which they can use to help ensure that all communities have access to high quality modern infrastructure needed to access critical services, including broadband.
    • Even with more on the way, states and territories have already announced about $9 billion in ARP investments to expand high speed internet access.
       
  • Long-needed investments in clean water: with 21 states already committing Fiscal Recovery Funds to improve water and sewer infrastructure, including removing lead pipes.
    • Even with more on the way, states and territories have already announced investing $7.5 billion in ARP funds for water and sewer improvements.

Providing Permanent Tax Relief for Puerto Rico Families

  • Made hundreds of thousands of families in Puerto Rico eligible for CTC for first time – previously ~90% of families excluded from CTC.
     
  • First-ever Federal Support for Puerto Rico’s EITC, more than tripling workers’ benefits.

Most support ever for Tribal Communities

  • $32 billion to Tribal communities and Native people, the largest in assistance to tribal governments in history.

FACT SHEET:
How The American Rescue Plan Is Keeping America’s Schools Open Safely, Combating Learning Loss, And Addressing Student Mental Health
 

On March 11, 2021 – one year ago – President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act into law, an unprecedented $1.9 trillion package of emergency assistance measures. The ARP provides a historic investment in America’s preschool through twelfth grade (P-12) schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep schools safely open, tackle learning loss and mental health. These funds include $122 billion for P-12 schools in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds. ARP also dedicated an additional $8 billion to states and school districts to meet the needs of certain student populations, including over $3 billion for students with disabilities and $800 million for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
 
ARP has already had a significant impact on schools across the country: over the last year, states, school districts, and schools have used these funds to safely reopen and sustain in-person instruction, combat learning loss, and address students’ mental health needs.
 
In his State of the Union address last week, President Biden called on schools to hire more teachers, urged the American people to sign up to be tutors and mentors, and – as part of his unity agenda – encouraged the country to come together to address child mental health. ARP ESSER funds are supporting this agenda in several ways:

  • Schools have gone from 46% open before ARP to 99% safe and open today: Before ARP was signed into law, just 46 percent of America’s P-12 schools were open for full-time, in-person learning. Today, over 99 percent of P-12 schools are open for full-time, in-person instruction.
     
  • ARP led to record growth in local education jobs that are critical to meeting students’ academic and mental health needs: Although there is more work to do to address longstanding educator shortages and return to pre-pandemic levels, ARP has led to record jobs growth in the education sector. With the help of ARP ESSER funding, local governments added more than 279,000 education jobs in 2021 – the best calendar year of jobs growth since records began in 1956 – and added an additional nearly 46,000 jobs in the first two months of 2022. Schools have already seen a 65% increase in social workers and a 17% increase in counselors relative to before the pandemic.
     
  • Analysis of school district plans shows overwhelming majority of funds are being used for priorities like teachers, counselors, academic recovery, mental health, and health and safety measures like ventilation improvements:  FutureEd – an education think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy – analyzed data on a representative sample of over 3,000 school districts’ plans covering 55% of ARP ESSER funds. This analysis showed:
    • Nearly 60% of funds are being used to:
      • invest in staffing – both retaining current staff and expanding professional development opportunities, as well as recruiting, hiring and training of new teachers, school staff and mental health professionals to increase school capacity and meet the academic and mental health needs of students;
      • combat learning loss through student support programs such as evidence-based tutoring, expanded after-school and summer learning and enrichment programs, and the purchase of millions of new textbooks and learning materials; and 
      • supporting the physical and mental health of students and educators.
    • Another 24% is being invested in keeping schools operating safely, including providing PPE and updating school facilities to support health and safety. This includes investments in lead abatement and an estimated nearly $10 billion for improvements to HVAC and ventilation.
       
  • ARP has fueled investments in education spending and accelerated the rate of spending of education relief funds by five to six times: Before the passage of ARP, states and school districts were spending a total of a little more than $500 million per month of federal emergency relief funds for education. Since the passage of the ARP and the assurance to states and school districts that critical funds were on their way, the monthly rate of spending of ESSER funds from ARP and earlier relief legislation has accelerated to more than $3 billion per month – an increase of five to six times.
     
  • All 50 states submitted clear spending plans that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Education: On March 24, less than two weeks after ARP was signed, two-thirds of funds – $81 billion – were released. To ensure funds would be used effectively, states had to submit and receive approval on their spending plan to receive their final third of funds. As of December 2021, every state, plus DC and Puerto Rico, submitted a plan, the U.S. Department of Education has approved all plans, and all $122 billion in ARP ESSER funds have been made available to states.
     
  • Survey of 600 school superintendents shows school leaders are meeting the challenge of the President’s unity agenda by using funds for students’ mental health and other developmental needs: The COVID-19 pandemic has subjected many young Americans to social isolation, loss of routines, and traumatic grief – increasing the need for mental health supports. A recent survey by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, found that 82% of districts plan to use funds to address this need by expanding supports for social, emotional, mental, and physical health and development.
     
  • States and school districts have deployed funds strategically while engaging meaningfully with their communities – including parents: In developing their spending plans, states and school districts were required to engage members of the community, including parents, educators, students, representatives of students with disabilities and others. The U.S. Department of Education continues to encourage states and school districts to consult with these critical partners on how to ensure these funds have the most impact in classrooms.

ARP ESSER-Funded State and District Activities
From the U.S. Department of Education
 
Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations
Safely reopening schools and keeping them open safely are essential for student learning and well-being. 

  • Houston Independent School District (HISD) in Texas has allocated ARP ESSER funds to campuses for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. HISD has provided COVID-19 testing at 90 percent of its campuses and has hosted nearly 100 vaccine clinics.
     
  • The DeKalb County School District in Georgia upgraded air filters from MERV 8 to MERV 13 in every school facility that could accommodate that size filter and took steps to improve ventilation in all other schools using ARP ESSER funding.
     
  • White Plains City School District in New York will use a combination of local and federal funds to replace the HVAC units across their district to provide a safer learning environment for students and staff. Upon completion, the total project will cost $26.3 million, with nearly one-third of the funding coming from relief funds, including ARP ESSER.

Combating Learning Loss
States and school districts have the resources they need, and are required to address the impacts of the pandemic on students’ learning. States and districts nationwide are using funds to hire teachers and other instructional staff, launch tutoring, summer and afterschool programs (which states are required to fund), and make long-overdue investments in instructional materials. States are specifically required to address the needs of students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including students with disabilities, English learners, and students experiencing homelessness.
 
Recruiting, Retaining, and Expanding Professional Development of Staff:

  • Maine School Administrative District 11 is addressing gaps in learning opportunities by using ARP ESSER funds to hire nine new teachers and implement a new math, language arts, and social studies program. The additional teachers permitted the district to reduce class sizes from 22-24 students to an average of 14-16 students. The district has provided external and internal coaching, ongoing professional learning, and additional support to educators and staff.
     
  • Gaston County Schools in North Carolina is adding an additional teacher and a temporary employee per school to decrease class sizes, help manage workloads and provide classroom coverage in each of its 54 schools using ARP ESSER funding. This supports and helps retain current teachers, who are less likely to have to give up planning time to cover another classroom, or combine classrooms, and also benefits students whose learning is less likely to be disrupted by the absence of another teacher.
     
  • The Asheville City Schools Board of Education in North Carolina is using ARP ESSER funds for a bonus of $3,000 to $3,500 over the course of the year for full-time teachers and faculty in order to increase staff retention.
     
  • Providence Public School District in Rhode Island is launching new incentives to recruit and retain highly-qualified educators, including early signing bonuses for newly-hired educators and support staff in hard-to-fill positions using  ARP ESSER funding.

Summer Learning and Enrichment:  

  • In New Mexico, the College and Career Readiness Bureau of the New Mexico Public Education Department launched the Summer Enrichment Internship Program in 2021 using ARP ESSER funding. The program covers the cost of summer internships for New Mexico high school students and provides high school students, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic, with the opportunity to participate in high-quality internships in government agencies, including county, tribal, and municipal placements. Over 300 community partners and 1,200 student interns participated across 26 counties. Summer jobs programs like these that engage students are also important community violence intervention strategies. This program will continue in the summer of 2022 as well.
     
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District in Ohio used ARP ESSER funds to increase summer learning participation seven-fold. In 2021, 8,400 students participated in summer school, compared to 1,000-1,200 students in previous years. Focused on “Finish, Enrich, and Engage,” the expanded summer school offered 12 weeks of programming that allowed for credit accumulation and unfinished learning. Students engaged in problem-based learning units in the morning with engagement activities like clubs and sports in the afternoon. This inclusive programming, which included students with disabilities and multilingual learners, will continue in summer 2022.
     
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Education is using ARP ESSER funds to implement evidence-based summer learning and enrichment programs and to expand afterschool programming through partnerships with community organizations. They provide for social, emotional, and academic support and access to technology. This initial investment of $6 million provided services through 28 organizations, at 140 sites, serving an average 11,000 students a month through the summer of 2021.

Tutoring: 

  • The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education has established the Arkansas Tutoring Corps using ARP ESSER funding. The Arkansas Tutoring Corps program includes recruitment, preparation, and support for candidates to become qualified tutors to provide instruction or intervention to meet the academic needs of students most impacted by lost instructional time. A system connects prepared candidates with organizations seeking to support students’ academic needs. The program is already enhancing learning experiences of students due to loss of instructional time and addressing gaps in foundational skills in mathematics and literacy.

 
Meeting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs
Districts and states must use a portion of ARP ESSER funds for evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ social, and emotional needs – such as the ability to collaborate with others or persist through difficult challenges – and to support students’ mental health. Districts must specifically address the impact of the pandemic on groups of students that were disproportionately impacted. 
 
Hiring Counselors and Increasing Supports:

  • The Kansas Department of Education has developed a Grow Your Own Counselor model with ARP ESSER funding that encourages districts to identify candidates and employ them as student services coordinators while they develop their skills in an approved school counseling graduate program.
     
  • The Nevada Department of Education has allocated $7.5 million to support districts in hiring 100 additional school based mental health professionals. Using ARP ESSER funding, the state is spending $1.7 million to hire a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support coach for every district.
     
  • Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in Michigan hired three full-time high school counseling staff to decrease counselor caseloads with ARP ESSER funding. Counselors are now able to dedicate more time to individual student meetings, attend meetings with assistant principals and deans to review academic progress and other needs of students, and develop a wellness center at each campus.

Community Schools:

  • The New York City Department of Education announced an investment of $10 million to expand the district’s research-based community schools initiative from 266 to 406 sites citywide using ARP ESSER funding. These schools provide integrated student support services to students and the surrounding community, such as mental health care, adult education courses, community violence intervention programs, and nutrition support.

Strengthening the Educator Workforce
The pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s educators as well as its students. States and districts should support and stabilize the educator workforce and make staffing decisions that will help address students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs. 

  • The Tennessee Department of Education has created a “Grow Your Own” grant with federal funding, including ARP ESSER, that is designed to foster partnerships between educator preparation programs (EPPs) and districts to provide promising and innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. The program is currently comprised of 65 partnerships between 14 EPPs and 63 districts across the state – enabling over 650 future educators to become a Tennessee teacher for free. $6.5 million has been allocated to this program thus far. Tennessee also pioneered a pathway with the U.S. Department of Labor by establishing the nation’s first registered apprenticeship program for teachers, which will help sustain the state’s Grow Your Own programs and partnerships leveraging federal apprenticeship funding.  

Biden Signs Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

President Joe Biden was flanked by women who are the first to hold key roles of Vice President and Speaker of the House. This week, he signed the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an act he originally authored and has championed ever since. His administration has taken significant actions to improve women’s rights and gender equity, against a backlash from Republican-led states that are passing laws to overturn women’s reproductive rights and civil rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This week, President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation passed by Congress as part of the Omnibus appropriations package. In remarks at the signing, President Biden reflected on having authored the original VAWA, and during Women’s History Month, when Republican-led states are passing cruel and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s reproductive rights and their rights to self-determination, said:
 
It really wasn’t so long ago this country didn’t want to talk about violence against women, let alone as being a national epidemic, something the government had to address. 
 
     As a society, we literally looked away.  We looked away.  In many places, it wasn’t a crime.  And I don’t recall — I don’t recall how many times I was told in the prelude to writing the legislation that it’s a “family affair.”  “You don’t understand, Biden.  It’s a family affair.”
 
     When I began, along with others, to pursue this legislation to change this — this issue, we were told that we would literally be responsible for the “disintegration” of American families in the major press.  It wasn’t just the wackos; it was in the mainstream press.
 
     And we talked about creating shelters to give survivors a way out because so many don’t have a way out, and their children — by the way, the vast majority of children on the street with their mothers are there because she’s a victim of domestic violence….

This law broke the dam of congressional resistance and cultural resistance.  And it brought this hidden epidemic out of the shadows.  You know, its introduction — it introduced our nation to so many brave survivors who those stories changed the way America saw the issue.  I mean, in the literal sense, it’s hard to believe — even when I go back and think of when — how it started and where it was. 
 
As a practical matter, things began to shift — the legal and social burdens — away from survivors and onto perpetrators and where they belonged.  It made addressing general — excuse me — gender violence a shared priority with a determined, coordinated response.  It created a hotline, as I said, for millions of women who have used the hotline.  And again, I’ll never forget being told the first time — I said, “What did you do?”  She said, “I got behind the drapes and I held the phone.  And I prayed to God — prayed to God — don’t let him hear this.  Pray God.  Pray God.”
 
It supported shelters and rape crisis centers, housing and legal assistance, creating lifesaving options for women and children all across the country.  And it helped train police officers, advocates, prosecutors, judges, court personnel to make the entire justice system fair and more responsive to the needs of survivors. ..

Even in 1994, we knew that there was much more we had to do — you know, that it was only the beginning.  That’s why, because of all of you in this room, every time we’ve reauthorized this law, it’s been improved.  It’s not like we didn’t know we wanted to do these other things in the beginning.  It’s we did as much as we could and keep trying to add to it. 

Broadening from domestic violence to include stalking and sexual assault in 2000.  That was the change made. 
 
Expanding access to services for immigrants and communities of color in 2005.  That was a change. 
 
Restoring jurisdiction of Tribal courts — (applause) — over non-Native domestic violence offenders who abuse women in Indian Country.  We did that in 2013. 
 
Extending protections to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, in 2013. ..

The law kept growing stronger.  It’s not like we didn’t know in 2005 we should be dealing with the things we dealt with in 2013.  It was getting it done. 
 
Each link in the chain that we’re building made a difference — makes a difference. 
 
Yesterday, I signed the Bipartisan Government Funding Bill…And, consequentially, we forged the next link in the chain…

So we established a new civil rights — a new civil rights cause of action for those whose intimate images were shared on the public screen.  How many times have you heard — I’ll bet everybody knows somebody somewhere along the line that in an intimate relationship, what happened was the guy takes a revealing picture of his naked friend, or whatever, in a compromising position, and then literally, in a sense, blackmails or mortifies that person — sends it out, put it online.
 
We’re giving survivors real resources against abuse now.  Ex-partners and stalkers who seek to humiliate and hurt them.
 
We’ve created — you created new programs to help end the backlog of the rape kits.  And those rape kits, by the way, I don’t know — you ought to go to your major cities, those of you in the House and Senate — this group probably has — which I have done.  And this backlog is so significant.  You could solve literally a significant portion of —
 
Look, the only thing I learned that’s worse than — for a woman — worse than a woman who is abused or raped and says, “It’s Charlie who did it,” and no one believes her — him against her.  And when — you can take a look.  If you take a look at those rape kits and you went through them all, you could identify and arrest probably 40, 50 percent of the rapists in America.  They’re all there.  Their DNAs are there.  It’s all in line.  And run it against the whole panoply.  Very few rapists rape only once.
 
So, look, that — you know, there’s a lot that goes unprocessed.  And we have to make sure survivors get compensation, and if there have been delays in their cases — you know, we’ve made improvements in the National Criminal Background Check System to help states investigate and prosecute cases when abuses — when abusers who are barred from purchasing firearms attempt to do so.  That, we’ve done federally.  Quite frankly, this held — that’s one of the things that held up this bill for much too long.  Much too long…

Through the American Rescue Plan, the administration directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services — (applause) — because they’re badly needed.
 
And we’ve worked with local public housing authorities to make sure that survivors trapped in a bad situation can find safe new housing options in public housing.  (Applause.)  Because they don’t have (inaudible) to go.  You.
 
And we also made landmark reforms in military justice to help end the epidemic of sexual violence and harassment in our armed forces — (applause) — fundamentally changing how the military investigates, prosecutes sexual assault, domestic violence, and other related crimes…

Earlier this month, I signed a bar- — bipartisan bill that ends what we know as forced arbitration.  That’s wonderful, isn’t it?  (Applause.)  No, no, but I mean the small print to sign a contract, and the small print says you can’t do anything if your boss, male or female — if you end up getting abused and if you end up doing something — you know, you can’t — you have to do it internally.  No more.  (Applause.)  No more.  Really.
 
And 80 percent of the people who sign those don’t even know what’s in the — in the contract.
 
The mechanism has prevented too many survivors of abuse and harassment in the workplace from having the choice to get their day in court. 
 
Look, these are just a few of the steps you’ve all taken and how much you’ve improved this legislation.  But as everyone in this room knows, this work is not going to stop.  It never stops.
 
Today, one year since a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were women of Asian descent, these horrific murders are a reminder that we still have work to do to put an end to misogyny and racism and all forms of hate we have.
 
We’re never going to get it all done, but we can’t ever stop trying.  As long as there are women in this country and around the world who live in fear of violence, there’s more we have to do to fulfill this sacred commitment.  No one — no one, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should experience abuse.  Period.  And if they do, they should have the services and support they need to get through it.  And we’re not going to rest.
 
But in the meantime, all of you should be enormously proud of what you’ve accomplished.  This reauthorization is testament to the power of your voices and your tireless dedication to changing things for the better.
 
  

Fact Sheet:  Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

 
One of the driving forces of President Biden’s career has been fighting back against abuses of power.  That force led him to write and champion the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a U.S. Senator, landmark legislation that first passed in 1994.  In the nearly three decades since, he has worked with Members of Congress from both parties to pass legislation to renew and strengthen VAWA three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013.  Each time, he worked to expand access to safety and support for all survivors and increase prevention efforts.  Preventing and responding to gender-based violence wherever it occurs, and in all of its forms, has remained a cornerstone of the President’s career in public service—from VAWA reauthorization to a national campaign to combat campus sexual assault to reforms to address sexual assault and harassment in the military.  
 
While incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault have declined significantly since VAWA first took effect—and efforts to increase access to services, healing, and justice for survivors have improved with each iteration of VAWA—much work remains. 
 
The 2022 reauthorization of VAWA strengthens this landmark law, including by:
 

  • Reauthorizing all current VAWA grant programs until 2027 and, in many cases, increasing authorization levels. 
     
  • Expanding special criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands; and supporting the development of a pilot project to enhance access to safety for survivors in Alaska Native villages.
     
  • Increasing services and support for survivors from underserved and marginalized communities—including for LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; funding survivor-centered, community-based restorative practice services; and increasing support for culturally specific services and services in rural communities.
     
  • Establishing a federal civil cause of action for individuals whose intimate visual images are disclosed without their consent, allowing a victim to recover damages and legal fees; creating a new National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals; and supporting State, Tribal, and local government efforts to prevent and prosecute cybercrimes, including cyberstalking and the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images.
     
  • Improving prevention and response to sexual violence, including through increased support for the Rape Prevention and Education Program and Sexual Assault Services Program; expansion of prevention education for students in institutions of higher education; and enactment of the Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act, which requires state victim compensation programs to allow sexual assault survivors to file for compensation without being unfairly penalized due to rape kit backlogs.
     
  • Strengthening the application of evidence-based practices by law enforcement in responding to gender-based violence, including by promoting the use of trauma-informed, victim-centered training and improving homicide reduction initiatives.
     
  • Improving the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including through enhanced training for sexual assault forensic examiners.
     
  • Updating the SMART Prevention Program and the CHOOSE Youth Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
     
  • Enacting the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denial Notification Act to help state law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases against individuals legally prohibited from purchasing firearms who try to do so.

 
Over the past year, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps to prevent and respond to gender-based violence at home and abroad:
 

  • Increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services.  Directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) in response to the pandemic, including $49.5 million for culturally-specific community-based organizations that help survivors from historically marginalized communities access the services and support they need. The ARP also provided approximately 70,000 housing choice vouchers to local Public Housing Authorities in order to assist individuals and families, including those who are fleeing, or attempting to flee, from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. 
     
  • Reformed the military justice system to address sexual assault, harassment, and related crimes. Signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which included sweeping reforms to the military justice system—the most significant since the Uniform Code of Military Justice was established more than seventy years ago—and implemented the President’s campaign promise to address the scourge of sexual assault in our armed forces. In conjunction with the President’s Executive Order on military justice reform, this bipartisan, historic law adopts core recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault, as called for by President Biden, and fundamentally shifts how the military prosecutes and investigates sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other serious crimes, and increases prevention initiatives and support for survivors. 
     
  • Ended forced arbitration for sexual assault and harassment.  Signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021—bipartisan legislation that empowers survivors of sexual assault and harassment by giving them a choice to go to court instead of being forced into arbitration.
     
  • Directed action to protect students from campus sexual assault.  Directed the Department of Education to review Title IX regulations and other agency actions to ensure that all students have an educational environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of sex.  The Department is developing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking currently under review that will address the need for protection for students who experience campus sexual assault while treating all students fairly.
     
  • Increased resources for survivors of crime, including gender-based violence.  Signed into law the Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which passed Congress with strong bipartisan support and expands the allocation of resources for the Crime Victims Fund. This has already resulted in an increase of hundreds of millions of dollars of non-taxpayer funding for essential and lifesaving services to crime victims around the country, including survivors of gender-based violence.
     
  • Led multinational effort to address online harassment and abuse.  Launched the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse during the 2022 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, together with the governments of Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. This multinational initiative will align countries, international organizations, and civil society to better prioritize, understand, and address the growing scourge of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
     
  • Prioritized the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People, including gender-based violence.  Issued an executive order directing the Departments of Justice, Interior, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to create a strategy to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans and to address the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples, which disproportionately affect Native women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals; the Department of the Interior established the Missing and Murdered Unit to pursue justice for missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
     
  • Strengthened regional leadership on violence against Indigenous women and girls.  Re-launched the United States’ leadership and participation in the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls with the Governments of Mexico and Canada. The White House will host the Fourth Convening of the Trilateral Working Group this summer to improve and reaffirm our respective national and regional commitments to prevent and respond to violence against Indigenous women and girls through increased access to justice and prevention services.

 
On International Women’s Day in 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order creating the White House Gender Policy Council and calling for the development of the first-ever government-wide National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, as well as an update to the 2016 United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. These strategies will provide a roadmap to guide the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government effort to end gender-based violence—and in so doing, create a society where survivors are supported and all people can live free from abuse.