Author: Staff White House Intergovernmental Affairs     7/24/202         IGA

This week, President Biden reiterated that climate change is a clear and present danger to the United States. Since Congress is not acting on this emergency, the President will. In the coming weeks, President Biden will announce additional executive actions to combat this emergency.

On Wednesday, President Biden announced his latest set of executive actions to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, by creating good-paying jobs in clean energy and lowering costs for families. His actions will protect communities from climate impacts already here, including extreme heat conditions impacting more than 100 million Americans this week, and expand offshore wind opportunities and jobs in the United States.

The President made this announcement at a former coal-fired power plant in Brayton Point, Massachusetts that hosted a cable manufacturing facility to support the flourishing offshore wind industry – representing how the President’s leadership is accelerating the nation’s transition away from the pollution, environmental injustice, and volatile price swings of the past toward the good-paying jobs and energy security of the future.

President Biden’s new executive actions will:

  • Protect Communities from Extreme Heat and Dangerous Climate Impacts: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced $2.3 billion in funding for its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program for Fiscal Year 2022— the largest BRIC investment in history, boosted by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding will help communities increase resilience to heat waves, drought, wildfires, flood, hurricanes, and other hazards by preparing before disaster strikes. BRIC is among hundreds of federal programs that the Biden-Harris Administration is transforming to support the Justice40 Initiative and prioritize delivering benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  • Lower Cooling Costs for Communities Suffering from Extreme Heat: Today, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance that for the first time expands how the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can promote the delivery of efficient air conditioning equipment, community cooling centers, and more. In April, the Biden-Harris Administration released $385 million through LIHEAP to help families with their household energy costs, including summer cooling—part of a record $8 billion that the Administration has provided, boosted by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • Expand Offshore Wind Opportunities and Jobs: The Department of the Interior is proposing the first Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Mexico, a historic step toward expanding offshore wind opportunities to another region of the United States. These areas cover 700,000 acres and have the potential to power over three million homes. President Biden is also directing the Secretary of the Interior to advance wind energy development in the waters off the mid- and southern Atlantic Coast and Florida’s Gulf Coast —alleviating uncertainty cast by the prior Administration. These actions follow the President’s launch of a new Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership that brought together Governors to deliver more clean, affordable energy and new jobs.

Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, power goes down, homes are destroyed by wildfires, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 20 extreme weather and climate related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of more than $145 billion. People of color and underserved communities are disproportionately vulnerable to the climate crisis and are more likely to experience the negative health and environmental effects of climate-related and extreme weather events. Further, the country’s critical infrastructure is at risk from climate and extreme weather.

Read the full Fact Sheet Here

President Biden’s Safer America Plan
The week, the President released his Safer America Plan, which builds on his Comprehensive Gun Crime Strategy and the progress he’s already made to reduce gun violence and save lives.The President believes we can and must do more to reduce crime and save lives. In his remarks last week to celebrate the enactment of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, he said we must seize the momentum to do more. And that is exactly what he is doing today.The Safer America Plan outlines – for the first time – how the President will spend $37 billion in funds included in his FY 2023 budget to make our communities safer. The plan:
  • Funds the police and promotes effective prosecution of crime affecting families. The plan will provide communities with the resources they need to hire and train 100,000 addition police officers for effective, accountable community policing. It will help law enforcement set up task forces to share intelligence, take shooters off the streets, and bring down the gun violence rate. It also cracks down on fentanyl trafficking and organized retail theft.
  • Invests in crime prevention and a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system. The plan includes a new $15 billion grant program called Accelerating Justice System Reform that will provide cities and states with the resources they need to stand up new responses to persons in mental health crisis or those with substance use disorders and to expand access to job training, education, housing, and other supportive services that prevent crime and advance equity. The Plan also invests $5 billion to support evidence-based community violence intervention programs shown to reduce violence by up to 60%. And, the plan proposes to end the crack-powder disparity, making the fix retroactive.
  • Takes additional steps to keep dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands. The President is once again calling on Congress to take additional actions, including requiring background checks for all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, closing the dating violence restraining order loophole, and banning the manufacture, sale, or possession of unserialized “ghost guns.”
President Biden knows what works to make our communities safer: investing in community policing and crime prevention. We need to fund police who walk the beat, know the neighborhood, are accountable to those they are sworn to serve, and build community trust and safety. We need to invest in mental health and substance use treatment services, crisis responders, and social workers to reduce the burden on police officers and prevent violent crime. We need to expand community violence interventions – led by trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma. We need to enforce our commonsense gun laws, require background checks for all gun sales in order to keep firearms out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – weapons of war that have no place in our communities.Please see the full Fact Sheet Here
Gas Prices Are Decreasing And American Families Are Feeling Relief
President Biden’s top priority is tackling inflation and reducing prices, and his plan is working. Even as Putin’s war continues to pressure global energy supply, American families are currently living through one of the fastest declines in gas prices in over a decade. While the rise in gas prices last month due to Putin’s Price Hike was met by wall-to-wall media coverage, the fall in gas prices has not earned the same reception.Gas prices have declined by an average of 60 cents per gallon over the past 38 days. That’s five straight weeks of declines. Gasoline prices have declined every single day for the past 34 days. The drop is one of the fastest declines in gas prices in over a decade. In fact, just this Sunday, we witnessed the largest single-day decline in national gas prices since 2008.According to an industry analyst, the most common price at gas stations across the country is now $3.99, with around 35,000 gas stations across over 36 states now offering gas at $3.99 per gallon or less.  Over the coming days, as more gas stations lower their prices in response to lower input costs, we can expect to see average prices fall below $4 per gallon in several states.The result is real breathing room for American families who are now spending less on filling their cars. At current prices, the average American driver will spend about $30/month less on gasoline than they would have if prices had stayed at their June peak. And, since gasoline prices affect the prices of other goods and services through transportation costs – including food, both households that drive and households that don’t directly benefit from lower gasoline prices.
If oil prices stay at or below current levels, gas prices will decline further. That’s because while oil prices have decreased by about 20 percent since their June peak, prices at the pump have only fallen about 10 percent over the same period. And while wholesale gas prices are down by about a dollar per gallon from their June highs, retail gas prices have come down by only 50 cents. At the same time, refiners’ profit margins per gallon of gas are averaging about 90 cents over last week – roughly double what’s typical for this time of year. Retailers’ profit margins per gallon of gas averaged around $1.30 over last week – more than 50 cents above what’s typical for this time of year. Gas prices have room to fall significantly more, and President Biden is demanding that oil and gas companies quickly bring down the price at the pump when the price of oil drops.
Vice President Harris Marks Important Milestone in Efforts to Cut Costs for American Families
This week in North Carolina, Vice President Harris announced that, thanks to the Administration’s “all of government” enrollment drive, 1 million new households have signed up to save on home broadband through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Administration’s efforts increased the rate of ACP enrollments by about 35%.The ACP and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides $65 billion to expand internet for all. This is part of the Administration’s efforts to cut costs for American families and to ensure that every American has access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. To build on this milestone and early success of the Affordable Connectivity Program, the Vice President called on the nation’s governors to join the Administration’s enrollment drive, sending them letters describing key steps they can take to boost enrollment in their states. For example,  the State of North Carolina committed to email 5 million households to let them know they can lower their internet bill by visiting GetInternet.gov to check eligibility and sign up.Please see the full Fact Sheet hereVisit and share GetInternet.gov.
First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Embark on a Multi-State Summer Learning Tour
Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Monkeypox Outbreak Response
For years, the United States has invested in research on monkeypox and in tools to effectively respond to the disease. Monkeypox is a virus that is generally spread through close or intimate contact, with symptoms that include a rash and fever. It is much less transmissible than fast-spreading respiratory diseases like COVID-19, and this outbreak has not caused any deaths in the United States.  The virus, however, is spreading in the United States and globally, and requires a comprehensive response from federal, state, local, and international governments and communities. Since the first United States case was confirmed on May 18, President Biden has taken critical actions to make vaccines, testing, and treatments available to those who need them as part of its whole-of-government monkeypox outbreak response.

This week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the first phase of its national monkeypox vaccine strategy, a critical part of its monkeypox outbreak response. The vaccine strategy will help immediately address the spread of the virus by providing vaccines across the country to individuals at high risk. This phase of the strategy aims to rapidly deploy vaccines in the most affected communities and mitigate the spread of the disease.Please see the full Fact Sheet here

Vice President Harris’s Meeting with North Carolina State Legislators on Reproductive Rights
This week, Vice President Kamala Harris convened more than 20 North Carolina state legislators and more than 25 New Jersey State Legislators, local leaders, and advocates who are fighting on the frontlines to protect reproductive rights.  The Vice President convened state legislators from across the country on July 8, 2022 at the White House; on July 14, 2022 in Orlando, Florida; on July 16, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and on July 18, 2022 in Atlantic City, New Jersey; and on July 20, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. During the meetings, legislators, advocates, and providers in attendance discussed the importance of building a broad coalition to protect reproductive rights. State legislators in North Carolina described how Republican leaders in North Carolina are pushing for extreme laws that would take away the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies. The Vice President thanked North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper for using every tool to protect access to reproductive health care, including a recent state executive order issued to protect patients seeking care from harassment and intimidation, and his veto of extreme legislative attacks on reproductive rights.Please see the full press release here
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program
On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a change to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program rules for a limited time as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency. Millions of non-profit and government employees have federal student loans and may now be eligible for loan forgiveness or additional credit through the temporary changes, known as the Limited PSLF Waiver. Under normal PSLF rules, borrowers must make 120 payments on a Direct Loan while on a qualifying repayment plan and employed by a qualifying public service employer. Now, for a limited period of time, federal student loan borrowers may receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. Borrowers can apply for the waiver at www.studentaid.gov/pslfwaiver. The waiver will run through October 31, 2022. This means some borrowers will need to consolidate and/or submit a PSLF form – the single application used for a review of employment certification, payment counts, and processing of forgiveness – on or before October 31, 2022, to have previously ineligible payments counted. After October 31, 2022, normal PSLF rules will apply. We encourage you to take action to help elevate the PSLF program amongst government employees.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Actions to Strengthen Infant Formula Access
Since Abbott Nutrition’s voluntary infant formula recall to address health and safety concerns at its Sturgis, Michigan manufacturing plant, the Biden-Harris Administration has been working around the clock to ensure that safe and nutritious infant formula is available to every family that needs it. In light of the recent crisis and new authority provided through the bipartisan Access to Baby Formula Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a series of additional steps it will take to strengthen resiliency in WIC, which covers the cost of infant formula for families with limited means. These actions will ensure that the families who rely on the WIC program have safe and reliable infant formula options even in an emergency. Currently 1.2 million infants receive WIC formula benefits, and more than half of infant formula is purchased by WIC participants.Please see the full Fact Sheet here
Visit from First Lady Olena Zelenska of Ukraine
White House Summit on the Future of COVID-19 Vaccines
You are invited to join the White House Summit on the Future of COVID-19 Vaccines via livestream on Tuesday, July 26th from 11:00 AM – 3:15 PM ET. RSVP here to attend. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the critical importance of vaccines in saving lives and protecting the economy. Our vaccines continue to protect Americans against serious illness. At the same time, a new generation of vaccines has the potential to better prevent infections and be more broadly effective against future variants. This summit will outline a path towards these innovative, next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, featuring leaders who are on the cutting-edge of discoveries. The event agenda will be shared closer to the event. The full RSVP link is below – please share with colleagues and members of your community. All are welcome. RSVP link:  https://pitc.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_8Lx74G-PSYOwmdwfcnQ7AQ
The Innovation Station ROAD TRIP
The State Department’s Intergovernmental Affairs team, in partnership with the Office of Global Women’s Issues, is starting a new virtual event series called The Innovation Station ROAD TRIP. This new series is occurring in collaboration with various U.S. cities, and events will facilitate discussions between woman innovators, local governments, and other community leaders. The first event is occurring on July 26th at 11AM EST (details and registration info below), the City of Chicago will serve as a co-host.
  • The Innovation Station ROAD TRIP: Chicago
  • July 26, 2022, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM ET
  • Themes: Investing in women-owned businesses; facilitating climate innovation
  • Register HERE
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