This week, as President Biden showcased America’s leadership on the world stage, Biden-Harris Cabinet members and administration officials led a nationwide economic travel blitz to highlight how the President’s economic agenda is delivering results for communities here in the states.
Biden-Harris officials fanned out across the country – from Alabama to Alaska – and spoke directly to the American people about the actions the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to tackle inflation, lower costs for families, create good-paying union jobs, and how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Bipartisan Innovation Act will help America win the competition for the 21st century.
See below for a sampling of what Americans are reading in the states following this week’s economic travel blitz.
Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, Office of Management & Budget Director Young, EPA Administrator Regan and Infrastructure Coordinator Landrieu in Louisiana
New Orleans Advocate: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has list of projects from Louisiana to consider
Louisiana will get its share of the more than $1 trillion in infrastructure spending that President Joe Biden and Congress are sending to states, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday. “A lot of the opportunities for passenger rail are in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast,” Buttigieg said. “Part of it is funding, but part of it is having the right support for passenger rail when it’s running on lines that are owned by the freight railways. Freight railroads have a business responsibility, but they also have a legal responsibility to be good hosts to passenger rail when it’s on their metal.”
“This” was to become in March the first Black woman to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget, a federal agency that’s little known outside of Washington but that makes spending and regulatory decisions that affect all Americans. Young was speaking Friday after appearing on a panel at the Essence Festival with two other Biden administration cabinet officials – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan. [….] Asked about the one Louisiana issue that captures her attention at OMB, Young replied, “Disaster, disaster, disaster response. It is something personal to me. After Katrina, I got to work on aid as an Appropriations baby staffer. I’ve kept that interest all through my career and have worked with the Louisiana delegation to make sure Louisiana has the resources.” [….] Noting that President Biden visited Lake Charles in May 2021, in the wake of hurricanes Laura and Delta, Young said, “I get to work with someone who wants to deliver for everybody. There shouldn’t be any partisan politics in disaster response.”
With the EPA taking a lead role, President Joe Biden’s administration had aimed to slash carbon emissions in half by 2030 and eventually steer the power sector toward an emissions-free goal before 2040. Regan says that goal is still achievable. The EPA is still assessing the full impact of the decision on its ability to regulate power plants, but Regan said the agency can take an even more aggressive approach against other emitters, including vehicles and the oil and gas industry. “We’ve already (enacted) the most stringent emission standards on light-duty cars, and we’re proposing more for heavy duty vehicles,” he said. “And we’ve proposed rules for methane emissions for the oil and gas industry that are the most stringent in history.” The agency is also curbing the use of hydrofluorocarbons, the climate-warming chemicals used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
Commerce Secretary Raimondo at SelectUSA Summit in Maryland
US Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo on Monday stepped up pressure on Congress to approve US$52 billion in funding for chip makers to expand operations, warning that firms would abandon American expansion plans without the legislation … Raimondo’s warning came after Taiwan’s GlobalWafers announced plans earlier on Monday to build a US$5 billion plant in Sherman, Texas to produce the silicon wafers needed for manufacturing chips. Raimondo said the company’s CEO told her the investment was contingent on Congress approving the funding.
Speaking at an investment summit Monday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the US currently produces 10% to 12% of the world’s microprocessor chips, down from nearly 40% in earlier years. “We took our eye off the ball,” the secretary said. “We stopped investing in chip manufacturing and chip R&D. And, in search of cheap labor, we watched a lot of our manufacturing leave our shores.” The Biden administration has for months sought the passage of a bill that would appropriate $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. The legislation would provide billions of dollars to boost research and development with an eye toward creating new technologies to help the US stay ahead of a rising China.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Fudge in Florida
WFOR (CBS Miami, FL): HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge visits South Florida to get firsthand look at housing crisis
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge’s first stop was Lauderhill Point, a HUD apartment complex for 176 low-income families currently undergoing renovation. “It is so different when you see it for yourself, that’s why I’m here, it is important that we address the housing crisis,” she said…. The Biden administration has allocated $10 billion dollars for housing grants administered by HUD and has requested $30 billion more. Millions of dollars are headed to Florida….
Local, state and federal officials convened in Jacksonville on Monday to tour several federally supported housing complexes and tout positive changes made at Hilltop Village apartments, a complex that has been rife with problems for years… During a news conference after the tours at St. Clair Evans Academy, Fudge said Hilltop has had a new management company for the last five months and work has continued on improving the complex and ridding it of a rodent infestation. Several residents of Hilltop also spoke and agreed that living conditions at the apartment complex have improved.
The nation’s top housing official visited Miami on Tuesday and called the city the “epicenter” of a housing crisis in the United States. “I decided I was going to Miami, to the epicenter of the housing crisis in this country,” Marcia Fudge, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said during a visit to Miami-Dade County’s Liberty Square complex. In Miami-Dade, HUD funding provides the bulk of the county’s $700 million budget for public housing, which includes complexes such as Liberty Square and rental vouchers under the federal Section 8 program, which subsidizes rents for low-income residents with requirements for stable rents and price caps.
Energy Secretary Granholm in Pennsylvania
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited the Pittsburgh region to meet regional leaders to discuss the Southwestern Pennsylvania’s future in the clean energy sector…First, Granholm toured a former steel factory in Leetsdale that has been converted into a solar manufacturing facility with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon…Then, Granholm joined a roundtable at the United Steelworkers Building in Downtown Pittsburgh to discuss the region’s efforts to rebuild the energy sector by embracing energy storage technology, hydrogen, natural gas, nuclear, and green buildings.
WPXI (NBC Pittsburgh, PA): US energy secretary, Sen. Bob Casey in Leetsdale to celebrate grand opening of new steel facility
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) were in Leetsdale, Allegheny County on Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening of a new BCI Steel production facility at the site of a former Bethlehem Steel plant…”Pittsburgh is the emblematic community that has risen from the ashes, like a phoenix,” said Granholm…”It’s going to put a lot of our people to work, but it also shows our commitment to investing in the future,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: U.S. Steel meets U.S. solar in Leetsdale manufacturing facility
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm knows how to work a metaphor…”This facility built landing craft for the invasion of Normandy,” she said on Tuesday…”What you’ll be delivering might be part of the biggest peace plan in the world,” she said…Ms. Granholm then headed to Downtown to hold a roundtable on energy jobs at the headquarters of United Steelworkers. The Department of Energy released its annual energy jobs report on Tuesday, which estimated that Pennsylvania now has more solar jobs than coal jobs (5,339 vs. 5,062).
Transportation Secretary Buttigieg in Alabama
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, joined by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, visited Birmingham on Thursday to announce the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Reconnecting Communities program, a $1 billion plan designed to restore community contact to transportation and increase economic opportunity. “Transportation can connect us to jobs, services, and loved ones, but we’ve also seen countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built,” Buttigieg said. “Using funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are proud to announce the launch of Reconnecting Communities: the first-ever dedicated federal initiative to unify neighborhoods living with the impacts of past infrastructure choices that divided them.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made a stop in Birmingham Thursday to promote a new bus transit system as an example of what further infrastructure funding can do to connect communities. The Birmingham Xpress is set to start running in September, a 15-mile bus route between Five Points West and Woodlawn. Buttigieg was in the city to support the $20 million project funded through the ‘Reconnecting Communities’ Pilot Program that’s part of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year. “It’s a major milestone that we have been working on throughout this administration,” Buttigieg said.
Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Landrieu in Colorado
KDVR (Fox Denver, CO):Polis, state leaders highlight new money for Central 70 Project
The Central 70 Project, which completely redeveloped a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 70 through Denver and removed an aging viaduct in the area, will see a boost in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act… Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis joined Senator Michael Bennet, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Congresswoman Diana DeGette to welcome White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu to highlight how the new infrastructure act will impact the massive improvement to the highway.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is celebrating the near completion of the Central 70 Project. The White House infrastructure coordinator was invited to see the major milestone. The project improves safety through the 10-mile stretch between I-25 and Chambers Road by widening lanes and shoulders as well as improving ramps and bridges… Gov. Jared Polis, Senator Michael Bennet, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Rep. Diana DeGette all welcomed White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu to Colorado on Wednesday morning.
U.S. Trade Representative Tai in Alaska
KTUU (NBC Anchorage, AK): Alaskan fishing industry leaders meet with US trade ambassador in Anchorage
Ambassador Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative, and Sen. Dan Sullivan held a roundtable discussion with leaders from the state’s fishing industry at Hotel Captain Cook on Thursday… The U.S. trade representative said Alaskan seafood exports totaled over $2 billion in 2021. She also touched on the work being done by the Biden administration to level the playing field for the American fishing industry against countries like China.
Labor Secretary Walsh in Mississippi & Arkansas
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited Philander Smith College Wednesday to announce a $2 million grant for the Little Rock Workforce Development Board – one of 18 organizations to receive a grant nationwide. In total, $50.6 million of the federal funding – Pathway Home grants – will “provide training and employment services to adults reentering the workforce following incarceration in a local jail or state correctional facility,” according to a press release. “These grants will help people who are working for second chances,” Walsh said. “They’re about reducing crime. They’re also about meeting the needs of the local labor markets, like here, in Little Rock.”
Mississippi Public Broadcasting: Labor officials discuss how to protect Mississippi’s workforce
Mississippi is one of several states that limits the right to unionize, with laws that allow employers to terminate someone at any time. The state also does not have a Department of Labor, and Secretary Marty Walsh with the US. Department of Labor says that places his office as the closest governing body. He is speaking with workers’ rights groups across the state about the hurdles facing Mississippi’s workforce. “Hopefully, working supporting people, continuing to fight for wage equity, gender equity, pay equity, and other issue pay equity,” says Walsh. “In this country, the fact that we pay women less than men, and make excuses for whey we do that, that’s just wrong. It’s 2022, it’s time to whatever job a man has and a woman does the same exact job, she would be paid the same exact rate.”
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in Iowa
Iowa Capital Dispatch: Vilsack announces $10 million grant program to develop new uses for ag waste
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, during an eastern Iowa visit Tuesday, announced a $10 million initiative to help farms and businesses find uses for waste byproducts. The grant program is one piece of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure law, passed in November.
Cedar Rapids Gazette: Vilsack announces $10M grant program to find uses for ag waste
For U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, infrastructure is not just about investing in roads and bridges and broadband internet. It’s also about investing in the future and inspiring innovation, he says… At an event Tuesday at Dan and Debbie’s Creamery in Ely, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and former Iowa governor announced funding for a program created under the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Iowa Capital Dispatch: Vilsack, Axne urge Iowa farmers to apply for derecho relief funds
Farms across Iowa – and much of the Midwest – faced billions of dollars of damage in August 2020, when the windstorm destroyed crops, silos and barns. But farms do not have to recover from those damages alone: They can take advantage of Emergency Relief Program funds to recoup financial losses, Vilsack and Axne said.
Labor Secretary Walsh in Arkansas and Mississippi
KUAR (NPR Little Rock, AR): U.S. Labor Secretary announces job training initiative during Little Rock visit
Arkansas is getting $2 million from the federal government to help adults re-enter the workforce after being incarcerated. The funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will go to the Little Rock Workforce Development Board to provide training and employment services for people recently released from jails and prisons. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh announced the funding in a visit to Little Rock’s Philander Smith College on Wednesday. “These grants will help people who are working for second chances, they’re about reducing crime. They’re also about meeting the needs of the local labor markets, like here in Little Rock,” Walsh said.
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh made his third stop in two days in the South on Thursday when he headlined a roundtable discussion on workers’ rights at Jackson State University. After stops in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Greenville, Walsh, the former mayor of Boston, spoke to a room of nearly 100 people on the struggles many in the Mid-South and across the nation are facing regarding workplace rights, compensation and conditions. He made note of the H-2A Visa Program, which is meant to help employers find workers where there aren’t enough workers. Instead, in the Mississippi Delta, Walsh said farmers are using the program to bring in foreign workers at a lower wage to replace Black farm workers who have been in place for many years. Walsh said that in his role as Labor Secretary, he wants to help make life better for people and hopes honest dialogue will help educate people in the South and the rest of the country. “I am taking much of this back with me to Washington, D.C., and see how we can make a difference,” Walsh said.