Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • State and Local Officials in the South Speak Up to Fix the Broken Immigration System

    Ed. note: This post is the first in a series of five. Check back on the White House Blog throughout the week for more statements from leaders around the country.

    Across the country, Democratic and Republican state and local officials are speaking out about the need for commonsense immigration reform. This week, we’ll share thoughts from governors, mayors, county executives, state legislators, attorneys general, treasurers and more about why they support immigration reform and how fixing the broken immigration system would impact their communities.

    “For too many years our country has struggled to find an effective solution to immigration reform, with the central issue being the question of how to deal with undocumented workers.  We have been encouraged, however, that in recent months a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators has been working together to establish a path that allows those workers, the great majority of whom are hard-working dignified individuals, to become lawful tax-payers.  It is important for the continued growth and competitiveness of our country that we find a solution to this issue, and I urge Congress to continue working together to establish a fair, but humane, solution that establishes such a path.”

    Miami-Dade, Florida Mayor Carlos Gimenez

    “There is no doubt that the economic, social and cultural contributions of immigrants continue to enrich our cities and communities. We cannot ever forget that immigrants have helped make our nation stronger. This is an issue of great importance here in Georgia, and as such, I support President Barack Obama’s proposal to achieve meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.”

    Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Kasim Reed

    “In Birmingham, we recognize the value of diversity. We strive to be inclusive and to give a sense of respect for all cultures and all races. Here in the cradle of the Civil Rights struggle, our history mandates that we embrace all cultures and ensure that all are treated equally and fairly and with the honor they deserve.”

    Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell

    “Louisville is a growing international city in the heartland of America. Comprehensive immigration reform is essential for us to spur entrepreneurism and grow jobs. America's population represents all of the immigrants of the world. The quicker immigration reform is addressed and resolved, the quicker our international competitive economic advantage will accelerate.”

    Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer

  • State and Local Officials Voice Support for Nomination of Anthony Foxx

    On Monday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next Transportation Secretary.

    Following the announcement, state and local officials across the country spoke out about the nomination and voiced their support for their colleague.

    Avondale, Arizona Mayor and President of the National League of Cities Marie Lopez Rogers

    “I applaud President Obama’s nomination of Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next Secretary of Transportation. The Mayor has done an excellent job implementing transportation projects and programs in his city to the benefit of all Charlotte residents and businesses. I’m confident that he will bring this same leadership and know-how to the nation’s capital and will be an excellent addition to the President’s cabinet."

    Fresno, California Mayor Ashley Swearengin:

    “I am so pleased that the President has chosen a fellow mayor and good friend as Secretary of Transportation. Anthony Foxx understands the key role transportation infrastructure plays in unlocking economic growth in our cities and our nation.  I look forward to working with Secretary Foxx on transportation issues of local, regional and national significance.”

  • President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, as Next Transportation Secretary

    President Barack Obama announces Mayor Anthony Foxx, of Charlotte, N.C., as his nominee for Transportation Secretary

    President Barack Obama announces Mayor Anthony Foxx, of Charlotte, N.C., as his nominee for Transportation Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, April 29, 2013. Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood applauds at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, President Obama announced that he intends to nominate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next Secretary of Transportation.

    If confirmed, Mayor Foxx will follow in the footsteps of one of the best Secretaries of Transportation ever, Secretary Ray LaHood. During Secretary LaHood’s tenure, he has been a tireless advocate for rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating good jobs that strengthen the economy.

    As the President shared in his remarks, one of the things that Secretary LaHood understands well is the value of establishing strong relationships with the nation’s mayors, governors and county officials. In continuing that tradition, the President noted that Mayor Foxx has “the respect of his peers, mayors and governors all across the country.”

    As leader of one of America’s most vibrant cities, Mayor Foxx has a record of delivering on transportation. Since he took office, Charlotte has broken ground on a new Streetcar Project, expanded the international airport, and extended the city’s light rail system. He knows firsthand the importance of investing in transportation and how that investment can be a catalyst for job creation and greater opportunities for all residents.

    Today, we thank Secretary Ray LaHood for his extraordinary service, leadership, and record of accomplishment.  Looking forward, we know that Mayor Foxx’s experience and deep knowledge of the impact of federal transportation policy on local communities will make him an extraordinary Transportation Secretary.

    David Agnew is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

  • States Step Up to Help Veterans and Spouses Get Back to Work

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, April 17, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Md., April 17, 2013. Seated, from left are, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Gov. Martin O'Malley, and House Speaker Michael Busch. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    NOTE: This blog is cross-posted from the Joining Forces blog

    President Obama and the First Lady are committed to doing everything in their power to assist the brave men and women who have served our country in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Over the last year and a half, the President has overseen the first re-design of the military’s transition assistance program in twenty years; created new tax credits to spur veteran hiring; expanded re-employment services, including the Veterans Job Bank and the Veterans Gold Card; and launched a series of initiatives to expand the number of veterans that get jobs in healthcare and first responder fields. Additionally, under the great leadership of the First Lady and Dr. Biden, Joining Forces has expanded hiring and training partnerships with the private sector in an effort to help our veterans and their spouses get back to work.

    Yet, our veterans still face major hurdles as they transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce. According to a 2012 survey by Prudential and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 60 percent of survey respondents said they had trouble translating their military skills into civilian job experience, creating a significant barrier to employment. Many high-demand, good-paying jobs like paramedics, truck drivers, nurses, and welders, require either a national certification or state occupational license to be hired, and currently our national and state systems make it very difficult for service members and veterans to obtain these civilian certifications and licenses that directly translate to their military training. Often times service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive these occupational credentials, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential training requirements. And employers, many with significant needs for skilled workers, are left waiting for these military members to complete these, oftentimes lengthy, credentialing training programs – programs that many veterans could have taught themselves.

  • Colorado Mayor Shares Thoughts on Gun Safety and President Obama’s Visit to Denver

    Last Thursday, President Obama stood with parents and teachers of gun violence victims to urge Congress to take action.  He also promised the American people that he had not forgotten the 20 innocent children and six brave educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary more than 100 days ago.

    Today, the President will travel to the Denver, Colorado, where he will continue asking the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence.

    The President will meet with local law enforcement officials and community leaders to discuss the new measures the state recently put in place, including closing loopholes in the background check system to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who should not have access to them. 

    Golden, Colorado Mayor Marjorie Sloan and Chair of the Colorado Mayors Against Illegal Guns group shares her thoughts on President Obama’s visit to Denver:

    One of the reasons I’m proud to be Mayor of Golden is because I believe our state represents what’s best about this country: the ability of our community to join together in a time of tragedy and come up with common-sense solutions on gun safety.

    The legislation signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on March 20 includes closing the background check loophole, which is supported by overwhelming numbers both here in Colorado and nationally. We’re talking about this level of support in Colorado - a western, gun-owning state. Americans have had enough.

    And that’s why I’m glad President Obama will be here on Wednesday. Like Coloradans, he has not forgotten what happened in Columbine, in Aurora, and in Newtown. We won’t let those families, and all the families touched by gun violence, down.

    The voices we heard when we passed gun safety laws in Colorado were from Jane Dougherty, whose sister Mary Sherlach was the school psychologist killed running at the Sandy Hook gunman, trying to protect the children. From Dave Hoover, a veteran police officer whose beloved nephew, 18 year old AJ Boik, was shot sitting next to his girlfriend in the Aurora theater. From Tom Mauser, who has been wearing his son Daniel's shoes for 14 years and fighting for gun safety ever since Daniel was killed at Columbine.

    We welcome President Obama to Colorado. His presence here will remind the nation that families of Columbine, and Aurora, and Newtown, and the 33 Americans killed every day by gun violence, deserve a vote, not just in Colorado but in Congress.

    Watch President Obama’s remarks live today at 5:00 PM EDT in Denver, CO.

    Read more about the President’s common-sense proposals for reducing gun violence.

  • White House engages NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC)


    On Sunday, I had to the opportunity to have a discussion with the National Association of Counties (NACo) Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) to talk about the President’s State of the Union address and the issues facing urban counties across the country.

    During the discussion we talked about the President’s commitment to providing “ladders of opportunity” to Americans aspiring to move into the middle class to make sure that hard work leads to a decent living through increasing the minimum wage, providing high-quality preschool for every child, and partnering with communities to help put people back to work.

    As part of President’s proposal, county officials discussed how they could play a role in the  Administration’s “Promise Zone” initiative, which seeks to align multi-faceted federal investment with private investment, to help bring about lasting and replicable transformation to communities racked with systemic poverty.

    Also on the agenda was a discussion on how counties will be impacted by the sequester from reduced federal funding for job training programs, cuts in funding for programs that provide meals for seniors, and fewer vaccines for children. County officials across the county know that the only way to responsibly reduce the deficit and protect the middle class is through a balanced approach, much like they champion in their communities every day.

    In addition , county officials also had the opportunity to hear from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder on how the Obama Administration continues to strengthen its relationship with the nation’s counties.

    Read more about the Administration’s strong partnership with county officials

    Jay Williams is the Deputy Director in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs