Our Top Stories
May 24, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigration reform advocates and DREAMers themselves, and Gershwin Prize winner Carol King and friends to the White House, and delivered a major counter-terrorism speech at the National Defense University.
Megan SlackMay 23, 2013
05:32 PM EDT
Today at National Defense University, President Obama laid out the framework for U.S. counterterrorism strategy as we wind down the war in Afghanistan.
President Obama discussed how the threat of terrorism has changed substantially since September 11, 2011, and explained his comprehensive strategy to meet these threats.
May 23, 2013
10:15 AM EDT
May 23, 2013
07:56 AM EDT
Today marks one year since we released the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), as part of the President’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people.
The Strategy is built on the proposition that all Americans should be able to access information from their Government anywhere, anytime, and on any device; that open government data - data that are publicly accessible in easy-to-use formats - can fuel innovation and economic growth; and that technology can make government more transparent, more efficient, and more effective.
Ezra MechaberMay 22, 2013
03:15 PM EDT
Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, click here to apply for assistance and learn about other resources that are available to you. Check back here for more information — we'll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.
President Obama continues to receive updates on the response to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, and continues to direct his team to provide all available resources to support state and local partners leading the response.
More than 400 federal personnel remain on the ground in the impacted area, including teams that are working directly with families and individuals who were affected by the tornadoes. As of last night, more than 2,200 individuals impacted by the tornadoes had registered with FEMA for direct assistance available through the major disaster declaration provided Monday night. (For those in affected areas, find out how to apply for assistance here or learn about other resources available to you)
According to FEMA, since Monday night, the national Urban Search and Rescue teams completed searches of more than 1,200 structures in the affected area.
FEMA and federal partners have established an Incident Support Base to stage commodities. More than 127,000 liters of water and nearly 30,000 meals have been delivered to the state to support response efforts.
FEMA also continues to work closely with organizations such as the American Red Cross, who continue to bring resources to support impacted families. (Learn more about how to give or get help through the American Red Cross)
Update 2: Press Secretary Jay Carney announced in today's briefing that on Sunday, May 26, President Obama "will travel to the Oklahoma City area to see firsthand the response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that have impacted the area on Sunday night and Monday. He will visit with affected families as well as thank first responders."
Update 1: Overnight, the President continued to receive updates from his team on the ongoing response in Oklahoma. Following yesterday's call to the Mayor of Moore Oklahoma, Glenn Lewis, the President spoke again to Governor Fallin expressing his concern for those who had been impacted and to reiterate that he had directed his Administration to provide all available resources to support the response led by the Governor and her team. Last night, the President also spoke with Senator James Inhofe to make clear that FEMA stood ready to continue to support the people of Oklahoma through the immediate response phase as well as the recovery, and to let the Senator know that Oklahomans remained in his thoughts and prayers.
On Tuesday, at the President’s direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrived in Oklahoma to ensure that federal resources were effectively supporting the response efforts. Administrator Fugate is on the ground again today, and this morning Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also travel to the affected area to meet with local officials and see ongoing response efforts first hand.
As of this morning, FEMA has more than 400 personnel already on the ground supporting the response, including three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams, an Incident Management Assistance Team, as well as personnel focused on helping survivors register for and receive the federal assistance made available by the major disaster declaration signed by the President on Monday night. As of 2 a.m. this morning, more than 1,000 individuals affected by the tornadoes and severe weather in Oklahoma had registered for assistance with FEMA.
The President received a briefing this morning by his team, and will continue to be updated on the response throughout the day.
Update 3: As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.
Update 2: This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they "would have all the resources that they need at their disposal."
For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention. There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.
"Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need," President Obama said. "Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now."
Dr. Jill BidenMay 22, 2013
09:00 AM EDT
On Friday, I had the honor of addressing a class of graduates at Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, New Mexico. The Navajo Tech graduating Class of 2013 earned certificates in 34 fields that will provide the tools they need to serve their community as teachers, nurses, engineers, mechanics, bankers, chefs and countless other opportunities all made possible by their commitment and dedication to improving themselves through the pursuit of a higher education.
Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) play a key role in President Obama’s educational goal of making the United States home to the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. TCUs are critical institutions that build tribal communities, create good jobs across Indian Country, and provide Native Americans with the skills they need to do those jobs.
As a community college teacher, I love seeing what a tremendous difference a community like the one I saw at Navajo Tech can make in the lives of its students.
The impressive class of graduates included veterans like Jerrilene Kenneth, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army mechanic, before she became the first college graduate in her family with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. It also included Navajo Tech Student of the Year Sherwin Becenti, who dropped out of college more than ten years ago but returned to school in order to build a better life for his family and set a good example for his children. Dwight Carlston, who grew up with no running water or electricity, was also among the graduates. Dwight maintained a 3.8 grade point average, ran cross country, served as Student Senate President and was recently elected as the Student Congress president of all 38 tribal colleges.
Julie Chavez RodriguezMay 21, 2013
05:41 PM EDT
As the Senate debates bipartisan immigration reform legislation, the President and the Vice President hosted a meeting today in the Oval Office with young immigrants, also known as DREAMers, as well as with the siblings and spouses of undocumented immigrants. The meeting was an important opportunity for the President and the Vice President to hear directly from people whose families are affected daily by our nation’s broken immigration system.
The President and the Vice President were moved by the stories of courage and determination these young immigrants shared. The DREAMers shared how the deferred action changed their lives for the better and emphasized that they and their families need a permanent solution that will allow them to fully contribute to the country they call home. Their stories were both powerful and authentic, inspiring us all to remember the important task and responsibility we carry as public servants and members of the Obama administration.
Megan SlackMay 20, 2013
06:30 PM EDT
Today President Obama welcomed President Thein Sein of Myanmar to the White House for a bilateral meeting, the first visit to the United States by a leader of that country in almost 50 years.
“During this period in between there have been significant bilateral tensions between our countries,” President Obama said. “But what has allowed this shift in relations is the leadership that President Sein has shown in moving Myanmar down a path of both political and economic reform.”
But as President Sein is the first to admit, this is a long journey and there is still much work to be done. And during our discussions, President Sein shared with me the fact -- the manner in which he intends to continue to move forward on releasing more political prisoners; making sure that the government of Myanmar institutionalizes some of the political reforms that have already taken place; how rule of law is codified so that it continues into the future; and the process whereby these ethnic conflicts that have existed are resolved not simply by a ceasefire but an actual incorporation of all these communities into the political process.
Megan SlackMay 19, 2013
04:33 PM EDT
Today, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2013 graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.
“It is one of the great honors of my life to be able to address this gathering here today,” President Obama told the graduates. He spoke about Morehouse’s history, and “ the unique sense of purpose that this place has always infused -- the conviction that this is a training ground not only for individual success, but for leadership that can change the world.”
“Your generation is uniquely poised for success unlike any generation of African Americans that came before it,” President Obama said.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have work -- because if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that too few of our brothers have the opportunities that you’ve had here at Morehouse. In troubled neighborhoods all across this country -- many of them heavily African American -- too few of our citizens have role models to guide them. Communities just a couple miles from my house in Chicago, communities just a couple miles from here -- they’re places where jobs are still too scarce and wages are still too low; where schools are underfunded and violence is pervasive; where too many of our men spend their youth not behind a desk in a classroom, but hanging out on the streets or brooding behind a jail cell.
My job, as President, is to advocate for policies that generate more opportunity for everybody -- policies that strengthen the middle class and give more people the chance to climb their way into the middle class. Policies that create more good jobs and reduce poverty, and educate more children, and give more families the security of health care, and protect more of our children from the horrors of gun violence. That's my job. Those are matters of public policy, and it is important for all of us -- black, white and brown -- to advocate for an America where everybody has got a fair shot in life. Not just some. Not just a few.
Megan SlackMay 18, 2013
07:30 PM EDT
On Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address to the Bowie State University Class of 2013. Bowie State, which opened just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, "was founded not just to educate African Americans, but to teach them how to educate others,” the First Lady explained.
And since then, generations of students from all backgrounds have come to this school to be challenged, inspired and empowered. And they have gone on to become leaders here in Maryland and across this country, running businesses, educating young people, leading the high-tech industries that will power our economy for decades to come.
That is the story of Bowie State University, the commitment to educating our next generation and building ladders of opportunity for anyone willing to work for it. All of you are now part of that story. And with that tremendous privilege comes an important set of responsibilities -- responsibilities that you inherit the moment you leave this stadium with that diploma in your hand.
On Saturday, she traveled to Nashville to speak to the graduating class of Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. The First Lady took the opportunity to talk to the students – all of whom are going on to higher education or the military – about some of the skills they’ll need as they make their way through college and through life: resilience, grit, and the ability to pick themselves up when they fall.
Megan SlackMay 18, 2013
06:00 AM EDT
President Obama talks about his belief that a rising, thriving middle class is the true engine of economic growth, and that to reignite that engine and continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, we need to invest in three areas: jobs, skills and opportunity.
May 17, 2013
06:08 PM EDT
Obama Cares: On the Friday before Mother’s Day, President Obama explained how the Affordable Care Act is helping women. For example, the law prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men and requires insurance companies to cover preventive services like mammograms free of charge.
Thanks to the women in this room and people all across the country, we worked really hard -- and it’s now been more than three years since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and I signed it into law. It’s been nearly a year since the Supreme Court upheld the law under the Constitution. And, by the way, six months ago, the American people went to the polls and decided to keep going in this direction. So the law is here to stay.
The President asked Americans to learn the facts about the Affordable Care Act and the wide array of benefits the law is already providing. You can visit WhiteHouse.gov/HealthReform and HealthCare.gov to see what the law does for your family.
Make sure you know what the actual facts are, because you stand to benefit if you’re not already benefiting from this thing. Don’t let people confuse you. Don’t let them run the okiedoke on you. Don’t be bamboozled.
The nearly 85% of Americans who have health insurance are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. Now the White House is asking Americans from across the country to speak now in support of health care reform. Lend your name, share your story, and be part of making the law a success here.
Heather ZichalMay 17, 2013
05:50 PM EDT
As the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, the Department of Defense (DOD) knows that improving efficiency and harnessing new energy technologies is imperative – not only to achieve significant cost savings, but to give our troops better energy options on the battlefield, at sea, in the air, and at home.
At DOD’s fixed installations alone – including, barracks, offices, and hospitals – energy bills come in around $4 billion each year. Given this large footprint as well as the importance of safe, secure, and affordable energy sources to mission readiness, the Department has made one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, by developing a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable energy – including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal – on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025 – enough to power 750,000 homes.
When it comes specifically to solar power, a new report today from the Solar Energy Industries Association underscores the progress that DOD is making towards its goals.
“Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy” highlights solar energy’s growing role in powering military installations and military homes across America. According to the report, as of early 2013, there are more than 130 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems powering Navy, Army, and Air Force bases in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, these installations provide enough clean energy to power more than 20,000 American homes.
Valerie JarrettMay 17, 2013
05:28 PM EDT
Today at the White House, we convened the 10th annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Secretary of State Kerry led the meeting, which was attended by Cabinet secretaries and representatives from agencies including State, Justice, Defense, Labor, Human and Health Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, as well as USAID, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Management and Budget, and White House policy offices.
Each department, agency, and office shared their strategies to prevent trafficking, protect victims, prosecute offenders, and partner with civil society— both at home and around the world.
We reflected on the significant progress we have made over the last year, as well as the work left to do.
Last September, during his speech on human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama announced several initiatives that build off the strong record of this task force.
These initiatives cover a wide range of areas, from government contracting regulation, to more coordinated responses to trafficking, to better victim services, to innovative public-private partnerships that will create technology tools for survivors and law enforcement.
The meeting today follows the first-ever White House Forum on Human Trafficking last month, as well as the convening of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that focus its entire report on human trafficking the next day. Furthermore, we celebrated the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in March.
Today, we each committed to specific goals to combat trafficking.
May 17, 2013
04:14 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama demonstrated his continued commitment to increasing the diversity of our federal judiciary, so that it better reflects the nation it serves. He nominated four distinguished women to serve on four different courts—women who not only have the necessary intellect, integrity and fair-mindedness to serve as federal judges, but whose nominations also represent important “firsts” in their state or district:
- If confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Judge Carolyn McHugh would be the first woman from Utah to serve on that court. Currently, the Tenth Circuit only has one woman judge serving among its nine active members.
- Pamela Reeves and Elizabeth Wolford would be the first women to serve as district court judges in the Eastern District of Tennessee and Western District of New York, respectively, if confirmed.
- Debra Brown would be the first African-American district court judge to serve in the Northern District of Mississippi and the first African-American woman to serve as an Article III judge in the entire state of Mississippi, if confirmed.
President Obama’s judicial nominees already have broken the gender barrier in circuit courts in six states, as well as nine district courts, and have shattered dozens of glass ceilings for minorities. And on Monday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Michael McShane to be a district court judge in Oregon; if confirmed, he would be the fifth openly gay judge appointed by President Obama, compared to only one in history before.
Megan SlackMay 17, 2013
02:00 PM EDT
Today, President Obama is headed to Baltimore, Maryland to talk early childhood education, infrastructure and ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living.
The President’s first stop today was at Moravia Park Elementary School, where he took part in a literacy lesson with pre-k students. The students are part of the school’s Judy Center, which provides comprehensive early childhood services including Head Start, child care, intervention services and family engagement. (Learn more about President Obama’s plan to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America)
Kori SchulmanMay 17, 2013
11:02 AM EDT
A class of third graders from North Philadelphia recently wrote to Vice President Biden about reducing gun violence. This week, the Vice President sat down to share some of these children's words with you — and an expression that belonged to his mom: "out of the mouths of babes come gems of wisdom." Take a listen.
May 17, 2013
10:28 AM EDT
President Obama today signed a Presidential Memorandum that will shave months, and even years, off the time it takes to review and approve major infrastructure projects. This means that states, local governments, and private developers will be able to start construction sooner, create jobs earlier, and fix our nation’s infrastructure faster.
On March 22, 2012, the President issued an Executive Order launching a government-wide initiative to improve the efficiency of federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects. Since then, agencies have expedited the review and permitting of 50 major projects, including bridges, transit , railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy projects.
Federal agencies have also identified a set of best practices for efficient review and permitting. Those range from expanding information technology (IT) tools to strategies - like simultaneous review - for improving collaboration. Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs all relevant agencies to put these best practices into effect.
Cutting red tape and streamlining the process for making permitting decisions will help us meet the President’s goal of cutting in half the timelines for major infrastructure projects, while creating better outcomes for our communities and for the environment.
The President’s initiative is already showing real results. For example, this afternoon, President Obama and Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari will visit Baltimore, where we sped up the approval process for the city’s Red Line rail transit corridor by six months.
We also recently expedited Federal approval for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York. By speeding up the approval process, Federal agencies trimmed up to three years off the timeline for this multi-billion dollar project that will help put Americans back to work.
May 17, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President honored fallen officers and top cops, spoke on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, invited both the Prime Minister of England and of Turkey to the White House, and kicked off a new Google hangout series on science and technology.
Matt ComptonMay 16, 2013
04:20 PM EDT
This afternoon, David Simas sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to speak out in favor of the health care law. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Hi all --
Today, Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to come together, cast a vote, and try to repeal the Affordable Care Act just as they've done nearly 40 times before.
Don't expect much to come of it.
The health care law was passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. It's been the law of the land for more than three years. It's not going anywhere. We know that, and so do the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But instead of creating jobs and growing the economy, some of them want to make yet another gesture of protest -- even if it's meaningless.
So we're responding with a little gesture of our own, and we need your help.
We're asking people like you to speak out, to let us know if you're one of the 85 percent of Americans who've already benefitted from the health care law, and make a public stand in support of Obamacare.