President Obama Meets with the Cabinet to Discuss Economy, Iraq, BP Oil Spill and Energy and Climate Legislation

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Yesterday, President Obama held a Cabinet meeting at the White House to discuss a variety of topics with the Cabinet ranging from economic growth, national security and the war in Iraq, the BP Oil Spill, and the need for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. 

Following the meeting the President gave brief remarks in the Roosevelt Room.  The President began his remarks by mentioning the Cabinet’s discussion of economic growth.   Over the past five months we have seen job and economic growth, but the President emphasized that there is still more work to be done to help the “millions of Americans out there who are looking for work, or looking for more hours, or are behind on their payments because they experienced unemployment very recently.”

Vice President Biden also gave a briefing on Iraq:

We also got a full briefing from our national security team as well as Vice President Biden on Iraq.  It hasn’t received a lot of attention lately, but we are on pace to meet every target that we set at the beginning of this administration, to have our combat troops out and to transfer security responsibilities to the Iraqis.  And we had a discussion about the progress that's been made in terms of government formation there.

We also discussed the importance of the transition from a Defense-weighted U.S. approach to a more State Department-weighted approach, and the need to make sure that we are adequately funding and supporting all the diplomatic measures that are going to be necessary so that we can partner effectively with a new Iraqi government over the long haul.

The Cabinet also discussed the BP Oil Spill and measures that have been taken over the past few weeks to stop the leak, clean up the oil and compensate those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the oil spill. 

We had a discussion about the oil spill in the Gulf and the important measures that are being taken both in capping the well, in making sure that we are dealing with the consequences on the shorelines and estuaries and bays across the Gulf, and also making sure that ordinary Americans who are being devastated economically are compensated properly.

Ken Feinberg has already traveled to the Gulf, and he is meeting with governors and local officials with the $20 billion fund that has been set up.  We want to make sure that that money is moving out as quickly as possible, as fairly as possible, and that some of the people who I’ve had a chance to talk to down in the Gulf who are just desperate for relief are getting help as quickly as possible.

Finally the Cabinet discussed the importance of passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation:

And finally, we talked about energy.  In the context of the oil spill, as I said last week during my Oval Office address, this has to be a wakeup call to the country that we are prepared and ready to move forward on a new energy strategy that the American people desperately want but for which there’s been insufficient political will.  It is time for us to move to a clean energy future.  I think the American people understand that it is a jobs creator, that it is a national security enhancer, that it is what is needed environmentally.

And we have the opportunity to build on actions that have already been taken in the House of Representatives.  The Senate has an opportunity before the August recess and the elections to stand up and move forward on something that could have enormous, positive consequences for generations to come.  And the entire Cabinet here recognizes, with all the other stuff that they’re doing, that if we get energy right, that an awful lot of things can happen as a consequence.

The President will meet with a bi-partisan group of Senators to discuss energy and climate legislation next week.  The live chat with Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, on energy and climate legislation originally scheduled for this afternoon will be rescheduled for next week as well so she can discuss the outcome of the meeting. 

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