The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon November 25, 2013 at 6:44 PM EDT
In the early 1900s, more than 300,000 people passed through California’s Angel Island on their way to a new life in America, many drawn by the belief that here, anything was possible.
Today, just a few miles away at the Betty Ong Recreation Center in San Francisco’s Chinatown, President Obama said he is committed to fixing our broken immigration system to make sure we continue welcoming striving, hardworking immigrants who see America the same way many of our ancestors did when they came here generations ago -- as a country where no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try.
“Too often when we talk about immigration, the debate focuses on our southern border,” President Obama said. But immigrants from all over the world have put down roots in every corner of the country. In San Francisco, where the economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, 35 percent of business owners are immigrants.
“That’s the impact that our talented, hardworking immigrants can have," he said. “That’s the difference they can make. And that’s why it’s long past time to reform an immigration system that doesn’t serve America as well as it should – because we should be doing more to unleash that potential.”
President Obama shared the story of Andrew Ly and his brothers, who emigrated from Vietnam by way of Malaysia. Once they arrived in San Francisco, they learned English and worked as handymen and seamstresses.
Eventually, Andrew and his brothers earned enough money to buy a small bakery. And they started making donuts, and they started selling them to Chinese restaurants. And with a lot of hard work and a little luck, the Sugar Bowl Bakery today is a $60 million business. So these humble and striving immigrants from Vietnam now employ more than 300 Americans. They’re supplying pastries to Costco and Safeway, and almost every hotel and hospital in San Francisco.
- Posted byon November 24, 2013 at 12:06 AM EDT
Addressing the nation from the State Dining Room tonight, President Obama said that the United States -- together with close allies and partners -- has taken an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.
- Posted byon November 23, 2013 at 7:00 AM EDT
In his weekly address, President Obama says our economy is moving in the right direction. We have cut our deficits by more than half, businesses have created millions of new jobs, and we have taken significant steps to reverse our addiction to foreign oil and fix our broken health care system.
- Posted byon November 22, 2013 at 3:48 PM EDT
This week, the Vice President traveled to Houston and Panama, the President honored the legacy of John F. Kennedy, this year's Medal of Freedom Winners and Nobel Laureates, and attended the Wall Street Journal's CEO Summit. That's November 15th to 21st or "A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama!"
- Posted byon November 21, 2013 at 8:25 PM EDT
President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for aligning HIV-related laws and policies to be consistent with the most recent scientific evidence. Today, we took a step forward in that direction when the President signed into law the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, bipartisan legislation that updates regulations from 1988 to reflect our advances in understanding and treating HIV. The President issued the following statement on this important legislation:
Earlier today, I signed into law the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that allows scientists to carry out research into organ donations from one person with HIV to another. For decades, these organ transplants have been illegal. It was even illegal to study whether they could be safe and effective. But that policy has become outdated. Our country has come a long way in our understanding of HIV and in developing effective treatments. And as our knowledge has grown, the possibility of successful organ transplants between HIV-positive people has become more real. The HOPE Act lifts the research ban. In time, it could lead to these organ donations for people living with HIV. And that, in turn, would help save and improve lives and strengthen the national supply of organs for all who need them.
Improving care for people living with HIV is critical to fighting the epidemic, and it’s a key goal of my National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The HOPE Act marks an important step in the right direction, and I thank Congress for their action.
Grant Colfax, MD is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.
- Posted byon November 21, 2013 at 5:19 PM EDT
Something big happened in the Senate today: A majority of senators voted to change the way the filibuster works. (You can read more about what a filibuster does here.)
Under today's rule change, all executive branch and judicial nominees -- except to the Supreme Court -- can be confirmed with a simple up-or-down vote rather than the previously required 60-vote supermajority.
Speaking from the White House Press Briefing Room today, the President supported the change and provided context for why it's especially pertinent right now:
All too often, we've seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to unilaterally block bipartisan compromises, or to prevent well-qualified, patriotic Americans from filling critical positions of public service in our system of government.
Now, at a time when millions of American have desperately searched for work, repeated abuse of these tactics have blocked legislation that might create jobs. They've defeated actions that would help women fighting for equal pay. They've prevented more progress than we would have liked for striving young immigrants trying to earn their citizenship. Or it's blocked efforts to end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. They've even been used to block common-sense and widely supported steps to protect more Americans from gun violence, even as families of victims sat in the Senate chamber and watched. And they've prevented far too many talented Americans from serving their country at a time when their country needs their talents the most.
As the President went on to note, in the six decades before he took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters. "But in just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way," the President said.
- Posted byon November 20, 2013 at 6:36 PM EDT
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, established 50 years ago by President John F. Kennedy, is our nation’s highest civilian honor. The medal has been presented to more than 500 individuals who have made especially “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Recipients of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom included sports champions and scientists, musicians and civil rights leaders, activists and journalists, media moguls and public servants.
“These are the men and women who in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the beauty of the human spirit, the values that define us as Americans, the potential that lives inside of all of us,” President Obama said.
Watch video of the ceremony here or read more about each of the 2013 recipients below.
- Posted byon November 19, 2013 at 8:02 PM EDT
One hundred and fifty years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most memorable speeches in U.S. history from Gettysburg, PA. In dedicating the military cemetery where thousands of soldiers were buried following the Battle of Gettysburg, fought just four months earlier, Lincoln described "a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Paying tribute to the historic speech, President Obama hand wrote an essay for an exhibit at the Lincoln Presidential Library. President Obama joins former Presidents Clinton, Carter and H.W. Bush who have submitted their contributions, along with other notable essayists including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, General Colin Powell, and Martin Luther King III, among hundreds of others.
You can read President Obama's essay here, and below:
- Posted byon November 16, 2013 at 7:00 AM EDT
In his weekly address, President Obama discusses progress in American energy and highlights that we are now producing more oil at home than we buy from other countries for the first time in nearly two decades. We reached this milestone in part not only because we’re producing more energy, but because we’re wasting less energy, and as a result, we are also reducing our carbon emissions while growing the economy.
- Posted byon November 15, 2013 at 12:34 PM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and beyond. This week, the First and Second Families honored Veterans Day, the President traveled to New Orleans and to Cleveland to speak on the importance of infrastructure to job creation, signed the EpiPen Law, discussed immigration reform with Faith Leaders and attended the 5th Annual Tribal Nations Conference. That's November 8th to November 14th or "We Will Stand By Your Side."