The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon November 21, 2013 at 7:25 PM EST
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 But that policy has become outdated.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 4:19 PM EST
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 5:36 PM EST
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 7:02 PM EST
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 6:00 AM EST
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 11:34 AM EST
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."
- Posted byon November 14, 2013 at 7:03 PM EST
Today, President Obama spoke at ArcelorMittal’s steel factory in Cleveland, Ohio. ArcelorMittal is the largest supplier of steel to the U.S. auto manufacturing sector.
But just a few years ago, President Obama said, the economy was in free fall and the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. That meant demand for steel had dried up. Nearly 1,200 steelworkers were furloughed from the factory.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama stepped in to give the auto industry the temporary helped in needed to start growing again. “We rolled up our sleeves, we made some tough choices,” he said. “We rescued and retooled the American auto industry; it saved more than a million jobs.”
We bet on American ingenuity and American workers. And assembly lines started humming again, and automakers started to make cars again. And just a few months after this plant shut down, your plant manager got the call: Fire those furnaces back up, get those workers back on the job. And over the last four years, you’ve made yourselves one of the most productive steel mills not just in America, but in the world.
Today, ArcelorMittal’s Cleveland plant is a global leader in producing the advanced high-strength steel that automakers are demanding for newer, more fuel efficient cars and trucks.
- Posted byon November 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of the Interior. See the original post here.
Yesterday I had the tremendous honor of welcoming leaders invited from all 566 federally recognized tribes to the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference. The event included participation from President Obama, thirteen Cabinet members, and dozens of senior Administration officials.
The White House Tribal National Conference – the fifth of the Obama Administration – is an opportunity to connect tribal leaders across the country directly with President Obama and his Administration as we work together toward tribal self-determination and self-governance. In his remarks, the President said, “That’s what we’re called to do – to keep strong the covenant between us – for this and future generations.”
- Posted byon November 14, 2013 at 2:25 PM EST
In the past few weeks, some Americans have been notified by their health insurance companies that plans they bought on the old individual insurance market are being cancelled – often because these plans no longer meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to cover basic benefits like prescription drugs or doctors’ visits.
Today, President Obama announced that insurers can offer these customers the option to renew their 2013 health plans in 2014, without change, allowing them to keep their plans.
Already, people who have plans that predate the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. That's what's called a grandfather clause. It was included in the law. Today, we're going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law took effect, and to people who bought plans since the law took effect.
"The bottom line, President Obama said, is that "insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014, and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan."
President Obama pointed out that the individual insurance market had serious problems before the Affordable Care Act. "And it’s important that we don’t pretend that somehow that’s a place worth going back to. Too often, it works fine as long as you stay healthy; it doesn’t work well when you’re sick," he said. "So year after year, Americans were routinely exposed to financial ruin, or denied coverage due to minor preexisting conditions, or dropped from coverage altogether – even if they paid their premiums on time."
Creating new protections for people in the individual market – preventing them from being charged more because of a pre-existing condition or getting fewer benefits like mental health services or prescription drugs – “is one of the reasons we pursued this reform in the first place,” President Obama said.
President Obama Signs New EpiPen Law To Protect Children with Asthma and Severe Allergies, And Help Their Families To Breathe EasierPosted byon November 13, 2013 at 5:17 PM EST
Today in the Oval Office, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which will encourage schools to plan for severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions, and provide millions of families with greater peace of mind.
The law makes an important change to the Children’s Asthma Treatment Grants Program and other federal asthma programs, which authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to give funding preferences to states for asthma-treatment grants if they: maintain an emergency supply of epinephrine (EpiPens), if they permit trained personnel of the school to administer epinephrine, and if they develop a plan for ensuring trained personnel are available to administer epinephrine during all hours of the school day.