Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • What They're Saying: Mayors Across the Country Endorse President Obama’s Trade Agenda

    In the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his plan for Middle Class Economics, which he dedicated to “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.

    As a centerpiece of that Middle Class Economics strategy, President Obama has proposed and fought for the most significant trade agenda in American history, and for good reason – because Made-in-America exports unlock economic opportunity for the American people.

    Made-in-America exports have been a key driver of our economic recovery, hitting record-breaking heights for the past 5 straight years.  And those American exports support 11.7 million jobs across the United States.

    Now, to build on those benefits and strengthen the American Middle Class, President Obama is championing groundbreaking trade agreements with the Asia-Pacific region and with Europe that will ensure we have premium access to vital markets across the world while raising labor and environmental standards in a way that level the playing field for our workers and our businesses and make us more competitive in the global economy.

    When it comes to the promise of the President’s trade agenda, no one sees the positive impacts of increased exports U.S. communities more clearly than its local leaders. That’s why American mayors from all over the United States are actively voicing their support for this element of Middle Class Economics.

    Whether it’s the dock worker in Maryland, the apple farmer in Oregon, or the tech entrepreneur in Dallas, mayors have a unique insight into the diverse benefits that exporting delivers to the American economy and how trade helps American families on the local level. Because of that, mayors from a host of cities have been highly engaged with the Obama Administration on this issue.

    Mayors from across our country are expressing support for the President’s trade agenda and the benefits they will bring to their communities all over the country. 

  • This Friday: Tech Meetup at the White House

    On Friday, April 17, the White House will host local leaders from all across our “Innovation Nation” at the first-ever White House Tech Meetup.

    Organizers from cities and rural communities are starting coding bootcamps, hosting startup weekends, running share spaces, holding maker events, and setting up hundreds of innovation-focused tech Meetups every day. They hail from all parts of the United States – from Alaska to Alabama, Connecticut to Kentucky, New Jersey to New Mexico, Ohio to Oregon, Tennessee to Texas, and Nebraska to New York.

    They are community organizers, local elected officials, artists, business and civic leaders, coders, designers, entrepreneurs, funders, and more. Each of these leaders is playing a part in building interconnected local talent ecosystems that enable more Americans to get involved in entrepreneurship, economic development, and community solutions – inclusive, fun, high-impact innovation of all kinds.

    We will gather for the White House Tech Meetup with a few goals in mind: to help each other thrive by sharing best practices and scale outreach and inclusion efforts, to find ways to help more of our neighbors join in (especially those who have been less well-represented in tech), and to engage young people. Through this event, we want to “upgrade” the ability to include all of us in technology and innovation.

  • State and Local Officials Urge Congress to Pass Long-Term Infrastructure Bill

    Vice President Biden speaks at the National Governors Association Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, July 11, 2014.

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the National Governors Association Meeting, at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, July 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today, President Obama traveled to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia to deliver remarks on the importance of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, urging Congress to pass a long-term infrastructure bill that would provide certainty for state and local partners, support millions of jobs, and position our economy for lasting growth:

    We know that in a 21st century economy, businesses will set up shop wherever they find the best roads and bridges, and the fastest rail and Internet, the smartest airports, the smartest power grids.  First-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs.  And right now, our investments in transportation are lagging the rest of the world.

    He also spoke about the importance of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) before it runs out this summer, jeopardizing nearly 700,000 American jobs and undermining the ability of states to build and repair roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects across the country.         

    During his remarks last week to the National Governors Association (NGA) in Nashville, Tennessee, Vice President Biden called on governors to continue their push on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill. In a recent letter from NGA to congressional leadership, four bipartisan governors – Mary Fallin of Oklahoma (NGA Chair), John Hickenlooper of Colorado (NGA Vice Chair), Robert Bentley of Alabama, and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia – stressed the importance of resolving the HTF shortfall and enacting a long-term infrastructure bill: “Strengthening our nation’s infrastructure is critically important for governors because infrastructure is a fundamental ingredient to advance economic growth and global competitiveness, create jobs and improve overall quality of life.” According to these governors, “The time is now to settle these issues and prevent avoidable uncertainty.”

  • State and Local Officials Join the President in Year of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage

    Yesterday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation adding Maryland to the growing list of states following the President’s call to raise the minimum wage for workers across the country. And today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced he is taking action at the local level to increase the minimum wage for city contractors and subcontractors to $12 an hour starting in January.

    As the President restated last week, he believes that no one working a full-time job should have to raise a family in poverty. Most Americans agree. In fact, around three out of four Americans support raising the minimum wage. That’s why we’re asking state and local officials across the country to join the President to make this a year of action and raise the minimum wage. 

    During his State of the Union address, the President encouraged Congress to support lifting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 while urging state and local officials to take action without waiting for Congress: “To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act.” A month later, four governors – Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Peter Shumlin of Vermont – appeared on stage with the President in Connecticut to support raising the minimum wage to $10.10. 

    In the year since the President first called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to increase the minimum wage. Without waiting on Congress to act, three of those states – Connecticut, Maryland, and Hawaii – are lifting their minimum wages to $10.10 an hour, and other states and localities are considering similar legislation. If Congress acts to raise the federal minimum wage, more than 28 million workers across the country would see a direct increase in their wages.

  • Welcoming More Than 250 Mayors to the White House

    On January 23, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted more than 250 mayors attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Winter Meeting for a day of policy discussions and questions with officials from the White House and Obama Administration.

    Throughout the day, Cabinet members and senior administration officials made commitments to work hand in hand with mayors to identify additional ways to deliver the services in their cities to help people succeed.

    Check out some of the pictures from the day:

    • President Obama Delivers Remarks to 2014 Conference of Mayors
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    • Vice President Biden Meets with Mayors
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    • Mayors Discuss Technology and Innovation
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    • Mayors Discuss Expanding Trade and Exports
      4 of 8
    • Mayors Discuss Climate Change
      5 of 8
    • Mayors Discuss SOTU
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    • Mayors Cabinet Panel in East Room
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    • Valerie Jarrett and Mayors in East Room
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  • Global Trade Grows Main Street

    Cross-posted from the USTR blog

    Mayors have the best seat in the house when it comes to understanding how trade propels American communities and business. Whether you’re on Main Street in Portland or Peachtree Street in Atlanta; a family farm in South Dakota or a factory floor in South Carolina, trade touches your community in a positive way.

    Earlier this week, I met with mayors from across the country who convened in the District of Columbia for their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting. Among the organization’s many objectives is to promote effective economic policies in urban and suburban areas. Mayors are looking for opportunities to grow their local economies as many are still recovering from the worst recession since the great depression. The proven ability of trade to support jobs in American communities has the potential to help us succeed.

    More and more these days, Americans overwhelmingly recognize that potential for themselves.