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  • I run the White House Visitors' Office, and I wanted to share a big change the President and First Lady just made to the White House visitors photo policy:

    The longstanding ban on photography in the White House -- in place for more than 40 years -- is being lifted. Watch the First Lady share why they did this:

    So starting today, guests at the White House are now welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and keep those memories for a lifetime.


    We're posting our favorites all day right here. 


    Want to visit the White House or take a virtual tour? Get the details about how you can sign up here.

    We're so excited -- and we can't wait for you to come visit!

    Ellie Schafer is Director of the White House Visitors Office.

  • Tonight at midnight, America’s Export-Import Bank will shut its doors because, after 81 years, Congress has failed to reauthorize it for the first time in history. 

    So what is the Export-Import Bank?

    It’s an independent federal agency with one simple mission: support American jobs by helping businesses sell their products abroad. The majority of these companies are small businesses – the engine of our economy – and helping them go global plays a critical role in strengthening our country’s economy. 

    That’s why nearly 60 countries, including China, make significant investments in their own Export-Import Banks. These competitors are fighting for sales and the export-backed jobs that come along with it – and starting tomorrow when our bank has expired, American businesses will be less competitive to keep those jobs at home. When our Export-Import Bank lapses, China and our other rivals will pick up the slack, putting American businesses and American workers at a disadvantage. In fact, a senior official from one of China’s versions of the Export-Import Bank recently said that the expiration of our bank is a “good thing” for China. 

    Take a look to see just how far behind China we are when it comes to support for our Export-Import Bank:


  • “We, men and women who hereby constitute ourselves as the National Organization for Women, believe that the time has come for a new movement toward true equality for all women in America, and toward a fully equal partnership of the sexes, as part of the world-wide revolution of human rights now taking place within and beyond our national borders.”

    —National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose


    On June 30, 1966, Betty Friedan wrote three letters on a paper napkin: N O W. She invited fifteen women to her hotel room. Then, Catherine Conroy slid a five-dollar bill onto the table and said, “Put your money down and sign your name.” In that moment, the National Organization for Women became a reality.

    As representatives at the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women, these women were disgruntled by the lack of commitment to the convention's theme, “Targets for Action.” Inspired by the Civil Rights movement and historic marches such as in Selma, the women founded a parallel effort to ensure the equal treatment of both sexes. They brainstormed an alternate action plan to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, nationality, and religion.

    ERA March, Washington DC

    Photograph shows people standing in front of the United States Capitol with a banner reading "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex" and holding flags for various organizations including the National Organization for Women. July 9, 1979. (by Bettye Lane)

    NOW Through the Years:

    October 1966: NOW founding conference

    Betty Friedan, best known for her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which changed the conversation on traditional gender roles, was chosen as the organization’s first president.

    Betty Friedan

    Betty Friedan, half-length portrait, facing right / World Telegram & Sun. 1960 (by Fred Palumbo)

    August 1967: First picket by NOW members

    Activists dressed in vintage clothing to protest the gender segregated help-wanted advertisements in The New York Times.

    1973: NOW members organized “Take Back the Night” marches and vigils.

    Protestors stimulated the movement against sexual assault and power-based personal violence against women.

    July 1978: Biggest-ever march for the Equal Rights Amendment

    In 95-degree heat, over 100,000 people decked in purple, white, and gold marched in Washington, D.C. to call for an extension to the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

    ERA March July 9, 1978

    Feminists make history with biggest-ever march for the Equal Rights Amendment, including NOW's first president Betty Friedan. (by Feminist Majority Foundation)

    April 2004: March for Women’s Lives

    A record 1.15 million people marched in Washington, D.C. to fight for women’s reproductive health care options.

    March for Women's Lives

    The March for Women’s Lives took place on April 25, 2004. (by Feminist Majority Foundation)

    Today, NOW is the largest organization of women’s rights activists in the United States, using grassroots organizing to push for social change. NOW focuses on advocating for justice and equality in reproductive healthcare and the economy and continues its work to put a stop to violence against women and discrimination based on race and sexual orientation.

    The fight to end workplace discrimination is not over. The Administration has shown its support for a number of anti-discrimination actions, including fair housing, employment non-discrimination, and health reform for women. President Obama, with help from organizations like NOW, continues to lead the charge for equal rights no matter who you are, what you look like, or who you love. 


    We have to raise our voices to demand that women get paid fairly.  We’ve got to raise our voices to make sure women can take time off to care for a loved one, and that moms and dads can spend time with a new baby.  We’ve got to raise our voices to make sure that our women maintain and keep their own health care choices.

    —President Obama, October 2014

  • In a Huffington Post op-ed, President Obama announced a plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016.  

    Check out a fact sheet about the announcement to learn more. 

    The proposed overtime rule has people talking. Here’s what they have to say:

  • June marks Immigrant Heritage Month -- and people across the country are sharing their American stories. Whether you've recently embarked on your first day as an American or want to share how your ancestors came to arrive here, we want to hear from you. Add your voice to the conversation today.


    America is a country bound together by its diversity. Almost all of us share the common thread that our families came from somewhere else. Our immigrant families are bound by more than that, however. We also are bound by a common belief that the opportunity available to immigrants who are willing to work hard in this country outweighs the substantial risk involved in pulling up stakes and restarting life in a new country. But the equation doesn’t work if you only weigh opportunity versus risk. The secret factor that tips the scale and propels people to take on such risk for such a tenuous shot at opportunity is courage. Each immigration story -- whether it be from 1692, 1910, or 2015 -- was built on the foundation of courage.

    I see that courage at play in my own family. My heritage stems from the islands of Sicily, Italy (Bisognano/ Raffa) and Ireland (McEachern/O’Brien). On August 23, 1914 in Queenstown, Ireland, at the age of 19, my great grandmother Bridget Clougherty boarded the S.S. Franconia bound for Boston, labeled as a laborer. She boarded this ship 19 days after the declaration of war by the United Kingdom in what would become World War I. She had the courage to leave most of her family behind and risk losing the stability that had defined her life in the small village of Clifton, Ireland in order to realize the opportunity she envisioned in the new world across the Atlantic.

    The O’Brien/Cloughterty on the porch of their Quincy, MA home. (Circa. 1945)

  • Congress passed two bills that will help rewrite the rules for our trade policy: Trade Promotion Authority and the Trade Preferences Extension Act, which includes Trade Adjustment Assistance. Today, President Obama signed them into law. 

    Watch on YouTube

    That’s a good thing, because as President Obama has said, past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype. Now, thanks to the new rules of the road laid out by Congress, our latest trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — can put in place high, enforceable standards that reflect our values on the environment, on workers’ rights, on transparency, and more. 

    Here’s a quick look at the rules the President signed today and how they will help ensure American workers can benefit from the most progressive trade deal in history.

  •  


    It was one of those impromptu meetings that could only happen in a hallway.


    One afternoon in late 2012 the tech and education teams had a few minutes to compare notes. And that day, we realized the same problem had been bugging us all: Internet access in schools was incredibly slow. So slow, in fact, that the average American school had the same connectivity as the average American home -- but served hundreds of times as many people.

    We all know slow Internet is the worst -- and it’s doubly frustrating when it’s a matter of kids learning, and not just a given evening’s entertainment.


    Slow Internet in our schools meant teachers in separate classrooms couldn’t do something as basic as stream a couple of videos at the same time. It meant that interactive maps or online biology lessons simply wouldn’t load.


    So even if a school wanted to invest in a tablet for every child, in our Wi-Fi world, it couldn’t be much more than a backlit textbook. If we didn’t do anything about it, school would become the only place in kids’ lives not being transformed by technology.

  • June marks Immigrant Heritage Month -- and people across the country are sharing their American stories. Whether you've recently embarked on your first day as an American or want to share how your ancestors came to arrive here, we want to hear from you. Add your voice to the conversation today.


    I was born in Somalia, but mostly what I remember are flashes of a carefree child, happily unaware of the world beyond the Utanga Refugee Camp in Kenya. About half a mile from our UNHCR-issued blue tent was the fence that surrounded the camp. Beyond the fence was an endless blue horizon of ocean. And if you stood close enough, on the slight precipice before the fence, you could see where the beach welcomed the waves — its sand, sometimes clear and brightly glistening; other times, dark and dusky, casting sad grayish hues. It felt abandoned and desolate. I never saw any people down there. But sometimes I would catch the sight of boats with colorful sails drifting over the waves.

    Most of the other children congregated over at the dumpsites and water wells, fashioning toys out of trash and rocks. I kept to myself, a quiet but curious observer exploring the neighborhoods within the camp. I would often come home well past sundown, only to be rightfully scolded by a concerned parent. But those daily, miles-long excursions only left me hungry for more.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 25, 2015

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week's address, the President called the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act a victory for hardworking Americans across the country, whose lives are more secure because of this law.  The Affordable Care Act is working, and it is here to stay. So far more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage.  Nearly one in three Americans who was uninsured a few years ago is insured today. The uninsured rate in America is the lowest since we began to keep such records. With this case behind us, the President reaffirmed his commitment to getting more people covered and making health care in America even better and more affordable.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • Watch on YouTube


    "We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith. A man who believed in things not seen. A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance. A man of service who persevered, knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed."

    -- President Obama, on the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney


    Today, President Obama traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to honor the life of pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney -- one of the nine who lost their lives in last week's shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

  • This week, the President talked with podcast star Marc Maron in Los Angeles, spoke with Mayors at a conference in San Francisco, and hosted an LGBT reception back in the People's House. The First Lady wrapped up her trip to Europe. And the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, ensuring millions of Americans will continue to receive tax credits to make their health insurance more affordable. That's June 19th to June 25th or, "This Is Healthcare In America."

  • In September 2009, the President announced that — for the first time in history — White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in March 2015. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 4.59 million — all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

  • President Obama delivers a statement regarding the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement regarding the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 26, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

     

    America should be very proud. #LoveWins

    Posted by The White House on Friday, June 26, 2015

     

    In a 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court took a huge step forward in our progress toward a more perfect union.

    Today, gay and lesbian couples won their right to marry. Today, love wins. 

    You can read the decision here

    Following the ruling, President Obama delivered a statement from the Rose Garden. Watch: 

    The President first reacted to the decision on Twitter: 

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.

    Secretary Perez meets with inmates at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility

    Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez meets with inmates at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds, MD on July 28, 2014 who are getting employment services on-site as they prepare for release. The grants awarded today will help improve job opportunities for thousands of other inmates across the country.

    For so many people going through the criminal justice system, it can be hard to get back on their feet after they walk out of the prison house door. But if you’ve paid your debt to society, there’s no reason you should be further sentenced upon your release to dead ends, closed doors and economic hopelessness. Successful reentry isn’t just important for formerly incarcerated individuals themselves; it matters to their communities and our entire society.

    Until very recently, the assumption was we could build our way to public safety — spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on fences and barbed wire. But at the end of the day, 95 percent of those we locked up were returning home worse off than before. We’re finally getting smarter on crime, recognizing that not every tool in your arsenal has to be a hammer.

    We can’t just lock people up; we also have to unlock their potential.

    That’s what we aim to do with our new grants for the Face Forward and Training to Work programs. We’re investing a total of $59 million to offer critical employment and training services, like career counseling, support services, resume help and job search assistance.

  • This morning, the Supreme Court ruled to preserve a critical tool that helps prevent housing discrimination.

    In a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that disparate-impact claims can be filed under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Under the disparate-impact doctrine, a policy can be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionately adverse impact against any group of people, based on race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

    As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was created to eliminate discriminatory housing practices, such as "zoning laws and other housing restrictions that function unfairly to exclude minorities from certain neighborhoods" without sufficient justification.

    "Recognition of disparate-impact claims," he added, "is consistent with the FHA's central purpose."

  • Today, the Supreme Court upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act — landmark health care reform that the President signed into law five years ago. Millions of Americans who got covered in the Health Insurance Marketplaces can now stay covered, no matter where they live.

    Learn more about today's decision, and about the history of health care in America.


    On March 23, 2010, I sat down at a table in the East Room of the White House and signed my name on a law that said, once and for all, that health care would no longer be a privilege for a few. It would be a right for everyone.

    Five years later, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law and multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, here is what we know today:

    This law worked. It's still working. It has changed and saved American lives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course.

    And it's here to stay.

    If that means something to you today, add your voice here.

  • Today, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, historic health care reform that the President signed into law five years ago. Now, millions of Americans who got covered in health insurance marketplaces can stay covered, no matter where they live. 

    The President made the following statement from the Rose Garden following the decision:

     

    "Today is a victory for hardworking Americans all across this country whose lives will continue to become more secure in a changing economy because of this law." —President Obama on today's Supreme Court ruling upholding a critical part of the Affordable Care Act: http://go.wh.gov/vV1uUX #ACAWorks

    Posted by The White House on Thursday, June 25, 2015

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the First Lady's Medium account. See the original post here.

    Last week, the First Lady headed to the U.K. and Italy on a trip that took her from talking to girls about their education, to helping share tips for healthy living at the Expo, to visiting with our military families stationed abroad.

    #LetGirlsLearn: London, U.K.

    In London, the First Lady was inspired and impressed by the hard-working students she met at the Mulberry School for Girls. More than 62 million girls around the world are not in school. That’s a devastating loss for all of us who are missing out on their promise. That’s why while at the Mulberry School, the First Lady also announced a nearly $200 million British and American partnership to continue their collective support for adolescent girls’ education, part of which will be directed to countries affected by conflict and crisis.

    FLOTUS Europe 1

    Students welcome First Lady Michelle Obama at Mulberry School for Girls in London, England, June 16, 2015. The First Lady visited to discuss the Let Girls Learn initiative. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

  • Real GDP for the first quarter was revised up this morning, reflecting slightly higher growth in personal consumption, private investment, and government expenditures than previously estimated. The small first-quarter decline in overall GDP was driven by a number of factors including harsh winter weather and tepid foreign demand. However, the combination of consumption and investment—the most stable and persistent components of output—continued to rise at a robust year-over-year pace. This solid trend matches the strong pace of job growth and employment reduction observed over the last year. The President is working to build on these underlying trends by opening our exports to new markets with high-standards free trade agreements, boosting investment in infrastructure, and avoiding harmful budget cuts like the sequester.

    FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

    1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) edged down 0.2 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2015, according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This report reflects an upward revision of 0.5 percentage point to overall GDP growth. The slower first quarter follows a solid increase of 3.6 percent at an annual rate during the second half of 2014. Over the past four quarters, GDP rose 2.9 percent. First-quarter growth was likely affected by a number of transitory factors including unusually severe weather, the West Coast ports dispute, and various measurement issues. A decline in net exports was another important contributor to weak GDP growth. Indeed, net exports subtracted nearly 2 full percentage points from quarterly GDP growth. Furthermore, structures investment subtracted about 0.6 percentage point from GDP (see point 4), reflecting reduced oil drilling in the wake of last year’s decline in oil prices. Despite the decrease in GDP, real gross domestic income—an alternate measure of economic output—increased 1.9 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter.

  • For decades, we’ve fought to secure a series of trade programs that have delivered results at home and around the globe.  This week, Congress will consider whether or not to continue these programs that help bring people out of poverty, create new opportunities for developing countries to grow, and help retrain American workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

    The Trade Preferences Extension Act, which the Administration has worked on closely with Congress, will not only expand and improve Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps laid-off U.S. workers get back on their feet, but will also extend programs that help support jobs and economic growth in developing countries. These programs include the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act.

    Combined, these improved trade programs present a unique opportunity to both support American workers and help create jobs in the developing world.

    Here is a look at key provisions of the Trade Preferences Extension Act that Congress is considering this week:

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