Remarks by President Biden at Signing of H.R. 2471, “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022”
Indian Treaty Room
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
2:30 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please — please, sit down.
Well, thank you, not only for being here but for what you did.
I want to thank the — Vice President Harris and the congressional leaders who are here today.
You know, in a moment, I’m going to sign this bipartisan government funding bill. But with this bill, we’re going to send a message to the American people — a strong message — that Democrats and Republicans can actually come together and get something done — right, Nance? — and to fulfill our most basic responsibilities: to keep the government open and running for the American people, serving the American people, investing in your communities and investing in the American people, and doing it in a fiscally responsible way.
This bill also includes historic funding — $13.6 billion — to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact on surrounding countries. (Applause.)
Putin’s aggression against Ukraine has united people all across America, united our two parties in Congress, and united freedom-loving world. And this — and it’s an act with urgency and resolve that we’re doing right now that you’ve provided me the ability to — to do.
I want to thank the congressional leadership for working so quickly to — to make sure we have the resources we need — economic, humanitarian, and security — to continue our forceful response to this crisis.
We’ve already committed more than 1 billion 200 million dollars in security assistance to the people of Ukraine just over the past year. And I — I know all of you know that; it’s preaching to the choir here.
But we’ve been providing anti-armor — taking out tanks — air — anti-air capabilities directly — directly to the Ukrainian forces. And we’re also facilitating significant shipments of security assistance from our Allied partners to Ukraine.
With this — with this new security funding and the drawdown authorities in this bill, we’re remo- — we’re moving urgently to further augment the support to the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country.
And I’ll have much more to say about this tomorrow — about exactly what we’re doing in Ukraine.
We’re also going to be better positioned to provide for the rapidly growing humanitarian needs of the Ukrainian people.
This war has turned nearly 3 million Ukrainians into refugees, with numbers growing every single day. And that’s on top of the 12 million people who require humanitarian assistance inside of Ukraine.
The United States is helping to lead the global humanitarian response with our partners in Europe and well beyond Europe.
In just the past few weeks, we provided nearly $293 million in humanitarian assistance to people in Ukraine and in neighboring countries.
Our experts are on the ground in Poland and in neighboring countries, where the Vice President just came back from, to make real-time assessments of a rapidly evolving crisis, to get urgently needed humanitarian supplies to the people in need now.
We’re airlifting emergency relief supplies into staging positions in the region — supplies like high-thermal blankets, water treatment equipment — so that they can be shipped into Ukraine.
We’re providing essentials like soap and laundry detergent — simple-sounding things — to refugees who fled with literally nothing but the clothing on their backs.
We’re working with partners to supply access to safe drinking water and to food rations to the people affected by this conflict.
With U.S. support, the World Food Programme has already purchased 20,000 metric tons of food to address the growing needs of individuals affected by this conflict.
It’s exceedingly difficult to get supplies into Ukraine while the Russian onslaught continues. But we’re managing to get supplies into Ukraine regularly thanks to the bravery of so many frontline workers who are still at their post. And we are supporting food assistance at refugee reception centers in frontline countries like Moldova.
With billions more included in this bill for new humanitarian assistance, we’re going to be able to quickly ramp up our response and help alleviate the suffering that Putin’s war is causing the Ukrainian people in the region.
This bill also provides necessary economic support for Ukraine and Ukraine’s neighbors that are impacted by this war — things like loan guarantees, direct financial support, including — including to address the needs like energy and cybersecurity.
This bill is also going to help face our — our challenges here at home. It sends a clear message to the American people that we’re investing in safety, health, and the future of Americans.
Let me just mention a couple of highlights, starting with community safety. We know what works to make our communities safer, and that’s investing in prevention and community police officers so that they can walk the streets, know the neighborhoods, and who can help restore trust and safety in the communities.
The answer is not to abandon our streets or to choose between safety and equal justice. It’s in funding — it’s in this funding bill, which we make sure we do both.
This budget invests in funding for agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals and the Drug Enforcement Agency, but it also includes funding for COPS programs to increase community policing and the ability of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tackle — to tackle gun crime. And it funds entirely new community violence intervention programs just at the Department of Justice.
Community violence interruption programs are programs where trusted community members work directly with the people who are most likely to commit or become victims of gun crimes. I had a chance to meet with those leaders in one of the programs in New York City not long ago. I saw the difference they were making every day.
We know these programs can dramatically reduce violence, and we’re going to fund a lot more of them.
This bill also includes grants for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention programs. We’re talking about drug treatment programs, school violence prevention programs, programs where people who might end up in prison and instead get mandatory mental healthcare that they need. Part of the saf- — before any crime was committed.
Part of the safety is the ability to feel safe in gender-based — from gender-based violence. I wrote a Violence Against Women Act with many in this room years ago — 28 years ago — to provide protection against domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and to support survivors and help them find a way out of those abusive situations they were locked into because they had no means to leave, with support for race cri- — rape crip- — crisis centers, as well as housing and legal assistance.
The law has saved lives, and that’s helped women rebuild their lives and make children a heck of a lot safer.
Today, with this bill, we reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. For example — (applause).
For example, we’re doing more to help survivor — survivors in rural areas and in underserved communities. Tribal courts will now be able to exercise jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault and sex trafficking. And we’re providing more support for legal services and for law enforcement to get the training they need to help handle the trauma survivors are experiencing.
Now, I’ll have more to say about the Violence Against Women Act tomorrow as well.
And we’re going to be able to fund significant areas of common ground in this bill, especially in areas that I — that I called in my State of the Union address a “Unity Agenda” — the things that we can accomplish together, Democrats and Republicans.
Two elements of that agenda are, one, beat the opioid epidemic and, two, take on the challenges of mental health, which have been exacerbated because of the COVID problem.
This bill supports opioid response grants that are funding that we provide to states to support opioid prevent — opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
We also included funding for states in support of mental health services, as well as additional funding for children’s mental health services, which has increased exponentially.
I’ve also called for increasing Pell grants to make colleges more affordable, and that is: Anyone making less than $50,000 a year, they’re eligible for a Pell grant. This bill delivers increasing the maximum Pell grant by $400, which will make a difference in a lot of lives.
Now, I would like to add a word about another investment this bill makes, one that I expect will pay dividends for hope, healing, and for our economy for generations to come. And it’s called ARPA-H — Advanced Research Project Agencies of Health. This will be a new kind of entity, an engine for innovation, a place where we’ll do high-risk, high-reward research that can drive unprecedented progress in biomedicine.
It’s based on DARPA, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Project Agency, that has led to breakthroughs in technologies that protect our national security, like the Internet, GPS, and so much more.
ARPA-H will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, and other diseases.
And, by the way, we’re providing that we can — and we’re proving that we can invest in the American people in a fiscally responsible way.
Last year, the deficit dropped for the first time since 2015. It fell by $360 billion last year. And this year, it’s on track to drop by more than $1 trillion. After four years in a row of increasing deficits before I took office, we’re now on a track to see the largest-ever decline in the deficit in American history. (Applause.)
So let me close with this: Today, we’re again showing the American people that, as a country, we can come together as Democrats, Republicans, and independents and do big things; that our democracy can deliver — can deliver — and outperform autocracies; and that there’s nothing we can’t do when we do it together as the United States of America.
So I’d like to now invite up my Budget Director, Shalanda Young, and all the members of the Congress here today while we sign this bipartisan government funding bill.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Speaker, there you go. Now, I know we usually hand out pens to everyone who’s done this, but you’re all going to get a pen, but we didn’t have 18 — 15 pens up here. (Laughter.) So I’m going to make sure you get it when we finish.
SENATOR LEAHY: I wanted to make sure that my signature was legible.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is (inaudible).
SPEAKER PELOSI: See how faint mine is and how dark his is.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I know. I tell you what, Nancy — (laughs) — anyway. I’m going to give it a shot here, okay?
(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)
LEADER SCHUMER: All right.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
LEADER SCHUMER: Give the pen to Shalanda. Shalanda, you get it.
THE PRESIDENT: There you go.
MS. YOUNG: Thank you, sir. (Applause.)