As Prepared For Delivery:

Thank you, Congressman Davis, for the kind introduction, and thanks so much to everyone for your hospitality. Congressman Davis, you are such an incredible champion for rural issues—not only as a Member of Congress, but also as a minister, veteran, and educator. Thank you for your public service on behalf of Carolinians.

It’s so great to be back in North Carolina. I’m excited to be here to launch the Biden-Harris Administration’s Rural Regional Event Series. President Biden kicked off the rural tour last fall in Minnesota. And now, Senior Administration Officials will visit rural communities across the country, highlighting the Administration’s work to invest in the small towns, communities and counties in rural America.

As chair of the White House Domestic Policy Council, I have the great honor of working on a range of domestic policy issues for the President—from healthcare to housing to education to mental health and addiction.

And I’ve been so proud to lead on our rural policy portfolio, working alongside Secretary Vilsack to make sure we’re delivering for rural America. But I also know all the policies the Domestic Policy Council works on have incredibly important impact on rural America.

We can’t think of housing policy and only think of urban or suburban communities—we all have to remember that housing affordability and access is a real problem in rural communities. That’s why we’ve made major new investments to support financing and other investments in manufactured housing, which is critical to affordable housing stock in rural America.

Why we are pushing for a major expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which will create hundreds of thousands of new, affordable units for working families.

And of course, we know that rural communities are facing the strain of hospital closures so that needed care is often hours away when it’s needed in minutes. 

Keeping more rural hospitals open so that they can provide critical services in their community is a key priority for this Administration. That’s why we, as an Administration, are focused on recruiting health care professionals and maintaining the economic viability of hospitals and Rural Health Clinics, as well as supporting telehealth in rural communities. The Department of Health and Human Services helps facilities make necessary infrastructure updates and provide other supports hospitals need to stay open.  

Plus, the Administration is investing in University of North Carolina’s Sheps Center for Health Services Research, which helps assess hospital finance, quality, and access to care. In turn, we use this research to provide targeted assistance to hospitals, especially those with financial risks. So, it’s a really remarkable collaboration with folks on the ground here in North Carolina.

The President wants to make sure we have our eye on the ball of how rural communities like Tarboro are affected by our policies. 

Because the President is driven by a very simple principle for rural America.

President Biden believes that people should not have to leave rural communities to find opportunity.

He’s made a bet on America. On our rural communities. And on the idea that, despite decades of trickle-down economics, we could grow the economy from the middle out and bottom up.

The President’s economic agenda is creating jobs and opportunities for rural communities across America.

This Administration is laser-focused on empowering places that have too often been ignored or forgotten in the corridors of Washington.

The Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS Act.

Why are these investments important? 

Because we know too many families in small towns across our country have had to sit around their kitchen table and discuss with their teenage kids why they have to leave the towns they grew up in to find opportunity.

And we believe that’s wrong. That it’s our obligation to ensure opportunity is everywhere in America. Not just in our cities or our suburbs but in every small town and rural community in the country. 

Fundamentally, we know our investments in rural America are about hope. Hope that you don’t have to leave the home you grew up in to have a decent middle-class life. Hope that the future in every small town in America is as bright as its past.

And this President is delivering results for the people of North Carolina and around the country.

We’re ensuring rural communities have critical infrastructure and services.

We’ve invested in distance learning and telemedicine projects for Edgecombe County Public Schools.

We’ve invested in a new fire truck for the Speed Volunteer Fire Department and police vehicles for the town of Pinetops.

We’ve invested in workforce training for manufacturing technicians at Edgecombe Community College.[1]

And so much more.

Those are just a handful of projects that we’re funding, right here in Edgecombe County.

To date, we’ve announced more than $9 billion in infrastructure and clean energy investments in all of North Carolina.

And more than 850,000 North Carolinians who have enrolled in our Affordable Connectivity Program—ensuring that people in every corner of the state, especially rural communities, have access to affordable, high-speed internet.

Furthermore, the Biden-Harris Administration is ensuring rural Americans have access to high-quality health care.  

More than half a million North Carolinians will save on prescription drug costs when a new cap on out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries goes into effect in 2025. The savings? An average of $243 per year.

Millions of Americans are saving, on average, $800 on their health care premiums, thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act. Last year, over 1 million people in North Carolina signed up for Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage.

This is in addition to the nearly 350,000 people who have newly gained Medicaid coverage since the state adopted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in 2023.

With these investments, North Carolina has created more than 440,000 jobs in this Administration!

These investments are long overdue. But we know that sustainable economic growth is only successful if it starts from the ground up.

That’s why we launched the Rural Partners Network.

The Domestic Policy Council works closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lead RPN.

We understand that it can be challenging to access federal funding, especially for rural communities with limited resources and staff.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to putting the federal government at the doorstep of rural communities.

We’ve identified rural desk officers at over 20 federal agencies and regional commissions who are focused on supporting RPN communities. This ensures you’re connected with the full breadth of resources across the federal government.

That includes, of course, right here in Tarboro. Tarboro is in one of the five RPN community networks in North Carolina.

Staff from many of our federal agency partners are joining us here today to participate in the resource fair:

  • the Small Business Administration;
  • the Economic Development Administration;
  • the Department of Transportation;
  • and other federal agencies.

With the Rural Partners Network, you—the community leaders—are in the driver’s seat. RPN staff and our federal agency partners will help you get where you want to go, but YOUR vision is what guides this work.

Thanks to the President’s leadership, there are historic federal resources on the table that RPN can help you access to make progress on your goals.

There’s more where that came from.

Today, I’m so proud to join Secretary Vilsack in announcing $770 million in new investments in high-speed internet, clean water, critical infrastructure, and economic growth in rural communities. These investments will benefit more than 1 million people living in rural communities in 43 states, including here in North Carolina.

It’s all part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

This work gets to the heart of our success as a nation. What these awards show—and what you all have shown—is that our fairness agenda is a big tent.

We’re working to ensure that everyone, no matter your geography, has every opportunity to realize the promise of America.

With that, it’s my honor to introduce Secretary Vilsack.

I’ve had the great privilege to know Secretary Vilsack for going on two decades now.  And I can tell you, there’s no leader in America who knows rural America better. 

Not just the facts and figures related to agriculture or economic development in rural America.  Or even the data of how rural America is transforming into engines of opportunity from some of the investments in manufacturing and clean energy.

But more important than all of that, he knows the stories of countless people getting up every day, working hard, to not just get by but thrive in small towns and counties across our country. And he makes sure all of us in the Biden-Harris Administration know those stories, too.

With that, I will turn it over to my friend and colleague, Secretary Vilsack.


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