AAPI Weekly Highlights: Confronting the Growing Threat of Climate Change

AAPI Highlights, July 1, 2013

Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights. Read about President Obama’s plans to confront the growing threat of climate change, the Senate’s passage of a bipartisan immigration reform bill, a WHIAAPI webinar on the new Health Insurance Marketplace, and more agency announcements.

President Barack Obama talks on the phone aboard Air Force One to Edie Windsor

President Barack Obama talks on the phone aboard Air Force One to Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in United States v. Windsor (Defense of Marriage Act case), after the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down, June 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)                                     

Confronting the Growing Threat of Climate Change

In this week’s weekly address, President Obama tells the American people about a plan he unveiled a few days ago to confront the growing threat of climate change. His plan will cut carbon pollution, protect our country from the impacts of climate change, and lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate. Watch President Obama’s weekly address here.

Broad support for the Senate’s passage of bipartisan immigration reform

On June 27, 2013, with a strong bipartisan vote, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system. President Obama congratulated the passage of the Senate’s bill, which is largely consistent with the President’s key principles for commonsense reform. The bill continues to secure our borders; ensures that every worker and employer is held accountable, plays by the same rules and pays taxes like everyone else; establishes a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants; and modernizes the legal immigration system. The Senate’s passage of the bill was immediately met with support from bipartisan leaders and a broad spectrum of groups across the country – from Democrats to Republicans, business to labor leaders and clergy. Read more about the broad support for the passage of the Senate bipartisan immigration reform bill here.

Commonsense Immigration Reform Will Strengthen Social Security

On June 28, 2013, the independent Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary provided a long-term analysis of the bipartisan Senate-passed Immigration Reform bill to Senator Marco Rubio, demonstrating that commonsense immigration reform will strengthen Social Security over the long-term. Reform will ensure full Social Security solvency through 2035 and reduce Social Security unfunded liabilities by nearly half a trillion dollars through 2087. Read more about the Social Security Office’s analysis of the Senate-passed Immigration reform bill here.

A Victory for Equality

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. In a statement released shortly after the Court’s ruling was announced, President Obama applauded the decision, saying “This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” Aboard Air Force One en route to Africa, the President called Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the court case against the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama congratulated Windsor on the victory, and told her he was heartened by the decision so that loving, committed couples could enjoy full equality under the law. Read the President’s full statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling here.

WHIAAPI Announcements

WHIAAPI Webinar on Consumer Assistance for the Health Insurance Marketplace

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) will be hosting a webinar with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) on Thursday, July 11, from 3:00-4:00 PM EDT about how consumers can get help applying and enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Read details on the webinar on consumer assistance for the Health Insurance Marketplace here.

Agency Spotlight: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is committed to improving the environment and economic development in the Pacific Islands. Over the past year, EPA has improved access to safe drinking water in the Pacific Islands by providing increased construction funding, capacity building, and ongoing enforcement. As a result of these efforts, on the island of Saipan, 24 hour water is now available to 95% of residents. In addition, EPA has worked to make ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel more available on the Pacific Islands. Today, in Guam ULSD is now available at every diesel gas pump; in the Northern Mariana Islands, one of two commercial fuel providers sells ULSD to automobiles and marine vessels; and in American Samoa, EPA funding and its partnership with FEMA has allowed the power utility to use ULSD in new generators. Read more about the work and progress made by the EPA on behalf of the AAPI community.

Agency Announcements

Penny Pritzker Sworn in as 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce

On July 27th, 2013, Penny Pritzker was sworn in as the nation’s 38th Commerce Secretary. As a key member of President Obama’s economic team, Secretary Pritzker will lead the U.S. Department of Commerce in carrying out the important work that gives entrepreneurs and businesses the tools they need to create jobs and keep the American economy growing, two of the administration’s highest priorities. She will also work extensively with the business community, bringing their concerns and ideas to the forefront. Read more about the Commerce Secretary here.

VA Starts Campaign to Raise PTSD Awareness

On June 24, 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD announced a campaign to raise PTSD awareness. “Every day of the year, we should focus on assisting those who have served our Nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “In June, during PTSD awareness month, we take special care to help Veterans with PTSD. VA is a leader in providing state-of-the-art, high-quality mental health care that improves and saves Veterans’ lives. PTSD treatment can help and there is hope for recovery for Veterans who need mental health services.” Read more about the VA’s efforts to raise awareness on PTSD here.

Administration Issues Final Rules on Contraception Coverage and Religious Organizations

On June 6, 2013, the Obama administration issued final rules that balance the goal of providing women with coverage for recommended preventive care – including contraceptive services prescribed by a health care provider – with no cost-sharing, with the goal of respecting the concerns of non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage. The final rules reflect public feedback received in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in February 2013. “The health care law guarantees millions of women access to recommended preventive services at no cost,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to respect the concerns of houses of worship and other non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, while helping to ensure that women get the care they need, regardless of where they work.” Read more about the final rules on contraceptive coverage here.

Treasury Unveils New Tool to Track TARP Funding

On June 24, 2013, U.S. Department of Treasury unveiled a new tool to track Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding. The tool was updated in response to feedback it received through surveys, it has expanded the tool even further so it also acts as a timeline. The tool enables users to view the flow of funds for a specific period or over the lifetime of a TARP program. It also allows users to view each investment area separately to get a clearer sense of what has occurred in a particular program. In addition, the new tool includes a scroll of events that may be sorted by date or program to make it even easier to understand how major transactions under TARP and events, such as legislative actions, have impacted the program. Read more about the new tool here.

President Obama Creates New Advisory Council Focused on the Financial Capability of Young Americans

On June 25, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order today to establish a President's Advisory Council, charged with building the financial capability of young Americans. The new Council will be led by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The creation of this Council underscores the Obama Administration's commitment to helping young people get the skills and knowledge they need to pursue successful careers and contribute to the nation's economy. The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans will build on the recommendations of the prior President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, which delivered its final report before sunsetting in January of this year. Read more about the advisory council here.

President Obama Establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs

On June 26, 2013, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The executive order states: “As we work together to forge a brighter future for all Americans, we cannot ignore a history of mistreatment and destructive policies that have hurt tribal communities. The United States seeks to continue restoring and healing relations with Native Americans and to strengthen its partnership with tribal governments, for our more recent history demonstrates that tribal self-determination -- the ability of tribal governments to determine how to build and sustain their own communities -- is necessary for successful and prospering communities.” Read the full executive order here.

Grant Opportunities

Corporation for National and Community Service Seeks Participants in RSVP Competition

The Corporation for National and Community Service seeks to increase the impact of national service in 270 specific communities across the country. CNCS intends to fund RSVP grants that support volunteers 55 years and older serving in a diverse range of activities that meet specific community needs and respond to National Performance Measures. Applications are due September 10, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Successful applicants will be notified in February 2014. Read more about the RSVP Competition here. Senior corps will be hosting technical assistance conference calls for potential grant applicants. Read about the technical assistance calls here.

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Improve the Quality of Rural Housing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help low- and very-low-income rural residents repair their homes. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy. Applications are due August 2, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Learn more about the grant here.

CMS Funding Opportunity: Support for Demonstration Ombudsman Programs Serving Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees

On June 27, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement designed to support states in providing Medicare-Medicaid enrollees with more person-centered, coordinated care through Demonstration Ombudsman Programs. Through this new opportunity, states can apply for funding to develop independent Demonstration Ombudsman Programs to support their current demonstrations through the Financial Alignment initiative. These programs will provide beneficiaries with access to new resources and person-centered assistance in resolving issues related to the demonstration. These programs will also monitor beneficiary experience and offer recommendations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the states, and participating plans on how the beneficiary experience could be improved. Applications for the first round are due to CMS on July 30, 2013 CMS anticipates issuing the first notice of aware in September 2013. Read more about the grant here.