Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights. Read about President Obama’s commemoration of Independence Day, the welcome of over 7,800 new citizens sworn in last week, the new employment report showing that the economy continues to recover, and more agency announcements.
A view of the fireworks over the South Lawn during the Fourth of July celebration at the White House, July 4, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In his weekly address, President Obama commemorates our nation’s Independence Day, and recognizes the generations of Americans—from farmers to teachers to entrepreneurs—who worked together to make the United States what it is today. The President also thanked the men and women of the military, who have given so much to defend the United States at home and abroad, and said that we are grateful for their service and sacrifice. Watch President Obama’s weekly address here.
Last week, more than 7,800 candidates became citizens at more than 100 ceremonies across the country and around the world. Obama Administration officials participated in ceremonies which were part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual celebration of Independence Day. On July 4, to celebrate our nation’s birth, White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, gave remarks at a ceremony at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon where 101 new citizens recited the Oath of Allegiance and became American citizens. Mt. Vernon is one of the prominent landmarks to host naturalization ceremonies this year in honor of Independence Day. Read more about the ceremony remarks here.
On July 5th, 2013, the new employment report provided further confirmation that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we remain focused on pursuing policies to speed job creation and expand the middle class, as we continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007. The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that private sector businesses added 202,000 jobs last month). Read more about the employment report here.
Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act ensures all Americans will have access to affordable health coverage. We are on target to open the Health Insurance Marketplace on October 1 where small businesses and ordinary Americans will be able to go to one place to learn about their coverage options and make side-by-side comparisons of each plan’s price and benefits before they make their decision. As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed. In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening. So in response to your concerns, we are making two changes. First, we are cutting red tape and simplifying the reporting process. We have heard the concern that the reporting called for under the law about each worker’s access to and enrollment in health insurance requires new data collection systems and coordination. So we plan to re-vamp and simplify the reporting process. Second, we are giving businesses more time to comply. As we make these changes, we believe we need to give employers more time to comply with the new rules. Since employer responsibility payments can only be assessed based on this new reporting, payments won’t be collected for 2014. Read about the changes here.
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was scheduled to host 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 on Thursday, July 11th. This webinar has been postponed to a future date TBD.
On July 2, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that the Department will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin. This is designed to meet two goals. First, it will allow the agency to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees. Within the next week, the Department will publish formal guidance describing this transition. Read more about the announcement here.
On July 2, 2013, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx was sworn in as the nation’s 17th Secretary of Transportation by Judge Nathaniel Jones in a private ceremony at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters at 11 a.m. today. Prior to his confirmation, Foxx served as the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, from 2009 to 2013. During that time, he made efficient and innovative transportation investments the centerpiece of Charlotte's job creation and economic recovery efforts. These investments included extending the LYNX light rail system, expanding Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and starting the Charlotte Streetcar project. Read more about Secretary Foxx here.
On June 6th, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education hosted an internal immigration reform briefing in which we shared how comprehensive immigration reform relates to the work we do at the Department of Education. Immigration reform is not only about how the country deals with undocumented workers and the children they bring with them; it is also about how we help all immigrants assimilate and integrate into American society. Read about the discussions that took place on immigration here.
The Corporation for National and Community Service will hold the second annual National Senior Corps Virtual Conference August 6-7, 2013. The Virtual Conference will showcase the Senior Corps performance measures that are aligned with the Focus Areas in the CNCS Strategic Plan. The conference is free and open to the public. Read more about the conference and register here.
On July 2, 2013, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement regarding the anniversary of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying "The 49th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of education in America's progress toward racial equality. Title VI has prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity - including all elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities, public or private - receiving Federal financial assistance.” Read Secretary Duncan’s full remarks here.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a new video where Secretary Duncan and Department staff share personal stories and identify tools that support students experiencing bullying. In response to students suffering bullying in schools, ED has redoubled efforts to give parents, educators, and students the tools they need to stop harassment, including through the website Stopbullying.gov and civil rights enforcement. Watch the video here.
While dodging financial scams seems to have become a part of life, U.S. Department of Defense officials have taken measures to protect the military community from such circumstances. Scamming incidents in the military parallel those in the civilian community. But scammers might target military families because of service members’ dependable incomes and frequent moves, opening them up to potential scams that can affect their financial readiness when renting or buying a home and securing car loans. “It’s really important that we look at our entire [financial] readiness campaign as a way to empower our service members and their families to have the flexibility to meet the goals and dreams of their future,” said Barbara Thompson, director of the Defense Department’s office of family policy, children and youth. Read about the DOD’s efforts here.
On July 2, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a draft loan guarantee solicitation for innovative and advanced fossil energy projects and facilities that substantially reduce greenhouse gas and other air pollution. The Advanced Fossil Energy Projects solicitation, authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 through Section 1703 of the Loan Guarantee Program, does just that. The draft solicitation will be open for comments from industry, stakeholders, and the public until early September. Read more about the solicitation here.
Through a collaborative FOA, CDC seeks to fund a consortium of public health oriented national networks to impact tobacco-related and cancer health disparities within specific target populations. The target populations are: 1). African Americans; 2). American Indians/Alaskan Natives; 3). Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders/Hawaiian Natives; 4). Latinos/Hispanics; 5). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons; 6). Persons with Low Socioeconomic Status; 7). Persons with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders; and 8). Geographically Defined Populations with High Commercial Tobacco Use and Related Health Disparities. This tailored strategy is needed to achieve the benefits of an overall population-based approach to commercial tobacco use prevention and cancer prevention and control and the achievement of health equity for all populations. Applications close on July 18, 2013. Read more about the grant opportunity here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) invites private, 501(c)- certified non-profit organizations that are located within and will provide services to the population of Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and Washington to apply for a five year Women's Business Center (WBC) grant. The SBA Women's Business Center is a program or project funded, in part, by a grant from the SBA to provide technical assistance to women entrepreneurs, both nascent and established in the areas of finance, management, and marketing, and other areas. Applications close on July 31, 2013. Read more about the grant opportunity here.
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.