Political Musings February 25, 2014: Obama, Governors have turbulent dinner and meeting over 2016, economy, pipeline

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, Governors have turbulent dinner and meeting over 2016, economy, pipeline

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama spent his weekend with the National Governors Association (NGA) at what were suppose to be bipartisan events, a dinner hosted at the White House on Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 2014 and a White House meeting on Monday…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 24, 2014: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at National Governors’ Association White House Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and Vice President at NGA Meeting

Source: WH, 2-24-14

State Dining Room

11:15 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thanks for making the Cabinet stand up for me.  (Laughter.)  I appreciate it.

It’s great to see you all.  And I don’t know about you all, I had a great time last night and got a chance to actually do what we should be doing more of — talking without thinking about politics and figuring how we can solve problems.

You’ve observed by now the reason the President and I like doing this every year is it’s nice dealing with people who know they got to get a job done, and they get a job done.  And I’ve gotten a chance to work directly with an awful lot of you in the days of the Recovery Act, and even when we were working on the gun violence; rebuilding from that super storm Sandy, which hit my state as well, and tornadoes and floods in a number of your states.

But it never ceases to amaze me how you all mobilize.  You just mobilize.  When crises hit your states, you mobilize and you rebuild.  And you rebuild your infrastructure not to the standards that existed before, but to 21st century standards.  You balance your budgets, you save neighborhoods, and you bring back jobs to your communities.

And the other thing I pick up — and I may be wrong.  I’m always labeled as the White House optimist, like I’m the kid who fell off the turnip truck yesterday, but I am the youngest here — (laughter) — and new.  But it always amazes me your sense of optimism.  You’re the one group of folks you go to with all the problems you have that you’re optimistic.  You’re optimistic about it being able to be done, getting things done.  That is not always the mood up in the place where I spent a large portion of my career.

And last night I got to speak to a bunch of you, particularly about the job skills initiative the President asked me to lead, and I had a chance to speak with some of you specifically, and I’m going to ask to — I’m going to get a chance to see more of you this afternoon.  But this is more than just — at least from the President’s perspective and mine — more than just a job skills initiative.  It’s about literally opening the aperture to the middle class.  The middle class has actually shrunk.

And we always have these debates with our economists — is the middle class $49,820 or $52,000.  The middle class to me, and I think to most of you, it’s really a state of mind.  It’s about being able to own your home and not have to rent it.  It’s about being able to send your kid to a park where you know you can send them out, and they’ll come home safely.  It’s about being able to send them to school, that if they do well in the school, they’re going to be able to get to something beyond high school if they want to do that.  And you’re going to be able to pay for it.  And in the meantime, you may be able to take care of your mom and dad who are in tough shape and hope that your kids never have to take care of you.  That’s the middle class.

And before the Great Recession, it was already beginning to shrink.  So together, we got to open — Mary, you and I have talked about this — about opening the aperture here for access to the middle class.  But we’ll be speaking a lot more about that in the next several months.  A couple of you invited me to come out your way, including some of my Republican friends.  And I’m going to be working with all of you.

But today I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for what you always do.  You come to town; you come to town with answers.  You come to town with suggestions.  You come to town to get things done.  And believe me, we need that and the American people are looking for it.

And I want to welcome you back to the White House, and introduce you now to my friend, your President, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Please, have a seat.  Thank you so much.

Welcome to the White House.  I know that you’ve already been doing a lot of work, and I’m glad to be able to come here and engage in a dialogue with all of you.  I want to thank Mary and John for their leadership at the NGA.  I want to thank my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, who is very excited I think about the jobs initiative, and is going to be — the job training initiative, and I think is going to be doing a great job on that.

Michelle and I had a wonderful time hosting you guys last night, and I hope all the spouses enjoyed it.  And I know Alex enjoyed it.  (Laughter.)  One good thing about living here is that you can make all the noise you want and nobody is going to complain.  (Laughter.)  And I enjoyed watching some of you with your eyes on higher office size up the drapes — (laughter) –and each other.

We don’t have a lot of time today, so I want to be very brief, go straight to Q&A and discussion.  We’re at a moment when our economy is growing; our businesses have now created over 8.5 million new jobs over the past four years.  But, as I’ve said several times, the trends that have battered the middle class for a couple of decades now are still there and still have to be addressed.  Those at the top are doing very well.  Ordinary families still feeling squeezed.  Too many Americans are working harder than ever, and just barely getting by.

And reversing these trends are going to require us to work together around what I’m calling an opportunity agenda based on four things.  Number one, more good jobs that pay good wages.  Number two, training more Americans to be able to take the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs that are created.  Number three, guaranteeing access to a world-class education for every American child all across our 50 states and our territories.  And making sure that hard work pays off — with wages that you can live on, savings that you can retire on, health insurance that you can count on.

And all of this is going to take some action.  So far, just in the past few weeks, I’ve acted to lift the wages of workers who work for federal contractors to pay their — make sure their employees are getting paid at least $10.10 an hour.  We’ve ordered an across-the-board reform of our job training programs, much of it aligned with some of the work that Mary has done during her tenure as head of the NGA.  We directed our Treasury to create a new way for Americans to start saving for retirement.  We’ve been able to rally America’s business leaders to help more of the long-term unemployed find work, and to help us make sure that all of our kids have access to high-speed Internet and high-tech learning tools in the classroom.

The point is, this has to be a year of action.  And I’m eager to work with Congress wherever I can.  My hope is, is that despite this being an election year, that there will be occasions where both parties determine that it makes sense to actually get some things done in this town.  But wherever I can work on my own to expand opportunity for more Americans, I’m going to do that.  And I am absolutely convinced that the time is right to partner with the states and governors all across the country on these agendas, because I know that you guys are doing some terrific work in your own states.

There may not be much of an appetite in Congress for doing big jobs bills, but we can still grow SelectUSA.  Secretary Pritzker’s team has put together a terrific formula where we’re attracting investors from all around the world to see America as an outstanding place to invest.  And I mentioned this at the State of the Union:  For the first time last year, what we’re seeing is, is that world investors now see America as the number-one place to do business rather than China.  And it’s a sign of a lot of things converging, both on the energy front, worker productivity, our innovation, our research, ease of doing business.  And a lot of that work is as a consequence of steps we’ve taken not just at the federal level, but also at the state level.  So we’ve got to take advantage of that.

Secretary Pritzker has been helping a Belgian company create jobs in Stillwater, Oklahoma; helping an Austrian company create jobs in Cartersville, Georgia.  So we can do more of this, and we really want to engage with you over the next several months to find ways that we can help market America and your states to businesses all around the world and bring jobs back.

Since I called on Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, six states have gone ahead and done it on their own.  Last month, I asked more business leaders to raise their workers’ wages.  Last week, GAP said it would lift wages for about 65,000 of its employees.  Several of you are trying to boost wages for your workers.  I’m going to do everything I can to support those efforts.

While Congress decides what it’s going to do on making high-quality pre-K available to more kids, there is bipartisan work being done among the folks in this room.  You’ve got governors like Robert Bentley and Jack Markell, Susana Martinez, Deval Patrick — all expanding funding or dedicating funds to make that happen in their states.  And we want to partner with you.  This year, I’ll pull together a coalition of philanthropists, elected officials and business leaders, all of whom are excited and interested in working with you to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need.

And while Congress talks about repealing the Affordable Care Act or doing this or doing that to it, places like California and Kentucky are going gangbusters and enrolling more Americans in quality, affordable health care plans.  You’ve got Republican governors here — I won’t name them in front of the press, because I don’t want to get you all in trouble — who have chosen to cover more people through new options under Medicaid.  And as a result, millions of people are going to get help.

States that don’t expand Medicaid are going to be leaving up to 5.4 million Americans uninsured.  And that doesn’t have to happen.  Work with us to get this done.  We can provide a lot of flexibility.  Folks like Mike Beebe in Arkansas have done some terrific work designing programs that are right for their states but also provide access to care for people who need it.  And I think Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor herself, has shown herself willing to work with all of you to try to find ways to get that done.

On the West Coast, you’ve got Governors Brown, Inslee, Kitzhaber who are working together to combat the effects of climate change on their states.  We’ve set up a taskforce of governors and mayors and tribal leaders to help communities prepare for what we anticipate are going to be intensifying impacts of climate change.  And we’re setting up climate hubs in seven states across the country to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing environment.

In the budget that I’ll send to Congress next week, I’m going to propose fundamentally reforming the way federal governments fund wildfire suppression and prevention to make it more stable and secure, and this is an idea that’s supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

And finally, I want to thank those of you who have worked with Michelle and Jill Biden on their Joining Forces initiative to support our military families.  At your meeting here two years ago, they asked for your help to make it easier for servicemembers and their spouses to carry licenses for professions like teaching or nursing from state to state, rather than have to get a new one every time they were reassigned.  At the time, only 12 states had acted to make this easier for spouses; only nine had acted to make it easier for servicemembers.  Today, 42 states have passed legislation to help spouses; 45 states have made it easier for servicemembers.  We’ve got a few states remaining.  Let’s get it done for everybody, because it’s the right thing to do for those men and women who are working every day to make sure we stay free and secure.

The point is, even when there is little appetite in Congress to move on some of these priorities, at the state level you guys are governed by practical considerations.  You want to do right by your people and you see how good policy impacts your citizens, and you see how bad policy impacts your citizens, and that means that there’s less room for posturing and politics, and more room for getting stuff done.

We want to work with you.  And I’m committed to making sure that every single member of my Cabinet, every single person in the White House, every single member of my team will be responsive to you.  We won’t agree on every single issue every single time, but I guarantee you that we will work as hard as we can to make sure that you succeed — because when you succeed, the people in your states succeed and America succeeds, and that’s our goal.

So thank you very much, and I look forward to having a great discussion.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:27 A.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 23, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the National Governors Association Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the National Governors Association Dinner

Source: WH, 2-23-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks to National Governors Association
February 23, 2014 8:42 PM

President Obama Speaks to National Governors Association

State Dining Room

7:11 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, welcome to the White House.  Everybody looks fabulous.  I am truly honored to be one of Michelle Obama’s guests tonight here at dinner.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank all the governors and their better halves for being here tonight, especially your chair, Mary Fallin, and your vice chair, John Hickenlooper.  (Applause.)

Tonight, we want to make sure that all of you make yourselves at home, to which I’m sure some of you are thinking that’s been the plan all along.  (Laughter.)  But keep in mind what a wise man once wrote:  “I am more than contented to be governor and shall not care if I never hold another office.”  Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt.  (Laughter.)  So I guess plans change.

I look forward to working with each of you not just in our meetings tomorrow, but throughout this year, what I hope to be a year of action.  Our partnership on behalf of the American people, on issues ranging from education to health care to climate change runs deep, deeper than what usually hits the front page.

Being here tonight, I’m thinking about moments that I’ve spent with so many of you during the course of the year — with Governor Patrick in a hospital in Boston, seeing the survivors of the Boston bombing, seeing them fight through their wounds, determined to return to their families, but also realizing that a lot of lives were saved because of the preparations that federal and state and local officials had carried out beforehand; with Governor Fallin at a firehouse in Moore, thanking first responders who risked their lives to save others after a devastating tornado, but once again seeing the kind of state-federal cooperation that’s so vital in these kinds of circumstances; spending time with Governor O’Malley at the Naval Academy graduation last spring and looking out over some of our newest sailors and Marines as they join the greatest military in the world, and reminding ourselves that on national security issues, the contributions of the National Guard obviously are extraordinary and all of you work so closely with them.

So if there’s one thing in common in the moments like these, it’s that our cooperation is vital to make sure that we’re doing right by the American people.  And what’s common also is the incredible resilience and the goodness and the strength of the American people that we’re so privileged to serve.  And that resilience has carried us from the depths of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes to what I am convinced can be a breakthrough year for America and the American people.

That of course will require that we collectively take action on what matters to them — jobs and opportunity.  And when we’ve got a Congress that sometimes seems to have a difficult time acting, I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to partner with each of you in any way that I can to help more Americans work and study and strive, and make sure that they see their efforts and their faith in this country rewarded.

I know we’ll talk more about areas where we can work together tomorrow.  So tonight, I simply would like to propose a toast to the families that support us, to the citizens that inspire us and to this exceptional country that has given us so much.  Cheers.

END
7:16 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 14, 2014: President Barack Obama Remarks Announcing California Drought Aid

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the California Drought

Source: WH, 2-14-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks on Response to the California Drought
February 14, 2014 6:00 PM

President Obama Speaks on Response to the California Drought

Joe Del Bosque’s Field Los Banos, California

4:55 P.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I want to thank Joe and Maria Del Bosque and their beautiful daughters for showing Governor Brown and me around their farm.

Joe has got an incredible story.  The son of a migrant farmworker, farm work is how he put himself through college.  He’s been a farmer for most of his life.  He started by going around to other folks’ land and saying, I’ll grow some cantaloupes for you as long as you pay me for what we produce, and over the years was able to develop this amazing business and not only start growing cantaloupes, but almonds and cherries and all kinds of other good stuff.

“There are three things that make farming work in California,” according to Joe, “soil, water, and people.”  And in the little free time they have, Joe and Maria work to improve the health and safety of farm workers.  There are a lot of people who are dependent on him year-round, and a lot of people who work seasonally with Joe and Maria, and their livelihoods depend on the functioning of these farms.

But today, we’re here to talk about the resource that’s keeping more and more California’s farmers and families up at night, and that is water — or the lack of it.

As anybody in this state could tell you, California’s living through some of its driest years in a century.  Right now, almost 99 percent of California is drier than normal — and the winter snowpack that provides much of your water far into the summer is much smaller than normal.  And we could see that as we were flying in — Jim and Barbara and Dianne and I were flying over the mountain ranges and could see, even though there was a little bit of snow that just came in the last couple of days, that it’s nothing like it is normally.

While drought in regions outside the West is expected to be less severe than in other years, California is our biggest economy, California is our biggest agricultural producer, so what happens here matters to every working American, right down to the cost of food that you put on your table.

And that’s why, last month, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency, directing state officials to prepare for drought conditions.  And together, our administrations launched a coordinated response.  Secretary Vilsack, who is here today, declared 27 counties as primary natural disaster areas, making farmers and ranchers eligible for emergency loans.  And over the past two weeks, his team at USDA and Mike Connor’s team at the Interior Department have released new funds for conservation and irrigation; announced investments to upgrade water infrastructure; and partnered with California to stretch the water supply as much as possible.

Today, I’m want to announce new actions that we can take together to help these hardworking folks.

First, we’re accelerating $100 million of funds from the farm bill that I signed last week to help ranchers.  For example, if their fields have dried up, this is going to help them feed their livestock.

Second, last week, we announced $20 million to help hard-hit communities, and today, we’re announcing up to $15 million more for California and other states that are in extreme drought.

Third, I’m directing the Interior Department to use its existing authorities, where appropriate, to give water contractors flexibility to meet their obligations.

And fourth, I’m directing all federal facilities in California to take immediate steps to curb their water use, including a moratorium on water usage for new, non-essential landscaping projects.

A bipartisan bill written by your outstanding Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as your own outstanding Representative and almond farmer, Jim Costa, includes similar ideas.  And I hope that Congress considers the legislation that they have crafted soon, work through some of the concerns that have been expressed — let’s make sure that we’re getting some short-term relief to folks, but also long-term certainty for people who are going to be harmed by this drought.

These actions will help, but they’re just the first step.  We have to be clear:  A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher. Droughts have obviously been a part of life out here in the West since before any of us were around and water politics in California have always been complicated, but scientific evidence shows that a changing climate is going to make them more intense.

Scientists will debate whether a particular storm or drought reflects patterns of climate change.  But one thing that is undeniable is that changing temperatures influence drought in at least three ways:  Number one, more rain falls in extreme downpours — so more water is lost to runoff than captured for use.  Number two, more precipitation in the mountains falls as rain rather than snow — so rivers run dry earlier in the year.  Number three, soil and reservoirs lose more water to evaporation year-round.

What does all this mean?  Unless and until we do more to combat carbon pollution that causes climate change, this trend is going to get worse.  And the hard truth is even if we do take action on climate change, carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades.  The planet is slowly going to keep warming for a long time to come.  So we’re going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for; we’ve got to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for, to anticipate, to start building new infrastructure, to start having new plans, to recalibrate the baseline that we’re working off of.

And everybody, from farmers to industry to residential areas, to the north of California and the south of California and everyplace in between, as well as the entire Western region are going to have to start rethinking how we approach water for decades to come.

And as I said when I was meeting with the town hall group, we can’t think of this simply as a zero-sum game.  It can’t just be a matter of there’s going to be less and less water so I’m going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water.  Instead what we have to do is all come together and figure out how we all are going to make sure that agricultural needs, urban needs, industrial needs, environmental and conservation concerns are all addressed.  And that’s going to be a big project, but it’s one that I’m confident we can do.

Part of the Climate Action Plan that I put forward last summer is designed to protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the effects of climate change that we’re just not going to be able to avoid.  So, last week, for example, the USDA announced seven new “climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate — one of which will be at UC Davis, focused on resilience for California’s specialty crops.

The budget that I sent to Congress — the budget that I send to Congress next month will include $1 billion in new funding for new technologies to help communities prepare for a changing climate, set up incentives to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure.  And finally, my administration will work with tech innovators and launch new challenges under our Climate Data Initiative, focused initially on rising sea levels and their impact on the coasts, but ultimately focused on how all these changes in weather patterns are going to have an impact up and down the United States — not just on the coast but inland as well — and how do we start preparing for that.  And that has to be work that we do together.  This cannot be a partisan endeavor.

One of the great things about that town hall that I just came out of — not everybody agreed on anything — (laughter) — except people did agree that we can’t keep on doing business as usual.  That’s what people did understand — that there has to be a sense of urgency about this.

And issues like the federal government helping states to build infrastructure to adapt and ensure economic development and that families and workers are able to prosper — there’s nothing new about that.  We just saw a photograph of President Kennedy and current Governor Brown’s dad building some of the aquifers that have been so important to the economy of this state for decades.  If we were able to do that then, we should be able to do it now.  It’s just a matter of us making sure that we’re not putting politics ahead of trying to get things working.

Our work with Governor Brown and his administration is going to continue.  Californians have all had to come together and already make sacrifices, big and small, to help your neighbors and your state get through this.  The good news is California is always on the cutting-edge.  Already you use water far more efficiently than you did decades ago.  You do it smarter.  Joe was explaining just how this drip irrigation that you see in this region has made many of these farms much more efficient when it comes to water utilization.  And so we know that we can innovate and meet this challenge, but we’ve got to start now.  We can’t wait.

So I want to make sure that every Californian knows — whether you’re NorCals, SoCal, here in the Central Valley — your country is going to be there for you when you need it this year. But we’re going to have to all work together in the years to come to make sure that we address the challenge and leave this incredible land embodied to our children and our grandchildren in at least as good shape as we found it.

So, thank you very much, everybody, for the great work that you guys do.  And I’ve already told the Governor as well as all your outstanding representatives here that our administration is going to stay on this and we are prepared to cooperate with local, state officials throughout.  And that’s not just in California, because we’re going to see some similar problems in places like Colorado, Nevada, some of the neighboring Western states, and so part of the conversation is also going to have to be a regional conversation.

But this is something that I’m very committed to.  We’re going to make sure to get it done, working together.  Thank you so much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END                5:08 P.M. PST

Full Text Obama Presidency January 23, 2014: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at US Conference of Mayors Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and the Vice President at U.S. Conference of Mayors Reception

Source: WH, 1-23-14

East Room

5:30 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, welcome to the White House.  My name is Joe Biden.  I work for President Obama.  (Laughter.)  Best job I ever had.

Hey, folks, look, there’s a reason the President and I like talking to mayors.  You’re the one group of elected officials that get things done, in large part because you have no option but to get things done.  (Laughter.)  And also, most of the innovation is coming from you all.

Today, I got further evidence of that when I talked with a few of you about what we can do together on the jobs, skills and workforce development.  We promised, back in 2009, there would be — we’d be a strong partner with you, and I’m confident in saying that because of the man I’m about to introduce, we’ve kept that promise.

President Obama understands cities better than most American presidents have in American history.  He knows cities face unique challenges when it comes to building infrastructure and creating jobs, and that’s why he nominated a big city mayor, Anthony Foxx — he doesn’t have all the money in the world, but he’s ready to help.

And also, I’ve gotten a chance to work directly with so many of you during the Recovery Act.  The only reason it worked, the only reason there was less than 1 percent waste or fraud — including with our Republican friends who investigated — is because of you.  You made it work.  You’re used to getting things done on time — mostly under budget — and getting answers back to people immediately.  And it never ceases to amaze me the tough political decisions, you guys and women, you make every single day in doing your job — to save your neighborhoods, to rebuild and balance your budgets, and to bring jobs back to your communities.

So I’m honored to have you here, we’re honored to have you here.  And I’m really honored to introduce the best friend the cities have ever had in this White House, President Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Please have a seat.

Well, welcome to the White House.  It is great to have you.  For those of you who have been here before, welcome back.  I see a lot of friends and a lot of familiar faces around the room, but I’ve also already had a chance to meet some newly elected mayors.  So to all of you, congratulations — and make sure you’re shoveling the snow.  (Laughter.)  Just a little piece of advice.  It’s been cold.

We’ve got more than 250 mayors here from more than 45 states and territories.  You represent about 40 million Americans.  And over the last five years, thanks in part to the partnerships that we’ve been able to forge with mayors in this room and across the country, we’ve accomplished some big things on behalf of the American people.

But you know as well as anybody that while our economy is growing stronger, and we are optimistic about growth this year and in subsequent years, we’ve got a lot more work to do to make sure that everybody has a chance to get ahead.  If they’re willing to work hard and take responsibility, they’ve got to be able to participate in that growth.  And every day, mayors are proving that you don’t have to wait for the gridlock to clear in Congress in order to make things happen.

Now, Mayor Greg Stanton in Phoenix and Mayor Ralph Becker in Salt Lake City have ended chronic homelessness among veterans.  (Applause.)  In San Antonio, Mayor Castro has launched an early childhood education program designed to reach more than 22,000 four year olds over the next eight years.  In Fresno, Mayor Ashley Swearengin is spearheading projects to develop her city’s downtown, including a high-speed rail station that’s going to help attract jobs and businesses to the Central Valley.  In Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter is helping young people reach higher during their summers by working with partners across the city to create thousands of summer jobs.  In Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn has gone, in his words, “all in,” helping his constituents get covered with quality, affordable health insurance.

So mayors from both parties are a part of the climate task force, helping to make sure that cities have what it takes to withstand changes that may be taking place in our atmosphere in the years to come.  More than a thousand mayors across America have signed agreements to cut dangerous carbon pollutions.  I want to work with Congress whenever and wherever I can, but the one thing I’m emphasizing to all my Cabinet members is we’re not going to wait.  Where Congress is debating things and hasn’t been able to pull the trigger on stuff, my administration is going to move forward and we’re going to do it in partnership with all of you.  I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.  And that’s all I need.  (Applause.)

Because with a pen I can take executive actions.  With a phone I can rally folks from around the country to help grow the economy and restore opportunity.  And that’s what today, hopefully, has been about.  You’ve met with members of the administration.  You’ve gotten to know each other, but also, hopefully, they’ve given you some insight into where we see the most promising programs, things that are working, best practices.  And we want to cooperate and coordinate with you as effectively as we can to make sure that whatever works is getting out there and hitting the streets and actually having an impact on people’s lives.  And, frankly, there are a lot of things that folks in this town could learn from all of you.

And I want to close by personally saying how much it means to me to have you here today.  As Joe mentioned, I know a little something about cities.  I got my professional career started as somebody working in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago.  But I also saw how hard work can transform communities block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.  And to see the resilience and the strength of people, and the incredible vibrancy that cities bring to not just those who live within the boundaries of cities but entire regions, that’s what you understand.  And I want to make sure that I’ve got your back in everything that you do.

So I want to say thank you to all of you for making sure that your constituents are well-served.  But, as a consequence, America is well-served.

END
5:38 P.M. EST

Political Musings August 16, 2013: Chris Christie outlines GOP plan to win in 2016 at RNC summer meeting

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Chris Christie outlines GOP plan to win in 2016 at RNC summer meeting

By Bonnie K. Goodman

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid out a plan in a speech to the members of the Republican National Committee on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 based on the his re-election bid, that the Republicans can use as a model…READ MORE

Political Musings July 15, 2013: Rick Perry announces Israel trip, will a 2016 presidential bid be next?

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Rick Perry announces Israel trip, will a 2016 presidential bid be next?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Thursday, July 11, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced to the Washington Times that he intends to take a trip to Israel this upcoming October. Three days earlier on Monday June 8, Perry announced he will not seek a full…READ MORE

Political Headlines July 13, 2013: Texas Senate Passes Restrictive Abortion Law

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Texas Senate Passes Restrictive Abortion Law

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-13-13

Late Friday night, the Texas Senate gave final passage to a strict new law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, require doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions take place in “surgical centers.”

A 19-11 vote in favor of the new abortion restrictions sends the measure to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who has already said that he would sign the proposal into law….READ MORE

Legal Buzz June 17, 2013: Supreme Court Strikes Down 7-2 Arizona’s Proof of Citizenship Voting Requirement

LEGAL BUZZ

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS

Supreme Court Strikes Down Ariz. Proof of Citizenship Requirement

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-17-13

Full Text Opinion: 6/17/13 – Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz., Inc.

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of an Arizona law that requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in federal elections.

Arizona’s Proposition 200 was passed in 2004 and requires any registrant who does not have a driver’s license issued after 1996 or a non-operating license to provide documents such as a copy of a birth certificate or a passport. The law went further than a federal law that established a nationally uniform voter application form where the registrant is required to check a box indicating U.S. citizenship and to sign the form under penalty of perjury….READ MORE

Political Headlines June 6, 2013: NJ Gov Chris Christie Names Temporary Replacement for Frank Lautenberg in Senate

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Christie Names Temporary Replacement for Lautenberg in Senate

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-6-13

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The governor of New Jersey has named a temporary replacement for Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday and whose body lies in repose Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.

Governor Chris Christie selected fellow Republican New Jersey Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to temporarily fill the seat held by Lautenberg….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines June 1, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Alaska Governor Sean Parnell Talks Energy, Keystone Pipeline

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

GOP Address: Alaska Governor Talks Energy, Keystone Pipeline

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-1-13

Governor’s Office

Hello, I’m Sean Parnell, governor of the great state of Alaska.

If you’ve spent much time watching the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington, D.C., you may have lost faith.

And yet, across the country, Republican governors have another story: We are balancing budgets, reducing regulations, cutting taxes, and growing our economies, all the while working across the aisle.

Chief Executive Magazine recently released its annual survey of the best states for business. The result?  The top ten are all managed by Republican governors.

You see, when states encourage and grow economic opportunity, despite the federal quagmire of damaging regulations, our entire nation benefits.

Today I want to focus on energy. I want to focus on what local, state and federal governments can do to ensure safe, reliable and affordable access to it.

First, we need to address some basic, but critical questions:

Is it better for the U.S. to import energy—or to export it?

Is it a good public policy for Americans to be employed to produce our energy—or simply consume it?

Can and should America be energy independent?

Most Americans agree that energy independence is good for America, for both national security and our balance of trade. But we need our President to allow our nation to grow the energy economy for the benefit of our families.  The Republican House has acted; it’s time for the Democratic controlled Senate to do the same.

Let me give you some examples.

Alaska—one of the world’s great hydrocarbon basins—we’re doing our part to secure America’s energy future.

In our most recent 90-day legislative session, the most productive in a generation, Alaskans worked together across party lines to make Alaska more competitive in a global environment. We reformed our state oil taxes, we modernized our state’s permitting system—all with the goal of creating more opportunities for our people from Alaska’s vast resources.

In our state, the Alaska Energy Comeback has begun, a comeback that will lead to a brighter economic future for the entire U.S. economy, but we didn’t just stop with state lands. We know our nation’s federal lands contain riches that should be unlocked for the benefit of all Americans.

Too often, however, the federal government is less than nimble about permitting projects on its own lands. Permitting delays by the Obama administration means delayed job creation for Americans.

So just last week I offered our state’s expertise and our financial commitment to evaluate the energy and economic potential from oil-rich federal lands.

Alaska is offering to pay a part of exploration of federal lands in Alaska for energy potential. Now, Alaska developed a comprehensive Oil and Gas Exploration Proposal for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, otherwise known as ANWR. It details a seven-year exploration plan to complete studies and exploration on this federal land.

And for this effort, I’m prepared to seek up to $50 million from the Alaska Legislature to help the federal government pay for developing this valuable information from its own land.

Now, we’ve had this ANWR debate—but the federal government does not have current data on its true energy potential. What we propose is a fact-finding mission on federal lands with the State of Alaska covering up to one-third of the cost, so Americans have the facts on ANWR, and can understand what’s at stake for the country.

This is just one example of how Republican governors are trailblazing the path to the future. The President and his allies in Congress have many such examples to emulate.

Recently the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, along with 19 Democrats, passed legislation to approve the Keystone Pipeline, which will create up to 20,000 domestic jobs and transport oil and gas from Canada to the southern U.S. for refining. Now, it’s time for the Democratic-led U.S. Senate to pass this bill—or at least allow it an up or down vote.

This common sense energy infrastructure project is truly shovel-ready, and yet the White House threatened it with a veto. The project could already be well underway, but the State Department has unnecessarily delayed the project for years.

And then there’s offshore energy—and there’s a lot of it out there. Coastal governors have gathered together as a coalition to unite behind responsibly unlocking offshore energy development. Each of the eight governors in our coastal states coalition is frustrated by the lack of coordination, by the endless delays and politically motivated inaction by federal agencies.

While the federal government wastes precious taxpayer dollars on green energy boondoggles that have collapsed in failure and bankruptcy, many with no benefit to America, access to federal lands has been consistently blocked by this administration. Offshore drilling has been stalled. Permitting for energy that can restore jobs across America is delayed. That’s not the ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that the President promised.

You may have heard that, under the Obama administration, energy production is up. Well, it’s important to note this is only because it is increasing on private lands, while production on federal lands, which belong to you, the taxpayer, has dropped dramatically.

Alaska and many of the other energy states are focused on responsible and safe oil and gas development.

And as with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, the opportunity is there: If Washington, D.C. would start working with states to unlock access to federal lands, an economic boom would be felt across this nation, lifting wages, and creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and improving our national security through energy independence.

Alaska and many of America’s governors are leading our country’s energy revolution. America’s resources belong to Americans. They should be unlocked for our benefit and not locked up by Washington.

Thanks for listening, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Full Text Obama Presidency May 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech in Asbury Park, NJ After Touring the Jersey Shore with Gov Chris Christie

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama congratulates New Jersey Governor Chris Christie while playing the “TouchDown Fever” arcade game along the Point Pleasant boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., May 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President in Asbury Park, NJ

Source: WH, 5-28-13 

Asbury Park Convention Hall
Asbury Park, New Jersey

1:26 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, New Jersey!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Jersey.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back!  (Applause.)

Let me, first of all, say thank you to Governor Christie for that introduction and the great work he’s done here.  (Applause.) Your Mayor, Ed Johnson, is here as well and has been working tirelessly on your behalf.  (Applause.)  We’ve got three great representatives in Congress from New Jersey — Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne, Jr.  (Applause.)

Now, last week, my advisors asked me — they said, Mr. President, do you want to spend next Tuesday in Washington, or would you rather spend it at the Jersey Shore?  (Applause.)  And I’ve got to say I’ve got to make some tough decisions as President, but this wasn’t one of them.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  (Applause.)

Governor Christie and I just spent some time on the Point Pleasant boardwalk.  I got a chance to see the world’s tallest sandcastle being built.  We played some Touchdown Fever — I got to say, Christie got it in the tire the first try — (laughter)  — although I did pay for his throws.  (Laughter.)  I played a little Frog Bog, and Governor Christie’s kids taught me the right technique for hitting the hammer to get those frogs in the buckets the way I was supposed to.  (Laughter.)  And, of course, I met with folks who are still rebuilding after Sandy.

Now, we all understand there’s still a lot of work to be done.  There are homes to rebuild.  There are businesses to reopen.  There are landmarks and beaches and boardwalks that aren’t all the way back yet.  But thanks to the hard work of an awful lot of people, we’ve got wonderful shops and restaurants and arcades that are opening their doors.  And I saw what thousands of Americans saw over Memorial Day Weekend:  You are stronger than the storm.  (Applause.)  After all you’ve dealt with, after all you’ve been through, the Jersey Shore is back and it is open for business, and they want all Americans to know that they’re ready to welcome you here.  (Applause.)

And I’ve got to say, if they ever let me have any fun, I’d have some fun here.  (Laughter and applause.)  I was telling my staff on the ride over, I could see being a little younger — (laughter) — and having some fun on the Jersey Shore.  (Applause.)  I can’t do that anymore.  (Laughter.)  Maybe after I leave office.  (Laughter and applause.)

I think a friend of mine from here once put it pretty well:  “Down the shore, everything’s all right.”  (Applause.)  He’s the only guy a President still has to call “The Boss.”  (Laughter.)  Other than the First Lady.  (Laughter.)

But for generations, that’s what this place has been about. Life isn’t always easy.  We’re a people who have to work hard and do what it takes to provide for our families — but when you come here, everything’s all right.  And whether you spend a lifetime here, or a weekend, or a summer, the Shore holds a special place in your heart and a special place in America’s mythology, America’s memory.

When I was here seven months ago, Hurricane Sandy had just hammered communities all across the East Coast, and lives were lost, and homes and businesses were destroyed, and folks were hurting.  And I remember something Chris said back then.  He said, “We cannot permit that sorrow to replace the resilience that I know all New Jerseyans have.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, we do!

THE PRESIDENT:  And it didn’t.  You didn’t let it.  You kept going.  Because these towns have a special character — not just in the summer but all year round.  From the moment the hurricane hit, first responders worked around the clock to save lives and property.  And neighbors opened their homes and their hearts to one another.  And you came together as citizens to rebuild.

And we’re not done yet, and I want to make sure everybody understands that, because for somebody who hasn’t seen their home rebuilt yet or is still trying to get their business up and running again, after all those losses, we don’t want them to think that somehow we’ve checked a box and we’ve moved on.  That’s part of the reason I came back, to let people know we’re going to keep on going until we finish.  (Applause.)

But if anybody wondered whether the Shore could ever be all right again, you got your answer this weekend.  (Applause.)  From Sea Bright to Bay Head, from Belmar to Seaside Heights, folks were hanging out on balconies and beaches.  Shows were sold out at the Stone Pony.  (Applause.)  Kids were eating ice cream and going on rides, going and eating some more ice cream.  (Laughter.)  Guys were trying to win those big stuffed animals to impress a special girl.  So like I said, the Jersey Shore is back in business.

The work is not over, though.  Seven months ago, I promised you that your country would have your back.  I told you we would not quit until the job was done, and I meant it.  I meant it.  (Applause.)

Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA, he couldn’t be here today, but I want to thank him and his team for their ongoing work.  FEMA was here before Sandy made landfall; they’re still here today.  They’re working with the Governor’s team and with the task force I set up to support families and communities who still need help.  Since the storm hit, we’ve provided billions of dollars to families and state and local governments across the region, and more is on the way.

And even as my team is helping communities recover from the last hurricane season, they’re already starting to prepare for the next hurricane season, which starts this Saturday — because if there’s one thing that we learned last year, it’s that when a storm hits, we’ve got to be ready.  Education, preparation — that’s what makes a difference.  That’s what saves lives.  And anyone who wants to make sure they’re ready — for a hurricane or any other disaster — I want them to visit something — a website called Ready.gov.  Make a plan.  It’s never too early.

We’ve also got to remember that rebuilding efforts like these aren’t measured in weeks or months, but they’re measured in years.  That’s why just this past Thursday, we announced billions of new relief aid for New York and New Jersey transit agencies.  And that’s why the Army Corps of Engineers is working to restore beaches and strengthen the Shore’s natural defenses.  That’s why last year I joined Governor Christie and your representatives, fighting to get a relief package through Congress.  We’re going to keep doing what it takes to rebuild all the way and make it better than it was before, make it stronger than it was before, make it more resilient than it was before.  (Applause.)

So, Jersey, you’ve still got a long road ahead, but when you look out on this beach — this beautiful beach here, even in the rain, it looks good.  You look out over the horizon, you can count on the fact that you won’t be alone.  Your fellow citizens will be there for you — just like we’ll be there for folks in Breezy Point and Staten Island — (applause) — and obviously, we’re going to be there for the folks in Monroe [sic], Oklahoma, after the devastation of last week.  (Applause.)

Part of the reason I wanted to come back here was not just to send a message to New Jersey, but send a message to folks in Oklahoma:  When we make a commitment that we’ve got your back, we mean it — (applause) — and we’re not going to finish until the work is done.  Because that’s who we are.  We help each other as Americans through the bad times, and we sure make the most of the good times.  (Applause.)

So let’s have some good times on the New Jersey Shore this summer.  (Applause.)  And next summer and the summer after that, and all year long, America, bring your family and friends.  Spend a little money on the Jersey Shore.  (Applause.)  You’ll find some of the friendliest folks on Earth, some of the best beaches on Earth.  And you’ll see that even after a tough couple of months, this place is as special as ever, and down the Shore, everything is still all right.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)  God bless America.  (Applause.)

1:35 P.M. EDT
END

Political Headlines May 28, 2013: President Barack Obama & NJ Gov Chris Christie Tour Recovery Efforts at Jersey Shore

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, Christie Tour Recovery Efforts at Jersey Shore

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-28-13

Office of NJ Gov. Chris Christie/Twitter

Seven months after superstorm Sandy hammered the New Jersey coast, President Obama returned to the Jersey Shore to highlight the state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts, declaring that the “Jersey Shore is back.”

“We’re still rebuilding after Sandy.  Now we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done,” the president said Tuesday before a crowd of 3,800 at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Responds to the Tornadoes & Severe Weather in Oklahoma

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Responds to the Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-21-13

Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, you can also register as “Safe and Well” to let your friends and family know you are okay. Check back here for more information — we’ll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weatherPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma, in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 21, 2013. Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino accompany the President. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.

This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they “would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.

“Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need,” President Obama said. “Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.”…READ MORE

Watch the full statement below or read the remarks here.

Remarks by the President on the Tornadoes and Severe Weather in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-21-13

State Dining Room

10:08 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  As we all know by now, a series of storms swept across the Plains yesterday, and one of the most destructive tornadoes in history sliced through the towns of Newcastle and Moore, Oklahoma.  In an instant, neighborhoods were destroyed.  Dozens of people lost their lives. Many more were injured.  And among the victims were young children, trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew — their school.

So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.

Our gratitude is with the teachers who gave their all to shield their children; with the neighbors, first responders, and emergency personnel who raced to help as soon as the tornado passed; and with all of those who, as darkness fell, searched for survivors through the night.

As a nation, our full focus right now is on the urgent work of rescue, and the hard work of recovery and rebuilding that lies ahead.

Yesterday, I spoke with Governor Fallin to make it clear to Oklahomans that they would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.  Last night, I issued a disaster declaration to expedite those resources, to support the Governor’s team in the immediate response, and to offer direct assistance to folks who have suffered loss.  I also just spoke with Mayor Lewis of Moore, Oklahoma, to ensure that he’s getting everything that he needs.

I’ve met with Secretary Napolitano this morning and my Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, Lisa Monaco, to underscore that point that Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away.  The FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, is on his way to Oklahoma as we speak.  FEMA staff was first deployed to Oklahoma’s Emergency Operations Center on Sunday, as the state already was facing down the first wave of deadly tornadoes.  Yesterday, FEMA activated Urban Search and Rescue Teams from Texas, Nebraska, and Tennessee to assist in the ongoing search and rescue efforts, and a mobile response unit to boost communications and logistical support.

So the people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them as long as it takes.  For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention.

There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.

We don’t yet know the full extent of the damage from this week’s storm.  We don’t know both the human and economic losses that may have occurred.  We know that severe rumbling of weather, bad weather, through much of the country still continues, and we’re also preparing for a hurricane season that begins next week.

But if there is hope to hold on to, not just in Oklahoma but around the country, it’s the knowledge that the good people there and in Oklahoma are better prepared for this type of storm than most.  And what they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need.  Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point.  And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.

For those of you who want to help, you can go online right now to the American Red Cross, which is already on the ground in Moore.  Already we’ve seen the University of Oklahoma announce that it will provide housing for displaced families.  We’ve seen local churches and companies open their doors and their wallets. And last night, the people of Joplin dispatched a team to help the people of Moore.

So for all those who’ve been affected, we recognize that you face a long road ahead.  In some cases, there will be enormous grief that has to be absorbed, but you will not travel that path alone.  Your country will travel it with you, fueled by our faith in the Almighty and our faith in one another.

So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.  And we will back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes.

Thank you very much.

END
10:13 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Declares State of Emergency in Oklahoma After Tornado

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Declares State of Emergency in Oklahoma After Tornado

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama late Monday declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma after a massive tornado ripped through the city of Moore, leaving at least 24 people dead and more than 100 injured.

In a statement, the White House said the president “ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.”…READ MORE

President Obama Signs Oklahoma Disaster Declaration

Source: WH, 5-21-13 

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Sandy Coachman as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.

FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

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