Political Musings February 13, 2014: Obama signs executive order raises federal minimum wage urges Congress to follow





Obama signs executive order raises federal minimum wage urges Congress to follow

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Political Musings February 2, 2014: Obama recaps State of the Union in three-minute weekly address





Obama recaps State of the Union in three-minute weekly address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

For his weekly address released on Saturday morning, Feb. 1, 2014 President Barack Obama decided to revisit his State of the Union, and it the most important program he introduced promising to improve economic opportunity. The President also recapped his…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 9, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Student Loans Bill Signing Ceremony in the Oval Office



Remarks by the President at Student Loans Bill Signing

Source: WH, 8-9-13

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 1911, the "Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013" President Barack Obama signs H.R. 1911, the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013,” during a ceremony in the Oval Office, Aug. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Obama signs the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013

Oval Office
2:21 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, before I sign this, I just want to say thank you to this extraordinary coalition that helped make this signing possible.  I want to thank Chairman Kline, all the members of both House and Senate from both parties that came together to design a sensible, common-sense approach to keeping student interest rates at a reasonable level so that young people have a better opportunity to go to college, get the education that they need not only to better their own lives but also to strengthen the country’s economy.
And I want to thank the advocates, including some of the young people I suspect will be benefiting from lower student loans — or lower student loan interest rates — because without their voice, without their participation, we probably would not have gotten this bill done.
Last point I’ll make, and I suspect the Senators and Congressmen behind me will agree with this, even though we’ve been able to stabilize the interest rates on student loans, our job is not done, because the cost of college remains extraordinarily high.  It’s out of reach for a lot of folks, and for those who do end up attending college, the amount of debt that young people are coming out of school with is a huge burden on them; it’s a burden on their families.  It makes it more difficult for them to buy a home.  It makes it more difficult for them if they want to start a business.  It has a depressive effect on the economy overall.  And we’ve got to do something about it.
So I’m going to be looking forward to engaging this same coalition to see if we can continue to take additional steps to reform our higher education system, and I’ll have some more things to say about that in the weeks to come.
But for now, I want to celebrate what we accomplished here, and again, thank everybody here for their leadership in getting it done.
(The bill is signed.)
Those of you who haven’t seen me do this before — (laughter) — it is a real art form.  (Laughter.)
SENATOR DURBIN:  Thank you, Mr. President — I remember the 90-minute seminar in this office.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  It was very interesting.  (Laughter.)
It feels good signing bills — I haven’t done this in a while.  (Laughter.)  Hint, hint.  Hint, hint.  (Laughter.)
SENATOR DURBIN:  How about a budget, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.  That’s what I’m talking about.  (Laughter.)
All right, thank you, everybody.
2:25 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines July 24, 2013: House of Representatives Defeats Effort to Limit NSA Data Gathering in a Vote of 217-205





House Defeats Effort to Rein In N.S.A. Data Gathering

Source: NYT, 7-24-13

The 217-205 vote was far closer than expected and displayed the shifting allegiances and fierce lobbying on both sides of the issue….READ MORE

Political Musings July 12, 2013: House passes farm spending bill without food stamps, White House promises veto





House passes farm spending bill without food stamps, White House promises veto

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Thursday, July 11, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the farm spending bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 by a vote 216-208. The new bill however, has quickly become a contentious issue since…READ MORE

Political Headlines July 12, 2013: House Immigration Reform Bill ‘Includes a Pathway to Citizenship’





Becerra: House Immigration Reform Bill ‘Includes a Pathway to Citizenship’

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-12-13

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan immigration bill being drafted in the House will contain a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, one of the authors said on Friday.

Lawmakers working on the bill, known as the Gang of Seven, have refused to say when they plan to unveil it. But this is the first time one of the drafters has said the product will allow undocumented immigrants to earn full citizenship, and not just legal status….READ MORE

Political Headlines July 11, 2013: House Passes Farm Bill Without Food Stamp Provision with a Vote of 216-208





House Passes Farm Bill Without Food Stamp Provision

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-11-13

The House of Representatives voted Thursday along partisan lines to approve a farm bill which had been separated from a comprehensive version of the legislation that initially included hundreds of billions of dollars for food stamps.

The bill narrowly passed 216-208, with no Democrats supporting passage. Twelve Republicans also opposed the bill….READ MORE

Political Headlines July 3, 2013: Reality Check Awaits Immigration Bill in House





Reality Check Awaits Immigration Bill in House

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-3-13

The second act of the immigration debate is starting as a sharp reality check on the first, with House leaders bluntly declaring that they have no intention of being influenced by the Senate’s strong support of the bill last week….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 23, 2013: Stolen Valor Act Targeting Phony Military Heroes Passed by Congress Awaits President Barack Obama’s Signature





Targeting Phony Heroes: Stolen Valor Act Awaits Obama’s Signature

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-23-13

Four days before the nation’s veterans make their way down hometown streets in a flurry of star spangled confetti for Memorial Day, a bill to protect war heroes from impostors is making its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2013, introduced in January by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), is the latest attempt by Congress to push through legislation targeting military fakers….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 21, 2013: House Passes New Stolen Valor Act with a 390-3 Vote





New Stolen Valor Act Breezes Through House

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-21-13

A new version of a bill that targets fake war heroes easily passed the House of Representatives late Monday with a 390-3 vote.

The bill, H.R. 258 also known as the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, is the latest attempt by Congress to push through legislation that would punish people who falsely claim to have won military awards, such as the Congressional Medal of Honor, and profit from those lies….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2013: President Barack Obama & Vice President Joe Biden’s Speeches at Signing of the Violence Against Women Act



Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Violence Against Women Act

Source: WH, 3-7-13
President Obama Signs the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

President Obama Signs the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

Interior Department
Washington, D.C.

2:16 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Diane.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Some of you in the audience who are survivors know how much courage it takes to do what Diane did.  (Applause.)  Some people who don’t know will say, well, she’s just recounting what happened.  But every single time you stand and recount what happened, it brings it all back.  It brings it all back like a very bad nightmare.  But your speaking out, Diane, and so many survivors like you are literally saving the lives of so many other women who, God willing, will be able to avoid the abuse that you had to put up with.

I want to thank all the advocates who are here today.  I got a chance to meet in my office with some of you a little bit earlier — not only those on the stage who I, again, had a chance to meet with, but the many women out in the audience, as I look out and see some familiar faces like Pat Rouse and Ellie Smeal and Paulette Sullivan Moore from — I’m being parochial — Paulette Sullivan Moore from my home state, and so many others.  (Applause.)

Those of you who have been around a while with me know that I quote my father all the time who literally would say, the greatest sin that could be committed, the cardinal sin of all sins was the abuse of power, and the ultimate abuse of power is for someone physically stronger and bigger to raise their hand and strike and beat someone else.  In most cases that tends to be a man striking a woman, or a man or woman striking a child.  That’s the fundamental premise and the overarching reason why John Conyers and I and others started so many years ago to draft the legislation called the Violence Against Women Act.

It passed 19 years ago, and that’s why we shortly thereafter instituted a hotline where women in distress could call for help. I remember, John, when we did that hotline, it was like, well, it will be useful, but I’m not so sure how much it will be used.  Well, the truth of the matter is it’s been used a lot and it’s saved a lot of lives.  Over 2 million women have had the courage — the courage — to try to get out of earshot of their abuser, escape from the prison of their own home, and pick up that phone and call to a line that you had no idea who on the other end was going to answer, and to say, I’m in trouble.  Can you help me?  Can you help me?

I love those men who would say when we started this about why don’t they just leave.  Well, if they had one-third the courage that those women — those 2 million women had who have picked up the phone and called, not knowing what to expect, it would be a whole lot better nation.

We’ve built a network of shelters that are immediately available to women in need because we found out that the vast majority of children who are homeless on the street — Nancy knows and others — were there because their mothers were abused. Imagine fleeing for your life with only the clothes on your back and your child in your arms.  The shelter was their only lifeline, and it’s worked.

We also have specialized law enforcement units with trained prosecutors, victim advocates, court personnel who understand the unique challenges of the access.  Because of all of you in the audience that are here today, we’ve been able to train judges and train intake officers, so when a frightened woman shows up at the family court and says to the intake officer, “I want to tell you” — “Speak up, will you?”  “Well, I just — my” — and they turn around and walk away, because there’s only a very brief window, as all of you know, a very brief window, again, after a woman screws up the courage — the courage — to ask for help.

All these links in the chain have made a difference in the lives of women.  It’s one woman, one girl, one person at a time, one case at a time.  And you providers know that better than anyone.

With all the law’s success, there are still too many women in this country who live in fear of violence, who are still prisoners in their own home; too many victims that we have to mourn.  We knew from the outset in 1994 that there was much more we could have done at the beginning if we were able to get the votes.  But we did what was necessary and important, but we knew more had to be done to reduce domestic violence, domestic violence homicides, to provide new tools, as was just spoken to, to protect Native American women, to address the perplexing rate of dating violence among young women, and so much more.

But because of the people on this stage and in this room, every time we reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, we improved it.  Every single time, we’ve improved it.  (Applause.)

And we did this again.  First, we’ve given jurisdiction to tribal courts over those who abuse women on reservations regardless of whether or not they — (applause.)  We’re providing more resources to the states so they can be trained as to how to collect evidence, acquire convictions, particularly in prosecutions for rape.  We’re going to increase the use of proven models to reduce domestic violence homicides.

We’ve all focused on the tragic gun violence that has been in the news lately, but I want to point something out to you.  From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of the mass shootings in America, other than the celebrated ones you’ve seen — 40 percent where there’s four or more people who have been shot, the target has been a former intimate partner or a close family member.

So they go into the office, just like that young man who — or woman who stood in front of you when your husband came with a loaded pistol to shoot you.  Forty percent are a consequence of domestic violence.

We created a strong — strong — anti-violence program.  Campuses will have more tools to educate students about sexual violence.  (Applause.)

So when Congress passed this law that the President will sign today, they just didn’t renew what I consider a sacred commitment to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters.  They strengthened that commitment.  And I want to thank them.  I hope I don’t leave anybody out.  Starting off with my old buddy, Pat Leahy, who chairs the committee.  Pat, thank you very, very much.  (Applause.)  And Mike Crapo.  Mike, this wouldn’t have happened if you had not stepped up.  (Applause.)  Lisa Murkowski is not here.  But my friend who — I don’t want to get her in trouble, but I know she really likes me because I like her a lot — (laughter) — Senator Collins.  Seriously, it was Republicans coming and standing up and saying this has to be done in the Senate.  So we owe you.  We owe you big.  (Applause.)

And by the way, if you ever want a partner to get anything important done, call Nancy Pelosi.  Call Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)  And Steny Hoyer, and Congresswoman Moore — (applause — and my old buddy — I hope I’m not leaving anybody out here — but my old buddy, John Conyers.  (Applause.)  I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, for which I apologize.

Look, we all know we have a lot more to do, but we’re going to continue to make progress.  And one of the reasons we’re going to continue to make progress is we’re going to have for at least three more years the President of the United States, my friend, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

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

I want to thank all of you for being here.  I want to thank Secretary Salazar, my great friend, for letting us into the building.  (Laughter.)  Make sure, everybody, pick up their stray soda cans and stuff afterwards.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank Attorney General Holder for joining us.  He’s doing a great job.  (Applause.)

We usually host these bill signings over at the White House. But there were just too many of you — (laughter) — who helped to make this happen.  (Applause.)  And you all deserve to be a part of this moment.  I want to thank everybody on this stage.  Joe just mentioned the extraordinary work that each and every one of these leaders — both advocates as well as legislators —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I left out Congressman Tom Cole.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there you go.  Give Tom a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

But everybody on this stage worked extraordinarily hard.  Most of all, though, this is your day.  This is the day of the advocates; the day of the survivors.  This is your victory.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Mr. President!

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

And this victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens.  (Applause.)  So I want to join Joe in thanking all the members of Congress from both parties who came together, got this bill across the finish line.

I want to say a special thanks to Pat Leahy and Mike Crapo. (Applause.)  Thank you, guys, for your leadership.  (Applause.)  And I want to give much love to Gwen Moore, who worked so hard on this.  (Applause.)

And I also want to take a minute before I begin to thank the Senators who, just a few hours ago, took another big step towards sensible gun safety reforms by advancing a federal gun trafficking bill.  That’s real progress.  (Applause.)  Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent legislation to the Senate floor that would crack down on folks who buy guns only to turn around and funnel them to dangerous criminals.

It’s a bill named, in part, for Hadiya Pendleton, who was murdered in Chicago earlier this year.  You’ll remember I told this story about how she had marched in the Inauguration Parade, and just a few weeks later had been gunned down about a mile away from my house.

So I urge the Senate to give that bill a vote.  I urge the House to follow suit.  And I urge Congress to move on other areas that have support of the American people — from requiring universal background checks to getting assault weapons off our streets — because we need to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, and because Hadiya’s family and too many other families really do deserve a vote.  (Applause.)

Finally, I want to thank Joe Biden for being such an outstanding Vice President.  (Applause.)  That’s right, you can stand for Joe.  Stand for Joe.  (Applause.)  Give it up for Joe Biden.  (Applause.)  Joe is a hardworking Vice President.

AUDIENCE:  Yes, he is!

THE PRESIDENT:  And he told me when he agreed — when I asked him to be Vice President, he said, well, I don’t want to just be sitting around.  (Laughter.)  I said, I promise you I won’t let you just sit around.  (Laughter.)  And he has not.  He has played a key role in forging the gun safety reforms that I talked about, largely by working closely with survivors of gun violence and their families.  He forged the Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago — never forgetting who it was all about. (Applause.)

So on behalf of everybody here and all the lives that you’ve had a positive impact and touched through the Violence Against Women Act — the survivors who are alive today because of this law, the women who are no longer hiding in fear because of this law, the girls who are growing up aware of their right to be free from abuse because of this law — (applause) — on behalf of them and all their families, I want to thank Joe Biden for making this one of the causes of his career.  (Applause.)

Now, as Joe said earlier, we’ve come a long way.  Back when Joe wrote this law, domestic abuse was too often seen as a private matter, best hidden behind closed doors.  Victims too often stayed silent or felt that they had to live in shame, that somehow they had done something wrong.  Even when they went to the hospital or the police station, too often they were sent back home without any real intervention or support.  They felt trapped, isolated.  And as a result, domestic violence too often ended in greater tragedy.

So one of the great legacies of this law is that it didn’t just change the rules; it changed our culture.  It empowered people to start speaking out.  It made it okay for us, as a society, to talk about domestic abuse.  It made it possible for us, as a country, to address the problem in a real and meaningful way.  And it made clear to victims that they were not alone — that they always had a place to go and they always had people on their side.

And today, because members of both parties worked together, we’re able to renew that commitment.  Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is something I called for in my State of the Union address.  And when I see how quick it got done, I’m feeling — (applause) — makes me feel optimistic.  (Applause.)

Because of this bill, we’ll keep in place all the protections and services that Joe described, and, as he said, we’ll expand them to cover even more women.  Because this is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love.  (Applause.)  That’s got to be our priority.  That’s what today is about.  (Applause.)

Today is about the millions of women — the victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault — who are out there right now looking for a lifeline, looking for support.  Because of this bill, they’ll continue to have access to all the services that Joe first helped establish 19 years ago:  the national hotline, network of shelters, protection orders that carry across state lines.  And because of this bill, we’re also expanding housing assistance so that no woman has to choose between a violent home and no home at all.  That’s what today is all about.  (Applause.)
Today is about all the law enforcement officials — like Police Chief Jim Johnson — (applause) — they’re the first to respond when a victim calls for help.  And because of this bill, we’re continuing all the training and support that’s proven so effective in bridging some gaps that were in actual enforcement of the law so that we can actually bring more offenders to justice.  And we’re giving our law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, which remains a consistently underreported crime in our country.  Helping police officers deliver on the most important part of their job — preventing harm and saving lives – that’s what today is all about.

Today is about women like Diane.  I’m so grateful Diane shared her story.  That takes great courage.  (Applause.)  And tragically, it is a common story.

I know we’ve got tribal leaders here today, and I want to thank all of you for fighting so hard on behalf of your people — (applause) — to make this bill a reality.  (Applause.)

Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America.  And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts.  Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends.  (Applause.)  That ends.  That ends.  (Applause.)

Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear.  And that is what today is all about.  (Applause.)

Today is about all the Americans who face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when they seek help.  (Applause.)

So I want to thank Sharon Stapel, who’s here — where did she go?  There she is right there — (applause) — for the work she’s doing — the great work she’s doing with the Anti-Violence Project.  But Sharon and all the other advocates who are focused on this community, they can’t do it alone.  And then now they won’t have to.  That’s what today is all about.  That’s what today is all about.  (Applause.)

Today is about the women who come to Rosie Hidalgo looking for support — (applause) — immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse.  I mean, imagine the dilemma for so many — if your immigration status is tied to a husband who beats you or abuses you, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may feel there’s too much to lose by coming forward.  The Violence Against Women Act already had protections so that victims could call the police without fear of deportation, and those protections saved lives.  And because we fought hard to keep them in place, they remain a lifeline for so many women.  That’s part of what today is all about.  (Applause.)

Today is about young women like Tye, who was brought into the sex trade by a neighbor when she was 12 years old.  Tye was rescued with the help of an organization led by trafficking survivors.  Today, she’s enrolled in college.  She’s working full-time to help at-risk girls stay out of the sex trade.  (Applause.)  Couldn’t be prouder of her.  So proud of her.  (Applause.)  So with this bill, we reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to help more girls turn out like Tye.  That’s what today is all about.  (Applause.)

So today is about all the survivors, all the advocates who are standing on this stage.  But it’s also about the millions more they represent — that you represent.  It’s about our commitment as a country to address this problem — in every corner of America, every community, every town, every big city — as long as it takes.

And we’ve made incredible progress since 1994.  But we cannot let up — not when domestic violence still kills three women a day.  Not when one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime.  Not when one in three women is abused by a partner.

So I promise you — not just as your President, but as a son, and a husband, and a father — I’m going to keep at this. I know Vice President Biden is going to keep at it.  My administration is going to keep at it for as long as it takes.

And I know that all the advocates up here, all the legislators — Republican and Democrat — who supported this, I know they could not be prouder of the work that they’ve done together.  And I think I speak for all of them when we say we could not have done it without you.

So with that, let me sign this bill.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

2:40 P.M. EST

Political Headlines February 28, 2013: Congress Passes Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act





Congress Passes Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Source: NYT, 2-28-13

In a big victory for President Obama and Democrats in Congress, the House voted to pass the Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization of the landmark 1994 law….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 3, 2013: President Barack Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill Via Autopen





President Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill Via Autopen

Source: ABC  News Radio, 1-3-12

The White House

President Obama has signed the “fiscal cliff” legislation into law via autopen from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.

The bill to avert the fiscal cliff arrived at the White House late Wednesday afternoon and it was immediately processed, according to a senior White House official. A copy was delivered to the president in Hawaii for review. He then directed the bill to be signed by autopen back in Washington, D.C….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Signing of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012




Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Remarks by the President at Signing of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Source: WH, 8-6-12

Oval Office

2:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to thank everybody who is here because they all did outstanding work to help us get this legislation completed.

As you know, I think all Americans feel we have a moral, sacred duty towards our men and women in uniform.  They protect our freedom, and it’s our obligation to do right by them.  This bill takes another important step in fulfilling that commitment.

I want to thank the members of Congress who helped to make this happen.  It is going to have immediate impact.  It is going to improve access to health care, streamline services in the VA. It expands support for veterans who are homeless.

There are two parts to the bill, though, that I especially want to highlight.  First of all, this bill ends a decade-long struggle for those who serve at Camp Lejeune.  Some of the veterans and their families who were based in Camp Lejeune in the years when the water was contaminated will now have access to extended medical care.  And, sadly, this act alone will not bring back those we’ve lost, including Jane Ensminger, but it will honor their memory by making a real difference for those who are still suffering.

The second part of this bill that I want to highlight — prohibit protesting within 300 feet of military funerals during the two hours before and two hours after a service.  I supported this step as a senator.  I am very pleased to be signing this bill into law.  The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground.  And obviously we all defend our Constitution and the First Amendment and free speech, but we also believe that when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor and respect.

So I’m glad that Congress passed this bill and I hope that we can continue to do some more good bipartisan work in protecting our veterans.  I’ve been advocating, for example, for a veterans job corps that could help provide additional opportunities for the men and women who are coming home as we’re winding down our operations in Afghanistan and having ended the war in Iraq.  And so this is a good sign of a bipartisan spirit that I’m sure is going to carry through all the way to Election Day and beyond.

With that, I’m going to sign the bill.  Make sure I sign the right place, though.

(The bill is signed.)

There you go.  Congratulations, everybody.  Good work.  Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, after the Wisconsin shooting, are you going to push for any further gun control measures?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, we’re still awaiting the outcome of a full investigation.  Yesterday I had the chance to speak to both the Governor and the Mayor, as well as leaders of the Sikh community in Oak Creek.  All of us are heartbroken by what’s happened.  And I offered the thoughts and prayers not only of myself and Michelle but also for the country as a whole.

I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence.  And as I’ve already said, I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level to see how we can make continued progress.

We don’t yet know fully what motivated this individual to carry out this terrible act.  If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes, and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another.

But as I said, the FBI is working with local officials and they’re still investigating what motivated this individual.  And as we find out more, I suspect that not only the White House but others in Congress and at the local level will have more to say.

Thank you very much, everybody.

2:31 P.M. EDT

Full Text September 16, 2011: President Barack Obama Remarks at the Signing of the America Invents Act (Transcript)



President Obama signs the America Invents Act
White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 9/16/11

The America Invents Act: Turning Ideas into Jobs

Source: WH, 9-16-11

Download Video: mp4 (212MB) | mp3 (21MB)

President Obama signed the America Invents Act at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Alexandria, Virginia—a school named for the first official to issue U.S. patents.  This historic legislation will help American entrepreneurs and businesses get their inventions to the marketplace sooner so they can turn their ideas into new products and new jobs.

The America Invents Act was passed with President Obama’s strong leadership after nearly a decade of effort to reform the Nation’s outdated patent laws.  It will help companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation, and let them focus instead on innovation and job creation.  Many key industries in which the United States leads, such as biotechnology, medical devices, telecommunications, the Internet, and advanced manufacturing, depend on a strong and healthy intellectual property system.

As President Obama explained in his 2011 State of the Union address:  “We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time.  We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”

On stage with President Obama was a bipartisan group of legislators who came together to pass the most significant reform of the Patent Act since 1836:  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX); Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA); and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC). Today’s bill signing shows that strong bipartisan cooperation is possible. Congress can come together on behalf of the American economy and American innovation.

The newly-signed law has a number of important transformations that will build on reforms already underway under the leadership of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s dynamic Director David Kappos. The law will give the USPTO the resources to significantly reduce patent application waiting times, building on the great strides the patent office has already made, including reducing its backlog by 75,000 during this Administration even as the number of filings per year has increased.

A few months ago, Austan Goolsbee (then Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers) created a video explaining why reducing the backlog will help get more ideas turned into companies and jobs. The USPTO will now be in a position to implement an innovative program to speed up the processing of the patents that are likely to create good jobs right away. Under the prioritized examination process, the USPTO will offer start-ups and growing companies an opportunity to have important patents reviewed in one-third the time with a new fast-track option that has a guaranteed 12-month turnaround.

The program builds on the Green Technology Pilot program that accelerates patent applications involving reduced greenhouse gas emissions and energy conservation — at no cost to the inventor. More than 2,407 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants since the pilot began in December 2009, and USPTO has issued a total of 470 patents under the program.

Excessive litigation has long plagued the patent system.  The America Invents Act will offer entrepreneurs new ways to avoid litigation regarding patent validity, without the expense of  going to court, and will also give the USPTO new tools and resources to improve patent quality. The new law also will harmonize the American patent process with the rest of the world to make it more efficient and predictable, and make it easier for entrepreneurs to simultaneously market products in the United States and for exporting abroad.

At Thomas Jefferson High School, President Obama also announced some of the additional steps we’re taking to unleash the ingenuity of America’s entrepreneurs.  The National Institutes of Health will launch a new center that will help companies reduce the time and cost required to develop life-saving drugs, and is making it easier for startups to commercialize the biomedical inventions made by NIH and FDA researchers.  In addition, the Administration will develop a “bioeconomy blueprint” to create jobs and address key national challenges in health, energy, and agriculture.

We also know that government cannot do this alone. That’s why 140 university presidents have answered the Administration’s call to action to move research breakthroughs from the lab to the marketplace.  We’re also announcing a new prize supported by the National Science Foundation and the Coulter Foundation to reward those universities that make the most progress on accelerating economic growth and job creation.

Now more than ever, the jobs of the future will spring from the inventions of today, which will be built on the foundation of a strong and balanced intellectual property system. As President Obama explained today, “We should be encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit wherever we find it.  We should be helping American companies compete and sell their products all over the world.  We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into new businesses and new jobs.  And we should knock down any barriers that stand in the way.”


Remarks by the President at Signing of the America Invents Act

Source: WH, 9-16-11
Thomas Jefferson High School
Alexandria, Virginia

11:17 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you so much, everybody.  Please, please have a seat.  I am thrilled to be here at     Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.  And thank you so much for the wonderful welcome.

I want to thank Rebecca for the unbelievable introduction.  Give Rebecca a big hand.  (Applause.)  In addition to Rebecca, on stage we’ve got some very important people.  First of all, before we do, I want to thank your wonderful principal, Dr. Evan Glazer, who’s right here.  (Applause.) Stand up, Evan.  Yay!  (Applause.) The people who are responsible for making some great progress on reforming our patent laws here today — Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont — (applause) — and Lamar Smith, Republican from Texas. (Applause.)

And in addition, we’ve got Representative Bob Goodlatte, Representative Jim Moran, Representative Melvin Watt are all here.  (Applause.)  Becky Blank, who’s our Acting Secretary of Commerce.  (Applause.) David Kappos, who’s the Director of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  (Applause.) And we’ve got some extraordinary business leaders here — Louis Foreman, CEO of Eventys.  (Applause.) Jessica Matthews, CEO of Uncharted Play.  (Applause.)  Ellen Kullman, CEO of Dupont.  (Applause.)  John Lechleiter, CEO of Eli Lilly.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got another outstanding student — Karishma Popli — your classmate.  (Applause.)

This is one of the best high schools in the country.  (Applause.)  And as you can see, it’s filled with some pretty impressive students.  I have to say, when I was a freshman in high school, none of my work was patent-worthy.  (Laughter.)  I was — we had an exhibit of some of the projects that you guys are doing, and the first high school student satellite, a wheel-chair controlled by brain waves, robots.  There’s one thing — I don’t know exactly how to describe it — (laughter) — but it’s measuring toxicity in the oceans.  It’s unbelievable stuff.

So, to the students here, I could not be more impressed by what you guys are doing.  I’m hoping that I will learn something just by being close to you — (laughter) — that through osmosis — (laughter and applause) — I will soak in some knowledge.  I already feel smarter just standing here.  (Laughter.)

One President who would have loved this school is the person that it’s named after — Thomas Jefferson.  He was a pretty good inventor himself, and he also happened to be the first American to oversee our country’s patent process.

And that’s why we’re here today.  When Thomas Edison filed his patent for the phonograph, his application was approved in just seven weeks.  And these days, that process is taking an average of three years.  Over the last decade, patent applications have nearly tripled.  And because the Patent Office doesn’t have the resources to deal with all of them, right now there are about 700,000 applications that haven’t even been opened yet.

These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created.  The CEOs who are represented here today, all of them are running companies that were based on creativity and invention and the ability to commercialize good ideas.  And somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company.  And somewhere in this country — maybe in this room — is the next Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs, just waiting for a chance to turn their idea into a new, thriving business.

So we can’t afford to drag our feet any longer — not at a time when we should be doing everything we can to create good, middle-class jobs that put Americans back to work.  And we have always succeeded because we have been the most dynamic, innovative economy in the world.  That has to be encouraged.  That has to be continued.

We have to do everything we can to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, wherever we find it.  We should be helping American companies compete and sell their products all over the world.  We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into new jobs and new businesses.  And we should knock down any barriers that stand in the way.  Because if we’re going to create jobs now and in the future, we’re going to have to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.

We’ve got a lot of competition out there.  And if we make it too hard for people with good ideas to attract investment and get them to market, then countries like China are going to beat us at it and beat us to it.

So that’s why I asked Congress to send me a bill that reforms the outdated patent process; a bill that cuts away the red tape that slows down our inventors and entrepreneurs.  And today, I’m happy to have the opportunity to finally sign that bill.  It’s a bill that will put a dent in the huge stack of patent applications waiting for review.  It will help startups and small business owners turn their ideas into products three times faster than they can today.  And it will improve patent quality and help give entrepreneurs the protection and the confidence they need to attract investment, to grow their businesses, and to hire more workers.

So I want to thank all the members of Congress for helping to get this done.  I especially want to thank Patrick Leahy and Lamar Smith, who led the process in a bipartisan way in the House and in the Senate.

I have to take this opportunity while I’ve got some members of Congress here to say I’ve got another bill that — (laughter) — I want them to get passed to help the economy right away.  It’s called the American Jobs Act.  (Applause.)  And these things are connected.  This change in our patent laws is part of our agenda for making us competitive over the long term.  But we’ve also got a short-term economic crisis, a set of challenges that we have to deal with right now.

And what the American Jobs Act does is it puts more people back to work and it puts more money into the pockets of working Americans.  And everything in the proposal, everything in the  American Jobs Act, is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.  Everything in it will be paid for.  And you can read the plan for yourselves during all the free time that you guys have here at Thomas Jefferson — (laughter) — on whitehouse.gov.  I want Congress to pass this jobs bill right away.

Let me give you an example of why this is relevant.  We’re surrounded today by outstanding teachers — men and women who prepare our young people to compete in a global economy.  If Congress passes this jobs bill, then we can get thousands of teachers all across the country who’ve been laid off because of difficulties at the state and local level with their budgets — we can get them back to work, back in the classroom.

This jobs bill will put unemployed construction workers back to work rebuilding our schools and our roads and our bridges.  And it will give tax credits to companies that hire our veterans, because if you serve our country, you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a job when you get home.

It connects the long-term unemployed to temporary work to keep their skills sharp while they’re looking for a job, and it gives thousands of young people the hope of a job next summer.  And it will cut taxes for every middle-class family and small business owner in America.  And if you’re a small business owner that hires more workers and raises salaries, you get an extra tax cut.

It won’t add to the deficit.  And we’ll pay for it by following the same rules that every family follows:  Spend money on things you need, cut back on things you don’t.  And we’ll make sure that everybody pays their fair share, including those of us who’ve been incredibly fortunate and blessed in this country.

This bill answers the urgent need to create jobs right away. But, as I said, we can’t stop there.  We have to look further down the road and build an economy that lasts into the future — and that’s going to depend on the talents of young people like you — an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer families a sense of security.

We live in a world that is changing so rapidly, companies like the ones represented here today, they can set up shop anywhere where there’s an Internet connection.  And if we want startups here and if we want established companies like a Dupont or a Eli Lilly to continue to make products here and hire here, then we’re going to have to be able to compete with any other country around the world.

So this patent bill will encourage that innovation.  But there are other steps that we can take.  Today, for example, my administration is announcing a new center that will help companies reduce the time and cost of developing lifesaving drugs.  When scientists and researchers at the National Institutes of Health discover a new cure or breakthrough, we’re going to make it easier for startup companies to sell those products to the people who need them.  We got more than 100 universities and companies to agree that they’ll work together to bring more inventions to market as fast as possible.  And we’re also developing a strategy to create jobs in biotechnology, which has tremendous promise for health, clean energy and the environment.

Now, to help this country compete for new jobs and businesses, we also need to invest in basic research and technology, so the great ideas of the future will be born in our labs and in classrooms like these.  You guys have such an unbelievable head start already, but as you go to MIT and Cal Tech and UVA, and wherever else you guys are going to go, what you’re going to find is, is that the further you get along in your pursuits the more you’re going to be relying on research grants.  And government has always played a critical role in financing the basic research that, then, leads to all sorts of inventions.

So we’re going to have to make sure that we’re continuing to invest in basic research so you can do the work that you’re capable of — and still pay the rent, which is important, you will find out.  (Laughter.)

We need to continue to provide incentives and support to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or in Europe, but right here in the United States — because it’s not enough to invent things here; our workers should also be building the products that are stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  (Applause.)

And if we want companies to hire our workers, we need to make sure we give every American the skills and education that they need to compete.  We’ve got to have more schools like Thomas Jefferson.  And it’s got to start even before kindergarten and preschool, and before high school.  The reason that you guys are doing so well is you had a foundation very early on in math and science and language arts that allowed you to succeed even at a very young age.  We’ve got to make sure that opportunity is available for all kids.  All kids.  (Applause.)  Including this little guy right here.  (Laughter.)  With the hair.  (Applause.)

That’s why we’re boosting science and technology and engineering and math education all across the country.  And that’s why we’re also working with businesses to train more engineers, and revitalize our community colleges so they can provide our workers with new skills and training.  And, finally, that’s why we’re making sure that all of our children can afford to fulfill their dream of a college education — that they can afford to go to school and that Pell grants and student loan programs ensure that they don’t come out of college with mountains of debt.  (Applause.)

This is the economy we need to build — one where innovation is encouraged, education is a national mission, and new jobs and businesses take root right here in America.

So that’s the long-term project.  We still have a short-term agenda, and that is putting people to work right now.  We’ve got to do everything we can to get this economy growing faster in the short term.  That’s why I’m asking members of Congress to meet their responsibilities — send me the American Jobs Act right away.

There are folks in Washington who may be fine waiting until the next election to settle our differences and move forward.  But the next election is 14 months away.  The American people can’t wait that long.  There are a lot of people out there who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, even day-to-day.  They’re working hard; they’re making tough choices; they’re meeting their responsibilities.  But they need us to do the same.

So I need everybody who’s listening, here and across the country, tell Congress, pass the American Jobs Act.  We came together to pass patent reform.  We should be able to come together to also put people back to work.

And to all the students at Thomas Jefferson, I could not be prouder of you.  I expect that among you are going to be incredible scientists and engineers and business leaders.  You guys are going to transform the world.  And I’m just looking forward to taking advantage of the incredible science and technology that you develop in the years to come.

You guys are our future.  And whenever I see what young people like you are doing, I know that America’s future is going to be bright.

Thank you so much, everybody.  (Applause.)  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

11:36 A.M. EDT

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