Biden Bits: Is Alive and Well…

Biden Tweets Logo. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

President Biden’s public schedule for Valentines Day Tuesday 02/14/2023:

9:30 AM In-Town Pool Call Time
The White House In-Town Pool
10:30 AM The President and The Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office Closed Press
12:45 PM The President departs the White House en route the National Association of Counties, Washington, DC
South Grounds In-Town Travel Pool
1:15 PM The President delivers a keynote address during the National Association of Counties
Washington Hilton Open Press
2:00 PM The President arrives at the White House
South GroundsIn-Town Travel Pool
2:30 PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

According to the schedule of events, President Biden will offer his remarks during the conference wide lunch and special closing general session.

President Biden’s remarks are scheduled for 1:15 p.m. D.C., time.

Press briefing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. D.C., time.

President Biden has tweeted…

We’ve got 5 tweets so far for Valentines Day Tuesday…

The tweet issued by EPA Administrator Michael Regan was posted on 02/10/2023. He recorded the video from an event that took place in Kansas on 02/08/2023. posted the following statement on 02/08/2023:

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan visited Wabaunsee USD 329 School District in Alma, Kansas to celebrate the delivery of the state’s first all-electric school buses and mark the historic investment in America under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Administrator Regan, joined by students, school officials, and community leaders, highlighted how initiatives like EPA’s Clean School Bus (CSB) Program are delivering environmental and economic benefits for communities like Wabaunsee. During the visit, Administrator Regan also announced a new pledge from electric utility partners to support efforts to electrify the nation’s school bus fleet.

“We are moving faster than ever to accelerate the transition to electric and low-emission school buses, and new electric school buses in rural school districts like Wabaunsee USD 329 are a shining of example of what we can accomplish when we invest in America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building on this work and making investments accessible to more rural communities by partnering with electric utilities who have pledged to support school bus electrification.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided EPA with $5 billion between FY22 and FY26 to replace diesel school buses with low- and zero-emission alternatives. In May 2022, EPA launched the first funding competition, initially making $500 million in rebates available to school districts nationwide. Given overwhelming demand, EPA nearly doubled the amount of funding for the 2022 rebates and awarded $965 million in rebates to 400 school districts for over 2,500 new clean school buses.

Wabaunsee USD 329 – a rural school district – is among the 400 school districts benefiting from these rebates. Their partner, Lion Electric, received $790,000 in rebates for two Type C electric school buses that will serve Wabaunsee USD 329. The new electric buses were delivered to the school district in December 2022 and are already transporting kids to and from school every day. The school district partnered with the City of Alma’s Municipal Utility to quickly deploy electric charging infrastructure to support the transition to electric charging.

“We are grateful for being chosen to receive this support for our students through the Clean School Bus program. This grant allows us to transport students cleaner and more safely to and from school. By the same token, we get the added benefit of cost-savings on transportation, redirecting funds normally spent on operations back into instruction,” said USD 329 – Wabaunsee Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Troy Pitsch.

Partnering with Utilities to Advance the Transition to Clean School Buses

During the event in Wabaunsee, Administrator Regan also announced a new pledge to promote seamless collaboration between school districts and their electric utility providers, ensuring the successful deployment of electric school buses nationwide. Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, and the Beneficial Electrification League (BEL), a non-profit organization that works closely with rural electric cooperatives and public power utility providers on electrification initiatives, have joined with EPA to pledge their support for school bus electrification. EEI members and BEL partners have pledged to proactively work with school districts to: 02/08/2023.
  • Facilitate communication between electric providers and school districts
  • Provide technical support and assistance
  • Work together to increase funding and deployment for electric school buses

“EEI is proud to be working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Beneficial Electrification League on the Clean School Bus Program,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “This program is a crucial step for reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The new electric school buses will lower maintenance costs and help to improve local air quality while providing clean and reliable transportation for students. America’s electric companies are committed to helping their local school districts plan for their new electric school bus fleets.”

“Rural and small-town electric providers have a long tradition of assisting their communities with using electricity to improve quality of life for the local people they serve. The Beneficial Electrification League is honored to help its stakeholder utilities ensure that schools and the children they educate have a positive experience with electric school buses,” said Keith Dennis, President of the Beneficial Electrification League.

School districts that received rebate awards can now proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure. If they have not done so already, selectees will need to submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders demonstrating they have ordered new buses and eligible infrastructure. EPA is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to provide school districts with robust technical assistance to ensure effective implementation. 02/08/2023.

Annual Report to Congress

The progress under this program is highlighted in the second Clean School Bus Report to Congress, which was also announced today during the visit. The report outlines activities and progress made in fulfilling responsibilities under EPA’s Clean School Bus Program to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission school buses. The Second Report to Congress summarizes the program’s activities and progress from January 2022 through December 2022 and includes detailed information on the 2022 Rebate funding initiative.

Highlights of the program’s first full year include: 02/08/2023.
  • Extensive outreach and a widespread enthusiasm from schools across the country in the rebate program, especially among low-income, rural and Tribal stakeholders.
  • Over 99% of the rebate selectees met the priority definition under the 2022 criteria, resulting in access to more funds for buses and EV infrastructure for schools in areas that need them most.
  • A new online system to facilitate a straightforward and accessible rebate application process that proved to be highly effective.
  • An interactive dashboard on to provide up-to-date information about the awarded 2022 CSB Rebates.

Access the report here.

The 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates prioritized low-income, rural, and Tribal communities. The vast majority of applicants met the priority definition under the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates criteria, resulting in access to more funds for buses and electric vehicle infrastructure for schools in areas that need them the most. The rebates also delivered on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

EPA is also currently designing the next rounds of program funding to launch in the coming months, which will include an ambitious grant competition. Through future rounds of funding, EPA will make available another $1 billion for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023. EPA encourages school districts not selected in the first round of rebates – and those that did not apply this funding cycle – to participate in future rounds.

More information on the Clean School Bus program. 02/08/2023.

State of the Union 02/07/2023…

President Biden: Job training, job placement for veterans and their spouses as they come to — return to civilian life.  Helping veterans to afford their rent, because no one should be homeless in America, especially someone who served the country.  (Applause.)

His full statement:

Inflation in America is continuing to come down, which is good news for families and businesses across the country. Today’s data confirm that annual inflation has fallen for seven straight months. Inflation for food at the grocery store came down again last month. Gas prices are down about $1.60 from their peak last year. And real wages for working Americans are up over the last seven months, delivering welcome breathing room for American families. We are seeing this progress even as unemployment remains at its lowest level since 1969 and job growth remains resilient.  

There is still more work to do as we make this transition to more steady, stable growth, and there could be setbacks along the way. That is why my unwavering focus is on continuing to lower costs for families, rebuild our supply chains, and invest in America. Right now, because of the Inflation Reduction Act we passed last year, we are lowering prescription drug costs, health care costs, and home energy costs for tens of millions of Americans all while lowering our deficits. My administration is eliminating junk fees which make it harder for American families to make ends meet at the end of the month. And we are creating manufacturing jobs all across the country, which will lower costs and rebuild our supply chains.

Unfortunately, many of my Republican friends in Congress seem intent on taking us in the opposite direction. They have proposed repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, which would make inflation worse, shower billions of dollars on Big Pharma, and increase the deficit. They are threatening to raise costs for seniors by threatening to cut Medicare and Social Security, and other critical programs that American seniors and families count on. And some are threatening to default on the full faith and credit of the U.S., which would raise costs and create economic chaos. I will stand firmly against any effort to make inflation worse and increase costs for families. Today’s data reinforces that we have made historic progress and are on the right track, and now we need to finish the job.  

White 02/14/2023.

The video clip is 1 minute and 57 seconds long.

President Biden: It was five years ago, I know it seemed like yesterday, to many of you when a lone gunman committed an act of horror and violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida. We continue to mourn the 14 students who had their whole lives ahead of them and the three educators who showed until the end that teaching and coaching isn’t what they do, it’s who they are.

President Biden con’t: You know, to the survivors who carry the trauma, to the families who lost a piece of their soul, I have some idea how hard it is today. It brings us all back, everybody back, just like you heard the news a moment ago. But what I admire the most about all of you, is how you found purpose through your pain. The world has already seen how strong you are, how resilient you are and how giving you are.

President Biden con’t: Whether that’s organizing nationwide marches or using your own voices. You’ve helped me take more executive actions to reduce gun violence than any of my predecessors at this point in their presidencies.

President Biden con’t: We’ve reined in ghost guns, cracked down on gun trafficking, increased resources for violence prevention. And we stood together as I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years. But there is so much more to do.

President Biden con’t: We have to ban assault weapons like the one used in Parkland, and used just five years ago today, and in so many other mass shootings in America. The lives lost, the lives we can save as a nation, we must say enough is enough is enough. We can do this. We have to do more. We have to do more.

President Biden con’t: God bless the 17 loved ones we’ve lost, the countless loved ones left behind. May God bless you all. I’ve gotten to meet almost all of you, you’re an incredible group of people. My heart breaks for you. It really does. It really does.

When the post was posted for Monday, President Biden had 3 tweets. He added 5 tweets giving him a Monday Tweeting Total of 8 tweets and 0 retweets.

State of the Union 02/07/2023…

President Biden: We’ve written a bill to stop it all.  It’s called the Junk Fee Prevention Act.  We’re going to ban surprise resort fees that hotels charge on your bill.  Those fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts.  (Laughter and applause.) We — the idea that cable, Internet, and cellphone companies can charge you $200 or more if you decide to switch to another provider.  Give me a break.  (Applause.) We can stop service fees on tickets to concerts and sporting events and make companies disclose all the fees upfront. And we’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 roundtrip for a family just to be able to sit together.  Baggage fees are bad enough.  Airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.  (Applause.) Americans are tired of being — we’re tired of being played for suckers. So pass — pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act so companies stop ripping us off.

01/04/2023 posted the following statement: Biden-Harris Administration Announces $2.1 Billion to Improve Four Nationally Significant Bridges Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s First Large Bridge Grants

$2.1 Billion in Fiscal Year 2022 Large Bridge Project Grants will make critical improvements to bridges that are a vital link for local residents, communities and economies

Large Bridge Project Grants follow $5.3B in FY23 Bridge Formula Funding and $18.4M in FY22 Bridge Planning Grants earlier this year

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the first round of Large Bridge Project Grants from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s competitive Bridge Investment Program. This program is one piece of the Administration’s largest dedicated investment in highway bridges since the construction of the Interstate highway system, with nearly $40 billion over five years that will help repair or rebuild ten of the most economically significant bridges in the country along with thousands of bridges across the country.

These grants will fund construction for four projects, which connect communities in five states and are vital to the everyday lives of working people and freight travel that supports our national economy. Improvements to these bridges will address significant safety issues for drivers and delays in the movement of freight that currently raise costs for American families. The grants are part of historic investments made possible by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Safe, modern bridges ensure that first responders can get to calls more quickly, shipments reach businesses on time, and drivers can get to where they need to go,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to award this historic funding to modernize large bridges that are not only pillars of our economy, but also iconic symbols of their states’ past and future.” 

“These first Large Bridge grants will improve bridges that serve as vital connections for millions of Americans to jobs, education, health care and medical care and help move goods from our farms and factories,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “And over the next four years we will be able to fund construction for the pipeline of shovel ready projects we are creating through Bridge Planning Grants.”

“The Bridge Investment Program reflects President Biden’s commitment to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and represents a historic reinvestment in our economy,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “These Large Bridge Project Grants are going to projects that are construction ready and will have a real impact for vehicles, transit, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling on America’s roadways who will benefit from these improvements for decades to come.”  

The First Large Bridge Project Grants, awarded in Fiscal Year 2022 are as follows: 01/04/2023.
  • The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will receive $1.385 billion to rehabilitate and reconfigure the existing Brent Spence Bridge to improve interstate and local traffic flow between the interconnected Kentucky and Ohio communities on either side of the Ohio River. The current bridge is the second worst truck bottleneck in the nation and carries more than $400 billion in freight per year. The project includes construction of a new companion bridge immediately west of the existing bridge to accommodate interstate through traffic on two bridge decks, and complete reconstruction of eight-mile interstate approach corridors both in Ohio and Kentucky, replacing 54 additional bridges. The project will separate I-75 traffic from local traffic, making commutes quicker and improving freight passage along this critical corridor.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in California will receive $400 million to replace, retrofit and install critical structural elements on the Golden Gate Bridge to increase resiliency against earthquakes. The Golden Gate Bridge is vital to an estimated 37 million vehicles crossing the bridge per year, including 555,000 freight trucks, as well as waterborne commerce through the Golden Gate Strait connected to the Port of Oakland. The improvements will ensure the structural integrity of a vital transportation link between San Francisco and Marin County. This bridge allows for the movement of people and freight along the California Coast and is a critical link for bicyclist and pedestrian traffic in the region.
  • The Connecticut Department of Transportation will receive $158 million to rehabilitate the northbound structure of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which is part of the Interstate 95 corridor over the Thames River between New London and Groton, Connecticut. The bridge carries five lanes of traffic and 42,600 vehicles per day and is a vital connection on the I-95 corridor for people and goods traveling between New York and New England. The rehabilitation will address structural repairs, increase load capacity and eliminate a load restriction for overweight vehicles. Additionally, the project will add a new multi-use path to foster bike-sharing and pedestrian access to transit services.
  • The City of Chicago, Illinois, will receive $144 million to rehabilitate four bridges over the Calumet River on the Southside of Chicago. The Calumet River connects Lake Michigan with the Lake Calumet Port District which is further connected to the Illinois River providing access to the Gulf of Mexico. Each bridge lifts an average of 5,000 times per year, providing continuous and safe access for marine traffic to and from the Port and surrounding industry. Rehabilitating these bridges ensures that communities on either side of the river remain connected and the bridges continue to function to allow barge and ship traffic to traverse to the Illinois International Port and beyond. The project will eliminate a load restriction and truck detours. It will also add dedicated bike lanes and improved sidewalks to support community connections.

In addition to the four FY22 Large Bridge Project Grants, FHWA also announced an additional Bridge Planning grant to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the amount of $1.6 million to advance critical planning work in support of replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges over the Cape Cod Canal. The project will improve the flow of roadway traffic between Cape Code and mainland Massachusetts. The bridges provide the only means of vehicular access across the canal. The bridges are currently in poor and fair condition, at risk of falling into poor condition. Replacing these bridges will improve their condition and provide for bicycle and pedestrian access, eliminating a gap in the current network. This $1.6 million planning grant comes in addition to $18.4 million in Bridge Planning Grants awarded in Fall 2022.

Large Bridge Project Grants under the Bridge Investment Program are available for bridges with total eligible project costs over $100 million, with minimum grant awards of $50 million, and maximum grant awards of 50 percent of the total eligible project costs. As part of the selection process for this first round of grants, priority consideration was given to projects ready to proceed to construction, as well as those that require pre-construction funding and would benefit from a multi-year grant agreement.

Additional information on FHWA’s Bridge Investment Program, including Large Bridge Project Grants and Bridge Planning Grants, can be found at 01/04/2023.

On 01/30/2023 posted the following announcement: President Biden Announces First of its Kind Infrastructure Investment for Nine Nationally Significant Mega Projects

Today, President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the new National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) discretionary grant program for nine projects across the country. These projects will create good-paying jobs, grow the economy, strengthen supply chains, improve mobility for residents, and make our transportation systems safer for all users.

“From the Hoover Dam to the Golden Gate Bridge, some infrastructure projects are so large and complex that they defy traditional funding systems—and so significant that they become iconic parts of the American landscape,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After receiving over one hundred applications, we are proud to fund these nine infrastructure megaprojects across the country to create jobs, strengthen our supply chains, expand our economy, and renew America’s built landscape.”

This year’s selected projects include: 01/30/2023.
  • $250 million for Brent Spence Bridge improvements (Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY): This critical freight corridor over the Ohio River sees over $400 billion in freight movement annually. It is among the worst truck bottlenecks in the nation. This Mega award will support critical improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge and fund the construction of a new bridge alongside the existing bridge to relieve congestion and improve travel time reliability – supporting the regional economy.
  • $292 million for Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3 (New York, NY): This award will help fund the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new Hudson River Tunnel and lay the groundwork for the much-anticipated Gateway Project. Once completed, the future Hudson Tunnel project will improve commute times, Amtrak reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and support the NEC regional economy, which is home to 17% of the U.S. population. Amtrak expects the Hudson Tunnel project will result in 72,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training.  
  • $78 million for the Roosevelt Boulevard Multimodal Project (Philadelphia, PA): Roosevelt Boulevard currently has one of the highest crash rates in Philadelphia, accounting for 14% of all crash-related fatalities in the city. This project will make improvements along approximately 12 miles of the Boulevard to improve safety and accessibility for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Jobs on the project will be prioritized for economically disadvantaged communities through the use of economic hiring preferences and the project will train new workers through registered apprenticeship.
  • $150 million to replace the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge (Calcasieu Parish, LA): The existing bridge, constructed before the Interstate Highway System, is structurally and functionally deficient, resulting in significant freight bottlenecks. The new bridge will relieve congestion and improve regional mobility, supply chain efficiency, and safety. A workforce agreement will be created for the project that includes ways to target jobs and training opportunities to underserved communities.
  • $110 million to replace North Carolina’s Alligator River Bridge (Dare and Tyrrell Counties, NC): The existing bridge, a machinery-driven movable swing bridge is a critical hurricane evacuation route and is in a deteriorated condition, which causes costly delays for travelers. This award will support construction of a modern high-rise fixed-span bridge that will improve travel times and safety, for cars, bikes, and pedestrians, along a primary east-west route in northeastern North Carolina between I-95 and the Outer Banks.
  • $60 million to make improvements to the I-10 Freight Corridor (Diamondhead, MS): The funding will widen I-10 from four to six lanes from just west of Diamondhead. This project will strengthen access to locations across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and major southern cities, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston and Mobile. Additionally, the project will promote future economic growth, including freight industries that also support international trade, and vitality in the region.  

The Mega grant program, created by President Biden’s historic infrastructure law, funds projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs. Eligible projects include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail, and public transportation projects that are a part of one of the other project types.

The Mega program will invest a total of $5 billion through 2026 to help rebuild the United States’ infrastructure for the benefit of Americans now and for generations to come. For this application cycle specifically, the U.S. Department of Transportation received applications requesting approximately $30 billion in funding, far exceeding the $1 billion of funding available in 2022.

Applications were evaluated based on several criteria, including safety, ability to return transportation infrastructure to a state of good repair, economic benefits like the creation of quality jobs, supply chain resiliency, environmental sustainability and climate resiliency, equity, and innovation. The Department also evaluated applications based on project readiness and cost-effectiveness.

Additionally, thanks to a new, streamlined application process, applicants for the Mega program were also able to use the same application for two additional grant programs: the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (Rural) and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program (INFRA). The Department announced INFRA and Rural awards in September and December of 2022, respectively.

For more on INFRA award recipients, click HERE. For more information about the Rural project awards, click HERE. More information about the combined Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant funding opportunity and the Mega program is available HERE. 01/30/2023.

The video clip is 1 minute and 23 seconds long. It was filmed on location in Madison, Wisconsin on 02/08/2023.

Sarah Varga Apprentice & Union Member: I completed 406 hours in around five months, when it usually takes people 2 to 3 years to finish classroom hours.

President Biden: I’m in Madison, Wisconsin, and I’m at a training center for laborers. There’s a manufacturing boom going on in Wisconsin, and all across the country. And there’s incredible, incredible young workers, going through the apprentice program.

Sarah Varga Apprentice & Union Member: I’m gonna show you some stuff we learned in the training center here. So this is a grade rod.

[Sarah Varga introduced President Biden prior to his remarks in Wisconsin. At the 27 second clip the voice-over switches to part of her introduction speech]

Sarah Varga Apprentice & Union Member: After a couple of semesters of college, I decided that college wasn’t offering what I wanted to do with my life. I have found my home within my union family, at Local 466 here in Madison, Wisconsin.

[At the 38 second mark the video switches back to her conversation with President Biden]

Sarah Varga Apprentice & Union Member: I love how unions back you up. You have brothers and sisters. I was out of work. We have an out-of-work list. I was on the list for about a day and a half and I got a new job.

President Biden: A day and a half? That’s pretty quick isn’t it?

Sarah Varga Apprentice & Union Member: Yeah. [she giggles. Like a for real giggle it’s adorable].

[At the 55 second mark we switch back to her intro speech]

Sarah Varga Apprentice & Union Member: There has been no greater friend than President Biden when it comes to creating union jobs and high tech manufacturing facilities.

President Biden: What people don’t realize is you don’t just decide to become a union member. To become a laborer or a pipe-fitter, or an electrician. It takes a lot of time. It’s like going back to school. That’s why they’re the best workers in the world.

State of the Union (sort of) 02/07/2023…

President Biden: It’s up to us, to all of us.  We all want the same thing: neighborhoods free of violence, law enfircement [sic] — law enforcement who earns the community’s trust.  Just as every cop, when they pin on that badge in the morning, has a right to be able to go home at night, so does everybody else out there.  (Applause.)  Our children have a right to come home safely. Equal protection under the law is a covenant we have with each other in America.  (Applause.) We know police officers put their lives on the line every single night and day.  And we know we ask them, in many cases, to do too much — to be counselors, social workers, psychologists — responding to drug overdoses, mental health crises, and so much more.  In one sense, we ask much too much of them. I know most cops and their families are good, decent, honorable people — the vast majority.  (Applause.)  And they risk — and they risk their lives every time they put that shield on.  But what happened to Tyre in Memphis happens too often.  We have to do better.  Give law enforcement the real training they need.  Hold them to higher standards.  Help them to succeed in keeping them safe. 

This is an Open Thread.

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Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.