Biden Bits: “Starting Next Month”…

Biden Tweets Logo. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

It’s Friday…

President Biden’s public schedule for 01/12/2024:

9:00 AM
Presidential Daily Brief
The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
The White house Closed Press
10:00 AMIn-Town Pool Call Time
The White house In-Town Pool
11:15 AMOut-of-Town Pool Call Time
Joint Base Andrews Overhang Out-of-Town Pool
12:10 PM
Leaves the White House
The President departs the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews
South Lawn Open Press
12:30 PM
Leaves Joint Base Andrews
The President departs Joint Base Andrews en route to the Allentown area, Pennsylvania
Joint Base Andrews Out-of-Town Pool
12:45 PM
Press Gaggle
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby will gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to the Allentown area, Pennsylvania
Joint Base Andrews Out-of-Town Pool
1:15 PM
Arrives in Allentown Area
The President arrives in the Allentown area, Pennsylvania
Lehigh Valley International Airport, Allentown, PA Open Press
1:50 PM
Visits Shops
The President visits several small businesses in the Allentown area, Pennsylvania
Allentown, PA Out-of-Town Pool
4:25 PM
Leaves Allentown Area
The President departs the Allentown area, Pennsylvania en route to the White House
Lehigh Valley International Airport, Allentown, PA Out-of-Town Pool
5:25 PM
Leaves Joint Base Andrews
The President departs Joint Base Andrews en route to the White House
Joint Base Andrews Out-of-Town Pool
5:35 PM
Arrives at the White House
The President arrives at the White House
South Lawn Open Press

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton and John Kirby Gaggle Aboard Air Force One @12:45 p.m. D.C., time:


Inflation Tweet

From Thursday…

Statement from President Joe Biden on the December Consumer Price Index:

Today’s report shows that we ended 2023 with inflation down nearly two-thirds from its peak and core inflation at its lowest level since May 2021. We saw prices go down over the course of the year for goods and services that are important for American households like a gallon of gas, a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, toys, appliances, car rentals, and airline fares. Despite what many forecasters were predicting a year ago, inflation is down while growth and the job market have remained strong. The economy has created more than 14 million jobs since I took office, and wealth, wages, and employment are higher now than under my predecessor.

But there is much more work to do to lower costs for American families and American workers. That’s why I’m taking action to bring down the price of insulin, prescription drugs, and energy, eliminating hidden junk fees companies use to rip you off, and calling on large corporations to pass on savings to consumers as their costs moderate.

Make no mistake: extreme Republicans have no plan to lower costs for families—none. Their only plan is to hand out massive giveaways to the super wealthy and big corporations. They’ve locked arms with Big Pharma and Big Oil to try to stop us from lowering prescription drug costs and utility bills. They’re doing everything in their power to allow Big Banks to keep charging you steep hidden fees. And they still haven’t given up their fight to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I will not let them.

White House.gov. 01/11/2024.

Small Businesses/Travel Plans Tweets

From Thursday…

Statement from President Joe Biden on Record-Setting Small Business Applications:

Every time someone starts a new small business, it’s an act of hope and confidence in our economy. Today, we learned that Americans filed 16 million new business applications during the first three years of my Administration—16 million acts of hope, the strongest stretch on record. That’s three years in a row with more applications filed than in any other year on record, including any year of the prior Administration. And we know that small business growth has been particularly strong among Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs, with Black business ownership doubling and Hispanic business ownership up 40% since 2019. This small business boom hasn’t been an accident—it’s a result of my Administration’s strategy to support entrepreneurs, help small businesses access the resources they need to thrive, and promote competition to level the playing field.
 
This is all part of a broader story of progress growing our economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down. Our economy has added more than 14 million new jobs since I took office—including many from small businesses—while the unemployment rate has been below 4% for the longest stretch in more than 50 years, American workers’ wages and wealth are higher now than before the pandemic, and inflation is down by nearly two-thirds from its peak. I’m going to continue doing everything in my power to build on this progress and grow our economy—with a strong middle class, lower costs, and more opportunity for all Americans—while standing up to extreme Republican attempts to provide more giveaways to big corporations and undermine competition at the expense of small businesses.

White House.gov. 01/11/2024.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Highlights Allentown, Lehigh Valley, and Pennsylvania’s Economic Comeback:

Today, President Biden will visit small businesses in the Allentown area of Pennsylvania that are at the heart of his plan to support communities too often left behind. Allentown, a historic steel town, was hollowed out by failed trickle-down economics. Under President Biden, Allentown is experiencing an economic comeback.

Driven by President Biden’s agenda to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, communities like Allentown are creating jobs, attracting investments in manufacturing and infrastructure, and revitalizing Main Streets.

White House.gov. 01/12/2024.

Record Small Business Filings

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda has delivered a small business boom. New Census Bureau data shows that the first three years of the Biden-Harris Administration are the strongest years on record for new business applications, with nearly 16 million applications filed. Analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers finds that this level of record applications also reflects higher levels of new business formation that would lead to job growth – the highest in the last quarter century. Evidence suggests that supports from the Biden-Harris Administration helped shape the landscape for this small business boom. In addition, Black business ownership has grown at its fastest rate in over 30 years, and Hispanic business ownership is up nearly 40% compared to 2019. 

White House.gov. 01/12/2024.

Allentown’s Comeback Story

Allentown’s factories once made iron products that reportedly went into the construction of West Point and the White House. But because of failed trickle-down economics, manufacturing left Allentown, and with it, good jobs — many of them unionized. Pennsylvania lost 23,000 manufacturing jobs under the previous Administration.

Thanks to Bidenomics, Allentown is finally making a comeback driven by local leaders, small business owners, and workers. Since President Biden took office, Allentown has experienced historic employment growth, small business creation, and investments. The Allentown unemployment rate is down to 3.9% — a 20-year low. A greater share of Allentown residents are employed today than before the pandemic. Nearly 32,000 more workers in the Allentown area have jobs under President Biden. Workers are taking home more pay as well, with personal income in Allentown up over 3% after adjusting for inflation compared to before the pandemic.

Companies are making new investments — including a $500 million investment by Pratt Industries in two sustainable corrugated packaging facilities and a $7.5 million investment by Schless Bottles in a bottle factory. Under President Biden, real investment in factory construction has increased by more than 100%, while increasing just 2% in the four years under his predecessor. These investments have a ripple effect — creating good-paying jobs, raising community incomes, and bringing more customers to small businesses in the region.

White House.gov. 01/12/2024.

Investing in Pennsylvania

President Biden is keeping his promise to leave no community behind. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced $14.2 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy investments in Pennsylvania and spurred $3 billion in private sector investments in related sectors. Through his American Rescue Plan, President Biden provided emergency relief funding to 3,500 restaurants and bars and 6,850 child care programs in Pennsylvania to help keep their doors open during the pandemic, plus an additional $268 million through the State Small Business Credit Initiative to help them access capital. Last year, the Small Business Administration set records in loans delivered to small businesses, including nearly $910 million to small businesses in Pennsylvania, including significant increases in support to underserved and minority-owned businesses. And across the federal government, $2.8 billion in federal contracting opportunities went to Pennsylvania small businesses.

White House.gov. 01/12/2024.

In the Allentown area alone:

  • The Department of Transportation awarded $5 million to the Lehigh Valley International Airport for needed renovations.
  • The Department of Transportation awarded $22.5 million to fix the Cementon Bridge and $2.8 million to fix the Indian Trail Road Bridge.
  • The Department of Energy awarded $3.75 million to the Mid-Atlantic Center of Excellence at Lehigh University, which will expand the center’s engagement with unions, trade schools, and community colleges, and develop new ways to build workforce pipelines to jobs at small manufacturers in the region.
  • The American Rescue Plan enabled Allentown to invest over $2.3 million in a new fire training facility and emergency operations center.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency awarded $1 million to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to help create a climate action plan focused on industrial decarbonization.
  • The Department of Transportation awarded $200,000 to the Lehigh Carbon Community College for scholarships for former and current military service members and families to pursue training to become commercial truck drivers.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded a $1 million Engines Development Award to Vytal Plant Science Research, which is partnering with the Northeast Ben Franklin Technology Partners to create an industrial bio-products hub in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  • Over 17,000 households in Lehigh County now have access to affordable internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program and are saving up to $30/month.
  • The Department of Commerce designated Allentown a “Recompete area,” making it eligible to compete for an award of up to $50 million to support small manufacturers and workers in the region.

President Biden is keeping his promise and helping the hard-working people of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and communities across the country mount the economic comeback they deserve.

White House.gov. 01/12/2024.

This is either a campaign stop or a stop where the White House will release footage after his visit; there is currently no live feed posted to the White House YouTube channel.


SAVE Plan Tweets

From Friday…

Statement from President Joe Biden on Early Student Debt Cancellation for Borrowers Enrolled in SAVE:

From Day One of my Administration, I vowed to fix the student loan system and make sure higher education is a pathway to the middle class – not a barrier to opportunity. Already, my Administration has cancelled student debt for 3.6 million Americans through various actions – delivering lifechanging relief to students and families, and we created the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever: the SAVE plan.

I am proud that my Administration is implementing one of the most impactful provisions of the SAVE plan nearly six months ahead of schedule. Starting next month, borrowers enrolled in SAVE who took out less than $12,000 in loans and have been in repayment for 10 years will get their remaining student debt cancelled immediately. This action will particularly help community college borrowers, low-income borrowers, and those struggling to repay their loans. And, it’s part of our ongoing efforts to act as quickly as possible to give more borrowers breathing room so they can get out from under the burden of student loan debt, move on with their lives and pursue their dreams.

I encourage all borrowers who may be eligible for early debt cancellation to sign up for the SAVE plan at studentaid.gov. Already, 6.9 million borrowers are enrolled in the plan, and 3.9 million have a $0 monthly payment.

Today’s announcement builds on all we’ve been able to achieve for students and student loan borrowers in the past few years.  This includes: fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program so that borrowers who go into public service get the debt relief they’re entitled to under the law; achieving the largest increases in Pell Grants in over a decade to help families who earn less than roughly $60,000 a year; and holding colleges accountable for leaving students with unaffordable debts. And, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on our student debt relief plan, we are continuing to pursue an alternative path to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible. I won’t back down from using every tool at our disposal to get student loan borrowers the relief they need to reach their dreams.

White House.gov. 01/12/2024.

From the Department of Education…

01/11/2024:

Biden-Harris Administration to Shorten Path to Debt Cancellation for Some SAVE Borrowers:

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that next month it will start providing forgiveness after as few as 10 years of payments for borrowers on the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan who originally took out $12,000 or less for college. Borrowers enrolled in SAVE who are eligible for early forgiveness will have their debts cancelled immediately starting next month, with no action on their part. To help as many borrowers as possible benefit from this action, the (Department) is kicking off an outreach and email campaign to encourage borrowers who are not currently enrolled in SAVE to sign up because they may benefit from this shortened repayment period. The Administration is also announcing today that there are now 6.9 million borrowers enrolled in the SAVE Plan as of early January, more than double the enrollment on the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan it replaced in August.

The shorter time to forgiveness benefit will particularly help borrowers who attended community colleges; these students typically borrow smaller amounts. Overall, the Department estimates that the SAVE Plan will make 85% of future community college borrowers debt free within 10 years. The SAVE Plan will also help borrowers who are more likely to struggle with their loans, as most borrowers in default originally borrowed $12,000 or less.

“Beyond being the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever available, the Biden-Harris Administration designed the SAVE Plan to put community college students and other low-balance borrowers on a faster track to debt forgiveness than ever before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Our ability to deliver this relief to borrowers months ahead of schedule is a testament to the Biden Administration’s commitment to delivering relief to as many borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible. Today’s announcement gives borrowers an even greater reason to check out the SAVE plan and find out if they may qualify for earlier debt relief. With lower monthly payments, protection from runaway interest, and faster timelines to debt forgiveness, President Biden’s SAVE plan is not only benefitting millions of current borrowers but also providing the students of today and tomorrow with a more affordable pathway to college degrees and credentials.”

The Department is accelerating this benefit months ahead of the date previously laid out in the Biden-Harris Administration’s final regulations for implementing the SAVE plan, which is July 1, 2024. Borrowers enrolled in SAVE who have made at least 10 years of monthly payments and originally took out $12,000 or less for undergraduate or graduate postsecondary studies are eligible for forgiveness. For every $1,000 borrowed above $12,000, a borrower can receive forgiveness after an additional year of payments. That means a borrower who originally borrowed less than $21,000 will be eligible for forgiveness faster than the 20-year timeline for undergraduate borrowers on SAVE. The benefit is based upon the original principal balance of all federal loans borrowed to attend school, not what a borrower currently owes or the amount of an individual loan. Periods that count toward the forgiveness benefits include months during the payment pause and time in repayment as determined through the payment count adjustment.

“Today’s announcement will help struggling borrowers who have been making loan payments for years, including many who never graduated from college,” said Under Secretary James Kvaal. “Giving borrowers with smaller loans a faster path to being debt free will help many borrowers avoid financial distress and have peace of mind.”

The Biden-Harris Administration is also kicking off a wave of outreach to encourage more borrowers to enroll in SAVE, particularly those who may be able eligible for immediate forgiveness. Today, the Department will begin emailing borrowers whose balances and time in repayment indicates they may benefit from the shortened time to forgiveness provision. The Department will also work with the SAVE on Student Debt coalition and other supportive organizations to conduct further outreach in the coming months. 

In February, the Department will start notifying borrowers on SAVE who are eligible for forgiveness that their loans are being discharged automatically with no action needed on the borrower’s part. The Department will also email borrowers not on SAVE who can receive forgiveness as soon as they sign up for the plan. Moving forward, the Department will continue to identify and discharge the loans of eligible borrowers on a regular basis. The Department strongly encourages all eligible borrowers who originally borrowed $12,000 or less to apply for SAVE as soon as possible. 

For student borrowers, the SAVE Plan remains the most affordable repayment option in most cases. Under the SAVE Plan, single borrowers who earn less than $32,800 per year or those in a family of four making less than $67,500 have a $0 payment. The SAVE Plan also ensures that a borrower’s balance will never grow due to unpaid interest as long as they are making their monthly payments. The improved application allows borrowers to have their income securely accessed through the Internal Revenue Service so they do not need to re-certify their income or reapply for plans like SAVE each year. Savings for borrowers will increase again when the Department implements further payment reductions for borrowers with undergraduate loans in July 2024. 

Continued Increases in SAVE Enrollment

The Biden-Harris Administration also announced today that there are now 6.9 million borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan. This includes 2.8 million borrowers on SAVE who are new to an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan and approximately 700,000 who have switched from another income-driven repayment plan. Overall, borrowers are repaying $374 billion in federal student loans on the plan, about 30% of all Direct Loans dollars in repayment, deferment, or forbearance.

Borrowers are continuing to see significant financial benefits from being on SAVE compared to the previous REPAYE Plan. Of SAVE enrollees, 3.9 million have a $0 payment, while borrowers who owe a payment are saving an estimated $117 a month (just over $1,400 a year). These savings don’t include the interest that borrowers avoid each month after they satisfy their repayment obligation. Department data show that SAVE enrollment continues to be well targeted, as 75% of SAVE borrowers also received Pell Grants, which are awarded to low-income college students.

The SAVE Plan builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to reduce the burden of student debt on America’s families. The Biden-Harris Administration has already approved nearly $132 billion in targeted relief for more than 3.6 million borrowers. Just last month, the Department announced the approval of an additional $4.8 billion in student loan debt relief for 80,300 borrowers. The Biden-Harris Administration has now approved:

ED.gov. 01/11/2024.
  • Almost $44 billion in IDR relief for nearly 901,000 borrowers;
  • $53.5 billion for almost 750,000 borrowers through fixes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness that began in October 2021. By contrast, only about 7,000 borrowers had received forgiveness through these programs at the start of the Biden-Harris Administration.

The Biden-Harris Administration is currently in the process of writing proposed regulations that would make more borrowers eligible for debt relief. It also recently finalized regulations that help create the most effective accountability system ever for colleges that leave students with unaffordable debts and will continue to take action to reduce the cost of college and improve the value of postsecondary education.

Borrowers can view more resources and tools that help them find the right repayment plan for their current circumstances at StudentAid.gov/restart. More information about SAVE is available at StudentAid.gov/save

ED.gov. 01/11/2024.

“New” from the White House…

01/11/2024:

01/12/2023:

From the White House; Yemen Air-Strikes…

01/11/2023:

Statement from President Joe Biden on Coalition Strikes in Houthi-Controlled Areas in Yemen:

Today, at my direction, U.S. military forces—together with the United Kingdom and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands—successfully conducted strikes against a number of targets in Yemen used by Houthi rebels to endanger freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways.
 
These strikes are in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea—including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history. These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation. More than 50 nations have been affected in 27 attacks on international commercial shipping. Crews from more than 20 countries have been threatened or taken hostage in acts of piracy.  More than 2,000 ships have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea—which can cause weeks of delays in product shipping times. And on January 9, Houthis launched their largest attack to date—directly targeting American ships.
 
The response of the international community to these reckless attacks has been united and resolute. Last month, the United States launched Operation Prosperity Guardian—a coalition of more than 20 nations committed to defending international shipping and deterring Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.  We also joined more than 40 nations in condemning Houthi threats. Last week, together with 13 allies and partners, we issued an unequivocal warning that Houthi rebels would bear the consequences if their attacks did not cease. And yesterday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding the Houthis end attacks on merchant and commercial vessels.
 
Today’s defensive action follows this extensive diplomatic campaign and Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels. These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes. I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.

White House.gov. 01/11/2024.

Joint Statement from the Governments of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, and the United States:

Recognizing the broad consensus as expressed by 44 countries around the world on December 19, 2023, as well as the statement by the UN Security Council on December 1, 2023, condemning Houthi attacks against merchant and commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea, our governments issued a joint statement on January 3, 2024, which called for the immediate end of illegal attacks and warned that malign actors would be held accountable should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways. Despite this strong warning, attacks in the Red Sea have continued, including the launch of numerous missiles and one-way attack aerial vehicles against ships in the Red Sea on January 9, 2024, including U.S. and UK vessels.  On January 10, 2024, the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 2722, which also condemned these attacks and demanded that they cease.
 
In response to continued illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Houthi attacks against vessels, including commercial shipping, transiting the Red Sea, the armed forces of the United States and United Kingdom, with support from the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain, and Australia, conducted joint strikes in accordance with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, consistent with the UN Charter, against a number of targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.  These precision strikes were intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways.
 
The Houthis’ more than two dozen attacks on commercial vessels since mid-November constitute an international challenge. Today’s action demonstrated a shared commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce, and defending the lives of mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.
 
Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but let our message be clear: we will not hesitate to defend lives and protect the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.

White House.gov. 01/11/2024.

01/12/2024:

Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials and Senior Military Official on Developments in the Middle East; teleconference held on 01/11/2024:

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  

Great, thanks.  And thanks, everybody, for being here.
 
Today, in response to ongoing and escalating Iranian-enabled Houthi attacks against commercial shipping transiting the Red Sea, the armed forces of the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted joint strikes against Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.
 
This action is aimed specifically to disrupt and degrade Houthi capabilities to threaten global trade and freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical waterways.
 
The target selected focused specifically on Houthi missile, radar, and UAV capabilities, the capabilities that are essential to the Houthis’ campaign against commercial shipping in international waters.
 
This collective response follows one of the largest Houthi attacks in the Red Sea to date earlier this week.  On Tuesday, January 9th, nearly 20 drones and multiple missiles were launched in multiple salvos directly against U.S. ships.  This attack was defeated by the U.S. and UK naval forces working jointly as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, the defensive coalition established last month in response to these attacks.
 
If not for this defensive mission, we have no doubt that ships would have been struck, perhaps even sunk, including, in one case, a commercial ship full of jet fuel.
 
These reckless attacks have directly affected the citizens and cargo and commercial interests of more than 50 countries.  Over a dozen shipping companies have now rerouted vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, increasing shipping and insurance costs and impacting the global economy.  That is why we have seen broad consensus from countries around the world condemning these attacks as an unprecedented threat to global commerce.
 
As you saw this week, the U.N. Security Council issued a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms” — and that’s in quotes, “in the strongest terms” — the now more than two dozen attacks against commercial vessels since November 19th, as well as condemning those who would provide arms and assistance to the Houthis in these attacks, with the primary supplier being Iran.
 
This resolution also took note of the right of states to act to defend their vessels in accordance with international law.
 
So today’s collective action comes against a broad diplomatic backdrop and global condemnation of these ongoing attacks, including, as I mentioned, the largest attack to date just three days ago, specifically targeting U.S. vessels.
 
As I said at the top, the Houthis, with Iranian support, have targeted over 20 merchant vessels since November 19th, launching dozens of drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles across the Red Sea.  At least three ships have been hit.  And we’ve been — we’ve had extremely close calls, such as a ship, as I had mentioned, carrying U.S.-owned jet fuel that the Houthis targeted last month.
 
I’ll run through briefly some key moments from this period.
 
On December 1st, the U.N. Security Council condemned Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and underscored the importance of the freedom of navigation.  That statement called on the immediate end to attacks. 
 
On December 18th, Secretary Austin announced the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, the 22-country defensive coalition, organized under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of Coalition Task Force 153, to help defend against Houthi threats in the Red Sea.
 
On December 19th, 44 countries issued a multilateral statement condemning Houthi interference with navigational rights and freedoms in the Red Sea.
 
The President, President Biden, has been deeply engaged in these developments throughout this period on a near-daily basis through Jake Sullivan and our national security team.  He directed the initial diplomatic response and then the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian as a defensive measure.  The President spoke to the issue with leaders around the world, including our partners in Europe and in the region. 
 
On the morning of New Year’s Day, following attacks on a Denmark-owned ship called the Maersk Hangzhou, and the direct engagements by U.S. forces to repel that attack, the President convened his national security team to discuss options and the way forward.

The President directed his team to accelerate the pace of work at the U.N. in New York, to keep building out the multilateral coalition — multinational coalition for potential military action, and to refine the possible targets of such action.

At that meeting, the President directed his team to further develop military options should they be required, but to first issue a final warning statement together with close partners and allies.

Two days later, on January 3rd, the United States and 13 other countries that represent some of the world’s largest shippers issued a multilateral statement, warning that the Houthis will bear the full consequences of any further attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

That brings us to Tuesday, January 9th, where, again, we saw one of the largest Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, with nearly 20 drones and three missiles shot down by the U.S. and UK naval forces in an attack that was directly targeting a U.S. commercial vessel with U.S. military vessels alongside it.

As soon as that attack was defeated, the President again convened his national security team and was presented with military options for a collective response together with close partners. 

At the end of that meeting, the President directed Secretary Austin to carry out this response, which led to the strikes that took place this evening.

Again, this collective action was conducted by the United States and the United Kingdom, with Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Bahrain providing additional support.  It has also been endorsed by countries that joined the warning statement of January 3rd, including Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.  And we expect more supportive statements to come in overnight.

I’ll close with a word on how this action relates to the broader tensions in the Middle East region.

As yesterday’s U.N. Security Council resolution outlined, as well as the broad consensus that I mentioned earlier in this briefing makes clear, this is an issue about global commerce, the freedom of navigation, and threats to commercial vessels and international waterways.

The United States has carried a special and historic obligation to help protect and defend these arteries of global trade and commerce.  And this action falls directly in line with that tradition.  That is clearly reflected in both our National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy.  It is a key conviction of the President.  And it is a commitment that we are prepared to uphold, acting together with partners and allies as we have done today.

The Houthis claim that their attacks on military and civilian vessels are somehow tied to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.  That is completely baseless and illegitimate.  The Houthis also claim to be targeting specifically Israeli-owned ships or ships bound for Israel.  That is simply not true.  They are firing indiscriminately on vessels with global ties.  Most of the ships that have come under attack have nothing whatsoever to do with Israel.  And even if they were — even if that were not the case, it is no justification for these illegal attacks in international waterways.

At bottom, these actions present a threat to us and to the entire world.  And our actions are focused on the dangers posed to the lives and crews of these vessels and the stability and security of global commerce throughout international waters.

The targets we selected were focused specifically on Houthi capabilities, as my DOD colleague can brief in fuller detail, and there is no intent to escalate the situation.  The aim is to degrade the ability of the Houthis to continue carrying out these reckless attacks.

Thank you.

White House.gov. 11/12/2024; teleconference held on 01/11/2024.

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL:

  Thank you.  Thank you, [senior administration official].  I will keep my remarks brief — I imagine there’s a high number of folks here on the phone — so that we can get into questions.
As [senior administration official] mentioned, this was a joint strike conducted by the militaries of the United States and the United Kingdom, with non-operational support from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Bahrain, targeting Houthi-controlled facilities in Yemen.

The strikes were launched from air, surface, and subsurface platforms, and destroyed multiple targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.  We conducted the strikes with a variety of manned aircraft from the United States Navy, United States Air Force, and the UK.

Precision-guided munitions were used to destroy the targets and also to minimize collateral damage.  Let’s emphasize that these strikes have no association and are complete and separate from Operation Prosperity Guardian, which is a defensive coalition currently comprised of 22 countries operating in the Red Sea, Bab el-Mandeb, and the Gulf of Aden.

The U.S. and UK forces that participated in these strikes remain well prepared to defend themselves as well as to continue to contribute to the defense of maritime traffic and other military vessels as part of the coalition in the Red Sea, Bab el-Mandeb, and Gulf of Aden.

And with that, I think we can move to questions.

White House.gov. 11/12/2024; teleconference held on 01/11/2024.

From the Defense Department…

01/11/2024:

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Coalition Strikes in Houthi-Controlled Areas of Yemen:

In light of the illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Iranian-backed Houthi attacks against U.S. and international vessels and commercial vessels from many countries lawfully transiting the Red Sea, today the militaries of the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways. Today’s coalition action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will bear further costs if they do not end their illegal attacks.

Today’s strikes targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ unmanned aerial vehicle, ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities. The United States maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, we will take follow-on actions to protect U.S. forces.

Since November 19, the Houthis have launched more than two dozen attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, creating an international challenge that demands collective action. Today, a coalition of countries committed to upholding the rules-based international order demonstrated our shared commitment to defending U.S. and international vessels and commercial vessels exercising navigational rights and freedoms from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.

We will not hesitate to defend our forces, the global economy, and the free flow of legitimate commerce in one of the world’s vital waterways.

Defense.gov. 01/11/2024.

01/12/2024:

U.S., Partners’ Forces Strike Houthi Military Targets in Yemen:

U.S. and partners’ forces conducted defensive strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen yesterday following a series of attacks launched by the armed rebel group against commercial ships operating in the Red Sea.  

The joint strikes were carried out by the U.S. and United Kingdom with nonoperational support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands. They targeted Houthi missile, radar and unmanned areal vehicle capabilities used to carry out attacks against vessels operating in international waters. 

President Joe Biden said the strikes serve as a “a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes.” 

“I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce, as necessary,” he said in a statement following the strikes.  

The U.S. and U.K. forces launched the strikes from air, surface and subsurface platforms and used precision-guided munitions to minimize collateral damage, a Pentagon official said during a press briefing following the strikes.  

The strike package included a variety of aircraft flown by U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.K. pilots.  

“This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of world’s most critical waterways,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement following the strikes. “Today’s coalition action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will bear further costs if they do not end their illegal attacks.” 

Austin added that the U.S. “maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, will take follow-on actions to protect U.S. forces.” 

Since mid-November, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched more than two dozen attacks against merchant vessels operating in the Red Sea. Such attacks against the vital international shipping lane posed a vital concern and impacted international commerce across the globe.  

In response, Austin announced the Dec. 18 launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international maritime task force designed to defend against the attacks. 

The operation brought together forces from 22 nations to address the challenges in the region and ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.   

The forces operate under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of Task Force 153, a U.S. Navy-led initiative focused on maritime security in the Red Sea. Earlier this week, the rebel group launched nearly 20 drones and several missiles targeting U.S. ships underway in the region. That attack was defeated by U.S. and U.K. forces operating in the region as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian.  

Yesterday’s strikes launched against the rebel stronghold in Yemen were not associated with, and are separate from, Operation Prosperity Guardian, the Pentagon official said. 

The defensive strikes followed sustained diplomatic efforts and broad international condemnation of the Houthi attacks that have threatened global commerce.  

Last week, the governments of the U.S., Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement condemning the attacks and warning the rebel group against further escalation.   

In the statement, the nations warned that the Houthis “will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy and [the] free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”  

Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that the rebel group cease all attacks against ships in the Red Sea.  

In a statement following yesterday’s strike, the goverments of the U.S., Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement further condemning the Houthis’ actions and warning against further escalation.  

The nations’ statement read that the strikes “demonstrated a shared commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce and defending the lives of mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks. Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but let our message be clear: We will not hesitate to defend lives and protect the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”

Defense.gov. 01/12/2024.

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About Tiff 2543 Articles
Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.