Biden Bits: “May the Hinge of Our Friendship Never go Rusty”…

Biden Tweets Logo. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

It’s Monday…

President Biden’s public schedule for 03/18/2024:

10:00 AMIn-Town Pool Call Time
The White House In-Town Pool
11:30 AM
Remarks
The President, The First Lady, and The Vice President deliver remarks at a Women’s History Month reception at the White House; The Second Gentleman attends
East Room Pre-Credentialed Media
1:30 PM
Press Briefing
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:15 PM
Presidential Daily Brief
The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing; The Vice President attends
Oval Office Closed Press

Women’s Health Research Tweet

From Monday…

FACT SHEET: President Biden Issues Executive Order and Announces New Actions to Advance Women’s Health Research and Innovation:

In his State of the Union address, President Biden laid out his vision for transforming women’s health research and improving women’s lives all across America. The President called on Congress to make a bold, transformative investment of $12 billion in new funding for women’s health research. This investment would be used to create a Fund for Women’s Health Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research agenda and to establish a new nationwide network of research centers of excellence and innovation in women’s health—which would serve as a national gold standard for women’s health research across the lifespan.

It is long past time to ensure women get the answers they need when it comes to their health—from cardiovascular disease to autoimmune diseases to menopause-related conditions. To pioneer the next generation of discoveries, the President and the First Lady launched the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research[11/13/2023], which aims to fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research in the United States.

Today, President Biden is signing a new Executive Order that will direct the most comprehensive set of executive actions ever taken to expand and improve research on women’s health. These directives will ensure women’s health is integrated and prioritized across the federal research portfolio and budget, and will galvanize new research on a wide range of topics, including women’s midlife health.

The President and First Lady are also announcing more than twenty new actions and commitments by federal agencies, including through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). This includes the launch of a new NIH-wide effort that will direct key investments of $200 million in Fiscal Year 2025 to fund new, interdisciplinary women’s health research—a first step towards the transformative central Fund on Women’s Health that the President has called on Congress to invest in. These actions also build on the First Lady’s announcement last month of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) Sprint for Women’s Health, which committed $100 million towards transformative research and development in women’s health.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Issues Executive Order and Announces New Actions to Advance Women’s Health Research and Innovation. 03/18/2024.

Today, the President is issuing an Executive Order that will:

  • Integrate Women’s Health Across the Federal Research Portfolio. The Executive Order directs the Initiative’s constituent agencies to develop and strengthen research and data standards on women’s health across all relevant research and funding opportunities, with the goal of helping ensure that the Administration is better leveraging every dollar of federal funding for health research to improve women’s health. These actions will build on the NIH’s current policy to ensure that research it funds considers women’s health in the development of study design and in data collection and analysis. Agencies will take action to ensure women’s health is being considered at every step in the research process—from the applications that prospective grantees submit to the way that they report on grant implementation.
  • Prioritize Investments in Women’s Health Research. The Executive Order directs the Initiative’s constituent agencies to prioritize funding for women’s health research and encourage innovation in women’s health, including through ARPA-H and multi-agency initiatives such as the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program. These entities are dedicated to high-impact research and innovation, including through the support of early-stage small businesses and entrepreneurs engaged in research and innovation. The Executive Order further directs HHS and NSF to study ways to leverage artificial intelligence to advance women’s health research. These additional investments—across a wide range of agencies—will support innovation and open new doors to breakthroughs in women’s health.
  • Galvanize New Research on Women’s Midlife Health.  To narrow research gaps on diseases and conditions associated with women’s midlife health or that are more likely to occur after menopause, such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, and osteoporosis, the President is directing HHS to: expand data collection efforts related to women’s midlife health; launch a comprehensive research agenda that will guide future investments in menopause-related research; identify ways to improve management of menopause-related issues and the clinical care that women receive; and develop new resources to help women better understand their options for menopause-related symptoms prevention and treatment. The Executive Order also directs the DoD and VA to study and take steps to improve the treatment of, and research related to, menopause for Service women and women veterans.
  • Assess Unmet Needs to Support Women’s Health Research. The Executive Order directs the Office of Management and Budget and the Gender Policy Council to lead a robust effort to assess gaps in federal funding for women’s health research and identify changes—whether statutory, regulatory, or budgetary—that are needed to maximally support the broad scope of women’s health research across the federal government. Agencies will also be required to report annually on their investments in women’s health research, as well as progress towards their efforts to improve women’s health.

Today, agencies are also announcing new actions they are taking to promote women’s health research, as part of their ongoing efforts through the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. Agencies are announcing actions to:

FACT SHEET: President Biden Issues Executive Order and Announces New Actions to Advance Women’s Health Research and Innovation. 03/18/2024.

Prioritize and Increase Investments in Women’s Health Research

  • Launch an NIH-Cross Cutting Effort to Transform Women’s Health Throughout the Lifespan. NIH is launching an NIH-wide effort to close gaps in women’s health research across the lifespan. This effort—which will initially be supported by $200 million from NIH beginning in FY 2025—will allow NIH to catalyze interdisciplinary research, particularly on issues that cut across the traditional mandates of the institutes and centers at NIH. It will also allow NIH to launch ambitious, multi-faceted research projects such as research on the impact of perimenopause and menopause on heart health, brain health and bone health. In addition, the President’s FY25 Budget Request would double current funding for the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health to support new and existing initiatives that emphasize women’s health research.

This coordinated, NIH-wide effort will be co-chaired by the NIH Office of the Director, the Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the institute directors from the National Institute on Aging; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Institute on Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Issues Executive Order and Announces New Actions to Advance Women’s Health Research and Innovation. 03/18/2024.
  • Invest in Research on a Wide Range of Women’s Health Issues. The bipartisan Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), led out of DoD, funds research on women’s health encompassing a range of diseases and conditions that affect women uniquely, disproportionately, or differently from men. While the programs and topic areas directed by Congress differ each year, CDMRP has consistently funded research to advance women’s health since its creation in 1993. In Fiscal Year 2022, DoD implemented nearly $490 million in CDMRP investments towards women’s health research projects ranging from breast and ovarian cancer to lupus to orthotics and prosthetics in women.  In Fiscal Year 2023, DoD anticipates implementing approximately $500 million in CDMRP funding for women’s health research, including in endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue.
  • Call for New Proposals on Emerging Women’s Health Issues. Today, NSF is calling for new research and education proposals to advance discoveries and innovations related to women’s health. To promote multidisciplinary solutions to women’s health disparities, NSF invites applications that would improve women’s health through a wide range of disciplines—from computational research to engineering biomechanics. This is the first time that NSF has broadly called for novel and transformative research that is focused entirely on women’s health topics, and proposals will be considered on an ongoing basis.
  • Increase Research on How Environmental Factors Affect Women’s Health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating its grant solicitations and contracts to ensure that applicants prioritize, as appropriate, the consideration of women’s exposures and health outcomes. These changes will help ensure that women’s health is better accounted for across EPA’s research portfolio and increase our knowledge of women’s environmental health—from endocrine disruption to toxic exposure.
  • Create a Dedicated, One-Stop Shop for NIH Funding Opportunities on Women’s Health. Researchers are often unaware of existing opportunities to apply for federal funding. To help close this gap, NIH is issuing a new Notice of Special Interest that identifies current, open funding opportunities related to women’s health research across a wide range of health conditions and all Institutes, Centers, and Offices. The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health will build on this new Notice by creating a dedicated one-stop shop on open funding opportunities related to women’s health research. This will make it easier for researchers and institutions to find and apply for funding—instead of having to search across each of NIH’s 27 institutes for funding opportunities.

Foster Innovation and Discovery in Women’s Health

  • Accelerate Transformative Research and Development in Women’s Health. ARPA-H’s Sprint for Women’s Health launched in February 2024 commits $100 million to transformative research and development in women’s health. ARPA-H is soliciting ideas for novel groundbreaking research and development to address women’s health, as well as opportunities to accelerate and scale tools, products, and platforms with the potential for commercialization to improve women’s health outcomes.
  • Support Private Sector Innovation Through Additional Federal Investments in Women’s Health Research. The NIH’s competitive Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program is committing to further increasing—by 50 percent—its investments in supporting innovators and early-stage small businesses engaged in research and development on women’s health. These programs will solicit new proposals on promising women’s health innovation and make evidence-based investments that bridge the gap between performance of basic science and commercialization of resulting innovations. This commitment for additional funds builds on the investments the Administration has already made to increase innovation in women’s health through small businesses, including by increasing investments by sevenfold between Fiscal Year 2021 and Fiscal Year 2023.
  • Advance Initiatives to Protect and Promote the Health of Women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks to advance efforts to help address gaps in research and availability of products for diseases and conditions that primarily impact women, or for which scientific considerations may be different for women, and is committed to research and regulatory initiatives that facilitate the development of safe and effective medical products for women. FDA also plans to issue guidance for industry that relates to the inclusion of women in clinical trials and conduct outreach to stakeholders to discuss opportunities to advance women’s health across the lifespan. And FDA’s Office of Women’s Health will update FDA’s framework for women’s health research and seek to fund research with an emphasis on bridging gaps in knowledge on important women’s health topics, including sex differences and conditions that uniquely or disproportionately impact women.
  • Use Biomarkers to Improve the Health of Women Through Early Detection and Treatment of Conditions, such as Endometriosis. NIH will launch a new initiative dedicated to research on biomarker discovery and validation to help improve our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat conditions that affect women uniquely, including endometriosis. This NIH initiative will accelerate our ability to identify new pathways for diagnosis and treatment by encouraging multi-sector collaboration and synergistic research that will speed the transfer of knowledge from bench to bedside.
  • Leverage Engineering Research to Improve Women’s Health. The NSF Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA) is convening national experts to identify high-impact research opportunities in engineering that can improve women’s health. ERVA’s Transforming Women’s Health Outcomes Through Engineering visioning event will be held in June 2024, and will bring together experts from across engineering—including those in microfluidics, computational modeling, artificial intelligence/imaging, and diagnostic technologies and devices—to evaluate the landscape for new applications in women’s health. Following this event, ERVA will issue a report and roadmap on critical areas where engineering research can impact women’s health across the lifespan.
  • Drive Engineering Innovations in Women’s Health Discovery. NSF awardees at Texas A&M University will hold a conference in summer 2024 to collectively identify challenges and opportunities in improving women’s health through engineering. Biomedical engineers and scientists will explore and identify how various types of engineering tools, including biomechanics and immuno-engineering, can be applied to women’s health and spark promising new research directions.

Expand and Leverage Data Collection and Analysis Related to Women’s Health

  • Help Standardize Data to Support Research on Women’s Health. NIH is launching an effort to identify and develop new common data elements related to women’s health that will help researchers share and combine datasets, promote interoperability, and improve the accuracy of datasets when it comes to women’s health. NIH will initiate this process by convening data and scientific experts across the federal government to solicit feedback on the need to develop new NIH-endorsed common data elements—which are widely used in both research and clinical settings. By advancing new tools to capture more data about women’s health, NIH will give researchers and clinicians the tools they need to enable more meaningful data collection, analysis, and reporting and comprehensively improve our knowledge of women’s health.
  • Reflect Women’s Health Needs in National Coverage Determinations. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will strengthen its review process, including through Coverage with Evidence Development guidance, to ensure that new medical services and technologies work well in women, as applicable, before being covered nationally through the Medicare program. This will help ensure that Medicare funds are used for treatments with a sufficient evidence base to show that they actually work in women, who make up more than half of the Medicare population.
  • Leverage Data and Quality Measures to Advance Women’s Health Research. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) are building on existing datasets to improve the collection, analysis, and reporting of information on women’s health. The CDC is expanding the collection of key quality measures across a woman’s lifespan, including to understand the link between pregnancy and post-partum hypertension and heart disease, and plans to release the Million Hearts Hypertension in Pregnancy Change Package. This resource will feature a menu of evidence-informed strategies by which clinicians can change care processes. Each strategy includes tested tools and resources to support related clinical quality improvement. HRSA is modernizing its Uniform Data System in ways that will improve the ability to assess how women are being served through HRSA-funded health centers. By improving the ability to analyze data on key clinical quality measures, CDC and HRSA can help close gaps in women’s health care access and identify new opportunities for high-impact research.  

Strengthen Coordination, Infrastructure, and Training to Support Women’s Health Research

  • Launch New Joint Collaborative to Improve Women’s Health Research for Service Members and Veterans. DoD and VA are launching a new Women’s Health Research collaborative to explore opportunities that further promote joint efforts to advance women’s health research and improve evidence-based care for Service members and veterans. The collaborative will increase coordination with the goal of helping improve care across the lifespan for women in the military and women veterans. The Departments will further advance research on key women’s health issues and develop a roadmap to close pressing research gaps, including those specifically affecting Service women and women veterans.
  • Coordinate Research to Advance the Health of Women in the Military. DoD will invest $10 million, contingent on available funds, in the Military Women’s Health Research Partnership. This Partnership is led by the Uniformed Services University and advances and coordinates women’s health research across the Department. The Partnership is supporting research in a wide range of health issues affecting women in the military, including cancers, mental and behavioral health, and the unique health care needs of Active Duty Service Women. In addition, the Uniformed Services University established a dedicated Director of Military Women’s Health Research Program, a role that is responsible for identifying research gaps, fostering collaboration, and coordinating and aligning a unified approach to address the evolving needs of Active Duty Service Women.
  • Support EPA-Wide Research and Dissemination of Data on Women’s Health. EPA is establishing a Women’s Health Community of Practice to coordinate research and data dissemination. EPA also plans to direct the Board of Scientific Counselors to identify ways to advance EPA’s research with specific consideration of the intersection of environmental factors and women’s health, including maternal health.
  • Expand Fellowship Training in Women’s Health Research. CDC, in collaboration with the CDC Foundation and American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is expanding training in women’s health research and public health surveillance to OBGYNs, nurses and advanced practice nurses. Through fellowships and public health experiences with CDC, these clinicians will gain public health research skills to improve the health of women and children exposed to or affected by infectious diseases, mental health and substance use disorders. CDC will invite early career clinicians to train in public health and policy to become future leaders in women’s health research.

Improve Women’s Health Across the Lifespan

  • Create a Comprehensive Research Agenda on Menopause. To help women get the answers they need about menopause, NIH will launch its first-ever Pathways to Prevention series on menopause and the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Pathways to Prevention is an independent, evidence-based process to synthesize the current state of the evidence, identify gaps in existing research, and develop a roadmap that can be used to help guide the field forward. The report, once completed, will help guide innovation and investments in menopause-related research and care across the federal government and research community.
  • Improve Primary Care and Preventive Services for Women. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will issue a Notice of Intent to publish a funding opportunity announcement for research to advance the science of primary care, which will include a focus on women’s health. Through this funding opportunity, AHRQ will build evidence about key elements of primary care that influence patient outcomes and advance health equity—focusing on women of color—such as care coordination, continuity of care, comprehensiveness of care, person-centered care, and trust. The results from the funding opportunity will shed light on vital targets for improvements in the delivery of primary healthcare across a woman’s lifespan, including women’s health preventive services, prevention and management of multiple chronic diseases, perinatal care, transition from pediatric to adult care, sexual and reproductive health, and care of older adults.
  • Promote the Health of American Indian and Alaska Native Women. The Indian Health Service is launching a series of engagements, including focus groups, to better understand tribal beliefs related to menopause in American Indian and Alaska Native Women. This series will inform new opportunities to expand culturally informed patient care and research as well as the development of new resources and educational materials.
  • Connect Research to Real-World Outcomes to Improve Women’s Mental and Behavioral Health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is supporting a range of health care providers to address the unique needs of women with or at risk for mental health and substance use disorders. Building on its current efforts to provide technical assistance through various initiatives, SAMHSA intends, contingent on available funds, to launch a new comprehensive Women’s Behavioral Health Technical Assistance Center. This center will identify and improve the implementation of best practices in women’s behavioral health across the life span; identify and fill critical gaps in knowledge of and resources for women’s behavioral health; and provide learning opportunities, training, and technical assistance for healthcare providers.
  • Support Research on Maternal Health Outcomes. USDA will fund research to help recognize early warning signs of maternal morbidity and mortality in recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and anticipates awarding up to $5 million in Fiscal Year 2023 to support maternal health research through WIC. In addition, research being conducted through the Agricultural Research Service’s Human Nutrition Research Centers is focusing on women’s health across the lifespan, including the nutritional needs of pregnant and breastfeeding women and older adults.

Women’s History Month Reception at the White House @11:30 a.m. D.C., time (replay):

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Jake Sullivan @1:30 p.m. D.C., time:


International Day to Combat Islamophobia Tweet

From Friday…

Statement from President Joe Biden on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia:

Five years ago today, a gunman fired upon worshippers at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand—murdering 51 people, wounding 40 others, and forever shattering families in one of the deadliest mass shootings in history. Today, on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, we remember these innocent souls who were stolen from us while peacefully praying.
 
We recognize the violence and hate that Muslims worldwide too often face because of their religious beliefs—and the ugly resurgence of Islamophobia in the wake of the devastating war in Gaza. And, we rededicate ourselves to building a world where people of all faiths and all backgrounds are free to live without fear of persecution.
 
That includes right here at home. I’ve said it many times: Islamophobia has no place in our nation. Yet Muslims in the United States frequently endure baseless fearmongering, blatant discrimination, harassment, and violence in the course of their everyday lives. Today, Jill and I remember Wadea al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy brutally killed in his own home last fall—a crushing loss for his family and community, and a devastating reminder of how all Americans must unequivocally stand up against hate.
 
That’s why, in 2022, my Administration established an interagency policy committee to counter Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination. We are also currently drafting the first-ever National Strategy to Combat Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination. The goal of this strategy is to mobilize a whole-of-society effort to counter all forms of hate, discrimination, and bias against Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, and Arab American communities and to raise awareness about their heritage and invaluable contributions to our country. We are also strengthening the security of mosques and other places of worship, and working to prevent and prosecute hate crimes against vulnerable communities. And my Administration continues to implement the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism amidst the serious increase in Antisemitism and to advance the White House Initiative on Hate-Motivated Violence. Put simply, we are taking concrete steps to make real for all Americans the promise of America: that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives.  We have never fully lived up to that promise, but we have never walked away from it either, and for as long as I’m President, we never will.
 
Today, as millions continue to observe the holy month of Ramadan, Jill and I extend our best wishes to Muslims everywhere and continue to keep them in our prayers. And, we reaffirm our commitment to do all we can to put an end to the vicious hate of Islamophobia—here at home and around the world.

Statement from President Joe Biden on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. 03/15/2024.

Friends of Ireland Luncheon/Bilateral Meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar/St. Patrick’s Day Tweets

From Friday…

Remarks by President Biden, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of the Republic of Ireland at the Annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon; the YouTube is 18 minutes and 42 seconds long.

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before Bilateral Meeting; the YouTube is 5 minutes and 52 seconds long.

Well, Taoiseach, welcome back to the Oval Office.  It’s good to have you back.  And — and I want to thank you again for the reception I had last — when I was last in Ireland.  As a matter of fact, my family wasn’t sure we wanted to come home.  It was so nice. 

Look, it’s great to see you again, a great chance to return some of the hospitality that you provided me when I was in Ireland last.  And I know there are all kinds of Irish — old Irish sayings, but my Grandfather Finnegan used to say, “May the hinge of our friendship never go rusty.”  He had all these sayings, you know.  The Irish in America sometimes think they’re more Irish than the Irish.

But — and I don’t think we’re going to let it go rusty.  We’re vital to each other’s economies.  We’re good friends.  And we’re — and today celebrates 100 years —

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before Bilateral Meeting. 03/15/2024.

From Saturday…

The video clip is 1 minute and 5 seconds long.

President Biden:

Well, Taoiseach, welcome back to the Oval Office.  It’s good to have you back.  And — and I want to thank you again for the reception I had last — when I was last in Ireland.  As a matter of fact, my family wasn’t sure we wanted to come home.  It was so nice. 

[snip]

But — and I don’t think we’re going to let it go rusty.  We’re vital to each other’s economies.  We’re good friends.  And we’re — and today celebrates 100 years —

TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  That’s right.

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  — 100 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and America.  And as far as that friendship goes, it keeps increasing and not diminishing, and I would argue it’s stronger than ever. 

[snip]

*And we’re working together to increase humanitarian assistance in GazaAnd we both know that a whole lot more has to be done

And we’re standing together to support Ukraine in the face of Putin’s onslaught, the savagery with which he’s attacking Ukrainians.  And I want to thank you, Leo, for Ireland’s unwavering assistance to Ukraine, including millions of vital humanitarian aid that you provide — millions of dollars. 

[snip]

And as I said in Belfast last year, we remain committed to protecting the peace and progress in Northern Ireland since the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.  And like you, I’m glad to see Northern Ireland’s Executive and Assembly are up and running.  And I think that’s, from my perspective, a very positive step forward

*the text appears out of order in the video clip*

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before Bilateral Meeting. 03/15/2024.

Taoiseach Varadkar:

Since we last met, back in New York briefly in September at the U.N., and since your visits to Ireland last year, it’s really good to see the institutions in Northern Ireland up and running.  It just makes such a difference to have the Good Friday Agreement properly functioning

[snip]

Obviously, keen to talk about the situation in — in Gaza as well.  You know, my — my view that we need to have a ceasefire as soon as possible to get food and medicine in

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  And I agree.

TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  — to get the hostages outAnd we need to talk about how we can make that happen and move towards a two-state solution, which I think is the only — the only way we’ll have lasting peace and security. 

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I agree.

TAOISEACH VARADKAR:  And then, on Ukraine — just really want to thank you and America for your leadership on Ukraine.  We’re very worried about the situation there.  And we don’t think that if Putin is successful in Ukraine he’ll stop there.  And we really need your continued support and leadership on Ukraine and look forward to speaking to the congressional leaders about that as well later on. 

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before Bilateral Meeting. 03/15/2024.

President Biden:

Well, you can tell them that the President of the United States is strongly committed to making sure we provide that aid.

Well, thank you very much.  We’ll get a chance to bring in our delegations

And thank you all for being here, folks

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland Before Bilateral Meeting. 03/15/2024.

From Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day…

The video clip is 32 seconds long.

I will not be finding all the places his remarks came from…

President Biden:

Ta me sa bhaile. I’m at home.

Growing up Irish-American gave me the pride that spoke to both sides of the Atlantic.

I want to acknowledge my family–all the Blewitts. As the great-great-grandson of Blewitts of County Mayo–it means the world to me and my entire family to be embraced as “Mayo Joe” son of Ballina. They raised me and my siblings with a fierce pride in our Irish ancestry.

I wish you all a very very happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Twitter @POTUS. 03/17/2024.

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland at a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration; the YouTube is 20 minutes and 23 seconds long.

Show more =’s and lasting peace.

Folks, St. Patrick’s Day is a joyful occasion.  It’s a time to remember with pride our ties to the Emerald Isle — the land of poets and dreamers, fierce fighters, hard workers who endured decades of poverty and subjugation and pers- — and persevered through it all, because the Irish spirit can never — can never — can never be overcome.

Remarks by President Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland at a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. 03/17/2024.

From the White House…

03/15/2024:


Students Pay Hidden Fees Tweet

From Friday…

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes New Action to Crack Down on Junk Fees in Higher Education:

Reforms would save students and borrowers billions in unnecessary fees and improve the college and loan repayment experience.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new steps to crack down on hidden junk fees as part of President Biden’s agenda to lower costs for students and families paying for college. Junk fees are hidden costs or surprise fees that companies and institutions include on customer or student bills, increasing their costs. 

Each year, students—including Federal student loan borrowers—incur billions in fees or additional unseen costs for unused meal account funds, using a college-sponsored credit card or banking account, paying for textbooks, or simply taking out a loan to pay for school. Additionally, students aren’t always provided clear and upfront opportunities to avoid fees for services they do not want. Obscured costs and misleading practices aren’t just frustrating—they cost millions of students and borrowers money.

The fees targeted in today’s announcement may be imposed multiple times during the college or graduate school experience. 

For example, when students first take out their federal student loans to go to college, they incur a “loan origination” fee that ranges from 1 percent for undergraduate loans to 4 percent for graduate and parent loans. This can tack on hundreds or thousands of dollars onto their debts.

Additionally, many colleges directly offer students financial products through affiliated banks, like student banking accounts and credit cards. Students trust and rely on their schools’ offering of these products; in some cases, these products help students receive student aid. However, reports have found that these products often assess high and unusual fees that are more costly than widely available options and can erode the purchasing power of students’ financial aid. 

Colleges are also currently allowed to automatically charge students for textbooks if the charge meets certain criteria. Students are often unaware of this hidden cost or their ability to decline the charge, preventing them from shopping around for a better price. Further, some colleges keep unspent student meal plan credit balances, instead of providing students with a refund.

The actions announced today are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s strategy to lower costs and make higher education more affordable and accessible for students by creating more transparent and student-friendly policies. These actions include:  

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes New Action to Crack Down on Junk Fees in Higher Education. 03/15/2024.
  • Eliminating the Student Loan Origination Fees: The President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Proposal calls on Congress to end student loan origination fees.  According to the Office of Management and Budget, approximately 7 million undergraduate, graduate, and parent borrowers pay origination fees of 1 to 4 percent of the total amount each federal student loan is charged to every borrower who takes out federal money to help get an education. These fees are a relic of an era when the government compensated private lenders to issue these loans.  Today, this fee is nothing more than a tax imposed on students by the government, costing consumers more than $1 billion annually. Adding insult to injury, these fees are added to loan balances and subject to interest for the life of the loan.  A typical teacher or nurse taking out federal loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees will pay $1,000 or more over the life of their loan because of these fees. Parents often fare even worse, with the average parent borrower paying out an additional $2800 or more because of these fees. The Biden-Harris Administration is calling on Congress to pass the President’s 2025 Budget proposal and eliminate it.
  • Putting an End to College Banking Junk Fees:  The Department of Education (ED) is undergoing negotiated rulemaking to clarify that college banking products that provide students access to their financial aid cannot include harmful fees.  A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) highlighted how banks are imposing millions in high and unusual fees on more than 650,000 student account holders with college banking accounts, with account holders at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, for-profit colleges, and Hispanic-servicing institutions paying higher-than-average fees. The report found that these junk fees no longer reflect prevailing market practices as more banks have phased them out – contributing to the $5.5 billion decrease in overdraft and bounced check fees for all consumers since 2019.  To address the problem, the Department is formally considering regulations that would prohibit entities that contract with institutions of higher education for the disbursement of Title IV funds from charging particular fees that harm students, such as insufficient funds fees or maintenance and closure fees.  These changes, if proposed and finalized, would be included under ED’s cash management regulations, which are currently in rulemaking.
  • Eliminating Automatic Charges for Textbooks: The Department is undergoing negotiated rulemaking to reduce costs incurred by students in addition to tuition in higher education by ending the practice of automatic billing on tuition for textbooks. Under the draft proposal, students would now need to authorize a charge on their tuition bill for course materials. Competitive markets provide consumers choice and value, but automatic charges for textbooks and course materials leave students with little ability to meaningfully shop around for better prices or to utilize free and open-source textbooks. These changes, if proposed and finalized, would provide students with real choice and the ability to use the best textbooks at the most affordable price.
  • Stopping Colleges from Pocketing Students’ Leftover Meal Plan Dollars: The Department is formally considering regulations to require institutions of higher education to return any unused funds from Federal financial aid recipients’ meal plans back to students. Students are often required to purchase meal plans from institutions, and institutions can credit financial aid funds toward meal plan expenses that can be used like cash to also cover expenses at campus grocery stores and food courts, often referred to as “flex dollars.” At the end of a term, institutions can take any remaining funds without returning unused funds. This can create a financial penalty for students as they either lose the money they are entitled to, or are forced to spend remaining funds at the end of the term on items they might not otherwise feel they need.

These actions build upon important steps to increase transparency and improve the experience for students through final regulations issued in late 2023 that go into effect on July 1, 2024. Recently finalized student- and borrower-friendly policies include:

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes New Action to Crack Down on Junk Fees in Higher Education. 03/15/2024.
  • Increasing College Cost Transparency: The Department issued final regulations to require that institutions provide the most detailed information ever about the cost of college, including costs that students and families are likely to pay out-of-pocket, before students enroll in a college and accept financial aid. The Department is also requiring that institutions provide adequate financial aid communications and counseling to students. This will help to increase cost transparency and decision-making for students and families. Under this rule, institutions of higher education may have their participation in Federal student aid programs limited, suspended, or terminated if they fail to administer their programs consistently with these new rules.
  • Preventing Schools from Withholding Student’s Transcripts: Recently issued final regulations also restrict colleges from withholding course credits paid for with Federal money. Previously, institutions of higher education could withhold transcripts from students until their accounts were fully paid. Withholding transcripts can keep students from transferring to another institution, enrolling in another program upon graduation, and securing a job. Under the Department’s new rule, colleges will no longer be allowed to withhold transcripts over unpaid debts if the student paid for some of their courses with Federal student loans or other Federal financial aid.
  • Holding Schools Accountable as Lenders. CFPB clearly communicated to institutions that when they act as lenders by offering tuition payment plans and other credit to students, they will be held accountable if they violate federal consumer financial protection laws. A recent CFPB report found some colleges charging late fees over $200, using troubling debt collection practices including transcript withholding, removal from campus meal plans, and providing unclear and inconsistent product disclosures.
  • Reducing the price of textbooks by investing in freely available textbooks. The Department’s Open Textbooks Pilot Program provides grants for institutions to create and use their own free textbooks and other open-source course materials. In fiscal year 2021 through 2023, the Department awarded slightly under $30 million to 17 grantees for this purpose. The total federal investment in the Open Textbooks Pilot Program through 2023 is $47 million. The President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Proposal calls for funding the Open Textbooks Pilot Program.
  • Establishing the most effective safeguards ever against unaffordable debt or insufficient earnings for postsecondary students. This includes landmark regulations finalized in fall 2023 to hold for-profit colleges and career education programs accountable for failure to deliver for students. Approximately 700,000 students a year will now be protected from career training programs that leave graduates with high debts, low earnings, and poor career prospects.
  • Establishing a new framework holding student loan servicers accountable. The Department has returned student loan borrowers to repayment following the pandemic-era pause on payments and has worked to ensure borrowers are not harmed by servicer errors in doing so, including by errors identified in a recent report released by the CFPB.

These actions build upon the Administration’s efforts to protect students and borrowers. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue its efforts to make higher education more affordable and accessible, as well as to eliminate hidden, surprise, and junk fees and put cash back in the pockets of Americans.

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes New Action to Crack Down on Junk Fees in Higher Education. 03/15/2024.

Inflation/Economy Tweet

From Saturday…

February’s jobs report said the unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent.

Trying to nail down a list of inflation by country, wasn’t an easy task; the data was mostly from 2022 or 2021…

Anyhoo finally found Geeks for Geeks.org, that ranks the United States as 9th among the top 10 countries with the lowest inflation @ 3.7 percent…

They say that Zimbabwe is the highest at 284.94 percent…


988 National Crisis Hotline Tweet

From Saturday…


Investing in America Tweet

From Saturday…

The video clip is 18 seconds long.

Remarks by President Biden on How His Investments are Rebuilding Our Communities and Creating Good-Paying Jobs | Milwaukee, WI; the YouTube is 20 minutes and 6 seconds long.

For generations, Black, brown, and Native American, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians communities weren’t fully included in our democracy or our economy.  But — yet, by pure courage, heart, and grit, they never gave up.  They pursued the full promise of America.

Today, we’re recognizing that history to make new history.

Remarks by President Biden on How His Investments are Rebuilding Our Communities and Creating Good-Paying Jobs. 03/13/2024.

“New” from the White House…

03/15/2024:

03/17/2024:

03/18/2024:


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About Tiff 2551 Articles
Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.