What They Are Reading in the States: From Alaska to Florida, Biden-Harris Administration Advance President Biden’s Agenda Across the Country

This week, members of President Biden’s Cabinet and Administration officials traveled across the country to showcase how the Biden-Harris Administration is addressing issues facing the American people and demonstrate how the government can again deliver results.

The secretaries talked to Americans about the growing economy, investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda, efforts to tackle the climate crisis, the aggressive COVID-19 response, continued push to get Americans vaccinated, plans to get our children back to school safely, support for liberty for the Cuban people, and the emergency response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti.

See below for a small sampling of the local coverage Americans across the country are reading this week from Alaska to Florida:

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in Lake Tahoe, California

Nevada Independent:At annual Tahoe summit, lawmakers offer dire warning, hope about lake’s future
[Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez, 8/20/21]
The growing threat of catastrophic wildfires blazing across the West and the resulting detrimental effects, such as hazardous air quality, were top of mind for Nevada and California leaders gathered on a slightly hazy shore Thursday morning for the 25th annual Lake Tahoe Summit.

[…]
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the keynote speaker at the summit, pointed to the Biden administration’s “30 by 30” goal to restore and conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and ocean by 2030. “It’s a vision that recognizes that nature offers some of the most cost-effective ways to address the climate crisis that we need to do to stem the steep loss of nature and wildlife,” said Haaland, who is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe in New Mexico. “And that we need to address the inequitable access to the outdoors for communities of color.”


Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in Alaska, New Mexico, and California

Anchorage Daily News Op-Ed: America’s ‘Last Frontier’ is pioneering our clean energy future
[By Secretary Jennifer Granholm, 8/19/20]
Earlier this week, I met up with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to tour Alaskan clean energy projects in my role as U.S. Secretary of Energy. While Alaska is known as the “Last Frontier,” I learned during my trip how this state is pioneering our clean energy future.

Generations of Alaskans have relied on ingenuity to live in a harsh climate and isolated landscape, turning this state into America’s living laboratory of clean energy innovation. One-fifth of Alaska’s electricity already comes from hydropower. More clean energy sources are entering the mix, including geothermal at the Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks, the Fire Island Wind Development near Anchorage, tidal and wave energy, and even solar.

[…]
Sen. Murkowski understands all this — and it’s why she’s leading the charge for once-in-a-generation infrastructure investments that will give Alaskans more control over their energy and will save them money.

This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes historic investments in roads, bridges, port infrastructure, and clean buses and ferries to help Alaskans get around easier and on less fuel. It will weatherize homes and upgrade infrastructure to help Alaskans save money and be better prepared for climate impacts — including $216 million for tribal climate resilience. It will make sure every Alaskan can drink clean water and connect to the world with reliable internet.

It also means the biggest investment in clean energy transmission in our nation’s history. This includes $25 billion for energy demonstration projects in advanced nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and more, plus money for critical mineral extraction to boost domestic supply chains for clean technologies.

All of this is going to create good-paying, union jobs and long-term economic opportunity for Alaskans. And it will help the fossil fuel workers who have powered our nation secure family-sustaining, skills-matched jobs, from running carbon capture to plugging orphaned wells.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal means big things for Alaska, and this administration is going to keep fighting for Alaska’s clean, secure energy future through President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. As I heard Alaskans say often up here: North to the future!

Alaska News Source: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Sen. Lisa Murkowski take energy tour of Alaska

[Jay Kim, 8/17/21]
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Lisa Murkowski spent two days in Fairbanks and Anchorage to meet with renewable energy leaders to discuss the importance and future of clean and renewable energy in Alaska. Their visit comes after the recent passage in the Senate of the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

“I’m so pleased to be in Alaska with Senator Murkowski,” Granholm said. “Alaska has got so many communities that are not connected and that are developing their own solutions all the time, and so there is an awful lot that we can learn.”

In Fairbanks, Granholm and Murkowski went to several locations including the National Renewable Energy Lab’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center, the Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility and Chena Hot Springs. They concluded their Fairbanks trip by taking a tour of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. They then flew to Anchorage where they had a conversation with National Hydropower Association President Malcolm Woolf at the Lakefront Hotel in Spenard.

[…]
“You’ve got every kind of renewable energy here,” she said. “You have sun, you have wind, you have hydropower, you’ve got geothermal, you’ve got biomass from the interior forested areas, (and) when you have every bit of the solution out there, this is why Alaska’s leadership in clean energy is so important.”

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Energy Secretary to Alaska: ‘You have the solutions’

[Linda Hersey, 8/15/21]
Alaska’s clean energy innovations have national and global implications for how America responds to climate change and natural disasters.

AP: Top US energy official ‘all ears’ as policy experts outline needs
[By Susan Montoya Bryan, 8/19/21]
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm heard from industry officials Wednesday about what it will take to boost renewable energy development in New Mexico and across the nation as the Biden administration pushes its initiatives to reduce emissions and address climate change.

Granholm took notes during a roundtable discussion on her two-day swing through the Western state, saying she was “all ears” and planned to take what she learned back to the White House.

Developers and policy experts said without more transmission infrastructure and a cohesive grid, renewable energy will be stranded in remote spots like rural New Mexico and that opportunities for economic development will be hampered as a result.

“This stuff is as important as building highways. It’s as important as building hospitals and schools,” said Fernando Martinez, executive director of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority. “The only way we’re going to accomplish this … is that we really do need a predictable regulatory landscape.”

He and others told Granholm about permitting bottlenecks that have slowed the development of major transmission projects in New Mexico. They said if the Biden administration wants to reach its climate and clean energy goals, the U.S. can’t afford to take decades to site and build transmission lines.

The New Mexico transmission authority has been working with developer Pattern Energy to build a major line to connect wind farms in the eastern part of the state to the grid. It’s almost complete, but officials said it required the approval of more than 430 easements from ranchers and other landowners to cross about 165 miles (265 kilometers).

The experts also told Granholm that while there are some helpful provisions in the multibillion-dollar infrastructure bill pending in Congress, tax incentives are a key driver for more development. Without more credits, Pattern Energy officials said developers won’t be able to double or triple capacity to meet the administration’s goals.

Granholm noted that the bill includes what the administration has described as a historic investment in transmission of about $60 billion. It also calls for more than $7.5 billion for infrastructure that would boost the use of electric vehicles and another $25 billion for clean energy demonstration projects.

Granholm earlier Wednesday toured businesses that are working on new energy technologies, from mobile hydrogen generators to cooling systems for nuclear reactors. She also visited a neighborhood on Albuquerque’s southeast side where homes are being upgraded to make them more energy efficient.

Granholm will be in the Farmington area Thursday, where communities are bracing for the eventual closure of two coal-fired power plants and the mines that feed them. The economic effects of lost revenue and jobs are expected to ripple throughout the region.

Labor leaders told Granholm on Wednesday that the transition away from fossil fuels has not been without its challenges for workers. They talked about the need for expanded training and partnerships with renewable energy companies.


KRQE News 13: U.S. Energy Secretary visits Albuquerque energy efficiency project
[By Chris McKee, 8/19/21]
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – America’s top energy official is making several stops in Albuquerque Wednesday to promote renewable energy projects. At a first stop, Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited an Albuquerque apartment complex, which was recently revamped with a handful of energy efficient improvements.

The DOE secretary’s visit to Albuquerque is part of a broader visit to New Mexico as the Biden administration looks to promote its renewable energy initiatives. The administration is also trying to highlight infrastructure investments ahead of votes in Congress to fund other parts of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda.

Granholm toured an apartment unit at the Casa Shalom apartments in Albuquerque’s International District this morning, near Zuni and Wyoming. That complex was highlighted for work by several local agencies to replace inefficient appliances among other measures. Some of the work at the apartments included resealing windows in the units, installing new electrical appliances, water-saving showerheads, LED lightbulbs and new insulation.

The Casa Shalom development is co-operative housing community. Much of the recent energy improvements were funded in part through by a 100,000 dollar grant from the City of Albuquerque. The Biden Administration is expected push for more federal funding for energy efficiency projects through budget reconciliation processes.

“If we can get this reconciliation bill passed, and it’s a big lift, but we could see as much as 10-billion dollars additional in point of sale rebates (for energy efficient device purchases)” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a democrat representing New Mexico. “What that does is, say you have a technology like air-source heat-pump water heaters that are a few hundred dollars more expensive than the gas water heater, that (rebate) levels (the cost of the water heater) out, so you save from day one, every month you’re paying less on your utility bills, and that saves the resident in perpetuity into the future.”

Highlighting the costs Americans pay for food, child care, rent, transportation and energy, Secretary Granholm said “it’s super expensive to be low income,” and that the Biden Administration wants to “fix that problem.” Granholm said electrifying appliances and sealing up homes is a big step, highlighting the 3.5-billion dollars for additional funds in weatherization assistance that was approved in the most recent infrastructure bill

“In the second step, I know Senator Heinrich and Senator Van Hollen have a combined effort to put much more money into electrifying homes, like billions and billions more,” Secretary Granholm said. “So between the two, there will be significant federal assistance in addition to the assistance that all of these these other units of government and entities are providing.”

After visiting the “home electrification demonstration” in the International District, Secretary Granholm is expected to continue to visit other Albuquerque sites including Pajarito Power for a look at hydrogen technology, then Kairos Power to look at nuclear-related technology. She’ll wrap up Monday with a “renewable energy transmission roundtable” in Albuquerque. Granholm is visiting New Mexico for two days.

The U.S. Department of Energy is responsible in for the oversight of 17 national labs across the country, including Sandia Labs and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Prior to serving as DOE Secretary, Granholm was the governor of the state of Michigan between 2003 and 2011.

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy in San Diego, California

Times of San Diego: Biden’s Climate Advisor Praises SDG&E, Expresses Optimism on Climate Change

[Chris Jennewein, 8/17/21]
McCarthy expressed optimism that the projects included in the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and companion $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” budget will help the United States turn the corner on climate change.

“We have the ammunition to make a chunk of progress just over the next five to 10 years,” she said, adding that fighting climate change doesn’t have to be a trade off thanks to innovative technology.

“We are not making trade offs here. We have the technology to make good progress,” she said.

KPBS: White House Climate Advisor Touts National Change Of Direction

[Erik Anderson, 8/17/21]
McCarthy said the administration is making climate a key part of the decision-making process.

“Every decision has to think about climate and equity as a fundamental consideration,” McCarthy said. “And you have a president who came in and on the first day he didn’t just rejoin Paris, but he set goals that we have to keep.”

McCarthy promised aggressive action to deliver the president’s promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

She pointed out that solar power was the big winner in the energy marketplace last year and that momentum for renewable power needs to keep building.


EPA Administrator Michael Regan in Redwood City, California

KION CBS:Governor Newsom and EPA officials visit beloved Big Basin Redwoods State Park
[By Stephanie Aceves, 8/17/21]

Governor Gavin Newsom and U.S. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan paid a visit to Big Basin on the anniversary of the fires to discuss ways the state and federal government are working together on wildfire recovery. The CZU Fires were devastating on an entirely different level, the beloved park is filled with majestic trees, history, and memories for people.

KPIX CBS: EPA Administrator Visits Redwood City to Announce $168M in Loans for Water Infrastructure Improvements
[8/17/21]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan made his way to Redwood City on Tuesday to announce three water infrastructure loans that would invest $168 million to support projects in the Peninsula and East Bay.

Mercury News: EPA Administrator announces nearly $200 million in loans to fix Bay Area’s aging water pipes, treatment plants

[Aldo Toledo, 8/17/21]
Three massive loans from the federal government totaling nearly $200 million were announced Tuesday to help fix up aging clay pipes in the East Bay and to fund a new water treatment facility in Redwood City, a sum which Environmental Protection Agency Administrators Michael Regan said could increase if Congress passes the hotly debated trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.

At an event hosted by Silicon Valley Clean Water Tuesday at the agency’s new wastewater treatment plant currently under construction in Redwood Shores, Regan announced two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans totaling $143 million to SVCW and $25 million to the Oro Loma Sanitary District supporting projects expected to create more than 2,500 jobs.

“Investing in water infrastructure has proven time and again to deliver a multitude of benefits, including building climate and drought-resilient water systems, safeguarding public health, and creating good-paying jobs,”  Regan said. “Today’s announcements embody the promise of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which will broaden the scope of these powerful benefits for communities across the nation.”


Labor Secretary Marty Walsh in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia

Chicago Tribune: Labor leaders, Secretary of Labor on hand to boost infrastructure Biden plan

[Karen Caffarini, 7/16/2021]
United Steelworkers International President Thomas Conway returned to USW Local 6787 in Chesterton on Monday, where he once served as a union griever, to launch a We Supply America campaign calling for major investment in the country’s infrastructure. Conway was joined by other union officials, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland, the CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs Steel Co., Lourenco Goncalves, and others on the first leg of a bus tour, which will also include stops in Newark Ohio; Weirton, West Virginia, Danville, Virginia; Wilmington, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

“We need a national infrastructure that keeps us safe, that is modern, that keeps our supply chain stocked with the materials we need and that keeps the country moving in the right direction,” Conway told a crowd of union steelworkers gathered outside the union hall for the rally,

“As a union we have the skilled work force to accomplish these goals,” Conway said.
He voiced support for the Biden Administration’s bipartisan $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill, which he said is much more than fixing roads and bridges It’s also about providing modern schools and health care facilities as well as state-of-the-art communications systems.

Northwest Indiana Times: Secretary of labor, USW president rally support for infrastructure: ‘We build America’

[Joseph Pete, 8/16/21]
Hundreds of steelworkers chanted “We build America” as U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, United Steelworkers President Tom Conway, U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves and others rallied support Monday for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill at a Region union hall.

Steelworkers from across Northwest Indiana gathered at USW Local 6787 in Chesterton on the first stop of a national bus touring calling for more infrastructure investment.

[…]
Walsh, the former mayor of Boston, said the influx of infrastructure spending would create more opportunities for businesses and union workers.

“We need to bring jobs back to the United States of America,” he said. “We need to bring those jobs back to Indiana and other states. We need to make sure we’re building materials, components, products and steel right here in America.”

Walsh, a former president of his local union in Boston and former head of the Boston union trades who said his dues are “still paid,” also met with American Federation of Teachers and Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 at the Hammond Central High School Construction site and at the Construction Advancement Foundation of Northwest Indiana’s training facility in Portage during a daylong tour of Northwest Indiana.

WBIW: Secretary Walsh returns to Indiana to discuss Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill’s historic investments with local leaders, unions

[8/16/21]
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh will travel to northwest Indiana today for discussions with community leaders, union members, and workers about the Biden-Harris administration’s historic investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

Secretary Walsh will first visit the Construction Advancement Foundation of Northwest Indiana’s training facility in Portage where 350 construction industry workers and employers receive safety and health education in areas such as the hazards of crystalline silica exposure. The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has awarded numerous Susan Harwood Training Grants to CAF, which has developed training materials specifically for youth workers and small business employers. The meeting will be at the Construction Advancement Foundation of Northwest Indiana at 6050 Southport Road in Portage at 9 a.m. CDT.
Secretary Walsh will then join United Steelworkers International President Tom Conway and union members for the first stop of the USW’s “We Supply America” six-day bus tour in Chesterton to showcase how the major investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill spur economic growth, create good-paying, union jobs and keep America competitive.

WVPE: U.S. Secretary Of Labor, USW Visit Indiana, Advocate For Infrastructure Investment

[Samantha Horton, 8/16/21]
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited northwest Indiana Monday to tell local leaders to start planning ways to use money from the federal infrastructure bill. Indiana is set to receive more than $8 billion if the legislation passes the House in its current form.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes funding for highways, bridge repair and replacement, public transportation and more.

“In this state of Indiana, $6.6 billion for highway programs, $400 million for bridge replacement and repairs, $680 million for public transportation, $100 million for electric vehicle charging stations, $170 million to the airport, $750 million for water infrastructure, $100 million for affordable high speed internet, $20 million to protect against wildfires,” Walsh said. “That’s just an estimate of what’s coming to this state.”

The White House has said the $1.2 trillion investment could create about 2 million jobs a year.

Walsh said the short-term investments will have a long-term gain.

“When you think about this, you’re building new bridges, you’re building new roads, you’re building better, better connectivity and public transportation, commuter rail,” Walsh said. “The opportunities for industry to emerge in cities that might not be there.”

“We need to bring those jobs back to the United States of America. We need to bring those jobs back right here to Indiana, and other states around the country to make sure we can do it,” Walsh said. “We need to make sure that we’re bringing materials, produce, components, iron and steel – we need to make sure we’re building that right here in America.”

Northwest Indiana Times: ‘What kids today need’: U.S. labor secretary tours new Hammond Central High School

[AnnMarie Hilton, 8/16/21]
The makerspace upstairs. The open-concept design and bright lighting. And the Dr. Walter J. Watkins Black Box Theater.

These were just some aspects of Hammond Central High School that U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh thought were done especially well after a tour Monday.

“This is what kids today need; spaces like this that mirror the world they’re going to go work in,” Walsh said.

Walsh and Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland, toured Hammond Central with the American Federation of Teachers and Sheet Metal Works Local 20 to talk about modernizing infrastructure in America’s schools.

His visit to the new $100 million high school was the final stop on his trip to the Region to talk with community leaders, union members and workers about the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill under consideration in Congress.

Northwest Indiana Times: U.S. Secretary of Labor, USW president to tour Region in support of infrastructure bill

[Joseph Pete, 8/15/21]
U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh and United Steelworkers President Tom Conway will visit the USW Local 6787 union hall in Chesterton and other local industrial sites Monday to stump for the infrastructure bill in Congress now.

The union is hitting the road for a “We Supply America” bus tour to highlight the benefits of investment in roads and bridges, including supporting good-paying steelworker jobs. The nationwide tour will highlight contributions union workers make in different industries.

“We need a national infrastructure that keeps us safe, that is modern, that keeps our supply chains stocked with the materials we need, and that keeps the country moving in the right direction,” USW International President Tom Conway said. “As a union, we have the skilled workforce to accomplish all these goals.”

The union is campaigning for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill it says will rebuild communities and create union jobs. The legislation recently passed the Senate and is now under consideration in the House of Representatives.

Toledo Blade: Construction starts on First Solar’s massive $680M third factory

[Luke Ramseth, 8/17/21]
Mr. Walsh said the facility will help the country “meet the challenge of climate change” by increasing clean-energy production, while also helping it “win the future of American manufacturing, something we haven’t been able to say in quite some time.” He praised First Solar for offering solid wages and benefits. The facility is expected to employ about 700 — in addition to about 1,600 the company already employs in the state. Construction of the plant is expected to employ about 500. “We just need to continue to pump up manufacturing, on some of the big issues like solar, like (the new Peloton manufacturing plant), and other things,” Mr. Walsh, a former labor official and Boston mayor, told The Blade. “But we also have to look into cars, and make sure our supply chains are consistent, and we’re not dependent on foreign companies. “We should be doing more of that in America,” he added. “And there’s no reason why we can’t. This is proof, where we’re standing, that we can do it.”

Toledo Blade: Labor secretary sells Toledo union members on infrastructure deal

[Liz Skalka, 8/17/21]
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh was a long way from Boston but was still hugging his roots when he met Tuesday with union laborers in Toledo to highlight the bipartisan infrastructure deal. “I’m standing here because of my parents and the numbers two two three,” he said at the Laborers Local 500 training center near Scott Park. “That local union allowed my father the opportunity to get into the middle class, to get a job that, back in 1956, didn’t have benefits, didn’t have annuity, but had health care and a small pension.” Laborers Local 500 in Toledo represents about 1,400 union-contractor workers. Mr. Walsh said he followed his father into the laborers’ union for stable employment and a good life. He became a union leader and ran for public office, rising to become the mayor of New England’s largest city before President Biden tapped him to become his labor secretary. In front of a receptive audience, Mr. Walsh praised the Biden administration’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, which the Senate passed last week after weeks of negotiations spearheaded by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

Sentinel-Tribune: Factory of the future: First Solar breaks ground on expansion

[Debbie Rogers, 8/17/21]
Marty Walsh, U.S. secretary of labor, attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking, saying First Solar fits with President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan for the country. He said First Solar represents a win for the future of American manufacturing and is creating jobs to help rebuild the middle class. The Biden administration has created 4 million jobs since January, he said. “These are the results we are starting to see across America,” he said. “I’ve seen what good jobs can do. They can change families.”

The Times Leader: Manchin takes US Labor Secretary on mine tour
[By Joselyn King, 8/19/21]
DALLAS, WEST VIRGINIA — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin says sometimes the coal industry is treated by Washington like a Vietnam War veteran who just returned home.

Manchin, D-West Virginia, welcomed U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh Wednesday to the Northern Panhandle, and the pair took a tour underground of the mine at Golden Ridge Portal of Ohio County Coal Resources Inc. in Dallas, West Virginia.

[…]
Walsh took over the secretary of labor’s job six months ago, and part of his jurisdiction is the Mine Safety Health Administration. The former Boston mayor has a background in construction, but acknowledged he had never been inside a coal mine before.

Manchin said that is why he decided to invite Walsh to West Virginia. The pair took what they termed a “Disney World ride” four miles back into the mine. Walsh said he witnessed the miners at their jobs and gained a different appreciation for what they do.

“I thanked them,” he said. “I asked them how often they get thanked, and one young man told me, ‘Nobody thanks me.’”

About 120 work in the mine, and Walsh said all safety protocols appeared to be in place.

[…]
“So for the people who believe the U.S. mines are polluting the climate and affecting it, it has no impact compared to the impact of Asia,” Manchin said. “So if you want to clean up the planet, you are going to have to find the technology, be able to capture the carbon and utilize it. We’re the only country that seems to want to do it.”


SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Star Tribune: SBA chief visits a Mpls. business kept afloat by PPP loan during pandemic

[Neal St. Anthony, 8/16/21]
“The SBA’s PPP Loans saved our bacon,” Austin said. “I feel an obligation to pay this forward, to assist other entrepreneurs.”

The PPP was at the core of the federal government’s economic rescue to small- and mid-sized businesses. The loans were originated through banks, credit unions and other financial institutions and were made forgiven by the government if the borrowing companies lived up to employment targets.

“The PPP loans were a very effective initial lifeline for thousands of businesses,” Guzman said. “The Delta variant of COVID is still (a challenge) although the economic recovery is well underway. Small business amounts to half of our workforce and two-thirds of new jobs.”

Guzman listened attentively to Austin describe the impact on Mercury Mosaics. Nearby, employees continued to hand-paint decorative tiles and move them into a kiln.

[…]
Guzman added that another COVID relief package signed into law last winter, along with the infrastructure-spending package of $1 trillion that passed the Senate earlier this month, also will provide economic growth and jobs for companies that work on roads and bridges and manufacturer rail, trains and related mass-transit equipment.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Burlington, Vermont

Vermont Digger: During Vermont visit, US Agriculture Secretary Announces Dairy Relief, Discusses Pollution Progress
[By Emma Cotton, 8/19/21]
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a dairy assistance program during a visit to Vermont on Thursday and heard about farmers’ work to reduce pollution in Lake Champlain.

At a roundtable event with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Vilsack unveiled details of the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program, which he said would distribute $350 million to farmers across the country.

The program is expected to cover 80% of the revenue difference per month between July and December of 2020. The pay rate, Vilsack said, will vary by region.

When the Covid-19 pandemic prompted restaurants and schools to close, the demand for dairy dwindled across the country. Nationally, stories circulated of farmers dumping their milk, and erratic weather patterns across Vermont contributed to their struggles.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials plan to contact independent dairy cooperatives and handlers to distribute the funds, which are expected in the next several months.

[…]
 Farmers in the state have made advancements in sustainable agriculture in the seven years since Vilsack most recently visited Vermont when he served as agriculture secretary in the Obama administration. For example, Vermont farmers have increased the use of cover crops from 5,000 acres in 2014 to 36,000 in 2020.

These improvements have been funded, in part, with federal dollars distributed by Vilsack, Leahy said.

That funding “has literally changed the landscape of Vermont,” Leahy said. “As I drive through our dairy counties now, in the spring I see mostly green fields of cover crops rather than bare muddy fields. Plowing is greatly reduced, and our barnyards are cleaner.”

Vilsack said the USDA is in the process of finalizing a “climate smart” agricultural plan for the Biden administration.

“I think you’ll see a recognition that by providing the farmers and partners with resources, that the progress that we need can be accelerated significantly,” he said.

Officials also recognized the work that still needs to be done. Agriculture contributed around 40% of the phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain, according to a 2015 document outlining pollution reduction requirements. Cyanobacteria blooms, prompted by excess nutrients like phosphorus, have persisted this summer.

MyChamplainValley.com (WFFF-TV): USDA head visits Vermont, says efforts to reduce farm runoff paying off
[8/19/21]
Vermont officials told the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary on Thursday that farm efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff and federal money to support that work are paying off to improve the water quality of Lake Champlain.

Federal funding and programs are critical to continuing that work, they said.

“Agriculture has been responsible … for more than 90% of all reported phosphorus reductions in Vermont, so it’s been very impressive,” state Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said at a roundtable meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Sen. Patrick Leahy. Collaborations between state, local and federal partners is critical to farmers reaching those goals, said Vermont Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

[…]
The reductions since Vilsack’s visit to Vermont in 2014 have come from pay-for-practice programs that have been cost-effective, according to Tebbetts. For example, in 2014, Vermont had 5,000 acres of cover crop and the amount reached 36,000 acres in 2020, he said.

Cover crops are plantings that reduce erosion and enhance soil health.

“Over one-third of Vermont’s annual crop land is now cover cropped, so that’s progress and that doesn’t happen without the resources by the state and also by the USDA,” he said.

[…]
 “I have seen more positive changes in the last few years than I’ve seen in my lifetime,” he said.

Vilsack said the USDA is putting together a climate-smart agricultural plan for the administration.

“And much of what you talked about today you will see in that plan,” he told the panel. “You will see a desire to invest heavily in soil health. You’ll see a focus on not just climate-smart agriculture practices but those that adapt and mitigate to the impacts of climate; you’ll will see a focus the need for data and the ability of spreading that data down into the local and regional areas so decisions can be made at the ground level. You’ll see an increased interest in research and development.”

AP: USDA head visits Vermont, hears about farm runoff reductions
[By Lisa Rathke, 8/19/21]
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont officials told the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary on Thursday that farm efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff and federal money to support that work are paying off to improve the water quality of Lake Champlain.

Federal funding and programs are critical to continuing that work, they said.

“Agriculture has been responsible … for more than 90% of all reported phosphorus reductions in Vermont, so it’s been very impressive,” state Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said at a roundtable meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Sen. Patrick Leahy. Collaborations between state, local and federal partners is critical to farmers reaching those goals, said Vermont Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

The Environmental Protection Agency mandated that Vermont clean up the lake. Excess phosphorus can lead to toxic algae blooms that have turned up in parts of the lake.

The reductions since Vilsack’s visit to Vermont in 2014 have come from pay-for-practice programs that have been cost-effective, according to Tebbetts. For example, in 2014, Vermont had 5,000 acres of cover crop and the amount reached 36,000 acres in 2020, he said.

Cover crops are plantings that reduce erosion and enhance soil health.

“Over one-third of Vermont’s annual crop land is now cover cropped, so that’s progress and that doesn’t happen without the resources by the state and also by the USDA,” he said.

[…]
Vilsack said the USDA is putting together a climate-smart agricultural plan for the administration.

“And much of what you talked about today you will see in that plan,” he told the panel. “You will see a desire to invest heavily in soil health. You’ll see a focus on not just climate-smart agriculture practices but those that adapt and mitigate to the impacts of climate; you’ll will see a focus the need for data and the ability of spreading that data down into the local and regional areas so decisions can be made at the ground level. You’ll see an increased interest in research and development.”

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in New York and Virginia

WCBS New York: Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter Meets With U.S. Secretary Of Education Miguel Cardona In The Bronx
[Hazel Sanchez, 8/17/21]
NEW YORK  — U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made a special visit to the Bronx on Tuesday.

He shadowed Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter to see how New York City schools are preparing to return to the classroom and, for some, the playing field, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

[…]“In communities where there’s less vaccination, there’s a greater likelihood that we’re gonna end up having to disrupt schools again,” Cardona said. “We’re doing our job to protect you and protect your rights to play on the field. Help us out. Get the message out there. Do your part to keep your family safe, but keep school in-person.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: This is a sign of recovery’: U.S. Secretary of Education visits Henrico school
[Kenya Hunter, 8/18/21]
On a visit to Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona was excited to hear the sound of high schoolers playing drums, tubas and French horns.

As he watched Henrico students ease back into extracurricular activities lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, like band, chorus and other activities, Cardona said he felt hope.

Cardona traveled to Henrico on Wednesday with the same message he’s spread across the country: Schools should be reopening and they need to stay open.

“This is a sign of recovery,” he told the school band, flanked by Gov. Ralph Northam and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, ahead of a roundtable discussion with Henrico students and educators.

[…]
 “Local communities are best equipped to make decisions for their community,” he told reporters. “When I was commissioner of education [while] reopening schools, we relied on leadership at the local level, the way it should be to do what’s best for the community.”

[…]Heading into their third academic year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, students on Wednesday spoke about their mental health needs and which aspects of virtual school they wanted to take with them.

Samantha Giles, an 11th-grader at Glen Allen, told elected officials that she enjoyed Henrico’s “Wellness Wednesdays,” where students who were attending school in Henrico’s buildings four days a week could either catch up on their school work, take a day off or have meaningful wellness engagement, and that virtual school taught her to prioritize her mental health over being perfect on her grades. She also said the shorter days and flexibility of virtual school were helpful.

“I think it was really beneficial,” Giles said of the flexibility of virtual school. “I think that mental health really needs to be taken very seriously, especially for people who are still teenagers, who are very impressionable.”

Northam noted that money from the federal American Rescue Plan can be used for counseling staff, as he considers that part of a safe reopening.

“We have invested a significant amount more money for counselors in our schools,” Northam told reporters, while also emphasizing a need for students to be inside classrooms. “But to have that access where [students] are able to talk to other students, peer to peer, it’s so, so important.”

[…]
Regardless, Cardona emphasized that much was at stake if schools failed to reopen, including the social and emotional health of students.

“When I visit schools, and I see what I saw here today, I’m reminded of what’s at stake, and what’s possible when we work together, when we follow the mitigation strategies, when we work together as a community to serve our students,” he said.

WWBT Richmond: They deserve to be in the classroom’: U.S. Secretary of Education visits Henrico as students prepare to return to school
[Karina Bolster, 8/18/21]
HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – The U.S. Secretary of Education took time Wednesday to visit a Henrico County school and see what measures are in place once students return to the classroom.

Miguel Cardona was joined by Representative Abigail Spanberger (D) and Governor Ralph Northam (D) for the tour of Glen Allen High School.

“I’m seeing signs of recovery as a country,” Cardona said. “You hear bands playing, kids laughing and giggling as they’re practicing volleyball.”

The tour was their chance to see how a large school district, like Henrico, plans to bring thousands of students back into the classroom.

However, even more, important was for these federal and state leaders to hear directly from students and teachers themselves.

[…]
The U.S. Secretary of Education said the best way to do that is to get the community vaccinated.

“We’re all in this together,” he added. “Reopening schools means we’re lowering spread in the community. So, if we can control the community spread there’s a greater likelihood that we’re not going to disrupt the learning for our students. They deserve to be in the classroom, on the field without disruption. We need to do our part.”

However, after a difficult year, Henrico County staff also brought up the need for emotional support.

“I know as a father of two high schoolers, they’re very influenced by student leaders at their school,” Cardona said. “When you’re a student leader and you’re saying something – they listen. You have such an important role, but more important this year than ever before.”

“We have invested a significant amount of more money for more counselors in our schools, but to have that access where they are able to talk to other students peer to peer, it’s so important,” said Northam.

Spanberger spoke about the need for investments in different areas of the school building as well from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are modifications that need to happen inside some of the schools in terms of ventilation systems,” she said.

Those modifications were made possible through funds from the American Rescue Plan. Roughly $4.3 billion was sent to Virginia, the General Assembly discussing how to utilize those funds during a special session.

Meanwhile, Henrico County received roughly $16.42 million through the American Rescue Plan. On Aug. 12, the Henrico School Board held a public hearing to discuss how to disperse the third installment of those funds totaling $78.32 million.

Those proposals include:

  • Renovation, replacement and improvements to the Campus of Virginia Randolph. These include creation of a hub to connect students with community services; new spaces for expanded special education programming and services; expanded career and technical education initiatives; more space and programming for alternative education; and space for HCPS’ adult learning program.
  • Continued funding of key positions funded through earlier installments of American Rescue Plan funding, including reading specialists, school counselors and library assistants.
  • Continue expanded Summer Academy offerings in 2022 and 2023 for all students in pre-K through grade 12.
  • Continue providing key instructional resources for teaching.
  • Expand opportunities for remediation programming.
  • Update and repair student laptops and devices.
  • Improvements to part of the former Highland Springs High School building to create space for a new hub, to open in 2022, that will better connect students with community services.
  • Expand division wide family engagement efforts, including replacing HCPS’ community engagement bus with three vans, funding family workshops, and better connecting families to community and division resources and initiatives.

WRIC Richmond: U.S. Secretary of Education tours Virginia school to see how federal relief is aiding safe reopening
[Jackie DeFusco, 8/18/21]
RICHMOND, Va. – The country’s top education official toured a Virginia school to find out how federal coronavirus relief is helping students return to in-person learning and what more can be done moving forward. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona was joined by Gov. Ralph Northam and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger at Glen Allen High School in Henrico on Wednesday.

Schools have benefited from various federal funding streams during the pandemic. Most recently, the General Assembly approved $250 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for qualifying ventilation improvement projects in public schools. Funds will be distributed to schools based on projected enrollment with a minimum allocation of $200,000 per division. Localities will have to match the grant award to get the money. 

While air quality improvements are an important COVID-19 mitigation strategy, some districts were hoping to use ARPA resources for long-overdue school construction projects, which the federal government has discouraged due to its spending deadline.

8News asked Secretary Cardona to respond to frustrations surrounding state and federal funding restrictions, as some fear they will force school districts to pour money into buildings that need to be replaced entirely. 

“I visited a school recently where they used the funds to get a better ventilation system, to get better airflow, to make sure students can enter safely but you’re bringing up an important issue. We shouldn’t stop here,” Cardona said. “Infrastructure is equity and we know that with the Build Back Better agenda, we’re on the path toward that.” 

Also within the Biden Administration’s ‘Return to School Roadmap’ is a goal to double school counselors, psychologists and social workers to help address a reported increase in mental health needs among students.

It was among the focuses of a round table with Henrico students, teachers and support professionals. 

Northam said the General Assembly approved state dollars towards this priority earlier this year.

“We have invested a significant amount more money for more counselors in our schools but to have that access where they are able to talk to other students peer to peer is so important,” Northam said.

Cardona echoed the importance of that investment, adding that schools may be able to use federal relief to boost staffing in this area as well.

“Reopening schools is about more than just getting students in front of you to do the academic work. It is about connecting with students, making sure their socio-emotional needs are met,” Cardona said. 

Also during that round table, several teachers expressed support for a proposal in Congress to make school meals free for all students, regardless of their family’s income. That policy was put in place during the pandemic but Spanberger said legislation could make it permanent. 

“One of the benefits they saw was the removal of shame related to needing access to school lunch and a level of inclusivity,” Spanberger said. “Far too frequently, students who are hungry or families that do have a need don’t feel comfortable making that known at school.”

[…]

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in Massachusetts and New Jersey

Eagle Tribune: Becerra makes ‘momentous’ visit to Greater Lawrence Family Health Center
[By Rosemary Ford, 8/17/21]
LAWRENCE — Science, said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, has given us a really great way to stay safe during the pandemic: the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Ninety-nine percent plus of those Americans who are dying due to COVID today are unvaccinated,” said the member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet, as he encouraged residents to get the shot, after a tour of the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and healthcare discussion with local leaders Tuesday.

Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, brought Becerra to the Immigrant City to learn more about the work of the community health center, while encouraging locals to get vaccinated.

The center has been the recipient of federal aid, most recently through the American Rescue Plan. It’s allowed them to treat thousands of people during the pandemic and administer tens of thousands of vaccines, according to officials.

[…]
“We want people to know that if you are prepared to get the vaccination — whether it’s the first or the second (dose), or potentially a future booster — we want you to know that it’s going to be available,” Becerra said. “If you need a vaccine, it will be there for you.”

[…]
Becerra, who is of Mexican descent and is the first Latino person to hold the cabinet post at HHS, praised the center for its work in the community. He said he felt right at home there, among patients and staff who reminded him of his own family.

“It’s great when you walk into a facility like this and you know that they are dispensing lifesaving care and you feel like you are at home,” he said. “Everyone should have a medical home. Too many Americans don’t have a home when it comes to healthcare. We need to change that.”

Lowell Sun: Top US health official leaves no doubt where he stands on masks in schools
[By Alana Melanson, 8/17/21]
[…]
“There is no doubt what the guidance says when it comes to protecting children, especially those who are under 12 who can’t get vaccinated,” Becerra said in response to a question from a Sun reporter. “So if you’re going to act responsibly, if you believe in personal responsibility for yourself, for your children, and certainly if you’re an elected or appointed official, and if you feel personally responsible in your position to the people you represent, then I don’t think there’s any question what we should be doing for our kids getting ready to go back to school.”

[…]
Becerra visited Lowell as a part of a tour of the region with U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan to encourage COVID-19 vaccination. At Lowell General, they participated in a large round-table discussion highlighting how the hospital, Lowell Community Health Center, the city government and community partners came together, in collaboration with state officials, to respond to the pandemic.

Among the initiatives highlighted Tuesday were Lowell General’s mass vaccination site at the Cross River Center that administered 150,000 doses of the COVID vaccine, the hospital’s collaboration with UMass Lowell to set up a field hospital, Lowell Community Health Center’s efforts to vaccinate the historically underserved populations it cares for and partnerships with local organizations to distribute the vaccine equitably and provide access to hard-to-reach communities.

[…]
Becerra said he believes “health care is a team sport,” and it was great to see that in action in Lowell.

“We see in the country what happens when we don’t treat this as a team, when we act like free agents, and it hurts,” Becerra said. “And when Congresswoman Trahan insisted that I come, I think she wanted me to see how it’s being done right.”

[…]
Becerra said it was also great to see taxpayer dollars being well-invested in the city, and told officials to “get ready, because we’re going to send you some more.”

[…]
Becerra also conveyed his gratitude to all the health care workers and those who have heeded the call to get vaccinated, and urged all who haven’t yet to do so.

[…]
WCVB (ABC Boston): Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visits Massachusetts, pushes COVID-19 vaccinations
[8/17/21]
LOWELL, Mass. — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Massachusetts on Tuesday and encouraged residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Becerra highlighted the Biden administration’s progress in vaccinating vulnerable communities and fighting for health equity.

Becerra toured the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center with local leaders and urged residents to get vaccinated.

“We are going to continue to go where Americans are, and for those who have not yet been vaccinated, we’re there. We want to reach you,” Becerra said.

[…]
“We have continued to provide the guidance and the scientific evidence to explain to people why we must move, and at this stage, the federal government is exploring everything we must do to keep Americans safe, including the possibility of boosters,” Becerra said.

WBTS (NBC Boston): US Health Secretary in Mass. Amid Talk of Vaccine Boosters
[8/17/21]
[…]
Becerra, a member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Response Team, started his day with a visit to the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, a family health clinic that received funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and was an early participant in the Biden administration’s health center vaccination program.

[…]
Massachusetts has given a first dose, including the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, to at least 55% of Black residents and 53% of Hispanic residents, according to the Baker administration. Those totals far outpace the national average of 29.8% for Black residents and 37.1% of Hispanic residents.

[…]
In choosing to visit Massachusetts as the delta variant spreads rapidly across all parts of the country, Becerra picked a state that is near the top for vaccinations. The state has seen new COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations climb steadily this summer, but is still experiencing far fewer infections and negative outcomes than other states.

WFXT (FOX Boston): U.S. Health Secretary tours Massachusetts as push to get more people vaccinated continues
[By Robert Goulston, 8/17/21]
BOSTON — U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra was in Massachusetts Tuesday touring several areas as the country continues to get more people vaccinated.

Rep. Lori Trahan invited Becerra as the state continues to partner with the federal government to battle the pandemic.

Lowell Hospital has been hosting an open-door vaccine clinic at its Saints Campus every Monday through Wednesday.

Tuesday at the main hospital, Becerra toured and heard from local officials.

“There are still too many Americans not vaccinated, there are still too many Americans that are finding and sending their loved ones to the hospital,” Becerra said.

“Is the work done? Absolutely not. We must continue to reach folks who are one having a hard time accessing the vaccine,” said Trahan.

Becerra credited Massachusetts with such a high rate of vaccinations but was also looking for ideas on how to reach more of the unvaccinated.

“If you are dying from COVID the strongest chance is you didn’t get vaccinated,” Becerra said. “Delta is serious and it is a beast. We need to get in front of it.”

[…]“You are seeing around that corner and we want to make sure the experts we have want to see the same science you are talking about,” Becerra said.

Asbury Park Press: ‘We all have a personal responsibility’: HHS Secretary Becerra in NJ pitches COVID vaccine
[By Michael L. Diamond, 8/17/21]
NEW BRUNSWICK – With the COVID-19 delta variant picking up momentum, the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary on Monday said the federal government has limited power over states to require vaccines and appealed instead to people’s sense of personal responsibility.

Meanwhile, Xavier Becerra pledged his support for proposals designed to rebuild the nation’s health care system, including one that would dedicate $10 billion to expand community health centers.

“I think what we found is that there is a pretty clear prescription for getting results on COVID on vaccination, and it’s reaching people where they are,” Becerra said. “And that’s what these community centers, health centers do better than anyone else.”

Becerra made his comments during a roundtable with health leaders at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center here as part of a multi-stop visit to the Garden State.

[…]
Becerra urged leaders and the public to follow federal guidance.

“Then we leave it to the state and local governments to make those decisions on what to do,” he said. “And we hope that as schools begin to reopen for fall attendance in person, that we are recognizing that we all have a personal responsibility to take care of our loved ones, and to be keepers of good health.”

Becerra, a former congressman and California Attorney General, was appointed by President Joe Biden, becoming the first Latino to be named Health and Human Services secretary.


Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in Florida

Miami Herald: U.S. to sanction more Cuban officials involved in crackdown, Mayorkas says in Miami
[By Bianca Padró Ocasio, Nora Gámez Torres, and Alex Daugherty, 8/19/21]
The U.S. will impose further sanctions on officials involved in quashing anti-government protests in Cuba, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said after a meeting with Cuban American activists in Miami on Thursday.

“Later today, we will be announcing another set of sanctions against individuals who were responsible for the repression and the brutality in response to the Cuban people’s cry for liberty on July 11.” Mayorkas said.

“This administration stands with the Cuban people,” he said, adding assurances that the administration will not develop a policy towards Cuba without the input of Cuban Americans.

[…]
In the afternoon, Mayorkas was scheduled to meet the chair of the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network, Councilman Alix Desulme, Dr. Jean-Philippe Austin of Haitian-Americans for Progress, Family Action Network Movement Executive Director Marleine Bastien, and Ambassador Patrick Gaspard.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson said USAID and State Department officials, in addition to Mayorkas, are expected to meet with Haitian-Americans in Little Haiti.

Wilson said she intends to ask officials about the deployment of hospital ships to Haiti. The U.S. government, primarily through USAID, is providing on-the-ground disaster assistance in Haiti but the response efforts so far are not enough to meet urgent needs for food, housing, medicine and shelter.

The U.S. Southern Command said the two largest hospital ships, the USNS Mercy and Comfort, are not currently scheduled for deployment in Haiti. Instead, the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that can launch and land helicopters and landing craft, is now underway, a White House official said, and is expected to arrive later this week to provide additional lift and medical capabilities in Haiti.

WSVN: US Secretary of Homeland Security makes South Florida stop to speak with Haitian-Americans, Cuban-Americans
[By Jessica Holly, 8/18/21]
MIAMI (WSVN) – As Haiti deals with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, Haitian Americans in South Florida now have the ear of a top government official.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is set to visit South Florida on Thursday to speak at a news conference focused on helping Haiti.

Mayorkas is set to discuss what the United States is doing to help the island nation.

He also met with the Cuban American community on Thursday morning in Coconut Grove. There, Mayorkas talked about the Biden administration’s support for the Cuban people following last month’s historic demonstrations as the fight for freedom continues.

The secretary’s final stop will be the memorial set up for the 98 victims of the devastating Champlain Towers collapse in Surfside.

He will meet with the first responders who risked their lives and worked to rescue and recover the victims.

CBS Mami: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Visits South Florida To Discuss Keeping Cuba’s Fight For Freedom Alive
[By Lauren Pastrana, 8/18/21]
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The protests in support of Cuba have quieted down. But what they stand for is still a topic of discussion in South Florida.

On Thursday, local elected leaders met with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban exile himself, to discuss how to keep the fight for freedom alive on the island.

“There is no one better that he could have sent who could understand because his family lived it than Secretary Mayorkas,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schutlz.

Mayorkas tweeted about his visit, saying, “The Biden administration stands in solidarity with the Cuban people and their call for freedom. I join @potus in our commitment to holding the Cuban regime accountable, supporting the Cuban people, and ensuring Cuban Americans remain a vital partner in our efforts.”

He posted a photo fist-bumping Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who admits he was surprised his point of view was welcome at the meeting.

“I appreciate the fact that despite that they knew my perspective I was still invited and that’s what makes this country so great and it’s very different from Cuba and what’s happening right now,” Suarez said.

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