Biden: Infrastructure a National Security Issue

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted the “American Job Creation and Infrastructure Forum” on Thursday, October 9. The event featured a panel consisting of members of congress, think tanks, and experts. It also featured three keynote speakers: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Vice-President Joe Biden.

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Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama Celebrates 25 Years of the ADA

Yesterday, President Obama celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the White House.

In the East Room, President Obama honored those who made the ADA the law of the land – the activists, congressional representatives, and stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure that millions of Americans with disabilities had the chance to make their contributions to the world.

"Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life -- schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks -- they truly belong to everyone."

— President Obama

President Obama during 25th anniversary ADA remarks

An interpreter signs in the foreground while President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks during a reception for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the East Room of the White House, July 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama outlined the commitments that the government has made to be more responsive to people with disabilities since the passage of the ADA — and reiterated his own commitment to continuing the legacy set in place by President George H.W. Bush when the ADA was signed in 1990.

The Obama administration created the first office within FEMA dedicated to disabilities - so that if and when a disaster strikes we are prepared to help everyone – and created the first special advisor for international disabilities at the State Department. The Administration has also worked to make sure that federal contractors have plans in place for hiring people with disabilities, and has encouraged all others to do the same.

The President lauded the contributions of the ADA, and highlighted that more people with disabilities are in the workforce today than at any point in the last 30 years because of this legislation. He also explained how the ADA was personal to him - his father-in-law, Fraser Robinson, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s, before the passage of the ADA, and could have benefited from its provisions.

“And just through the power of his example, he opened a lot of people’s eyes, including mine, to some of the obstacles that folks with disabilities faced and how important it is that the rest of us do our part to remove those obstacles,” the President said.

Read the President’s full remarks from yesterday's ADA reception here.

See more on what the Obama administration has done to help people with disabilities here.

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Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 States

This week, the President will visit South Dakota, marking the 50th state he has visited during his administration (as such, it's also my 50th state with him). To mark the occasion, I chose one photograph from each state that we’ve visited. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. With help from photo editor Phaedra Singelis, I tried to depict a variety of situations. Some are more lighthearted; some are sad, and some are poignant. Some are with the Vice President; some are with the First Lady, and a couple are with the entire family. A selection of photos are centered on policy, and others on politics. Some focus on the President as Commander-in-Chief -- others on his role as consoler for the nation.

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned -- we’ll be adding a photograph from South Dakota following his visit there on Friday.

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama Nominates New Military Leadership: Generals Joe Dunford and Paul Selva

President Barack Obama delivers remarks announcing Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. as the nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. Paul J. Selva, far right, as the nominee for Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in th... Read more »

“A True American Patriot” — President Obama Pays Tribute to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

President Obama, Vice President Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President traveled to Fort Myer, Virginia yesterday for the Armed Forces farewell ceremony in honor of our 24th Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

In his remarks, the President acknowledged Secretary Hagel's courageous work during his lifelong service as a decorated veteran and Secretary:

[T]oday is a celebration of a quintessentially American life -- a man from the heartland who devoted his life to America. Just imagine, in your mind’s eye, the defining moments of his life. The kid from Nebraska who, as Marty said, volunteered to go to Vietnam. The soldier outside Saigon, rushing to pull his own brother from a burning APC. The deputy at the VA who stood up for his fellow Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. The senator who helped lead the fight for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, to give this generation of heroes the same opportunities that he had.

I asked Chuck to lead this department at a moment of profound transition. And today we express our gratitude for the progress under his watch.

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The Year in Review: A Look Back at the Most Memorable Moments of 2014

A responsible end to the war in Afghanistan. A historic agreement to combat climate change. A strong pace job growth that we haven't seen since the 1990s. 

Overall, 2014 has offered some great achievements for President Obama and the American people. Join the President's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in taking a look back at this year's most memorable moments — then share the memories with your friends and family. 

View 2014

Don't miss out on what else happened at the White House this year — both online and off:

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President Obama Nominates Ashton Carter as the Next Secretary of Defense

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This morning, President Obama announced his nomination of former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. Carter has been in public service for more than 30 years, and has served in various positions under 11 Secretaries of Defense.

"Ash is rightly regarded as one of our nation’s foremost national security leaders," the President said in today's remarks. "As a top member of our Pentagon team for the first five years of my presidency, including his two years as deputy secretary, he was at the table in the Situation Room; he was by my side navigating complex security challenges that we were confronting. I relied on his expertise, and I relied on his judgment."

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Travel Journal of the Vice President’s Trip to Morocco, Ukraine, Turkey:

Welcome to your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden’s three-country, five-day visit to Morocco, Ukraine, and Turkey.

November 22-23, 2014   Vice President Biden Wraps Up His Trip in Turkey

The Vice President wrapped up his three-country trip last week with a visit to Istanbul, Turkey.

The Vice President had an opportunity to meet individually with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. At these meetings, the Vice President and the leaders discussed a range of important bilateral issues:

Fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq Coping with the regional humanitarian crisis Countering the threat posed by foreign fighters Promoting the Cyprus settlement process

“And the one thing that is absolutely clear is that the depth of that friendship and the resolve of that partnership is as strong as it has ever been,” Vice President said after meeting with President Erdogan. “In spite of the fact that the world is facing and we collectively are facing some difficult problems right now.”

The Vice President also addressed the Atlantic Council Economic and Energy Summit, where he discussed energy security challenges and our strategic vision of a Europe that's whole, free, and at peace.

“True energy security in Europe is going to require some tough decisions,” the Vice President said before an audience of foreign leaders and business executives.

"True energy security in Europe is going to require some tough decisions." -VP Biden to the Atlantic Council pic.twitter.com/CFsXGoqVqS

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 23, 2014

Before departing for the Washington on Sunday, the Vice President met with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to discuss religious freedom and interfaith dialogue.

“This is a really fine man,” the Vice President said about the Patriarch.

 

Afterward, the Vice President and Dr. Biden toured the Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest in Istanbul.

Before departing Istanbul today, the VP and @DrBiden toured the Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest in the city → pic.twitter.com/40SeWPuuoT

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 23, 2014

November 21, 2014   Vice President Biden in Ukraine: “You are a remarkable people, the Ukrainian people”

Last Friday, the Vice President visited Kyiv, Ukraine, his third visit in the last seven months.

The Vice President’s visit coincided with Ukraine’s first annual Day of Freedom and Dignity, which marks the one-year anniversary since protests and calls for government reform first began.

The Vice President’s agenda included meetings with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to discuss:

Government formation Reform agenda Energy security Situation in the east

These issues underscored the Vice President’s message to the Ukrainian people: Keep working to build the democracy that Ukraine rightfully deserves.

Following his meetings with the President and Prime Minister, the Vice President reflected, “This is an important moment -- a chance to make good on the promise of 25 years ago when the Iron Curtain came down…You are a remarkable people, the Ukrainian people. You’re a brave people. And you’ve demonstrated that once again to the whole world.”

America’s commitment to Ukraine is personal. It’s grounded in the friendship between our people. pic.twitter.com/jwVETMRvYc

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 21, 2014

Before departing Kyiv, the Vice President had an opportunity to recognize Ukraine’s Day of Freedom and dignity by laying flowers at a memorial for those who were killed during protests this past year.

VP Biden lays flowers at a memorial for those who were killed during protests in Ukraine last year pic.twitter.com/0TQaDYy3xZ

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 21, 2014

November 20, 2014   Dates and Milk Welcome Vice President and Dr. Biden to Morocco

Vice President Obama Receives Dates in Morocco

November 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

The first stop on the Vice President and Dr. Biden's three-country trip was Morocco. The Vice President and Dr. Biden's visit started on a sweet note, as they were greeted at the airport with dates and milk, a traditional Moroccan welcome. 

Morocco has a special place in the history and hearts of Americans because it was the first nation in the world to recognize the United States nearly 237 years ago. The Vice President's visit, the first by a sitting U.S. Vice President in decades, marked the latest chapter in a long and storied friendship. 

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Email from Vice President Biden: “A Sacred Obligation”

Earlier today, Vice President Biden sent this message to the White House email list in honor of Veterans Day. Didn't get it? Make sure you sign up for email updates here.

Mike Erwin saw tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. And when he got home, he kept on serving.

When he came home, he started a community service group. Because, despite everything that Mike had given to his country by serving overseas, he wanted to serve his country at home, as well. This morning on Veterans Day, I had the honor of welcoming Mike and a team of his fellow veterans to the White House -- where they presented a flag they had run across the United States in two months, starting on September 11, 2014.

I've met countless members of our armed forces like Mike over the years. And no matter where or when they served, I am always humbled by their selfless commitment to our country. Our veterans represent the absolute best we have to offer.

They are the heart and soul -- the very spine -- of this nation.

As we give thanks to our veterans, we say thanks to the men and women still serving. Take a moment to thank our troops.

Today, there are still thousands of warriors serving in harm's way. I know them. I've been with them. I've seen the incredible sacrifices they make every day for all of us.

And just like the veterans of past wars, today's returning troops deserve our enduring gratitude.

As my wife Jill points out, less than 1 percent of America's population serves in uniform, but more than 99 percent of Americans owe that 1 percent much more than we could ever repay. We owe them, and we owe their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, too.

It's our sacred obligation to care for and equip those who we send to war, and care for them and their families when they come home.

God bless America and may God protect our troops,

Vice President Joe Biden

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