Category Archives: White House Press

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 33, H.R. 2297, and S. 3187

On Monday, July 9, 2012, the President signed into law:

H.R. 33, the "Church Plan Investment Clarification Act," which amends the Securities Act of 1933 to provide specifically for an exemption from SEC requirements in connection with church pension plans participating in collective trust funds;

H.R. 2297, which makes technical amendments to the District of Columbia Code to facilitate development of the Southwest Waterfront in the District of Columbia; and

S. 3187, the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act," which reauthorizes a number of FDA user fee programs, including the Prescription Drug User Fee Act and Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act, and increases FDA's ability to provide timely and expedited review and approval of applications for prescription drugs and medical devices; authorizes new user fee programs for generic drugs and biosimilar biological products; extends and modifies FDA authorities related to drugs intended for use by children; and improves the drug approval process and helps to reduce drug shortages.

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Statement by the President on Libya

On behalf of the American people, I extend my congratulations to the people of Libya for another milestone on their extraordinary transition to democracy. After more than 40 years in which Libya was in the grip of a dictator, today’s historic election underscores that the future of Libya is in the hands of the Libyan people. Across Libya today, voters turned out to exercise their hard-earned freedoms, most participating in an election for the first time in their lives. They cast ballots for representatives of a National Congress that will lead the next stage of Libya’s transition.

The United States is proud of the role that we played in supporting the Libyan revolution and protecting the Libyan people, and we look forward to working closely with the new Libya – including the elected Congress and Libya’s new leaders. We will engage as partners as the Libyan people work to build open and transparent institutions, establish security and the rule of law, advance opportunity, and promote unity and national reconciliation. There are still difficult challenges ahead and voting needs to be completed in some areas. As they begin this new chapter, the Libyan people can count on the continued friendship and support of the United States.

 

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Remarks by the President at the Signing of the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate Bill

East Room

5:25 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  I apologize for keeping you waiting a little bit, and I hope everybody is staying hydrated — (laughter) — because it is hot.

Welcome to the White House.  We wouldn’t normally keep you this late on a Friday afternoon unless we had a good reason — and the bill that I’m about to sign is a pretty good reason.

I want to very much thank the members of Congress who are here.  We got a number in the front row, but, in particular, I want to recognize Senator Boxer and Congressman Mica, whose leadership made this bill a reality.  And although Barbara couldn’t make it, we want to make sure that everybody acknowledges the hard work that John did on this on bill.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re doing this late on Friday afternoon because I just got back from spending the past two days talking with folks in Ohio and Pennsylvania about how our challenge as a country isn’t just to reclaim all the jobs that were lost to the recession — although obviously that's job number one.  It’s also to reclaim the economic security that so many Americans have lost over the past decade.

And I believe with every fiber of my being that a strong economy comes not from the top down but from a strong middle class.  That means having a good job that pays a good wage; a home to call your own; health care, retirement savings that are there when you need them; a good education for your kids so that they can do even better than you did.

And that’s why — for months — I’ve been calling on Congress to pass several common-sense ideas that will have an immediate impact on the economic security of American families.  I’m pleased that they’ve finally acted.  And the bill I’m about to sign will accomplish two ideas that are very important for the American people.

First of all, this bill will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.  Second, this bill will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this year — which would have hit nearly 7.5 million students with an average of a thousand dollars more on their loan payments. 

These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today.  But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do.  The construction industry, for example, was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst.  So it’s not enough just to keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway.  We've got Mayor Villaraigosa and Governor O'Malley here as representatives of organizations of mayors and governors who know how desperate we need to do some of this work.

And for months, I’ve been calling on Congress to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home.  There’s work to be done building roads and bridges and wireless networks.  There are hundreds of thousands of construction workers that are ready to do it. 

The same thing is true for our students.  The bill I’m about to sign is vital for millions of students and their families.  But it’s not enough just to keep interest rates from doubling. 

I've asked Congress to reform and expand the financial aid that’s offered to students.  And I’ve been asking them to help us give 2 million Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses in their areas are looking for right now through partnerships between community colleges and employers.

In today’s economy, a higher education is the surest path to finding a good job and earning a good salary, and making it into the middle class.  So it can't be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few.  It’s an economic necessity that every American family should be able to afford.  

So this is an outstanding piece of business.  And I'm very appreciative of the hard work that Congress has done on it.  My hope is, is that this bipartisan spirit spills over into the next phase, that we can start putting more construction workers back to work — not just those that were already on existing projects who were threatened to be laid off, but also getting some new projects done that are vitally important to communities all across the nation and that will improve our economy, as well as making sure that now that we've prevented a doubling of student loan rates, we actually start doing more to reduce the debt burden that our young people are experiencing. 

 I want to thank all the Americans — the young or the young at heart — who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an email or make a phone call or send a tweet, hoping that your voice would be heard on these issues.  I promise you, your voices have been heard.  Any of you who believed your voice could make a difference — I want to reaffirm your belief.  You made this happen.

So I’m very pleased that Congress got this done.  I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first.  And my message to Congress is what I've been saying for months now — let's keep going.  Let's keep moving forward.  Let's keep finding ways to work together to grow the economy and to help put more folks back to work.  There is no excuse for inaction when there are so many Americans still trying to get back on their feet.  

With that, let me sign this bill.  And let's make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we're keeping our students in school. 

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

END
5:30 P.M. EDT

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President Obama Signs Minnesota Disaster Declaration

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Minnesota and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding during the period of June 14-21, 2012. 

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in the counties of Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Goodhue,  Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Pine, Rice, Sibley, St. Louis, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all counties and Indian Tribes within the State.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Mark A. Neveau as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. 

FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

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Statement by Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger on the Employment Situation in June

While the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, much more remains to be done to repair the damage from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed.  It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class and makes us stronger and more secure as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession.  There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making. President Obama has proposals to create jobs by ending tax breaks for companies to ship jobs overseas and supporting State and local governments to prevent layoffs and rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private establishments added 84,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 80,000.  The economy has now added private sector jobs for 28 straight months, for a total of 4.4 million payroll jobs during that period. Employment is growing but it is not growing fast enough given the jobs deficit caused by the deep recession.

The average work week for private sector workers rose by 0.1 hour in June.  Aggregate private sector work hours posted their largest gain since February, rising by 0.4 percent.  The stronger increase in work hours than in payroll employment suggests that many businesses chose to expand on the intensive margin as opposed to the extensive margin in June. 

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent in June, according to the BLS household survey.   The unemployment rate is 0.9 percentage point below its level a year ago. 

Manufacturing employment continues to expand and manufacturers added 11,000 jobs in June. After losing millions of manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 504,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010–the strongest growth for any 29-month period since April 1995.  To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and discourage sending jobs overseas.

Other sectors with net job increases included temporary help services (+25,200), leisure and hospitality (+13,000), and wholesale trade (+8,800). Retail trade lost 5,400 jobs, government lost 4,000 jobs, and motion pictures and sound recording lost 4,200 jobs.  Local governments shed 14,000 education jobs. 

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.

Alan B. Krueger is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

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Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Ohio, 7/5/12

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Ohio

10:30 A.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY:  Welcome aboard Air Force One as we make our way — on the start of a two-day trip as we make our way to Ohio.  You can see that I am joined by Jen Psaki, who is back by popular demand.  She begins today as campaign press secretary.  And with your indulgence, what we'd like to do is brief together, gaggle together.  So if you have truly campaign-related questions, you should direct them to Jen.  If you have policy questions, administration policy questions, direct them to me.  If you have questions that cover both areas, we'll decide between us how we're going to answer them and probably each take a shot at them.

I wanted to note before we get started that earlier today, the Obama administration launched an enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization for imposing unfair duties on more than $3 billion in auto exports from the United States.  The Chinese duties in question cover more than 80 percent of U.S. auto exports to China, including cars manufactured in Toledo and Marysville, Ohio, and Detroit and Lansing, Michigan.  And the duties disproportionately fall on General Motors and Chrysler products because of the actions that President Obama took, as you know, to support the auto industry during the financial crisis.

This is the seventh such action that this administration has taken against China — seventh.  The previous six have all been successful.  The pace of actions taken by this administration is double that of the previous administration — actions against China for unfair trade practices.  And I think it underscores the President's commitment to American companies and American workers — his commitment to them to make sure that when they compete with their products and their know-how around the world they're competing on a level playing field.  

So that action was submitted today in Geneva at the WTO.  As is common practice, the Chinese were given a courtesy heads-up that this action would be taken.

And with that, we will answer your questions.  

Q    Jay, how do you answer people who might say the timing of this and the announcement of it by the President at a campaign stop in a battleground state makes it really more of a political move than a well-considered step in American trade policy?

MR. CARNEY:  The fact is this is an action that has been in development for quite a long time.  The USTR studies these issues and prepares actions with great deliberation to ensure their success at the WTO.  This one has been in development for many, many months, and that’s just a fact.

And again, this is the seventh such action that this administration has taken.  It simply can’t suddenly be a political action because it happens during the campaign.  The President is committed to doing this throughout his presidency and will continue to take these actions when they’re appropriate to ensure that there’s a level playing field for our businesses and workers.

Q    This affects carmakers or plants in Toledo and he’s going to the Toledo area today to campaign.  That’s not a coincidence.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, look, I think that the timing is determined by USTR after long development of a case to be made at the WTO as filed in Geneva.  As you guys note all the time, we’ve been to Ohio on a number of occasions and I’m sure we’ll be back. And certainly now that we’re in more of a campaign mode, you can expect he’ll be back.  But he never ceases being President of the United States and, as such, he has directed the Ambassador of the USTR to investigate matters like this and take action where appropriate to ensure that American workers and businesses compete on a level playing field with China and other nations.

Q    But on the matter of timing, Jay, they clamped this tariff last year.  Why did it take this long, and again, why today?

MR. CARNEY:  You can ask the USTR about their process for developing a case.  But obviously you do not react immediately.  You develop a case; you do a lot of research; you put together the necessary documentation and back-up and support in order to be successful, precisely because it’s not a political issue, it’s an issue that goes right at the heart of our economy.  

I don’t need to remind you, but I will, that this President took what was seen as very bold and risky action to ensure that General Motors and Chrysler, during the great recession, did not liquidate because of the enormous pressure on the American automobile industry.  Had that happened, according to a study done by the Bush administration in December of 2009 — or 2008 rather — the United States would have lost 1.1 million additional jobs.  And some studies suggest that had the American automobile industry been forced to liquidate not just GM and Chrysler but, because of the supply chain, Ford eventually as well, that the job loss would have been ever more substantial.

We’ve seen a revival in manufacturing in this country.  We’ve seen the revival in the automobile industry, job creation in the automobile industry that we have not seen since the mid-1990s.  This is all happening because of actions the President took.  And it is vital that the United States — in this case the Obama administration — take the right action to ensure that companies like GM and Chrysler and others can compete fairly around the world.

MS. PSAKI:  If I can just add one thing to this.  As you know, one of the first actions the President took regarding China was to put in place stiff tariffs in 2009 on Chinese tires.  Many people didn’t read Mitt Romney’s book.  If you did read Mitt Romney’s book, you’ll note that in there he criticized the President for this step, for taking this step.  He said it was bad for workers; it would be bad for the country and the nation.  
Along this trip, the President will meet many autoworkers.  He’ll meet people who would be impacted by this, who would, no question, say something different.  So that’s something to look out for on the trip as well.  

Q    Republicans and Romney now argue that the President should declare China a currency manipulator, which is something he has declined to do.  Is that something that’s going to be revisited at all before the election?  And if not, why not?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, for the specifics of how we evaluate that, I would direct your question to the Treasury Department.  But this administration always brings up our concern about the Chinese currency in our conversations with Chinese leaders, both at the level of President Obama and President Hu, as well as in ministerial meetings that Secretary Geithner engages in, and others.  

The fact is that the currency needs to appreciate more.  There have been some steps taken over the last several years but not enough.  And this continues to be something that is a high priority in our conversations with and diplomatic efforts with China.

Q    — Mitt Romney now saying that the health care mandate is a tax and not a penalty?  Isn't that essentially agreeing with the Supreme Court decision that's calling it a tax?  

MS. PSAKI:  For years — I was going to say decades, but that's not true — for years, Mitt Romney has been defending not only his bill that he pushed forward in Massachusetts but also this as a penalty that was essential to taking into account the people who weren’t paying for health insurance who could afford it.  The President agreed with him.  That's for years up until Monday, when his own campaign spokesperson defended it the same way.

So Mitt Romney is — it's clear that he is being impacted by the push from the right, the Rush Limbaughs of the world, congressional Republicans, who are pushing him to go back on a decision and a defense that he's had in place for years.  

You'll hear the President today touch on health care in his remarks as part of his discussion of standing up for and fighting for the security of the middle class and he'll talk about the importance of making sure people in this country aren’t worried about going bankrupt over health care, posing the question of we don't want to take away from the millions of young people who have insurance, that benefit that they've been — they've received for the last several months.  

And that's really the question we should be dealing with now, not this silly debate that is, again, Mitt Romney going back — being influenced by the extreme right of the party and going back on a defense he's had in place for years.

MR. CARNEY:  But if I could just add as a matter of policy, it is simply a fallacy to say that this is a broad-based tax.  That's not what the opinion stated that was authored by the Chief Justice.  The Affordable Care Act is constitutional under Congress's taxing authority, but this is clearly a penalty that affects less than 1 percent of the American population.  And it is a penalty you only pay as a matter of choice, if you're in that 1 percent and you can afford health insurance but choose not to and therefore choose to pass the responsibility for your health care to every other American, which I would note that Governor Romney, when he was governor, thought was unfair and therefore instituted a penalty — and clear the President does, too, which is why the penalty that's part of the Affordable Care Act was modeled very much on what Governor Romney implemented in Massachusetts.

Q    Does the President believe that the mandate can be a penalty on the state level but a tax on the federal level?

MR. CARNEY:  Look, it's a penalty.  It affects 1 percent, and perhaps less, of the population.  It is a — I don't know about you, but you don't get to choose whether you pay your income taxes — most people don't.  I certainly don't.  This is not a tax in that sense at all.  It is a penalty you pay if you fail to buy health insurance but can afford it.  

And the reason why the penalty is important is that it's simply not fair to get a free ride and force other — every other American to pay for your health care if you can afford it.  So that's why it was the right approach when it was implemented in Massachusetts and it's the right approach as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Q    Can I ask one more political question, maybe for Jen?  Jen, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania and Ohio is somewhat lower than nationally.  Do you guys believe that voters make their decisions principally on their perception of the health of the national economy, or are they positively affected by the fact that things may be somewhat better closer to home?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, as you know, we're going to be spending two days in Ohio mainly, and partly in Pennsylvania.  And the places where we'll be visiting over the next couple of days have been largely impacted by the recovery of the auto industry and the difficult steps the President took there.

I think voters and the American people are impacted by what challenges they're facing every day.  So that is, do they have a job?  Can they afford to send their kids to college?  Can they afford access to health care?  You'll hear the President talk about this today.  There are many issues that impact the security of the middle class, and that's what families are worried about day to day, especially in the places we'll be visiting over the next two days.

Q    What's it like to be back?

MS. PSAKI:  Great.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

MR. CARNEY:  I say that every day when I'm with you guys.  (Laughter.)    

MS. PSAKI:  Jay says he is living the dream every day, one day at a time.

MR. CARNEY:  I am.  It's the best job ever.  It's good to see you guys.  Anything else?

Q    Jen, is it basically going to be the same message tomorrow as today?

MS. PSAKI:  Yes.  You'll hear the President talk today, as I mentioned, about fighting for American workers, his bet on workers in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  He'll talk about the contrast and the difference between the visions that he is presenting and Mitt Romney is presenting on many issues that impact the middle class, including health care, including education, including access to — including tax cuts.  So you'll hear him talk about that consistently over the next two days.

I should note also, as often happens, he'll be making some local stops along the way.  As is standard, you'll learn where they are and what they're about.  But they all will be opportunities to talk about the same issues.

MR. CARNEY:  I know that as a matter of policy I think that the President will also talk about his initiatives that he's put forward that he hopes Congress will act on to create incentives for American companies to come back to the United States, and to close loopholes that create incentives for companies to offshore — move their operations and their hiring offshore.  

And it's a very important matter that the President has been pursuing for a number of years now as a matter of policy, because his commitment is to — as you saw with the American automobile industry — is to create an economy that's built to last, that has an important manufacturing component, and that allows for jobs in the United States that create the kind of security that middle-class Americans desperately deserve, and the kind of security that in the first decade of the century was eroding very rapidly.

Q    Thank you.

MS. PSAKI:  You must leave room for the ice cream social later this afternoon in Sandusky.  I don't know the flavors, but something for everyone.

END
10:45 A.M. EDT

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Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration

South Lawn

6:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  How’s it going, everybody?  (Applause.)  Are you hot?  It’s supposed to be hot.  It’s the fourth of July.  Happy Fourth of July, everybody!  (Applause.)  On behalf of the entire Obama family, welcome to the White House. 

Now, the last thing anybody wants to do is to ruin a nice backyard barbecue with a long speech, so I’m going to be quick.

It is always such an honor for us to spend this holiday with members of our military and your extraordinary families.  All of you represent what is best in America.  You serve under our proud flag.  You and your families sacrifice more than most of us can ever know — all in defense of those God-given rights that were first put to paper 236 years ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

So as your Commander-in-Chief — but also as an American — I want to invite all of you over to say one thing: thank you.

Today, all across America, at schools, and beaches, and in town squares, Americans are celebrating the freedoms that all of you and your families defend.  Like many of them, we’re grilling in the backyard.  We’ve got some pretty good tunes for you.  We’ve got the outstanding Marine Band.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got Brad Paisley and his band in the house for a little country.  (Applause.)

We’ve also got all of you.  We’ve got Army in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Navy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Air Force.  (Applause.)  You know we’ve got some Marines here.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got Coast Guard.  (Applause.)  Today, we salute all of you.

We salute our soldiers, like Sergeant Alan Ruehs, who, in the midst of an enemy ambush in Afghanistan, risked his own life to save the lives of four others. 

We salute our sailors, like Petty Officer Taylor Morris, who suffered terrible wounds while serving in Afghanistan on an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, but who inspires us all through his incredible recovery.

We salute an Airman — Colonel Charles Barnett, who led close to 200 combat missions in Afghanistan and still serves his country by volunteering to care for our fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. 

We salute a Marine — Corporal Alex Nguyen, who sustained serious injuries when his vehicle struck an IED in Afghanistan, but who carries on stronger than ever.

We salute a “Coastie” from my hometown of Chicago — Lieutenant Commander Michelle Watson, who was one of the first African American women to graduate from the Coast Guard Academy, and went on to perform exceptional service in Operation Enduring Freedom.

All the men and women who stand with us here this afternoon are an example of this generation of heroes — this 9/11 Generation that has earned its place in history alongside the greatest generations.  Because of your service and sacrifice, all of our troops are now out of Iraq.  (Applause.)  Because of your service and sacrifice, we took the fight to al Qaeda and we brought Osama bin Laden to justice.  (Applause.)  Because of your service and sacrifice, we’re transitioning out of Afghanistan.  We will remain ready for any threat.  That is all because of you.  (Applause.)

And as long as I have the honor of being your Commander-in-Chief, I want you all — our men and women in uniform, our veterans and their families — to know this: America will always remember.  We will always be there for you, just as you’ve been there for us.  That’s my promise.  That is America’s promise.  And that is one that we pledge to fulfill on this Independence Day. 

So, Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Enjoy the fireworks.  Get some hotdogs.  God bless you.  God bless your families.  And God bless these United States of America.  

And with that, let me turn it back over to the United States Marine Band.  (Applause.)

END               
6:07 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by the President at Naturalization Ceremony

East Room

10:58 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Good morning, everybody. 

AUDIENCE:  Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Secretary Napolitano, Director Mayorkas, distinguished guests, family and friends — welcome to the White House.  Happy Fourth of July.  What a perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday — the world’s oldest democracy, with some of our newest citizens. 

I have to tell you, just personally, this is one of my favorite things to do.  It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.  And as members of our military, you raised your hand and took an oath of service.  It is an honor for me to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.  Today, you raised your hand and have taken an oath of citizenship.  And I could not be prouder to be among the first to greet you as "my fellow Americans."

Looking back, it was an act of extraordinary audacity — a few dozen delegates, in that hall in Philadelphia, daring to defy the mightiest empire in the world, declaring "that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States."

Two hundred and thirty-six years later, we marvel at America’s story.  From a string of 13 colonies to 50 states from sea to shining sea.  From a fragile experiment in democracy to a beacon of freedom that still lights the world.  From a society of farmers and merchants to the largest, most dynamic economy in the world.  From a ragtag army of militias and regulars to you — the finest military that the world has ever known.  From a population of some 3 million — free and slave — to more than 300 million Americans of every color and every creed. 

With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth:  Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe.  We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.

Immigrants signed their names to our Declaration and helped win our independence.  Immigrants helped lay the railroads and build our cities, calloused hand by calloused hand.  Immigrants took up arms to preserve our union, to defeat fascism, and to win a Cold War.  Immigrants and their descendants helped pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone.  So the story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of "them," it’s a story of "us."  It’s who we are.  And now, all of you get to write the next chapter. 

Each of you have traveled your own path to this moment — from Cameroon and the Philippines, Russia and Palau and places in between.  Some of you came here as children, brought by parents who dreamed of giving you the opportunities that they had never had.  Others of you came as adults, finding your way through a new country and a new culture and a new language. 

All of you did something profound:  You chose to serve.  You put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. In a time of war, some of you deployed into harm’s way.  You displayed the values that we celebrate every Fourth of July — duty, responsibility, and patriotism.

We salute a husband and father, originally from Mexico, now a United States Marine, joined today by his wife Silvia and daughter Juliett.  Becoming a citizen, he says, is "another step in the right direction for my family."  So today we congratulate Francisco Ballesteros De La Rosa.  Where’s Francisco?  (Applause.)

We salute a young woman from El Salvador, who came here when she was just six, grew up in America, who says she "always had a desire to serve" and who dreamed of becoming — who dreams of becoming an Army medic.  So we congratulate Luisa Childers.  Luisa.  (Applause.)

We salute a young man from Nigeria who came here as a child. "I left Nigeria," he says, "with the dream that we all have a destiny in life and we are all born with the resources to make a difference."  We are confident he will make a difference.  We congratulate Oluwatosin Akinduro.  (Applause.)

We salute a young man from Bolivia, who came to America, enlisted in our military and has volunteered to help care for our veterans.  He’s becoming a citizen, he says, to be a "part of the freedom that everybody is looking for."  And so we congratulate Javier Beltran.  (Applause.)

It has taken these men and women — these Americans — years, even decades, to realize their dream.  And this, too, reminds us of a lesson of the Fourth.  On that July day, our Founders declared their independence.  But they only declared it; it would take another seven years to win the war.  Fifteen years to forge a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.  Nearly 90 years, and a great Civil War, to abolish slavery.  Nearly 150 years for women to win the right to vote.  Nearly 190 years to enshrine voting rights.  And even now, we’re still perfecting our union, still extending the promise of America.

That includes making sure the American dream endures for all those — like these men and women — who are willing to work hard, play by the rules and meet their responsibilities.  For just as we remain a nation of laws, we have to remain a nation of immigrants.  And that’s why, as another step forward, we’re lifting the shadow of deportation from serving — from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children.  It’s why we still need a DREAM Act — to keep talented young people who want to contribute to our society and serve our country.  It’s why we need — why America’s success demands — comprehensive immigration reform.

Because the lesson of these 236 years is clear — immigration makes America stronger.  Immigration makes us more prosperous.  And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.  And these young men and women are testaments to that.  No other nation in the world welcomes so many new arrivals.  No other nation constantly renews itself, refreshes itself with the hopes, and the drive, and the optimism, and the dynamism of each new generation of immigrants.  You are all one of the reasons that America is exceptional.  You’re one of the reasons why, even after two centuries, America is always young, always looking to the future, always confident that our greatest days are still to come.

So, to all of you, I want to wish you the happiest Fourth of July.  God bless you all.  God bless our men and women in uniform and your families.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And with that, I want you to join me in welcoming onto the stage one of America’s newest citizens.  Born in Guatemala, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, served with honor in Afghanistan.  And I know he’s especially proud because, in a few days, his father Walter — who’s also here today — will become a naturalized American citizen as well.  Where’s Walter?  There he is over there.  (Laughter.)  Good to see you, Walter.  (Applause.)  Please welcome, Lance Corporal Byron Acevedo to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Right here.

MR. ACEVEDO:  I’m nervous.  (Laughter.) 

(The Pledge of Allegiance is said.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Have a great Fourth of July.  Congratulations to our newest citizens.  Yay!  (Applause.)

END         
11:09 A.M. EDT 

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Background on Military Naturalization Ceremony at the White House

WASHINGTON, DC – On July 4, 2012, President Obama will deliver remarks at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas will present the countries of the candidates for naturalization and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will deliver the oath of allegiance. The audience will be composed of the service members and their families.
 
Other Senior Administration Officials will also be speaking at naturalization ceremonies around the country, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in New York, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley in Massachusetts, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz in Virginia, and Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu in Maryland.

The President hosted similar naturalization ceremonies at the White House on May 1, 2009 and April 23, 2010.
 
The following active duty service members are expected to attend as candidates for naturalization:
 
Byron Oswaldo Acevedo, born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 2010 from Providence, Rhode Island.  Lance Corporal Acevedo has served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and served in Helmand province, Afghanistan in a Quick Reaction Force and Aerial Interdiction Force. His personal awards and decorations include a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Nato Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, and an Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
 
Oluwatosin K Akinduro, born in Lagos, Nigeria, graduated high school in Houston, Texas. He joined the Army National Guard in search of new opportunities and a new challenge to lead by example.
 
Miguel Andrade, born and raised in the Cape Verde Islands, moved to the United States in the fall of 2008. Private First Class Andrade has distinguished himself, earning a coveted position in 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment’s Scout Platoon.
 
Alla Victorovna Ausheva, born in Russia in March 2011, Alla joined the New York Army National Guard in July 2011 and serves as a maintenance technician in Company G of the 427th Brigade Support Battalion. The unit supports the 1st Battalion 258th Field Artillery. She lives in Bayside, NY.
 
Francisco Jose Ballesteros de la Rosa, born in Mexico, joined the Marine Corps in December 2009. Corporal Ballestros’ personal awards and decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. 
 
Oscar Javier Beltran Medina, born in Bolivia, enlisted into the United States Air Force in 2009 as a Vehicle Operator. Airman Beltran is currently assigned to Joint Base Andrews, MD. During his 2 ½ years, Airman Beltran has completed college courses at Northern Virginia Community College and volunteered his time at Charlotte Hall Veterans home in Maryland.
 
Silvano Carcamo, born in Honduras, moved to Springfield, OH in 1996. Specialist Carcamo enlisted in the Army in October 2009 and became a medic. His first duty station was Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division where he served as a line medic. During his deployment from March 2011 to March 2012 he earned several awards among them an Army Achievement Medal, Combat Medic Badge, and a Navy Achievement Medal.
 
Luisa Maria Childers, born in El Salvador, moved to the United States at the age of 6. She joined the Army Reserves in 2009 and is a 72R, Parachute Rigger. Her goal is to ultimately become an Army Medic.
 
Mamadou Aliou Diallo, born in Conakry, Guinea, enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2011. Private First Class Diallo is an Online Message Board Clerk at Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C..  His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
 
Terence Njikang Ekabe, born in Cameroon, enlisted in the Air Force in June 2011 as a 4N0/med technician. Airman Ekabe also helped raise money for Veterans’ families, Airmen in need, and the Air Force Assistance Fund. His charitable giving extends beyond the United States to his home country where he raised $3,000 worth of toys, clothing, and others items for the village children of Cameroon during Christmas.
 
Sergey Eliseev, born in Russia, has received numerous decorations and personal awards, including the Army Achievement Medal, Honor Grade from 88M10 AIT, National Defense  Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon
 
Andriy Olegovich Gener, born in Odessa, Ukraine, arrived in the United States on September 10, 2001. Private First Class Gener is currently serving with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division as a member of the Brigade Personal Security Detail in Fort Carson, CO for the Brigade CSM and the Brigade Commander.  His awards and decorations include the Army Service Ribbon, and the National Defense Medal.
 
Daniel Arcenal Geneta, born in the Philippines, came to the United States in August 1994.  Geneta joined the New York Army National Guard in 2006 because of the events of September 11, 2001. He is a squad leader in the 719th Transportation Company and in civilian life works as an account executive at Urban Associates, a New York City real estate company.
 
Alexey Isachenko, born in Russia, has received numerous decorations and personal awards, including being selected to Commandants List 88M10 AIT, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon.
 
Yuxiong Jin, born and raised in China, arrived in the United States in 2008.  Jin is enlisted in the US Army.
 
Carlos Eduardo Navichoque, born in Guatemala City, enlisted in 2009 in the Army. Specialist Navichoque deployed with the 2-14 Infantry Battalion to Iraq from March 2010 to August 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his tour, he served as a Motor Transport Operator and was awarded the Combat Action Badge.
 
Faye Ubad Ngirchomlei, born in Palau, enlisted in the Army in 2008.  In April 2009, Nigirchomlei was assigned to 511th Military Police Company at Fort Drum, NY as Automated Logistic Specialist. She was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan where she was responsible for ensuring the maintenance section supported outlying platoons, with supplies and other support services.
 
Aegean Pascua Obed, born in the Philippines, Obed currently serves as a Mobile Gun System crew member in A Company, 3-21 Infantry.
 
Praseuthsith Phimmasone, born in the Philippines, enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 2007. Private First Class Phimmasone currently serves in the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group. Corporal Phimmasone was selected 6th Engineer Support Battalion’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2009 and was also awarded Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter for third quarter of 2010. Sergeant Phimmasone’s awards include a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, two Meritorious Masts, and a Letter of Appreciation. 
 
Fatima Vanessa Rivera Fuentes, born in El Salvador, joined the New York Army National Guard in 2009 and has served as an aviation electronics technician working on UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. Fuentes came to the United States in 1999.
 
Guillermo Enrique Roche Rendon, born in Ecuador, went to middle school and high school in the US but had to drop out in the 11th grade to help support his family. In time, he earned his GED and also completed college courses. He joined the US Army as a Cavalry Scout. Private First Class Roche’s awards include the Army Service Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.
 
Sedrick Kwesi Sam, born in Ghana, serves as an Airman for the Air Force. 
 
Hans Lemuel Pang Sy, born in the Philippines, moved to the United States with his parents and three siblings in 2005.  He joined the US Army on October 18, 2011.
 
Jhonathan Gerardo Zapata, born in Colombia, joined the Army in January 2012.
 
Cristian Felipe Zapata Gil, born in Colombia, moved to the United States at the age of 13.  After Haiti’s earthquake Zapata Gil decided to join the US Army where he serves as a Watercraft Engineer.

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President Obama to Sign Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate Bill at Event with Construction Workers, Students

WASHINGTON—On Friday, July 6, in the late afternoon, President Obama will hold an event at the White House with construction workers and college students to sign HR 4348, which will put Americans to work repairing the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges and will prevent interest rates from doubling for more than 7 million students. More details will be released as they become available.

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