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Category Archives: White House Press
President Obama to Deliver Remarks at a Naturalization Ceremony for Active Duty Service Members at the White House
WASHINGTON, DC – On July 4, President Obama will deliver remarks at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will deliver the oath of allegiance. The President will also present the Outstanding American by Choice Recognition.
Yesterday, a military C-130 from the North Carolina Air National Guard crashed while supporting firefighting efforts in South Dakota. The full details are still under investigation, but the crew of this flight – along with their families and loved ones – are in our thoughts and prayers. The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans. The airmen who attack these fires from above repeatedly confront dangerous conditions in an effort to give firefighters on the ground a chance to contain these wildfires – to save homes, businesses, schools, and entire communities. They are heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation. I know Americans across the country share my concern for the well-being of the surviving members of the crew and my deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. And I know that Americans join me in expressing my deepest gratitude for the selfless determination they and thousands of men and women involved in this fight in states across the country demonstrate every day.
Today the President called Enrique Peña Nieto, President-elect of Mexico, to congratulate him on his victory based on the initial results issued by Mexico’s electoral authorities. The two leaders reaffirmed the close bilateral partnership the United States and Mexico enjoy based on mutual respect, shared responsibility, and the deep connections between our people. The President reiterated his commitment to working in partnership with Mexico, and looks forward to advancing common goals, including promoting democracy, economic prosperity, and security in the region and around the globe, in the coming years. The President also congratulated the Mexican people who have once again demonstrated their commitment to democratic values through a free, fair, and transparent election process.
The United States strongly condemns the recent attacks on innocent civilians attending church services in Kenya. The attacks on two churches in Garissa follow shortly after the killing of one aid worker and the kidnapping of four others in Dadaab refugee camp this week, as well as an attack on a nightclub in Mombasa last weekend. The perpetrators of these attacks have shown no respect for human life and dignity, and must be brought to justice for these heinous acts.
At a time of transition, peace and stability are essential to Kenya's progress. We support those who recognize Kenya’s ethnic and religious diversity as one of the country’s greatest strengths.
The United States extends its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and to those wounded by these attacks, and we stand with the Kenyan people at this difficult time.
The United States welcomes the European Union’s prohibition of all Iranian crude oil imports and other sanctions on Iran's oil industry, which go into full effect today. This collective decision of the 27 countries of the European Union represents a substantial additional commitment on the part of our European allies and partners to seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The United States and the European Union are committed to holding Iran accountable for failing to meet its international obligations. With this decision, our partners in the EU have underscored the seriousness with which the international community views the challenge of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
This action is an essential part of our concerted diplomatic efforts to present Iran with a clear choice between isolation or meeting its obligations. Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear activities.
The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Ohio and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from severe storms beginning on June 29, 2012, and continuing.
The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 88 counties in the State of Ohio.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named W. Michael Moore as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT: FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@DHS.GOV
In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people from Colorado, where he had just finished touring areas impacted by the devastating Waldo Canyon fire, meeting with first responders as well as families affected by the fires. The President thanked the brave firefighters and countless volunteers who are providing food, water, and shelter to those in need, and made clear that his administration will continue to bring all resources available to assist efforts to combat the fires. The federal government has marshaled thousands of firefighters, hundreds of fire engines, and more than 100 aircraft, including 19 airtankers that are available for us as of today, to support firefighting efforts in a number of Western states including Colorado.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Colorado Springs, CO
June 30, 2012
Hello, everybody. I'm here in Colorado Springs, visiting some of the devastating fires that have been taking place over the last several days. As many of you have been watching on television, entire communities are under threat. And we had a chance to tour some of the devastation that has been taking place in some of the subdivisions here.
Firefighters are working 18 hours a day, around the clock, trying to make sure that they get this blaze under control. We've got volunteers who are out here who are making sure that these firefighters have the food and the water and all the resources that they need. And we've been engaging in some unprecedented coordination between federal, state, and local communities to try to bring this fire under control.
And one of the things I've done here, in addition to saying thank you to these firefighters, is to let them know that all of America has their back. One of the things that happens, whether it's a fire here in Colorado, or a tornado in Alabama or Missouri, or a flood or a hurricane in Florida, one of the things that happens here in America is when we see our fellow citizens in trouble and having difficulty, we come together as one American family, as one community. And you see that spirit and you see that strength here in Colorado Springs, where people are working together, promising each other to rebuild. We've got to make sure that we are there with them every step of the way, even after this fire is put out.
So for those of you who can provide some help, you should get on the online site of the American Red Cross. They're very active in this community and you can make your contributions there. We're going to continue to make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Forest Service, our military and National Guard and all the resources that we have available at the federal level are brought to bear in fighting this fire.
But this is a good reminder of what makes us Americans. We don't just look out for ourselves; we look out for each other. And one of the things that I told these firefighters is that we can provide them all the resources they need, but only they provide the courage and the discipline to be able to actually fight these fires. And it's important that we appreciate what they do not just when our own communities are struck by disaster. It's important that we remember what they do each and every single day, and that we continue to provide support to our first responders, our emergency management folks, our firefighters, our military — everybody who helps secure our liberty and our security each and every day.
So, America, I hope you guys remember the folks during these times of need. I know this is a little bit unusual — we don't usually do weekly addresses like this, but I thought it was a good opportunity for us to actually focus attention on a problem that's going on here in Colorado Springs. We never know when it might be our community that's threatened, and it's important that we're there for them.
Thank you very much.
On Friday, June 29, 2012, the President signed into law:
H.R. 6064, the Temporary Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, which provides funding for programs funded from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for the period June 30, 2012, through July 6, 2012; extends the authority to make expenditures from the HTF for HTF-financed programs through July 6, 2012; authorizes the Secretary of Education to delay the origination and disbursement of Federal Direct Stafford loans until the date of enactment of MAP-21 but only until July 6, 2012.
1:35 P.M. MDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we just had a chance to tour some of the damage that’s been done by this devastating fire. I’ve had a chance to thank Mayor Bach as well as Governor Hickenlooper. And the entire congressional delegation, members of the fire service, the Forest Service, as well as local fire officials have gotten a full briefing.
I think what you see here is an example of outstanding coordination and cooperation between federal, state and local agencies. We have been putting everything we have into trying to deal with what’s one of the worst fires that we’ve seen here in Colorado. And it’s still early in the fire season, and we still got a lot more work to do. But because of the outstanding work that’s been done, because of not only the coordination but also some unprecedented arrangements that have been made with military resources combined with the civil resources, we’re starting to see progress.
Obviously, as you saw in the some of these subdivisions, the devastation is enormous. And our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who have been affected.
One of the things that I’ve tried to emphasize is that whether it’s fires in Colorado or flooding in the northern parts of Florida, when natural disasters like this hit, America comes together. And we all recognize that there but for the grace of God, go I. We’ve got to make sure that we have each other’s backs. And that spirit is what you’re seeing in terms of volunteers, in terms of firefighters, in terms of government officials. Everybody is pulling together to try to deal with this situation.
Now, as I said, we’re not completely out of the woods yet. These folks, some of them have been working 18-hour days, 20-hour days, trying to make sure that these fires get put out. They’re going to be carefully monitoring the situation, and ultimately they’re going to need a little bit of help from Mother Nature in order to fully extinguish these fires.
In the meantime, some lessons are being learned about how we can mitigate some of these fires in the future, and I know that the Mayor and Governor, and other local officials are already in those conversations. It means that hopefully, out of this tragedy, some long-term planning occurs, and it may be that we can curb some of the damage that happens the next time, even though you obviously can’t fully control fires that are starting up in these mountains.
Last point I just want to make — and that is that we can provide all the resources, we can make sure that they’re well-coordinated, but as I just told these firefighters, what we can't do is to provide them with the courage and the determination and the professionalism, the heart that they show when they’re out there battling these fires.
When we had a chance on site to see some guys who had just saved three homes in a community that had been devastated, for those families, the work and the sacrifice of those firefighters means the world to them, and they are genuine heroes.
And so we want to just say thank you to all the folks who have been involved in this. We’re proud of you. We appreciate what you do each and every day. And so for folks all around the country, I hope you are reminded of how important our fire departments are, our Forest Service is. Sometimes they don’t get the credit that they deserve until your house is burning down, or your community is being threatened. And you have to understand they’re putting their lives at risk to save us and to help us. We’ve got to make sure that we remember that 365 days a year, not just when tragedies like this strike.
Thank you very much, everybody.
END 1:39 P.M. MDT
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Colorado and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires beginning on June 9, 2012, and continuing.
The President's action makes federal funding available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for El Paso and Larimer Counties impacted by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires.
Federal funding is also available for Crisis Counseling and Disaster Unemployment Assistance for affected individuals in El Paso and Larimer Counties impacted by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Michael F. Byrne as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.