Posts

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates By 0.5% In Largest Move Since 2000

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by 0.5% to 1.00%, marking the largest increase in over two decades as it attempts to fight the ever-increasing inflation that has continued to cause financial burdens for Americans.

Since 2000, the Fed has only raised interest rates in increments of 0.25%. “Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher energy prices, and broader price pressures,” the Fed said in a FOMC statement. “The Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks.”

Embed from Getty Images

In March, inflation rates rose to 8.5%, up 0.6% from February’s 7.9% and 1.5% from December’s 7%. It’s now the highest inflation rate the country has seen since the 1980s, though forecasts project a downturn over the coming months. The increased interest rates will take time to lower the inflation, however.

The Fed explained it’s monitoring the situation of the 10-week-old Russian invasion of Ukraine — citing “tremendous human and economic hardship” — among other global issues that have essentially stalled production and sent the supply chain spiraling.

“The invasion and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are likely to weigh on economic activity. In addition, COVID-related lockdowns in China are likely to exacerbate supply chain disruptions.”

As for what this all means for the average citizen, borrowing will become more expensive. Higher interests rates will occur for mortgages, student debt, car loans, credit cards, and business loans for both small and large companies.

Higher mortgage rates are a particularly hard pill to swallow for those in the already difficult-to-navigate real estate market, as home prices alone have shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first quarter of 2021, the average home sold for $507,800.

Currently, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate sits at over 5%, up from 3.10% in early-December and 4.16% in mid-March. The Fed will now discuss increased interest rates between 0.75% to 1.00% in June and July, while some officials have advocated for raising rates to 2.5% by the end of 2022.

Following the Fed’s announcement, the Dow Jones Industrial Average spiked up 900 points to 34,064 before dropping 1,000 points Thursday morning, or 2.9%. The S&P 500 saw a 3.3% drop, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 4.6%. Similarly, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had a 5.3% slide.

Embed from Getty Images

Speaking Wednesday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell attempted to relay that the bank understands the financial hardship Americans are going through, and explained the raising interests rates were done in order to relief that inflation tension. “Inflation is much too high, and we understand the hardship it is causing,” Powell said.

Powell also emphasized his belief that the economy can withstand the higher rates, with unemployment rates dropping by 0.2% from February to March and total job openings rate at 7.1%, a year-over-year increase of 1.6%. “Nothing about it says it’s close to or vulnerable to a recession,” he said.

President Joe Biden has previously supported the Fed’s monetary decisions. “The Federal Reserve provided extraordinary support during the crisis for the previous year and a half,” he said back in January. “Given the strength of our economy and pace of recent price increases, it’s appropriate — as Fed Chairman Powell has indicated — to recalibrate the support that is now necessary.”

The actions aren’t without concerns, however. As the Associated Press notes, many have criticized the Fed for taking too long to tackle inflation, leading to doubt from analysts that a recession can ultimately be avoided.

Young College Student

Biden Administration To Erase Student Debt For 40,000 Borrowers

In an attempt to make good on the promises of federal student debt relief, the Biden Administration — announced by the Department of Education on Tuesday — has made changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) that would see 40,000 borrowers become eligible to have their debt immediately discharged.

7,000 borrowers with older loans will also see forgiveness under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. On top of that, 3.6 million more will move closer towards forgiveness by receiving at least three years of additional credit.

Embed from Getty Images

The department, which cited that this move addresses “historic failures” in regards to IDR plans, also aims to take more care of accurately tracking monthly payments for borrowers on IDR, which are typically smaller amounts.

“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it’s certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they’re eligible for,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively.”

The Biden administration had previously extended the payment pause on student loans  — which was set to end on May 1 — through the end of August. Interest on loans has been paused since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March of 2020.

Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, around 725,000 of the 43 million federal student debt borrowers have seen their debt discharged, which totals to over $17 billion in relief. Still, total outstanding student loan debt remains at $1.7 trillion.

IDR plans have had a troubled past. An NPR investigation revealed that the plans — which promise loan forgiveness after 20 to 25 years and manageable monthly payments as low as $0 — had been “badly mismanaged” by the department and loan servicers.

Department documents dating back to 2016 acquired by NPR showed that despite 4.4 million borrowers having repaid for over 20 years, only 32 had their loans canceled under IDR. Meanwhile, some servicers weren’t tracking payments, and didn’t know when borrowers qualified for cancellation unless they were asked by the borrowers to do an intensive records review.

Embed from Getty Images

The department, along with Federal Student Aid (FSA) noted it will address “forbearance steering” by conducting a one-time account adjustment in order to count certain long-term forbearances, which the department considers to be more than 12 consecutive months or 36 cumulative months. Borrowers will then be given credits based on their length of forbearance.

Throughout his election campaign, Biden promised to forgive each borrower $10,000 in loans, which would end up totaling to about $400 billion. However, that claim has yet to flourish, as Biden stated he didn’t have the executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 debt per borrower. White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said the President would be “happy to sign” legislation canceling student debt if Congress passes it.

Along with pausing student debt (and expanding the coverage of the pause) Biden has worked to give relief by targeting smaller groups. One such case includes those who were defrauded by their school, which ended up totaling $2 billion in loan cancellation.

House Passes Bill To Help Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits

On Thursday, the House approved a bill, referred to as the “Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021,” that will expand benefits for post- 9/11 veterans that were sickened by toxins, such as from burn pits, during their military service. The final vote was 256-174, with 34 Republicans voting in addition to the entire 222 Democrats.

The passing comes two days after President Joe Biden gave an extra push for the legislation during his State of the Union speech. “I’m also calling on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and the comprehensive health care that they deserve,” Biden said.

Embed from Getty Images

According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), an estimated 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits, which are used to discard waste at military camps and can cause headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, and other life-threatening, long-term symptoms.

“This year, 86% of respondents [to IAVA’s yearly member survey] reported exposure to burn pits or other toxins and 89% of those exposed reported symptoms that are or might be caused by that exposure,” IAVA stated. Among other hazardous toxins that servicemembers are exposed to include contaminated groundwater, Agent Orange — a herbicide chemical — radiation exposure, and embedded fragments.

“They came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin,” Biden said, adding that he wasn’t sure if burn pits were responsible for his late son Beau Biden’s brain cancer, which took his life in 2015.

The bill would designate 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers as being likely linked to toxic exposures related to burn pits and other hazards. It would also see nearly $300 billion spent over the next 10 years, a price that some political opponents are hesitant of.

Embed from Getty Images

At a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday that featured numerous supporters like political commentator Jon Stewart and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, tribulations caused by exposure were recounted by former veteran and the American Legion’s director of health policy Katie Purswell. “I struggle to think of a single person that I deployed with who may not have been exposed, at some point, to toxins while deployed.”

“While it was our decision to raise our hands and fight our nation’s wars for those who cannot or will not, what we didn’t know was that our long-lasting health issues might not even begin to show during our time in service.”

Veterans of the Vietnam War would also benefit, making nearly 490,000 servicemembers with illnesses like hypertension and bladder cancer eligible for disability. Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee noted that 2018 findings showed “sufficient evidence of an association” between hypertension and Agent Orange.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee is undergoing its own approach to the issue of toxic exposure to veterans. According to ABC News, sources familiar with the process said the House and Senate will have to figure out policy differences and take their respective bills to conference over the next few months in order to reach a final compromise.

Biden Addresses Ukraine, Economy, COVID-19 In State Of The Union Speech

In his first, 62-minute State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Joe Biden tackled the growing threat of Russia aggression, detailing multiple efforts being undertaken in order to not only assist Ukraine and damage the Kremlin, but to “protect American businesses and consumers” that could face economic collateral damage.

Unity was on full display, with Biden explaining that despite the numerous political differences they hold, he and all other members of Congress are joined “with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.” To show support for Ukraine, lawmakers were asked to stand and cheer.

Embed from Getty Images

“In the battle between democracy and autocracies, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security,” Biden declared, noting numerous times the courage and determination Ukrainian citizens have shown in the face of the unprovoked invasion that’s resulted in hundreds of innocent injuries and deaths.

The President announced that the U.S. would join NATO allies like Canada and the U.K. by closing off American airspace to all Russian flights in a further attempt to isolate the country and squeeze its economy, which he mentioned is already showing signs of cracking due to enforced sanctions.

“The ruble has already lost 30 percent of its value. The Russian stock market has lost 40 percent of its value, and trading remains suspended. The Russian economy is reeling, and Putin alone is the one to blame.”

Among other measures being taken include cutting off Russia’s largest banks from the international financial system — which would make “Putin’s $630 billion war fund worthless” — seizing luxury apartments, yachts, and jets from Russian oligarchs, and giving $1 billion in direct assistance to Ukraine. Biden added that U.S. troops are also mobilizing in Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

However, as he’s done throughout the past couple months, Biden reiterated that the mobilized forces would not be engaging Russian forces in Ukraine. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west,” Biden said.

Turning his attention back to the homeland, Biden highlighted the impacts of his American Rescue Plan, stating it fueled the efforts to vaccinate and fight COVID-19 while creating 6.5 million new jobs in the last year.

“The economy grew at a rate of 5.7 [percent] last year, the strongest growth rate in nearly 40 years, the first step in bringing fundamental change to our economy that hasn’t worked for the working people of this nation for too long.”

Biden pitched that the key to fighting rising inflation — which he termed “building back America” — is to cut the costs of prescription drugs, energy costs, and child care while relying more on American supply chains as opposed to foreign. Biden also emphasized that no one earning less than $400,000 a year would see additional raises on taxes.

In what is almost two years since the pandemic begun in the U.S., Biden refused to ease back on combating the Coronavirus. “I know some are talking about living with COVID-19. But tonight I say that we will never just accept living with COVID-19.”

Embed from Getty Images

While reaffirming the safety and need for vaccinations and protocols — currently, 65.2% of Americans are fully vaccinated — he stated the launching of a “test to treat” initiative so that “people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they prove positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost.”

When it comes to police brutality and police resource allocations, Biden stressed that the answer is not to choose between safety and equal justice or defund the police, but to “fund them with resources and training” that are needed to protect communities, while urging for additional crackdowns on gun trafficking and untraceable ghost guns that can be bought online.

According to FiveThirtyEight, 53.1% of polls currently disapprove of Biden against a 41.3% approval. Biden’s disapproval number is up from around 50% in mid-December, while he hasn’t had a positive approval rating since August, when he sat at 47.2% approval.

President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For 100 Million Workers Officially Being Enforced

Back in September President Biden announced that he would be working on creating multiple vaccine mandates to get more Americans vaccinated. On Thursday, the administration started the process by releasing mandates for over 100 million workers. 

The first rule has been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and covers mandates for companies with 100 or more employees; it’s estimated this rule will apply to 84 million workers. Companies need to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 4th, or they will need to provide a negative test in order to come into work every week. 

Embed from Getty Images

OSHA’s rule also requires employers to pay their employees for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated, and recover from any potential side effects that arise. 

Employers also won’t be required to pay for weekly testing for their unvaccinated employees, or even provide the testing in the first place. This is in an attempt to get more employees to actually receive their vaccines as opposed to remaining at higher risk for exposure. 

Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear face coverings at all times; this rule will be enforced starting December 6th. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are requiring around 17 million health care workers to be vaccinated by January 4th. However, healthcare workers won’t be given the option to decline being vaccinated to opt for weekly testing. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some employers are worried that the deadlines OSHA provided won’t give some of them enough time to gather the information required to find out who’s already vaccinated and who’s not. However, the Biden Administration asserted their authority in issuing these mandates due to OSHA’s responsibility to provide safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. 

“A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers,” said a senior administration official.

Companies will mainly be responsible for enforcing the OSHA rule, as there’s only a couple thousand state and federal OSHA inspectors nationwide. It’s expected that OSHA inspectors will more likely be responding to employee complaints regarding their employers or fellow workers who aren’t abiding by the mandates. 

Employers that violate the rule can face fines up to $13,000 per violation, and depending on how severe the violation is that fine could multiply by ten.

President Biden Reflects On ‘Deadlist Year On Reacord For Transgender Americans’ During Day Of Remembrance 

President Joe Biden released a statement for Transgender Day Of Remembrance, where he paid tribute to “those we lose in the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans.” 

“We also remember the countless other transgender people, disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls, who face brutal violence, discrimination, and harassment.” 

The White House marked the day on Friday with a vigil in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, hosted by second gentleman Doug Emhoff. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance is meant to be the final day of Transgender Awareness Week, and it takes the time to memorialize victims of anti-transgender violence all across the country. The Human Rights Campaign recently declared 2021 as the deadliest year on record for transgender and nonbinary people, with at least 45 transgender or gender-nonconforming people on record being killed in hate-filled acts of violence. 

Embed from Getty Images

 “Our hearts are with all who knew and loved the 45 people who have been killed this year. The march to end this epidemic of violence continues.” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.

Within his statement, Biden called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“The Equality Act will ensure that all people are able to live free from fear and discrimination, a right all Americans should have.” 

The Equality Act was passed in the House back in March, but has since been stalled by the Senate. “In spite of our progress strengthening civil rights for LGBTQI+ Americans, too many transgender people still live in fear and face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” Biden wrote.

According to news reports, “the administration also released a report Saturday from the first Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals, which is made up of representatives from the US Agency for International Development, the Departments of State, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, Interior and Veterans Affairs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.”

Embed from Getty Images

The report also emphasized that the “violence against transgender Americans is the direct result of systemic anti-transgender stigma and hate, pervasive discrimination, disproportionate criminalization, and marginalization and exclusion of gender minorities, with violence against transgender communities heightened today due to a historic spike in legislation targeting transgender people for discriminatory and unjust treatment.”

Biden’s statement is the latest in a series of administrative motions that aim to support the LGBTQ+ community. Biden has since revered former president Trump’s ban on transgender Americans in the military, reinstated a special envoy for LGBTQ+ rights, and issued the first presidential proclamation to mark Transgender Day Of Visibility as an official day in March. 

Beyond the heightened violence that transgender Americans have faced this year, from a legislative standpoint their rights were also being consistently threatened. In fact, 2021 also marked a record year for anti-transgender legislation; 100 bills have been introduced among state legislators across 33 states all of which aimed at restricting the rights of transgender individuals. 

A majority of the bills target transgender youth, to which Bien responded:

“To ensure that our government protects the civil rights of transgender Americans, I charged my team with coordinating across the federal government to address the epidemic of violence and advance equality for transgender people,” Biden stated. 

“I continue to call on state leaders and lawmakers to combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender children. Today, we remember. Tomorrow — and every day — we must continue to act.”

Pope Silhouette

Joe Biden Meets With Pope Francis At Start Of European Tour

Ahead of the G20 summit in Rome, President Joe Biden started off his five-day European trip by having a prestigious meeting with the most influential religious leader in the world – Pope Francis. As ABC News notes, this is the first time in more than half a century a Roman Catholic U.S. leader has met with the Pope.

Due to the role Biden’s personal faith plays in his daily life, the White House said prior that the meeting would be both “personal and formal,” and it showed – there was reportedly a “clear rapport” between the two world leaders.

The White House also provided a readout of the meeting, stating that Biden applauded Francis for his leadership in the fights against climate change and the pandemic, while thanking the Catholic Church head for his advocacy of the world’s less fortunate and “those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution.”

Embed from Getty Images

The Associated Press reported that the meeting ran about 75 minutes, which is more than double the time an audience normally spends with the Pontiff. The two also participated in the typical gift exchange. Biden presented the Pope with a 1930 woven chasuble, along with a challenge coin. Meanwhile, Francis gave Biden a ceramic tile depicting pilgrim iconography.

Additionally, a note left for the Pope by Biden says that The White House will donate more clothes to charities on World Day for the Poor – a Catholic observance that occurs on Nov. 14.

As to what their closed-doors meeting consisted of, the White House said the two planned to discuss
“climate change, ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and caring for the poor.” However, the AP reported that the meeting may be overshadowed by criticisms from conservative U.S. bishops over Biden’s LGBTQ and abortion stance – which is pro-choice. The bishops believe that position should disqualify Biden from receiving communion.

Biden — whose wife, Jill, was among his visiting group — said that the Pope did not give him communion during their meeting. When asked about whether Francis and him discussed the bishops, Biden said that was a “private conversation.”

Biden, who’s the second Catholic to ever be a U.S. President (John F. Kennedy being the first), has met with the Pope three other times, with their last visit coming in 2015 during the Pope’s trip to the eastern United States. He is also the 14th President to meet with the Pope at the Vatican.

It appears the Vatican and the U.S. are once again heading towards good terms. During President Donald Trump’s original campaigning in 2016, there was harsh shade thrown on both sides. Francis criticized Trump for his border and immigration policies, calling out his pro-life hypocrisy.

Embed from Getty Images

In response, Trump said it was “disgraceful” for the Pope to question his faith, and called him a pawn of the Mexican government. When Trump and his family visited the Vatican in 2017, the meeting went viral due to Francis’ somber facial expressions during photo ops.

To the disappointment of many, the planned live broadcast of Biden and Frances’ meeting was cancelled. Instead, the only live footage was of Biden’s motorcade arriving in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki spoke on the subject of the limited press access, and expressed the administration’s efforts to get the media more coverage.

“We believe in the value of the free press. We believe in the value of ensuring you have access to the president’s trips and his visits overseas.”

According to a Vatican spokesman, this reflected “normal procedure” that was established during the pandemic. The Vatican said it would provide edited footage of the meeting afterwards to accredited media members.

As Yahoo News explains, the Vatican had previously done live coverage of past meetings with various world leaders, such as Trump, and also had planned coverage for South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The live footage was even more important considering the Vatican no longer allows independent photographers and journalists into the papal audiences due to the pandemic.

Politicians Warn Of Recession If Debt Limit Is Hit In Coming Weeks

Numerous democratic politicians have taken to addressing their concerns that if the debt limit is hit in the coming weeks, it could spell a crippling recession for the U.S. economy.

Speaking with CNBC, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explained that she sees Oct. 18 as the deadline for the debt ceiling to be addressed by Congress. If the ceiling isn’t dealt with, the U.S. would default on their debt for the first time in history.

“I do regard Oct. 18 as a deadline. It would be catastrophic to not pay the government’s bills, for us to be in a position where we lacked the resources to pay the government’s bills.”

The debt limit had previously been suspended back in 2019 until July 31 of this year. On Aug. 1, the debt limit reset to $28.4 trillion.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY.) has echoed Yellen’s sentiments, and announced on Twitter that he has filed cloture on legislation passed by the House in order to suspend the debt ceiling, and that the Senate will be voting on moving forward Wednesday.

Schumer had previously attempted to gain approval of a debt ceiling increase multiple times, but failed due to the filibuster blockade that the GOP put in place back in June, which requires 60 majority votes.

Embed from Getty Images

Yahoo! Finance explains that as of now, the 100 votes are split evenly between the two parties. The Democrats have been able to reach just 51 votes thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

Schumer expressed his desire to “avoid irreparable economic harm to people and families.” Schumer also called for Republican senators to show they don’t have to “link arm in arm with those extreme members of their conference” by voting in favor of suspension.

The tense situation has been muddled with mudslinging between the two parties, with President Joe Biden accusing Republicans on Monday of playing “Russian roulette” when it comes to the debt ceiling, and that the GOP needs “to get out of the way” in order for the U.S. to avoid a financial crisis.

Biden also explained that the Trump administration is at fault for the need to raise the debt limit because of “the reckless tax and spending policies” that occurred during that time. “In four years, they incurred nearly eight trillion dollars,” Biden said.

In his press conference, Biden gave America an idea of what economic problems would arise if the government is forced to default on its debt.

“Defaulting on the debt would lead to a self-inflicting wound that takes our economy over a cliff and risk jobs and retirement savings, social security benefits, salaries for service members, and benefits for veterans.”

Embed from Getty Images

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) has shown no inclination for the GOP to help Democrats through their votes in order to raise the borrowing limit, while also accusing Democrats of “sleepwalking” towards a debt default.

Yahoo! Finance discussed a majority of ways this debt ceiling bout could end, one of which is the filibuster being lifted by McConnell if Schumer continues his strategies. Another involves Schumer moving to ban to the use of the filibuster in regards to the debt ceiling, although it is noted that maneuver would carry some risks with it due to the senate containing a number of filibuster advocates.

While the general belief is that a positive resolution, no matter what party it comes from, is more likely to occur as opposed to a debt default, the latter is still an intimidating possibility that could send the U.S. financial status spiraling.

President Biden Announces New Vaccine Mandate For Working Americans 

President Joe Biden announced this week that he would be imposing a new stringent set of vaccine requirements for federal workers, large employers, and health care staff in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19. 

The new requirement is set to apply to over 100 million Americans; about two-thirds of the workforce in the nation. 

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. Vaccinated America is growing frustrated with the 80 million people who have not received shots and are fueling the spread of the virus. While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact: We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for a while,” Biden said.

Embed from Getty Images

The new plan requires the Labor Department to force businesses with 100 or more employees to either get everyone vaccinated or get tested once a week. Companies that refuse could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee who refuses to comply.

Biden also signed an executive order that requires every government employee to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and they can’t opt for regular testing. The same standard will also be applied to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government. 

“300,000 educators in federal Head Start programs must be vaccinated, governors need to require vaccinations for school teachers and staff. The 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid will also need to be fully vaccinated, we’re expanding the mandate to hospitals, home care facilities and dialysis centers around the country. We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together to use those tools,” Biden said.

Embed from Getty Images

The new “emergency temporary standard” from the Labor Department will also require all large employers to give their employees paid time off to receive their vaccines if they haven’t done so yet.  “If businesses don’t comply, the government will take enforcement actions, which could include substantial fines up to nearly $14,000 per violation,” according to officials.

“Each employer will decide exactly what they want to do, but what we’re saying through the Department of Labor rule making process is a minimum of testing once a week or full vaccination,” a senior administration official said.

“Federal employees will have 75 days to get vaccinated or risk being fired. The expectation is if you want to work in the federal government or want to be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Additionally, Biden announced a slew of new health and safety measures as a means of slowing the spread of the Delta variant. The Defense Production Act will be evoked in order to accelerate the production of rapid Covid tests. The administration is hoping to send 25 million free tests to US health clinics. 

Biden overall unveiled a six-pillar plan to cobatting the pandemic. According to reports, “The six pillars of Biden’s plan include: vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated through booster shots; keeping schools open; increasing testing and requiring masks; protecting the economic recovery; and improving care for those with Covid-19.”

Pentagon Announces Vaccine Mandate For Troops Starting In September 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo this week detailing his request to president Joe Biden to require all US troops to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-September. 

“I have every confidence that Service leadership and your commanders will implement this new vaccination program with professionalism, skill, and compassion.” 

Embed from Getty Images

Austin said that he will be working to make the vaccine mandatory by mid-September or immediately upon the FDA’s full approval. As of right now vaccines in the military are voluntary when under emergency use authorization by the FDA; which all Covid-19 vaccines in America are currently being distributed under. 

President Joe Biden has the ability to waive the rule and make the vaccine a requirement for any government personnel, and in a recent statement Biden claimed he “strongly” supports Austin’s decision to make the vaccine mandatory. 

“I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”

Embed from Getty Images

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the president’s message of support is appreciated but doesn’t necessarily constitute for the approval of a waiver over the vaccine requirement. The Pentagon itself will still have to go through the process of requesting a waiver and receiving approval from the president. 

“You can consider this memo today as what we would call in the military a warning order – a warning order to the force that this is coming, and we want you to be ready for it as well. Obviously we’d prefer that you get the vaccine now and not wait for the mandate,” Kirby explained. 

Military services are already working on preparation and implementation tactics for whenever the vaccine becomes a requirement for military and government personnel. FDA approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is likely to occur within the next few weeks. 

The Department of Defense released a statement in which they explained that Austin would be consulting with medical professionals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to best determine how to implement these required vaccines among government groups.