Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • State and Local Officials Urge Congress to Pass Long-Term Infrastructure Bill

    Vice President Biden speaks at the National Governors Association Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, July 11, 2014.

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the National Governors Association Meeting, at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, July 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today, President Obama traveled to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia to deliver remarks on the importance of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, urging Congress to pass a long-term infrastructure bill that would provide certainty for state and local partners, support millions of jobs, and position our economy for lasting growth:

    We know that in a 21st century economy, businesses will set up shop wherever they find the best roads and bridges, and the fastest rail and Internet, the smartest airports, the smartest power grids.  First-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs.  And right now, our investments in transportation are lagging the rest of the world.

    He also spoke about the importance of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) before it runs out this summer, jeopardizing nearly 700,000 American jobs and undermining the ability of states to build and repair roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects across the country.         

    During his remarks last week to the National Governors Association (NGA) in Nashville, Tennessee, Vice President Biden called on governors to continue their push on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill. In a recent letter from NGA to congressional leadership, four bipartisan governors – Mary Fallin of Oklahoma (NGA Chair), John Hickenlooper of Colorado (NGA Vice Chair), Robert Bentley of Alabama, and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia – stressed the importance of resolving the HTF shortfall and enacting a long-term infrastructure bill: “Strengthening our nation’s infrastructure is critically important for governors because infrastructure is a fundamental ingredient to advance economic growth and global competitiveness, create jobs and improve overall quality of life.” According to these governors, “The time is now to settle these issues and prevent avoidable uncertainty.”

  • State and Local Officials Join the President in Year of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage

    Yesterday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation adding Maryland to the growing list of states following the President’s call to raise the minimum wage for workers across the country. And today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced he is taking action at the local level to increase the minimum wage for city contractors and subcontractors to $12 an hour starting in January.

    As the President restated last week, he believes that no one working a full-time job should have to raise a family in poverty. Most Americans agree. In fact, around three out of four Americans support raising the minimum wage. That’s why we’re asking state and local officials across the country to join the President to make this a year of action and raise the minimum wage. 

    During his State of the Union address, the President encouraged Congress to support lifting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 while urging state and local officials to take action without waiting for Congress: “To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act.” A month later, four governors – Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Peter Shumlin of Vermont – appeared on stage with the President in Connecticut to support raising the minimum wage to $10.10. 

    In the year since the President first called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to increase the minimum wage. Without waiting on Congress to act, three of those states – Connecticut, Maryland, and Hawaii – are lifting their minimum wages to $10.10 an hour, and other states and localities are considering similar legislation. If Congress acts to raise the federal minimum wage, more than 28 million workers across the country would see a direct increase in their wages.

  • Welcoming More Than 250 Mayors to the White House

    On January 23, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted more than 250 mayors attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Winter Meeting for a day of policy discussions and questions with officials from the White House and Obama Administration.

    Throughout the day, Cabinet members and senior administration officials made commitments to work hand in hand with mayors to identify additional ways to deliver the services in their cities to help people succeed.

    Check out some of the pictures from the day:

    • President Obama Delivers Remarks to 2014 Conference of Mayors
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    • Vice President Biden Meets with Mayors
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    • Mayors Discuss Technology and Innovation
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    • Mayors Discuss Expanding Trade and Exports
      4 of 8
    • Mayors Discuss Climate Change
      5 of 8
    • Mayors Discuss SOTU
      6 of 8
    • Mayors Cabinet Panel in East Room
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    • Valerie Jarrett and Mayors in East Room
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  • Global Trade Grows Main Street

    Cross-posted from the USTR blog

    Mayors have the best seat in the house when it comes to understanding how trade propels American communities and business. Whether you’re on Main Street in Portland or Peachtree Street in Atlanta; a family farm in South Dakota or a factory floor in South Carolina, trade touches your community in a positive way.

    Earlier this week, I met with mayors from across the country who convened in the District of Columbia for their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting. Among the organization’s many objectives is to promote effective economic policies in urban and suburban areas. Mayors are looking for opportunities to grow their local economies as many are still recovering from the worst recession since the great depression. The proven ability of trade to support jobs in American communities has the potential to help us succeed.

    More and more these days, Americans overwhelmingly recognize that potential for themselves.

  • Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Hosts Inaugural Meeting

    Roundtable discussion with members of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

    Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Secretary Shaun Donovan, and FEMA Associate Administrator David Miller participate in roundtable discussion with members of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. (White House IGA/CEQ)

    Last week, members of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience participated in their inaugural meeting at the White House. President Obama created this Task Force in his Climate Action Plan to advise the Administration on how the Federal government can support communities across the country that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. In 2012 alone, the costs of weather disasters exceeded $110 billion in the United States – including the terrible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these kinds of events – as well as the costs and public health impacts associated with them.

    From Alabama to Guam, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, state, local, and tribal leaders are on the front lines of dealing with extreme weather, sea level rise, and other impacts of climate change. This diverse group of elected officials brought their expertise and experience in building community resilience to our first meeting. Task Force members discussed ways to improve coordination to protect critical infrastructure, public resources, and emphasize pre-disaster preparedness. They also shared ideas about the types of information and tools that would be most useful in confronting the impacts of climate change.

  • Mayors to Highlight Impact of National Service

    Last month in Seattle, I had the opportunity to join St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, President of the National League of Cities, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to announce the second annual Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, which will be on April 1, 2014.

    Mayor Coleman and CNCS

    St. Paul, MN Mayor and National League of Cities President Chris Coleman, joined AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in sorting food at the Pike Place Market Food Bank during the NLC's Annual Congress of Cities and Exposition in Seattle, Wash. (Photo Courtesy CNCS)

    On that date, mayors across the country will participate in a national day of recognition to highlight the impact of national service in their cities and thank individuals who serve.

    In 2013, 832 mayors representing nearly 100 million citizens participated in the inaugural effort, and we  hope for an even bigger turnout this year with the help of partners including Cities of Service, the National League of Cities, and others.

    At the event in Seattle, the mayors shared how service helps their community.

    CNCS Announcement with Mayors

    On hand to announce the 2014 Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service were NLC President and St. Paul, MN Mayor Chris Coleman, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer, and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mesa, AZ Mayor Scott Smith. (Photo courtesy of CNCS)

    “Every day, in cities across the country, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members are making a powerful difference through national service. These dedicated citizens are tackling tough challenges facing our communities – helping kids graduate, fighting poverty, making neighborhoods safer, and much more,” said Mayor Coleman. “I believe in the power of national service and encourage mayors and city officials across the country to join in recognizing the positive impact of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps in our cities.”

    “The beauty of service is that those who serve don’t do it for the headlines or the recognition. They do it because they care, they want to make a difference.” said Mayor Smith. “Mayors Day of Recognition is a way to show our gratitude to AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members for making our communities better places to live.”

    As the federal agency for service and volunteering, CNCS annually engages more than five million citizens in service at more than 70,000 sites in 8,500 cities across the country through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other programs. The agency uses federal and private resources to support nonprofit groups, and a significant portion of this investment is focused on cities.   At the direction of President Obama in the recent Presidential Memorandum on Expanding National Service, we will be doing more in the coming year to use AmeriCorps and Senior Corps as a strategy to tackle some of our toughest challenges.

    Mayors can participate in the April 1 recognition effort by visiting for more information.

    Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.