Saturday, August 8, 2015

Weekly Address: Reaffirming Our Commitment to Protecting the Right To Vote

In this week's address, the President celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by underscoring the importance of one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy – that all of us are created equal and that each of us deserves a voice.

Team of "New York's Bravest" Headed to West Coast to Help Battle Wildfires

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that a crew of 20 employees and volunteers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are traveling to the West Coast to assist in the containment of fires burning in Northern California and throughout the West. DEC has an additional four state forest rangers working out west that left earlier this month.

“New Yorkers help their neighbors in their time of need and today these emergency responders continue this tradition by deploying to the West Coast to help battle these devastating wildfires,” Governor Cuomo said. “I commend these men and women for their bravery and look forward to their safe return.”

The DEC employees and volunteers deployed will join crews from other states in flying to California, Washington and Oregon, where they will then be transported to a fire base camp. The wildfires are burning tens of thousands of acres with most started from lightning in late July. Many homes are threatened by the spread of any of these fires.

“The work of DEC’s firefighting team serves as a great example of how states can work together and share resources during times of adversity,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “We wish them a safe and successful trip out west and will welcome the team home with much gratitude for their courageous work.”

The New York team is expected to be active in fighting fires for two weeks. All personnel travel and administrative costs for the crew will be paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to the state.

New York first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979, and, on average, one or two crews have been sent to assist each year. In addition, to helping contain the western wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized in fighting wildfires in New York.

Source: Press Office, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Bill Carey, Journalist, Dead at 61

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo 

"I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Carey. Bill was a tremendous reporter who served as a leader and role model for so many people over his career. He was truly one of the best in the business, and his impact will live on for years to come. My thoughts and prayers are with the Carey family and all of his friends and colleagues at Time Warner Cable News during this difficult time."

More information on the legacy and life of Bill Carey is available through the following link: Bill Carey Dead at 61 

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on
H.R. 212, H.R. 1531, H.R. 2131, H.R. 2559
On Friday, August 7, 2015, the President signed into law:
H.R. 212, the “Drinking Water Protection Act,” which amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide for the assessment and management of the risk of algal toxins in drinking water;
H.R. 1531, the “The Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act,” which allows temporary seasonal employees in Federal land management agencies to compete for vacant permanent positions under internal merit promotion procedures; 
H.R. 2131, which designates the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 83 Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina, as the J. Waties Waring Judicial Center; and
H.R. 2559, which designates a 10-mile segment of Interstate Route 10 near San Antonio, Texas, as the PFC Milton A. Lee Medal of Honor Memorial Highway. 

Source: The White House Press Office 

Governor Cuomo Discusses Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak on NY1 (Full Audio)

This afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo called into NY1 and spoke with Roma Torre about Legionnaires’ Disease, among other topics.

The audio is available here: Cuomo Discusses Outbreak 

Source: Press Office, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

West Wing Week: 08/07/15

This week, the President announced a new historic action to cut harmful carbon pollution, advocated for the Iran deal, celebrated his 54th birthday, and inaugurated a new class of Mandela fellows.

The President Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

President Obama delivered remarks to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in the South Court Auditorium at the White House.

Congressman John Lewis and Melissa Harris-Perry Talk About Voting Rights

Congressman John Lewis and MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry have a conversation on the Voting Rights Act, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

White House Press Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of topics, including the Fox News presidential debate and Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) announcement he will not support the Iran nuclear agreement.

Source: C-Span

POTUS Signs H.R.1138 Sawtooth Nat'l Recreation Area & Jerry Peak Wilderness Act

President Obama signs H.R. 1138, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, which creates 275,665 acres of protected wilderness area.

Video link: POTUS Signs H.R.1138

Source: C-Span

Roundtable on Voter Turnout and Demographics

Thom File, a sociologist with the U.S. Census Bureau, and Philip Bump of the Washington Post talked about demographics and voter turnout in congressional and presidential elections since 1978. Viewers were also asked to respond to the question, “Do you vote? Why or why not?” Telephone lines were divided by age demographics.

This program was part of Washington Journal’s regular Friday “America by the Numbers” series.

Source: C-Span

Discussion on Healthcare and the Homeless

Policy experts and government agency officials discuss the relationship between stable housing and health. The Alliance for Health Reform hosts this event.

Source: C-Span

"Flashback Friday": ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings' Final TV Sign-Off

Uploaded to YouTube on Mar 20, 2007

This clip aired on the final day that the honored ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings ever appeared again on television (5th April 2005). This is the day Jennings went public that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer; sadly, he passed away that upcoming August, he never again was well enough to anchor the broadcast. Jennings was the best anchor in the history of American television news, and certainly one of the best journalists of all time; he shall be greatly missed.

From The G-Man proudly salutes the legacy and life of the late, great Peter Jennings. May he never be forgotten, and may he in peace. 

Trailblazers in Black History: Billie Holiday, Music Icon

Today in History: August 7th

Statement on the Employment Situation in July

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in July.

The economy added 215,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent—its lowest level since 2008. Over the past two years, our economy created 5.7 million jobs, the strongest two-year job growth since 2000. And our businesses have created 13.0 million jobs over the past 65 straight months, extending the longest streak on record. But despite the rapid pace of recent growth, some slack left over from the financial crisis remains in our labor market, and there is more work to do to ensure that we continue to make progress. That’s why the President is committed to pushing Congress to increase investments in infrastructure as part of a long-term transportation reauthorization, opening new markets for U.S. goods and services through expanded trade, providing relief from the sequester, and raising the minimum wage.


1. The private sector has added 13.0 million jobs over 65 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record. Today we learned that private-sector employment rose by 210,000 in July. Our businesses created more than 200,000 jobs in fifteen of the past seventeen months. In fact, we have created over 5.5 million private-sector jobs over the past two years—more than in any two-year period since 1997-1999.
 (Click on the graphs to increase their size.)

2. The unemployment rate has fully recovered from the Great Recession, and broader measures of the labor market show substantial progress but still point to some remaining slack. With today’s report, the headline unemployment rate (on an unrounded basis) moved below its pre-recession average for the first time in the recovery. While this milestone is a testament to the strength of the labor market recovery so far, several alternative measures of labor market strength have not fully recovered, and some level of slack remains. For example, the long-term unemployment rate is 34 percent above its pre-recession average. The slower recovery in the long-term unemployment rate is offset by the short-term unemployment rate, which is now below its pre-recession average. More noticeably, the U-6 “underemployment rate”—a broader measure than headline unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those employed part time while preferring to work full time—remains 14 percent above its pre-recession average. The female and Hispanic populations’ unemployment rates are not yet fully recovered, but unemployment rates for male, black, white, and Asian American workers are now below their pre-recession averages. 


3. When measuring the labor market recovery, it is critical to control for the effects of demographic and structural changes. The age distribution of the U.S. population has become markedly older in recent years, and increasing numbers of baby boomers are entering retirement. Accordingly, employment as a share of population (the “e-pop” ratio) is much lower today than it was a decade ago, since such a large fraction of the population has moved beyond working age. While these demographic shifts are important for understanding the economy’s structure and long-term trajectory, they provide little information about its cyclical recovery. Cyclical patterns in employment should be measured against a baseline that in some way reflects these structural trends. Measuring employment as a share of the labor force helps accomplish this goal. This is the approach taken by the headline unemployment rate, which has now fully recovered to its pre-recession average.

Some commentators have asserted that the unemployment rate is a misleading measure because the post-crisis decline in the labor force reflects more than demographic factors. CEA has also found that other factors beyond demographics have reduced the labor force, although demographics appear to be the largest factor. One broader baseline than size of the labor force is the set of all people who report that they “currently want to work,” since 2-3 percent of the population reports wanting a job but are not considered part of the labor force. Even when considering employment as a share of all those who report “currently wanting to work”—a broader group than the labor force—employment has nearly returned to its pre-recession average. This comparison suggests that the difference between the unemployment rate, which is back to previous levels, and e-pop, which is not, is mostly explained by those who report that they “do not currently want to work”—mostly because they are above working age.

4. Job losses during the Great Recession were broad-based across industries, and job gains during the recovery have been similarly widespread. The payroll employment “diffusion index” is a measure of the share of industries that have added jobs over the trailing twelve months. During the recession, employment loss was especially widespread across industries, as the diffusion index bottomed at 12.5 percent in August 2009. Over the past 12 months, the index has averaged 78.9 percent—the highest 12-month average since 1998. This fact suggests that employment growth over the past year has been more broad-based than in recent decades. The same pattern is true when considering only manufacturing industries, as the rebound in U.S. manufacturing employment since the financial crisis has followed a secular decline over the prior two decades.

5. The distribution of job growth across industries generally followed recent trends in July, but some industries saw especially strong or weak months. July was an especially strong month for utilities (+3,000), retail trade (+36,000), financial activities (+17,000), and private educational services (+7,000). July was a weaker than usual month in temporary help services (-9,000), construction (+6,000), health care and social assistance (+30,000), and information services (+2,000). Across the 17 industries shown below, the correlation between the most recent one-month percent change and the average percent change over the last twelve months declined to 0.58 from 0.86 last month, roughly in line with the average correlation over the past two years.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll 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 as they become available. 

Source: The White House Press Office 

NYS Health Department Sending Teams to the Bronx to Test for Legionella Bacteria

Announcement Follows Briefing in Governor’s New York City Office with Officials from CDC and Local Health Departments Across New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that, beginning tomorrow; teams led by the State Department of Health will be deployed to the Bronx to expedite the collection and testing of cooling tower water samples for Legionella Bacteria. This follows yesterday’s announcement that the state is providing free testing for building owners and operators with cooling towers or evaporative condenser units that can be sources of the bacteria, as well as two free hotlines (888-769-7243 or 518-485-1159) to support sample collection. At the Governor’s direction, State Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker will also be reviewing current Health regulations and examining possible improvements to help prevent similar outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease in the future.

Today’s announcement was preceded by a briefing in the Governor’s New York City office between representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State Department of Health and local health departments from across the state.

“As officials work to contain and combat this outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, today, we are taking the next proactive step forward to protect New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are working to treat victims and stop the spread of the outbreak, while also taking precautions to maintain the public health in the future. I wish to thank CDC Director Dr. Frieden for his quick support, as well as all of our partners in the CDC, New York City and other local health departments for their coordination and cooperation. Finally, my thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted by Legionnaires’, and my heart goes out to those have lost loved ones to this terrible disease.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “This is an all hands on deck situation and we need all of our partners at every level of government to help address the situation. We just had a very productive briefing with some of the county health commissioners from around the state, and I’d like to thank both them and our partners at the CDC for coming together to help us combat the current outbreak. I believe that the steps we are taking are crucial and will safeguard the public health.”

Following a conversation between the Governor and CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC has deployed a team to New York City to assist in the effort to combat the current outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease. That team is led by Dr. Claressa Lucas of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and Dr. Jasen Kunz of the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH).  

Local officials that participated in the briefing with Dr. Lucas, Dr. Kunz and Dr. Zucker included:
    · Westchester County Commissioner of Health Dr. Sherlita Amler
    · New York City Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary Bassett
    · Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein
    · Nassau County Commissioner of Health Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein
    · Cortland County Director of Health Dr. Catherine Feuerherm
    · Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Dr. James Tomarken
    · Albany County Commissioner of Health Dr. Elizabeth Whalen

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that the State Health Department is providing Legionella testing for building owners, operators, managers and landlords of buildings with cooling towers or evaporative condenser units that can be sources of the bacteria.

The Governor has also made State phone lines available in order to further facilitate Legionella testing by State Health officials. Those numbers are 888-769-7243 and 518-485-1159, and are available to building owners and operators free of charge. Trained operators are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. These lines are designed to support sample collection, which will facilitate testing by the Department of Health. If you require medical attention, call your health care provider or 9-1-1 immediately.

Building owners, operators, managers, and landlords who wish to have DOH test for Legionella should send the name and address to which the kit should be mailed, and a working phone number to: DOH will send an appropriate sampling kit with simple instructions for sample collection.
Legionnaires’ Disease is not spread person-to-person. Legionella exists naturally in water and moist soil and is found in creeks and ponds, hot water tanks, water in air conditioning cooling towers and evaporative condensers, as well as soil at excavation sites – but high concentrations of the bacteria can be dangerous. Proper maintenance and routine disinfection of cooling towers can help minimize the presence of Legionella and reduce the risk for exposure to the public. Although some smaller buildings may have units of this type, water-based cooling towers are typically found in larger, industrial, commercial and high-rise residential sites.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Cooling Engineers (ASHRAE) recently released new guidelines that landlords are encouraged to follow. Additional information on Legionnaires’ disease from DOH can be found here

Source: Press Office, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Legionnaire's Outbreak on the Rise

100 people infected and 10 dead now, NYC Mayor De Blasio's urgent demand to disinfect cooling towers.

Sen. Chuck Schumer Opposes Iran Deal, Splits With Obama

The New York Democrat is the first senator of the president's party to oppose the deal.

Officials Confirm Debris Belongs to Flight MH370

Federal Court Strikes Down Tough Texas Voter ID Law

A federal appeals court has struck down one of the nation's strictest voter ID laws, siding with the Obama administration's argument that it would keep hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots.

The Wednesday decision was a victory for the president, who has directed the Justice Department to try to beat back a movement in several Republican-led state governments to implement ballot-box restrictions.

Democrats and civil rights advocates have been fighting the Texas law since it was passed in 2011. After early success, opponents of the law had to change tactics when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act. 

Full article available here: Federal Court Strikes Down.... 

Source: NBC News

Laughs and Some Tears as Jon Stewart Hosts Last 'Daily Show'

There were plenty of jokes and a few tears Thursday as "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart appeared on his last show, ending a 16-year run that established him as one of America's foremost satirists of politicians and the media.

"Guess what?" Stewart said. "I've got big news. This is it."

Stewart's final show began as what was billed as a report on the first Republican presidential debate, but which quickly turned into a reunion of correspondents who have appeared on the program over the years — including Lewis Black, Steve Carell, Ed Helms, Aasif Mandvi, John Oliver, and Stephen Colbert.

Dr. Dre to Donate All New Album Royalties to Fund Compton Arts Center

A day before the official release of his long-waited new album, Dr. Dre announced that he will donate his royalties earned from the sale of "Compton" to help fund a new performance arts center in the city the record is named after.

"I've been working on something to make this album really special," the American record producer told Beats 1 Radio DJ Zane Lowe on Thursday. Dre revealed that he had reached out to Compton Mayor Aja Brown in recent months to ask how he could give back to his hometown. 

Details available here: Dr. Dre Donation 

Source: NBC News

GOP Debate: Donald Trump Steals Spotlight at Rowdy Event

Retirees Face Double Social Security-Medicare Whammy Next Year

CHICAGO - Retirees are facing a double whammy next year: no inflation adjustment in their Social Security benefits and a whopping 52 percent jump in certain Medicare premiums.

The Medicare premium hikes will hit only 30 percent of beneficiaries: those who are not protected from a "hold-harmless" provision in federal law that prohibits any premium hike that produces a net reduction in Social Security benefits.

But the increases suggest strongly that the recent trend of moderate healthcare inflation is ending. 

Full article and accompanying video available here: Double Whammy 

Source: NBC News

Chattanooga Shooting: Navy Plans Armed Guards for Reserve Centers

After a gunman killed four Marines and a sailor at a Navy Reserve Center in Chattanooga last month, the Navy plans to station armed guards at all of its reserve centers across the country, NBC News has learned.

An email sent to Naval Reservists nine days after the attack, and obtained by NBC News, says "VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY!" to provide 45 days of "armed sentry watchstander duty" at 53 "NOSCs," or Navy Reserve Centers, beginning Aug. 17, and also asks for volunteers to provide a full year of armed sentry duty at 70 reserve centers starting Oct. 17.

The Navy confirmed to NBC News that it plans to station armed personnel at all 70 reserve centers that are not located on military bases. The guards would be reservists called to active duty on an all-volunteer basis. 

Full article article available here: Navy Plans Armed Guards...

Greece Says Cannot Handle Migrants; UNHCR Calls Crisis ‘Shameful’

Reuters, 07/08 18:27 CET

By Michele Kambas and Stephanie Nebehay

LESBOS, Greece/GENEVA (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked Europe to help in handling tens of thousands of refugees coming in from Syria, Afghanistan and other war zones, saying on Friday his cash-strapped country could not deal with them alone.

The influx has piled pressure on Greece’s services at a time when its own citizens are struggling with harsh cuts and its government is negotiating with the EU and the IMF for fresh loans to stave off economic collapse.

Boatloads of migrants arriving every day had triggered a “humanitarian crisis within the economic crisis,” Tsipras said after a meeting with ministers.

“The EU is being tested on the issue of Greece. It has responded negatively on the economic front – that’s my view. I hope it will respond positively on the humanitarian front,” he said.

Full article available here: Greece Says Cannot Handle Migrants 

Source: Euronews

EU Officials to Review Progress in Greek Bailout Talks

 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Reuters, 07/08 18:21 CET

By Robert-Jan Bartunek and Lefteris Papadimas

BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) – Senior EU officials will confer by telephone late on Friday on progress in negotiations between Greece and its international creditors on a third bailout for the near-bankrupt euro zone country with Germany reported to be warning against haste.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trying to force the pace of the talks, keen to wrap up agreement on sensitive economic reforms by mid-August, while many Greeks are on holiday, and receive an initial aid disbursement by Aug. 20 in time to make a bond payment to the European Central Bank.

Athens is negotiating with European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund for up to 86 billion euros (£60.5 billion) in fresh loans to stave off economic collapse and stay in the euro zone.

At a meeting on Thursday, Tsipras and French President Francois Hollande agreed that a new deal should be concluded soon after Aug. 15.

“The objective is for the negotiations on the programme … to be concluded at the end of August. We know it’s difficult but we must make sure that the conditions are met, in a good spirit,” Hollande told reporters.
Talks were going “in the best of directions”, he added.

Full article available here: EU Officials to Review Progress... 

Source: Euronews

Iran Quds Chief Visited Russia Despite U.N. Travel Ban – Iran Official

Qassem Soleimani, Head of Iran’s elite military Quds Force

Reuters, 07/08 18:44 CET

LONDON (Reuters) – The head of Iran’s elite military Quds Force, who is subject to a United Nations travel ban, has met senior Russian officials in Moscow, an Iranian official said on Friday.

Qassem Soleimani, chief of the force which is an overseas arm of the Revolutionary Guards, has been subject to an international travel ban and asset freeze by the U.N. Security Council since 2007.

But the Iranian official, who declined to be identified, said Soleimani had made the trip in the second half of July, where he had held talks covering regional and bilateral issues and the delivery to Iran of S-300 surface-to-air missiles and other weapons.

Soleimani had arrived in Moscow on July 24 and met President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu before departing three days later, Fox News reported on Thursday.

A Kremlin spokesman denied any meeting between Soleimani and Putin had taken place, RIA news agency reported.

Full article available here: Visited Russia Despite U.N. Travel Ban 

Source: Euronews

Migrant Crisis: Five Arrested After Vessel Capsizes off Libya

Source: Euronews

Ukraine Puts Top Russian General Gerasimov on ‘Most Wanted’ List

Source: Euronews

Russia Destroys Tons of Illegal Food Imports at its Border

Source: Euronews

Syria: Hundreds Disappear After Militants Take Strategic Town

Source: Euronews

Norway’s Young Labour Return to Utoya Island

For the first time in four years the Norwegian Labour party’s youth wing is gathering for summer camp on Utoya island.

In 2011 it was the scene of a terrible massacre when a right-wing extremist shot 69 mostly young people dead, and it is only now that the Labour party has returned.

Full article and video available here: Return to Utoya Island 

Source: Euronews

Search for MH370 Wreckage Intensifies at Reunion Island

Source: Euronews

Terrorists Attack UN Hotel in Central Mali

At least one person has been killed in a terrorist attack on a hotel in central Mali frequented by UN workers.

Full details and video available here:  Terrorist Attack in Central Mali

Source: Euronews

Truck Bomb Kills Eight and Injures Hundreds in Afghanistan

Source: Euronews

Egypt Opens Suez Canal in Lavish Ceremony

Source: Euronews

Bin Laden Pilot Landed Too Late in Fatal Crash in England

Source: Euronews

Ceremony in Turkey Marks 100 Years Since Gallipoli August Offensive

Source: Euronews

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary
on H.R. 876, H.R. 1626, S. 1482

On Thursday, August 6, 2015, the President signed into law:

H.R. 876, the “Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act,” which requires hospitals to notify Medicare beneficiaries who are in the hospital for observation that they are classified as outpatients, and the effects of that classification on Medicare coverage;

H.R. 1626, the “DHS IT Duplication Reduction Act of 2015,” which requires the Chief Information Officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify duplicative or fragmented information technology (IT) systems within DHS and develop a strategy to reduce such duplication or fragmentation; and

S. 1482, the “Need-Based Educational Aid Act of 2015,” which extends until September 30, 2022, current exemptions to Federal antitrust law that permit two or more colleges or universities that admit all students on a need-blind basis to agree to award financial aid to students only on the basis of demonstrated financial need.

Source: The White House Press Office

Biden: 'It’s the Right from Which All Other Rights Flow'

Statement by the Vice President on the 50th
Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Our task to protect the fundamental right to vote is as critical today as it was fifty years ago when Dr. King stood in the White House as President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

Dr. King wrote, "Voting is the foundation stone for political action.” Voting is the engine that drives all civil rights, all human rights, and all economic rights in this country. It’s the right from which all other rights flow.

That’s why Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, and young people like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner risked everything in the hot summer of 1964 to register voters in the state of Mississippi—and countless other heroes marched in communities across the country to ensure every eligible person could exercise his or her most basic right of citizenship.

The desire for that voice is what inspired 600 courageous young people, including my friend John Lewis, to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, straight into the belly of hell. It inspired a nationwide movement that brought the Voting Rights Act to President Johnson’s desk 50 years ago today.

And it’s why we remain committed to using every tool at our disposal and every fiber of our being to protect this fundamental right, as we did in Texas when a federal court struck down one of the most pernicious anti-voting laws in the country.

The legacy of the Voting Rights Act is not fulfilled until we break down the barriers designed to silence our fellow citizens.

And so on this day and every day, I salute generations of marchers for justice who continue this fight to ensure that most fundamental American act: to vote. 

Source: The White House Press Office