News from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

– Statement by the President Obama on health-care reform bill released by Senate HELP Committee today
– Obama signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to women Air Force service pilots
– Declassification Policy Forum to launch this week

 

Statement by the President Obama on health-care reform bill released by Senate HELP Committee today

“For decades, Washington has failed to act as health care costs continued to rise, crushing businesses, families and placing an unsustainable burden on governments. Today the Senate HELP committee has produced legislation that lowers costs, protects choice of doctors and plans and assures quality and affordable health care for Americans. The Congressional Budget Office has now issued a more complete review of this bill, concluding that it will cost less and cover more Americans than originally estimated. It also contains provisions that will protect the coverage Americans get at work. When merged with the Senate Finance Committee’s companion pieces, the Senate will be prepared to vote for health reform legislation that does not add to the deficit, reduces health care costs and covers 97 percent of Americans.

“The HELP Committee legislation reflects many of the principles I’ve laid out, such as reforms that will prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and the concept of insurance exchanges where individuals can find affordable coverage if they lose their jobs, move or get sick. Such a marketplace would allow families and some small businesses the benefit of one-stop-shopping for their health care coverage and enable them to compare price and quality and pick the plan that best suits their needs.

“Among the choices that would be available in the exchange would be a public health insurance option. The public option would make health care affordable by increasing competition, providing more choices and keeping the insurance companies honest.

“The legislation also improves the quality of patient care, improves safety for patients and strengthens the commitment to preventive health care – preventing people from getting sick in the first place.

“I thank Chairman Kennedy, Sen. Dodd, and all the members of the HELP Committee for their hard work on health reform.

 

Obama signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to women Air Force service pilots

President Obama on Wednesday signed into law S. 614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). WASP was established during World War II with the primary mission of flying non-combat military missions in the United States thus freeing their male counterparts for combat missions. Its pilots were the first women ever to fly American military aircraft and flew almost every type of aircraft operated by the United States Army Air Force during World War II on a wide range of missions.

“The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since,” said President Obama. “Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.”

From 1942 to 1943, more than 1,000 women joined the WASP. 38 of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation in performing its mission. But their contribution went largely unrecognized for years, not even being acknowledged with veteran status until 1977.

The groundbreaking steps taken by the WASP paved the way for hundreds of United States servicewomen combat pilots who have flown fighter aircraft in recent conflicts.

The bipartisan effort in Congress to recognize the contributions of the WASP was led by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Susan Davis (D-CA). At today’s signing, President Obama and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen were joined by three members of WASP as well as five active duty United States Air Force pilots who have followed in their footsteps.

 

Declassification Policy Forum to launch this week

WHAT: An important extension of the Open Government Initiative began this week: The Declassification Policy Forum. This will be an interactive conversation available at www.whitehouse.gov/open/blog. Members of the Public Interest Declassification Board will moderate and solicit recommendations from the public on possible revisions to the classification and declassification policies found in Executive Order 12958, as amended, “Classified National Security Information.” This a request of the National Security Advisor in support of the ongoing review of the Order directed by President Barack Obama on May 27, 2009.

WHO: Public Interest Declassification Board Members

WHEN: Monday, June 29, 2009 (start) – Monday July 13, 2009 (end)

WHERE: www.whitehouse.gov/open/blog

The President’s goals of promoting greater government transparency and participation is about to mark a new milestone in what one may think is a very unlikely topic for citizen participation: Classification and Declassification Policy. This is an interesting avenue for public participation and a new facet to the President’s Open Government Initiative.

The Declassification Policy Forum will be used to solicit recommendations for revisions to the Order in four topical areas: Declassification Policy (June 29 – July 1), a National Declassification Center (July 2 – July 4), Classification Policy (July 5 – July 7), and Technology Challenges and Opportunities (July 8 – July 10). Once posted, each topic will be available for comments for three days. At the conclusion of the third day, the comment function on the topic will be turned off and the next topic will begin the following day. After each topic closes, a concluding summary will be posted.

The Declassification Policy Forum began on Monday, June 29, 2009, and will require registration to participate. Participants may make suggestions or comments, vote on previous postings, and flag topics that are off-topic. The Public Interest Declassification Board members look forward to receiving thoughtful ideas and innovative suggestions that will further the policy discussion and assist the Board in making recommendations to the National Security Advisor.

In addition to the online discussion, the Board will also accept input via email (PIDB@nara.gov), fax (202-357-5907), and US mail (Public Interest Declassification Board, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 100, Washington, DC 200408-0001).

 

Background

The Public Interest Declassification Board is an advisory committee established by Congress in order to promote the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant U.S. national security decisions and activities. The Board is composed of nine individuals, five appointed by the President and four by the Congressional leadership. Current Presidential appointees include: Martin C. Faga (Acting Chair),

Herbert O. Briick, Ronald Radosh, Jennifer E. Sims, and Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker. The Minority Leader of the House appointed Admiral William O. Studeman, USN, (Ret.), the Majority Leader of the Senate appointed Sanford J. Ungar, and the Speaker of the House appointed Representative David E. Skaggs.

For more information see: http://www.archives.gov/declassification/pidb.


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