White House hosts local officials, touts impact of policies

White House hosts local officials, touts impact of policies

By JOSH BOAK – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has a new effort to show local governments what it can do for their communities, hosting officials from North Carolina to highlight funding opportunities and hear first-hand how coronavirus relief, infrastructure dollars and other policies are doing locally.

Thursday’s event reflects an expansion in use of the White House campus as pandemic restrictions ease. It’s also part of a larger initiative to host city, county and state officials from all 50 states each week, coinciding with the campaign for November’s midterm elections as the White House tries to energize Democratic voters.

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“We are entering a phase in our administration where we can do more in terms of summoning the White House,” said Julie Rodriguez, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “It’s incredibly inspiring for us to get closer to the impact we have on the daily lives of Americans.”

One of the key messages from the North Carolina officials’ visit is the recovery of the manufacturing sector. Steady hiring since the middle of last year has taken total U.S. manufacturing jobs to 12.85 million, the most since late 2008 as the financial crisis prompted more than 2 million layoffs in the sector .

Officials are expected to discuss with the North Carolina group Wolfspeed’s plans to invest $5 billion to build a silicon chip factory that is expected to create about 1,800 jobs in the state.

This discussion would follow the first group visit recently by officials from Ohio. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden spoke at the grand opening of a new Intel factory near Columbus. Ohio and North Carolina have open Senate seats this year.

Thursday’s half-day event was to include EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who is from North Carolina. Rodriguez and Keisha Lance Bottoms, a former Atlanta mayor who is now a senior White House adviser, were also scheduled to speak to the group.

It has been confirmed that 23 North Carolina officials, including U.S. Representative Kathy Manning, state lawmakers, mayors of Charlotte, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Concord, Kinston and Durham, in addition to county leaders from Wake and Guildford.

Just as administration officials want to hear local stories, they also want to highlight the opportunities local governments may have due to bipartisan infrastructure law, incentives for computer chip development and scientific research, and the recent package to encourage climate-friendly energy supply sources and limit prescription drug prices.

As part of the day’s events, the White House has planned to connect these officials to regional media to show that they are trying to get the message out to the general public. This will be crucial in terms of political messages. Republicans seeking to control the House and Senate have blamed high inflation on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, while the administration says prices are a byproduct of events such as the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

The White House says its efforts have helped workers by rapidly bringing the unemployment rate down to 3.7%, but the Republican drumbeat is that consumer prices are up 8.3% from a year ago. a year and the main reason for voters’ concern. Gasoline prices have fallen since peaking in June, but the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that unemployment will likely rise to bring inflation down.

“The inflation rate topping out above 8% doesn’t mean families are taking a break — it means the exact opposite,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech Monday in the Senate. “That means families continue to see prices go up and up and up all the time.”

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