White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Update
Welcome to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs state update. In this week's update, the President travels to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to sign a reform bill improving the Department of Veterans Affairs, the President engages with African leaders at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and he makes a statement on the crisis in Iraq.
Keep an eye on your inbox, check out the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs website, and follow us on Twitter at @DavidAgnew44 for more information.
President Obama Signs Bill to Give the VA the Resources It Needs
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, at Fort Belvoir, Va., August 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to sign a reform bill giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the necessary resources to improve access and quality of care for the men and women who have served our country in uniform.
In remarks before the bill signing, President Obama addressed the misconduct that has taken place at some VA facilities across the country -- veterans being denied the care they need, or long wait times being covered up.
"This is wrong," the President emphasized. "It was outrageous. And working together, we set out to fix it and do right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took."
The VA reform bill -- officially the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 -- passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, and will expand survivor benefits and educational opportunities and improve care for victims of sexual assault and veterans struggling with traumatic brain injuries. But the main focus of the new law is to ensure that veterans have access to the care they’ve earned.
The President outlined three important areas the law will address:
1. Giving the VA the resources it needs
2. Ensuring timely care
3. Holding people accountable
The President noted, however, that while this law is focused on immediate needs to reform the VA, we can’t lose sight of the long-term goals of our service members and our veterans.
Click here to learn more about the bill.
President Obama Engages with African Leaders on Final Day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
On Wednesday, President Obama and African leaders took part in three action-oriented sessions as part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit is the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government, and builds on President Obama's trip to Africa last summer.
In remarks at the morning's opening session, the President explained the purpose of the event and noted the progress across the African continent -- and what that means for America.
The President called the summit "an opportunity to focus on three broad areas" where the U.S. and Africa can make progress together: expanding trade that creates jobs; strengthening governance; and deepening our security cooperation against common threats.
"We are here not just to talk," he said. "We are here to take action -- concrete steps to build on Africa’s progress and forge the partnerships of equals that we seek; tangible steps to deliver more prosperity, more security, and more justice to our citizens."
Click here to read more about the Summit.
President Obama Makes a Statement on the Crisis in Iraq
Yesterday, in a statement addressing the current crisis in Iraq, President Obama announced that he authorized two operations in the country -- "targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death."
President Obama reiterated that the U.S. "cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world," but explained why the current situation in Iraq requires the U.S. to act -- and act now.
The President also said that he understands many people are "rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these" -- and made clear that he "will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq."
"Even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq," he said.
Click here to read the full statement.
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