White House hosts local officials, praises policy impact

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WASHINGTON (TBEN) — The White House has made another 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 emergency relief, infrastructure dollars and other policies run locally.

Thursday’s event reflects an expansion in the use of the White House campus as pandemic restrictions have been eased. It is also part of a larger initiative to host municipal, county and state officials from all 50 states on a weekly basis, coinciding with midterm election campaigns in November as the White House tries to boost Democratic voters.

“We are entering a phase of our administration where we can do more in terms of convening 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 Americans’ everyday lives.”

One of the key messages for visiting officials in North Carolina is the recovery in manufacturing. Regular hires since the middle of last year have brought the total number of US manufacturing jobs to 12.85 million, the highest since late 2008 when the financial crisis led to more than 2 million layoffs in the industry.

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

That discussion would follow the first group visit recently by Ohio officials. President Joe Biden spoke earlier this month at the groundbreaking construction of a new Intel plant near Columbus. Both Ohio and North Carolina have open Senate seats this year.

Thursday’s half-day event was for 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, are also said to be talking to the group.

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Attendance was confirmed by 23 officials from North Carolina, including U.S. Representative Kathy Manning, state legislators, the mayors of Charlotte, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Concord, Kinston and Durham, in addition to leaders of Wake. and Guildford counties.

Just as government officials want to hear local stories, they also want to highlight the potential opportunities that local governments may have because of the bipartisan infrastructure law, the incentives for computer chip development and scientific research, and the recent package to boost climate-friendly energy sources and cap prices. of prescription drugs.

As part of the day’s events, the White House planned to connect those officials with regional media outlets to indicate that they are trying to get the message out to the general public. That will be crucial in terms of political coverage. Republicans seeking control of the House and Senate have blamed high inflation for Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, while the government says prices are a byproduct of global events such as the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February .

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The White House says its efforts have helped workers by rapidly lowering unemployment rates to a low 3.7%, but the Republican drumbeat is that consumer prices are up 8.3% from a year ago and the main reason for the decline. concerns among voters. Gasoline prices have fallen since their peak in June, but the Federal Reserve estimated on Wednesday that unemployment is likely to rise to curb inflation.

“The inflation rate above 8% doesn’t mean families are taking a break — it means quite the opposite,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech to the Senate on Monday. “It means that families see prices constantly rising and rising.”

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