FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Administration’s Abiding Commitment to Democratic Renewal at Home and Abroad
MARCH 29, 2023
President Biden has called the struggle to bolster democratic governance at home and abroad the defining challenge of our time. That is because democracy—transparent and accountable government of, for, and by the people—remains the best way to realize lasting peace, prosperity, and human dignity.
Internationally, the United States continues to strengthen democratic resilience and respect for human rights through both new and existing initiatives. In Fiscal Years 2022, 2023, and 2024, the United States has invested and aims to provide approximately $9.5 billion, working with Congress and subject to the availability of appropriations, to support democracy, human rights, and good governance globally.
At the first Summit for Democracy held in December 2021, President Biden launched the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, an expansion of U.S. Government efforts to defend and grow democratic resilience with likeminded partners through diplomacy and foreign assistance. These efforts center on five areas of work crucial to the functioning of transparent, accountable governance: advancing technology for democracy, supporting free and independent media, fighting corruption, bolstering human rights and democratic reformers, and defending free and fair elections.
Today, the United States is announcingup to $690 million in new funding for the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal through Fiscal Year 2024, working with Congress and subject to the availability of appropriations. As part of the Presidential Initiative, the U.S. Government is also announcing a groundbreaking new suite of policy initiatives intended to advance technology that works for, and not against, democratic societies.
At home, the Biden-Harris Administration has produced historic progress for the American people, proving that democracy delivers a stronger, fairer society that leaves no one behind. Under President Biden’s leadership, the economy has added more than 12 million jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.6 percent.. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken action to give families more breathing room, including cutting prescription drug costs, health insurance premiums, and energy bills, while driving the uninsured rate to historic lows. It has invested in rebuilding America’s infrastructure, delivering safe roads, clean water, and high-speed Internet to communities across the country. And it is taking the most aggressive action ever to tackle the climate crisis, investing in American innovation and industries that will define the future, and fueling a manufacturing boom that is creating good jobs for workers in parts of the country that have long been left behind. At the same time, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to restore and strengthen the United States’ democratic institutions, including by protecting the right to vote and the civil rights of all Americans.
Advancing Technology for Democracy at Home and Abroad
- The U.S. Government is committed to advancing a positive vision for the Internet and the digital ecosystem; countering the misuse of technology and stemming the tide of digital authoritarianism; and shaping emerging technologies to ensure respect for human rights and democratic principles. At the Summit, the Administration will announce an ambitious slate of new efforts to ensure that technology strengthens democracy.
Promoting Democratic Renewal Abroad
- Supporting Free and Independent Media. To help mitigate the existential threat to the survival of independent media, USAID via its Media Viability Accelerator is partnering with Microsoft and Internews to create a new, web-based data platform that will enable media outlets to better understand the markets, audiences, and strategies that will maximize their odds of profitability. Additionally, USAID will provide up to $16 million for the Promoting Information Integrity and Resilience Initiative (ProInfo), which will strengthen information integrity globally by advancing international cooperation and private-public-civic partnerships.
- Fighting Corruption. In complement to the ongoing work at the U.S. Department of the Treasury to unmask shell companies by requiring them to report information about their beneficial owners, today the U.S. government and over two dozen foreign partners announced the Summit for Democracy Commitment on Beneficial Ownership and Misuse of Legal Persons. The Beneficial Ownership Commitment pledges endorsees to enhancing beneficial ownership transparency so as to make it more difficult for corrupt actors to conceal their identities, assets, and criminal activities through the misuse of opaque corporate structures and legal persons.
- Bolstering Human Rights and Democratic Reformers.
- Through the Partnerships for Democratic Development and the Democracy Delivers Initiative, USAID is surging support to countries experiencing democratic breakthroughs by helping reformist leaders show that democracy is delivering concrete benefits to their people. Since the first Summit for Democracy, the Development Finance Corporation has committed more than $1 billion to help consolidate democratic progress in eight countries on which USAID is focusing the latter effort.
- USAID is creating a first-ever Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance to expand and modernize its support for democracy around the world, implement much of the Presidential Initiative, and further infuse democracy, human rights, and good governance considerations across the Agency’s foreign policy and development work.
- In coordination with the Department of State, the Department of Defense is piloting a program to reduce gaps for women’s participation in partner nation defense and security forces by better incorporating this imperative into security cooperation with its partners.
- Defending Free and Fair Elections. Following a commitment made at the first Summit for Democracy, USAID has convened the world’s leading election assistance organizations in the Global Network for Securing Election Integrity, to align on standards and practices for supporting clean elections. It is also issuing a Guide to USAID Electoral Assistance for the 21st Century to highlight the tenets of transparent, politically neutral, technically rigorous electoral assistance, in contrast to the covert and partisan electoral interference of malign foreign actors.
Advancing Democratic Renewal at Home
- Protecting the Right to Vote in Free, Fair, and Secure Elections.
- President Biden has repeatedly and forcefully called on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act to eliminate discrimination in voting and ensure access to the ballot box for all eligible voters. Until that critical legislation is secured, the Biden-Harris Administration will use every tool at its disposal to protect the right to vote. The Department of Justice has doubled the number of staff dedicated to enforcing voting rights laws, and the President’s FY 2024 Budget provides an increase of $62 million to further strengthen the Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Budget also includes $5 billion to help state and local jurisdictions strengthen our election infrastructure by supporting sustained investment in election equipment, systems, and personnel. Agencies continue to implement the President’s Executive Order directing an all-of-government effort to promote access to voting.
- In January 2023, President Biden signed into law the Electoral Count Reform Act, which establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President. This Act aims to preserve the will of the people and to protect against attempts to overturn our elections, like the attempt that led to the January 6 insurrection.
- The Federal Election Commission took a major step to increase transparency in digital campaigning by finalizing a rule expanding the political advertising disclaimer requirements. These requirements previously applied mainly to traditional print and broadcast; this rule explicitly addresses ads placed for a fee on another person’s website, digital device, application, or advertising platform. Effective March 1, digital political ads must now disclose the entity paying for them.
- Advancing Equity and Racial Justice and Protecting the Rights of All Americans.
- Through the implementation of landmark legislation and historic executive action, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to make real the promise of America for everyone—including rural communities, communities of color, Tribal communities, LGBTQI+ individuals, people with disabilities, women and girls, and communities impacted by persistent poverty. To strengthen the federal government’s equity mandate, in February, President Biden signed a second Executive Order further advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government. This Executive Order launches a new annual, government-wide process to address the barriers underserved communities face in benefitting from Federal policies, programs, and activities. It also requires agencies to improve their community engagement and seek more input from communities about the policies that impact them. Consistent with this charge, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is developing new tools and guidance to broaden public engagement in the regulatory process.
- In a healthy democracy, the criminal justice system must protect the public and ensure fair and impartial justice for all. To advance these mutually reinforcing goals, President Biden urges Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to advance accountability, transparency, and public trust in law enforcement. In May 2022, the President issued an Executive Order on effective and accountable policing and criminal justice practices that, among other things, requires federal law enforcement agencies to ban chokeholds; restrict no-knock warrants; mandate the use of body-worn cameras; provide de-escalation training; submit officer misconduct records into a new national database; and restrict the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. The President’s Executive Order also established a new interagency Alternatives and Reentry Committee to safely reduce unnecessary criminal justice system interactions, improve rehabilitation, and support formerly incarcerated individuals’ successful reentry into society while addressing existing disparities in our Nation’s criminal justice systems.
- In September, President Biden held the United We Stand Summit, the first-ever White House Summit to address the hate-fueled violence that threatens our public safety and democracy. At the Summit, the White House announced an historic package of new actions the federal government and all sectors of society will take to foster national unity and counter hate and toxic polarization. The President also established an interagency group to increase and better coordinate U.S. Government efforts to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of bias and discrimination within the United States—the group’s first order of business is to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism. The President has also taken historic action to reduce gun violence, including by signing into law the most significant gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years and taking more executive action to reduce gun violence that any other president at this point in the presidency.
- President Biden has taken historic actions to advance full equality for LGBTQI+ Americans. The President championed and signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act, safeguarding marriage equality for LGBTQI+ and interracial couples. The President has expanded rights and protections for transgender Americans. He has also worked to advance opportunity and dignity for LGBTQI+ children and families by: taking on the discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy;” strengthening resources and protecting for LGBTQI+ children in America’s public schools; and improving the federal government’s collection of data related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Ensuring all people—regardless of their gender—are able to participate fully and equally in civic and political life is a foundational tenet of stable democracies. The Biden-Harris Administration is implementing the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, including making progress towards ensuring all people can live free from violence by signing into law the strengthened and reauthorized Violence Against Women Act and historic military justice reform. The President has also advanced protections and equity in the workplace, including through Executive Orders to advance pay equity for federal employees and employees of federal contractors, and by signing into law important protections for pregnant and nursing workers. The President has issued two Executive Orders and a Presidential Memorandum to protect access to reproductive health care services, including abortion, in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, and to defend a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.
- President Biden has prioritized relationships with Tribal Nations that are built on respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, honoring federal trust and treaty responsibilities, protecting Tribal homelands, and conducting regular, meaningful, and robust consultation. The President’s economic agenda includes historic levels of funding specifically for Tribal communities and Native people, including $32 billion in the American Rescue Plan (ARP), $13 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and $700 million in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
- Bolstering Democratic Institutions, Promoting Civic Participation, and Improving Public Engagement with Government.
- The Administration is leveraging the power of national service and volunteerism to bring together Americans from different backgrounds to serve their communities and country in common purpose. The President’s FY 2024 Budget includes a $166 million increase for AmeriCorps to raise the living allowance it provides its members to make national service more accessible.
- President Biden believes that all Americans should have the opportunity to learn about our democratic process and our nation’s rich history—including both our triumphs and the times we have failed to live up to our founding ideals. The 2023 omnibus appropriations package tripled federal investment in civics education, and President Biden is building on this progress by including an additional $50 million to help students understand the U.S. Constitution and how our system of Government works and build the skills—including media and digital literacy skills—required to fully participate in civic life.
- A free and independent press is critical to our democracy. In October 2022, Attorney General Garland announced significant revisions to the Justice Department’s regulations regarding obtaining information from, or records of, members of the news media. Under the new rules, only in extremely narrow circumstances will DOJ use compulsory legal process—like subpoenas and search warrants—when investigating media acting within the scope of newsgathering. The President’s FY 2024 Budget committed to working with the Congress to support independent local journalism to better inform Americans about the matters that impact their lives and hold the powerful accountable.
- Strong and independent unions are an essential bulwark of democracies: They build solidarity across race, gender and other lines of difference to advance their members’ shared interests, elect leadership from their own ranks to give workers a voice, and serve as counter-weights to the economic and political power of Wall Street and large corporations. Earlier this month, the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment released an update detailing agencies’ progress towards implementing more than 70 action items to support worker organizing and collective bargaining.
- In December 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration released the U.S. Government’s Fifth Open Government National Action Plan to advance a more inclusive, responsive, and accountable government. The plan includes commitments to increase the public’s access to data to better advance equity, engage the public in the regulatory process, make government records more accessible to the public, counter corruption, and improve the delivery of government services and benefits.