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Remarks by Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao at the Third Quarterly Meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Filipino American History Month Celebration

As Prepared for Delivery, October 15, 2020

Secretary Elaine L. Chao
Introduced by Dr. Paul Hsu, Founder & Chairman, HSU Educational, and Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Good afternoon! I’m sorry we cannot meet in person.  But I’m so pleased to join you virtually for this quarterly meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

Let me thank all the distinguished commissioners coming together today for this third open meeting.  The Department was so pleased to host you in the Lincoln Room on August 5, 2020.

Let me also give a special shout out to those joining us today from the Filipino American community.  That’s especially timely as we celebrate Filipino American History Month, and the many contributions Filipino Americans have made to our country.

The Commission’s work is a vital part of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which I am delighted to co-chair with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.  As you know so well, the Initiative’s mandate is to identify barriers to the advancement of the APA community in mainstream America and to develop solutions.   Our goal is simple but powerful: to positively impact the lives of the fastest growing minority population in America, as well as the 1.9 million companies large and small headed up those in your community.

As our country deals with the impact of COVID-19, we are especially grateful for the hundreds of thousands of Filipino-Americans who are on the front lines of this battle, taking personal risks to save lives.  For decades, Filipino-Americans have served as critical health care workers, helping to alleviate the shortage of skilled nursing care in this country. Today, their contribution is more important than ever before, as they serve in our hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities during this pandemic.  In California alone, nearly 20 percent of registered nurses are Filipinos.  So, our special thanks go out to these brave men and women.

As we confront the pandemic together, let me share with you that the federal government has been working hard to help address the impact of COVID-19, most notably with the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed on March 27, 2020.  The Small Business Administration and the Treasury department have been hard at work processing years of application backlogs to help small businesses.  That’s especially important to the APA community, which includes so many entrepreneurs and small business owners. That’s just one reason why the economic impact of COVID-19 has been so devastating to our community.

The Department of Transportation's priority during this emergency is keeping our nation's critical transportation systems and supply chains open, operational and safe.  The Department of Transportation has distributed $10 billion to our nation's airports; $25 billion to transit authorities, and $1 billion to Amtrak, our passenger rail system. In addition, the Department supported Treasury's program of nearly $50 billion in assistance to the airlines, travel agents, and contractors in the aviation sector.  All this assistance was to meet payroll, maintain operations as well as purchase cleaning equipment and supplies.  The Department has also provided 100 million face coverings to the transportation sector. 

And, equally important, the Department has provided regulatory relief to every transportation sector when needed.  These measures are key to keeping our supply chains open, operational and safe. 

These are indeed challenging times. Our community has so much to be proud of and are a very important part of the strength of this Nation. I know you’ll be hearing today from many other Asian Pacific American leaders in this Administration about their efforts, as well.  So, thank you for everything you are doing to identify barriers to the advancement of our community within mainstream America and develop solutions.  By working together, we can help ensure that the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is served, protected and recognized for its many accomplishments and contributions to our country.

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