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Biden admin rebuffs lawmakers' claims new energy standards will exacerbate 'dream-killing' housing costs

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Biden admin rebuffs lawmakers' claims new energy standards will exacerbate 'dream-killing' housing costs

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The Biden administration on Monday rejected claims from Congress and homebuilder groups that new energy efficiency standards for home construction will make a bad economic situation even worse.

In late May, the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Agriculture enacted updated energy efficiency standards for new home construction that reflect 2021 International Energy Efficiency Conservation Code (IECC) parameters for federally-financed homes.

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The pushback comes after nearly 20 lawmakers sent a recent letter demanding the president halt adoption of the new efficiency standards, set to be enforced, citing affordability and inflationary concerns. 

In comments to Fox News Digital, a Biden-Harris administration official rejected claims the new standards will further burden first-time homebuyers and families already facing record high prices.

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Single-family homes in a residential neighborhood in Aldie, Virginia. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“As a result of this rule, energy efficiency improvements will cut costs by hundreds of dollars per year, saving homeowners tens-of-thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the home,” the official said.

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“[HUD, USDA] and the Department of Energy are providing billions of dollars in resources and support to builders to ensure these standards help homebuyers see lower energy bills, ensure their homes are more resilient to extreme heat and cold, and even see benefits to their health.”

In a separate statement, HUD officials wrote that the adoption of the 2021-IECC will yield “significant annual and lifetime cost savings to homeowners and renters, improves resident health and comfort, and increases the climate resilience of both single family and multifamily covered housing.”

According to a HUD fact sheet, the agency calculated an $80 per month energy bill savings for houses built under 2021-IECC versus the prior standards. Current IECC standards were drafted in 2009 and put into effect in 2015.

In their letter, more than a dozen House lawmakers led by Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., warned Biden the adoption of 2021-IECC standards would exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and price some households out of the market altogether.

Cline’s letter, co-signed by Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, Dan Meuser, R-Pa., and 15 other lawmakers, said 44 states thus far declined to adopt the 2021-IECC standards themselves because they understand the market ramifications.

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BIDEN’S SCOTUS CRITIQUES LARGELY UNPRECEDENTED, EXPERTS SAY, CONTRASTING WITH CLINTON’S 2000 DEFERENCE

“In fact, HUD estimates that applying the 2021-IECC standards would cause new home prices to rise by an average of $7,200 per single-family home. Additionally, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) data shows that around 107 million households are already unable to afford the median price of a new home,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The adoption of this new standard will price an additional 724,525 households out of the market,” it went on. The letter also claimed the new standards will disproportionately hurt underserved communities and first-time homebuyers.

A spokesman for Meuser said although the 2021-IECC standards went into effect May 28, there is still time for Biden to pull back on any enforcement.

The spokesman cited the federal register, which stipulated compliance dates for FHA-insured single family new-construction 18 months after the May date, one year for multifamily projects and two years for projects in rural or “persistent poverty” areas.

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In a statement, Cline said Biden-era regulations have already had a negative impact on the Shenandoah Valley, which he represents, adding the adoption of 2021-IECC will “only exacerbate the housing crisis.”

Another co-signer, Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., quipped, “first inflation, now this.”

Bean said Biden’s energy policies are “killing the American Dream of home ownership.”

Bean went on to cite data mirroring that from Kansas City, Mo.’s Home Builders Association that calculated an increase of more than $31,000 in the price of a home.

“It’s clear Biden stands with Wall Street billionaires and green radicals, not hardworking Americans,” Bean said.

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Self said in a statement the new regulations will deliver only “minimal” energy-saving returns while burdening new homebuyers with higher prices.

A spokesperson for NAHB pointed Fox News Digital to recent congressional testimony by Shawn Woods, a Missouri homebuilder who appeared on the organization’s behalf.

“Without adequate review or consideration of how it will affect home buyers or renters, HUD and USDA have rammed through a mandate that will require new, single-family construction financed through both agencies to be built to the 2021 IECC,” he said.

Woods also echoed lawmakers’ concerns about the potential inflationary effects on the housing affordability crisis during his prior testimony.

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Meanwhile, Craig Toalson, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, praised Cline’s action, predicting mandatory adoption of the standards by HUD and USDA would bring little in the way of “meaningful” energy savings to homebuyers.

“[T]his ill-conceived codes policy will deter new construction at a time when increasing the housing supply is crucial to lowering shelter inflation costs,” Toalson said.

The present and former standards were drafted by the International Code Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. It formulates building safety codes and provides accreditations and technologies, according to its website.

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South Carolina priest says message of unity in Psalm 133 is needed now more than ever

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South Carolina priest says message of unity in Psalm 133 is needed now more than ever

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“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore” (Psalm 133:1-3). 

These verses from the book of Psalms comprise the entirety of Psalm 133 – and their message of unity and hope are particularly important in today’s trying times, a Catholic priest told Fox News Digital this week.

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“Every weekend throughout the United States at different houses of worship, Jewish and Christian communities of various traditions turn to the Book of Psalms as a source of prayer,” Rev. Jeffrey Kirby said. 

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Kirby is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Indian Land, South Carolina. He hosts the morning devotional “Morning Offering with Father Kirby.” 

Psalms, which are sometimes sung by a cantor or chorus, “disclose the inner movements of the human heart as we search to encounter God,” he said, and “are truly a rare collection of snapshots of the human psyche and its desire to see and understand God.” 

The Rev. Jeffrey Kirby of South Carolina reflected on Psalm 133 in the wake of the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump in Butler, Pennsylvania, last week. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Jeffrey Kirby)

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“The 150 psalms are filled with cries of lament and songs of praise. They express every possible emotion of the human soul,” Kirby said.

They are “spontaneous, fluid and give a profound expression to the beauty and chaos of the human heart,” he said. 

Psalm 133 is especially poignant in light of recent events. 

“In our own times, marked as they are by polarization and division, and recently heightened by the shocking attempted assassination of a former president and leading political candidate, we can follow the lead of countless generations before us and turn to the Book of Psalms,” Kirby said. 

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Psalm 133, he said, “can raise up our hearts and give us guidance and encouragement.” 

Said Kirby, “The psalm was one of the Psalms of Ascent, since it was sung by people as they neared Jerusalem for one of the major feasts. The strength of its call for unity and the conviction of its hope for peace among people, however, jumps out and shakes believers of every generation.” 

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents at a campaign rally

“In our own times, marked as they are by polarization and division, and recently heightened by the shocking attempted assassination of a former president and leading political candidate,” said a South Carolina priest, “we can follow the lead of countless generations before us and turn to the Book of Psalms.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“In typical fashion with the psalms,” Kirby said, “which read the human heart and give it words, Psalm 133 expresses the deepest sentiments of many Americans today.” 

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For context, Kirby said, “the use of oil in ancient Israel was a sign of favor and blessing. It was used to designate God’s presence and purpose.”

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It is “biblically rich” that the concept of unity was compared to this kind of oil upon the robe of Aaron, “the spiritual father of the temple priests in the Old Testament,” he said. 

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“The psalmist is telling us that unity is a divine gift, attached to the adoration of God and the prayers of humanity.”

“As we pray this psalm, we feel it resonate within our own souls and the soul of our nation.”

Additionally, Mount Hermon had special significance in biblical times that may not be known to the modern reader, Kirby said. 

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Mount Hermon “is the largest and most visible mountain range in the Holy Land,” he said.

A group praying and holding hands.

Psalm 133 shares a message of unity, said a Catholic priest in South Carolina. (iStock)

“Due to its height, the dew of Hermon was seen as symbolically falling upon the entire land. Hermon was a sign of God’s blessings and the assurance of his gift of life.” 

The psalmist likens unity to “the dew of Hermon,” Kirby noted. 

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“Unity is also shown to be a shining display of God’s blessing upon us.”

“As the mountain range provided defense, security and fresh springs to God’s people, so unity gives protection, stability and refreshment to society,” he said. 

Just as Mount Hermon was a sign of the blessings of God, “unity is also shown to be a shining display of God’s blessing upon us,” he said.

“As we pray this psalm, we feel it resonate within our own souls and the soul of our nation,” Kirby said.

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“As Americans, our hearts yearn and pine as we turn and ask God today for ‘the precious oil’ of unity and for the cherished peace that comes with ‘the dew of Hermon.’”

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Left's war on merit and Republicans' fight to save the American Dream

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Left's war on merit and Republicans' fight to save the American Dream

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I know what racism looks like. I saw it during my childhood in the Jim Crow South.

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I have also experienced the gift of growing up in a remarkable community that never let circumstances stand in the way of a dream. I was raised by educators who taught me that success was possible; I just needed to work for it. And I did. I never let failure hold me back. Instead, I fought to take advantage of every opportunity.

When I think about my kids’ and grandchildren’s future, I imagine a nation well beyond using race as a measure of intelligence and potential. Unfortunately, over the past several years, the political Left has tried to drag us down. They are intent on teaching Black and Brown students that the system is stacked against them, there is nothing they can do to stop it, and it is better to live in a perpetual state of victimhood.

This pessimistic message – holding back countless students because of race – is what the Left is trying to instill in our youth. (iStock)

This pessimistic message – holding back countless students because of race – is what the Left is trying to instill in our youth. This nonsense has reached America’s classrooms, where school boards and staff are waging a war on merit by lowering standards, canceling advanced and AP classes, and replacing entrance exams with arbitrary quota systems all in the name of so-called equity. 

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Not only is minimizing standards counterintuitive to what we should be doing in K-12 and higher education, but it is also an insult to every student who is being fed myths that they are not as smart or capable as their peers because of race.

From teacher training to grading rubrics, we have seen how the “war on merit” has permeated our schools. Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the most egregious offenders of COVID school closures, provided their teachers with training on “grading for equity,” and they downplayed the data that showed student performance was lacking.

In Seattle Public Schools, the district made the insane decision in the name of “equity” to shut down 11 schools dedicated to offering hundreds of students gifted programs, leaving parents “flabbergasted” and disappointed.

Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina went as far as formally adopting an “equity policy” that stated, “all employees must apply an equity lens to examine and reflect on individual practices and biases,” while eliminating gifted and advanced courses.

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Instead of putting in the work and resources to help the kids who are falling behind, some districts have squandered money on “equity” consultants and other insulting and ineffective initiatives that only succeed in holding students back and stoking division.

In Boston, Massachusetts, the school district paid out $120,000 to create so-called “equitable grading policies.” A report released by the nonprofit, grassroots organization Parents Defending Education found that at least 20 school districts were implementing DEI hiring practices instead of focusing on applicants’ experiences, qualifications, and credentials.

Some school districts have gone as far as making it impossible for students to fail, even if they have not proven baseline proficiency in core subjects. In August 2021, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon signed a bill into law that would allow students to graduate high school even if they couldn’t perform the reading, writing and math expected of a student who completed 12th grade. 

What happened? Students figured out they could show up briefly, get marked present, leave, and hand in two assignments, and they would still be able to pass.

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Gov. Kate Brown speaks during an interview in Portland, Oregon, on Jan. 20, 2016. (Meg Roussos/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a separate case, an audit conducted by the Maryland Inspector General’s Office and released in June 2022 found that high schools across Baltimore changed more than 12,000 grades to passing. It should be no surprise that at 13 high schools in the district, zero students demonstrated proficiency on the 2023 state math exam.

Our education system needs an overhaul. Schools should not be looking for ways to lower standards. Slashing academic opportunities is not the answer. We need policies in place that meet students where they are, help them progress, and challenge them to meet and exceed their true potential. 

Excellence should be the standard – not the exception.

Meritocracy and education are how a man like me could rise to serve in the most powerful legislative body in the world. Every American student deserves that same opportunity.

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That is why I am launching The Merit Caucus, focused on advancing and protecting merit in the American education system. Together, we will work to ensure that every student in America receives access to a quality education that matches their true potential and challenges them to be better.

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Our family reunion showed how we can unite America

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Our family reunion showed how we can unite America

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I spent this past weekend in the Smoky Mountains attending a DeBartolo cousins family reunion in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We had a great time reconnecting and reminiscing. Love and laughter filled the house.

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President Trump’s assassination attempt took place during the reunion. It contrasted the unity we were experiencing and the division our country is experiencing.

Re means “back to” so a reunion is back to the union. It’s needed in families, communities and our country. We should, in the words of our Constitution, be seeking a more perfect union.

The DeBartolo cousins gather for a familly portrait in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. (Jeremy Passamonte)

It can start in the family, the most basic unit of our culture. Our family reunion experience was a microcosm of what can happen across our land.

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We all stayed in one big house. People from Connecticut to Arizona, Florida to Ohio all under one roof. The age divide spanned 30 years. Family, yes, but still different in many ways.

We are one big American family. A variety of states but one homeland. A span of ages but all still Americans. Differences, certainly, but also neighbors who care for each other.

family laughs

It takes work to get along, but it can be done. (iStock, courtesy of user Patrick Chu)

I’ve learned this in many years of marriage, sometimes you must agree to disagree. We simply can’t always agree on everything. And sometimes we vehemently disagree. You don’t dissolve the marriage over it; you work on getting along despite it.

At our reunion, some went to Dollywood, some to the national park and some stayed in the house the entire time. Different ways to enjoy our family connections. We didn’t have to all agree on one approach.

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Of course, we did need to agree on meals, responsibilities, schedule. Different doesn’t mean chaos. It takes work to get along; it’s not natural. Selfishness is inborn, service takes effort. But it can be done. Americans have proved it for almost 250 years.

Smoky Mountains view

Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the family gathered for their reunion. (Rick McDaniel)

We didn’t have any blowout fights. But with a group of Italian Americans together for three days it certainly could have happened. But even if there was conflict, we would have resolved it because we love each other.

Americans can disagree without being disagreeable. We can have fights without violence. We can have our views without hating those who have different views.

On Sunday morning, we had a worship service in the theater room of the house. Music was played and my cousin’s husband spoke on God’s grace to our family. We worshiped together because we all share the Christian faith.

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 There is much that binds us together as Americans, much more than what divides us. (iStock)

But not everyone in America does. So, I may disagree with certain values or viewpoints of others. This means we will advocate differently and vote differently. And that is America. I support your right to have a different opinion – even in opposition to mine.

Our family reunion reinforced what I know is true. People need to reconnect over what they love more than what they hate. There is much that binds us together as Americans, much more than what divides us.

I love my cousins, but I have not spent enough time with them. Getting to know them better helped me to appreciate them more, to value their journey and story. 

people clasping hands, praying

Let’s reconnect over our shared values and reunite America. (iStock)

I spent time with one of my cousins and her husband. I’ve always liked them but now I do in a deeper way. The greater knowledge leads to a stronger affinity. I would like to get to know them better.

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The back deck replaced the front porch and changed our communities. Americans need to spend more time outside of our usual echo chambers. Listening and getting to know their neighbors.

This doesn’t mean we will all magically agree. Unity does not mean uniformity. But we can lower the temperature of our discourse if we spend more time together instead of isolated online.

woman on phone

We can lower the temperature of our discourse if we spend more time together instead of isolated online. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Our family hasn’t had a reunion in many years. We are now committed to doing it more often. I had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs this past weekend. I’d like to have more. Life’s too short to miss out on it.

Americans are missing out. Too much anger not enough love. Too much vitriol not enough peace. Too much division, not enough unity.

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Let’s reconnect over our shared values and reunite America.

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