THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE

President Donald J. Trump's Year of Regulatory Reform and Environmental Protection at the EPA

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 16:52

“We’re ending intrusive EPA regulations that kill jobs, hurt family farmers and ranchers, and raise the price of energy so quickly and so substantially.” – President Donald J. Trump

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is implementing the energy independence priorities laid out in the Executive Order, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.

  • On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order 13783 on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. On October 25, 2017, the EPA released a report on how it is implementing the President’s Executive Order to curb regulatory burdens to promote energy production and economic growth.
  • The report included four initiatives started by the EPA to implement Executive Order 13783.
    • EPA is creating a task force dedicated to reviewing and simplifying the New Source Review application and permit process.
    • EPA is streamlining the National Ambient Air Quality Standards State Implementation Plan approval process.
    • EPA will conduct evaluations of the potential employment effects that may result from the implementation of five environmental statutes. These evaluations had not been conducted historically, despite being mandated by the five statutes.

ROLLING BACK THE CLEAN POWER PLAN: Following the principles established by the President’s Executive Order on Energy Independence, EPA has proposed the repeal of the “Clean Power Plan.”

  • Repealing the Clean Power Plan will allow for the development of critical United States energy sources.
  • The Administration estimates that repealing the Clean Power Plan could eliminate up to $33 billion in compliance costs in 2030.
  • The proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan respects the limits of the EPA’s authority.
    • The Clean Power Plan was originally issued under an expansive and legally dubious view of the EPA’s authority under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.
    • The Plan authorized EPA to dictate the content of the Nation’s energy portfolio, a power well outside its authority under the Clean Air Act.
    • It also severely restricted States’ long-held authority to make choices about energy production and use within their borders.
  • Public hearings were held for the proposed repeal on November 28th and 29th.
    • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced three additional public listening sessions to be held in California, Wyoming, and Missouri.

STREAMLINING SUPERFUND CLEANUPS: EPA Administrator Pruitt launched a task force to provide recommendations on how to streamline and improve the Superfund program, which is responsible for cleaning up land contaminated by hazardous waste.

  • In May, EPA Administrator Pruitt announced the creation of a Superfund task force to look at ways to streamline and improve the Superfund program.
  • The Superfund task force released 42 detailed recommendations with five goals in mind.
    • Expediting cleanup and remediation
    • Re-invigorating responsible party cleanup and reuse
    • Encouraging private investment
    • Promoting redevelopment and community revitalization
    • Engaging partners and stakeholders

FORWARD THINKING SOLUTIONS: EPA has re-launched launched the Smart Sectors Program to partner with the private sector to achieve better environmental outcomes.

  • The Smart Sectors Program uses a sector-based, collaborative approach to consider forward-thinking ways to protect the environment.
  • EPA officials who oversee and regulate a wide range of industry sectors will serve as ombudsmen within the EPA, conduct educational site tours, host roundtables, and provide advice on forward-thinking approaches to environmental improvement.
  • Smart Sectors will also help streamline internal operations at EPA.

Remarks by President Trump and American Taxpayers on Tax Reform

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 22:22

Grand Foyer

3:02 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone. Please.

We're joined today by college students, young entrepreneurs, families, workers, mothers, and fathers from all over our nation. You make this country run. It's an honor to be with you, and it's an honor to have you at the White House. And thank you all for being here -- really fantastic. Thank you. Great people. (Applause.)

As a candidate, I promised we would pass a massive tax cut for the everyday, working American families who are the backbone and the heartbeat of our country.

Now we're just days away -- I hope, I hope -- you know what that means, right -- from keeping that promise and delivering a truly amazing victory for American families. We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas. And when I say giant, I mean giant. (Applause.)

As we speak, Congress has reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages, and massive tax relief for American families and for American companies.

The typical family of four earning $75,000 will see an income tax cut of more than $2,000, slashing their tax bill in half. It's going to be a lot of money. You're going to have an extra $2,000.

But there are many more things than that. Our plan expands the child tax credit for working families. You'll hear the numbers very soon, but they're even larger than anticipated.

It nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero. I don't know if any of you are paying zero. I hope you're not; I hope you're paying above that. But a lot of people who are having it a little bit tough are going to be paying zero.

It closes special interest loopholes; it lowers tax rates for families; and our plan also cuts taxes on businesses, which is expected to raise income by an average of more than $4,000. So your income goes up. It's like having a $4,000 increase, which isn't bad, which isn't bad.

a lot of money to spend. A lot of jobs are going to be created with the money that you spend -- very special. And it makes America competitive again so we can bring back that simple but beautiful phrase, you've heard it before: Made in the USA. Right? I don't know if they've heard it, but you've heard it. (Applause.)

Our current tax code is burdensome, complex, and profoundly unfair. It has exported our jobs, closed our factories, and left millions of parents worried that their children might be the first generation to have less opportunity than the last. Our factories have left. So many of them, gone. But they're all coming back. And you see it, even before we do this, that they're starting to come back. Our country is starting to do really well again, and as a country we're being respected again. We're being respected again.

I'm here today to tell you that we will never let bad things happen, with respect to the economy of our country. We're not going to lose our businesses again like has happened over the last number of decades. America is coming back bigger and better and stronger than ever before. Okay? They'll see it, and they're going to see the result.

America isn't content just by getting by. America is about getting ahead, about finding the best in ourselves and in each other. We are reclaiming our destinies as Americans, a nation that thinks big, dreams bigger, and always reaches for the stars. We didn't become great through massive taxation and Washington regulation. And, by the way, we are cutting regulation at a rate never seen before in the history of our country.

We became great because our people, our families -- and because of our freedom. We became great because of our drive to find the next horizon, to unlock the next mystery, and to begin the next adventure. You know what I'm talking about. And that's who we are: a nation of strivers and builders and dreamers and doers, people who treasure their independence and don't know how to quit. Never quit. Never, ever give up -- never, ever.

I say that, also, to our great Cabinet. And they've done a great job. A lot of things have happened. Nobody's done the job that we've done.

When government loosens its grip, there is no summit we cannot reach. Our tax cuts will break down, and they'll break it down fast -- all forms of government, and all forms of government barriers -- and breathe new life into the American economy. They will unleash the American worker; they will tear down the restraints on discovery, innovation, and creation; and they will restore the hopes and dreams of the American family.

Millions of middle-class families will win under our plan. And today we are honored to hear from a few of those wonderful and truly great families.

Bryant and Ashley Glick -- right -- are from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I know it well. They have two beautiful children with a third on the way. Bryant manages a farm equipment store. Ashley works in healthcare. This year, they were in the 15-percent tax bracket.

Under our plan, they will drop to the 12-percent bracket. That's a big drop. Instead of itemizing their deductions, they will be able to file their taxes on a single, little, beautiful sheet of paper. That's good. That's good. (Applause.) And instead of paying $2,600 in income taxes, they will get it down to $2,000. They'll save at least $600 and probably more than that.

Bryant, Ashley, how about saying a few words? You want to? Come on. Thank you very much.

MR. GLICK: Well, thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to be here. On behalf of the good people of Lancaster County; my family; and, specifically, my grandmother, Linda Martin, well done. Many of your predecessors promised that this reform was coming, but you did it. We are greatly excited about this.

With the tax savings that we are going to see, we are going to put that money into home renovations. And I'm excited that you were the one that got it over the finish line. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Kovacs family also joins us today from Ohio. That's a great state. A lot of success in Ohio. (Laughter.) Adam is a veteran who works in telecommunications, Lindsay works in administration admissions at a university, and they have two beautiful children.

This year, they're currently in the 25-percent bracket and pay nearly $14,000 in taxes. Our plan gives them their time back because they won’t have to itemize, and it gives them nearly one-third of their money back -- more than $3,500 for one year.

I’d like to invite the Kovacs to explain what our tax cuts will mean for them. They've studied it very closely. These are very smart, sharp people. They know exactly what we're doing here, and they like it. Come on up. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. KOVACS: Thank you, Mr. President. It is truly an honor that you invited the Kovacs family to the White House today. This is going to be great for our family. We have home renovations that we want to take care of, and hopefully save for our two children to go to college.

Thank you so much, Mr. President. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Giampolo family is from Polk County, Iowa. Anthony is a police officer and Aubyn is a 911 emergency dispatcher. When they’re not at work protecting and serving their fellow citizens, their hands are full with four wonderful children.

This year, they were in the 25-percent bracket, their itemized deductions, and they've done everything they can. They paid more than $19,000 in taxes -- thank you very much, by the way; that's a lot of money. (Laughter.) Under our plan, they will file on a single page and save $2,700. Anthony, Aubyn, maybe you'd like to say a few words? Come on in. (Applause.)

MR. GIAMPOLO: I just want to thank President Trump. Education is very important to our family. Under this bill, our family will be able to save a lot of money. We have a lot of people going to school. My wife and I are both in graduate school, finishing up, and we still got three other -- four other kids to get through college. So, it will help out a lot. (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Leon and Maria Benjamin are pastors of New Life Harvest Church -- and it's a beautiful church in Richmond, Virginia -- and they have three wonderful children.

Under our plan, they will get a larger tax refund to help them pay their bills. They'll receive a tax refund, this year, of $3,000. Leon and Maria, I would love you to discuss your middle-class tax cut a little bit with the millions of people watching right now on television. (Laughter.) You do very well, and we're very proud of you. And it is indeed a beautiful church. I got to see a very, very nice picture. We'll have to get there someday soon. Thank you. Come on in, please, please. (Applause.)

MR. BENJAMIN: (Laughter.) To God be the glory. Thank you, President Trump, for inviting us here. On behalf of the Benjamin family and of course, Richmond, Virginia, we represent a cadre of many families across the nation. African American families, urban communities, and families all across need this now. And it's time for a change, and it's time that we recognize that our President is making good on his promises. (Applause.) Thank you, Mr. President. God bless you, and we'll continue to keep praying for you and your team as you move forward and forge ahead with this new future in America. God bless you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: He can be my minister anytime. (Laughter.)

The Howard family lives in Tenino, Washington. Issac owns an espresso machine service company, and Emily takes care of their four beautiful children. They are currently in the 15-percent bracket and pay $2,500 in taxes. Our plan will totally wipe out their tax bill, and they might even get a refund of substantially more than $700. I'd like to introduce them. Come on up. (Applause.)

MRS. HOWARD: I'm going to speak for us today. (Laughter.) We are absolutely blessed to be here, so thank you, Mr. President. It’s our joy to stand before you guys. And what this means to us as a family is that we will be able to pour out into our community -- whatever that looks like -- giving away to families that are in need, or setting them up for success in any way that -- whatever God has planned for our family.

I think that that is our goal, and that we are blessed to have such an amazing President -- and what a good steward he is of our country.

So thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all. It’s critically important for Congress to quickly pass these historic tax cuts, and that's going to take place, I think, even before the media -- I used the word “media.” Did you notice? As opposed to “fake news media” -- I don't say. (Laughter.) Because today is a very important day. We want everybody to be covered very accurately.

So I’m excited to announce that if Congress sends me a bill before Christmas, the IRS -- this is just out, this is breaking news -- has just confirmed that Americans will see lower taxes and bigger paychecks beginning in February, just two short months from now. (Applause.) Just got that. We just got that.

Fifty-five years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, launched a historic effort to pass sweeping top-to-bottom tax cuts. A half a century later, we're reminded that lowering taxes is neither a Republican or Democrat idea, but an American principle and an American idea.

The goal of my administration is for every American to know the dignity of work, the pride of a paycheck, and the satisfaction of a job well done. We want people to love waking up in the morning and going to work -- just with that incredible enthusiasm that we have in this country. And that's what we're going to be doing, and that's what’s going to be happening.

Today we stand on the verge of a new economic miracle. Our economy has already surged to 3 percent growth -- far ahead of schedule, by the way -- far, far ahead -- in each of the last two quarters. And if we didn't have the hurricanes, we could have hit four last quarter. Four -- a number that was unthinkable two years ago when I started the campaign, and even my first month in office -- that was an unthinkable number. And I’ll tell you what, it’s going to go higher than that.

We’ve created 2.2 million jobs since the election. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. The unemployment rate in the manufacturing business is the lowest in recorded history. Consumer confidence is a 17-point high. Pensions and retirement accounts are soaring as the stock market hits 85 new record highs since the election. How are we doing? Are we doing okay? Not bad, right? (Applause.)

And if Congress sends me a tax reform, this is only a small beginning to the incredible things that our people will achieve over a very short period of time, and the tremendous heights that we will reach economically and so many other ways in our country.

Every day, as this victory draws closer -- I mean, we are so close, right now. So close. In fact, almost -- I don't want to talk about it. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it. (Laughter.)

The cynical voices that opposed tax cuts grow smaller and weaker, and the American people grow stronger. I heard one of our opponents stand up the other day and say, this is for the rich. They had no idea. They didn't even see the final bill. I didn't see the final bill. This is for the people of middle-income. This is for companies that are going to create jobs. This is for very, very special people, the great people of America.

Everyday, hardworking Americans know that the future of this nation will never belong to those who say you can't; it will always belong to the American people who will say we will.

belongs to people like the Glicks, the Kovacs, the Giampolos, the Benjamins, the Howards, and the millions of Americans just like them across our nation, who pour out their hearts and souls every single day to take care of their families and the country they love and that we love.

We are going to have a country that celebrates you again -- hardworking, great people. You're being celebrated again. Remember that. Because you were a little bit forgotten. We had called it "the forgotten people." Somebody else called me and everybody else the “deplorables.” Have you ever heard that term? Right? We're proud to be the deplorables, and we're doing well.

going to make our tax system work for you again. We’re going to make our economy work for you again. And we are going to make the American Dream -- and that's the real dream -- that will be the dream that you want for your children and your grandchildren once again.

But we need your help to get Congress across that finish line. We’ll have very little Democrat support, probably none, and that's purely for political reasons. They like it a lot, and they can't say it. They don't like what’s happening. But they can't say it. Some day we have to come together and do bipartisan, and hopefully it can happen soon. Right? (Applause.)

If you make your voices heard, this moment will be forever remembered as a great new beginning, the dawn of a brilliant American future shining with patriotism, prosperity, and pride.

With your help, we will bring back our jobs; we will bring back our wealth as a country; and, for every citizen across this beautiful land, we will bring back our great American Dreams.

you and God bless you all. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

END

3:22 P.M. EST

Remarks by President Trump at Lunch with Bicameral Tax Conferees

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 20:12

Cabinet Room

12:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. We appreciate it. And I'll be also speaking, at three o'clock today, a little bit more about what's happening with this incredible journey and what we're doing with regard to bringing down taxes -- the largest tax cut ever.

But I appreciate you being here today. I want to thank the incredible members of the House and the Senate, who have been working so hard. We're very, very close to a historic legislative victory, the likes of which rarely has this country seen.

I think I can say, Kevin and Orrin, that we're getting very close. And I know a lot of the folks that we'd like to have here -- we said, if you have your choice, stay back and get it done. Right? They're all working and negotiating some final points, but we're very, very close.

This bill is vital to the American people for many reasons. First of all, it's going to have a tax cut, the likes of which we haven't seen for, not only business but for the working families of our country. It's really a tax cut based on jobs and also very good for companies, which also means jobs.

The typical family of four earning $75,000 will see an income tax cut of $2,000. So that's $2,000 in their pocket, additional to spend on whatever they want to spend, or they could save the money also. You do have a lot of families in the old days -- they saved money. But they will be saving it in many cases.

Second, the bill is going to cut taxes for American businesses -- both big ones and small ones -- so that they can grow, hire, and compete all around the world. Right now they're paying 35 percent, and that's the highest in the industrialized world -- in many cases, by far. And we'll be bringing that down to a number that will be extremely impressive to a lot of people. I don't think I'll give them the surprise yet, Kevin, right?

REPRESENTATIVE BRADY: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Maybe I'll hold the surprise. But I think you'll be very happy with it. I think the businesses will be very happy. And we'll be able to compete all over the world.

Third, we're simplifying our broken system. It's so complicated that nobody can figure it out. Tax returns that are very, very big and large -- and they have to go out and hire companies to do them. So we're fixing the system.

Finally, the plan is going to bring trillions of dollars back into the United States, money that's offshore. And you've been hearing me say $2.5 trillion for years. Well, 2.5 has grown, and it's going to be a lot more than that -- probably $4 trillion. It could be even higher than that. We don't even know. It's so much money, we don't even know how much it is.

But you look at the great companies -- Apple and so many others. They have billions of dollars overseas that they want to bring back. Now they're going to be able to bring it back, and we'll be spending that money, and they'll be spending that money right here. And it will be jobs and lots of other good things.

While the media has focused on the differences between the House and the Senate bills, I can only tell you that we have very, very talented representatives right here. And I think I can say, Orrin, that we're very close. Right?

SENATOR HATCH: We are.

THE PRESIDENT: We are very, very close.

SENATOR HATCH: We'll get it done.

THE PRESIDENT: And I want to thank Senator Orrin Hatch. He's been incredible. And Kevin Brady -- incredible. You guys have been just really, really amazing. Although I shouldn't say that until we sign. (Laughter.) We've been there too many times. Let's count the vote first. Right? (Laughter.)

But I want to thank my whole team, Gary and Steve and everybody. The whole team has been really something special. And, Diane, thank you very much for everything. We appreciate it.

So we're very close to getting it done. We're very close to voting. And our economy, as you know, has surged from where it is when I took it over. We were having an economy that was going in the wrong direction. They can say all they want about the last administration, or even administrations. This country was going in the wrong direction, from the economic standpoint. And you saw where it was -- one of the early times we heard about 1 percent and 1.2 percent, and you were going down.

401(k)s right now -- I met last week in New York City with a very, very fine group of policemen. And they were all so happy about their 401(k)s. They feel like they're geniuses because, in one case, he said, I'm up 39 percent.

I see all the guys carrying the booms are smiling. Are you up, too? Yes, he is. Oh, look at him. (Laughter.) He's got that boom. Let's see. He's got the one that's the highest and the closest. So he's a good boomer. (Laughter.) But he's got a big smile on his face, right? Thank you. Thanks very much.

You know, usually with the press -- they won't admit it -- but he does because he's beyond the press. (Laughter.) But I want to -- I just want to say that people are up 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent, depending on what's in there, and they are very, very happy.

So we think we're going to grow that a lot more. We really think the economy has a long way to grow and it needs the tax cut. It needs it desperately. And all that money is going to be spent on expanding businesses.

We have so many different things in this bill that are going to create jobs. And for me, this is a bill -- very simple -- it's a massive cut for the middle class and it's about jobs. And the jobs are really defined by the companies. The companies are going to be expanding and they're going to be creating jobs.

You know, in education, we're talking choice. Well, in jobs, we're going to be talking choice, too, because, right now, people go for one job and they don't have many options. They're going to have plenty of options. They're going to look at five, six, seven jobs, and they're going to pick the one they want. And wages are starting to go up. First time in many years, wages now are actually starting to go up.

So we have a lot of great things happening, but what really is something that, I think, will really be the capper is going to be the massive tax cuts that we're planning that hopefully, within a very short period of time, we'll have signed into law.

It will be bigger than anything ever done in this country. Bigger than the Reagan cuts, bigger than any cuts, and it will also be reform. And there are also some other things in that bill that are very, very big that are somewhat unrelated, but ultimately I think it's all related.

So I just want to thank everybody at the table -- Mike, everybody at the table -- for being here. And I want to have a very fast lunch so you can go immediately back and finish. (Laughter.) I actually feel very guilty having you here. So I want you to go back immediately and finish it up.

Thank you very much. It's going to be something very, very special. Thank you all. Thank you.

Q Mr. President, will you support the 21 percent corporate tax rate? And would you sign the current 21 percent?

THE PRESIDENT: I would -- yeah, I would. We're going to see where it ends up, but I certainly -- it's at 35 right now, so if it got down to 21, I would certainly be -- I would be thrilled. I would be thrilled.

We'll see. We have haven't set that final figure yet, but certainly 21 is a very great difference.

Q Mr. President, after Alabama, is it crucial to get a vote in the next week?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it's very important for the country to get a vote next week. Not because we lost a seat. Wish we would have gotten the seat. A lot of Republicans feel differently; they're very happy with the way it turned out.

But I would have -- as the leader of the party, I would have liked to have had the seat. I want to endorse the people that are running.

But, I will tell you that it's -- to me, it's very, very -- just, very important to get this vote. Not because of that, but because of the -- and I don't know what the vote will be. I don't know what exactly the final -- we have a margin now of two, plus our great Vice President.

So I really -- I think we're going to get the vote, but I will say, we have to get more senators and more congressmen that are Republicans elected in '18. And then you'll see a lot more of what we're doing right now.

Q How can that loss affect your agenda going forward?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think it's going to affect it. I think we're doing a lot. This is the biggest thing that we've worked on. This also has to do with other subjects.

As you know, I won't mention the subject, but there are some subjects in here that are very vital to the -- beyond -- I'm talking about beyond pure tax and tax cuts.

But I'm just very excited by it. This is one of the biggest pieces of legislation ever signed by this country. And I can tell you that everybody around this table, we are very, very excited about it. And thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

END

 

12:49 P.M. EST

Alfredo Ortiz: "Tax Bill Is Christmas Present Americans Have Been Waiting For"

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 16:42

“Good for ordinary Americans. Good for small businesses. Good for local economies. This tax bill is the Christmas gift they’ve been waiting for.”

Tax Bill Is Christmas Present Americans Have Been Waiting For

By Alfredo Ortiz

RealClearPolitics

December 13, 2017

Pending tax cut legislation will eliminate the federal income tax burden on the average American family earning $59,000 a year. It will halve the tax bill for the average family earning $75,000. And it will allow the overwhelming majority of small businesses to protect nearly one-quarter of their income from taxes.

That’s the bottom line of the tax bill that needs to be said up front.

Given the critical media coverage of the bill, these benefits have largely gone overlooked. Rather than reporting on its provisions to double the standard deduction, double the child tax credit, and eliminate the 15 percent tax bracket in favor of a vastly expanded 12 percent rate, media coverage has claimed the bill is a gift to the rich. Rather than reporting on the new 23 percent tax deduction for small businesses earning less than $500,000 a year, media coverage has claimed the bill is a budget buster.

That’s a shame because these benefits would bring long overdue relief to hardworking taxpayers who have borne the brunt of the slow growth Obama economy from which the country is finally emerging. Median wages were essentially flat between 2009 and 2016, while economic growth sputtered along at roughly 2 percent – both of which the tax bill would also meaningfully address.

Ordinary employees will not only see an immediate raise in their paycheck due to less federal tax withholding, but many will also receive raises or new job opportunities because small businesses will have more funds at their disposal.

...

Just as tax cuts would increase paychecks, they’d also jump-start the country’s local economies, which have largely been passed over by the economic recovery. More money on Main Street and less sent off to Washington, D.C., would stimulate local investment, consumption, and job creation.

Good for ordinary Americans. Good for small businesses. Good for local economies. This tax bill is the Christmas gift they’ve been waiting for. Legislators must pass it now.

Read the full op-ed here.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Andrea Thompson to the Department of State

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 03:34

Andrea L. Thompson of South Dakota to be the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Ms. Thompson, a former military officer, currently serves as a Special Advisor in the Office of Policy Planning at the Department of State. Previously, she was Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President at the White House. A former Director of the McChrystal Group Leadership Institute, Ms. Thompson has more than 25 years of military service in the U.S. Army including deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia. She has also served as National Security Advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee, Executive Officer to the Under Secretary of the Army, Senior Military Advisor to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a Senior Fellow with the Army’s strategic studies group. She earned a B.A. in both journalism and Spanish at the University of South Dakota, a M.S. from Long Island University and a M.A. from the National Defense University.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 12/12/2017, #40

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 02:30

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:08 P.M. EST

MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. Let me start by introducing Francis Cissna, the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. He's here to provide a briefing on the attempted suicide bombing in New York and how it was enabled by flaws in our immigration system.

After he speaks and takes some of your questions, I'll be back up to answer questions on other news. And, as always, if you can stay focused on the topic at hand, that would be great. Thanks so much.

Director.

MR. CISSNA: Hello. I'm here to talk to you about yesterday's incident and kind of give you some of the context and perspective in the immigration system -- how it works, or how it didn’t work, in this case -- and what are the sorts of things our administration is proposing to change it to make it better.

So, as you all know, yesterday, the suspect, Akayed Ullah, was arrested in an attempted bombing in New York City. And there's an immigration aspect to this. The immigration aspect is that he immigrated to this county; he was a green card holder, a lawful permanent resident. He came to this country based on family connection to a U.S. citizen. He was a national of Bangladesh. The U.S. citizen in question was his uncle, and that U.S. citizen, many years ago, came to this country originally as a visa lottery winner.

So this is the general background. I now want to try to explain what all that means, where those terms come from, and what the significance of all that is.

First, I would explain that, for those who aren’t aware, our immigration system has two principal components. There's a family-based component through which the suspect in yesterday's attack -- alleged bombing incident -- came through. And there's an employment-based component.

In any given year, we have about 1 million immigrants. One million people come here to get green cards, immigrant visas. In fiscal year '15, for example, of that 1 million, about 72 percent of our immigrants came based on a family connection, and only 6 percent -- or about 1 out of 15 -- came based on an employment or job connection, job offer. So you can see the immigration system is heavily weighted towards family migration.

There are other categories of people that immigrate as well, besides just family and employment-based, including refugees, asylees, and, of course, the visa lottery people that I just referenced. But those are very small compared to those two larger categories.

I want to talk now about these in particular -- the family-based, the employment-based, and then the visa lottery. In the family-based migration category, there are multiple categories of people. The principal category -- family-based immigrants -- are called "immediate relatives." These are people who are the spouses or children, nuclear family members, of U.S. citizens. In a given year, you have about half a million people in that category. In fact, I have better numbers than that. In fiscal year '16, in that category -- these are people who are the nuclear family members of U.S. citizens -- there were about 566,000 people that immigrated.

An additional category in the family-based universe are what are called "preference" categories. These are more extended family connections. These include unmarried -- the first category -- unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; second category -- spouses of green card holders, unmarried sons and daughters of green card holders; third category -- married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; fourth category is brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their children. That's the category that yesterday's suspect came in under.

So the suspect in yesterday's bombing came in under the most extreme, remote possible family-based connection that you could have under current U.S. immigration law -- that being the child of the sibling of a U.S. citizen.

Under the employment-based categories -- that's a much smaller number -- only 140,000 slots are allocated in a year to that category, but you're only really getting about half that number of actual workers because the spouses and children don't count towards that category.

There you have a number of categories, including categories for extraordinary ability of workers. You have people with advanced degrees. You have people who are skilled professionals and immigrant investors. There's multiple categories, but a much smaller number than the family-based categories. And again, I remind you, only 1 out of 15 of our immigrants come in under those skilled categories.

Let me turn now to the diversity visa, which is the other visa program that is relevant to yesterday's events. The diversity visa, or visa lottery as it's called colloquially, is a program that was established back in 1990. There were some precursor programs before that, but, basically, the program as we know it was established in 1990. That's seen 50,000 people a year based on an immigration lottery.

The qualifications for registering for the lottery are that you have to be from a country that had low immigration in the previous five years, and the person who's applying for the lottery has to either have a high school degree or, if they have no education, at least two years of experience in a job that requires two years of training. So the criteria are very low.

The problems with the visa lottery are various. First, because the criteria are so low, either you have no education at all and very little skills, or you have a minimum of education and no skills at all. And because it's a lottery, pretty much anybody on the planet who is from a qualifying country can take advantage of this.

In 2003, the State Department's Inspector General Office observed that this low eligibility criteria could lead to exploitation by terrorists. They warned about this in 2003. The GAO, in 2007, echoed that warning -- again, warning that terrorists could take advantage of the diversity visa program.

Also, the program is racked with fraud. In 2003, the State Department IG, 15 years ago, noted that the program was rife with pervasive fraud. The fraud, the low eligibility standards, all these contribute to its potential exploitation by terrorists and other mala fide actors.

Bangladesh is an interesting case. That's the country where yesterday's suspect came from. That country was a high user of the visa lottery program. In fact, in 2007 -- which was the peak year for that country's use of the visa lottery -- 27 percent of the immigrants from that country came through that program, through the visa lottery program.

Uzbekistan, which was the country of origin of the alleged -- the truck driver from October 31st in New York City -- in 2010, 70 percent -- 7-0 percent -- of immigrants from Uzbekistan came through the visa lottery program.

So that program is used as a prime avenue for immigration for many countries.

Finally, let me touch on the subject of chain migration. When I use that word, what I'm talking about is a person who comes to this country and who, in turn, employs one of these many avenues that I just described, principally family-based, to sponsor relatives who are in the home country to come and join him or her.

Because the categories that we have that I just described in family-based migration are so extensive, it's not just nuclear family. You also have, as I say, adult unmarried children; brothers and sisters; nieces and nephews. You can sponsor a person like yesterday's alleged terrorist at the extremity of that chain, and then that person, in turn, can sponsor people and so on, and so on, indefinitely.

Hundreds of thousands of people come into this country every year based on these extended-family migration categories. And it is my view, it our administration's view, that that is not the way that we should be running our immigration system. A system like that, that includes something like the diversity visa program, these extended-family categories are not the way anybody would have designed this immigration system if we could start from scratch today.

What we need is an immigration system that is selective. We want to be able to select the types of people that are coming here based on criteria that ensure their success; criteria that ensure their ability to assimilate successfully in our country. And random lotteries, extended-family connections -- that's not the way to run our immigration system.

So I appeal -- we appeal -- to the Congress as they consider these matters as we speak, and in the coming weeks, to seriously take into account these concerns that we have with the way the immigration system is structured and its vulnerabilities, as I just described, and correct that.

At that point, my formal comments are concluded. I'll answer any questions you have.

Q Thanks a lot, Mr. Cissna. I want to ask you a question about what you're suggesting. Is it your belief that the only changes that can be done to the immigration system are ones that need to emanate from Congress? Are there any things that the President can do on his own, by executive action, by executive order to change the process for either chain migration or the visa lottery?

MR. CISSNA: Well, I mean, that's something we're looking at right now in USCIS -- my agency -- which is the agency that administers all these visa programs. And there are some things that we could do. There are some things that the President has directed us to do by executive order, in particular with the temporary visa categories. We're talking about green cards here. But if you look at temporary visa categories, yes, there's a lot of things that we can do and that we're going to do, for example, to increase protections of American workers.

In the green card domain, it's a little harder. Congress has kind of occupied that field a little more densely than it has in the temporary visa area. But there could be. There could be. There could be some things that we could do to clarify how these categories are administered, yes.

Sir.

Q There's so much talk about DACA legislation right now. Do you think any DACA bill would have to be tied to bring in a merit-based system?

MR. CISSNA: Well, I mean, about two months ago, the President announced his immigration priorities. You can find it on the White House website. It's a long list of about several dozen priorities that we, career officials at DHS and at the other relevant immigration agencies -- at the time I was a career official -- came up with as the things that we need to be able to do our jobs.

And in that list, there are these fixes that I'm just talking about, including getting rid of the diversity visa program, because it just degrades the integrity of our immigration visa programs, generally; ending chain migration. These are all things that we have suggested in the priorities that the President has advanced.

So we hope and expect that Congress will take those priorities seriously and will do as much as they can to accomplish the goals that we set forth.

Q If the (inaudible), if the President signed the DACA bill, it would have to have a merit-based system (inaudible)?

MR. CISSNA: I can't speak for the President's priorities and what he does or doesn’t want in a bill. But I know that what I want is something that I can implement and that I can implement well to get at the priorities that we set forth, is something that we need to do our job.

Yes, sir.

Q Would you be in favor of extending the blanket travel bans, as far as the countries are concerned, such as Bangladesh, which isn't on the list, currently?

MR. CISSNA: My position on that is that my agency needs as much information as it can get from these other countries to be able to vet and screen people adequately to ensure that mala fide actors don’t come into the country. To the degree that that can be done under the executive order -- the protocols established by the executive order -- I'm all for it.

But I'm not in a position to prescribe whether the blanket ban, as you put it, should be extended or not extended. I want the information that these countries can give us to screen people.

Sir.

Q How do you deal with people who have been here for years and then become radicalized once they're here? How would any of that deal with what actually happened in New York? He had been here for many years.

MR. CISSNA: So, on that, there's two points. I think the criticisms that we have of the diversity visa program or chain migration -- in particular the diversity visa program -- the vulnerability to exploitation by terrorists because of the low eligibility criteria and because of the prevalence of fraud, that's not changing. That's a sad fact of that program. For that reason, regardless of when the person became radicalized, I just want that door shut because it's a vulnerability. It's been recognized for 15 years.

Now, with respect to that person in particular and what do we do of people who radicalize afterwards, my agency in particular is focused very much so on ensuring that immigration doesn’t stop when the person gets the green card. It's an ongoing process. I view it that way. I think that --

Q How so?

MR. CISSNA: Well, I mean, because what you want is an immigrant to become a citizen. I mean, citizenship is in the name of my agency. We ultimately want people to naturalize because naturalization is one of the best -- it's one of the best signs that a person has fully assimilated. And it's also -- once you naturalize, it's one of the best guarantors of that person's continued success in our society. We want people to naturalize.

And my agency is seeking to do everything it can to insure that people are enabled to do that and succeed in that quest.

Q Just to follow up quickly -- is it your understanding that the suspect was radicalized before he came here? Or do you think that it happened here? And if it did happen before he arrived, then was something inherently missed?

MR. CISSNA: No, I have no idea. I don't know.

Q Can you give us any sense of where he picked up this --

MR. CISSNA: I truly have no idea if he was radicalized at all. I don't know. I don't know that part of the investigation.

Q Well, you just said that because of the criteria and how low it is, that chain migrant immigrants or diversity lottery immigrants are more susceptible to being self-radicalized. Do you have data on that?

MR. CISSNA: No. What I think my point is, is that if you have immigrant visa programs where the eligibility criteria are low to non-existent -- or even an outright lottery -- you're not selecting for the types of people that we want in this country, according to a criteria that will ensure their success in our nation; that will ensure that they will assimilate well.

Q I get that that's a matter of priority. You want to select the immigrants, not just have them come in. I get that part. But you seem to saying that these kinds of immigrants are more likely to become terrorists.

MR. CISSNA: No. What I'm saying is that if you have a system that doesn’t select at all, or is barely selecting anybody, we don't know what we're going to get. It's better if we take an active affirmative role in our immigration process and establish criteria that correspond to things that we want to see in our immigration pool.

Sir, in the back.

Q Yes, sort of following from that -- the data shows that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans. Other than these isolated incidents, is there any data behind this plan?

MR. CISSNA: Well, I don't know that I agree with your first point. I don't know where that data came from, but I can't comment any further on it.

Q Can you provide a couple of examples? The incarceration rates would be one example.

MR. CISSNA: That's a bigger debate that I don't know that we have time for here. But based on my questioning the validity of -- the premise of your question, I don't know that I want to engage in that dialogue at this time.

Q Does this administration believe that immigrants are more dangerous than U.S. citizens?

MR. CISSNA: I don't know that anybody has said that.

Yes.

Q Just two, sort of, points of clarification. I have you saying, with the diversity visa program, that there is a certain vulnerability because of the low eligibility criteria. By that, I think you mean because there is no higher education standard required. I mean, what is it that makes these people more vulnerable to radicalization and becoming terrorists?

MR. CISSNA: Well, there's two parts to that. My criticism of the diversity visa program is that the eligibility criteria are minimal or next to nothing and that there's a random element to it.

Q These are vulnerabilities?

MR. CISSNA: Right. The program is vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists because it's a combination of the low eligibility criteria and the ability to defraud the system. Fraud is pervasive, as I said, in the program. So if you are a mala fide actor and you want to use that program to come into this country, it's easy to fake a high school graduation certificate.

Q The charging document said that this suspect was radicalized approximately in 2014. He entered the United States in 2011. So that is why so many of us are asking these questions, because it sounds like you are implying that U.S. intelligence or Homeland Security missed something, and this guy was radicalized.

MR. CISSNA: Oh, I’m not implying that at all. No, no. I’m just talking about the immigration programs. I’m not talking about this one guy. I don't have sufficient --

Q So this isn’t actually effective at screening out terrorists. You're saying when they get here -- because these people are more vulnerable -- if they come in on this program, they are then subject to exploitation more easily?

MR. CISSNA: No. What I’m saying is that --

Q We're just not getting the nexus to terrorism.

MR. CISSNA: The nexus to terrorism is that if you have a visa program that is easily exploited by mala fide actors, including terrorists, because --

Q But you don’t know that he did that.

MR. CISSNA: I don't know that -- he didn't come in on the visa lottery program. He came in as an extended-family-based immigrant.

But I’m saying, with respect to the diversity visa program, which is also at play here, that program is -- as the State Department IG found 15 years ago, as the GAO confirmed in 2007 -- exploitable by terrorists or mala fide actors because the criteria are so low and easily faked. And it’s a lottery, so on multiple levels it’s an open door, it’s problematic. It needs to shut. That's what I’m saying about that.

With respect to the individual in yesterday’s attempt, I would say, I don't know. I don't have a command of the facts relating to the investigation as to whether or if he was ever radicalized.

What I’m saying is, if you have any sort of visa program which is minimally selective, which is based solely on chance or lottery or low eligibility criteria, then we, as a government, aren’t doing our job in picking the people that come to this country in a competent and careful and intelligent way.

And if we're not doing that, bad guys can come in.

MS. SANDERS: We’ll take one last question, guys.

Q Are lottery winners vetted?

MR. CISSNA: Yes. Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah.

Q So it's screening -- that's the problem?

MR. CISSAN: Oh, yeah, they're screened like any other immigrant. Yeah, yes.

Q So that's an intelligence failure then?

MR. CISSAN: I don't know that there’s any failure.

Yes, last question.

Q Thank you. We know from your confirmation hearings, testimony, that both your mother and your mother-in-law are immigrants. How did their experiences shape your thinking on this position? And do you have any reason to believe that they would both still have been able to come in and lead productive lives as Americans under the tightening that you're at looking at now?

MR. CISSAN: The fact that my own mother and my mother-in-law are both immigrants has indeed influenced everything. I mean, that's one of the reasons why I’m interested in this field, why I’m interested in it, and why I very passionately carry out my duties every day.

I think, though, that a policymaker or a citizen who is examining all these questions should not be handicapped or shackled by previous immigration programs from which we all -- everybody in this room has benefitted from the immigration laws of the past. That doesn't meant that every generation doesn't have its own prerogative, its own duty and responsibility to look at the situation that we have now and determine for itself, ourselves, whether the immigration laws should be changed. It’s perfectly rational. So moving forward, maybe we’ll change things.

MS. SANDERS: Thank you, Director.

Continuing with national security theme, as many of you saw this afternoon, the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation, which was approved with bipartisan support, represents an important milestone in the President’s plan to rebuild our military and bolster our national security.

For the first time in seven years, we are increasing rather than shrinking the size of our forces. This NDAA also provides our military servicemembers with the largest pay increase they've seen in eight years.

To put into historical context, it authorizes one of the largest defense spending increases since the days of Ronald Reagan. Previous administrations sadly oversaw deep cuts to our armed forces with serious implications for our military readiness and capabilities. This hindered the fight against ISIS and other enemies of freedom, and made our people less safe.

In signing this bill today, the President once again made it clear that we are serious about enhancing military readiness, expanding and modernizing our forces, and providing our incredible men and women downrange with the tools they need to do what they do best: fight and win.

President Trump also called on obstructionist Democrats in Congress to stop threatening to shut down the government. As the President said, at this time of grave global threats, Congress should send a clean funding bill to his desk that fully funds our great military.

We certainly hope that will happen, and we look forward to that taking place. And with that, I will take your questions.

Cecilia.

Q Thank you, Sarah. The President said today that Senator Gillibrand would “do anything” for campaign contributions. Many, many people see this as a sexual innuendo. What is the President suggesting?

MS. SANDERS: I think that the President is very obvious. This is the same sentiment that the President has expressed many times before when he has exposed the corruption of the entire political system. In fact, he’s used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women, and certainly in his campaign to drain the swamp.

The system is clearly broken. It’s clearly rigged for special interests. And this President is someone that can't be bought, and it’s one of the reasons that he’s President today.

Q So you're saying that this quote -- “Senator Gillibrand would do anything” -- is a reference to campaign contributions in Washington, the swamp? This has nothing to do with her being a female? What is he alleging would happen behind closed doors with her?

MS. SANDERS: He’s not alleging anything. He’s talking about the way that our system functions as it is; that politicians repeatedly beg for money. That's not something new. And that comment, frankly, isn’t something new. If you look back at past comments that this President has made, he’s used that same terminology many times in reference to men. There’s no way that this is sexist at all. This is simply talking about a system that we have that is broken, in which special interests control our government. And I don't think that there’s probably many people that are more controlled by political contributions than the senator that the President referenced.

Steve.

Q Does the President want Roy Moore to be seated in the Senate if he wins tonight? And does he plan to call him tonight?

MS. SANDERS: In terms of calls, I’m not aware that anything is scheduled, win or lose. In terms of being seated, I can't speak on a hypothetical -- certainly not one that could potentially influence an election one way or the other due to the Hatch Act.

John.

Q Sarah, does the President agree with his outside legal counsel that a special prosecutor should be appointed to look into the goings-on at the Department of Justice during the election campaign in 2016 since the revelation about Bruce Ohr, the former associate deputy attorney general?

MS. SANDERS: I think it’s something that certainly causes a lot of concern, not just for the President and the administration, but I think probably for all Americans, and something that if we're going to continue to investigate things, let’s look at something where there’s some real evidence and some real proof of wrongdoing. And this looks pretty bad, and I think it’s something we should certainly look at.

Dave.

Q So would he support the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into this?

MS. SANDERS: I haven’t asked him that directly, but I know that he has great concern about some of the conduct that's taken place, and something that we certainly would like to see looked at.

Dave.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Congressional leaders are saying that they have no plans to re-impose sanctions on Iran by the deadline tomorrow that the President initiated back in October when he decertified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Is the White House okay with this no-action? And, if so, where are the teeth in the President's move to decertify them from compliance?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the administration continues to make encouraging progress with Congress to fix the U.S.-Iran deal and address long-term proliferation issues. There was actually no deadline to act by this week, as the administration did not ask that Congress introduce legislation to re-impose JCPOA-related sanctions.

Jordan.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Senator Grassley said that he's advised the White House to reconsider the nomination of Jeff McClure to the federal court in Texas and Brett Talley in Alabama. Has the President spoken to Senator Grassley about his concerns? And does the President plan to pull back those nominations?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not sure if they've spoken directly. I'll have to check and circle back with you.

Matthew.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Bashar al-Assad and Rodrigo Duterte have both recently have used the phrase "fake news" to dismiss damaging reports about their regimes. And a state official in Myanmar recently said that the Muslim minority, Rohingya, don't exist and added it's fake news.

Is the White House concerned at all about authoritarian regimes adopting this phrase "fake news" to try to delegitimize the press? And does President Trump bear any responsibility for the popularization of this phrase among some world leaders?

MS. SANDERS: I think the White House is concerned about false and inaccurate information being pushed out and to mislead the American people. I think I made that clear yesterday.

In terms of other leaders, I'd have to look at their comments to be more specific on what they've said. But our concern is making sure that the information that the people receive in this country is fair and accurate, and, when it isn't, that it's corrected and corrected in the same fashion in which it was first presented when it was wrong, which is very rarely the case.

Q But when you hear autocrats using the term "fake news" to describe events that reflect poorly on their regimes, that doesn't cause concern here?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to speak to specifics of another country when I don't know the details. What I can talk about are the problems that we have in this country with inaccuracies that happen frequently within news stories. And so, that, I feel comfortable speaking about. Without that information and that detail in front of me, I don't want to weigh in too deeply.

Kristen.

Q Sarah, thank you. The President tweeted today that the accusations against him are "false, fabricated stories of women who I don't know and/or have never met. Fake news." And yet, the reality is he's pictured with a number of the women who have accused him of the misconduct. So do you concede that that part of his statement is not true?

MS. SANDERS: The President was referencing the three individuals that were part of a press conference yesterday, and simply stating that you don't know someone means that you don't have a relationship with them --

Q So (inaudible) of all of his accusers? Because --

MS. SANDERS: Correct. He's referencing the three from yesterday.

Q And, Sarah, members of Congress have called for an investigation into these accusations. Is President Trump as confident that they are not true? Would he support such an investigation?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has answered these questions. He has spoken to these accusations, and denied and pushed that they are all false and fabricated accusations. Frankly, I think if Congress wants to spend time investigating things, they should probably focus on some of the things that the American people would really like them to investigate, like how to secure our borders, how to defeat ISIS, how to pass tax reform that actually impacts them.

If you look at the issues, in poll after poll after poll taken by a number of the outlets in this room and pushed out regularly, the issues that are top-mind, number one, every single time: the economy, jobs, national security, immigration, healthcare. Yet we never talk about those issues.

In fact, 90 percent of the coverage that is --

Q And yet, this moment is an important moment, as well, Sarah. This is a moment that's getting a lot of attention.

MS. SANDERS: Hold on, I let you finish. I'm going to finish this statement. Ninety percent of the coverage that comes out of the media is negative and rarely covers those topics. And those are the things that the American people want to talk about. If Congress wants to investigate something, I think that they should look at some of the priorities of the people that they actually represent.

Q And yet, Sarah, this is something that is being discussed in businesses all across the country. There have been a number of people who have been fired over this. So why not allow this congressional investigation to go forward? And if the President, he's confident in the accusations being involved --

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has addressed these concerns. He's addressed them directly. You guys spent months talking about them on the campaign trail. And the American people voted for this President, they have confidence in this President, and they wanted him to lead our country and they wanted him to focus on things like the economy, focus on healthcare, focus on fixing our broken tax system, focus on fixing our borders, and focus on national security.

That's what we're here to do, that's what we're focused on. These questions have been asked and answered, and we're ready to move forward and focus on the questions of the day that the American people have.

April.

Q Is Gillibrand owed an apology for the misunderstanding of the President's tweet this morning? Because many -- including the Senator -- thinks that it's about sexual innuendos.

MS. SANDERS: I mean, only if your mind is in the gutter would have read it that way. And -- so, no.

Q No, it's not. What he said was open, and it was not mind in the gutter.

MS. SANDERS: He was obviously talking about political partisan games that people often play and the broken system that he's talked about repeatedly. This isn't new, this isn't a new sentiment, this isn't new terminology. He's used it several times before. As I said a few minutes ago, he's used it several times before, referencing men of both parties, in fact. And so I think that there -- if you look back at the past comments he's made, it was very clear what his reference was.

Hunter.

Q Thank you, Sarah. Looking at this issue with the system, the President gave almost $8,000 to Senator Gillibrand over the years. His daughter also gave her $2,000. What specifically did they get for these contributions that she was offered?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think oftentimes what you do -- you're getting access. A member of Congress will take your phone call, they'll take your meeting, and if you're driving something as a businessman that the President may or not have been driving at any particular point, you can talk to that individual about it. And sometimes they carry your water. That's the reason that we have a broken system. That's a reason that often special interests control our government more than the people do, and that's one of the reasons that this President ran to be president.

And it's one of the top reasons, I think, that he won and that he's sitting in the Oval Office today and Hillary Clinton is not. Because he couldn't be bought, and everybody knew that she could because they'd seen it time and time again.

Q So he is admitting that he bought access in a corrupt way?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think he is admitting that he is participating in a rigged system. He said that on the campaign trail. He knows how the system works. I think it would be disingenuous for anybody not to understand that, but at least this President is being honest about the process and his willingness to actually fix it and drain the swamp.

Mara.

Q So Kirsten Gillibrand called for him to resign, and he says over and over again that he's a counterpuncher. So the next day, after she does that, he wakes up and you're saying that he's tweeting about the campaign finance system. Is that what you're saying?

MS. SANDERS: I'm talking about the fact that she's controlled by special interests. I'm talking about the fact she's a wholly owned subsidiary of people that donate to her campaign. She's a puppet for Chuck Schumer. I'm talking about a number of issues that she has, none of which make her an independent individual, but more somebody that is controlled by people that helped donate money to her cause. That's simply all I'm saying.

Q And what kind of campaign finance reform does the President want?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has been talking about the need for us to put a stronger ban on lobbyists participating in the government process. We've taken a stronger ethics pledge under this administration than previous administrations. I think those are some of the first steps and something that we're going to continue working on over the next seven years.

Jon.

Q Thanks a lot, Sarah. You're familiar with the President's tweets. He tweets pretty often. In this particular --

MS. SANDERS: I've noticed that too. (Laughter.)

Q Yeah, a little bit. In this particular case, his criticism of Senator Gillibrand was very personal. Why must he criticize in such personal terms? He called a sitting, elected U.S. senator a "lightweight." Why go after her in such a personal manner?

MS. SANDERS: I don't think that's all that personal. I mean, if you want to talk about personal, look at the comments that she's made about this President over the last several months.

Look, the President is always going to be somebody who responds. We've said that many times before. And he's simply talking about a system that doesn't work for the citizens of this country, and he wants to fix it.

Trey.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Two quick question for you. One following up on John's question from earlier about a second special counsel. Does the President have confidence in the FBI as it exists today?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has confidence in Director Wray and his ability to clean up some of the mess left behind by his predecessor. I know I've addressed that before, and he certainly has confidence in the rank-and-file members of the FBI.

Q And then a follow-up on foreign policy. Today, Bloomberg has an article out about the Trump administration encouraging Saudi Arabia to consider bids from U.S. companies as it relates to building nuclear reactors. Does the President see this as an opportunity to bring up human rights in Yemen during these talks with Saudi Arabia?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of those specific conversations in this process, so I would have to ask and certainly get back to you.

I'll take one last question. Margaret.

Q Thank you. H.R. McMaster gave some really interesting remarks at a luncheon earlier today. And he spoke in really strong terms about China and Russia. He said they were "undermining the international order and stability" and "ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law." He went on to talk about Russia, in particular. He didn't use the words "election meddling," but he talked about subversion, disinformation, propaganda, and basically pitting people against each other to try to create crisis of confidence.

So what I wanted to know is: Does the President agree with all of General McMaster's statements? And is that a foreshadowing of a national security strategy that will take a harder tack on Russia and China than the administration has so far?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think we've been very hard on Russia from the beginning. There have been sanctions, we've increased energy exportation from this country, and we've done things to put pressure on Russia, asking them to engage in a bigger and greater way on some of the common enemies that we face.

In terms of like a rundown, I haven't had a chance to sit down with the President and go detail-by-detail. But General McMaster certainly is someone who understands and knows the President's feelings and our relationships with foreign partners, and something that we certainly feel confident in him speaking about.

Thanks so much, guys.

END

3:44 P.M. EST

Readout: Second Lady Karen Pence Visits with Young Patients; Gives Coloring Books and Crayons

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 00:15

As Christmas approaches, Second Lady Karen Pence visited with children receiving medical care to give them coloring books and crayons while also offering encouraging words to them and their families.

SLOTUS at Georgetown

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. 

First, Mrs. Pence visited patients, families, and staff members at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. Upon arrival, she was greeted by Katie Wallace, the Child Life Coordinator, and Eileen Farrell, Chief Nursing Officer. The staff led Mrs. Pence to the in-patient area where she met with young patients. The Second Lady spoke with the children and their families and gave them coloring books and crayons. Then, Mrs. Pence visited the pediatric outpatient hematology/oncology clinic. There, she visited the art therapy program that is provided by Tracy’s Kids. She gave a child who was meeting with one of the art therapists a coloring book and crayons. She gave the art therapist a charm bracelet in appreciation for her work in art therapy.

SLOTUS at Georgetown

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. 

“The children at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital provide so much inspiration and hope,” said Mrs. Pence. “I was encouraged by the positive spirits and laughter and appreciate the opportunity to share some time with them during this holiday season.”

SLOTUS at hospital

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C

"We're so pleased to have a visit from Mrs. Pence to help brighten the days of our sick children who unfortunately must be hospitalized so close to the holidays,” said Eileen Farrell, Chief Nursing Officer. “We thank her for the smiles she spread here today at MedStar Georgetown."

SLOTUS at Ronald Mcdonald House

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. 

Mrs. Pence also visited children at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC. Upon arrival, the Second Lady was greeted by Julie Lowe, Director of Marketing and Community Engagement, and Dustin Davis, Director of Operations. Then, Mrs. Pence met with children and their families and gave them coloring books and crayons. To date, the two Ronald McDonald Houses in Washington, DC and Fairfax, Virginia have served over 23 Pediatric departments from 16 hospitals and doctors’ offices, including children from Neonatal ICU, Cardiac ICU, Pediatric Transplant, and Hematology and Oncology.

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washi

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. 

“I am always amazed by the courageous spirits of young patients and their families,” said Mrs. Pence. “The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC provides a positive place for children and their families during a difficult time in their lives. This Christmas, I am wishing all families faced with tough times better days ahead.”

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washi

Mrs. Pence visits patients at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC, Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. 

“We are delighted that the Second Lady, Mrs. Pence, was able to visit our DC Ronald McDonald House today, “ said Karen Torres, President & CEO. “The holidays can be an especially difficult time for our families who are away from home, and her visit brought some unexpected excitement and cheer.”

 

WTAS: Support For President Trump's Signing Of The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 22:25

Members of Congress

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI): “Proud to watch as @POTUS signs this legislation into law, giving our men and women in uniform their largest pay raise in 8 years.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): “Today, President Trump signed a bill that will make America safer. This defense bill authorizes money for our troops, for our national defense and homeland security, and to make sure America has the best technology in the world to protect ourselves. This bill passed the House 356 to 70, including more than half of the Democratic caucus. It passed the Senate by voice vote—not a single Democrat opposed it.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ): “I am encouraged that the President today signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which authorizes nearly $700 billion of spending for national defense. The NDAA authorizes the resources and provides the policies necessary to begin the process of rebuilding our military—and it is the result of an open and bipartisan legislative process.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX): “Having the President sign the NDAA conference report into law is a critical milestone in the effort to rebuild America’s military strength, support our troops, and reform the way the Pentagon does business. The policies in this bill reflect months of bipartisan work and agreement.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): “Thank you @POTUS for supporting our troops. With the ‘National Defense Authorization Act of 2018’ signed into law, we’re equipping our U.S. armed forces and personnel with the resources they need to protect America and counter global threats.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS): “@POTUS just signed the bipartisan #NDAA to give our troops their largest pay increase in eight years.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS): “With his signature, President Trump has confirmed the United States’ resolve to meet the growing needs of our U.S. Navy. Building up our nation’s fleet is essential to protecting our national security and projecting American power around the globe. We are asking too few ships to do too many things, and today the President took a major step toward rectifying that problem.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK): “It’s official—@POTUS has signed the NDAA and I’m proud of the House and Senate’s hard work to make this happen.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD): “Today, @POTUS signed the #NDAA for fiscal year 2018 into law. The NDAA is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we pass each year. It authorizes funding for DOD so our armed forces are able to successfully carry out their missions.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL): “With President Trump’s signature of the National Defense Authorization Act today, this is the beginning of the rebuilding of the U.S. defense forces after eight years in which we dangerously cut our armed forces, endangering the security of the American people.”

Rep. French Hill (R-AR): “I appreciate President Trump signing into law a bill that continues our support for Arkansans - and their families - serving in our nation’s military…. Our military is the most effective military in the world, and our brave men and women in uniform deserve the funding, tools, and support to successfully complete their strategic missions around the globe.”

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR): “Today @POTUS signed the #NDAA into law which secures our men and women in uniform the largest pay raise in eight years. This bipartisan legislation restores readiness, resources, and reform to our fighting forces.”

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO): “As chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, and as a Marine Corps combat Veteran, my goal is to ensure that we have the best trained, best equipped, and best led military in the world. The signing of the FY18 NDAA is a very important step in providing the necessary resources to DoD to do just that. I applaud the President for signing the NDAA into law today.”

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA): “Today, we saw another victory for America and Georgia as the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act. Not only does this bill reverse the decade-long trend of dismantling our military, it gives our men and women in uniform a much-deserved pay increase.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN): “The FY18 NDAA @POTUS signed today gives our troops their largest wage increase in nearly eight years, significantly boosts active duty end strength for each branch of service and increases funding for military facilities and new oversight tools.”

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN): “Today @POTUS signed the National Defense Authorization Act #NDAA that gives our troops the largest pay raise in 8 years.”

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN): “Proud that the @POTUS signed the #NDAA into law today! It provides our servicemen & women the largest pay raise in 8yrs & provides resources needed to keep our nation safe at home & abroad.”

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN): “We have the best military in the world and now, with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 signed into law, our troops will have resources they need to protect us, and they will receive the care and pay they deserve. By signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 into law, President .@realDonaldTrump is following through on his promises to strengthen our military and make our world a safer place.”

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA): “Proud to see that President Trump is signing our #NDAA bill into law. Gives troops largest pay raise in 8 yrs & provides resources to rebuild our military.”

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI): “Today President Donald J. Trump signed into law the #FY18NDAA. This bill will help restore our military strength, provide the largest pay raise to our war-fighters in 8 years, and protect our homeland and our allies.”

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI): “.@POTUS just signed the #NDAA into law, giving our troops the biggest pay raise in 8 years. @POTUS was correct when he said ‘only when the good are strong will peace prevail.’ Proud to have supported this important legislation.”

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO): “Thank you @POTUS for signing #NDAA today. This law provides our troops with the tools and equipment that match their skills and proficiency.”

Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS): “Today, President Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I look forward to continuing working with my colleagues to make sure military men and women have the tools they need to keep America safe.”

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): “Today @POTUS signed the #FY18NDAA to ensure our troops receive a pay raise and have the tools they need to defend our nation both at home and abroad.”

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC): .@POTUS just signed the #NDAA giving our servicemen and women their biggest pay raise in 8 years & also providing our military with the resources they need to keep American safe!

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH): “Today the President rightfully called again for an end to the sequestration of national defense…. Our troops face enough uncertainty--their budget shouldn’t be on the list of things they need to worry about.”

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK): “The FY18 NDAA rebuilds and restores our military by supplying our men and women in uniform with the critical resources needed to protect our country from harm. Our troops work tirelessly to defend our flag. By giving them a well-deserved pay raise, we recognize their constant commitment and lend our gratitude for their brave sacrifice…. I applaud President Trump for his strong support of our nation’s military and this year’s NDAA.”

Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA): “America’s military is made up of hardworking men and women who wake up every day to serve others. We should be making it easier for them to transition to civilian life with a steady job, and infuse our workforce with leadership skills only the military can provide…. I am glad President Trump has signed this legislation into law.”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC): “Grateful that #ndaa is now law. The bill, signed today by @potus, makes critical investments in our military & national security - and it represents a big win for South Carolina. #maga”

Rep. John Carter (R-TX): “BREAKING: @POTUS has signed the #NDAA into law, ensuring our troops have the resources they need to deter and defend!”

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX): “Watch as @POTUS signs #NDAA into law - it provides the LARGEST pay raise in 8 years for our troops & empowers the great men & women that serve our country.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): “I’m grateful to see President Donald Trump sign this bill into law, and commend Rep. Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, for his work on behalf of the men and women in uniform who serve our great nation and keep us safe.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI): “.@POTUS just signed into law the #FY18NDAA-- now Congress must pass a budget deal to ensure our warfighters have what they need to deter threats, support our allies, and above all, keep the American people safe.”

A Message from President Donald J. Trump on Hanukkah

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 22:20

Hanukkah is a time for Jewish families around the world to come together around the lighting of the menorah and celebrate the miracles of the past and promises of the future. Melania and I wish all of our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrating this meaningful holiday a happy and healthy eight nights in the company of those they love.

The miracle of Hanukkah began more than 2,000 years ago, when the practice of Judaism was made punishable by death. A small band of Jewish patriots rose up and reclaimed their Jewish identity by vanquishing a mighty army. In their pursuit to rededicate their holy temple, the Jewish heroes found only enough oil to light the temple’s menorah for one night. However, a miracle occurred and with God’s grace the oil lasted for eight days.

On this holiday, we are proud to stand with the Jewish people who shine as a light to all nations. We also stand with the people of Israel, the Jewish State, which has itself a miraculous history of overcoming the tallest of odds. We hope that those observing the holiday here, in Israel, and around the world have a wonderful holiday.

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on H.R. 2810

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 20:38

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 2810, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018." This Act authorizes fiscal year 2018 appropriations for critical Department of Defense (DOD) national security programs, provides vital benefits for military personnel and their families, and includes authorities to facilitate ongoing military operations around the globe. I am very appreciative that the Congress has passed this bill to provide the DOD with the resources it needs to support our Armed Forces and keep America safe. I note, however, that the bill includes several provisions that raise constitutional concerns.

Several provisions of the bill, including sections 1046, 1664, 1680, and 1682, purport to restrict the President's authority to control the personnel and materiel the President believes is necessary or advisable for the successful conduct of military missions. Additionally, section 1601 provides that the Commander of Air Force Space Command, a military officer subordinate to the civilian leadership of the President as the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Air Force, has "sole authority" over certain matters. While I share the objectives of the Congress with respect to maintaining the strength and security of the United States, my Administration will treat these provisions consistent with the President's authority as Commander in Chief.

Certain other provisions of the bill, including sections 350, 1011, 1041, 1202, and 1227, purport to require that the Congress receive advance notice before the President directs certain military actions. I reiterate the longstanding understanding of the executive branch that these types of provisions encompass only military actions for which such advance notice is feasible and consistent with the President's constitutional authority and duty as Commander in Chief to protect the national security of the United States.

Sections 1033 and 1035 restrict transfers of detainees held at the United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay. I fully intend to keep open that detention facility and to use it for detention operations. Consistent with the statement I issued in signing H.R. 244, I reiterate the longstanding position of the executive branch that, under certain circumstances, restrictions on the President's authority to transfer detainees would violate constitutional separation-of-powers principles, including the President's constitutional authority as Commander in Chief. Additionally, section 1035 could, in some circumstances, interfere with the ability of the United States to transfer a detainee who has been granted a writ of habeas corpus.

I also strongly object to section 1633, which threatens to undermine the effective operation of the Executive Office of the President by making full funding for the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) contingent upon the submission of a report on a national policy for cyberspace, cybersecurity, and cyberwarfare. I take cyber‑related issues very seriously, as demonstrated by Executive Order 13800, which has initiated strategic actions across executive departments and agencies that will improve the Nation's cyber-related capabilities. Among other things, WHCA plays a critical role in providing secure communications to the President and his staff. The Congress should not hold hostage the President's ability to communicate in furtherance of the Nation's security and foreign policy. I look forward to working with the Congress to address, as quickly as possible, this unprecedented and dangerous funding restriction.

Several provisions of the bill, including sections 1069, 1231, 1232, 1239, 1239A, 1258, 1259, 1263, 1271, 1279A, and 1607, could potentially dictate the position of the United States in external military and foreign affairs and, in certain instances, direct the conduct of international diplomacy. My Administration will treat these provisions consistent with the President's exclusive constitutional authorities as Commander in Chief and as the sole representative of the Nation in foreign affairs to determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign sovereigns and conduct the Nation's diplomacy.

Section 1244(b) purports to limit certain expenditures unless, under section 1244(c), the President submits to the Congress a plan to impose sanctions -- including asset blocking, exclusion from the United States, and procurement bans -- on certain persons for failing to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. My Administration will apply these provisions consistent with the President's constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations, including the President's authority under Article II, section 3 of the Constitution to "receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers." Section 1245 purports to direct the United States Government to consider the RS-26 ballistic missile to be a breach of the INF Treaty "for purposes of all policies and decisions," if the President, with the concurrence of certain other executive branch officials, were to make certain legal and factual determinations. My Administration will apply this provision consistent with the President's constitutional authority to identify breaches of international agreements by counterparties.

Section 910 purports to elevate the current Deputy Chief Management Officer of the DOD to the position of Chief Management Officer, which would result in an expansion of duties, along with an increase in both responsibility and pay. While my Administration supports the policy of section 910, the provision raises constitutional concerns related to the President's appointment authority. My Administration will devise a plan to treat this provision in a manner that mitigates the constitutional concerns, while adhering closely to the intent of the Congress.

Section 1097 purports to reauthorize the Office of Special Counsel, including by continuing the existing tenure protections for the Special Counsel. The Special Counsel is a principal officer of the United States who performs executive functions, and has both broad authority and long tenure insulated from the President's removal authority. I reiterate the longstanding position of the executive branch that such insulation of a principal officer like the Special Counsel raises serious constitutional concerns.

Section 1653 purports to require the Nuclear Weapons Council to make an assessment and provide a report to the congressional defense committees in response to legislative activity by a single house of Congress. To direct the Council's operations in this manner, the Congress must act in accord with the requirements of bicameralism and presentment prescribed in Article I, section 7 of the Constitution. Accordingly, my Administration will treat section 1653 as non-binding, and I will instruct the Council to take action in response to this provision only as an exercise of inter-branch comity -- i.e., only insofar as such action would be practicable and consistent with the Council's existing legal responsibilities.

Several provisions of the bill, including sections 737, 1097, 1244, 1631, 1632, and 1669, as well as language in the classified annex to the joint explanatory statement of the committee of conference, purport to mandate or regulate the submission to the Congress of information -- such as deliberative process and national security information -- protected by executive privilege. My Administration will treat these provisions consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information, the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the executive branch, or the performance of the President's constitutional duties. Additionally, I note that conditions in the classified annex to the joint explanatory statement of the committee of conference are not part of the text of the bill and do not carry the force of law.

Several provisions of the bill, including sections 513, 572, 807, 1648, 1676, 1696, 2878, and 3117, purport to require executive branch officials under the President's supervision to recommend certain legislative measures to the Congress. My Administration will treat those provisions consistent with Article II, section 3 of the Constitution, which provides the President the discretion to recommend to the Congress only "such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,

December 12, 2017.

Armstrong Williams: "Passing tax reform is a task that shouldn't be taxing"

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 20:11

“It is incumbent upon our legislators to reconcile the [tax reform] bills, and allow every hard-working American taxpayer to keep more of what they earn.”

Passing tax reform is a task that shouldn’t be taxing

By Armstrong Williams

The Hill

December 12, 2017

Republicans in Congress are seeking to ease the overwhelming burden on taxpaying Americans with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Passing this bill and signing it into law is of paramount importance.

The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package passed the House of Representatives on Nov. 16, and the Senate passed its version Dec. 2. It is now time for the two versions to be reconciled so the bill can be sent to the desk of President Trump, signed into law and put to work for the benefit of the American people.

The Tax Policy Center released a brief on the Senate’s version of the bill that estimates that the legislation will reduce taxes, on average, for every single income group.

For businesses, this tax reform bill is a clear win. The bill will by 2019 permanently cut the corporate tax rate from its current exorbitant rate — up to 35 percent — to a much more reasonable 20 percent.

The Tax Foundation, an independent think tank that analyzes tax policy, projects that over the next 10 years these corporate tax cuts could lead to almost one million new jobs.

In other words, if you oppose this bill, then you are opposing job growth and an expanding American economy.

The middle class stands to benefit greatly as well. Firstly, the proposed tax code will be much more streamlined, simplifying the current convoluted process for the millions of hard-working Americans who struggle with the tax code year in and year out.

When taxes go down for American corporations, the American economy reaps direct benefits. When taxes go down for the American people, our citizens reap direct benefits. This bill accomplishes both, and it boasts the additional benefit of simplifying the tax code.

When the Senate voted through the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, America moved one step closer to achieving a revamped tax system that actually makes sense and helps everyone. Now it is incumbent upon our legislators to reconcile the bills, and allow every hard-working American taxpayer to keep more of what they earn.

Read the full op-ed here.

ICYMI: State and Local Leaders Push for Tax Reform

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 20:01

Reforming our outdated, complex, and overly burdensome tax code and cutting taxes for hardworking families has the critical support of State and local officials across the country. As Congress works to have a bill on President Donald J. Trump’s desk before the end of the year, a majority of governors have indicated their support for tax reform and 21 governors recently signed a letter to congressional leadership supporting the effort. The governors urge the two chambers to swiftly pass meaningful tax reform legislation, writing, “We’ve proven in our states that you can cut taxes, create jobs, and generate budget surpluses all at the same time. If it can work in our states, it can work for America.”

GOVERNORS

Governor Doug Ducey (R, AZ): “Make no mistake, special interests will fight like crazy to keep their loopholes and special treatment. But government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers. We need to set a rate for businesses that’s fair, close the loopholes and make our tax code simpler and more equitable for everyone.”

Governor Paul LePage (R, ME): “From his long and successful career in business, President Trump knows firsthand that a burdensome tax code doesn’t create jobs, it kills them. When he outlined his vision for tax reform last week, I was pleased to see it will help Maine families keep more of their hard-earned paychecks.”

Governor Chris Sununu (R, NH): “America's business tax rates are probably the most self-destructive feature of the current system. By reducing the highest business tax rate in the developed world, something that we have shown, right here in New Hampshire, is a huge boost to competitiveness that creates new jobs and higher wages. And finally repealing the death tax is long overdue.”

Governor Kim Reynolds (R, IA): “Iowa families are burdened with high income taxes that lower their take-home pay and business tax rates that limit economic opportunities and wage increases. Because up to 75 percent of the burden of business tax rates falls on workers, paychecks are smaller and raises are all too rare. When working families should be dedicating money to savings, college and retirement accounts, they're sending too much out of their hard-earned paychecks to Washington, D.C., instead.”

Governor Rick Snyder (R, MI): “It has been more than 30 years since Washington, D.C. passed major tax reform. Since then, the tax code has become a 74,000-page Goliath puzzling American families and businesses. We need reform now to ensure Americans receive much-needed tax relief, provide a boost to our nation’s economic growth and allow millions of workers to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

Governor Phil Bryant (R, MS): “With a level playing field, American businesses and workers will once again dominate a global economy. I am grateful the president and the Republican congressional leadership are committed to making that happen. The framework deserves to become legislation and should pass Congress. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.”

Governor Henry McMaster (R, SC): “For too long, our tax code has been overcomplicated and uncompetitive, placing an outsized burden on business while perplexing the average American. This is a rare opportunity to fix a broken system, putting money back in taxpayers’ pockets and encouraging more companies to invest, expand, hire and profit. It’s a win for South Carolina.”

Governor Jim Justice (R, WV): “President Trump is continuing to keep his promise to Americans to help grow our country by providing our average families with significant tax relief.”

Governor Matt Bevin (R, KY): “Recently, our national economy has been rebounding following a long period of tepid recovery. That makes this the perfect time to tackle federal tax reform and I applaud President Trump for his leadership on this issue.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R, AR): “Washington’s system of taxation takes too much money, is too complicated and hampers economic growth. The result is a system that places too heavy a burden on our businesses and citizens. It places our country at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive and mobile world.”

Governor Eric Greitens (R, MO): “For too long, our tax system has been complex, corrupt, and high. We need a system that is simple, fair, and low. In Missouri, we’re trying to do our part at the state level—but the biggest changes that small business owners need begin at the federal level. The President understands this. We were pleased that he chose Springfield, Missouri, to announce his effort on tax reform. And we were glad to host him in St. Charles, Missouri, on Wednesday, where he again sent a message to Congress to get tax reform legislation done and delivered.”

Governor Gary Herbert (R, UT): “If we want businesses to come to the United States and stay, we have to create the right conditions. I commend Congressional leaders for their efforts to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate and move to a system that will encourage companies to bring their profits to the United States and invest in the American economy. Our corporate rate—highest in the industrialized world—and our treatment of overseas earnings are glaring exceptions to an otherwise business friendly environment. Lower taxes and a simpler tax code means faster economic growth, more jobs, and higher wages. There are still important differences to be ironed out, but it’s refreshing to see Washington tackling something difficult but necessary. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a new trend.”

Governor Matthew Mead (R, WY): “Eliminating onerous restrictions and regulations would allow businesses to afford to pay employees higher wages and reinvest in their own growth.”

Governor Mary Fallin (R, OK): “Our nation’s tax code, on the other hand, is outdated and in desperate need of reform. Due to incomprehensible regulations and untold pages of forms and instructions, nearly 90% of taxpayers need external help to simply pay their taxes.”

Governor Susana Martinez (R, NM): “New Mexicans deserve a tax system that puts their household budget ahead of more government bureaucracy. Real tax reform on the federal and state levels is long overdue and it is now time we put our communities and businesses first.”

Governor Greg Abbott (R, TX): “Listen, the fact of the matter is that it has been far too long since we’ve had tax reform in the United States of America. This is a meaningful step toward the kind of tax reform that the United States needs. I think it is important especially at the corporate level so that internationally we will be more competitive. … We will be advancing the United States of America economically if this tax plan passes and so I hope it does.”

Governor Rick Scott (R, FL): “My budget cuts $180 million in taxes to build on our success of cutting taxes 75 times saving Floridians more than $7.5 billion. DC needs to follow our lead and get tax reform done now.”

Governor Pete Ricketts (R, NE): “I applaud the President and congressional leadership for making tax reform a top priority this year . . . . Providing relief will put more money back into the pockets of hardworking families and unleash economic growth in communities across our nation.”

Governor Bill Walker (I, AK): The House and Senate conference committee on tax legislation has a singular opportunity to open one of the most prospective onshore areas in the world to safe oil and gas exploration and development – limited to 1/750th of the Coastal Plain or 1002 Area, which itself is just eight percent of ANWR – right here in the United States, on the North Slope of Alaska. It is critical that Congress act and get this legislation over the finish line to put the national resources of the Coastal Plain to use for the good of the country. Alaska’s economy needs this boost, and our nation needs a strong Alaska.

Governor Doug Burgum (R, ND): “North Dakota leaders have worked hard over the past 25 years to reduce individual and corporate income tax rates, pass sensible regulations and foster a business-friendly environment that stimulates investment and job creation, and we appreciate President Trump recognizing those continuing efforts . . . . We share the president’s goals for tax reform: simplify the tax code, lower rates to ease the burden on middle-class families and set corporate tax rates at levels that allow U.S. businesses to better compete in the global economy, bringing back jobs and wealth from overseas. And we urge Congress to work with the administration to achieve meaningful tax reform that encourages economic growth and saves taxpayers time and money.”

Governor Dennis Daugaard (R, SD): “I thank @SenJohnThune, @SenatorRounds and @RepKristiNoem for their support of tax reform. They understand that responsible reform can jumpstart our economy.”

Governor Scott Walker (R, WI): “Our nation’s tax code, on the other hand, is outdated and in desperate need of reform. Due to the incomprehensible regulations and untold pages of forms and instructions, nearly 90 percent of taxpayers need external help to simply comply with paying their taxes. Across the country, this time and energy spent adds up to some 6 billion hours and $15-16 billion in tax compliance costs, according to the Internal Revenue Service and the National Federation of Independent Business.”

Governor Kay Ivey (R, AL): “President Trump is proposing the largest tax cut for American families and businesses in decades . . . . The current tax structure is oppressive to families and businesses alike, and it simply sets us up for failure in today’s global economy. We’ve proven in Alabama, with the lowest unemployment rate in history, lower taxes and less government regulation produces jobs – it’s time Washington joins us in our efforts.”

Governor Eric Holcomb (R, IN): “We must simplify, close loopholes, institute fairness and lower overall rates—especially for small business.”

Governor Brian Sandoval (R, NV): “Reforming the nation’s tax code is an incredibly complex task that is long overdue. I applaud the President for making this a priority in this Congress, and I appreciate Congress’ attention as they reform our tax code with a focus on fairness, competitiveness and economic growth. I continue to appreciate the leadership of Senator Heller and our entire Congressional delegation; their willingness to work with the state will help ensure the final legislative product will be one that will help Nevada grow, put more Nevadans to work, and allow Nevadans to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

LT. GOVERNORS

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (R, GA): “To reach our nation’s potential we need a tax system that empowers entrepreneurs and businesses to invest in our workforce. Our leaders have an opportunity to set us on a path of economic growth, job creation, and prosperity to enable more of our families to climb up the economic ladder. I applaud the leadership of President Trump and our state’s congressional delegation for their support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, delivering hardworking Georgians the tax relief they deserve. Americans have waited 31 years for meaningful tax reform, and the stakes have never been greater.”

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R, WI): “I am grateful that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan are finally tackling reform of our broken federal tax code. They're working right now on an ambitious plan to make the federal tax code simpler, flatter and fairer.”

Lt. Governor Mary Taylor (R, OH): “The President is proposing the biggest tax cut to small and midsize businesses in 80 years, and as we have seen in Ohio, this will jumpstart the nation’s economy. The Council of Economic Advisors has estimated that the average American household income could increase between $4,000 and $9,000 a year in wages and salary alone from this proposal.”

Lt. Governor Brian Calley (R, MI): “The reform plan President Trump unveiled last month will be a game changer for all Americans. We know its principles are sound because of our experience here in Michigan. A simple, fair and efficient tax code will go a long way for everyone.”

Lt. Governor Mike Foley (R, NE): “President Trump is following through on his commitment to help grow America’s middle class with federal tax reform.”

Lt. Governor Mike Parson (R, MO): “The President of the United States is offering a tax plan that would greatly benefit Missouri families . . . . The President’s plan would reduce taxes and allow families to keep more of their hard-earned money. It would also allow the next generation of Missouri workers to invest in themselves, afford a quality education, and get a good job here in our state.”

Lt. Governor Tim Griffin (R, AR): “Individuals and families know how to spend the fruits of their labor and provide for their families better than bureaucrats a thousand miles away. Tax reform will allow Arkansans to save for the future, pay off credit-card debt, or simply make ends meet.”

STATEWIDE OFFICALS

Bill Schuette, Attorney General (R, MI): “The last president to reform America’s tax code was Ronald Reagan. During his time in office, America added 15.9 million jobs, an increase in the nation’s workforce of more than 17 percent. Now more than ever, our economy needs a booster shot. President Trump’s tax reform is just what the doctor ordered to simplify the code, create more jobs and spur greater growth in our economy.”

Josh Hawley, Attorney General (R, MO): “President Trump has a bold plan to change course and give working Missourians a chance to move ahead. His plan honors real work and prioritizes the taxpayers instead of the tax takers.”

John McMillan, State Agricultural Commissioner (R, AL): “Farmers in Alabama and across the nation face natural disasters, significant price fluctuations in the market, increased regulations and many other challenges. Without comprehensive tax reform, the American farmer may eventually be taxed out of business or at least taxed where he or she can no longer pass the farm on to the next generation. The elimination of the estate tax is just one of the revisions in the Tax Reform plan that provide farmers hope.”

Jeff Witte, State Agricultural Director (NM): “The farm and ranch property often has to be split and sold to satisfy estate taxes upon the death of a family member. This predicament leads to the next generation having to take family assets to satisfy the tax in order to preserve the enterprise as a whole, leaving these individuals in a position in which they cannot succeed financially, eventually losing the family business.”

Mike Strain, State Agricultural Commissioner (R, LA): “A lowering and restricting of tax rates will put more money in the pockets of our citizens and will ultimately allow farmers and other business owners to have more money to invest and help grow the economy. Lower tax rates for consumers will also increase their purchasing power for better nutrition for all American families.”

Dave Yost, State Auditor (R, OH): “Tax reform would be good for the economy, and it will be good for Ohio families. The President's plan will double the standard deduction so that more income is taxed at zero percent. It will increase and expand the Child Tax Credit to help more middle-class families and -- finally! -- eliminate the marriage penalty.”

Ron Knecht, Controller (R, NV): “The special interests that benefit from exemptions, deductions and credits available only to some parties are few in number, but each member of the group has a large stake in keeping these provisions.”

John Dougall, State Auditor (R, UT): “As the Republican Congress and President Trump take up the daunting issue of tax reform, we encourage our federal colleagues to follow Utah’s lead and create a system that is simple, equitable, and stable for American taxpayers.”

Walker Stapleton, State Treasurer (R, CO): “I applaud and support the efforts of federal lawmakers and President Trump to simplify our nation’s tax code and jump-start our economy. As Treasurer, I know Colorado families and small businesses will benefit from a tax plan that is simpler and our economy will thrive with a lower corporate rate. It will bring jobs and investment back to America and make us more competitive in a global economy . . . . This is a once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally change the structure of our complicated and burdensome tax code. I support the efforts of Congress and the President to get it done.”

SPEAKERS OF THE HOUSE

House Speaker Mike Turzai (R, PA): “It's the number one policy initiative . . . and nothing will help families and employees and jobs more.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R, FL): “Nationally, it’s clear that we need broad tax reform, and I'll gladly support any effort to simplify the tax code and cut rates. Luckily for the nation, the conservative spirit that drove Florida's success is alive and well in the tax framework that Trump laid out.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R, IN): “With one of the top business climates in the nation, Indiana’s economic environment stands in stark contrast to the dysfunction of federal tax policy and job-killing regulations.”

House Speaker Tim Moore (R, NC): “Tax relief is about protecting hard-earned paychecks and empowering all families in the workforce to succeed together in the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States. It’s about helping everyday people provide themselves a higher quality of life and build opportunities without an excessive burden on their bottom line. Again, for Congress and President Trump to realize the full potential of the American economy, North Carolina is the bellwether state when it comes to tax reform.”

House Speaker Tim Armstead (R, WV): “President Trump’s plan would provide significant tax relief to the backbone of West Virginia’s economy – our small businesses. Perhaps no segment of West Virginia’s economy has had to weather the economic storm more than our small and family-owned businesses. The President recognizes the challenges our small businesses must meet and has proposed to cap the maximum tax rate these businesses must pay. This step will provide a much-needed boost to these struggling small businesses who mean so much to our neighborhoods across West Virginia.”

Tax Letter 1

Tax Letter 2

Signatures

President Donald J. Trump Signs H.R. 2810 and H.R. 4374 into Law

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 19:45

On Tuesday, December 12, 2017, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2810, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018," which authorizes fiscal year 2018 appropriations principally for Department of Defense programs and military construction, and Department of Energy national security programs; authorizes recruitment and retention bonuses, special payments, and other authorities relating to the U.S. Armed Forces; and provides authorities related to and makes other modifications to national security, foreign affairs, and other related programs; and

H.R. 4374, which amends statutory authority for use of unapproved medical products during a military emergency, to expedite development and review of medical products for military emergency use, and to improve cross-government coordination on development and review of such medical products.

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of H.R. 2810, National Defense Authorization Act for FY2018

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 18:57

Roosevelt Room

12:03 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Vice President, Secretary Mattis, General Dunford, senior military leaders, and distinguished guests, thank you all for being here as we prepare to sign something that is extremely important: the National Defense Authorization Act. We're signing it into law.

This historic legislation demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our men and women in uniform -- the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. And we're making it a lot better than even that.

Before we begin, I want to address the terrorist attack that took place yesterday in New York City, and to praise the first responders, local police, and federal law enforcement for their quick action. They did an incredible job.

There have now been two terrorist attacks in New York City in recent weeks carried out by foreign nationals, here on green cards. The first attacker came through the visa lottery and the second through chain migration. We're going to end both of them. The lottery system and chain migration -- we're going to end them fast.

Congress must get involved immediately, and they are involved immediately, and I can tell you we have tremendous support. They will be ended.

These attacks underscore the dangers we face from around the globe. The National Defense Authorization Act could not come at a more opportune or important time. This legislation represents a momentous step toward rebuilding our military and securing the future for our children. I applaud the work of the members of both parties who came together to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support -- something that sounds very nice to my ears.

I especially want to thank Chairman Thornberry, who is here with us today, for his tireless efforts. Fantastic job.

In recent years, our military has undergone a series of deep budget cuts that have severely impacted our readiness, shrunk our capabilities, and placed substantial burdens on our warfighters. And great warfighters they are.

History teaches us that when you weaken your defenses, you invite aggression. The best way to prevent conflict or be -- of any kind -- is to be prepared, and really be prepared. Only when the good are strong will peace prevail.

Today, with the signing of this defense bill, we accelerate the process of fully restoring America's military might. I also want to thank Senator John McCain for the work he's done on this bill. He has fought very, very hard to make it just the way he wants it and that we all want it.

This legislation will enhance our readiness, expand our modernized -- and modernize our forces, and help provide our servicemembers with the tools that they need to fight and to win. We will fight and win. But hopefully, with this, we won't have to fight because people will not be wanting to fight with us.

It authorizes funding for our continued campaign to obliterate ISIS. As you know, we've won in Syria, we've won in Iraq. But they spread to other areas and we're getting them as fast as they spread.

We've had more success with ISIS in the last eight months than the entire previous administration has had during its entire term.

It approves missile defense capabilities as we continue our campaign to create maximum pressure on the vile dictatorship in North Korea. We're working very diligently on that -- building up forces. We'll see how it all turns out. It's a very bad situation -- a situation that should have been handled long ago by other administrations.

It upgrades our Ground Combat Vehicles, allows for the purchase of new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and paves the way for beautiful new Virginia-class submarines -- the finest in the world.

Finally, the defense bill authorizes major investments in our military's greatest weapon of all: its warriors. The NDAA increases the size of the American Armed Forces for the first time in seven years, and it provides our military servicemembers with their largest pay increase in eight years.

Now Congress must finish the job by eliminating the defense sequester and passing a clean appropriations bill. I think it's going to happen. We need our military. It's got to be perfecto.

At this time of grave global threats, I urge Democrats in Congress to drop their shutdown threats and descend clean funding and a clean funding bill to my desk that fully funds our great military. Protecting our country should always be a bipartisan issue, just like today's legislation.

We must work across party lines to give our heroic troops the equipment, resources, and support that they have earned a thousand times over. Together, we will send a clear message to our allies and a firm warning to our enemies and adversaries: America is strong, proud, determined, and ready. And I might add, when we're completed -- and it won't be that long -- we will be stronger than ever before -- by a lot.

So thank you to all of our friends in Congress. And we do appreciate the bipartisan support, and we appreciate your hard work on this historic defense authorization.

And thank you, most of all, to our brave warriors for standing watch over our country, our families, and our freedom. Brand-new, beautiful equipment is on its way -- the best you've ever had by far. We make the best in the world, and you're going to have it.

God bless you, God bless our military, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

I won't be showing all of this to everybody, believe it or not. That's a lot of pages. That is a lot of pages.

(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)

END

 

12:12 P.M.

President Donald J. Trump will Make the American Military Great Again

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 18:52

“As long as I am President, the servicemen and women who defend our nation will have the equipment, the resources, and the funding they need to secure our homeland, to respond to our enemies quickly and decisively, and, when necessary, to fight, to overpower, and to always, always, always win.” – President Donald J. Trump

A BUDGET THAT SUPPORTS AMERICA’S INTERESTS: President Donald J. Trump has signed into law a defense budget that will support our national security and America First policies.

• The Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) supports a topline defense funding level of $692 billion that goes in the direction sought by President Trump. The NDAA:

o Authorizes funding to ensure the continued defeat of ISIS;

o Provides legislative authority to implement President Trump’s South Asia strategy;

o Authorizes critical missile defense capabilities to confront the threat posed by North Korea; and

o Takes concrete steps to rebuild our readiness and build the needed capabilities to continue to deter our adversaries and assure our allies.

• The NDAA authorizes $626 billion of the base budget resources for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, providing an additional $66 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. 

• The NDAA is vital to rebuilding, modernizing, and preparing our Armed Forces for the future so that our military remains the world’s preeminent fighting force and we can continue to ensure peace through strength.

FUNDING OUR TROOPS: President Trump calls on Congress to eliminate the defense spending limits included in the sequester and support America’s troops.

• The President calls on Congress to raise the Budget Control Act National Defense spending cap and, once and for all, stop the endless budget cuts to our military.

• The NDAA authorizes a 2.4 percent pay raise for our troops, providing a significant improvement in quality of life for the members of our military.

• The NDAA authorizes $146.2 billion for military personnel, including costs of pay, allowances, bonuses, death benefits, and permanent change of station moves.  

• Congress must now pass defense appropriations legislation to complement the NDAA.

REBUILDING OUR MILITARY: The budget realizes the President’s call to rebuild our military and make it the great and powerful force it once was.

• The NDAA lays the groundwork for a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force consistent with a new National Defense Strategy, authorizing:

o Increases to the Army’s end strength of 7,500 and to the Marine Corps end strength of 1,000, helping to reduce stress on the force;

o $26.2 billion for shipbuilding, including multi-year procurements of Virginia class submarines, which can save money for the Government and increase both our capacity and capability to deter threats and maintain control of the sea;

o $10.1 billion to procure 90 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft that will ensure our dominance of the air domain; and

o $2.2 billion for Army ground combat vehicles and provides authority to modernize our Army and Marine Corps with best in the world capabilities.

• The Trump Administration is committed to reversing the effects of under investment and the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA provides several key authorizations:

o Increases funding authority to support military facilities; and

o Increases authority for Navy depot maintenance and afloat readiness, while also authorizing additional funds for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force operation and maintenance accounts.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Bottom line, GOP tax reform's good for the middle class"

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:26

“The myths about Republican tax reform will be demolished by reality.”

Bottom line, GOP tax reform’s good for the middle class

Editorial

Richmond Times-Dispatch

December 11, 2017

...

Once the reforms kick in next year — assuming the House and Senate can agree on a compromise — the myths about Republican tax reform will be demolished by reality.

When middle- and lower-income earners begin to see their paychecks expand as tax withholding declines and their annual federal tax liability drops, they’re certain to wonder how more money in their pockets can hurt them. And that realization is likely to be buttressed as hiring and wages improve, thanks to an improved corporate tax structure that helps small businesses invest and makes all American businesses more competitive in the global marketplace.

The details of the tax plan are still being negotiated, but every version includes lower rates for all middle-class earners and a bigger standard deduction that will make a larger portion of income tax-free for lower-income Americans. The plans also drop tax rates for small businesses and allow them to deduct certain expenses immediately, changes that can be described fairly as a robust and efficient jobs program.

Read the full editorial here.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 03:07

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Frank T. Brogan of Pennsylvania to be the Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education. Mr. Brogan most recently served as chancellor of Pennsylvania’s public universities. He began his career as a fifth grade teacher in Martin County, Florida and later served as a dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent before being elected Florida’s Commissioner of Education in 1994. Mr. Brogan continued his advocacy for public education when elected Lieutenant Governor of Florida in 1998 and 2002. After five years in that role, he was named president of Florida Atlantic University—a position he held until 2009, when he was selected to serve as chancellor of Florida’s public universities. A native of Ohio, Mr. Brogan was the first member of his family to attend college—earning a bachelor's degree in education magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University. He and his wife, Courtney, have a 12-year-old son, Colby John.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty of Virginia to be Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, Department of Energy. Ms. Gordon-Hagerty is president of Tier Tech International, Inc., a national security consulting company. She also serves as president of LEG Inc., providing strategic advice and counsel in domestic and national security issues. Ms. Gordon-Hagerty was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer of USEC, Inc. She was a member of the White House National Security Council staff for more than five years, serving as the Director for Combating Terrorism. Ms. Gordon-Hagerty previously served as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Director of the Office of Emergency Response, and as Acting Director of the Office of Nuclear Weapons Surety. Before that, she was a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce. She began her professional career as a health physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Ms. Gordon-Hagerty earned a Master of Public Health degree in health physics and a Bachelor of Science degree, both from the University of Michigan.

Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 02:34

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of United States Armed Forces equipped for combat.

MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF UNITED STATES COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS

In furtherance of counterterrorism efforts, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the U.S. Central and Africa Commands' areas of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed United States combat-equipped forces to conduct counterterrorism operations and to advise, assist, and accompany security forces of select foreign partners on counterterrorism operations. Specific information about counterterrorism deployments to select countries is provided below, and a classified annex to this report provides further information.

Military Operations against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Associated Forces and in Support of Related United States Counterterrorism Objectives

Since October 7, 2001, United States Armed Forces, including Special Operations Forces, have conducted counterterrorism combat operations against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces. Since August 2014, these operations have targeted the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which was formerly known as al-Qa'ida in Iraq. In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat‑equipped forces to several locations in the U.S. Central, European, Africa, Southern, and Pacific Commands' areas of responsibility. Such operations and deployments have been reported previously, consistent with Public Law 107-40, Public Law 107-243, the War Powers Resolution, and other statutes. These ongoing operations, which the United States has carried out with the assistance of numerous international partners, have been successful in significantly degrading ISIS capabilities in Syria and Iraq. If necessary, in response to terrorist threats, I will direct additional measures to protect the citizens and interests of the United States. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or duration of the deployments of United States Armed Forces that are or will be necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States.

Afghanistan. Consistent with the strategy I announced publicly on August 21, 2017, United States forces remain in Afghanistan for the purposes of stopping the reemergence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten the United States, supporting the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field, and creating conditions to support a political process to achieve a lasting peace. United States forces in Afghanistan are training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces; conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations against al-Qa'ida and against ISIS; and taking appropriate measures against those who provide direct support to al-Qa'ida, threaten United States and coalition forces, or threaten the viability of the Afghan government or the ability of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to achieve campaign success. The United States remains in an armed conflict, including in Afghanistan and against the Taliban, and active hostilities remain ongoing.

Iraq and Syria. As part of a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS, United States Armed Forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes and other necessary operations against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria. United States Armed Forces are also conducting airstrikes and other necessary operations against al-Qa'ida in Syria. United States Armed Forces are also deployed to Syria to conduct operations against ISIS with indigenous ground forces. In Iraq, United States Armed Forces are advising and coordinating with Iraqi forces and providing training, equipment, communications support, intelligence support, and other support to select elements of the Iraqi security forces, including Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Actions in Iraq are being undertaken in coordination with the Government of Iraq, and in conjunction with coalition partners.

Since the last periodic update report, United States Armed Forces participating in the Defeat-ISIS campaign in Syria have undertaken a limited number of strikes against Syrian government and pro-Syrian government forces. These strikes were lawful measures to counter immediate threats to United States and partner forces engaged in that campaign.

Yemen. A small number of United States military personnel are deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS. The United States military continues to work closely with the Government of Yemen and regional partner forces to dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by those groups. Since the last periodic update report, United States forces have conducted a number of airstrikes against AQAP operatives and facilities in Yemen, and supported the United Arab Emirates- and Yemen-led operations to clear AQAP from Shabwah Governorate. In October, United States forces also conducted airstrikes against ISIS targets in Yemen for the first time. United States forces, in a non-combat role, have also continued to provide logistics and other support to regional forces combatting the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.

Jordan. At the request of the Government of Jordan, approximately 2,300 United States military personnel are deployed to Jordan to support Defeat-ISIS operations, to enhance Jordan's security, and to promote regional stability.

Lebanon. At the request of the Government of Lebanon, approximately 100 United States military personnel are deployed to Lebanon to enhance the government's counterterrorism capabilities and to support the Defeat-ISIS operations of Lebanese security forces.

Turkey. United States forces, including strike and combat‑support aircraft and associated United States military personnel, remain deployed to Turkey, at the Turkish government's request, to support Defeat-ISIS operations and to enhance Turkey's security.

East Africa Region. In Somalia, United States forces continue to counter the terrorist threat posed by ISIS and al-Shabaab, an associated force of al-Qa'ida. Since the last periodic report, United States forces have conducted a limited number of airstrikes against al-Shabaab as well as ISIS. United States forces also advise, assist, and accompany regional forces, including Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, during counterterrorism operations. Additional United States forces are deployed to Kenya to support counterterrorism operations in East Africa. United States forces continue to partner with the Government of Djibouti, which has permitted use of Djiboutian territory for basing of United States forces. United States military personnel remain deployed to Djibouti, including for purposes of posturing for counterterrorism and counter-piracy operations in the vicinity of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and to provide contingency support for embassy security augmentation in East Africa, as required.

Libya. Since the last periodic update report, United States forces have conducted a number of airstrikes against ISIS terrorists and their camps in Libya. These airstrikes were conducted in coordination with Libya's Government of National Accord.

Lake Chad Basin and Sahel Region. United States military personnel in the Lake Chad Basin and Sahel Region continue to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations and to provide support to African and European partners conducting counterterrorism operations in the region, including by advising, assisting, and accompanying these partner forces. On October 4, 2017, an element assessed to be part of ISIS attacked United States and Nigerien forces in Niger. The attack resulted in the deaths of four United States service members. Approximately 800 United States military personnel remain deployed to Niger. United States military personnel are also deployed to Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria to support counterterrorism operations.

Cuba. United States forces continue to conduct humane and secure detention operations for detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, under authority provided by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war. There are 41 such detainees as of the date of this report.

Philippines. United States forces deployed to the Philippines are providing support to the counterterrorism operations of the armed forces of the Philippines.

MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT

Approximately 400 United States military personnel are assigned to or supporting the United States contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981.

United States AND NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION OPERATIONS IN KOSOVO

The United States continues to contribute forces to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in cooperation with local authorities, bilateral partners, and international institutions, to deter renewed hostilities in Kosovo. Approximately 640 United States military personnel are among KFOR's approximately 4,150 personnel.

I have directed the participation of United States Armed Forces in all of the above-described operations pursuant to my constitutional and statutory authority as Commander in Chief and as Chief Executive (including the authority to implement Public Law 107-40, Public Law 107-243, and other statutes), as well as my constitutional and statutory authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. Officials of my Administration and I communicate regularly with congressional leadership and other Members of Congress with regard to these deployments, and we will continue to do so.

Sincerely,

DONALD J. TRUMP

Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:45

MEMORANDUM FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT

THE SECRETARY OF STATE

THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE

THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION

THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY

THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE 

THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND

BUDGET

THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL

SECURITY AFFAIRS

THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND

TECHNOLOGY POLICY

THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND

SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF

SUBJECT:        Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program

Section 1.  Amendment to Presidential Policy Directive-4.

Presidential Policy Directive-4 of June 28, 2010 (National Space Policy), is amended as follows:

The paragraph beginning "Set far-reaching exploration milestones" is deleted and replaced with the following:

"Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.  Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;".

Sec. 2.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d)  This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

The Wall Street Journal: "The Economy Revs Up"

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:39

“But the biggest change has been in U.S. economic policy, notably the Trump Administration’s deregulatory efforts and the boost they have given business confidence.”

The Economy Revs Up

Editorial

The Wall Street Journal

December 8, 2017

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. created 228,000 net new jobs in November, in the latest sign that the American economy is growing at a healthier pace.

There’s little doubt now that the economy has reached a higher growth plane over the past nine or so months. Growth in GDP hit 3% in the second and third quarters, and all signs point to another in the fourth quarter. That would mark the first such string of 3% quarters since 2014, after which growth fell back to the 2% range.

The rising growth is touching most industries and parts of the country. Manufacturing is healthy—note to Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross —thanks to growth abroad and rising exports. The housing market is doing well overall, and consumer confidence is high.

The best news may be the surge in small business optimism that began with the election and has persisted, as measured by the National Federation of Independent Business.

The jobless rate among college graduates is down to 2.1%, which has to be near full employment and is close to the lowest since before the 2008 recession. Even more striking is the rapid decline in the jobless rate among workers over age 25 without a high school diploma.

But the biggest change has been in U.S. economic policy, notably the Trump Administration’s deregulatory efforts and the boost they have given business confidence. Barack Obama’s economists dismissed regulation as a minor concern, and even called it a boon to growth, but the costs of compliance were real and added to uncertainty. Businesses held back because they didn’t know how or when government might strike next, which contributed to historically low levels of capital investment in this expansion.

That has begun to change, and the main promise of tax reform is to create the incentive to produce an investment surge.

But for now U.S. economic portents look as good as they have in years. If Congress can get its tax reform over the finish line without watering down its pro-growth elements, “secular stagnation” may go down in history as one more failed progressive diagnosis.

Read the full editorial here.

Four Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:37

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Chai Rachel Feldblum, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a term expiring July 1, 2023.  (Reappointment)

Michael D. Griffin, of Alabama, to be Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  (New Position)

Joseph H. Hunt, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Attorney General, vice Stuart F. Delery, resigned.

Gregory J. Slavonic, of Oklahoma, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Navy, vice Franklin R. Parker.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Today's Attack in New York City

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:32

Today’s attempted mass murder attack in New York City—the second terror attack in New York in the last two months—once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people.

First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.  Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.  My Executive action to restrict the entry of certain nationals from eight countries, which the Supreme Court recently allowed to take effect, is just one step forward in securing our immigration system.  Congress must end chain migration.  Congress must also act on my Administration’s other proposals to enhance domestic security, including increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, enhancing the arrest and detention authorities for immigration officers, and ending fraud and abuse in our immigration system.  The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear.  I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first.

Second, those convicted of engaging in acts of terror deserve the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases.  America should always stand firm against terrorism and extremism, ensuring that our great institutions can address all evil acts of terror.

F.H. Buckley: "GOP tax bill is good for middle-class Americans"

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:30

“It’s all about jobs for Americans. You have a problem with that?”

GOP tax bill is good for middle-class Americans

By F.H. Buckley

USA Today

December 10, 2017

The bill is good news for most middle-class Americans. More important, it’s a jobs bill, because it will give firms an incentive to invest in the United States. At present, America’s federal corporate tax rate of 35% is one of the highest in the world, and if you add in state taxes it’s 39.1 % on average, the highest rate in the Group of 20 major and emerging economic powers, and 10% above its average rate.

There’s a worldwide competition for investment dollars, and all other things being equal they’re going to flow to low-tax countries.

What’s worse, the high U.S. rate has given American multinational firms an incentive to leave foreign earnings offshore.

The bill also offers a tax repatriation holiday, under which American firms with money parked abroad could bring it back and pay a tax rate of just 10%.

CNBC reports that American firms have left $2.6 trillion in foreign subsidiaries. That amounts to nearly 14% of U.S. GDP. If firms had an incentive to re­invest the money here, think what this would mean for American jobs.

It’s all about jobs for Americans. You have a problem with that?

Read the full op-ed here.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 12/11/2017, #39

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:27

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:20 P.M. EST

MS. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  This morning, while New Yorkers were making their way to work, a terrorist set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body in one of Manhattan's busiest commuter hubs.  Thankfully, there were no life-threatening injuries. 

Undercover Port Authority Police Department Officer Jack Collins apprehended the terrorist, along with several other officers.  These brave first responders and the others who rushed to the scene are heroes.  On behalf of the President and a grateful nation, we would like to thank them and commend them for their bravery.

This attack underscores the need for Congress to work with the President on immigration reforms that enhance our national security and public safety.  We must protect our borders, we must ensure the individuals entering our country are not coming to do harm to our people, and we must move to a merit-based system of immigration.

Additionally, this attack comes as our coalition continues to make great gains against ISIS.  Still, there is more work to be done on the ground in the shrinking ISIS-controlled areas, and the President's plan to annihilate ISIS is moving forward. 

But we must also destroy the evil ideology that is behind ISIS and attacks like today's.  This ideology has no borders but it must be eradicated.  The President has successfully rallied the world behind this cause and we will not stop until it is accomplished.

And with that, I'll take your questions. 

Francesca. 

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward today against the President.  They first were on a television show and then they were at a press conference.  And they said that he should resign, and then also that there should be a congressional investigation.  And I know that you've said that this has already been litigated in the last election, but I wanted to get your specific reaction to this idea that there should be a congressional investigation into this.

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.  And this took place long before he was elected to be President.  And the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process.

Kristen.

MS. SANDERS:  Sarah, thank you.  I want to follow up on that.  But first, a little bit of breaking news we just learned about:  The Pentagon apparently will now allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1st.  Your reaction to that?  And any follow-up action you're going to take?

MS. SANDERS:  Yeah, as of right now, they're simply complying with a court order and preparing to implement a previous policy to remain in compliance.  The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the legal options to ensure that the President's directive can be implemented.

And for anything further and any specifics on both of those matters, I'd refer you to the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.

Q    Okay, and one follow-up --

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry, Mara.

Q    One follow-up very quickly on -- just very quickly, Sarah.

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry, Kristen.  Mara, go ahead.

Q    Can I just ask you about Nikki Haley's comments saying that the President --

MS. SANDERS:  Mara, go ahead.

Q    I'll pick that up for you, Kristen.

MS. SANDERS:  She's going to pick it up for you.

Q    Nikki Haley, as I'm sure you know, said, when asked does the election mean that's a settled issue -- which you've been arguing from the podium here -- she said, "I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them," specifically referring to the accusers of the President.  Does the President agree with her?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as the President said himself, he thinks it's a good thing that women are coming forward, but he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn't determine the course.  And, in this case, the President has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses.  And several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the President's claim in this process.

And again, the American people knew this and voted for the President, and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.

Q    But he thinks it's a good thing that the women who accused him are coming forward now, again?

MS. SANDERS:  The President has said that it's a good thing for women to be able to feel comfortable in coming forward, generally speaking.

Jacqueline.

Q    I just want to go off of that, Sarah.  But the President told Howard Stern in 2005 that he had walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that.  Is that not an admission of sexual harassmen

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has spoken about this directly.  I don't have anything further to add on the process.

Q    And the American public --             

MS. SANDERS:  We're going to do one question today, guys, to move around.

Q    Two ISIS attacks in New York City -- or ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City just recently.  Is the President concerned that there is a growing threat against people inspired by ISIS who have been radicalized online?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that the President is certainly concerned that Congress, particularly Democrats, have failed to take action in some places where we feel we could have prevented this.  Specifically, the President's policy has called for an end to chain migration.  And if that had been in place, that would have prevented this individual from coming to the United States. 

So the President is aggressively going to continue to push forth responsible immigration reform, and ending chain migration would certainly be a part of that process.

Matthew.

Q   Thank you, Sarah.  The President reacted quite angrily over the weekend to a Washington Post reporter's tweet about crowd size that was quickly deleted.  I'm wondering if you could help explain the discrepancy between the President's reaction to incidents like this, which he calls "fake news" and talks quite a bit about, and his silence on actual disinformation campaigns like Russia ran during the 2016 election to deliberately spread false information.  So both his silence on that, and does he recognize the difference between these two?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President is simply calling out a very direct and false accusation lodged against him.  There was nothing more than an individual trying to put their bias into their reporting, and something that, frankly, has gotten a little bit out of control.  We've seen it time and time again over the last couple of weeks.

A number of outlets have had to retract and change, and rewrite, and make editor's notes to a number of different stories -- some of them with major impacts, including moving markets.  This is a big problem and we think it's something that should be taken seriously.  

Q    Does he see a difference between reporters' mistakes and a disinformation campaign by a foreign government?  Does he see a distinction there?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven't spoken with him about that, but certainly we would take any misinformation like that very seriously.  But it's not something we're comparing the two on. 

Jim. 

Q    And I would just say, Sarah, that journalists make honest mistakes and that doesn't make them fake news. 

But the question that I --

MS. SANDERS:  But when journalists make honest mistakes, they should own up to them.  

Q    We do.

MS. SANDERS:  Sometimes -- and a lot of times you don't.  But there's a difference -- there's a very big difference --

Q    The President hasn’t --

Q    This wasn’t going to be my question. 

MS. SANDERS:  I'm sorry, I'm not finished. 

Q    Okay. 

MS. SANDERS:  There's a very big difference between making honest mistakes and purposefully misleading the American people -- something that happens regularly.  You can't say --

Q    You mean like tweeting stuff on the Middle East --

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not done.  You cannot say --

Q    He retweeted something that was completely fake, Sarah.  Can he admit it?

MS. SANDERS:  You cannot say that it's an honest mistake when you're purposefully putting out information that you know to be false, or when you're taking information that hasn't been validated, that hasn't been offered any credibility, and that has been continually denied by a number of people, including people with direct knowledge of an instance.  

This is something that --

Q    Are you speaking about the President?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm speaking about the number of reports that have taken place over the last couple of weeks.  I'm simply stating that there should be a certain level of responsibility in that process. 

Q    This was not --

MS. SANDERS:  Brian, I called on Jim. 

Q    I know, I know. 

Q    This is not the line of questioning that I was going down, but can you cite a specific story that you say is intentionally false; that was intentionally put out there to mislead the American people?

MS. SANDERS:  Sure, the ABC report by Brian Ross.  I think that was pretty misleading to the American people.  And I think that it's very telling that that individual had to be suspended because of that reporting.  I think that shows that the network took it seriously and recognized that it was a problem.

Jim. 

Q    Sarah, if I may though, I was going to ask a question about something else. 

MS. SANDERS:  Well, you used it on something else.

Jim. 

Q    Well, Sarah, if I may, --

MS. SANDERS:  Not today.  We're going to keep moving, guys. 

Q    Sarah, if I can ask about the President's accusations --

Q    The other Jim.

MS. SANDERS:  I'm moving to a different Jim.  I'm sorry.

Q    I know, but I didn’t get a chance to ask the question that I wanted to ask, which is --

MS. SANDERS:  Jim. 

Q    -- can you just say, once and for all, whether these accusations --

MS. SANDERS:  Jim, I'm going to say, once and for all, that I'm moving on to Jim Stinson, and I'm not taking another question from you at this point. 

Q    Sarah, a question about investment -- investment taxes.

Q    I think I was within my rights to respond to your attacks on the news media.  If that's okay, I would like to ask the question that I had about these accusations of misconduct against the President.  You said that he's denied them.  Can you say whether or not they are false?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not going to respond to the other question.  Go ahead, Jim. 

Q    Sarah, some investors are saying the tax reform package favors mutual funds over individual investors.  Other critics who want tax reform say the bill will cause some tax increases for a few middle-class tax filers.  By a few, I mean maybe tens of thousands, but maybe more. 

Will the President sign the tax bill, even if there are inadvertent tax increases and some of the criticisms are correct?

MS. SANDERS:  As I've said many times before, our focus and our priorities are making sure that we provide middle-class tax relief, and simplifying the code, bringing businesses back here to the U.S.  We're going to continue pushing for that and continue working with Congress to make sure that we get the best tax package possible. 

Jon. 

Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  Tomorrow there is a special Senate election in Alabama.  Back on September the 23rd, the President went down to Huntsville, Alabama -- campaigned alongside of Luther Strange -- and since that time, he never went down in the course of the campaign -- the campaign, alongside the Republican nominee, Roy Moore.  Was the President embarrassed in terms of campaigning alongside Roy Moore?  Is that the reason why we didn't see him down there in Alabama?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has spoken directly about this race, and who he supports and who he doesn't.  Due to the legality of that, I'm not going to go any further and would refer you back to his past statements. 

April. 

Q    Sarah, what is the disconnect, as it relates to this White House, when it comes to then-candidate Trump bringing the accusers of Bill Clinton to the debate, against Hillary Clinton, and now the accusers of Roy Moore -- making these accusations -- and his accusers?  What's the disconnect here?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as the President said, he found the allegations troubling.  And if they were true, then he should step aside.  And ultimately, the people of Alabama will make a decision in that race. 

Q    Well, what about his own accusers though?  He has accusers as well. 

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has firsthand knowledge on what he did and didn't do.  He can speak directly to those, and he has, and he's addressed them.  And I don't have anything further to add. 

Q    Will he address the American public about this?  Because this is spinning, and it's focused on him now as -- 

MS. SANDERS:  And he's addressed it directly to the American people. 

Trey.

Q    But will he -- it's coming up new and a fresh, and more people are now speaking out.  Will --

MS. SANDERS:  April, I'm going to keep moving.  Sorry, trying to cover as many of your colleagues today.

Q    I understand.  But will the President address the nation on this?  This is a huge issue, Sarah.

MS. SANDERS:  I know, and there are a lot of big issues today.  I'm trying to cover as many of them as possible by calling on a number of your colleagues.  And I've called on Trey, and I'm going to move to him. 

Q    Will the President come out and address this, please?

Sarah, all you have to say is yes or no. 

MS. SANDERS:  He has, April.  I've already said -- I've already addressed this.  The President has addressed it.  I don't have anything else to add. 

Trey.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Today, the suspected terrorist in New York City, he was described as a Bangladeshi immigrant.  Bangladesh is not on the President's travel ban list.  Does today's attack change the way that President Trump is evaluating travel restrictions?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, we can -- we do know, and the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed, that the suspect was admitted to the United States after presenting a passport displaying an F43 Family Immigrant Visa in 2011.  And so we know that the President's policy calls for an end to chain migration, which is what this individual came to the United States through. 

And if his policy had been in place, then that attacker would not have been allowed to come in the country.  That's why the President has pushed for not one part of immigration policy, but a responsible and total immigration reform.  And that's why we have to look at all sectors and do what we can to make sure we're doing everything within our power to protect the American people.

Olivier.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  At the top of your remarks about ISIS, about the attack today in New York City, you talked about the need to destroy the ideology, intimating would-be attackers and the actual attackers.  What policy changes are required to do that?  How do you defeat an ideology that's been attempted since 9/11 with, really, no great success?  What are you doing differently?  What can you do differently in order to do that?

MS. SANDERS:  I think one of the best ways that we have moved forward is in a process where we're allowing the members of the Department of Defense to aggressively move forward in defeating ISIS and, in hopes, annihilating a lot of that evil ideology through part of that process.  We're going to continue pushing and continue looking for the best ways possible to make sure that we protect Americans. 

Jessica.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Two quick ones on Korea.  Do you have an update on sanctions?  Last week, you said it would be coming in a number of days.  And secondly, Victor Cha was just nominated to be the Republic of Korea Ambassador.  Do you have any comment?

MS. SANDERS:  On the first part, we're working through a legal process and, again, hope to have details further on that.  It's a little bit more complicated.  And once we get through that, we'll be able to walk through a little bit more detail on the reason for some of the delay.  And on the other, I don't have any personnel announcements or comments on that at this time. 

Q    Sarah, I'm interested in the comment you made about the suspect in New York.  Does the White House have any proof that this suspect was radicalized outside of the United States?  He's been a lawful, permanent resident living here for some time. 

MS. SANDERS:  I can't get into any further details on that front at this point.  But as we have them available, I'll be happy to let you know. 

Q    But why would his chain migration be an issue unless you were saying that something happened outside the U.S.?

MS. SANDERS:  There are certain parts that I'm allowed to discuss at this point in the process; that's one of them.  Anything further, I can't get into at this point.  But as soon as I can, we'll be happy to let you know. 

Jennifer.

Q    On the directive on space the President is going to announce this afternoon, will he call for an increase in spending for NASA, or will there be commercial partnerships?  Or will he reduce NASA funding in other areas such as earth science, which includes the study of climate change?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not going to get ahead of the President's announcement that's coming later today, but we'll have further details once that process is completed.

Cecilia.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Two questions.  Who were the eyewitnesses who dispute these allegations against the President?  And can you stand here right now and say, without a doubt -- 100 percent certainty -- that the more than dozen women who have come forward to accuse this President of misconduct are lying?  Do you wrestle with this personally at all?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm here to speak on behalf of the President.  And I can say that the President has directly responded and said that these allegations are false, and that's what I'm doing in relaying that information to you. 

In terms of the specific eyewitness accounts, there have been multiple reports and I'd be happy to provide them to you after the briefing has completed.

Brian. 

Q    So let me just follow up on that question a little bit.  As a woman standing up there talking to us -- I know your job is to relay what the President says -- have you ever been sexually harassed?  And do you understand -- and I'm not saying by the President -- I'm saying ever.  And secondly, do you have an empathy for those who come forward?  Because it's very difficult for women to come forward. 

MS. SANDERS:  I absolutely would say that I have an empathy for any individual who has been sexually harassed.  And that certainly would be the policy of the White House.  I'm not here to speak about my personal experience on that front, but I'm here to relay information on behalf of the President, and that's what I'm focused on doing here today.

Zeke.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Following up on the President's announcement last week on Jerusalem, declaring it's the capital of Israel, we saw days of protests -- sometimes violent protests in the Middle East, changes to the Vice President's schedule as he goes through the region.  Does the White House acknowledge, does the President acknowledge, that that decision increased tensions in an already volatile region?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, we're continuing to urge calm, and we're open and willing and want to continue meeting and discussing a peace deal.

Look, violence is always going to be the responsibility of those who carry it out -- not the President or anyone else.  And again, we urge individuals and groups to remain calm, and we want to continue working with our partners, allies, and others in the region to continue moving forward on the peace conversations.

Q    Sarah, but this is about more than violence.  This is about meetings being cancelled.  It’s about diplomatic outcry from everyone from -- you know, the governments of the United Kingdom, the Pope, and the like.  So why is it beneficial to the U.S. interest, as the President declared, if all those groups, all those countries and allies are condemning that announcement?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President is taking a bold and courageous action on a law that Congress passed and had failed to implement for the last couple of decades.  The President is simply moving forward and taking that action on legislation that Congress has supported time and time again.

Jordan.

Q    Yeah, following up on that, President Abbas, as you know, has said he will not meet with the Vice President next week.  Does the President have a reaction to that?  And doesn't this mean that the U.S. has effectively taken itself out of the peace process when one side won’t even show up to meet with the United States?

MS. SANDERS:  We certainly hope not.  We find it unfortunate that they're walking away from the opportunity to discuss the future of the region.  But the administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan.  And we're going to continue pushing forward.

I’m going to take one last question.  Philip.

Q    So the last suspects of terrorism were not training in Syria or Iraq.  And Thursday, the Russians stopped their operations, said that they’d gotten rid of ISIS in Syria.  Saturday, the Iraqi Prime Minister said this fight against ISIS is won.  Why would the U.S. still need to fight on the ground?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as long as there’s any member of ISIS left, we want to continue pushing forward and making sure not only that they're eradicated, but that they don't quickly turn around and come back.  And we’ll continue to push forward in making sure we do what we can to defeat ISIS on all fronts and certainly that we do what we can to protect Americans lives.

Thanks so much, guys.

END                    

 

2:39 P.M. EST

Remarks By President Trump and Vice President Pence at Signing Ceremony for Space Policy Directive - 1

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:14

Roosevelt Room

2:58 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Vice President Pence, for helping -- where's our Vice President -- great job, great job -- to restore American leadership in space.  So important.

Cabinet members, General Selva, Deputy Secretary Shanahan, Acting Administrator Lightfoot, members of Congress, and the National Space Council, thank you all for being here. 

And especially, Mike, as I said, I want to thank you.  I know how active you've been and how important this is to you.  So we appreciate it.  Thank you very much.

We also welcome astronauts Christina Koch and Peggy Whitson.  Christina, thank you.  Peggy, thank you very much.  Peggy recently returned from the International Space Station and has now spent an incredible 665 days in space.  You'll have to explain that.  That sounds tough.  (Laughter.)  More than any other American; more than any woman ever.

Finally, we're honored to be joined by Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt.  Exactly 45 years ago, almost to the minute, Jack became one of the last Americans to land on the moon.  Today, we pledge that he will not be the last.  And I suspect we'll be finding other places to land in addition to the moon. 

What do you think, Jack?  Where's Jack?  What do you think, Jack?  We'll find some other places out there?  There are a couple of other places, right?

MR. SCHMITT:  Yes, we should.  Learn from the moon.

THE PRESIDENT:  We'll learn.  The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery.  It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use.  This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars.  And perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond.

This directive will ensure America's space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity.  The pioneer spirit has always defined America, and we're picking that up in many other fields.  I think you see that.  I think it's obvious.  All you have to do is look at what's happening with the markets and all of the great things that are happening.  We're leading in many different fields again, and it'll get more and more obvious as you go along.

After braving the vast unknown and discovering the new world, our forefathers did not only merely sail home -- and, in some cases, never to return.  They stayed, they explored, they built, they guided, and through that pioneering spirit, they imagined all of the possibilities that few dared to dream.

Today, the same spirit beckons us to begin new journeys of exploration and discovery, to lift our eyes all the way up to the heavens, and once again imagine the possibilities waiting in those big, beautiful stars if we dare to dream big.  And that's what our country is doing again:  We're dreaming big.

This is a giant step toward that inspiring future and toward reclaiming America's proud destiny in space.  And space has so much to do with so many other applications, including a military application.  So we are the leader and we're going to stay the leader, and we're going to increase it many-fold

I'd like to invite Vice President Pence, if he would, to say a few words.  He's been leading this for me and I appreciate it. 

Mr. Vice President.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President, thank you.  Thank you for your leadership and thank you for the honor to be here today in my capacity as chairman of the National Space Council for what I believe is a momentous occasion in the history of American space exploration.

To all the extraordinary leaders who are gathered with us today, to members of Congress, and the pioneers of space exploration who are gathered here, we thank you.  We thank you for all you've done to serve our nation and expand the horizons of human knowledge and advance American leadership in outer space.

Mr. President, in signing this space policy directive, you are ensuring that America will lead in space once again.  To guide this new era of American space leadership, President Trump has relaunched the National Space Council.  And at the Council’s inaugural meeting in October, we unanimously approved a recommendation to instruct NASA to return American astronauts to the moon, and from there to lay a foundation for a mission to Mars.

Today’s action by President Trump makes that recommendation official national policy for the United States of America.  As everyone here knows, establishing a renewed American presence on the moon is vital to achieve our strategic objectives and the objectives outlined by our National Space Council.

In pursuing these objectives, Mr. President, we will, as you said, enhance our national security and our capacity to provide for the common defense of the people of the United States of America.  We will also spur innovation, as the space program has always done, Mr. President.  You’ve reflected on it often, and we’ll see jobs created that we couldn’t even imagine could be created today.

We’ll also ensure, lastly, that the rules and values of space exploration are written with American leadership and American values.

Mr. President, you've said that the pioneer spirit has always defined America.  And by your action today, with this clear vision -- returning Americans to the moon, preparing to lead to Mars and beyond -- you're ensuring, Mr. President, that America will lead in space in the future and for generations to come.  And I thank you for the honor of being a part of this.

THE PRESIDENT:  This is very exciting and very important for our country.  And it also happens to mean jobs.  Jobs.  And we love jobs too, right?  Congratulations.

(The directive is signed.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.

END               

 

3:06 P.M. EST

 

President Donald J. Trump Will Make America a Leader in Space Exploration Again

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 21:17

“It is America’s destiny to be at the forefront of humanity’s eternal quest for knowledge and to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.” – President Donald J. Trump

AMERICA WILL ONCE AGAIN REACH FOR THE MOON: President Donald J. Trump has signed a space policy directive instructing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to pursue manned extraterrestrial exploration.

·        President Trump will enact the unanimously endorsed recommendations of the National Space Council to change the course of U.S. human spaceflight exploration.

o   On June 30, 2017, President Trump revived the National Space Council for the first time in 24 years.

·        Space Policy Directive – 1 instructs NASA to return American astronauts to the moon.

·        At its inaugural October meeting, the National Space Council unanimously agreed to lead commercial and international partners above and beyond previous U.S. space policy:

o   Return United States astronauts to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization; and

o   Pursue human exploration of Mars and the broader solar system.

·        The Trump Administration will take full advantage of new space technology to improve U.S. space capabilities.

AMERICA WILL HARNESS THE POWER OF PRIVATE INDUSTRY: By refocusing our space program on feasible goals, President Trump will create incentives for private industry that spur 21st century space capabilities.

·        The Moon is of interest to international partners and is within reach of America’s private space industry.

o   The United States will work with other nations and private industry to return astronauts to the Moon, developing the technology and means for manned exploration of Mars and other destinations in our solar system.

·        Under the new Space Policy Directive, the United States will help drive the burgeoning domestic space industry, bring new knowledge from the cosmos, and spur incredible technology.

THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BE A LEADER IN SPACE: We are no longer the undisputed leader in human space exploration.

·        On July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon, making “one giant leap for mankind.”

·        Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the Moon, launched 45 years ago on December 7, 1942.

o   America, the only country to successfully send manned missions to the Moon, has sent 12 astronauts to walk on the Moon.

·        In July 2011, the United States retired the Space Shuttle program, three decades after it began.

o   From 1981 to 2011, the five Space Shuttles flew 135 missions into space.

·        After the Space Shuttle was retired, the United States has been forced to rely on Russian rockets, at the cost of $70 million per seat.

·       In the coming years the United States will launch astronauts on an American-made rocket and crew system, the Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle, and multiple American companies will provide the Pentagon with American engines and rockets to launch national security payloads.

 

Remarks by President Trump at the Opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 02:48

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
Jackson, Mississippi


11:05 A.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  And I do love Mississippi.  It's a great place. 

And thank you, Governor Bryant, for that kind introduction and for honoring me with this invitation to be with you today.  

I also want to recognize Secretary Ben Carson and his wonderful wife, Candy, for joining us.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, Ben.  Thank you, Candy.  

I especially want to thank you, Justice Reuben Anderson -- great man with a great reputation -- even outside of the state of Mississippi.  I have to tell you that.  (Applause.)  So, thank you.  Thank you very much.  And you are an inspiration to us all.  Thank you, Judge. 

And we're here today to celebrate the opening of two really extraordinary museums -- and I just took a tour -- the Mississippi State History Museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. 

To all who helped make these wonderful places possible, we are truly grateful.  We thank you.  We admire you.  It was hard work.  It was long hours.  It's a lot of money, and I know the Governor helped with that, and that was a great thing you've done.  That's a great legacy, Phil, right there.  Just that in itself.  But it really is a beautiful, beautiful place.  And it's an honor.  

These museums are labors of love -- love for Mississippi, love for your nation, love for God-given dignity written into every human soul. 

These buildings embody the hope that has lived in the hearts of every American for generations -- the hope in a future that is more just and more free.

The Civil Rights Museum records the oppression, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the African-American community, the fight to end slavery, to break down Jim Crow, to end segregation, to gain the right to vote, and to achieve the sacred birthright of equality here.  (Applause.)  And that's big stuff.  That's big stuff.  Those are very big phrases.  Very big words.  

Here, we memorialize the brave men and women who struggled to sacrifice, and sacrificed so much so that others might live in freedom.  

Among those we honor are the Christian pastors who started the Civil Rights movement in their own churches preaching, like Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. -- a man that we have studied and watched, and admired for my entire life -- that we're all made in the image of our Lord.  

Students like James Meredith, who were persecuted for standing up for their right to the same education as every other American student.  Young people, like the nine brave students who quietly sat.  And they sat very stoically, but very proudly, at the Jackson Public Library in 1961.  And, by the way, I would add the word "very bravely" -- they sat very bravely.  

And, finally, martyrs like Sergeant Medgar Wiley Evers -- (applause) -- whose brother I just met at the plane, and who I liked a lot -- I have to -- stand up, please.  Come on.  Stand up.  You were so nice.  I appreciate it.  (Applause.)  You were so nice.  Thank you very much. 

Medgar joined the U.S. Army in 1943, when he was 17 years old.  He fought in Normandy in the Second World War.  And when he came back home to Mississippi, he kept fighting for the same rights and freedom that he had defended in the war.  Mr. Evers became a civil rights leader in his community.  He helped fellow African Americans register to vote, organize boycotts, and investigated grave injustices against very innocent people.  

For his courageous leadership in the Civil Rights movement, Mr. Evers was assassinated by a member of the KKK in the driveway of his own home. 

We are deeply privileged to be joined today by his incredible widow -- somebody that's loved throughout large sections of our country -- beyond this area.  So I just want to say hello to Myrlie.  Myrlie.  Where is Myrlie?  (Applause.)  How are you, Myrlie?  Thank you so much.  Highly respected.  Thank you.  Thank you, Myrlie.  And his brother, Charles.  Thank you, Charles, again.  

For decades, they have carried on Medgar’s real legacy -- and a legacy like few people have and few people can even think of.  And I want to thank them for their tremendous service to our nation.  
Less than a month before Mr. Evers’s death, he delivered a historic televised address to the people of Jackson on the issue of civil rights. 

In that speech, he said the following: The African American "has been here in America since 1619.  This country is his home.  He wants to do his part to help make this city, state, and nation a better place for everyone, regardless of color or race."
Medgar Evers loved his family, his community, and his country.  And he knew it was long past time for his nation to fulfill its founding promise: to treat every citizen as an equal child of God.  (Applause.) 

Four days after he was murdered, Sergeant Evers was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.  In Arlington, he lies beside men and women of all races, backgrounds, and walks of life who have served and sacrificed for our country.  Their headstones do not mark the color of their skin, but immortalize the courage of their deeds.  

Their memories are carved in stone as American heroes.  That is what Medgar Evers was.  He was a great American hero.  That is what the others honored in this museum were: true American heroes. 

Today, we strive to be worthy of their sacrifice.  We pray for inspiration from their example. 

We want our country to be a place where every child, from every background, can grow up free from fear, innocent of hatred, and surrounded by love, opportunity, and hope. 

Today, we pay solemn tribute to our heroes of the past and dedicate ourselves to building a future of freedom, equality, justice, and peace.  

And I want to congratulate your great Governor, and all of the people in this room who were so inspirational to so many others to get out and get this done.  This is an incredible tribute, not only to the state of Mississippi -- a state that I love, a state where I've had great success -- this is a tribute to our nation at the highest level.  

This is a great thing you've done, and I want to congratulate you, and just say God bless you, and God bless America. 

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you all very much.  (Applause.) 

END           11:15 A.M. CST

President Donald J. Trump's Weekly Address

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 19:26

Weekly Address

The President’s Weekly Address is now available to watch on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Transcript:

“Help me, Dad.”

Those were the last words spoken by Kate Steinle as she lay dying on a San Francisco pier – a precious young American woman killed in the prime of her life.

Kate’s death is a tragedy that was entirely preventable. She was shot by an illegal alien and a 7-time convicted felon who had been deported five times – but he was free to harm an innocent American because our leaders refused to protect our border, and because San Francisco is a Sanctuary City. In Sanctuary States and Cities, innocent Americans are at the mercy of criminal aliens because state and local officials defy federal authorities and obstruct the enforcement of our immigration laws.

Last week, in a final injustice, Kate’s killer was acquitted on all of the most serious charges – yet one more reason Americans are so upset by Sanctuary Cities and open border politicians who shield criminal aliens from federal law enforcement and all of the problems involved with the whole concept of a sanctuary city. They’re no good. We mourn for all of the American Families, of all backgrounds, who will have any empty seat at Christmas this year because our immigration laws were not enforced. No American should be separated from their loved ones because of preventable crime committed by those illegally in our country. Our cities should be Sanctuaries for Americans – not for criminal aliens.

Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress not only oppose our efforts to stop illegal immigration and crack down on Sanctuary Cities – now they are demanding amnesty as a condition for funding the government, holding troop funding hostage and putting our national security at risk. We cannot allow it.

Every Senator and Congressman will have to make a choice: do they want to protect American citizens or do they want to protect criminal aliens? Reasonable people can disagree on many things, but there can be no disagreement that the first duty of government is to serve, protect, and defend American Citizens.

People can have different views on the technical details of budget policy or transportation, but no one who serves in elected office should disagree that our highest priority must be the safety and well-being of our nation’s citizens.

Thank you.

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims December 10, 2017, as Human Rights Day; December 15, 2017, as Bill of Rights Day; and the week beginning December 10, 2017, as Human Rights Week

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 03:40

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY, BILL OF RIGHTS DAY, AND HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK, 2017
 
- - - - - - -
 
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 
A PROCLAMATION

Our great country was forged in the fires of a revolution to overthrow the rule of a tyrant, by a free people who understood the fundamental truth that liberty is best secured when the state's power is carefully limited.  From the Declaration of Independence, to the Constitution, and through the Bill of Rights, our country and our people have always known the true, God-given nature of liberty and the ability of law to safeguard it against the state.  For 226 years, the final piece of this freedom-sustaining bulwark the Bill of Rights has formed the bedrock of the constitutional protections every American holds dear as their birthright.

On Bill of Rights Day, we recognize the importance of the first 10 Amendments to our Constitution to protecting our liberty and freedom against the inevitable encroachment of government.  Our Founding Fathers understood the threat of expansive, omnipresent government.  From the beginning of our republic, therefore, they endeavored to enhance the Constitution with a bill of rights, a specific enumeration of fundamental rights that would prevail even against a future government inclined to abuse the power it has over the lives of citizens.

On June 8, 1789, James Madison, originally skeptical of the need for a bill of rights, introduced in the Congress several amendments to the Constitution that would eventually form the Bill of Rights.  During the ensuing debates, Madison told the Congress that because "all power is subject to abuse" it was worth taking steps to ensure that such abuse "may be guarded against in a more secure manner."  Many of the rights set forth in the amendments Madison introduced that day are quite familiar to us as Americans:  the right to worship as we please; the right to speak our minds and consciences; the right to firearms to protect ourselves and our loved ones; the right to be free from unwarranted government searches and seizures; the right to a jury of our fellow citizens when accused of legal wrongdoing.  Others like the right to object to housing troops in our homes during peacetime are often thought of as relics of a bygone era. Regardless of their familiarity or applicability to our daily lives, however, each clause of the Bill of Rights addresses profound and real abuses the Founders faced and each is crafted and locked into law to protect us and future generations from their repetition.

Since its adoption, the reach of the Bill of Rights has spread far beyond America's shores.  As George Washington rightfully said:  "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."  For example, in the wake of the devastation of World War II, the spirit of the Bill of Rights inspired the United Nations General Assembly to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.  Just like the Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is grounded in the recognition that just governments must respect the fundamental liberty and dignity of their people.  By enumerating core rights that should be immune from government encroachment, both the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have helped fuel remarkable prosperity and achievement around the world.

During Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, we rededicate ourselves to steadfastly and faithfully defending the Bill of Rights and human rights.  Our God-given, fundamental rights are soon overcome if not safeguarded by the people.  We, therefore, also reflect upon the many individuals who are unable to enjoy the God-given rights that we as Americans know are secure.  We remember those suffering under the yoke of authoritarianism and extremism for doing nothing more than standing up to injustice or daring to profess or practice their religion, and we acknowledge those imprisoned or in peril simply because of their political views or their sex.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 10, 2017, as Human Rights Day; December 15, 2017, as Bill of Rights Day; and the week beginning December 10, 2017, as Human Rights Week.  I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah en route Pensacola, FL , 12/8/2017

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 02:04

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Pensacola, Florida


6:15 P.M. EST
 
MR. SHAH:  The White House and the President are very excited about today's jobs report.  It showed that the economy created 228,000 new jobs in the month of November, including 31,000 new manufacturing jobs. 
 
Since this President has taken office, the U.S. economy has created 1.7 million jobs overall.  A few highlights to note:  The Hispanic unemployment rate is at a historic low.  And manufacturing unemployment has dropped to below 3 percent; I think at 2.6 percent.  So we're very encouraged.  We think that this report shows that the President's economic vision is paying dividends for all Americans. 
     
On this trip, we're headed to Pensacola.  The President is going to give a campaign rally.  He's going to talk to voters out there and give an appeal to the working-class voters who elected this President and talk about the issues that he ran on. 
 
So, with that, I'll take questions. 
 
Jeff. 
 
Q    Will one of those issues that he talks about be the neighboring race in Alabama, Roy Moore? 
 
MR. SHAH: Well, I won't get ahead of what he says.  But the President tweeted earlier today, and he's been saying for a while now that his endorsement of Roy Moore has to do with the issues and the fact that he doesn't want Alabama to elect somebody who'd essentially be a Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer puppet and vote against this President's agenda on a whole host of issues.  
 
Q    Then why isn't he going to Alabama instead of just going, you know, 40 miles short of Alabama?  Why isn’t he just going to Alabama?           
 
MR. SHAH:   It's not that he's not going to Alabama, it's that he is going to Pensacola.  Pensacola is Trump country.  This is a part of the state that voted overwhelmingly for the President in 2016.  He'll be traveling back to Florida from time to time.  And it's a key state.  
 
And so this is more about saying thank you to the voters in Pensacola, and articulating why what's he has done in this past year -- the issues that he has raised, the policies that he has promoted, and the accomplishments that he has -- are delivering for the voters there and across the country. 
 
Q    What does the President make of the resignation of Congressman Franks? 
 
MR. SHAH:   Look, that's a matter for Congressman Franks to talk about.  
 
Q    I have a Puerto Rico question.  We were working on a story that Puerto Rico still hasn't gotten the short-term loans that were promised to them in storm aid.  Do you know why that is?  Is there some concern about why it's taking so long for Puerto Rico to get their storm aid? 
 
MR. SHAH:   Look, we're committed to the recovery in Puerto Rico, and the administration is doing all that it can.  I can get back to you on the specifics regarding the loans that you're referencing. 
 
Q    How long is the speech expected to be?  And are you going to be able to share any excerpts with us on that? 
 
MR. SHAH:  Well, I haven't seen the final version of it.  You know, with these campaign rallies the President likes to have some fun and ad-lib a little bit.  So we expect it to run north of half an hour, maybe a little bit longer.  But I think you guys need to wait and see.  
 
Q    Can I also ask you:  With all of the spending bill, and the future of it -- you know, we just avoided a shutdown for a couple weeks -- what does the President view as the biggest fight going forward as far as small parts of the bill and what they're trying to put into it, whether it's DACA, defense, spending? 
 
MR. SHAH:  Well, let me say that we're enthused by the developments with the votes yesterday and the meeting at the White House with Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer -- oh, sorry, Leader Pelosi and Senator Schumer.  Sorry about that.  
 
And, look, our priority is on ensuring that national defense is funded.  It looks like the leadership and the President came to good terms on that front.  We have serious national security issues from North Korea to ISIS.  We need to ensure our military is funded, that our veterans are funded, and we don't want to shut down prior to the New Year, right? 
 
You know, going forward, I think they've come to certain agreements on increasing defense spending and then other items are going to be discussed, and we're looking forward in two weeks to carving out a deal. 
 
Q    Can we talk about tomorrow in Mississippi?  The President is not going to be making public remarks, is that right?  Is that a disappointment? 
 
MR. SHAH:   No, not at all.  Look, we're really excited about the President speaking at the opening of the museum.  You know, these types of events really should be about bringing the nation together, and he's going to deliver remarks that reflect that.
 
Look, the Civil Rights Movement is an amazing movement about fighting intolerance, hatred, and bigotry.  And he's going to honor the leaders of that movement.

Q    One other question about Dina Powell.  I know that there were lots of statements put out about how great of a job she did.  I'm just wondering if you could tell me about the Middle East peace process and how it will affect the efforts towards that.

MR. SHAH:  Well, the Middle East peace process is something that a lot of folks in the White House, including Dina, have been working on.  We've made steady progress on those fronts, and the Israelis and Palestinians and the U.S. have been working together on those issues.

We love Dina.  We appreciate the service that she's given.  She obviously agreed to work for about a year and now is going to go home to New York and be with her family, and support us and the Middle East peace process from the outside.

Q    On the Middle East, there have been at least two people who have been killed in clashes that have been sparked by the President's decision on Jerusalem.  Does the President feel any responsibility for that?

MR. SHAH:  Well, let me say at the outset -- you know, we think that the decision to recognize reality and make -- or recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the right decision.  The President has called for calm and moderation, and we are hoping that the voices of tolerance prevail over purveyors of hate.  We urge all parties to act in a manner conducive to peace.  And the President does remain committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Q    Raj, was the President warned ahead of the decision that it might create violence, if that's the direction that he took?

MR. SHAH:  Look, the President was briefed both from the national security team here, others in the United States, and foreign leaders.  He's fully aware of potential ramifications.  But, again, we believe strongly that if you're going to be an honest broker in the Middle East, you need to be honest.  And recognizing reality is the first part of that.

Q    Raj, can you explain a little bit what happened yesterday with regards to the U.S. Olympic team and Sarah's clarification?  And could you also tell us what the process will be going forward for deciding whether the U.S. Olympic Committee should send a squad to Pyeongchang?

MR. SHAH:  Sure.  I mean, there's not a whole lot to explain.  Sarah made some comments, and there was an update about how we are going to be participating in the Olympics.  Obviously, whenever there are security concerns, we're going to be vigilant and ensure that our athletes are protected and our delegation is protected.  But that's not going to stop us from representing the United States. 

Q    I just wanted to ask another Roy Moore question.  Since the election is close and we're going to be near Alabama, can you just articulate what the President's current thinking is about the accusations against Roy Moore?  Does he think they're not credible or not believe them?  Or is he just putting them aside for the sake of getting someone who's going to help his agenda elected?

MR. SHAH:  As he has said, and as the White House has said, we find these allegations to be troubling and concerning, and they should be taken seriously.  Roy Moore has also maintained that these allegations aren’t true, and that should also be taken into account.

Ultimately, his endorsement is about the issues and how he has articulated he doesn’t want to see Alabama elect a Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer puppet who's going to be wrong on the issues and not support the agenda.

Q    Raj, is the President following events in Yemen?  And does he feel that the U.S. statements there are making any difference?

MR. SHAH:  He has been following the events in Yemen.  Obviously, he issued a statement the other day, encouraging Saudi Arabia to do more to allow for humanitarian assistance to get into Yemen.  We are monitoring the situation closely, and concerned and awaiting developments. 

Q    On Mississippi, did the President ever consider not going after the members of Congress said they were boycotting and the NCAAP and others announced protests?

MR. SHAH:  Not at all.  We think it's a little unfortunate that a moment like this that could be used for unification and bringing people together -- you know, some folks are choosing to play politics with it, but that's not going to deter us from honoring heroes in the Civil Rights Movement.

Q    Does that include John Lewis, who is one of the people boycotting?

MR. SHAH:  Yeah.  I mean, this is about commemorating icons of the movement, and that would include John Lewis.

Q    Does the President acknowledge that there are some in this country who feel that he has not brought people together on the issue of race, but rather who have led to more division, particularly after the Charlottesville event?

MR. SHAH:  Look, the President, with respect to Charlottesville and the before and after, has always condemned racism, violence, and bigotry and hatred in all forms.  We stand by that.  And we're looking forward to his remarks tomorrow in Mississippi.

Q    Do you expect him to mention any other candidates tonight in Pensacola?

MR. SHAH:  I won't get ahead of his remarks, and you guys should stay tuned.

Q    One more?

MR. SHAH:  Yeah.

Q    Why is it ridiculous for people to wonder about the President's health after they see him on television and he slurs his speech?  Why is it ridiculous to raise a question about his health?

MR. SHAH:  I don't think it's ridiculous to raise questions about the health about --

Q    Sarah said it was ridiculous the other day -- the questions were ridiculous.

MR. SHAH:  Sure.  But the President is in good health and he's going to have a physical next month, and we'll report the results from that.

All right, thanks.

END            6:27 P.M. EST

 

Presidential Executive Order on Revising the Seal for the National Credit Union Administration

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 23:51

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Revision.  (a)  The National Credit Union Administration Board has caused to be made, and has recommended approval of, a new seal of office for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the design of which accompanies and is hereby made a part of this order, and which is described as follows:

(i)    The eagle overlaid by the shield conveys the NCUA's role as an agency of the Federal Government.  The text, "NCUA," in white on a blue background on the crest of the shield is the core of the sign that federally insured credit unions are required to display.

(ii)   The three stars above the eagle represent the NCUA's three-member Board, appointed by the President of the United States by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(iii)  The oak branch the eagle is holding in its left talon symbolizes the NCUA's strength, honor, and longevity in carrying out its mission of promoting confidence in the national system of cooperative credit.

(iv)   The olive branch the eagle is holding in its right talon symbolizes the peace and prosperity facilitated by the economic growth and access to affordable financial services that the Nation's credit unions have long provided to millions of Americans. 

(v)   The upper portion of the circle that forms the border of the seal sets forth the agency's title, "National Credit Union Administration."  The date "1934" in the lower portion of the circle reflects the creation of the Federal credit union system by the Congress in 1934 and the long unbroken line of Federal credit union regulation that evolved into the NCUA.

     (b)  This seal is of suitable design and appropriate for adoption as the official seal of the NCUA.

     (c)  I hereby approve this seal as the official seal of the NCUA.

Sec. 2.  Revocation.  Executive Order 11580 of January 20, 1971 (Establishing a Seal for the National Credit Union Administration), as amended, is hereby revoked.

Sec. 3.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

           (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

           (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
    December 8, 2017.

Jeffrey Kupfer: "Modernizing the tax code will provide a long-term boost to the American economy and to middle-class workers"

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:47

“Tax reform has come a long way down the field; it’s time to get into the end zone.”

By Jeffrey Kupfer
Fox News
December 8, 2017

After months of fits and starts, it looks like comprehensive tax reform is nearing the goal line.

This would be an ideal holiday present for the American people, who have had to live with an outdated, onerous and inefficient tax system for far too long. 

Last week the Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House passed a different version earlier. Republican leaders in Congress are confident that they will be able to iron out the differences and send a bill passed by both houses to President Trump by the end of the year.

America now has the world’s highest statutory corporate tax rate – over 39 percent for combined federal and state, as compared to the current worldwide average of 25 percent.

According to research from Cato Institute Visiting Fellow Ike Brannon, a 10 percent decrease in the corporate tax rate would cause employment to rise by 2 percent to 4 percent and would result in a 5 percent increase in wages.
These increases are significant, tangible results for working families. 

Turning back to this specific tax reform legislation, there are other benefits for middle-class taxpayers. It doubles the standard deduction, providing significant simplification. It also increases the child tax credit and lowers individual tax rates, thereby raising the take-home pay for the vast majority of taxpayers.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Americans of all household income brackets would get a tax cut in the first year.

Both common sense and economic research tell us that modernizing the tax code will provide a long-term boost to the American economy and to middle-class workers. Tax reform has come a long way down the field; it’s time to get into the end zone.

Read the full op-ed here.

 

Statement by the Press Secretary Regarding the Violence and Humanitarian Conditions in Yemen

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:13

The United States is gravely concerned by the recent escalation in violence and continued dire humanitarian conditions in Yemen.  We urge all parties to immediately cease hostilities, reenergize political talks, and end the suffering of the Yemeni people.  We condemn the Houthis’ brutal repression of political opponents in Sana’a, including the killing of their former ally Ali Abdullah Salih and his family members, as well as their reckless missile attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its partners are arming, advising, and enabling the Houthis’ violent actions, which accelerate the cycle of violence and human suffering, obstruct the flow of humanitarian aid, and disrupt efforts toward a political resolution.

We call on the Saudi-led coalition to facilitate the free flow of humanitarian aid and critical commercial goods, including fuel, through all Yemeni ports and to restore commercial flights through Sana’a Airport.  The Iranian-backed Houthi militias must allow food, medicine, and fuel to be distributed throughout the areas they control, rather than diverted to sustain their military campaign against the Yemeni people.  This humanitarian aid must be allowed to immediately reach all points of need.  

The United States continues to believe that the devastating conflict in Yemen, and the suffering it causes, must be brought to an end through political negotiations in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.  Successful political negotiations are necessary to ensure that Yemen can flourish, free of the malign influence of Iranian-backed militias operating outside the structures of the state.

Presidential Memorandum for the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:11

SUBJECT:        Delaying Submission of the Small Business 
Administration Report under the Trade 
Facilitation And Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 


The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA) (Public Law 114-125) requires you to submit to the Congress a report on the economic impacts of a covered trade agreement on small businesses not less than 180 days after you convene an Interagency Working Group for the relevant trade agreement.  The report for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will soon be due.  To ensure that the negotiations are not disrupted, however, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 502 of the TFTEA, I require you to delay the submission of the report until after the negotiations are concluded, but not later than 30 days after a renegotiated agreement is signed, provided that the delay allows you to submit the report to the Congress not later than 45 days before the Senate or the House of Representatives acts to approve or disapprove the trade agreement.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Remarks by President Trump at Swearing-In Ceremony of Kirstjen Nielsen as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 20:32

Roosevelt Room

1:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is an honor.  You've been with us so long now.  Anyway, I have no doubt.  And it's going to be incredible what takes place.

I want to start by thanking Elaine.  You've done so well and we really appreciate it.  And I know you'll be here for a long while and working together, but this is a very special occasion because this is an issue I ran on -- it's borders, it's homeland security.  And it's one of the certainly important things.  I can't ever say anything is the most important, because our military is the most important, and lots of other things.  But this is right there.  This is one of the real big issues.  

And I just want to congratulate you on such an important day for our country.  The numbers have been so incredible; they're up to 78 percent.  If they used to have a 1 percent or 2 percent number, they used to celebrate.  We're at 78 percent.  And it went down a little bit because, actually, a lot of people aren't trying to come in so much because they know it's not easy. 

But you're going to take it to new levels.  We're going to get the wall.  I know you want the wall.  We're going to get the wall.  If we don't get the wall, then I got a lot of very unhappy people, starting with me.  (Laughter.)  We're going to get the wall.  And we need it.  We need it for the drug flow; we need it for people coming into our country.  And we want to have great people coming into our country.  We want to have a merit-based system.  We have to get rid of chain migration -- all of these things we've been talking about.  

And, in addition to the wall, we have to toughen up the borders even more.  And we have to toughen up air travel too.  It's not just walls; it's lots of people fly in and they come in through other means.  

But I have absolutely no doubt you're going to be so outstanding.  And I'd like to congratulate you, and I wanted to be here for the big moment. 

MS. NIELSEN:   Thank you.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you so much. 

THE PRESIDENT: Congratulations.  

(Ms. Kirstjen Nielsen is sworn in.)

END                1:39 P.M. EST

President Donald J. Trump Signs H.J. Res. 123 into Law

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 19:05

On Friday, December 8, 2017, the President signed into law:

H.J. Res. 123, which provides Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government through Friday, December 22, 2017, and would prioritize the redistribution of unused Children's Health Insurance Program funds to States that are projected to face a funding shortfall by December 31, 2017.

President Donald J. Trump Approves California Emergency Declaration

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:54

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from wildfires beginning on December 4, 2017, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.  This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.  

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Mark Armstrong as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.  

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT THE FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@FEMA.DHS.GOV.

Remarks by the President at a Hanukkah Celebration

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 03:20

East Room

7:45 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room. (Applause.) Jerusalem.

Thank you. And Melania and I are thrilled to welcome you and so many wonderful friends to the White House. We wish you a very happy Hanukkah, and I think this one will go down as especially special. (Applause.)

I want to thank Vice President Pence and Karen for joining us this evening. (Applause.) Where are they? Where are they? They're someplace. Come up here, Mike. Get up here. Come on up. Come on, Karen. Get up here. They can get under those ropes, they're young and strong. Come on up. Great job. As well as Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Shulkin.

I also want to thank our incredible First Lady, Melania. She is with you all the way. (Applause.)

She has worked so hard to make the White House a truly special place for this joyous season. We've done this so many evenings now, and I think we set a record two nights ago. We shook hands for three hours and 25 minutes. That's not fun. Even though I loved the people, that was not fun. (Laughter.)

I am also proud that my beautiful grandchildren -- Arabella, Joseph, and Theodore -- have joined us tonight -- (applause) -- right here as we celebrate with all of you the sacred traditions that they observe each year at home.

This evening we gather to celebrate the story that is told in Jewish homes across the country and all over the world, a story that began more than 2,000 years ago with a tyrant -- made practicing the Jewish faith punishable by death. He desecrated the Jewish temple, including the Holy of Holies. But a small band of Jewish patriots rose up, defeated a mighty army, and soon reclaimed their freedom.

But the miracle of the Maccabees did not end there. As they prepared to rededicate the temple, they found only enough oil to light the lamp for a single night. Soon, all were stunned to find that for eight days, the lamp continued to burn brightly -- a sign of God’s presence in his dwelling place and a symbol of the faith and resilience of the Jewish people. You do have faith and you do have resilience. (Applause.)

The miracle of Hanukkah is the miracle of Israel. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have endured unthinkable persecution and oppression.

But no force has ever crushed your spirit, and no evil has ever extinguished your faith. And that is why the Jewish people shine as a light to all nations. And right now I’m thinking about what’s going on and the love that's all over Israel and all about Jerusalem. (Applause.)

On behalf of all Americans, I also want to say how grateful I am for Jewish congregations throughout our country. You cherish your families, support your communities, and uplift our beloved country.

Hanukkah is a time for Jewish families around the world to celebrate the miracles of the past and promises of the future. We are proud to stand with the people of Israel and to renew our enduring bond.

This evening, we are blessed to have two very special Hanukkah lamps for this celebration. The menorah on my left has been lit every year since the earliest days of our nation. It comes from the First American Jewish Congregation, whose original members came to this land in the 1650s. That's a long time ago. It’s a symbol of the history and home the Jewish people made in the United States. Today, we are honored to have with us the congregation’s 10th spiritual leader since the American Revolution, Rabbi Soloveichik. (Applause.) That wasn’t bad. You think that's an easy one? It’s not. (Laughter.) Thank you, Rabbi, very much for being with us. Thank you, thank you for being with us. We're also -- but he’s so happy with yesterday, that he doesn't care if I get it exact. (Laughter and applause.) Thank you, Rabbi.

We’re also deeply honored that Louise Lawrence-Israëls is here to share this evening with us and to make a few remarks. Louise is a Holocaust survivor. The first three years of her life were spent in hiding in an attic out of Amsterdam, a row house in Amsterdam -- amazing story and amazing situation to be in.

Her family could not light the candles that we’re about to light this evening, but they lit them in their hearts.

On my right is a lamp that survived the Tarnow Ghetto, a city in southern Poland that ravaged and was ravaged by the Holocaust. It will remain unlit in memory of that darkest hour and in order to preserve this relic so that we never, ever, ever forget. And you will never forget.

thank God that a woman who was born into that nightmare of oppression now lives in this land of the free, and that she, along with everyone here tonight, can light the menorah for all the world to see. And the world is watching.

Today, our nation is stronger, and our world is more full of promise -- because of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the faith that burns so brightly in your hearts.

May you all have -- (applause) -- thank you, thank you, thank you very much. May you all have a truly blessed and happy Hanukkah. God Bless you and God Bless America. (Applause.) Thank you. And congratulations -- big day, big event, very important. Congratulations to everybody in the room.

I’d like to invite Louise to say a few words. Louise.

END

 

7:52 P.M. EST

Adam Michel: "Families Across America Can Expect a Tax Cut"

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 23:11

“A bigger economy means more jobs and higher wages for working Americans.... American families could finally get a real raise.”

Families Across America Can Expect a Tax Cut

By Adam Michel

The National Interest

December 6, 2017

Bold, pro-growth tax reform reached a major milestone last week. The House and Senate each passed slightly different versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The two versions now head to a conference committee where select lawmakers from the House and Senate will work to hammer out one unified bill that can become law before the end of this year.

Policies in both bills would greatly improve our current, woefully out-of-date tax code. Independent analyses estimate that the economy could be almost 3 percent larger at the end of ten years, thanks to the pro-growth policies incorporated in the legislation. Even the notoriously conservative government scorekeepers predict that tax reform will boost the economy.

A bigger economy means more jobs and higher wages for working Americans. A 3 percent larger economy translates to more than $4,000 dollars per household, per year. American families could finally get a real raise.

If you’re a middle-class taxpayer, tax rates are lower, the standard deduction is doubled, and the child tax credit is increased—to $1,600 in the House version and $2,000 in the Senate’s.

If you’re a working taxpayer, in addition to a tax cut, your employer will be able to expand its operations and upgrade equipment. Other businesses will be doing the same. All this economic growth increases the need—and the competition among employers—for more workers. The result: higher wages, better benefits or both for you and other workers.

Both bills would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent—down from the current 35 percent rate, which is one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Family-owned and small businesses that pay their taxes as individuals will also see a new special tax cut.

Moreover, all businesses will also be able to immediately write off the costs of new equipment for five years or more.

Many tax subsidies are also on the chopping block. Rather than have your tax dollars prop up commercially unviable industries, this reform allows the marketplace—i.e., you, the consumer—to decide which products and services merit your support.

Both House and Senate tax plans are serious efforts to reform a complex and badly broken system. They provide significant relief to the vast majority of tax-paying Americans. More importantly, they free businesses to expand, invest and hire workers, generating better wages and benefits for American families across the nation.

Read the full op-ed here.

Readout of First Lady Melania Trump's Visit to Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 23:04

First Lady Melania Trump visited Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., today to visit with patients, families and staff members. The tradition of First Lady visits to Children’s National dates back more than 60 years to First Lady Bess Truman.

Mrs. Trump began her visit by touring the neuroscience center, where she spent time with patients and their families, as well as doctors, nurses, and other staff. After the visit, Mrs. Trump, escorted by two patients, arrived in the hospital’s main atrium where she read one of her favorite holiday books, “The Polar Express” and answered questions from some of the patients about the holidays and what they mean to her.

“I was so grateful at the opportunity to spend time with the children and their families today, and want to thank the medical staff at Children's National for their lifesaving work,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “The holidays are a time for hope, love, traditions and family, and it is my wish for everyone to be able to celebrate them in good health with their loved ones. Many of the patients and families I visited with today cannot spend the holidays at home this year, so I ask everyone to keep them in their thoughts and prayers as we hope for a speedy recovery and joyous New Year.”

Remarks by President Trump and Vice President Pence in Meeting with Congressional Leadership

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 22:05

Oval Office

3:08 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. We're all here as a very friendly, well-unified group. It's a well-knit-together group of people. And we hope that we're going to make some great progress for our country. I think that will happen, and we appreciate it very much.

And, Chuck, Nancy, would you say anything -- like to say anything? Chuck?

LEADER SCHUMER: Well, we hope we can come to an agreement. Funding the government is extremely important, helping our soldiers is very important, and helping average citizens is very important.

So we're here in the spirit of: let's get it done.

LEADER PELOSI: Thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity. We are here to make progress. We have some important issues that we share with you. You have described the opioid crisis in our country, and we want to address that; help our veterans; S-CHIP, children's health insurance; and, again, all things that have bipartisan support in the Congress.

THE PRESIDENT: That's very true. Thank you, Nancy, very much. Mitch.

LEADER MCCONNELL: Mr. President, we're here to reach a bipartisan agreement to finish out the year. And I'm glad that you invited us. I'm happy to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Paul.

SPEAKER RYAN: I'm glad we're here to resume conversations.

THE PRESIDENT: Mike, you have anything?

LEADER SCHUMER: Each person has said less. (Laughter.)

SPEAKER RYAN: One sentence.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm grateful for the leaders of both political parties. This is a time of great opportunity in this country. We're seeing growth at home, but we have many challenges abroad and many challenges facing the American people.

And I'm more confident than ever, Mr. President, with your leadership and with the good faith of all the people in this room, that before this Christmas we'll produce real results for the American people that will make America stronger and more prosperous.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. I thought that with what's going on in the world, I would bring our great military genius/person along and maybe General Mattis could say a couple of words.

SECRETARY MATTIS: It's an honor to be here with the leaders from the Hill. Sort of the number-one priority for our country is to make certain we protect this Constitution and our way of life. And we've got great bipartisan support. I'm confident we'll walk out of this with it.

THE PRESIDENT: I am too. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

END

 

3:11 P.M. EST

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Proclamation for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 21:48

Roosevelt Room

2:15 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: These are great men. Thank you for being with us. On this day, 76 years ago, more than 2,000 Americans were killed in a surprise attack on our homeland; hundreds more were injured. Battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers in our Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor suffered crippling losses. Everybody knows about it. America was at war. These folks know about it more than anybody.

As we remember that fateful day, it's an incredible honor to be joined here with surviving veterans of the attack on Pearl Harbor. And you'll be here for the next seven years with me, okay? All right -- seven years. After that, who knows? (Laughter.)

They're heroes, and they're living witnesses to American history. All American hearts are filled with gratitude for their service, their sacrifice, and their presence here today.

These veterans of World War II -- very special men -- are among the very first Americans to fight back in the Second World War. That's really true when you think -- you were the first ones to fight back. That's something to be said. And we did okay. Once we got our act together, we did okay because we know how to win.

Outnumbered and outgunned, they did not hesitate. These six great American patriots answered the call of history: Mickey Ganitch, Jack Holder, Lawrence Parry, Robert Fernandez, George Blake, and Alexander Horanzy.

On that bright Sunday morning, Mickey Ganitch and his shipmates were getting ready to play a game of football against the crew of the USS Arizona for the fleet championship. Where's Mickey? You never got that game, huh? You never got that --

MR. GANITCH: We had a war to fight.

THE PRESIDENT: You better believe it. (Laughter.) I know you won the war. I don't know about football. You won the war.

MR. GANITCH: I'm ready to go, in case we play that game.

THE PRESIDENT: Look at you. You look beautiful. (Laughter.) Boy, oh boy. That's pretty -- can you do that one more time for me? I can't believe it. Boy, that's -- I'm not playing him in football. (Laughter.)

When bombs began to fall, Mickey reported to his battle station in the crow’s nest of the USS Pennsylvania wearing his football uniform and his football helmet, which he threw off because he figured he didn't need it.

That's pretty, pretty great, huh? And you did a hell of a job. You saw something that few people have ever witnessed before, right?

MR. GANITCH: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: Amazing. Thanks, Mickey.

Jack Holder. Jack? Jack -- hi, Jack. Jack Holder survived the enemy’s attack on Ford Island and went on to fly dozens of missions in the Battles of Midway and all along the Solomon Islands. Thank you, Jack, for being here. Appreciate it.

MR. HOLDER: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Very brave guy.

Lawrence Parry carried ammunition to the gunners. In thinking about the lessons of Pearl Harbor, Larry said he hopes “we can build up the military again.”

We are building up the military beyond what you ever thought. It got depleted. You know what happened over the last quite long period of time, but not with us.

Our budget is now going to be higher than ever before. We're building it up again. And we'll do it in your honor. Okay? We're building it up. The best equipment in the world -- we make it. And we're supplying it in very big numbers. Thanks. Thanks. And we're doing a job.

Robert Fernandez. Robert?

MR. FERNANDEZ: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Nice seeing you, Robert -- served on the USS Curtiss that delivered return fire against the enemy. And he really gave it to them pretty good. They were very successful at the return fire. Good job. You look like you're about 50 years old. Huh? You must have been very young. (Laughter.) You look great. What is the age?

MR. FERNANDEZ: Ninety-three now.

THE PRESIDENT: Ninety-three? Well, you look great.

George Blake stood watch on the Hawaiian shores, ready to repulse a feared invasion. George, George -- thank you, George. Good. It was pretty wild scene. You'll never forget that, right?

MR. BLAKE: I've never forgotten it.

THE PRESIDENT: Nope, you haven't. And you fought hard.

Alexander Horanzy enlisted in the Army when he was only 17. Alex served throughout the war, but if you tried to call him a hero, he’d tell you he was just a “regular grunt in the service.” That's what he told us -- a "regular grunt." I don't think so. Thank you. Thank you.

MR. HORANZY: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I know it is. You're not a regular anything. You're a hero. You're a hero. All of you are heroes.

In the weeks and months that took place after the surprise attack -- and that was a vicious surprise attack -- millions of American patriots, like these men, answered the same call and went to war. They fought, they bled, they sacrificed, and they triumphed. Many died to defend America against our enemies and to defeat the enemies of all humanity.

The legacy of that legendary American generation is carved deep into the stone monuments of history. Across the battlefields, oceans, and harrowing skies of Europe and the Pacific throughout the war, one great battle cry could be heard by American friends and foes alike: “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Have you heard that before, a couple of times? "Remember Pearl Harbor."

MR. GANITCH: (Singing.)

Remember Pearl Harbor, as you go to meet the foe.

Just remember Pearl Harbor, as we did the Alamo.

We shall always remember how they died for liberty.

Just remember Pearl Harbor, and go on to victory.

(Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: What can I say? Wow, that was good. He's a very shy person, too. (Laughter.) And a great football player.

Today, our entire nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor and the brave warriors who, on that day, stood tall and fought for America.

As I sign the proclamation making this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, I ask that God continue to bless and watch over each of you as very, very special people to our country. And God is watching over you, and we appreciate it. Thank you.

Our surviving World War II veterans are a precious national treasure. So I'm going to sign this proclamation, and we're going to -- I see there's one pen, but we're going to get plenty of other pens and other things for you guys so you remember this day.

And again, we'll do it for another seven years, okay? Seven years. And you all have to promise you're going to be around, right? (Laughter.) We're going to be around. We're going to be around and we're going to be together, okay?

Thank you. Thank you very much. Let's sign the proclamation. Thank you.

[The proclamation is signed.]

END

 

2:24 P.M. EST

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 12/7/2017, #38

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 21:43

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:40 P.M. EST

MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. Today is a solemn day of reflection across our nation, as we remember the “date which will live in infamy” when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.

As the President said in a stirring video released earlier today, “We remember the lives that were lost, the families torn from loved ones, and the heroes who rose to America’s defense." The President will be meeting with members who served at Pearl Harbor later today, as you all know.

Also, as you're aware, the President will meet later this afternoon with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the need to fund the government, particularly our military and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The President and the Republicans in the House and Senate are eager to pass a bill fully funding the federal government and the military. With the threats we are facing, our national security should not be held hostage for irresponsible demands. And we certainly hope that won’t happen.

Now, with Christmas season is full swing, I want to shine a spotlight on some of the incredible stories of generosity and love that show what the Christmas spirit and the American spirit are all about.

Today, I’d like to start with a story of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wheeling, West Virginia. The story starts over 100 years ago, when a young girl tragically died around the Christmas season, and her family donated money to the church in her honor and asked that the money be used for children at Christmas. What they may not have realized at the time was that this act of kindness -- in the midst of incredible heartache -- would bless countless children for the next century.

To this day, St. Matthew's continues helping children and families during the Christmas season. They usually do it anonymously, but word of their generosity spread through social media this year.

At the local Walmart, numerous families will come to pay the bill for Christmas toys they had put on layaway, and be told that "there’s no need" because it's already been paid in full.

There will be so many acts of generosity and kindness that go unnoticed this Christmas season, and that’s okay. St. Matthew's Church wasn’t looking for credit, and neither are so many others. But these stories are important because they remind us of what this season is all about -- and that's the greatest gift of all, that a savior was born. And, hopefully, we can all focus and take time out of our busy schedules to enjoy the Christmas season, or however you may celebrate.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Q Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask you about the possible government shutdown and the optimism that the President might have that he can avert a shutdown. And if I could follow up and ask about the California fires and the very latest the White House has on it.

MS. SANDERS: Sure. In terms of the government shutdown -- look, we expect a clean CR to pass with Democrat support. It's what we hope will happen. Funding the government, particularly our military, our Veterans Affairs, are always important. But particularly now, with so many threats that we face globally, this is certainly an important priority for the administration, and we hope something that will be discussed and agreed to later today.

Q On the fires, I'm sorry.

MS. SANDERS: Sorry, on the fires, was there a specific question?

Q Yeah. Is the White House in coordination with the folks out in California in battling that wildfire? Is there more money to be made available, especially for the areas near Los Angeles, which are under siege right now by so many devastating fires?

MS. SANDERS: Absolutely. The administration is in regular contact. Both FEMA and folks here at the White House are speaking regularly to state and local authorities and making sure that we're ready and able to help when needed and when requested by those authorities.

Jennifer.

Q Can you say a little bit about why John Bolton was here at the White House today? And also, on taxes, we're a little confused on whether the White House would support a 22 percent corporate tax rate. You had the White House economist, Kevin Hassett, talking about -- saying it would be okay and it wouldn’t undermine the economy. And then, a few hours later, the Legislative Affairs Director, Marc Short, said something about it needs to be 20. So can you say --

MS. SANDERS: Look, our focus has been on getting the lowest corporate rate possible. Fifteen is better than twenty. Twenty is better than twenty-two. And twenty-two is better than what we have. Again, we're going to continue to push, but we're not going to negotiate that from the podium, and we're committed to getting the lowest corporate rate we can.

Q And on John Bolton?

MS. SANDERS: On John Bolton, he is here; he's a friend of the President. Somebody who he wanted to visit with. Nothing more than that. Nothing more than a check-in and a friendly visit.

Jonathan.

Q Sarah, Donald Trump, Jr. refused to talk about his conversations with the President, citing attorney-client privilege. Would the President release him from any such privilege and allow him to speak to the committee?

MS. SANDERS: That's a question you would have to ask his attorneys. We believe that his lawyers had a legitimate reason and basis for not answering those questions. But that's something I would direct you to his attorneys to address more fully.

Q But can you explain to me how it could be attorney-client privilege when neither Donald Trump, Jr. nor President Trump are attorneys?

MS. SANDERS: Again, that's something that you would have to talk with Don Jr.'s attorneys about. That's not something I'm able to comment from here.

Matthew.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Senator Franken today, in announcing his resignation, said that he's "aware that there is some irony in the fact that I'm leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party." What's the White House response to that?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President addressed the comments back during the campaign. We feel strongly that the people of this country also addressed that when they elected Donald Trump to be President. And I've addressed it several times from here and don't have anything new to add.

Q Can you say anything more broadly about the differences in the way the two parties are handling these accusations of sexual misconduct?

MS. SANDERS: I think that some of that would be left to some of the party leadership. I'm not sure if there's a specific question in there on the differences.

Jon.

Q Thank you, Sarah. Have any of the President's counterparts around the world contacted the President, contacted the White House to indicate that they too will follow the President's lead in moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or acknowledging that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any country's commitment to follow suit on this.

Q Do you expect any? Do you expect that to happen? Do you expect that others will follow the President's lead here?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any countries that we anticipate that happening at any point soon. I'm not saying that they aren't, but I'm not aware of them.

Jordan.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Last week, the President said that the U.S. would be imposing additional sanctions on North Korea today. Do you have an update on where that stands?

MS. SANDERS: We expect the Department of Treasury to put out more details on that, hopefully by the end of this week. And we'll keep you guys posted on that front.

Jennifer.

Q Thanks, Sarah. What is the President's reaction to some U.S. allies, particularly in Europe -- notably in the United Kingdom -- who had expressed opposition to this action recognizing Jerusalem? And also, does the fact that he kept his promise give him more credibility when negotiating in the Middle East?

MS. SANDERS: Certainly, I think one of the abilities to follow through on something you've committed to, as the President has done. But, also, let's not forget that this is something that Congress voted on starting back in 1995 and has reaffirmed 10 separate times over the last 20 years. This is something that the President took action on -- a very courageous and bold action -- and something that, frankly, the members of the United States Congress have voted on many times before.

Olivier.

Q Thank you, Sarah. So, yesterday, you guys put out a statement under the President's name, saying that he was directing other officials in the administration to reach out to Saudi Arabia and urge them to immediately allow the flow of humanitarian supplies into Yemen. I have two questions about that. The first is: Why isn't the President himself working the phones? And the second is: Are there any consequences for Saudi Arabia if they don't immediately allow this flow of goods?

MS. SANDERS: My understanding is the President did bring these up on previous conversations, and that I believe there are actions that are taking place for a port to open. And we'll keep you posted as those details become more available.

Q Any consequences for Saudi if they don't do this?

MS. SANDERS: As I just said, if we have reason to believe that they're moving in that direction for a port to be open, we'll keep you posted.

Major.

Q Hallie asked on Monday when the President became aware that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. You referred her to John Dowd, those questions. We've tried. John Dowd is not engaging on that. That's a knowable fact in this building; it's not a legal matter -- not for their attorney to say. Can you just tell us when the President became aware of that?

MS. SANDERS: The attorneys feel differently, and they feel this is a question that should be answered by them. And I'll encourage them again to respond to you, but I'm going to have to refer you back to John Dowd again.

Q Why is it a legal question for them not about something the President knew and when he knew it?

MS. SANDERS: As I said before, Jon Decker is the only attorney in here. I'm going to listen to the attorneys on this one, and John Dowd hopefully will follow up with you in short order.

Q One other question, Sarah. One other question.

MS. SANDERS: Sorry, Major, I'm going to keep bouncing because we're tight on time.

Q I think you want to take this one. It's real simple; it's very simple. Today, the U.N. Ambassador said it's an open question whether the United States will participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Is it an open question? Is that now in doubt?

MS. SANDERS: Look, that wasn't exactly what the ambassador said. No official decision has been made on that, and we'll keep you guys posted as those decisions are made.

Q So it is (inaudible).

MS. SANDERS: Look, I know that the goal is to do so, but that will be a decision made closer to time.

Q By whom?

MS. SANDERS: I think that's an interagency process. But I think, ultimately, the President would certainly weigh in. But, again, that's something that he would take into account -- probably a number of the stakeholders that would be involved.

Q And it's all about security?

MS. SANDERS: Absolutely. If we felt there was an issue, that would come up.

Q I just have two government funding questions. First, does he want S-CHIP reauthorized?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't had that specific conversation with him, but I do know that we want to fully fund the government. Beyond that, I'm not going to get into any more details before their meeting today.

Q Okay. The bipartisan leadership is coming up in a much different atmosphere than the last meeting where he tweeted about how he didn't think a deal was possible because the Democrats were so bad on illegal immigrants pouring over the border. I'm wondering, has the President changed his mind about that? And also, specifically, what was he referring to since, in a government shutdown, ICE and the Border Patrol aren't affected?

MS. SANDERS: The President is still very much committed to a strong border and to a border wall, and I would imagine that's discussed at some point today.

Q But do you think a deal can be reached with the Democrats?

MS. SANDERS: I think we all hope a deal can be reached. We hope that the Democrats will be willing to put aside partisan politics and focus on fully funding the government.

Josh.

Q On the Hill today, Chris Wray praised the FBI and said it was the finest law enforcement force in the world. The President said, you know, it's "in tatters" and it's at its worst place in history. Can you explain that discrepancy?

MS. SANDERS: Look, we don't think that there is a discrepancy. We agree with Chris Wray that FBI field agents are appreciated and respected. The President's issues are with the political leaders in the FBI under former director Comey, particularly those that played politics with the Hillary Clinton email probe. And we don't see a discrepancy beyond that.

Q Would he undermine --

MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to hop around because we're tight on time.

Q If he undermines the FBI and says it's in tatters, does the White House fear that that could create ramifications that people won't trust law enforcement; that people will say --

MS. SANDERS: No. And again --

Q -- why should we interact with the FBI when it's in tatters?

MS. SANDERS: No. And again, the President is referring to the political leaders at the FBI, particularly those that were involved in the Hillary Clinton probe.

Blake.

Q Sarah, thank you. Two quick ones about a government shutdown. Chuck Schumer, on the Senate floor, said today of the President: His party controls the Senate, the House, and the presidency -- speaking of Republicans, rather. And he said a shutdown would fall on his shoulders. How is that not just a reflection -- an accurate reflection -- of the political realities that Republicans control Washington at this point?

MS. SANDERS: Look, they may control Washington, but this still takes some Democrats to be engaged in the process, and we hope, frankly, that Democrats will play by the Schumer rule and not hold this bill hostage by playing partisan politics and that they'll come to the table, help fund our Defense Department, help fund our military, and help fund Veterans Affairs.

Q And you said you want a clear CR. At some point, though, DACA is going to have to be brought up, or potentially be brought up. Is the White House willing to mix, at one point, a DACA fix with government spending? And if so, when would that be the case?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President said that, with DACA, he wants to make sure that we have responsible immigration reform, including a border wall and other things that we've laid out in those priorities and those principles. And that's something that would have to be part of that discussion.

John.

Q Yeah, thank you, Sarah. From that podium, Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohn both assured us that, when a final tax reform bill is passed, the alternate minimum tax would disappear immediately. Now, of course, recent statements by the President, as the conference is about to begin, indicate it might not completely disappear and not immediately, certainly. Is the administration still committed to ending the AMT right away?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I don't think our position has changed on that front at all. But at the same time, look, the conferees were just named. We want to let this thing work through its process. We've laid out our principles. We're very committed to those, and making sure that the bill and the final piece of legislation delivers on that.

Charlie.

Q A lot of attention on sexual misconduct and harassment by members of Congress. Is the President confident that Congress and its leaders can police and investigate themselves on this issue?

MS. SANDERS: I think that we have no reason, at this point, to see otherwise. And hopefully that process will move forward.

Hallie.

Q Thank you, Sarah. I just have one question, but I need to clarify something that you said from the podium here on taxes. You said, I think to Matt, on Tuesday, that as long as his taxes are under audit, he's not going to release them. His 2016 taxes, to our knowledge, are not under audit, unless they are. Can you --

MS. SANDERS: My understanding -- and I will double-check -- but the President's taxes, no matter who the President is, actually immediately go under audit after being filed. So that's actually inaccurate. But I'll double-check to be 100 percent sure.

Q Will you get back to us on that? So my question to you, then, more broadly, is on this moment that we find ourselves in, frankly, of a national reckoning when it comes to sexual harassment. And so in, again, a broad 30,000-foot way, does the President believe that he has a credible role in leading this conversation? And can you speak to the specific steps this White House has taken to make sure the women who work here feel like they are in a comfortable environment to talk about these things?

MS. SANDERS: I mean, I think that the President treats -- certainly, as a woman myself, I've never felt anything but treated with the highest level of respect and been empowered to do my job. And I think that's what I've seen the President do, day in and day out, since we've been here and during the campaign. And so I think that's a pretty good start and a pretty good example on that front.

Q A lot of workplaces are having sessions, they're having seminars. Are you guys doing that here? Are you talking about, in recent days, what people in this work environment can do? Are you taking --

MS. SANDERS: There are certainly White House policies that we are reminded of. And I think all of us expect each person to live up and to meet those policies, and to not cross a line that is not only not legal but not appropriate or not ethical.

Kristen.

Q A follow-up: We've seen Democrats forcefully call for John Conyers's resignation, and Al Franken's resignation, which happened today. Do Republicans, and does this President, risk losing their moral authority on this issue -- which is a huge issue right now -- by endorsing a candidate like Roy Moore, which has now been backed by the RNC as well?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I've addressed this in depth. We think that the allegations are troubling and that ultimately this is something the people of Alabama should decide.

Q Why not call for him to drop out of the race, or a write-in candidate? Sarah, is the President failing to lead at this critical moment?

MS. SANDERS: Hey, Kristen, I'm going to move around to your colleagues.

Q But just a quick follow. Is he failing to lead on this issue?

Q Was the President's proclamation on Jerusalem delayed because of concerns expressed by the Secretaries of Defense and State, about security they wanted to get -- adequate security in place for U.S. embassies around the world?

MS. SANDERS: We wanted to make sure that we had a thoughtful and responsible process, and that the decision and the components of that decision went through the full interagency process. And once that was completed, the President moved forward and took action.

Steve.

Q The Palestinians are under the impression that the President pulled out of the peace process yesterday based on the Jerusalem decision. How do you correct that? Did he do that?

MS. SANDERS: No. In fact, in the President's remarks, he said that we are as committed to the peace process as ever, and we want to continue to push forward in those conversations and those discussions. And hopefully the ultimate goal, I think, of all those parties is to reach a peace a deal. And that's something that the United States is very much committed to.

We'll take one more. David.

Q Sarah, thank you. Given the recent revelations that at least one prosecutor on Robert Mueller's team was sending anti-Trump texts to another DOJ lawyer, and given the revelation that yet another one was congratulating Sally Yates for refusing to uphold and defend the President's travel ban, Chairman Goodlatte, at the hearing this morning, said that even the appearance of impropriety would devastate the FBI's reputation.

So the question is: Does the White House believe that the fix was in that Robert Mueller's probe was biased from the beginning?

MS. SANDERS: Look, we are fully cooperating through this process. We're going to continue to do so as we -- as I said a few minutes ago, we certainly felt like some of the political leadership at the FBI was problematic.

We're glad that Director Wray is there. We feel like he's going to clean up some of the messes left behind by his predecessor. And we look forward to this concluding soon and showing what we've been saying all along -- that there was nothing to see here and certainly no collusion.

The President has got an event here in a couple minutes. Just a couple of last-minute notes: The President has got an event here with the members of the Pearl Harbor survivors, and then we'll also have a pool spray at the top of the congressional meeting this afternoon at three o'clock.

So we'll see you guys shortly. Thanks.

Q Sarah, a question about his health, after he appeared yesterday -- just on his health, how he appeared yesterday.

MS. SANDERS: I'll break the rules and I'll come back. I know that there were a lot of questions on that -- frankly, pretty ridiculous questions. The President's throat was dry. Nothing more than that.

He does have a physical scheduled for the first part of next year, the full physical that most Presidents go through. That will take place at Walter Reed, and those records will be released by the doctor following that taking place.

Thanks so much, guys.

END

 

1:59 P.M. EST

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims December 7, 2017, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 21:39

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2017

- - - - - - -

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor those who perished in defense of our homeland and the veterans who selflessly answered the call to freedom during World War II. In our Nation's history, few events have been as pivotal as the "date which will live in infamy."

Seventy-six years ago today, on the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese air and naval forces carried out an unprovoked surprise attack on American military installations in Oahu, Hawaii. Horrific sounds of war shattered that peaceful Sunday morning, and our Nation was forever changed. More than 2,400 Americans lost their lives, and more than 1,000 service members and civilians were wounded in the attack. This horrific act of aggression galvanized the Nation and propelled us into World War II. Americans would not awaken to another peaceful dawn for nearly 4 long years.

In our darkest hours, the greatness of America emerged. Throughout the long and difficult war, our citizens remained courageous and resilient. Thousands answered the call to arms, left family and loved ones behind, and embarked on long and onerous journeys to fight America's enemies abroad. On the home front, American industry, ingenuity, and innovation increased our warfighting capacity and helped turn the tide in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters. The war effort motivated soldier and civilian alike. Families and communities came together, sacrificing personal comfort and prosperity for the greater good. Our country also solidified partnerships with like-minded nations committed to the promise of freedom. The spirit and soul of our Nation were tested in the fires of adversity, and we emerged even more determined, confident, and resolute.

The USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a sacred resting place for many of the ship's 1,177 sailors and Marines who perished on that fateful December morning. Even though these American patriots are entombed in a watery grave within the sunken hull of a battleship, their names are etched into the marble wall in the structure above. Just last month the First Lady and I had the distinct honor of visiting this hallowed site to pay our respects to the American heroes that were taken from us on that infamous day. The rusted wreckage is a haunting and sober reminder of the sacrifice of these heroes and their families, while the iconic, striking white memorial stands as a somber reminder of what we lost and also what we must fight to preserve.

Today, a new generation of brave men and women in uniform stand ready to oppose any threat to our Nation and the civilized world. Though the decades have passed, we are careful to never forget the lessons of Pearl Harbor. Our Armed Forces must be strong and vigilant, prepared to fight and preserve all we hold dear. It is our greatest obligation -- our most solemn duty -- to ensure our Nation remains the land of the free and the home of the brave. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt told the Congress that "With confidence in our Armed Forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph." That confidence and determination is undiminished today as we combat the ever-changing threats to freedom.

On this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we pray for all who died on the island of Oahu that dreadful Sunday morning, and for those who perished around the world in the battles of World War II. May we never forget their bravery, their selflessness, and their sacrifice for the noble causes of liberty and peace.

The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2017, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

WTAS: Support For President Trump's Decision To Recognize Jerusalem As Israel's Capital

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 15:56

ISRAELI OFFICIALS

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu: “We’re profoundly grateful for the President for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the US embassy here. This decision reflects the President’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace. The President’s decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

President of Israel Reuven Rivlin: “Thank you @POTUS @realDonaldTrump. There is no more fitting or beautiful gift, as we approach 70 years of the State of Israel’s independence. Jerusalem is not, and never will be, an obstacle to peace for those who want peace.”

Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Danny Danon: “We welcome this courageous decision by President Trump. In 1948, President Truman was the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel and today President Trump righted a historic wrong by recognizing Jerusalem as our capital.”

U.S. OFFICIALS

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “President Trump‘s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aligns U.S. presence with the reality that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, Supreme Court, President’s office, and Prime Minister‘s office. We have consulted with many friends, partners, and allies in advance of the President making his decision. We firmly believe there is an opportunity for a lasting peace.”

Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (R-WI): “This is a day that is long overdue. Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel. The city’s status as the religious epicenter of Judaism is an historical fact—not a matter of debate. Today’s announcement is a recognition of reality that in no way inhibits efforts to reach a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I commend President Trump for taking this important action, and for exploring next steps to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): “Today the President recognized a reality: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The House and Senate have on three separate occasions supported recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including by enacting the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. If acknowledging truth inspires violence, it is those who commit the violence, not the truth, that are at fault.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA): “By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, @POTUS has shown we’re willing to back up our allies.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD): “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, something that the United States Congress has reaffirmed and a fact of history that cannot be denied. Our country must play a constructive role in supporting Israel as it seeks the peace and security its people deserve by continuing to promote a two-state solution through direct, bilateral negotiations that will end any question of Jerusalem’s status.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN): “Today’s announcement recognizes what has been true for almost 70 years, namely that Jerusalem is Israel’s seat of government. On a bipartisan basis, Congress has repeatedly voted overwhelmingly to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and I applaud the president’s initiative in making this a reality.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA): “I welcome the administration’s decision to recognize Israel’s self-identified capital. Sovereign nations have a right to determine their seat of government, and our close ally Israel should not be treated differently. Relocating the U.S. Embassy should be done carefully, and in a way that advances our national security interests in a dangerous and unstable region.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY): “I support the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and to move the U.S. embassy there. This decision is long overdue and helps correct a decades-long indignity. It recognizes where Israel’s government—the parliament and the prime minister—is based, as well as the ancient and unbreakable connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. I look forward to a plan to ensure the safety and security of our embassy personnel.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): “I commend President Trump for following U.S. law and recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel…. Today’s announcement is an important step in right direction. Unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be complete when the U.S. embassy is officially relocated there.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA): “I commend President Trump for taking continued steps to reaffirm the United States’ relationship with Israel after years of questionable policies from the Obama Administration….By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the President is recognizing both an historic and modern reality, Jerusalem is the center for the Jewish people and all parts of Israeli government reside there today. President Trump has shown Israel is a priority, and we will continue to work together in support of our longtime friend and ally.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “Jerusalem Embassy Act of ‘95 (Senate vote 93-5 & I voted for it) states embassy should be in Jerusalem by 5/31/99. For 18 yrs, Rep + Dem presidents waived. Congrats Pres Trump for making this move. Amen!!!”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS): “President Trump’s courageous decision to relocate America’s embassy to Jerusalem is long overdue. I supported bipartisan legislation to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 1995 as a freshman member of the House of Representatives. I believe now what I did then: Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided home of the Jewish people. We should treat Israel like we do every other country and locate our embassy in its capital city.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “President Trump’s announcement today recognizes that Jerusalem is an integral part of Israel’s history, and will be an essential and enduring part of its future. I continue to support efforts to advance negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and today’s announcement should in no way hinder that process.”

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE): “I support POTUS announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It demonstrates a strong commitment to our ally & is consistent with a bill passed by Congress & enacted into law under President Clinton in 1995.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV): “I applaud President Trump for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I’m also pleased that the Administration committed to developing a plan to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem….Today’s decision sends a message to our strongest and oldest ally in the Middle East: the United States Senate stands with Israel.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): “#Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel. I’ve long supported moving the U.S. embassy there, including voting for the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK): “I applaud President Trump for officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and beginning the process of moving our embassy to the Holy City. Not since supporting the creation of Israel in 1947 has the United States done more to uphold our strategic and long-standing ally, Israel. As an original cosponsor of the legislation that prompted this action, I look forward to supporting him and his administration over the next few years as they begin the process of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): “After more than two decades of bipartisan requests from Congress, I applaud the President’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the start of a long process to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem….Israel is America’s closest friend In the Middle East and she is a solid partner in research, strategic defense, and freedom. We have a unique relationship and a special bond among nations.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “I applaud @POTUS for reaffirming our commitment to our greatest ally in the Middle East by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, following through on many years of bipartisan advocacy.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “I fully support the Trump Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because this statement reflects the reality on the ground for the last 3,000 years. Why did the Trump Administration decide to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel? Because it always has been and always will be.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC): “The fact is, for all intents and purposes, Jerusalem is and has been the capital of Israel. Their legislature is seated there, as well as their Prime Minister. Congress has repeatedly voted in a bipartisan manner in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the President has made the right decision to formalize that recognition. I look forward to our embassy moving there as security and staffing are ramped up, as well as strengthening our relationship with Israel as efforts to find peace in the region continue.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “I enthusiastically commend President Trump for today’s courageous and heroic decision…. This day will forever be etched in the history books as one of the great moments in history. The strongest and most prosperous country in the world has rectified what has been a historic injustice for far too long, recognizing the ancient and sacred city that has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, and the capital of the one and only Jewish State since 1948.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “I am thrilled with the President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and his plan to move the US Embassy there…. I have long supported the recognition of Jerusalem as the official Israeli capital, most notably as a co-sponsor of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which my colleagues introduced to the Senate in January. The President’s action, which reaffirms US legislation that has been on the books since 1995, sends a clear signal that we are prepared to defend the interests of the United States and its allies.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “I applaud President Trump’s proclamation and join him in recognizing that both throughout history and today, Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel. The President has also been bold in directing that the State Department expeditiously begin to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following the international custom of having official diplomatic representation in national capitals around the globe.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL): “#Israel is 1 of our most impt allies. We’re dedicated 2 its security & freedom. As a Christian, Israel is sacred 2 me as it is 2 many Americans. Congrats 2 @realDonaldTrump on recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Past presidents used words on this subject Trump uses action”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): “I applaud President Trump’s action to implement the 1995 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move our embassy to its rightful place in the city. Jerusalem is the historic capital of the Jewish people. I pray for a peaceful transition.”

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): “Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Thank you, @POTUS.”

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): “I applaud President Trump’s courage in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and her seat of government. This is an historic and long overdue decision.”

Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ): “By relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump is doing what our country should have done two decades ago: fulfill our promise to our ally and formally recognize the Jewish State of Israel’s undivided capital…. I applaud the President’s decision, which sends a strong and clear message to the international community that we are beginning a new chapter in our alliance, one in which America keeps our promises towards Israel and doesn’t waffle about where our true allegiance lies.”

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA): “Jerusalem is the historic, declared and functioning capital of Israel. Its legislature and other national institutions are in Jerusalem. There’s bipartisan support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and I applaud the president’s actions today.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO): “.@POTUS kept his campaign promise to declare that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as it has been for thousands of years. I applaud him for laying the groundwork to swiftly relocate the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL): “#Jerusalem is without question the capital of #Israel and should be recognized as such. Denying simple, obvious truths is not a strategy for peace. I commend the Administration for reaching this decision.”

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL): “President Trump is doing what his recent predecessors have promised but failed to deliver: formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to be followed by relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem!”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL): “It is well past time that our embassy is moved to its rightful home. Though many may be upset with the decision, or even use this as an excuse to incite violence, we must remember that #Jerusalem is the country’s true capital.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): “Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem sends the Palestinian Authority a message that their days of denying @Israel’s existence are over, & that they must become an honest partner in peace. I commend @realDonaldTrump today for honoring our friend & ally Israel.”

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL): “Today is a day of celebration for those of us who recognize the truth that #Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel. For groups like Hamas, this is just another excuse to cause violence & destruction that proves they are not ready to negotiate peace.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) & Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL): “The President’s decision today is a recognition of existing U.S. law that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the U.S. embassy should ultimately be located in the capital. There is no debate that the Jewish people have a deep-rooted religious, cultural and historic tie to Jerusalem, and today’s decision reaffirms that connection. The fact is that Jerusalem – an ancient and holy city to all three monotheistic faiths – will remain the capital of the Jewish state in any iteration of a negotiated two-state solution.”

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL): “We need to send a clear message to the world that we support Israel and recognize Jerusalem as its eternal capital…. I and my fellow members of Congress are hopeful that relocating the embassy will strengthen our vital alliance and send a clear message to the world: America stands with Israel.”

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL): “I applaud the decision by @POTUS to move the US Embassy in Israel to #Jerusalem. This step is important to our relationship with our ally Israel. An important part of peace between Israel and Palestine is Israel’s right to exist, its self-determination, and its rightful identity.”

Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA): “Jerusalem has been - & will always be - the undivided capital of Israel. I applaud President Trump for the decision to recognize it as such.”

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA): “It is the diplomatic right of any sovereign nation to choose where their nation’s capital is located; and, for 67 years, Israel has recognized Jerusalem as their capital.”

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID): “I applaud @realDonaldTrump for recognizing that #Jerusalem is the capital of #Israel and beginning the process of moving the U.S. embassy there. Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the State of Israel.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): “For millennia, Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the State of #Israel. I’m proud to support @POTUS in reiterating U.S. policy & support for our ally, and in recognizing Israel’s right to exist.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL): “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for more than three thousand years, and since 1948 the capital of the Jewish state. These are facts that cannot be denied.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN): “It’s great to have a president who is finally enforcing the law passed by Congress in 1995 recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel. Today’s news re-affirms the special relationship between the United States and our cherished ally.”

Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN): “I support President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This recognition is long overdue. Hoosiers agree that Israel is our most important ally in the region, and President Trump’s decision reaffirms our commitment to stand with the Jewish State.”

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN): “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the United States embassy rightfully should reside there. While presidents from both parties have called for this recognition of Israel, President .@realDonaldTrump is the first president to take action.”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS): “For years, Congress has overwhelmingly agreed that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision confirms what we already knew, that the United States stands with our allies and friends.”

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA): “I commend President @realDonaldTrump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital. Israel is our strongest ally in the region, and I’m glad to see that we are standing with them.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO): “I applaud decision by @POTUS to recognize Jerusalem as rightful capital of #Israel. This move affirms existing U.S law and is common-sense: most of Israel’s government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem. Proud to support our ally.”

Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC): “I applaud President Trump for fulfilling his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Today’s announcement sends a clear signal to the world that in any coming peace negotiations we will not be pressuring Israel to give up its historic and religious capital…. This historic move by President Trump shows, once again, that the bond between our two countries is stronger than ever.”

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): “I commend today’s decision by @POTUS to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. It not only enforces long-standing federal law but also sends a strong message of support to one of America’s most sacred allies.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): “After 8 years of damage, constant undermining, and broken promises, the world will once again know that the United States stands, unwaveringly, alongside our ally #Israel…. There are times throughout United States’ history when our Presidents have sent the rest of the world a clear, powerful message of leadership and conviction. This historic moment will be remembered as one of those times.”

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC): “#Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since the time of King David. Jerusalem’s legislature and courts are in Jerusalem. Why should we continue to pretend otherwise? President Trump’s common sense decision is to move our embassy to Jerusalem is grounded in reality.”

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND): “Moving our embassy to Jerusalem is a long overdue recognition to the undeniable core of Israel. Today’s announcement by President Trump comes at a time when reaffirming the strong alliance between the United States and Israel is critical towards stabilizing and advancing diplomacy in the region.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE): “Today is an important day for the United States, and for our Israeli allies and friends. I applaud the President for affirming U.S. Law and recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. The President’s actions today have righted a wrong in the application of double-standards to the State of Israel.”

Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY): “.@realDonaldTrump’s decision to move our U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is the right thing & long overdue. I fully support his efforts.”

Rep. John Faso (R-NY): “I fully support the Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocation of our embassy as we continue to work towards peace in that region. The six-month delay will allow this process to continue as we assess security and other considerations.”

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I was proud to vote for the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which demonstrated Congress’ unified position that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and today’s announcement is consistent with existing U.S. law.”

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA): “Today will surely shine throughout world history. After decades of delay, the USA will officially recognize #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel and rightly relocate our embassy there. I thank @realDonaldTrump for keeping his promise and standing strong with our friend for peace.”

Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA): “It is a longstanding fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. I am proud to see the President make this monumental and historic recognition. The people of Jerusalem are remarkable and they have demonstrated over the last 50 years, since reunification, that people of all faiths are welcome and protected in this capital city.”

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA): “Today @POTUS @realDonaldTrump made clear the United States stands with our strongest ally in the Middle East. #Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel and should be recognized as such.”

Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA): “When I traveled to Israel in August, I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and had a discussion about moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem. The city is at the core of the nation’s foundation and history. President Trump’s decision to move our embassy is the right one. I will continue to support and defend our decades-old friendship and strengthen our alliance.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC): “I applaud President Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and promising to move the U.S. Embassy to reflect this change in policy. This decision is in clear contrast to the last administration’s anti-Israel sentiments, and it is refreshing to have a leader in the White House who supports and stands with our strong ally. I agree with President Trump that this decision is in the best interest of the United States as we work towards lasting peace.”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC): “America’s bond with Israel is unique, and its strength is the foundation of American leadership in the Middle East. The president’s announcement that our embassy will be located in Jerusalem strengthens that bond, and I am grateful to see him honor another one of his campaign commitments. The people of Israel know they have an ally in the White House.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN): “Thank you @realDonaldTrump for keeping your promise to the American people, recognizing #Jerusalem as Israel’s capital & relocating our U.S. embassy accordingly.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): “I fully support @realDonaldTrump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thank you, Mr. President, for standing with our ally.”

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN): “For years, Jerusalem has been regarded as Israel’s capital city by the Knesset, the United States Congress, and the people of Israel. The President’s announcement reaffirms the longstanding friendship and support between United States and Israel. I applaud President Trump for his decision, and will continue to stand with Israel as our ally in the Middle East.”

Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN): “I applaud President Trump for fulfilling his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the unquestionable capital of Israel. After eight years of the Obama Administration’s failure to support our closest ally, this sends a powerful message to the world – the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel, our friend and the stronghold of democracy in the Middle East.”

Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX): “I fully support @POTUS decision to recognize #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel. Having first been expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995 & reaffirmed by a unanimous vote in Senate just 6 months ago, this historic step has strong, bipartisan in Congress.”

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX): “Grateful to @POTUS for today’s historic action to officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. No other nation can say they have been a more loyal friend to America throughout their existence than the State of #Israel.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): “President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel was not only an act of political valor, it was a promise kept to the American people who voted him into office…. The announcement today displays great strength and courage. It shows that the United States will stand with its ally, Israel. I sincerely appreciate President Trump’s decision to buck the status quo and do the right thing for this nation and the world.”

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX): “Today, for the first time, the United States has officially recognized what so many have known for years, that Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel. Israel is one of America’s closest friends and allies. I appreciate President Trump’s decision, and reiterate my desire to see a peaceful way forward for the region.”

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): “The historical capital of Israel has long been Jerusalem. It is about time the United States recognizes this and places our embassy where it belongs- in Jerusalem.”

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX): “President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been affirmed by Congress more than once. This foreign policy decision reinforces our commitment to one of our strongest allies in the region.”

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): “With today’s announcement, we are finally officially stating what is a well-known fact. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and we are finally adhering to our own decades-old law in relocating our embassy there as well. I applaud the President for moving forward with this course of action. Our commitment to Israel is unwavering. Jerusalem is the true seat of the government of Israel.”

Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX): “I commend @POTUS for his unwavering support of Israel & his decision to recognize Jerusalem as its capital. For 22 years, the United States has acknowledged it as such, and now is the time to show the world that our country always back its allies and will always stand with Israel.”

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI): “In January, I sent a letter to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump, urging him to keep his promise to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Thank you for keeping your promise, Mr. President!”

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): “I applaud the decision today by @POTUS to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Israel’s undivided capital. By moving our embassy there, we’re sending a message of support for our strongest ally in the Middle East.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): “I support Trump’s decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & his announcement he will move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the eternal & undivided capital of the state of Israel, & the US has no closer or stronger ally than Israel.”

ADVOCATES & ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): “Today is a historic day for the U.S.-Israel relationship. For the first time, the United States officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. AIPAC has always supported American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital city, and we commend President Trump’s momentous announcement and decision to initiate relocating the U.S. embassy there. This recognition is a long-overdue step to implement U.S. law…. Today’s action by President Trump is an important, historic step for which we are grateful. We urge the president to quickly relocate our embassy to Israel’s capital.”

The Anti-Defamation League: “For decades, ADL has called on the United States – and the entire international community – to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital…. We welcome President Trump’s announcement that the United States – almost 70 years after the founding of the State of Israel – will begin the process to relocate its embassy consistent with the longstanding bipartisan consensus as enshrined in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.”

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America: “Just as the United States locates its embassy in the duly designated capitals of other nations, so too it should locate our embassy to Israel in that nation’s recognized capital. Mr. President, we thank you for your staunch commitment to the safety and security of Israel. We continue to pray that under your leadership the United States will continue to work to foster peace, security and liberty for the Jews of Israel, the United States and around the world.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition: “Time after time, President Trump has sent an unambiguous message to the world: the bond between the U.S. and Israel is strong, and after eight years of the Obama Administration, the days of daylight between our nations are over. Thank you Mr. President. Thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish people and the Jewish State.”

Agudath Israel: “Israel is a sovereign state. Sovereign states have every right to determine where their capitals are. Israel has designated Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s national government…. President Trump’s welcome announcement today reaffirms that longstanding commitment, and deserves to be warmly commended.”

My Faith Votes Honorary National Chairman And Former Governor Mike Huckabee: “There is no brighter beacon of democracy in the Middle East than Israel, and President Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as its capital reinforces — for the whole world to see — the truth that it has a right to exist. Christians in America should be proud that one of our closest allies, also the ancient homeland of our Judeo-Christian faith, exudes tolerance, steadiness and strength in a region too often marked by all the reliability of deserts full of shifting sand.”

Republican Jewish Coalition National Chairman And Former Senator Norm Coleman: “Tomorrow President Trump will announce a major change in U.S. policy -- that the U.S. Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and that we will now recognize Jerusalem, the ancient and enduring capital of the Jewish people, as the capital of Israel. The President has delivered on another major campaign promise. President Trump is doing what he does so well: recognizing the reality on the ground. No more false news -- Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks: “President Trump is taking a courageous stand that expresses his commitment to repairing and strengthening ties with Israel, our most important ally in the Middle East. For the RJC, the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been a longstanding goal. We are grateful to President Trump for making it a reality.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins: “Today is a major milestone in America’s historic relationship with Israel. Under the bold and courageous leadership of President Trump, America is finally putting American interests and the interests of our key allies first. America’s foreign policy, as it pertains to Israel, is coming into alignment with biblical truth: Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state.”

Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein: “The ZOA strongly praises and gives our heartfelt thanks to President Donald Trump for today officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moving the US Embassy there. President Trump’s important, historic, moral and just action paves the way to move the US Embassy to Israel’s eternal capital Jerusalem.”

American Zionist Movement President Richard Heideman: “This announcement is a bold act in the spirit of Zionism that rectifies a historic wrong and is a proper recognition of Jerusalem’s millennia-old status as the capital of Israel and the Jewish People. This is an important recognition of Jerusalem as the center of the legitimate national, ancestral and indigenous claims of the Jewish people.”

Christians United for Israel National Chairman Pastor John Hagee: “Jerusalem has been the epicenter of the Jewish faith since King David danced into the city with the Ark of the Covenant over 3,000 years ago. It is the capital of the Jewish state, and I am grateful to the President for changing American policy to finally reflect this reality. I look forward to the day we open the doors of the US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.”

Christian’ Israel Public Action Campaign (CIPAC) Founder Richard Hellman: “By not simply following the opinions of others around the globe, the President has demonstrated that he and America are not afraid of threats that some parties have made. This sends a strong signal that a truly great global power can and will do the right thing, despite threats from others.”

Liberty Counsel Founder and President Matt Staver: “President Trump’s affirmation that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel represents a significant and long overdue shift in U.S. policy.”

First Baptist Church Dallas Senior Pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress: “President Donald J. Trump has demonstrated true leadership today by recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel. President Trump is a modern-day profile in courage, accomplishing what no other president has been willing to do. It took courage for President Harry S. Truman to recognize Israel as a nation in 1948, and it took courage for President Donald J. Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today. He is a blessing not only to our nation, but to Israel as well.”

New Destiny Christian Center Senior Pastor Paula White: “Promise made. Promise kept. Once again, President Trump has shown the world what I have always known — he is a leader who is willing to do what is right however loud the voices are of the skeptics and the critics. Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.”

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) President Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: “President Trump has made clear that the time for acquiescence is over. Recognizing the Jewish people’s rightful claim to their eternal capital city puts the United States firmly on the right side of history. This is not only the right thing to do, it is the altogether righteous thing to do.”

Shadow Mountain Community Church Senior Pastor Dr. David Jeremiah: “God’s devotion to the Jewish people is the result of an eternal promise. We applaud the U.S. administration’s leadership for finally, rightly and formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital…. To this day, Israel stands as a shining light in the Middle East, a free democracy, a thriving economy and a vibrant culture undergirded by the rule of law. May she continue to be blessed and may we, the United States of America, be blessed by reaffirming that we stand firmly beside her.”

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein: “On behalf of The Fellowship’s millions of Evangelical Christian supporters around the world, I applaud the U.S. administration’s decision today to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is a bold, courageous move that is long overdue, and is especially significant coming from Israel’s closest ally. Both Jews and Christians around the world have prayed for this day, which rights a historic wrong by affirming to the world that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Pastor Silmar Coelho: “On behalf of thousands of Evangelical Christians across Rio de Janeiro and all of Brazil, I wholeheartedly welcome the U.S. administration’s brave and farsighted recognition of Jerusalem, our holy city, as Israel’s capital.”

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rev. Hyung Eun Chi: “On behalf of thousands of Christians across Seoul and all of South Korea, I commend the U.S. administration’s long-overdue recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This is an historic moment for Christians and Jews around the world.”

Hope Christian Church Bishop Harry Jackson: “President Trump‘s support of Israel is encouraging. It marks the beginning of a new season in US Middle East Policy…. As someone who has been to Israel several times, I have seen the complement of this nation to democracy. As an African American, I have also seen the fairness and civil Freedoms afforded every resident: Black, White, Palestinian, or Jewish. I celebrate President Trump’s Historic decision.”

Cross Church Senior Pastor Dr. Ronnie Floyd: “I’m thoroughly pleased President Trump has taken this action when it comes to our ally Israel. By recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s unquestionable capital and promising the subsequent move of the U.S. embassy, President Trump has incurred blessing on America, for Scripture says God blesses those who bless Israel.”

Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Jack Graham: “President Trump’s announcement — that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital and that our embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — is the best news to come out of the Middle East in decades. As a Christian, I’m grateful America is playing a decisive role in the story of God’s chosen people, and I’m very glad President Trump is displaying the courage to fulfill a promise to support Israel and its biblical role among the nations.”

Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie: “We stand with the Jewish people and the nation Israel. We bless them and thank God for them. Jerusalem is their eternal capital. I am grateful for the U.S. administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Dr. Alveda King: “President Trump is on a record promise-keeping-roll. His support for Israel, undergirded by our ‘prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,’ are encouraging evidence that God is blessing us.”

Skyline Church Senior Pastor Dr. Jim Garlow: “It is quite possible that President Donald Trump’s statement on Israel today is the single most important announcement regarding Israel by a U.S. President since President Harry Truman recognized Israel as a state 70 years ago on May 14, 1948.”

Free Chapel Worship Center Senior Pastor Jentezen Franklin: “We stand with the President of the United States, the nation of Israel and her right to declare Jerusalem as the capital. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem as scripture implores us to do, and we trust her peace and prosperity, not to man-made institutions and international efforts, but to the God of all Peace, and to the greatest Jew to have ever lived, Jesus Christ.”

EDITORIAL BOARDS & COMMENTATORS

New York Daily News Editorial Board: “Donald Trump’s acknowledgment of reality by formally recognizing, as United States policy, what has been the case for more than 3,000 years is welcome. It undoes 70 years of American fiction that this is a city without a country, part of some mythical international territory, neither Jewish nor Arab… Finally recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel states a fact that anti-Israel forces need to get through their heads sooner or later: The Jewish State isn’t going anywhere. Deal with it.”

The Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Matthew Continetti: “By keeping his campaign promise today, [President Trump] has called the bluff of everyone who thought the United States could have its cake and eat it too on the question of Israel’s capital. And by moving our embassy to Jerusalem, the United States will acknowledge Israel’s right to determine its own capital city. That is not something to condemn or fear. It is something to be proud of.”

Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak: “Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy there is just a recognition of reality. But it is also a courageous decision, showing that the U.S. will stand with our allies regardless of terrorist threats. President Trump’s decision also represents a guarantee of Israeli sovereignty in at least part of Jerusalem…. It is no exaggeration to say that for Jews, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an event of almost Biblical significance. And we are witnesses to it.”

Remarks by Vice President Mike Pence at the Kemp Leadership Award Dinner

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 05:01

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C. 

7:45 P.M. EST
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Cathy, for that overly generous introduction.  I will always cherish my time in the Congress of United States, like the man after whom this foundation is named.  I have to tell you, I couldn't be more proud of the job that Cathy McMorris Rodgers is doing, steering the House Republican Conference.
 
Would everyone please join me in showing our appreciation for a great American leader, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.  (Applause.) 
 
To Joanne and Jimmy Kemp, the entire Kemp family -- the large Kemp family -- distinguished members of Congress who are here, our honored guests:  It is my great honor and, frankly, it's a privilege for me, to address this extraordinary group of leaders and patriots here at the Jack Kemp Foundation’s Sixth Kemp Leadership Award Dinner.  This is a special night.  
 
I especially want to recognize a friend of mine, a great friend of the Kemp Foundation, and frankly, a man whose life and whose faith is a testimony to the power of opportunity in our nation, and a leader whose opportunity agenda in the United States Senate is, frankly, a living tribute to the life and legacy of Jack Kemp.  Join me in giving the first round of applause tonight to this year’s Kemp Leadership Award winner, Senator Tim Scott.  (Applause.) 
 
Thank you all for being here.  To all of you, I bring greetings tonight from a friend of mine.  I told him I was headed this way, and he was excited to hear about it.  A leader with boundless energy and optimism -- not unlike the mold of the man we remember tonight -- I bring greetings tonight from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.) 
 
You know, tonight is very special for me and for my family.  It’s, frankly, deeply humbling for me.  Like many of you, Jack Kemp was a hero of mine.  And I'll always consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life that a hero that I met back in 1988, in my very first run for the Congress of the United States, would actually became a friend, and even a mentor, who had a huge impact on my career.
 
I just told a couple of Jack's grandchildren that I have every confidence that I would not have had the opportunities to serve in the leadership in the Congress, as the governor of my state, or in the position as Vice President of the United States, were it not for the example and the influence of Jack Kemp.   
 
Jack often said, “Ideas rule the world.”  But his own life was a testament to the fact that even the best ideas need a champion to promote them in the never-ending battle for hearts and minds. 
 
And Jack devoted his career to a single idea -- an idea powerful enough that it helped changed the world, but precious enough to need happy warriors to defend it.  He called it the American idea. 
 
Jack’s lodestar was his unwavering belief in the fundamental equality and dignity of every person.  It inspired everything that he stood for.  And whether he was speaking in front of a large group, or whether he was just stopping you on a street corner, you heard all about it every time you talked to Jack Kemp.  (Laughter.) 
 
You know, I have to tell you, as I said on the floor of the House of Representatives the week that Jack left us, the debt this nation owes Jack Kemp can only be repaid by relentless imitation of his example.  (Applause.)  And that’s why I really am grateful that Jimmy and the entire Kemp family have grown this foundation into what it is today and that all of you, through your generosity, are supporting its work.    
 
The Jack Kemp Foundation exists to preserve his legacy, of course, but also to develop the next generation of what we like to call “Jack Kemp Republicans."  And I’d like to say you’re doing a pretty good job.  
 
Jack Kemp was a man -- for those of you in the room that knew him -- of boundless energy, boundless optimism, and boundless enthusiasm.  I remember Jack told me one time that his mom told him nobody ever accomplished anything in this world without enthusiasm.  Jack had it in abundance.  And he also had a boundless faith in the spirit of the American people.  
 
So let me think about that: boundless energy, boundless optimism, and boundless faith in the American people.  Remind you of anybody?  It sure does me. 
 
My friends, I'm here to tell you tonight, that's exactly the kind of Republican we have in the White House today.  And serving beside him every day, I want to assure you: President Donald Trump is fully committed to advance the timeless values of the American idea that Jack Kemp championed every day of his life.  (Applause.)    
 
Like Jack Kemp, President Trump, first and foremost, knows that security is the foundation of our prosperity.  And since the very first day of our administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to restore the credibility of American power.
 
President Trump, with the strong support of leaders like those gathered here tonight, has already signed the largest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years.  And before this year is out, we’ll pass one of the largest investments in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan.  
 
And tonight, I’ll make you a promise: Under President Trump's leadership, with the strong support of this Congress, we're going to rebuild our military, we're going to restore the arsenal of democracy, and we will once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe.  (Applause.) 
 
And with that renewed American strength, President Trump is achieving real results on the international stage.  Under President Trump’s leadership, our NATO allies are paying more of their fair share toward our common defense than ever before.  ISIS is on the run.  We’ve put Iran on notice.  North Korea is isolated like never before.  And with an issue that Jack cared deeply about all of his life, under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world knows this: America stands with Israel.  (Applause.)  
 
During his time in Congress, there was really no greater friend to Israel, in the Republican ranks, than Jack Kemp.  Over 30 years ago, Jack said well that Israel was not only our ally, but our friend.  And throughout his career, Jack Kemp worked tirelessly to strengthen the bond between our two nations. 
 
And today, President Donald Trump strengthened that bond even further.  Today, our President took a truly historic step, when the President of the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State of Israel.  (Applause.) 
 
As the President said this afternoon, he was delivering on a long-held American promise.  It's in the best interest of the United States.  But more than two decades ago, actually, Congress had passed a law that required the President to move our embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as the capital of Israel.  But successive administrations failed to do so.  Even when it meant breaking a promise that they had made to the American people.
 
In recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Trump also announced plans to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  (Applause.) 
 
After decades of talk, President Trump took action.  He’s a man of his word.  As the President said today, today we finally acknowledge the obvious; we recognize facts that we know will form a foundation for real progress, for real peace, in that region of the world.
 
And like Jack Kemp, President Trump knows that American leadership abroad, first and foremost, requires a vibrant economy at home.  And since the outset of our administration, we’ve been working tirelessly to reignite American growth by putting into practice all the principles that Jack was such a matchless champion of.
 
Jack Kemp summed it up pretty well in his lifetime when he said, “There's no limit to what free men and free women in a free market with free enterprise can accomplish.”  And nobody said it better.  (Applause.) 
 
Frankly, that philosophy is why that, since day one of our administration, President Trump has been rolling back the heavy hand of government at a record pace.  The President has signed more laws to cut federal red tape than any President in American history.  (Applause.)  
 
We’ve unleashed American energy.  And we’ve taken a strong stand for the rule of law by appointing strict constructionists to our federal courts, at every level, like the newest justice to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch.  (Applause.) 
 
And the American economy is already responding to the actions of our President and his agenda.  Optimism is sweeping across America, for consumers and job creators alike.  Businesses large and small have created nearly 1.5 million new jobs since January of this year alone.  And the stock market is setting new records nearly every day.  And in less than a year, it’s created more than $5.5 trillion in new wealth -- growing the pensions, the 401(k)s, the retirements, and savings accounts of millions of Americans.
 
And after more than eight years of less than 2 percent average growth, today the American economy is already growing faster than 3 percent, and we’re just getting started.  (Applause.)  
 
And the critics said this couldn’t be done, or at least it couldn't be done for a long time.  But, you know, Jack used to have a good term, what he called -- what was it Joanne?  The low-aspirations crowd.  (Laughter.)  
 
I got to tell you, like Jack, President Trump rejects the cynical view of 2 percent growth being the new normal in America.  That’s why the President has fought tirelessly to revive the American economy.  And it's his faith -- like Jack's -- in the boundless spirit and ingenuity of the American people that's already being proven right again. 
 
Right now, America has real momentum, but in order to turn this momentum into sustained economic growth, there’s one more important thing that we need to get done before the end of this year.
 
Now, Jack Kemp said in his time, “The single biggest step we could take to revive economic growth would be to completely overhaul the tax code to make it fairer, flatter, and simpler."  And President Donald Trump and I couldn’t agree more.  (Applause.) 
 
And I got to tell you -- I'll make a prediction -- in just a few days -- frankly, before Christmas of this year -- President Donald Trump is going to sign historic legislation to cut taxes across the board for working families and job creators large and small.  And we're going to simplify the tax code and make it flatter and fairer.  (Applause.) 
 
Last week, we took a crucial step toward this goal.  The House of Representatives had already done its work.  And last Friday night -- or was it early Saturday morning? -- the United States Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
 
And President Trump and I are truly grateful.  We're truly grateful for the great leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan, Leader Mitch McConnell, and all the Republicans who voted for this legislation, including several leaders who are with us tonight.  I mentioned Senator Tim Scott, but Senator James Lankford, and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Ron Estes, and Keith Rothfus.  Give them all a round of applause.  They're out there fighting for a growing American economy.  (Applause.) 
 
As the President said, these tax cuts represent, in his words, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reclaim America’s great destiny and, as the President added, to put our economy on a path of sustained economic prosperity and job creation.  And we're going to seize this moment.  
 
Now, the House and the Senate have to get together to work out the differences, and the President and I, and our entire administration are going to continue to work with Congress to get a bill to his desk in time for Christmas. 
 
And we’ll fight tirelessly to make sure that the final bill reflects the principles the President laid out earlier this year -- pretty straightforward.
 
First and foremost, we’re going to let the American people keep more of their hard-earned dollars.  And we're going to simplify the tax code.  (Applause.) 
 
Secondly, you know there's an old saying -- Jack might have approved of this joke -- that the Internal Revenue Code is 10 times the length of the Bible, with none of the good news.  (Laughter.)  So we're going to take some of Jack's advice as well, and we're going to simplify the Internal Revenue Code.  We're going to make it flatter, fairer, so that 90 percent of Americans can file their taxes on single piece of paper.  (Applause.) 
 
And lastly, we’re going to make sure that American companies can be competitive again by lowering the taxes on American businesses large and small so they can create good jobs and raise wages right here in the good 'ole USA. 
 
You know, the President has called for tax cuts for businesses because we believe it's going to boost wages for American workers.  Once they go into effect, we really believe the typical American household -- when all of these taxes cuts are implemented -- the typical American household is going to be able anticipate an extra $4,000 a year. 
 
As Jack Kemp knew, that’s real money for the American people, and it's going to make a real difference in the lives of hardworking families.  And I know that’s true, because I’ve heard it from folks just like those Jack used to represent.
 
Now, I've traveled all across the country over the past year to listen to working families and job creators about how our current tax code is an obstacle to their success.  Nearly two months ago, Joanne, I actually visited a business in Lancaster, New York, not too far from Jack's old congressional district. 
 
I had the opportunity to talk with citizens in Erie County.  I simply asked a very straightforward question to them.  I said, what would a tax cut mean to you?  What would it mean to your family?  What would it mean to your business?  And without exception, every single person told me that they needed a tax cut, not just to pursue their dreams, but because they wanted to help other people achieve their dreams as well. 
 
I heard from a woman who had started her own architectural firm out of her home, and now has an office and five employees.  She told me that she would use the extra money for a tax cut to give her employees a pay raise, to create new jobs, and grow her business even more. 
 
I heard from a young couple who started their own coffee company a few years ago, but now pay more money in taxes than they take in for themselves.  And they told me that a tax cut would allow them to hire more people, buy new equipment, start saving up for that second location they've been dreaming of opening.  
 
I heard from a mom and a dad whose young son suffers from a rare disease that costs tens of thousands of dollars every year to treat.  For their little family, a tax cut would mean they could put more of their hard-earned money toward his medical care, and start investing in a bright future that lays ahead for him and his sister. 
 
As I heard firsthand, the value of a tax cut can’t be measured in dollars and cents alone -- because when the American people can keep more of their hard-earned money, they invest it back in their dreams.  They invest it back in their businesses, in their communities, and their families in ways that make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the life of this nation. 
 
These are the true rewards of a strong and growing economy.  And these are the reasons why, with your support, with the support of these great leaders in the Congress, and with the leadership of President Donald Trump, I say with confidence: We're going to pass the largest tax cut in American history, and we're going to pass it this year.  (Applause.) 
 
My friends, what Jack Kemp understood was that a tax code is more than just an accounting document.  He knew better than most that it's really a statement of the values of our nation.  In a certain sense, it's a measure of the character of our people and what our priorities are.
 
You know, one of the things I loved about Jack is he saw every great chapter of our national story as a test and as a triumph of the American idea.  From the patriots who dedicated America to the proposition that all men are created equal, to the soldiers and statesmen who brought our nation through the crucible of the Civil War to a new birth of freedom for every American, to the Civil Rights heroes who advanced the cause of racial justice in their day -- Jack Kemp called it, America’s permanent revolution; our noble, if never perfect, striving to live up to those universal ideals etched into the founding charter of freedom.
 
And the great challenge facing our generation is to restore the foundation of freedom at the heart of our economy; to put our trust back, once again, in the talent, the grit, the ingenuity, and the freedom of the American people; and to put our trust in one other place as well:  To put our trust in Him who planted this miracle of democracy on these wilderness shores, and to know that as we appeal to Him -- as Americans have throughout our generations -- as one nation, under God, that the best days for America are yet to come.  
 
So I thank you for coming here tonight.  I thank you for honoring the great leaders who are with us this evening.  I thank you for investing in the memory and the legacy and the ongoing work of Jack Kemp.  
 
And with your ongoing support, with these great leaders, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God's help, I know we will make America safe again.  We will make America prosperous again.  And to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again.  
 
Thank you very much.  God Bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.) 

END               

 

 8:04 P.M. EST
 

 

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 01:53

The following individuals to be Members of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council:

• Greg Abbott, Governor of the State of Texas

• John Bel Edwards, Governor of the State of Louisiana

• Phil Bryant, Governor of the State of Mississippi

• Kay Ivey, Governor of the State of Alabama

• Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

• Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and designate Chairperson

• Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

• Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida

• Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior

• Mark T. Esper, Secretary of the Army

• Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security

Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of State

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 23:10

Presidential Determination

No. 2018-02

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Suspension of Limitations under the Jerusalem Embassy Act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 7(a) of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45) (the "Act"), I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months the limitations set forth in sections 3(b) and 7(b) of the Act.

You are authorized and directed to transmit this determination, accompanied by a report in accordance with section 7(a) of the Act, to the Congress and to publish this determination in the Federal Register.

The suspension set forth in this determination shall take effect after you transmit this determination and the accompanying report to the Congress.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Presidential Proclamation Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel and Relocating the United States Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:54

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION


The foreign policy of the United States is grounded in principled realism, which begins with an honest acknowledgment of plain facts.  With respect to the State of Israel, that requires officially recognizing Jerusalem as its capital and relocating the United States Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem as soon as practicable.  

The Congress, since the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45) (the "Act"), has urged the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to relocate our Embassy to Israel to that city.  The United States Senate reaffirmed the Act in a unanimous vote on June 5, 2017. 

Now, 22 years after the Act's passage, I have determined that it is time for the United States to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  This long overdue recognition of reality is in the best interests of both the United States and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel.  Since then, the State of Israel has made its capital in Jerusalem -- the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.  Today, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's government -- the home of Israel's parliament, the Knesset; its Supreme Court; the residences of its Prime Minister and President; and the headquarters of many of its government ministries.  Jerusalem is where officials of the United States, including the President, meet their Israeli counterparts.  It is therefore appropriate for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

I have also determined that the United States will relocate our Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  This action is consistent with the will of the Congress, as expressed in the Act.  

Today's actions -- recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announcing the relocation of our embassy -- do not reflect a departure from the strong commitment of the United States to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.  The United States continues to take no position on any final status issues.  The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.  The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders.

Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, including through a two-state solution, if agreed to by both sides.  Peace is never beyond the grasp of those who are willing to reach for it.  In the meantime, the United States continues to support the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif.  Jerusalem is today -- and must remain -- a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

With today's decision, my Administration reaffirms its longstanding commitment to building a future of peace and security in the Middle East.  It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate -- not senseless violence –- and for young and moderate voices across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.  Today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect, rethinking old assumptions and opening our hearts and minds to new possibilities.  I ask the leaders of the Middle East -- political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim -- to join us in this noble quest for lasting peace.  

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and that the United States Embassy to Israel will be relocated to Jerusalem as soon as practicable.  

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

 


                                DONALD J. TRUMP

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Yemen

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:24

I have directed officials in my Administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it. This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately.

Statement by President Trump on Jerusalem

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 20:02

Diplomatic Reception Room

1:07 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking. We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.

My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city -- and so importantly -- is Israel’s capital. This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.

Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.

It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem -- the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.

For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.

Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.

But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done.

That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.

In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.

The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.

In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.

Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul. With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.

There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.

This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach.

So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.

I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud, and diverse, vibrant and strong. But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance, and terror.

Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.

It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate –- not violence.

And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.

So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region -- political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim -- to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(The proclamation is signed.)

END

 

1:19 P.M. EST

Remarks by President Trump at Cabinet Meeting

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 19:36

Cabinet Room

11:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Thank you very much for being here.  America is prospering again at home and being respected once again all over the world.  However, we face many serious threats.  Lots of things are happening in our country -- lots of very positive things -- but we have some things that we have to talk about.  

We're going to be discussing today the situation in North Korea.  It will be handled, and it will be handled properly.  Many of our brave troops will be spending Christmas overseas.  We're thinking about them.  We're funding them like they haven't been funded in a long time -- best equipment you can get.  Our military is getting stronger, and I expect that very soon, I'll be able to say stronger than ever before.  It was very depleted when I got here.  It's not going to be depleted any longer.  

So I just want to thank everybody.  I want to congratulate Kirstjen Nielsen, who was just confirmed yesterday.  Been a long wait and we're waiting for a lot of others.  All of you are waiting for people, or most of you are waiting for people to come in and help.  I know from the standpoint of trade, we're waiting for a lot of our trade representatives to be approved.  They just don't want to do it.  The Democrats just don't want to give us those people.  They delay them as long as possible.  They take every single minute they can take.  It's not right.  But I would like to congratulate our new Secretary of Homeland Security.  Kirstjen, good luck.  

SECRETARY NIELSEN: Thank you.  

THE PRESIDENT:  I'm especially thrilled to report that the Senate passed massive tax cuts and reform.  You know about that very well.  You've covered it -- for the most part -- accurately, which is surprising for you folks, but that's okay.  (Laughter.)  We're on the verge of a historic victory that cuts taxes for the middle class, for businesses; brings back, probably, an excess of $4 trillion.  As you know, we've been saying $2.5 trillion for years.  Well, that number has greatly expanded.  And we'll be bringing back an excess of $4 trillion.  It will be put to work in our country.  There will be a lot of jobs being brought back with that money.  Right now that money is being spent overseas.  It's not going to be spent overseas anymore.

The House and Senate are now negotiating the final bill, and I cannot wait to sign these giant tax cuts and reforms.  I mentioned tax cuts, but it's also reforms.  But I'm looking forward to signing it.  It will be the largest tax cuts, by far, in the history of our country.  

We'll be bringing the business tax from 35 all the way down to 20.  At 35, it's the highest in the industrialized world.  At 20, we're on the very low side, so we'll be very competitive.  You look at China, it's 15 percent.  Other countries are 18 percent.  Some are 23, 24 percent.  The average is actually, of the primary competitors, is actually 23 percent.  So we'll be pretty much below the average, and we'll be able to compete.

And despite all of that, and despite -- before we even get this massive injection -- we have a stock market that has hit record highs 81 times since our election victory -- 81 times.  It's at a new high right now.  

Unemployment is at a 17-year low.  Very shortly it's going to be at a 19-year low.  We think the numbers are going to continue to go down.  And we're also getting into the pool of the 100 million people that are not working.  That pool is now coming back.  As you know, that's not considered in the low employment numbers, which means we have a lot of people that want to get to work, and that will be working.

Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.  We've created nearly 2 million jobs.  Think of that -- 2 million jobs since Election Day.  That's based on consumer confidence.  That's based on enthusiasm.  Every enthusiasm poll, especially for business enthusiasm and job enthusiasm, is at an all-time high.  

That's why companies are coming back into our country.  They're opening up new plants.  Most of you have written about -- Toyota came back in.  We have many car companies coming back in.  They're going to Michigan, they're going to Ohio, they're going to the states where they want to be.  They can go anywhere they want -- South Carolina, North Carolina.  But they're going all over our country.  They're coming back in.  We had many years where we had no new plants; we only had closures.  Now we have openings, and that means a lot of jobs.

But to get it going the way I really want, where we have GDP getting up to 4, 5, and even 6 percent -- because I think that's possible.  If you look back in your notes, you'll say when I said 4 percent, people said that would be years.  Well, it's turned out that I'm right because without the hurricanes this last quarter, we would have hit 4 percent.  At 3.3 percent, which was adjusted previously -- this is far beyond what anybody thought it would be at.  So we're at 3.3 percent GDP.  I see no reason why we don't go to 4, 5, and even 6 percent.  And I don't want to go beyond that because then it will be criticized if we don't hit it.  

But every time we go up one point, just so you understand, one point means $2.5 trillion, means 10 million jobs.  So one point in GDP is an incredible statement.  $2.5 trillion for each point, 10 million jobs for each point.  And I think we're going to be going up a lot of points. 

So in order to really keep it going the way I want and the way we all want around this table, we have to get -- pass our taxes.  I call it "the mixer".  It's in conference right now, but I call it "the mixer".  I think when it comes out, it's going to be a beautiful mix.  

There are things that I like better in the Senate bill; there are things that I like better in the House bill.  I think when they come out, we'll have some new additions and we'll have the best of each.  I think we're going to have a fantastic tax bill. 

There are very, very few people that aren't benefitting by it.  But there's that tiny little sliver and we're going to try to take care of even that very small group of people that just through circumstances maybe don't get the full benefit of what we're doing.  But the middle class gets a tremendous benefit.  And business, which is jobs, gets a tremendous benefit.  

We'll be giving the Cabinet, today, an update on national security and strategy.  We'll also receive briefings on the latest developments in the tax cut negotiations.  And Administrator McMahon, who's done a fantastic job at Small Business Administration -- where's Linda?  Linda did a really fantastic job -- is helping small businesses in record numbers.  And they've needed help, really, because of the hurricanes.  The hurricanes were devastating. 

As I said, GDP -- if we didn't have the hurricanes we would have hit just about 4 [percent] this last -- but we had -- as you probably know, and probably everybody remembers, we had five really bad ones.  And we have a lot of businesses that have been severely hurt and Linda McMahon has done an incredible job in helping those businesses out through the Small Business.  So thank you very much, Linda.   

So we're in a great period in this country because jobs are coming back, unemployment is low, business has never been stronger.  But we have a military that we have to build.  I want to thank General Mattis for doing such a great job with respect to ISIS.  He's knocked the hell out of them.  Of course I've made it possible with what I've let you do, I think.  (Laughter.)  Wouldn't you say?  But he has done a fantastic job.  

He and the military have done a fantastic job with ISIS.  They're essentially knocked out of Syria, knocked out of Iraq.  That's the good news.  The bad news -- they go all over the place.  And I'll tell you where we don’t want them:  We don’t want them here.  We don’t want them in our country.  Tell them to stay wherever the hell they are.  We don’t want them coming back into our country.  They do go back into some countries.  We don’t want them going into our country.  So we're watching that closely.

So I'd like to wish everyone a really great season.  I'd like to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy New Year.  

And I will tell you that we have a big announcement coming up at one o'clock.  Perhaps a couple of you will be there; maybe not.  But it's a big announcement.  It's an announcement concerning Israel and the Palestinians and the Middle East.  And I think it's long overdue.  Many Presidents have said they want to do something, and they didn’t do it.  Whether it's through courage or they changed their mind, I can't tell you.  But a lot of people have said we have to do something, and they didn’t do it.  So we'll be talking about that something at one o'clock, and I look forward to seeing you then.

Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Q    Mr. President, what will the decision do?  How will it help the peace process, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  We'll talk about it in a little while.  

Q    Are we going to have a shutdown, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  It could happen.  The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country.  They are looking at shutting down.  They want to have illegal immigrants; in many cases, people that we don’t want in our country.  They want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime.  We don’t want to have that.  We want to have a great, beautiful crime-free country.  And we want people coming into our country, but we want them to come on our basis.  And that's why we're being so careful with our process and our screening. 

And, as you know, we had a tremendous victory the other day in the Supreme Court with the ban.  It got quite a bit of attention.  Probably not as much of attention as it deserved.  But we had tremendous -- that was a tremendous victory for this country.  Not a victory for me; it was a victory for our country.

So the Democrats maybe will want to shut down the country because they want people flowing into our country.  And I want people coming into our country, but I want to vet those people, and I want to vet them very carefully.  Because we don’t want to have radical Islamic terrorism in this country, and we don’t want to have crime in this country.

If you look at what just happened in San Francisco, that was a disgrace.  And, as you know, the federal government just got involved and did a great thing, because they're going to take that at least to the next step.  They did a great thing by getting involved.

So thank you very much.  I'll see you all at one o'clock.

END            11:50 A.M. EST

President Donald J. Trump's Proclamation on Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 19:34

“My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” – President Donald J. Trump

RECOGNIZING JERUSALEM: President Donald J. Trump is following through on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and has instructed the State Department to begin to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

  • Today, December 6, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem, the ancient capital of the Jewish people, as the capital of the State of Israel. 
    • In taking this action, President Trump fulfilled a major campaign promise of his and many previous Presidential candidates.
  • The Trump Administration is fully coordinated in supporting this historic action by the President, and has engaged broadly with both our Congressional and international partners on this issue. 
    • President Trump’s action enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress, including as expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995.  This Act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
  • President Trump has instructed the State Department to develop a plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • Departments and Agencies have implemented a robust security plan to ensure the safety of our citizens and assets in the region.

STATUS OF JERUSALEM: President Trump recognizes that specific boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem is highly sensitive and subject to final status negotiations. 

  • President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly-sensitive issue, but he does not think the peace process is aided by ignoring the simple truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, supreme court, President, and Prime Minister.
  • President Trump recognizes that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.
  • President Trump reaffirms United States support for the status quo at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif.

COMMITTED TO THE PEACE PROCESS: President Trump is committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • President Trump remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and he is optimistic that peace can be achieved.
  • Delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has not helped achieve peace over the past two decades.  
  • President Trump is prepared to support a two-state solution to the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians, if agreed to by the parties.

WSJ: "The Right Move on Monuments"

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:15

“The Trump Administration’s order not only ends federal overreach but restores power to local people. That’s a monumental and welcome change.”

The Right Move on Monuments

Editorial

The Wall Street Journal

December 5, 2017

President Trump announced Monday that he will dramatically reduce the acreage of two national monuments. The order ends excessive federal control of Utah land, allowing residents to protect their own territory and conserve their cultural relics.

Without public comment, the federal government unilaterally seized control of more than 3.2 million acres of southeastern Utah that together constitute the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments. Residents and their elected representatives had minimal influence on the draconian land-use restrictions imposed by Washington bureaucrats.

Last spring Mr. Trump ordered a review of 27 supersized monuments. The Interior Department made recommendations only after accepting formal public comment. Mr. Trump announced Monday that he would shrink Bears Ears by about 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly 46%.

Most of the two million newly undesignated acres are still public lands, subject to rigorous federal and state protections. The Trump Administration increased Native American representation on the advisory Bears Ears Commission.

In other words, the Trump Administration’s order not only ends federal overreach but restores power to local people. That’s a monumental and welcome change.

Read the full editorial here.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 12/5/2017, #37

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 23:16

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:18 P.M. EST

MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. As you saw, the President just wrapped up a meeting in the Oval Office with four families from different parts of the country. They are veterans, small-business owners, workers, moms, dads, and students. And they all had one thing in common: The President's plan to cut taxes and reform our broken tax code will help them thrive and build a better life and a better future for themselves and their children.

This event was an important reminder that while Washington focuses on the politics of the day, the President is focused on the forgotten men and women around our nation. These are the families who deserve a tax cut for Christmas, and that's exactly what we're going to deliver.

Looking ahead, the President will visit Mississippi on Saturday, where they are celebrating the state’s bicentennial, 200 years of statehood. To mark the occasion, the President will participate in the grand openings of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Tomorrow, First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence will travel to Texas to continue their efforts in assisting those affected by this year’s devastating hurricane season. They will participate in a meet-and-great with first responders in Corpus Christi and then travel to Rockport to meet with a family whose home was destroyed in the hurricane.

Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence will also visit a local elementary school to speak with faculty and students about the hurricane. And their last stop will be at a local food bank to meet with volunteers and help sort boxes for donations.

Finally, I know there have been a lot of questions surrounding the President’s decision on Jerusalem. Tomorrow, the President will deliver remarks regarding this action.

At 5:30 this evening, senior administration officials will hold a background briefing here to explain the President’s decision.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Major.

Q Sarah, one issue that you may have seen this morning: Is the White House, or the President, at any level, considering creating a global or regional spy network that would circumvent the U.S. intelligence apparatus and serve the President outside of the normal and legally defined intelligence-gathering mechanisms?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any plans for something of that definition or anything similar to that at this time.

Q The President would be opposed to that?

MS. SANDERS: I haven’t had that conversation with him, but I'm not aware of any plans for anything like that moving forward.

Q Do you know if any senior official has been briefed on that idea, or has it been discussed at any level in this administration?

MS. SANDERS: I haven’t done a full survey of every member of the administration, but I can tell you, as of right now, that's not something that's currently being planned, and not something that I'm aware is moving forward in any capacity.

Q Is it possible --

MS. SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to answer every hypothetical for every single member. Did some random person off the street come in and say something? I don’t know, Major.

Q No, but is it possible it's something the President might consider?

MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry?

Q Is it something the President might consider?

MS. SANDERS: Again, I haven’t asked him, but it's not something that's currently in the works.

John.

Q World leaders have spoken out, Sarah, in the last 24 hours about the possible move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas says that it would have great consequences for peace and stability in the region. King Abdullah said much the same thing. Saudi Arabia, at least publicly, saying the same thing; though, I'm told privately, they're saying something different than that. French President Macron said that he thought it was a bad idea.

In the face of all of that, would the President ignore that advice from world leaders and go ahead and make the move at this time?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not going to get ahead of the President's remarks that he'll make tomorrow. He did speak with a number of leaders this morning, and he's going to continue to have conversations with relevant stakeholders. But, ultimately, he'll make what he feels is the best decision for the United States.

Q Is it safe to say, other than Israel, which thinks that this move is 22 years overdue, that all of the feedback that he's been getting from world leaders is overwhelmingly negative about this idea?

MS. SANDERS: No. Again, he spoke with five leaders. That's hardly indicative of everybody across the globe. But certainly he's going to continue to have conversations with different leaders from across the world, and we'll keep you posted as those calls take place, and we'll let you know when the President has made a decision.

Cecilia.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Yesterday, the President said that he felt very badly for General Flynn. Would he consider pardoning him?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware that that has come up or any process or decision on that front.

Q So you haven't talked to him about it or he said he wouldn’t consider it?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't asked the President whether or not he would do that.

Q You have not --

MS. SANDERS: I think before we start discussing the pardons for individuals, we should see what happens in specific cases, too.

Q So is it fair to say that it's on the table?

MS. SANDERS: No. I just said I haven't had the conversation with him because I don't feel that it's necessary until, you know, you get further down the road and determine whether or not that's even something needed.

Steve.

Q Back on the embassy. Has the President made up his mind about this, or is the decision still in flux a bit?

MS. SANDERS: The President, I would say, is pretty solid in his thinking at this point.

April.

Q Sarah, a couple questions. One, there are comments from people from the NAACP, black ministers, who plan on protesting and boycotting this weekend for the President's visit to the Civil Rights Museum. What say you?

MS. SANDERS: I think that would be, honestly, very sad. I think this is something that should bring the country together to celebrate the opening of this museum and highlighting Civil Rights Movement and the progress that we've made. And would I hope that those individuals would join in that celebration instead of protesting it. However, they have every right to protest it.

Q They feel it's an insult that he's coming as we've had issues of Charlottesville, the back and forth -- the President couldn't get his statement straight on Charlottesville.

MS. SANDERS: I think he got his statement very clear when he condemned all forms of racism, bigotry, and violence. There's no gray area there, and I think he made it very clear what his position is.

Jordan.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Did the President know that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI at the time that he fired him in February?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President knew that he lied to the Vice President, and that was the reason for his firing.

Q I have a follow-up. So your predecessor said on June 6th, "…is the President of the United States, so they're considered official statements by the President of the United States in regards to his tweets." Does that still -- does that standard still apply for the President's tweets?

MS. SANDERS: It does. And I know that you're probably referencing the tweet that was written by the President's attorney, and he since clarified that, and I would refer you back to the attorney's clarification on that.

Matthew.

MS. SANDERS: Thanks, Sarah. The White House originally said that if the accusations against Roy Moore were true, then Moore should step aside. I'm wondering how the President reached the conclusion that all of Moore's accusers -- including those who have put forward evidence -- are lying.

MS. SANDERS: Didn't say they were lying. The President's position hasn't changed; still finds those concerning. But as we've also said, the President feels that he would rather have a person that supports his agenda versus somebody who opposes his agenda every step of the way. And until the rest of that process plays out, you have a choice between two individuals, and the President has chosen to support Moore.

Q Even if that person who would support his agenda has done what Roy Moore's accusers have said he's done?

MS. SANDERS: Again, we've said that the allegations are concerning, and, if true, he should step aside. But we don’t have a way to validate that, and that's something for the people of Alabama to decide, which we've also said, and we maintain that. And ultimately, it will come down to the people of Alabama to make that decision.

David.

Q Sarah, can you tell me a little bit about the process and timing as how the President got to the potential Jerusalem announcement tomorrow? Do you have somewhat of a backstory on that to the degree that you can at this point?

MS. SANDERS: I can tell you that it was a very thoughtful interagency process. In terms of specifics, that's something that will be addressed in greater detail later this evening at the background briefing and then further by the President in his remarks tomorrow.

Q And just a quick follow-up. An evangelical's role in this, how crucial is that being in terms of the Faith Advisory Council?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President wanted to make the decision that was the best decision for the United States. And I'm not going to get ahead of anything beyond the events later today and tomorrow.

John.

Q Thanks a lot, Sarah. I have a question for you about the special counsel's office. Does the President believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or anybody on his staff, is biased in any way against the President?

MS. SANDERS: I think we've seen some reports that certainly caused a great deal of concern, and we hope that those are fully looked at and investigated.

Q Just a follow-up for you, if I may, Sarah. I think it was about five or six weeks ago that you indicated from that podium, on a few occasions, that you believe and the White House believes that Mr. Mueller's investigation will be wrapping up shortly.

Since that time, we've seen that a very high-level aide to the President -- former aide to the President -- former national security advisor has entered a plea deal with the special counsel's office. Do you still believe that this investigation is wrapping up soon?

MS. SANDERS: We do. And I'd refer you to the comments that were made by Ty Cobb, where he indicated as such, over the last few days.

Blake.

Q Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you two questions on so-called "red lines." If Robert Mueller ends up looking into the President's finances, or if he has already looked into the President's finances, does the President, does this White House believe that is a red line? And, if so, why?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think it's important to note -- and hopefully you guys have seen the statement that Jay Sekulow, a member of the President's legal team, has put out within the last hour -- that they confirmed that the news reports that the special counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the President are completely false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We've confirmed this with the bank and other sources.

I think that this is another example of the media going too far, too fast. And we don't see it going in that direction.

Q Let me ask you -- a second red line. This White House has consistently said there are two red lines on tax reform -- middle class relief and then a 20 percent corporate rate. But the President, over the weekend, seemed to suggest that he would be amenable for a corporate rate up to 22 percent. Why would he be willing to step over his own red line on that issue?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President said just, I guess, maybe a couple of hours ago, that we're firm and we feel strongly about the 20 percent. And we're very excited about the progress we've made on that front, and think that we'll get there on both sides, in the House and the Senate.

Michael.

Q So two quick things. One, does the President believe, as the lawyer from the solicitor general's office said at the court today, that a baker could put a sign in his window saying "We don't bake cakes for gay weddings" and that that would be legal?

MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry, could you say the first part of that question again? My cough kind of drowned you out.

Q Yeah, so the solicitor general -- the lawyer from the solicitor general's office for the administration said today in court, at the Supreme Court, that it would be legal, it would be possible for a baker to put a sign in his window saying, "We don't bake cakes for gay weddings." Does the President agree that that would be okay?

MS. SANDERS: The President certainly supports religious liberty. And that's something that he talked about during the campaign and since upheld since taking office.

Q And that would be, that would --

MS. SANDERS: I believe that would include that.

Q And one other question just on Russia, but not one that you would expect. What does the President think of the decision to ban Russian athletes from the Olympics in 2018?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't had the ability to speak with him directly about that decision since it was made here earlier today. But I'll certainly be happy to talk to him and follow up with you on that.

Catherine.

Q Sarah, House Republican leaders had to push back a vote on a short-term budget bill this week to avert a shutdown. Does the White House think that a shutdown is a possibility?

MS. SANDERS: You know, it's always a possibility, but it's certainly not what we hope for. And we have both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer coming later this week. And the President hopes to be able to have conversations with them to make sure that doesn't happen.

Q And one follow-up. Then, the President doesn't think that it would be politically advantageous?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I said that we don’t -- that's not what we would like to see happen, and we're going to have meetings and try to make sure that it doesn't.

Hallie.

Q Two quick ones for you. And just a statement of fact: When did the President know that Mike Flynn lied to the FBI?

MS. SANDERS: As I said earlier, I referred you back to John Dowd's clarification, and I would --

Q I'm asking for a date. I'm asking for a date. When did he find out? Was it when the announcement was made Friday? Was it prior to that?

MS. SANDERS: Again, I'm not aware of those specifics, but I would refer you to John Dowd for that specific question.

Q Would you mind following up with the President since Dowd has been unresponsive to that?

MS. SANDERS: I would actually refer you to John Dowd on that specific question. Since it's a legal matter, I'm not allowed to weigh in to it.

Q No problem. A point to you, you have weighed in on other special counsel matters before. It's just a statement of fact of when, during the administration, what day the President discovered this lie issue.

MS. SANDERS: And I'm telling you, as a statement of fact, that you should contact John Dowd. Doesn't seem that hard.

Q My second question is on Roy Moore, Sarah. You said, just a minute ago, that the President would want somebody in the Senate who supports his agenda versus one who does not. And I just want to clarify here that, is it the White House's position then -- sort of formally here -- that it is worse to have a Democrat in that Senate seat than somebody who is accused of sexually abusing a teen girl?

MS. SANDERS: Look, as I said, we find the allegations to be troubling.

Q Then why did the President endorse?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think that those are different things in terms of we aren't going to be the ones to determine that process. That's for the people of Alabama to determine what those things come down on. He does want people that support his agenda. He's not going to, obviously, support a Democrat. And I think, if that's our standard, then we need to look at a number of members of Congress that have had allegations brought against them that are still in office.

Steven.

Q Thanks, Sarah. I do want to nail something down with respect to John Dowd and what he's been telling us in the last couple of days. He's argued that the President cannot be charged with obstruction of justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer in the country. That's his opinion. Does the White House share that opinion? Has the White House Counsel's Office looked into this question? Does it share that perspective?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth on legal theories. But I can tell you, as the President has said, there's no collusion, there's no obstruction, and that we're confident that the facts will show that when this is wrapped up.

Q What do you make of the whole notion of obstruction of justice, though? It's been discussed in the last couple of days. A lot of people have been talking about it. What do you think about it?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not an attorney. And as far as I know, only Jon Decker in the room is. (Laughter.) And so if you want to ask him legal questions, you certainly can. I don't know if he'll answer them. But that's as far as I'm going to go on that.

Jim.

Q I'm not an attorney either. Let me ask you about --

MS. SANDERS: I know, that's why I didn't call you out.

Q Thank you, I appreciate that. This decision on Jerusalem -- is the President concerned that there could a violence as a result of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Has that been looked at by this White House?

MS. SANDERS: A number of things have been looked at that have been weighed into the President's decision. But as I said a few minutes ago, I'm not going to get ahead of his remarks. And we'll be certainly happy to address those at a later time.

Q Following up on Roy Moore, just very quickly -- other folks got a couple of questions -- isn't there a moral decision that you're making here? And I’m sure you've heard this talked about in the news the last couple of days as the President has decided to endorse Roy Moore. This is somebody who has been accused of child abuse, of molesting children. How can that vote in the Senate be that important that you would take a gamble on somebody who has been accused of molesting kids, of harming somebody who's underage?

MS. SANDERS: As I've said, that's something for the people of Alabama to decide. And that's up for them --

Q Is that something the President has wrestled with in any way? Has he wrestled with that question?

MS. SANDERS: As I've said, we find the allegations very troubling. And, again, this is up to the people of Alabama to make that decision. I'm not a voter in Alabama and can't make that decision.

Brian.

Q Sarah, thank you. The President said that the tax plan will hurt him individually. Will the President release his taxes to prove that?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any plan to do that, but if it changes, I'll certainly let you know.

Q Why not? I mean, he can release it -- even if it's under audit, he could release his tax returns if he wanted.

MS. SANDERS: As he said, as long as it's under audit, he's not going to do that. And I'm not aware of any plans to change that policy at this time.

John.

Q Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. A matter of procedure on the Roy Moore endorsement. Did the President have any conversations with Chairman McDaniel of the RNC after he made his position known? Or did he talk to state Chairman Lathan in Alabama or any of the players involved in the Republican National Committee before they decided to get back in the race and support Roy Moore?

MS. SANDERS: I know there have been conversations between administration officials and the RNC, and supported that move. But, legally, I can't -- because of the Hatch Act -- go much further beyond that.

Q You can't say who the officials are?

MS. SANDERS: I know that there were multiple conversations. I'm not aware if the President spoke specifically with the chairwoman. I'd have to check on that and let you know. But I do know the administration supported the RNC's decision. However, I can't go any further than that at this time.

Hunter.

Q Thank you, Sarah. Given the President's endorsement, does he agree with Roy Moore that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't asked him about a past statement from Roy Moore.

Q But, I mean, you're saying that their agendas are kind of in lockstep. Does that go both ways?

MS. SANDERS: I'm saying he supports the President's agenda. The President doesn't necessarily support everything of Moore's agenda.

Eamon.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Does the President expect Deutsche Bank or any financial institutions to cooperate with requests for documents from U.S. law enforcement if they get them?

MS. SANDERS: As I said a few minutes ago, Jay Sekulow, a member of the President's legal team, put out that --

Q What's the President's message to the financial institutions themselves? If they get a request, should they comply with that?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to get into hypothetical situations and try to determine and project everything that could happen. We know that it hasn't happened up until this point and that the reports out were totally false.

And, again, the media got ahead of their skis a little bit on pushing and driving that story that wasn't true.

Brian.

Q Just to follow up on Roy Moore a bit. Are you saying that -- you're saying let the people decide, but this administration has endorsed Roy Moore. Why endorse him if you want the people to decide? You're influencing the decision by endorsing him. And secondly, are you saying that no matter who runs as a member of the GOP, it's okay as long as you are in lockstep with the President and vote the way he wants?

MS. SANDERS: Once again, I'm not going to get into every person that could or couldn't run for office down the line.

Q For this person. This person.

MS. SANDERS: Hold on. I'm going to finish answering the question, if you allow me to. But I'm not going to address -- you asked -- the end of your question was, every person that runs for office. One, I'm not going to weigh in, because I don't know who may run for office.

But what I can say, the President made that decision, and he decided that it was better to have somebody that supports his agenda than a Democrat that doesn't. Again, it's still up to the people of Alabama to decide. They're ultimately the only ones that can vote in that election. We'll see what happens.

Last question. Dave.

Q Thanks, Sarah. The administration reported today that illegal border crossings have dropped to a 45-year low. Does that lessen the urgency, as we're getting down to spending decisions here, about whether to go forward with building the wall in this budget?

MS. SANDERS: I think it shows, probably, the effectiveness of the Trump presidency and another success story as we wrap up the year and certainly something that could be looked at.

But I think the need for the border wall and border security, as well as responsible immigration reform, still stands. And we still need to look at all the ways that we can protect our national security, and we still feel strongly that that's one of them.

Thanks so much, guys.

END

 

3:39 P.M. EST

Remarks by President Trump at Taxpayer Family Event

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:32

Oval Office

2:12 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. We have four great families -- middle class. I guess at a certain point, you're going to be making so much money you don't really -- not going to know what to do with it, perhaps -- I hope -- Brian.

we have four terrific families. Some of them have had difficulty. Taxes are too high. Frankly, their healthcare is terrible. The healthcare plan is terrible -- Obamacare. And that will be next. We're a long way toward getting rid of that and getting something very good and very much more affordable -- very big problem.

But for the taxes: They want to see tax cuts. They want to see jobs. They want to have choice. You know, in education we talk about choice. Well, we want choice in jobs also. So you can look for five jobs or six jobs, not just take one because that's all you could get. And that's happening more and more.

have companies moving back into our country. We're doing fantastic -- look at the stock market. Hit another all-time high. I think I heard today was 81 times -- I was saying 60, yesterday -- it's 81 times since the election that we hit a record on the stock market. So we're very proud of that. And that's because of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm levels for business and for the economy are the highest they've been.

So I just want to thank all of you for being here. You're in the Oval Office, and someday you might be President, you never know. (Laughter.) That's a good-looking President. (Laughter.)

But it's an honor to have you all, and thank you very much. And if you'd like to say something, perhaps we'll start with you.

MR. STEORTS: Sure. First, Mr. President, I just want to say it's an honor to be here for our family and I. We come from a -- you know, we're a small military family. I spent 15 years in the military, and I launched the company two years ago. And we're a veteran-owned, operated company -- veteran company.

And, you know, anything that's less complex, with lower rates -- I can't tell you what page 391 of a 500-page tax document says. But what I can tell you is, those funds we can reinvest into our people and into our company, which will enable our mission to continue to hire veterans and to continue to manufacture in America. So that's greatly beneficial to us.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Brian. That's very nice. I appreciate it. That's really good.

Well, we're going to get the rates down much lower, and many things are happening. But we're getting those rates way down, way down.

And that's for companies also. We're the highest-taxed industrialized country in the world. Of the major countries, we're the highest taxed, period. And we're bringing that rate down from 35 percent -- which is the highest -- down to 20 percent -- which is among the lower. It's not the lowest, but it's among the lower.

And we'll compete much better with China, where they have a 15-percent rate, and with other countries. We're going to compete much better and it's going to mean a lot more jobs. And a lot of companies are pouring in already, just on the thought of it.

So we're in conference right now, and -- all Republican votes. And we're going to do a -- I call it the "massive tax cut." But it really is tax cuts and tax reforms. Because part of it is simplification, as you said.

MR. STEORTS: Thank you. And I wanted to offer you this. We make everything -- like, at the time when I launched the company, we couldn't find a wooden American flag made in America. We could only find one from China, and that upset me.

THE PRESIDENT: It upsets me too.

MR. STEORTS: So I started woodworking the next day. And when I retired, I launched the company Flags of Valor. And this is made from all of our combat veterans right down the road here in Ashburn, Virginia. And we want to present this to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Let me see that. Wow, that's beautiful. Thank you. I know where I'm going to put that. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.

Would you like to say something?

MR. BEARDSLEY: Yeah, Mr. President, thank you very much again. And Merry Christmas, by the way. Thanks for having the families come here. Coming out here to talk about tax reform means a lot to us. I'm a veteran also -- a Green Beret with over 22 years of military service -- a family man, and a small-business owner. We're in textiles, and we celebrate the stories that made this country the greatest country in the world. We love America.

It means a lot to us in seeing the reform. The resurgence in the economy will allow those companies to onshore their business. Like Ryan said, too many things are done offshore.

So having that tax reform, putting the energy back in the consumer is where it belongs. The American enterprise, or the entrepreneur -- those are the ones who built this country. And everything that you do to make taxes easier for us informs and strengthens the rest of America. And we're proud to be part of that this morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. That's really well-stated. We're also working on trade deals. We've had people sitting in this position that have made some of the worst deals I've ever seen in trade. And we're going to be fixing them. We are fixing them. We're negotiating many of them right now. But we're fixing them, and they'll be much more fair to the United States because the United States has not been treated well with our trade deals. We have some very, very bad deals. They're good for everyone but us. And that's changing rapidly, and I know you see that too. Well, you see that with the enthusiasm, you see that with the jobs coming back. So we're getting it all fixed.

Thank you very much.

MR. BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

Yes.

MS. UNRUH: Thank you so much for allowing our families to come and share our thoughts with you today. I'm from North Dakota. I'm a state senator there, and I just wanted to let you know, North Dakotans are known for being hard workers.

THE PRESIDENT: It's true.

MS. UNRUH: And we don't want a handout, we just want relief. We want tax relief. And that is what this plan will give us. Between the state and local tax deduction elimination, we've -- I work very hard as state senator to make sure that our tax burden at the local level is a low one. And so that will level the playing field. We're really excited about that.

I also am a coal miner -- a proud one. I'm an environmental manager for North American Coal. And we are really excited about the corporate-tax reduction. It will allow us to invest more of our company's dollars in domestic energy production, something that we think is very valuable.

Also, the House version of the bill includes an immediate reduction of the renewable wind energy production tax credit. That's also something important to us. The production tax credit has destroyed the energy market, especially in the Midwest. We don't have a lot of electricity produced from natural gas in North Dakota. So wind production has really eroded our state tax base and replaced coal production when it comes to electricity production.

So we're excited about that provision in the House as well. And we're also very thankful for all the regulatory reform we've seen come from your office. We would hope there's more, and look forward to working with you on that. And I think regulatory reform, coupled with tax reform, is exactly what we need to help make America great again.

And, on that note, we have some caps that we've been passing around -- (laughter) -- and I'd be happy if you would take one.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I still -- we've done that. If you look at what's happened in West Virginia and so many different places, we're sending clean coal. We're sending it out to different places -- China. A lot of coal ordered in China right now. So a lot of things are changing, and they're changing very rapidly.

And West Virginia, actually -- different from your state, but your state is doing very well -- but West Virginia was the second largest increase, percentage-wise, in the country, after Texas on GDP. And, you know, people say, wow, how did that happen? But they're starting to do well in West Virginia, and it's a great state. And they're having a lot of problems. And now, think of that, percentage-wise, the second biggest bump.

That's pretty good in this nation. You wouldn't have believed it, but they're doing great. We're very proud of West Virginia. So, good, thank you very much. That's a very interesting hat. (Laughter.)

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. President, thank you so much for being here. We bring you greetings from the great state of Indiana where you took one of our finest --

THE PRESIDENT: That's true. That's true.

MR. WILLIAMS: We appreciate that. I work in technology for a tech firm, and we've seen so many jobs that have left and went overseas, and we've seen some of the best talent in the world that's left.

So this tax reform is a huge win for our company. It's significant. It's going to allow us once again to get that top-tier talent; keep them here in the United States working, number one. And number two, we're going to be able to give them, you know, the ability to be able to take that hard-earned income and reinvest it right back into our economy -- it's here to make America great again. So we thank you so much for that opportunity.

THE PRESIDENT: That is so good. Thank you. It's a great state. It's a great, great state too. We appreciate it.

Well, thank you all very much. We appreciate it. And these are great families that are doing well and now they're doing much better, and maybe much better than ever before. A lot of changes have taken place over the last 10 months, and we're very happy to have all of you here.

But seeing what we've been able to do for the country in a short period of time -- because this is nothing compared to what it will be over a period of years. It's all happening, and it's happening a lot faster than anybody projected.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

END

 

2:21 P.M. EST

First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence to Visit Texas for Continued Hurricane Relief

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:22

First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence will travel to Texas tomorrow, December 6, to continue their efforts in assisting those affected by this year’s devastating hurricane season.

Upon arrival to Corpus Christi, the two will participate in a meet-and-greet with first responders who are part of the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence will then travel to Rockport, Texas to meet with a family whose home was destroyed in the hurricane, and tour the home’s remains. They will also see the family’s new Manufactured Housing Unit, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will serve as the family’s temporary residence until they can move into a new, rebuilt home.

Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence will also visit a local elementary school, touring classrooms and speaking with faculty and students about the hurricane. The two women will conclude their day in Texas with a stop at a local food bank to meet with volunteers and help sort boxes of donations.

“The effects of the hurricane season are still being felt throughout southern portions of the United States and in Puerto Rico, and residents still need our help,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “While I am heartened by the strength and resilience of those impacted by the storms, I will continue doing all that I can to lend a voice and shine a spotlight on those who need assistance to rebuild and start new family traditions. As Christmas and the New Year approach, I encourage people to lend their time volunteering or providing financial support to those still reeling from the hurricanes.”

“Our hearts are encouraged by the people of Texas and their continued enthusiasm to help each other pick up the pieces and rebuild after Hurricane Harvey,” said Mrs. Karen Pence. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to accompany the First Lady in Texas and to visit with families and their children in the communities most impacted by the storm. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Texas.”

Readout of President Donald J. Trump's Calls with Leaders in the Middle East

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:19

President Donald J. Trump spoke separately today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt, and His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. The President reaffirmed his commitment to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the importance of supporting those talks. He underscored the importance of bilateral cooperation with each partner to advance peace efforts throughout the region. The leaders also discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem.

Remarks by President Trump at Lunch with Republican Members of the Senate

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 20:12

Roosevelt Room

12:33 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate everybody coming in.

We had some very late nights getting the tax-cut bill to conference. Last was very smooth, and I think we're going to make it so that it comes out very beautifully. I call it "the mixer." It's a conference where everyone gets together and they pick all the good things and get rid of the things they don't like.

But it's a fantastic bill for the middle class. It's a fantastic bill for jobs and for companies wanting to bring back massive amounts of money into our country. It's really -- I view it more than anything else, is it's a tremendous bill for jobs and for the middle class.

And I think people see that, and they're seeing it more and more. And the more they learn about it, the more popular it becomes. And I think the end result will be even better. We had a choice -- we could have gone directly for a vote, and we decided, though, let's put it into the conference and let's come out with something where everything is perfecto. And that's what we're going to do.

This group of wonderful Republican senators is here to discuss the tax bill -- very important. And we're also going to be talking about trade and NAFTA -- what's going on with the NAFTA negotiations. We have tremendous losses with Mexico and losses with Canada, and covered by NAFTA. Last year, we lost approximately $71 billion in trade deficit; we have a trade deficit with Mexico of $71 billion. With Canada, it was about $17 billion.

We have trade deficits with everybody. Virtually every country in the world we have trade deficits with. And that's going to be changing -- it's already changing -- but it's going to be changing fast. We went to China; we brought back over $300 billion worth of contracts from Asia. It was a very successful trip.

But now we're going to look at NAFTA very seriously. We have Bob Lighthizer here, we have Gary Cohn, and we're already starting the negotiation. Not easy to have an election coming up, so we'll see how that plays. But it's going to be very successful.

So we're going to be talking about trade, we'll be talking about healthcare, we'll be talking about other subjects. The taxes, we're so thrilled about and so popular. And I think something is going to be coming out of conference pretty quickly, as opposed to long term. I think it's going to go pretty quickly. We're all on the same page. There's a great spirit in the Republican Party like I've never seen before -- like a lot of people have said they've never seen before. They've never seen anything like this, the unity.

So I think a lot of very good things are going to happen and it's going to happen very fast. I want to thank you all for being here. And let's have a great lunch, and let's talk about trade. And let's make great trade deals instead of the horrible trade deals that we all got stuck with.

Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.

Q Mr. President, why did you decide to formally endorse Roy Moore?

THE PRESIDENT: I think he's going to do very well. We don't want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me. We want strong borders, we want stopping crime. We want to have the things that we represent, and we certainly don't want a liberal Democrat that's controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer. We don't want to have that for Alabama.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

END

 

12:36 P.M. EST

Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of State

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 17:36

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under Sections 506(a)(2)(A) and 652 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, subject to the fulfillment of the requirements of section 652 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (Public Law 87-195)(the "Act"), and in order to provide assistance to Iraq, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State:

(a) the authority under section 506(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the Act to direct the drawdown, for the purposes and under the authorities of Chapter 9 of part I of the Act, of up to a total of $22 million in articles and services from the inventory and resources of any agency of the United States Government and military education and training from the Department of Defense;

(b) the authority to make the determination required under section 506(a)(2)(A) of the Act to direct such drawdown; and

(c) the authority under section 652 of the Act to make, before any such drawdown, the required notifications to the Congress.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

Summer 2018 White House Internship Program

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 17:33

The Summer 2018 White House Internship Program application is now open.

The application portal will remain open until 11:59PM EST on January 12, 2018. Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

The Summer 2018 White House Internship Program term runs from May 30 to August 10, 2018. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the internship program start date, and must be able to commit to the full internship term to be eligible. Additionally, applicants must be U.S. citizens and meet at least one of the following criteria to apply:

- Are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution).

- Have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution) no more than two years before the internship program start date.

- Are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty—for any length of time—in the two years preceding the internship program start date.

The White House Internship Program is highly competitive. Applicants are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to public service, leadership in the community, and commitment to the Trump Administration. Questions about the White House Internship Program application can be directed to intern_application@who.eop.gov. More information, including details about placement in the White House Internship Program and frequently asked questions can be found on the White House website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/internships.

Ethan Lane: "Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments"

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 17:28

“Every White House — especially over the last 30 years or so, has worked to expand the power of the Executive Branch. But today’s action seems more likely to restrict that power, giving it back to locals and their representatives in government.”

Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments

By Ethan Lane

The Hill

December 4, 2017

Every White House — especially over the last 30 years or so, has worked to expand the power of the Executive Branch. But today’s action seems more likely to restrict that power, giving it back to locals and their representatives in government.

When President Obama declared Bears Ears a national monument in the waning days of his administration, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. National monuments are a lot like national parks, but they differ in one very important aspect — the president can create a national monument with nothing more than the stroke of a pen. A small handful of very loud, very aggressive environmental groups and tribal interests had long been lobbying for just this designation, and they were thrilled at the breathtaking scope of the designation — more than 1.3 million acres.

Locals, though, weren’t so thrilled. Elected officials from Gov. Gary Herbert to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop — who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources — had been working for years to broker an agreement that would protect and preserve the culturally significant areas while allowing much-needed access and use to locals who depend on the land for their livelihoods and their way to life.

Then, with nearly no notice and without so much as a nod toward soliciting input, the Obama administration intervened and created a political maelstrom. With nothing more than a proclamation, all that work to build consensus and foster cooperation found itself swept into the dustbin of history. The narrative became entirely political.

With today’s pronouncement, the current administration made a strong statement — although the law may give presidents the right to unilaterally make such decisions without so much as consulting those who have a stake in them, maybe presidents ought to be more judicious with that power.

Obviously, the people who depend on public lands — which make up nearly 90 percent of some of Utah’s counties — are better off today than they were before this move.

To be sure, today’s announcement eases the burdens placed on local ranchers and their communities.

Read the full op-ed here.

WTAS: The President's Speech in Salt Lake City, UT

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:45

Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT): “By acting on Secretary Zinke’s thoughtful recommendations, President Trump has restored balance to our public lands discussion. We are pleased that Utahns once again have a voice in the process of determining appropriate uses of these public lands that we love. By reducing these super-sized monuments to a size consistent with the intent of the law, new doors of dialogue have opened up that will allow thoughtful, long-term protection of these federal lands.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “I’m thrilled and grateful to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for giving [Utahans] a voice in the protection of Utah lands. The President’s proclamation represents a balanced solution and a win for everyone on all sides of this issue. It also represents a new beginning in the way national monuments are designated, paving the way for more local input, and taking into account the actual letter and intent of the Antiquities Act, which calls for the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “President Trump did the people of Utah a great favor today by rolling back harmful land use restrictions in southern Utah. #utpol”

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT): “I applaud President Trump for recognizing the limitations of the law. Americans of all political stripes should commend him for reversing prior administrations’ abuses of the Antiquities Act and instead exercising his powers within the scope of authority granted by Congress. These new proclamations are a first step towards protecting identified antiquities without disenfranchising the local people who work and manage these areas. The next steps will be to move beyond symbolic gestures of protection and create substantive protections and enforcement and codify in law a meaningful management role for local governments, tribes and other stakeholders.”

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT): “The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument resides in my district. I have seen firsthand the damage that the monument has caused to the local economy. My constituents have been in a desperate need of change, and today President Trump delivered...He listened to local voices that had been left out of the decision-making process for too long. On behalf of the county commissioners, the state legislators who represent the area, and the entire federal delegation, we say thank you, Mr. President.”

Rep. John Curtis (R-UT): “I am grateful to the President for coming to Utah to help us resolve this important issue. Now that the President has created two new monuments in my congressional district, the time has come for congress to ensure that these sites are managed the right way.”

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): “Today’s announcement by President Trump shows that he and Secretary Zinke are committed to smart, restrained and proper application of the Antiquities Act. His decision takes power from unaccountable Washington bureaucrats doing the dirty work of special-interest groups and gives it back to the people where it belongs… Thank you, President Trump, for keeping another promise and taking action to ensure past presidents’ abuse of a more than one hundred-year-old law doesn’t lock-up the west.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): “The west has been negatively affected for decades, and government has not constrained its unlawful acquisition of these lands… I am glad that the two monuments will be significantly reduced, and I trust that the Trump administration will continue to relinquish the federal government’s grasp on these lands.”

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID): “I support President Trump’s decision to correct his predecessors’ overreach and scale back the monument designations to reflect local concerns and respect the right of ordinary Americans to make a living.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO): “I support the President’s decision. This rolls back harmful overreach by the previous administration. Instead of using the law to protect antiquities, it’s been wrongfully used to restrict development. It’s also made it more difficult to take care of our national lands.”

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN): “The President’s action today and the House’s action to pass the MINER Act last week demonstrate a renewed commitment of returning power from Washington bureaucrats back to the states. It’s high time the federal government allow local economies to flourish and trust the land to the people who live there.”

State Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (R-UT) & State Rep. Greg Hughes (R-UT): “We are grateful President Trump has listened to the people’s voice and the elected representatives of our state. We look forward to him following through on his promise to Utah voters by undoing much of President Obama’s Bears Ears National Monument designation. This is great news for the residents of southern Utah who depend on the use of public lands for their livelihoods and the Native Americans who depend on access to Bears Ears lands for their material and spiritual needs.”

San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally (D-UT): “Thank you President Trump. Thank you for not being a typical politician and passing us over. Thank you for caring about San Juan County. We may be only 15,000 strong, but we matter. We appreciate you willing to take the backlash from the special interest groups as you stand for the people and the economy of San Juan County.”

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: “I thank President Trump for his leadership on the Monument Review and for keeping his promise to make sure the rural voice is heard once again. The people of Utah overwhelmingly voiced to us that public land should be protected not for the special interests, but for the citizens of our great country who use them, and this is what President Trump is doing today. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase will remain under federal protection, will adhere to the spirit and letter of the Antiquities Act, and -- even after our modification -- combined will still be nearly twice the size of Rhode Island.”

FreedomWorks Foundation President Adam Brandon: “Today we applaud President Trump, Interior Secretary Zinke, and their teams for arriving at this reasonable approach to these national monuments… Unilaterally declaring national monuments larger than some states is ridiculous on its face. We know our activists in Utah and across the country appreciate the Trump administration’s more humble approach to the power of his pen and phone.”

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:34

Michael D. Griffin of Alabama to be Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, which will become effective February 1, 2018.  Dr. Griffin most recently served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Schafer Corporation.  Previously, he served as the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he established the architecture for a space shuttle replacement and a path for humans to return to the Moon.  Additionally, he helped initiate the development of commercial cargo delivery service to Earth orbit.  He is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal.  Dr. Griffin is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, the Catholic University of America, the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California, Loyola College; and George Washington University. 

___

 

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts

The following individuals to be Members of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations for terms of four years:

• Ralph Daniel DiMicco of North Carolina

• Vincent M. Duvall of Georgia

• Leslie B. Daniels of Florida

Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley en route Washington, D.C., 12/4/2017

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 00:50

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Washington, D.C.

5:50 P.M. EST

MR. HOGAN: Hey, good evening, everybody. Good evening. Obviously, a lot of news to cover today. What I'd like to do, though, is start off at the top with a few items.

Number one would be the Supreme Court allowing full enforcement of President Trump's travel ban. And I'd like to read a statement. You can attribute this statement to me:

"We are not surprised by today's Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President's proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism. The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts."

The second thing I'd like to cover off the top is Roy Moore. The President did speak briefly with Mr. Moore this morning from Air Force One to talk about the state of the race in Alabama and also to offer his endorsement. As we've said on multiple occasions, the President would much rather have someone in the Senate who supported his agenda as opposed to someone who did not.

We'd also like to talk about -- we can now confirm that the President did invite Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to come to the White House this week. As soon as we have more details, we will confirm those with you guys as well.

And lastly, I'd like to address Jerusalem. That's obviously been an issue we've received a lot of incoming on today. The President has been clear on this issue from the get-go; that it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. No action, though, will be taken on the waiver today, and we will share a decision on the waiver in coming days.

 

END

 

5:52 P.M. EST

Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Economy showing major progress under President Donald Trump"

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 22:41

“On Thursday, the Dow broke 24,000 for the first time in history on the news that the GOP tax reform plan may soon become law.”

Economy showing major progress under President Donald Trump

Editorial

Las Vegas Review-Journal

December 2, 2017

On Thursday, the Dow broke 24,000 for the first time in history on the news that the GOP tax reform plan may soon become law. The index is up more than 20 percent in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department revealed Wednesday that the GDP expanded at a 3.3 percent rate in the third quarter after being adjusted for seasonal factors and inflation. That’s the first time since 2007 that quarterly economic output exceeded the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of its “maximum sustainable level,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

At the very least, the president’s emphasis on regulatory relief and tax reform, along with his understanding that private sector is the engine that drives prosperity, have helped create the optimism currently imbuing consumers and businesses.

 

Read the full editorial here.

Presidential Proclamation Modifying the Bears Ears National Monument

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 22:15

MODIFYING THE BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

In Proclamation 9558 of December 28, 2016, and exercising his authority under section 320301 of title 54, United States Code (the "Antiquities Act"), President Barack Obama established the Bears Ears National Monument in the State of Utah, reserving approximately 1.35 million acres of Federal lands for the care and management of objects of historic and scientific interest identified therein. The monument is managed jointly by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture's United States Forest Service (USFS). This proclamation makes certain modifications to the monument.

Proclamation 9558 identifies a long list of objects of historic or scientific interest. It describes cultural resources such as ancient cliff dwellings (including the Moon House and Doll House Ruins), Moki Steps, Native American ceremonial sites, tools and projectile points, remains of single-family dwellings, granaries, kivas, towers, large villages, rock shelters, caves, and a prehistoric road system, as well as petroglyphs, pictographs, and recent rock art left by the Ute, Navajo, and Paiute peoples. It also identifies other types of historic objects, such as remnants of Native American sheep-herding and farming operations and early engineering by pioneers and settlers, including smoothed sections of rock, dugways, historic cabins, corrals, trails, and inscriptions carved into rock, and the Hole-in-the-Rock and Outlaw Trails. It also describes landscape features such as the Bears Ears, Comb Ridge, Cedar Mesa, the Valley of the Gods, the Abajo Mountains, and the San Juan River, and paleontological resources such as the fossil remains of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, as well as dinosaur trackways and traces of other terrestrial animals. Finally, it identifies several species, including animals like the porcupine, badger, and coyote; birds like the red-tailed hawk, Mexican spotted owl, American kestrel, and turkey vulture; and plants such as the Fremont cottonwood, Abajo daisy, western sandbar willow, and boxelder.

The Antiquities Act requires that any reservation of land as part of a monument be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects of historic or scientific interest to be protected. Determining the appropriate protective area involves examination of a number of factors, including the uniqueness and nature of the objects, the nature of the needed protection, and the protection provided by other laws.

Some of the objects Proclamation 9558 identifies are not unique to the monument, and some of the particular examples of these objects within the monument are not of significant scientific or historic interest. Moreover, many of the objects Proclamation 9558 identifies were not under threat of damage or destruction before designation such that they required a reservation of land to protect them. In fact, objects described in Proclamation 9558 were then -- and still are -- subject to Federal protections under existing laws and agency management designations. For example, more than 500,000 acres were already being managed to maintain, enhance, or protect their roadless character before they were designated as part of a national monument. Specifically, the BLM manages approximately 380,759 acres of lands within the existing monument as Wilderness Study Areas, which the BLM is required by law to manage so as not to impair their suitability for future congressional designation as Wilderness. On lands managed by the USFS, 46,348 acres are part of the congressionally designated Dark Canyon Wilderness Area, which, under the 1964 Wilderness Act, 16 U.S.C. 1131-1136, and the Utah Wilderness Act of 1984, Public Law 98-428, the USFS must manage so as to maintain or enhance its wilderness character. Approximately 89,396 acres of the USFS lands are also included in 8 inventoried roadless areas, which are managed under the USFS's 2001 Roadless Rule so as to protect their wilderness character.

A host of laws enacted after the Antiquities Act provide specific protection for archaeological, historic, cultural, paleontological, and plant and animal resources and give authority to the BLM and USFS to condition permitted activities on Federal lands, whether within or outside a monument. These laws include the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, 16 U.S.C. 470aa-470mm, National Historic Preservation Act, 54 U.S.C. 300101 et seq., Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 668-668d, Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988, 16 U.S.C. 4301 et seq., Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, 43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. 703-712, National Forest Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq., Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1976, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., and Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 470aaa-470aaa-11. Of particular note, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act specifically protects archaeological resources from looting or other desecration and imposes criminal penalties for unauthorized excavation, removal, damage, alteration, or defacement of archaeological resources. Federal land management agencies can grant a permit authorizing excavation or removal, but only when undertaken for the purpose of furthering archaeological knowledge. The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act contains very similar provisions protecting paleontological resources. And the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act protect migratory birds and listed endangered and threatened species and their habitats. Moreover, the BLM and the USFS were already addressing many of the threats to objects identified in Proclamation 9558 in their governing land-use plans before designation of the monument.

Given the nature of the objects identified on the lands reserved by Proclamation 9558, the lack of a threat of damage or destruction to many of those objects, and the protection for those objects already provided by existing law and governing land-use plans, I find that the area of Federal land reserved in the Bears Ears National Monument established by Proclamation 9558 is not confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of those objects. The important objects of scientific or historic interest can instead be protected by a smaller and more appropriate reservation of 2 areas: Shash Jáa and Indian Creek. Revising the boundaries of the monument to cover these 2 areas will ensure that, in accordance with the Antiquities Act, it is no larger than necessary for the proper care and management of the objects to be protected within the monument.

The Shash Jáa area contains the heart of the national monument: the iconic twin buttes known as the Bears Ears that tower 2,000 feet above the surrounding landscape and are considered sacred to the Native American tribes that call this area their ancestral home. Many of the significant objects described by Proclamation 9558 can be found throughout the Shash Jáa area. Ancestral Puebloan occupation of the area began during the Basketmaker II period at least 2,500 years ago, and it left behind objects such as pit houses, storage pits, lithic scatters, campsites, rock shelters, pictographs, and baskets, as well as manos and metates for grinding corn. Occupation dating to the Basketmaker III period, from approximately 500 to 750 C.E., left additional evidence of maize- and bean-based agriculture, along with pottery, bows and arrows, pit houses, kivas, storage rooms, and dispersed villages.

New waves of human settlement occurred around 900 C.E., when the Pueblo I period gave rise to large villages near Comb Wash, and 1050 C.E., when inhabitants from the Pueblo II period built expansive and complex multi-family dwellings. Around 1150 C.E., the dawn of the Pueblo III period, the area's inhabitants increasingly sought shelter in cliff dwellings and left behind evidence of an era of unrest. Several centuries later, the Ute, Paiute, and Navajo came to occupy the area.

East of the Bears Ears is Arch Canyon, within which paleontologists have found numerous fossils from the Permian and Upper Permian eras. Cliff dwellings are hidden throughout the canyon, and the mouth of the canyon holds the fabled Arch Canyon ruin, which spans the Pueblo II and III periods and contains pictographs and petroglyphs ranging from the Archaic to the historic periods.

Just south of Arch Canyon are the north and south forks of Mule Canyon. Five-hundred feet deep, 5 miles long, and decorated with alternating layers of red and white sandstone, these 2 striking canyons contain shelter-cliff dwellings and other archaeological sites, including the scenic and accessible House on Fire Ruin, which includes differing masonry styles that indicate several episodes of construction and use.

Perched high on the open tablelands above the south fork of Mule Canyon are the Mule Canyon ruins, where visitors can see exposed masonry walls of ancient living quarters and a partially restored kiva. The deep canyons and towering mesas of the Shash Jáa area are full of similar sites, including rock art, remains of single-family dwellings, granaries, kivas, towers (including the Cave Towers), and large villages primarily from the Pueblo II and III periods, along with sites from the Basketmaker and Archaic periods.

The Shash Jáa area also includes Comb Ridge, a north-south trending monocline that originates near the boundary of the Manti-La Sal National Forest, ends near the San Juan River, and contains remnants from the region's thousands of years of human habitation, including cliff dwellings, granaries, kivas, ceremonial sites, and the Butler Wash ruin, a world-famous Ancestral Puebloan ruin with multiple rooms and kivas. Comb Ridge also includes world-class examples of ancient rock art, such as the Butler Wash Kachina Panel, a wall-sized mural of San Juan Anthropomorph figures that dates to the Basketmaker period and is considered to be one of the Southwest's most important petroglyph panels for understanding the daily life and rituals of the Basketmaker people. Significant fossil sites have also been discovered in Butler Wash.

Just north of upper Butler Wash, the aspen-filled Whiskers Draw contains a series of alcoves that have sheltered evidence of human habitation for thousands of years, including Cave 7, the site where Richard Wetherill, as part of the Hyde Expedition in 1893, first identified what we know today as the Basketmaker people. The nearby Milk Ranch Point is home to a rich concentration of kivas, granaries, dwellings, and other evidence that Pueblo I farmers used this area to cultivate corn, beans, and squash.

The Shash Jáa area also contains the Comb Ridge Fossil site, which includes a trackway created by a giant arthropod (Diplichnites cuithensis), the first recorded instance of such a trackway in Utah. Also, the diverse landscape of the Shash Jáa area provides habitat for the vast majority of plant and animal species described by Proclamation 9558.

Finally, the Shash Jáa area as described on the accompanying map includes 2 non-contiguous parcels of land that encompass the Moon House Ruin, an example of iconic Pueblo‑decorated architecture, which was likely the last occupied site on Cedar Mesa, as well as Doll House Ruin, a fully intact and well-preserved single room granary that is associated with an extensive agricultural area on the mesa top. These significant ruins are important examples of cultural resource objects that should remain within the monument's boundaries.

The Indian Creek area likewise contains objects of significance described in Proclamation 9558. At its center is the broad Indian Creek Canyon, which is characterized by sheer red cliffs and spires of exposed and eroded layers of Navajo, Kayenta, Wingate, and Cedar Mesa sandstone, including the iconic North and South Six-Shooter Peaks.

Also located within the Indian Creek area is the Canyonlands Research Center. Spanning lands managed by the National Park Service, BLM, USFS, and private landowners, this unique partnership works to increase our understanding of the complex natural systems on the landscape, providing their custodians with information they need to adapt to the challenges of a changing Colorado Plateau.

Newspaper Rock, a popular attraction in the Indian Creek area, is a roadside rock art panel that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. This site displays a significant concentration of rock art from multiple periods, etched into Wingate sandstone. The older art is attributed to the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited this region for 2,000 years, while the more recent rock art is attributed to the Ute people who still live in the Four Corners area.

In addition to Newspaper Rock, the Indian Creek area contains numerous other significant rock art sites, including the distinctive and well-preserved petroglyphs in Shay Canyon. The area also provides opportunities for cultural and scientific research and paleontological study. Dinosaur tracks in the bottom of the Shay Canyon stream bed are a unique visual reminder of the area's distant past. Additional paleontological resources can be found throughout the Indian Creek area, including vertebrate and invertebrate fossils, primarily in the Chinle Formation. The Indian Creek area also includes 2 prominent mesas, Bridger Jack Mesa and Lavender Mesa, which are home to relict plant communities, predominantly composed of pinyon-juniper woodland, with small, interspersed sagebrush parks, that exist only on these isolated islands in the desert sea and are, generally, unaltered by humans. These mesas provide the opportunity for comparative studies of pinyon‑juniper woodland and sagebrush communities in other parts of the Colorado Plateau. Additionally, the Indian Creek area includes the exposed Chinle Formation, known for abundant fossilized flora and fauna, including pelecypods, gastropods, arthropods, fishes, amphibians, and reptiles (including dinosaurs). Finally, the area is well known for vertebrate trackways, including tetrapod footprints.

Some of the existing monument's objects, or certain examples of those objects, are not within the monument's revised boundaries because they are adequately protected by existing law, designation, agency policy, or governing land-use plans. For example, although the modified boundaries do not include the San Juan River or the Valley of the Gods, both of those areas are protected by existing administratively designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. Plant and animal species such as the bighorn sheep, the Kachina daisy, the Utah night lizard, and the Eucosma navojoensis moth are protected by the Endangered Species Act and existing land-use plans and policies protecting special‑status species. Additionally, some of the range of these species falls within existing Wilderness Areas and Wilderness Study Areas. Finally, although Hideout Canyon is likewise not included within the modified boundaries, it is generally not threatened and is partially within a Wilderness Study Area.

The areas described above are the smallest compatible with the protection of the important objects identified in Proclamation 9558. The modification of the Bears Ears National Monument will maintain and protect those objects and preserve the area's cultural, scientific, and historic legacy.

WHEREAS, Proclamation 9558 of December 28, 2016, designated the Bears Ears National Monument in the State of Utah and reserved approximately 1.35 million acres of Federal lands for the care and management of the Bears Ears buttes and other objects of historic and scientific interest identified therein; and

WHEREAS, many of the objects identified by Proclamation 9558 are otherwise protected by Federal law; and

WHEREAS, it is in the public interest to modify the boundaries of the monument to exclude from its designation and reservation approximately 1,150,860 acres of land that I find are unnecessary for the care and management of the objects to be protected within the monument; and

WHEREAS, the boundaries of the monument reservation should therefore be reduced to the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest as described above in this proclamation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 320301 of title 54, United States Code, hereby proclaim that the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument are hereby modified and reduced to those lands and interests in land owned or controlled by the Federal Government within the boundaries described on the accompanying map, which is attached to and forms a part of this proclamation. I hereby further proclaim that the modified monument areas identified on the accompanying map shall be known as the Indian Creek and Shash Jáa units of the monument, the latter of which shall include the Moon House and Doll House Ruins. These reserved Federal lands and interests in lands cumulatively encompass approximately 201,876 acres. The boundaries described on the accompanying map are confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected. Any lands reserved by Proclamation 9558 not within the boundaries identified on the accompanying map are hereby excluded from the monument.

At 9:00 a.m., eastern standard time, on the date that is 60 days after the date of this proclamation, subject to valid existing rights, the provisions of existing withdrawals, and the requirements of applicable law, the public and National Forest System lands excluded from the monument reservation shall be open to:

(1) entry, location, selection, sale, or other disposition under the public land laws and laws applicable to the U.S. Forest Service;

(2) disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and

(3) location, entry, and patent under the mining laws.

Appropriation of lands under the mining laws before the date and time of restoration is unauthorized. Any such attempted appropriation, including attempted adverse possession under 30 U.S.C. 38, shall vest no rights against the United States. Acts required to establish a location and to initiate a right of possession are governed by State law where not in conflict with Federal law.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to remove any lands from the Manti-La Sal National Forest or to otherwise revoke, modify, or affect any withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation, other than the one created by Proclamation 9558.

Nothing in this proclamation shall change the management of the areas designated and reserved by Proclamation 9558 that remain part of the monument in accordance with the terms of this proclamation, except as provided by the following 4 paragraphs:

In recognition of the importance of tribal participation to the care and management of the objects identified above, and to ensure that management decisions affecting the monument reflect tribal expertise and traditional and historical knowledge, Proclamation 9558 established a Commission to provide guidance and recommendations on the development and implementation of management plans and on management of the monument, and to partner with Federal agencies by making continuing contributions to inform decisions regarding the management of the monument. In order to ensure that the full range of tribal expertise and traditional historical knowledge is included in such guidance and recommendations, paragraph 29 of Proclamation 9558 is hereby revised to provide that the Bears Ears Commission shall be known as the Shash Jáa Commission, shall apply only to the Shash Jáa unit as described herein, and shall also include the elected officer of the San Juan County Commission representing District 3 acting in that officer's official capacity.

Proclamation 9558 is hereby revised to clarify that, pending preparation of the transportation plan required by paragraph 34 thereof, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture may allow motorized and non-mechanized vehicle use on roads and trails designated for such use immediately before the issuance of Proclamation 9558 and maintain roads and trails for such use.

Paragraph 35 of Proclamation 9558 governing livestock grazing in the monument is hereby revised to read as follows: "Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to affect authorizations for livestock grazing, or administration thereof, on Federal lands within the monument. Livestock grazing within the monument shall continue to be governed by laws and regulations other than this proclamation."

Proclamation 9558 is amended to clarify that, consistent with the care and management of the objects identified above, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture may authorize ecological restoration and active vegetation management activities in the monument.

If any provision of this proclamation, including its application to a particular parcel of land, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this proclamation and its application to other parcels of land shall not be affected thereby.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Presidential Proclamation Modifying the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 22:12

MODIFYING THE GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

In Proclamation 6920 of September 18, 1996, and exercising his authority under the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225) (the "Antiquities Act"), President William J. Clinton established the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the State of Utah, reserving approximately 1.7 million acres of Federal lands for the care and management of objects of historic and scientific interest identified therein. The monument is managed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This proclamation makes certain modifications to the monument.

Proclamation 6920 identifies a long list of objects of historic or scientific interest within the boundaries of the monument. In the 20 years since the designation, the BLM and academic researchers have studied the monument to better understand the geology, paleontology, archeology, history, and biology of the area.

The Antiquities Act requires that any reservation of land as part of a monument be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects of historic or scientific interest to be protected. Determining the appropriate protective area involves examination of a number of factors, including the uniqueness and nature of the objects, the nature of the needed protection, and the protection provided by other laws.

Proclamation 6920 identifies the monument area as rich with paleontological sites and fossils, including marine and brackish water mollusks, turtles, crocodilians, lizards, dinosaurs, fishes, and mammals, as well as terrestrial vertebrate fauna, including mammals, of the Cenomanian-Santonian ages, and one of the most continuous records of Late Cretaceous terrestrial life in the world. Nearly 2 decades of intense study of the monument has provided a better understanding of the areas with the highest concentrations of fossil resources and the best opportunities to discover previously unknown species. While formations like the Wahweap and Kaiparowits occur only in southern Utah and provide an important record of Late Cretaceous fossils, others like the Chinle and Morrison formations occur throughout the Colorado Plateau. The modified monument boundaries take into account this new information and, as described in more detail below, retain the majority of the high-potential areas for locating new fossil resources that have been identified within the area reserved by Proclamation 6920.

Proclamation 6920 also identifies a number of unique geological formations and landscape features within the monument boundaries. These include the Grand Staircase, White Cliffs, Vermilion Cliffs, Kaiparowits Plateau, Upper Paria Canyon System, Upper Escalante Canyons, Burning Hills, Circle Cliffs, East Kaibab Monocline, Grosvenor Arch, and Escalante Natural Bridge, all of which are retained in whole or part within the revised monument boundaries. The Waterpocket Fold, however, is located mostly within the Capitol Reef National Park and the portions within the monument are not unique or particularly scientifically significant. Therefore, the boundaries of the monument may be modified to exclude the Waterpocket Fold without imperiling the proper care and management of that formation. The more general landscape features discussed in the proclamation, such as serpentine canyons, arches, and natural bridges, are common across the Colorado Plateau both within and outside of the modified boundaries of the monument described below.

Archeological and historic objects identified within the monument are more generally discussed in Proclamation 6920, which specifically identifies only the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, the Paria Townsite, and Dance Hall Rock as objects of historic or scientific interest, all 3 of which will remain within the revised monument boundaries, although a portion of the Hole‑in-the-Rock Trail will be excluded. Proclamation 6920 also describes Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan rock art panels, occupation sites, campsites, and granaries, as well as historic objects such as those left behind by Mormon pioneers, including trails, inscriptions, ghost towns, rock houses, and cowboy line camps. These are artifacts that are known to generally occur across the Four Corners region, particularly in southern Utah, and the examples found within the monument are not, as described, of any unique or distinctive scientific or historic significance. In light of the prevalence of similar objects throughout the region, the existing boundaries of the monument are not "the smallest area compatible with the proper care" of these objects, and they may be excluded from the monument's boundaries. Further, many of these objects or examples of these objects are retained within the modified boundaries described below.

Finally, with respect to the animal and plant species, Proclamation 6920 characterizes the area as one of the richest floristic regions in the Intermountain West, but it identifies only a few specific species as objects of scientific or historic interest. The revised boundaries contain the majority of habitat types originally protected by Proclamation 6920.

Thus, many of the objects identified by Proclamation 6920 are not unique to the monument, and some of the particular examples of those objects within the monument are not of significant historic or scientific interest. Moreover, many of the objects identified by Proclamation 6920 are not under threat of damage or destruction such that they require a reservation of land to protect them; in fact, many are already subject to Federal protection under existing law and agency management designations. The BLM manages nearly 900,000 acres of lands within the existing monument as Wilderness Study Areas, which the BLM is already required by law to manage so as not to impair the suitability of such areas for future congressional designation as Wilderness.

A host of laws enacted after the Antiquities Act provide specific protection for archaeological, historic, cultural, paleontological, and plant and animal resources and give authority to the BLM to condition permitted activities on Federal lands, whether within or outside a monument. These laws include the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, 16 U.S.C. 470aa-470mm, National Historic Preservation Act, 54 U.S.C. 300101 et seq., Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 668-668d, Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988, 16 U.S.C. 4301 et seq., Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, 43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. 703-712, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1976, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., and Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 470aaa-470aaa-11. Of particular note, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, enacted in 2009, imposes criminal penalties for unauthorized excavation, removal, damage, alteration, or defacement of paleontological resources. Federal land management agencies can grant permits authorizing excavation or removal, but only when undertaken for the purpose of furthering paleontological knowledge. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act contains very similar provisions protecting archeological resources. And the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act protect migratory birds and listed endangered and threatened species and their habitats.

Especially in light of the research conducted since designation, I find that the current boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument established by Proclamation 6920 are greater than the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects for which lands were reserved and, therefore, that the boundaries of the monument should be reduced to 3 areas: Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons. These revisions will ensure that the monument is no larger than necessary for the proper care and management of the objects.

The Grand Staircase area is named for one of the iconic landscapes in the American West. An unbroken sequence of cliffs and plateaus, considered to be the most colorful exposed geologic section in the world, has inspired wonder in visitors since the days of early western explorers.

The White Cliffs that rise more than 1,500 feet from the desert floor are the hardened remains of the largest sand sea that ever existed. The deep red Vermilion Cliffs, once the eastern shore of the ancient Lake Dixie, contain a rich fossil record from the Late Triassic period to the early Jurassic period, including petrified wood, fish, dinosaur, and other reptilian bones. Fossil footprints are also common, including those at the Flag Point tracksite, which includes dinosaur fossil tracks adjacent to a Native American rock art panel depicting dinosaur tracks. This area also contains a number of relict vegetative communities occurring on isolated mesa tops, an example of which, No Mans Mesa, was identified in Proclamation 6920.

The archaeology of the Grand Staircase area is dominated by sites constructed by the Virgin Branch of the Ancestral Puebloans -- ancient horticulturalists and farmers who subsisted largely on corn, beans, and squash, and occupied the area from nearly 2000 B.C.E. to about 1250 C.E. The landscape was also the home of some of the earliest corn-related agriculture in the Southwest, and it continues to hold remnants of these early farmsteads and small pueblos. The evidence of this history, including remnants of the beginning of agriculture, development of prehistoric farming systems, and the final abandonment of the area, is concentrated in the lower levels of the Grand Staircase. The higher cliffs, benches, and plateaus hold evidence of occupation by Archaic and Late Prehistoric people, including Clovis and other projectile points and residential pit structures that indicate occupation by hunter-gatherers starting about 13,000 years ago.

Following the abandonment of the area by Ancestral Puebloans, the area was re-occupied by a new population of hunter-gatherers, the people known today as the Southern Paiute Indians. The Southern Paiute Indians identify this area as part of their ancestral homeland. Still later Mormon pioneers settled the area, as evidenced by remnants of roads, trails, line shacks, rock houses, and abandoned town sites.

The Kaiparowits area is dominated by a dissected mesa that rises thousands of feet above the surrounding terrain. These vast, rugged badlands are characterized by towering cliffs and escarpments that expose tiers of fossil-rich formations.

In addition to striking scenery, the area is world-renowned for rich fossil resources, including 16 species that have been found nowhere else. The plateau is considered one of the best, most continuous records of Late Cretaceous life in the world. It includes fossils of mollusks, reptiles, dinosaurs, fishes, and mammals, as well as the only evidence in our hemisphere of terrestrial vertebrate fauna from the Cenomanian through Santonian ages. Since 2000, nearly 4,000 new fossil sites have been documented on the plateau. The Dakota, Tropic Shale, Wahweap, and Kaiparowits formations in the area have been found to contain numerous important fossils, including those of early mammals and reptiles (Dakota); marine reptiles, including 5 species of plesiosaur and North America's oldest mosasaur (Tropic Shale); and multiple new species of dinosaurs (Wahweap and Kaiparowits), including the Diabloceratops eatoni, a relative of the Triceratops named for its devil-like horns, and the Lythronax argestes, whose name means "Gore King of the Southwest."

The Kaiparowits area also includes objects of geologic interest, which Proclamation 6920 identified. The rugged canyons and natural arches of the Upper Paria River expose the colorful and varied Carmel and Entrada formations that draw visitors to the area. One of the most famous arches, Grosvenor Arch, is a rare double arch that towers more than 150 feet above the desert floor. The area also contains "hydrothermal-collapse" pipes and dikes that have revealed to researchers a fascinating story of a geologic catastrophe triggered by either a massive earthquake or an asteroid impact.

The western side of the Kaiparowits area includes the majority of the East Kaibab Monocline, which features an erosional "hogback" known as the "Cockscomb," as well as broad exposures of multicolored rocks and intricate canyons. It is considered one of the true scenic and geologic wonders of the area. On the east side of the plateau, the scorched earth of the Burning Hills is a geologic curiosity: a vast underground coal seam that some researchers believe has been burning for eons, sending acrid smoke up through vents in the ground and turning the hillsides brick red. Finally, along the eastern edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau is a series of oddly shaped arches and other rock formations known as the Devil's Garden.

The Kaiparowits area also contains a unique record of human history. The overall archaeology of the Kaiparowits Plateau is dominated by Archaic and Late Prehistoric era sites. There are, however, a few important sites that tell the story of occupation first by the Fremont, who came from an area to the east, and later by Virgin and Kayenta Ancestral Puebloans. These sites show new types of architecture and pottery that mixed traditional Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan styles. Prehistoric cliff structures in parts of the Kaiparowits Plateau are well preserved and provide researchers and visitors an opportunity to better understand the apparently peaceful mixture of 3 cultures starting in the early 1100s. In particular, the Fifty-Mile Mountain area contains hundreds of cultural resource sites, including Ancestral Puebloan habitations, granaries, and masonry structures.

Historical use of the Kaiparowits area plays a very important part in the rich ranching history of southern Utah, which is evidenced by a complex pattern of roads, stock trails, line shacks, attempted farmsteads, and small mining operations. Fifty-Mile Mountain, in particular, contains a number of historic cabins, as well as other evidence of pioneer living, including ruins, rip-gut fences, and historic trails. It is believed that Zane Grey used the Fifty-Mile Mountain area as a landscape reference point when he wrote "Wild Horse Mesa." There are also a number of historic signature panels across the plateau that document continued grazing and ranching use of the landscape by multiple generations of the same families.

To the east of Fifty-Mile Mountain in the Escalante Desert, Dance Hall Rock stands out as an important landmark of Mormon pioneers. While the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail was under construction in 1879, Mormon pioneers camped in this area and held meetings and dances here. Similarly, as described above, the old Paria Townsite is an important ghost town within the Kaiparowits area, as it served as the only town and post office site within the area at the turn of the 20th century.

The Escalante Canyons area likewise contains objects of significance. The canyonlands of the area provide a fantastic display of geologic activities and erosional forces that, over millions of years, created a network of deep, narrow canyons, high plateaus, sheer cliffs, and beautiful sandstone arches and natural bridges, including the 130-foot-tall Escalante Natural Bridge. Additionally, this area boasts Calf Creek Canyon, a canyon of red alcoved walls with expanses of white slickrock that is named for its use as a natural cattle pen at the end of the 19th century.

To the east of the Canyonlands, Circle Cliffs is a breached anticline with spectacular painted-desert scenery, the result of exposed sedimentary rocks of the Triassic Chinle and Moenkopi formations. The Circle Cliffs area also contains large, unbroken petrified logs up to 30 feet in length. A nearly complete articulated skeleton of Poposauras -- a rare bipedal crocodilian fossil -- was also found here.

The Escalante Canyons area also contains a high density of Fremont prehistoric sites, including pithouses, villages, storage cysts, and rock art. The canyon of the Escalante River and its tributary canyons contain one of the highest densities of rock art sites in southwestern Utah outside of Capitol Reef National Park, with sites dating from the Archaic to the Historic periods. The Hundred Hands rock art panel is located in the river canyon, and is spiritually significant to all tribes that claim ancestry in the area.

There are also significant historic sites in this area related to grazing and ranching, along with the Boulder Mail Trail, which was used to ferry mail between the small desert outpost towns of Escalante and Boulder beginning in 1902. Today, much of the trail is still visible, and it has become popular with backpackers.

The areas described above are the smallest compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, as modified by this proclamation, will maintain and protect those objects and preserve the area's cultural, scientific, and historic legacy.

WHEREAS, Proclamation 6920 of September 18, 1996, established the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the State of Utah and reserved approximately 1.7 million acres of Federal lands for the care and management of the objects of historic and scientific interest identified therein; and

WHEREAS, many of the objects identified by Proclamation 6920 are otherwise protected by Federal law; and

WHEREAS, it is in the public interest to modify the boundary of the monument to exclude from its designation and reservation approximately 861,974 acres of land that I find are no longer necessary for the proper care and management of the objects to be protected within the monument; and

WHEREAS, the boundaries of the monument reservation should therefore be reduced to the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest, as described above in this proclamation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 320301 of title 54, United States Code, hereby proclaim that the boundary of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is hereby modified and reduced to those lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government within the boundaries described on the accompanying map, which is attached to and forms a part of this proclamation. I hereby further proclaim that the modified monument areas identified on the accompanying map shall be known as the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons units of the monument. These reserved Federal lands and interests in lands cumulatively encompass approximately 1,003,863 acres. The boundaries described on the accompanying map are confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

Any lands reserved by Proclamation 6920 not within the boundaries identified on the accompanying map are hereby excluded from the monument.

At 9:00 a.m., eastern standard time, on the date that is 60 days after the date of this proclamation, subject to valid existing rights, the provisions of existing withdrawals, and the requirements of applicable law, the public lands excluded from the monument reservation shall be open to:

(1) entry, location, selection, sale or other disposition under the public land laws;

(2) disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and

(3) location, entry, and patent under the mining laws.

Appropriation of lands under the mining laws before the date and time of restoration is unauthorized. Any such attempted appropriation, including attempted adverse possession under 30 U.S.C. 38, shall vest no rights against the United States. Acts required to establish a location and to initiate a right of possession are governed by State law where not in conflict with Federal law.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to revoke, modify, or affect any withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation, other than the one created by Proclamation 6920.

Nothing in this proclamation shall change the management of the areas designated and reserved by Proclamation 6920 that remain part of the monument in accordance with the terms of this proclamation, except as provided by the following 5 paragraphs:

Paragraph 14 of Proclamation 6920 is updated and clarified to require that the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) prepare and maintain a management plan for each of the 3 units of the monument with maximum public involvement including, but not limited to, consultation with federally recognized tribes and State and local governments. The Secretary, through the BLM, shall also consult with other Federal land management agencies in the local area in developing the management plans.

Proclamation 6920 is amended to provide that the Secretary shall maintain one or more advisory committees under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) to provide information and advice regarding the development of the above-described management plans, and, as appropriate, management of the monument. Any advisory committee maintained shall consist of a fair and balanced representation of interested stakeholders, including State and local governments, tribes, recreational users, local business owners, and private landowners.

Proclamation 6920 is clarified to provide that, consistent with protection of the objects identified above and other applicable law, the Secretary may allow motorized and non‑mechanized vehicle use on roads and trails existing immediately before the issuance of Proclamation 6920 and maintain roads and trails for such use.

Paragraph 12 of Proclamation 6920 governing livestock grazing in the monument is hereby modified to read as follows: "Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to affect authorizations for livestock grazing, or administration thereof, on Federal lands within the monument. Livestock grazing within the monument shall continue to be governed by laws and regulations other than this proclamation."

Proclamation 6920 is amended to clarify that, consistent with the care and management of the objects identified above, the Secretary may authorize ecological restoration and active vegetation management activities in the monument.

If any provision of this proclamation, including its application to a particular parcel of land, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this proclamation and its application to other parcels of land shall not be affected thereby.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Remarks by President Trump on Antiquities Act Designations

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:42

Utah State Capitol

Salt Lake City, Utah

12:20 P.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you to a very special man, Orrin Hatch, for the introduction. And that was truly a nice introduction and I appreciate it.

You are a true fighter, Orrin. And I have to say, I've gotten to know him very well. I've gotten to know a lot of people very well. You meet fighters and you meet people that you thought were fighters but they're not so good at fighting. He's a fighter. We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time to come. (Applause.)

I want to especially thank you for the tremendous work in ushering massive tax cuts and reform through the Senate. Just happened, and we have a final step to go. And I predict we're going to be very successful. We're talking about massive, massive tax cuts. (Applause.) It's tax cuts and reform, but I always mention tax cuts first because that's what people like to hear.

We're now one huge step closer to delivering to the American people the historic tax relief as a giant present for Christmas. Remember I said we're bringing Christmas back? Christmas is back, bigger and better than ever before. We're bringing Christmas back. (Applause.) And we say it now with pride. Let me just say, to those here today and all across the country: Merry Christmas to everybody. (Applause.) And also, happy holidays and a great New Year. We're going to have a great, great year.

Joining us at this ceremony are many other tremendous leaders from Utah, including your great senator, Mike Lee. Where's Mike? Mike, come! Come here, Mike. Get up here, Mike. (Applause.) He worked along with Orrin and the rest of them. We got it done. Mike, thank you very much. (Applause.)

You want to say something?

SENATOR LEE: It's not every day the President of the United States asks you to take the microphone from him. But I want to say, Mr. President, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for being here. Thank you for standing with the people of Utah. We appreciate it deeply. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mike.

I also want to recognize your fantastic representatives who are with us -- Rob Bishop, John Curtis, Chris Stewart, and Mia Love. Thank you all. You're here. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And I have to say, really -- talk about a very special guy that I made Secretary of the Interior. Does he know the interior. He's knows it, he loves it. He loves seeing it and riding on it. Ryan Zinke, who truly believes in protecting America -- he is protecting America. And nobody loves it more. Ryan. (Applause.) Thank you. Just as he protected America as an officer of the legendary Seal Team Six. He's a tough cookie and you've done a great job. Thank you, Ryan.

Governor Gary Herbert. Where is Gary? Come on Gary. Come on, Gary. Get over there, Gary. So they can -- (applause) -- and you’re your wife, the First Lady, is fantastic. Thank you very much. First Lady. Thank you, First Lady.

Attorney General Sean Reyes. Sean, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. An original supporter of mine. You know, you always remember those original supporters. Greg Hughes. Greg, thank you. (Applause.) He was an original right at the beginning. Thank you, Greg. He had a feeling.

Finally, I want to recognize the members of the local Utah Navajo. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Really appreciate it. We're profoundly honored by your presence here today, and I'm thrilled to be here with so many wonderful friends, so many people that saw something a little special and they said, we're with him, and I'm really working hard to put it back. And that's what we're doing today. This magnificent capitol, in your incredible state. And it is special people in a special state. Thank you very much for being here.

I've just come from touring Welfare Square with Senator Hatch and some amazing people from the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. (Applause.) Special. I spent a lot of time with them. In fact, I went around the store, I wanted a nice can of tuna fish -- (laughter) -- and they had plenty. They really help people. Incredible.

After our visit, I can truly say firsthand that Utah’s awesome natural beauty is exceeded only by the warmth and grace and hospitality of its citizens. This state has many natural treasures, but its greatest treasure by far is its people. (Applause.) And we will ensure the right of the people to live according to the faith in their hearts, which is why we will always protect your religious liberty. (Applause.) And we've been doing that.

I know all of you feel blessed to be living among some of the most glorious natural wonders anywhere in the world. You cherish Utah’s gleaming rivers and sweeping valleys. You take inspiration from its majestic peaks. And when you look upon its many winding canyons and glowing vistas, you marvel at the beauty of God’s great creation. (Applause.)

And that is why I'm here today: Because some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They're wrong.

The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land. You know how to protect it, and you know best how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come.

Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away. They don't know your land, and truly, they don't care for your land like you do. (Applause). But from now on, that won't matter. I've come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

But before I began -- because I understood how big it is -- I'm a real estate developer. When they start talking about millions of acres, I say, say it again? That's a lot. So, before I began, I met with Senator Orrin Hatch, who loves Utah and loves the people of Utah. I called Senator Mike Lee, who loves Utah and loves the people of Utah. I called your governor. I called my original -- where is he? There he is. I called all of the friends that I have in Utah. I said, what do you think? I said, will this be good for our country, and will it be good for your state? They said this would be incredible for our country, will be incredible for Utah. Finally, you would be giving people back their access to the land they know, to the land they understand, and most importantly, to the land that they love.

I also said, will it be at all controversial? They all told me no. (Laughter.) How did that happen? I don't think it is controversial, actually. I think it's so sensible.

Therefore, today, on the recommendation of Secretary Zinke, and with the wise counsel of Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, and the many others, I will sign two presidential proclamations. These actions will modify the national monuments designations of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. (Applause.)

As many of you know, past administrations have severely abused the purpose, spirit, and intent of a century-old law known as the Antiquities Act. This law requires that only the smallest necessary area be set aside for special protection as national monuments. Unfortunately, previous administrations have ignored the standard and used the law to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.

These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to faraway bureaucrats at the expense of the people who actually live here, work here, and make this place their home. This is where they raise their children. This is the place they love.

For example, the previous administration designated more than a half a billion acres of land and water, including Bears Ears. It did so over the loud objections of the people of this state and their elected representatives. Governor -- right?

results have been very sad and very predictable. Here, and in other affected states, we have seen harmful and unnecessary restrictions on hunting, ranching, and responsible economic development. We have seen grazing restrictions prevent ranching families from passing their businesses and beloved heritage on to the children -- the children that they love.

We've seen many rural families stopped from enjoying their outdoor activities. And the fact they've done it all their lives made no difference to the bureaucrats in Washington.

We have seen needed improvements, like infrastructure upgrades and road maintenance, impeded and foreclosed. We have seen how this tragic federal overreach prevents many Native Americans from having their rightful voice over the sacred land where they practice their most important ancestral and religious traditions. (Applause.)

These abuses of the Antiquities Act have not just threatened your local economies; they've threatened your very way of life. They've threatened your hearts.

Our precious national treasures must be protected. And they, from now on, will be protected. (Applause.) Under my administration, we will advance that protection through a truly representative process, one that listens to the local communities that knows the land the best and that cherishes the land the most. (Applause.)

With the action I’m taking today, we will not only give back your voice over the use of this land, we will also restore your access and your enjoyment. Public lands will once again be for public use -- (applause) -- because we know that people who are free to use their land and enjoy their land are the people most determined to conserve their land.

One values the splendor of Utah more than -- I’ll tell you what, there’s nobody out there. I just came in, and I’m looking around with Orrin and with Mike and with the governor and with everybody, and I’m just saying, what a beautiful picture it is. But no one values the splendor of Utah more than you do, and no one knows better how to use it.

With your help in treating our natural bounty with respect, gratitude, and love, we will put our nation’s treasures to great and wonderful use. Families will hike and hunt on land they have known for generations, and they will preserve it for generations to come. Cattle will graze along the open range. Sweeping landscapes will inspire young Americans to dream beyond the horizon. And the world will stand in awe of the artistry God has worked right here in your great state.

Together, we will usher in a bright new future of wonder and wealth, liberty and law, and patriotism and pride all across this great land.

Thank you to the wonderful people of Utah. May God bless you and may God bless America. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

And in your honor, I will now, with your representatives, sign this very, very important proclamation. Thank you very much, everyone. Thank you. (Applause.)

(The proclamation is signed.)

END

 

12:37 P.M. MST

President Donald J. Trump Stands with Local Communities against Government Overreach on Land Management

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:17

“The Antiquities Act does not give the Federal Government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice.” 

—President Donald J. Trump

RESPONSIBLE LAND MANAGEMENT: President Donald J. Trump is modifying two national monuments to continue to protect objects of significance while prioritizing public use and access.

• Today, President Trump is signing two proclamations modifying the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah.

• Bears Ears National Monument will be modified to two units named Shash Jáa, Navajo for Bears Ears, and Indian Creek, encompassing a total of 228,784 acres of land.

o Bears Ears was originally designated in 2016 to encompass nearly 1.5 million acres, including a patchwork of Federal, State, and private land.

o This modification will restore the majority of the National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land to the management status existing prior to the 2016 designation.

• Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument will be modified to three units encompassing a combined 1,006,341 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

o Grand Staircase was originally designated in 1996 by President Clinton largely for political purposes.

• Presidents have modified the boundaries to remove lands from monuments 18 times in the past. The most significant reduction occurred in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympus National Monument, which is now a National Park.

 

ENDING OVERREACH ON PUBLIC LAND: President Trump is ending past overreach and abuse of the monument review process under the Antiquities Act that has closed off land to the public, while continuing to protect objects of significance.

• The Antiquities Act requires that objects be of historic or scientific interest, that the area reserved to protect the objects be the smallest area compatible, and that monuments be designated on Federal land only. 

• Since 1996, several national monuments designations have gone beyond the intent of the Antiquities Act—to limit protected areas to the smallest area compatible—and now encompass millions of acres.

o In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt designated the first national monument at Devils Tower, which was less than 1,200 acres.

• “Objects of historic or scientific interest” is a term that has been stretched to include landscape areas, biodiversity, “viewsheds,” World War II desert bombing craters, and “remoteness.”

o Past administrations have abused the designation of objects as national monuments to fill in pre-identified boundaries that mirror failed Congressional attempts to make protective land designations.

• Monument external boundaries often encompass private land, and in the case of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, the expansion contained 38 percent private land within the external boundary.

• Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is the poster child for Antiquities Act overreach and abuse, having been designated to assist President Bill Clinton’s reelection campaign and end the development of a coal project.

 

A NEW POLICY FOR LAND MANAGEMENT: President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will work to put in place new land management policies to protect objects while prioritizing public access, facilitating infrastructure development, and allowing traditional uses of the land.

• The Trump Administration is continuing to protect public land, and is keeping parts of monuments to protect objects of interest within the smallest areas compatible. 

o The Trump Administration is not going to sell public lands wholesale.

o The Trump Administration will protect objects in the “smallest area compatible” with the proper care of the objects to be protected.

• The Trump Administration is making sure local communities have a voice by restoring traditional “multiple use” activities on Federal lands and waters.

o This will increase economic growth and prosperity, especially in rural communities, by allowing grazing, commercial fishing, logging, and in some cases, mineral development.

o Monument designations should be used to protect objects and not to unnecessarily restrain public access.

• Improving and developing infrastructure will help the American people experience our public lands that have been made inaccessible due to past overreach.

o Some monument designations prevent construction of future roads and other facilities, making the land inaccessible for use.

o Restrictions on vegetative management and maintenance activities have led to poorly maintained roads and even closures.

• Monument designations have greatly restricted multiple-uses like grazing, timber harvest, fishing, resource development, infrastructure upgrades, and motorized recreation. 

o Designating too much land for a national monument is harmful to the local tax base via the elimination or unnecessary restriction of grazing, timber and mineral activity and leases, as well as the restricting of access to hunting and fishing opportunities. 

 

A TRANSPARENT REVIEW PROCESS: President Trump and his Administration are being open and transparent in the review of monuments.

• The President’s proclamation follows an open and transparent review process originally initiated by President Trump’s Executive Order 13792, “Review of Designations under the Antiquities Act.”

o President Trump’s Executive Order limited the review to monuments designated after January 1, 1996, and over 100,000 acres in size, or monuments that Secretary Zinke deemed to have been created without adequate public input.

o The review only covers only 27 of the more than 150 monuments that the Act has been used to designate or expand.

• Secretary Zinke visited eight monuments in six States and personally held more than 60 meetings with hundreds of local stakeholders.

o Individuals and organizations representing all sides of the debate were involved, ranging from environmental organizations to county commissioners and local residents.

o Secretary Zinke met with Tribal representatives, including from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in Salt Lake City.

• Secretary of the Interior Zinke opened a formal comment period on regulations.gov, for the first time ever, of the review of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

Remarks by President Trump and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Leaders After Meeting

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:12

LDS Welfare Square

Salt Lake City, Utah

11:36 A.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much for being here. This is very exciting for me. I know so many people that are in your church -- the Latter-day Saints. The job you've done is beyond anything you could think of -- 180 countries, taking care of people the way you take of people, and the respect that you have all over the world.

I would love you to, while the media is here, just say a couple of words of what we just discussed -- all of the care and all of the giving that you've done. And to help people, in particular poor people, would be a good thing. And perhaps they will transmit that to different parts of this country and the world. It's so brilliant to hear it.

MR. EYRING: Thank you, Mr. President. We're here in a place where we have food and materials that we give to the poor. This is simply an example of what we do across the world, the idea being that we think we have an obligation to God to look out for the people who, without our aid, have tragedy in their lives, be it poverty or hunger.

And this is an example of what we do in -- how many faith missions?

MR. CAUSSE: One hundred and twenty facilities in --

MR. EYRING: One hundred and twenty. And would you care a word?

DR. NELSON: I was in China last week, and there I got see what a wonderful job President Trump had done just previously. (Inaudible) because of your visit, Mr. President. And I also happened to walk in on an occasion when the Chinese members of the church were bringing supplies for schoolchildren who didn't have means of getting what they needed to go to school.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that was very nice. I heard you were there. Formerly a great heart surgeon; one of the best in the world. And he decided to help even more people by doing what you're doing. So we appreciate that.

DR. NELSON: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

END

 

11:38 A.M.

Readout of President Donald J. Trump's Call with President Emmanuel Macron of France

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:06

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Emmanuel Macron of France. The Presidents agreed on the need for the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve their differences through dialogue. President Trump and President Macron also discussed the path to peace in the Middle East. The conversation confirmed the close relationship between the United States and France as allies committed to stability in the Middle East and North Africa.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Tax Reform: What's in It for You"

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 18:28

“Lowering taxes for families and small businesses is a central part of President Trump’s agenda, and we worked together toward this accomplishment for the American people.”

Tax Reform: What’s in It for You

By Sen. Mitch McConnell

The Wall Street Journal

December 3, 2017

For many Americans the legacy of the Obama economy is sluggish growth, stagnant paychecks and missed opportunities. A lost generation of workers still struggle with the consequences of the Great Recession and find it nearly impossible to get ahead. One of the biggest obstacles to their success has been our nation’s complex and outdated tax code. For too long it has dragged down our economy and taken too much from their paychecks.

That’s why the Republican-led Senate passed a critical tax reform bill that will help make America an economic powerhouse again.

Since Republicans in Congress began working on tax reform with the Trump administration, everyone has agreed that middle-class families must be at the heart of our plan. They will benefit from tax rates that are lower, simpler and fairer. Our bill doubles the child tax credit, preserves the adoption tax credit for families that open their homes to children in need, and roughly doubles the standard deduction. Under the plan we passed, a median-income family of four could see a tax cut of nearly $2,200—money it could use for anything from helping a child through college to saving for retirement.

Our plan will also help small businesses grow. That’s why it has the support of prominent advocates including the National Federation of Independent Business. Lower taxes will help small businesses create jobs, invest more, and spur economic growth.

In addition to these important provisions of the tax bill, the Senate also voted to deliver relief to low- and middle-income Americans by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate tax. For too long, families have suffered under this unpopular and unfair tax imposed under an unworkable law.

Lowering taxes for families and small businesses is a central part of President Trump’s agenda, and we worked together toward this accomplishment for the American people.

I am proud that the Senate rose to take advantage of this historic opportunity to give a break to middle-class families through tax reform. Now we will work with members of the House to send a final product to Mr. Trump for his signature.

Read the full op-ed here.

Second Lady Karen Pence Unveils the Christmas Decorations at the Vice President's Residence

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 18:25

Washington, DC—Second Lady Karen Pence continues the tradition of decorating the Vice President’s Residence for the Christmas season. This year’s theme is “Make the Season Bright” with metallic ornaments, stars, and candles throughout the residence. There are four Christmas trees on the main floor, donated by Hedlund Christmas Trees of Montesano, Washington. Thirty-six wreaths hang throughout the residence; nearly a mile of Christmas lights brighten the place; and 800 yards of ribbon adorn the Christmas trees. Approximately 40 staff and volunteers helped to decorate the residence. In the foyer, there is a fireplace with stockings hanging on the mantel for all of the members of the Pence family, including their pets. Throughout the month of December, the Pence family will welcome more than 2,000 guests into the Vice President’s Residence. The photos below provide a look at Christmas inside the Vice President’s Residence.

In the dining room, guests will see a beautifully decorated fireplace mantel and tree. The tree is known as the Grand National Reserve Tree.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

In the foyer, a Christmas tree stands in the nook, decorated with ornaments created by participants in the Art Therapy Program at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis, Indiana. A nutcracker stands on each side of the tree.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Ornaments created by participants in the Art Therapy Program at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis decorate the tree in the foyer.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Gingerbread house designed as a replica of the Vice President’s Residence.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

The gingerbread house is made of more than 100 pounds of gingerbread, candy, and icing.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

A nativity scene is on display in the foyer.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Metallic stars hang in the living room and wreaths decorate the windows.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Garland drapes the mirror in the living room with Christmas floral arrangements on the tables.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

A Christmas tree dedicated to military service members and veterans stands in the sunroom. Each branch of the military is represented with ornaments created by family members of the military.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Ornaments created by military families hang on the Christmas tree in the sunroom.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Garland drapes the fireplace mantel in the library of the residence with candles and pine cones on top of the mantel. Nutcrackers and miniature Christmas trees sit on the bookshelves.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

A Christmas tree, located in the library, is decorated with ornaments that recognize the Pence’s pets, Harley, Hazel, and Pickle.

There are copper dog bones and a whimsical mouse ornament on the tree.

(Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti)

Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:56

South Lawn

8:25 A.M. EST

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: We're going to Utah. We're going to be doing something that the state of Utah and others have wanted to be done for many, many years. It will be one of the great, really, events in this country in a long time. So important for states' rights and so important for the people of Utah. And I know a lot of you are coming out with me. We'll have plenty of time to talk.

The stock market, I think, is going to have a very big day, based on the massive tax cuts that we're very much in the process of getting approved. But based on the vote we had last week, the stock market has been reacting unbelievably well. The only thing that hurts it is the fake news, and there's plenty of that.

So we're heading out to Utah. Again, I know you're coming with me -- a lot of you. We'll have plenty of time to talk today. Thank you.

Q Mr. President, when did you find out that Mike Flynn lied to the FBI?

Q We have not heard yet a reaction to Flynn's guilty plea. (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He's led a very strong life, and I feel very badly, John.

I will say this: Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they destroyed his life. I think it's a shame.

Hillary Clinton, on the Fourth of July weekend, went to the FBI, not under oath -- it was the most incredible thing anyone has ever seen. She lied many times. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it's like they ruined his life. It's very unfair.

Thank you very much.

END

 

8:26 A.M. EST

 

Washington Examiner: "Democrats' straw man fights tax cuts"

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:52

“Tax reform, by closing loopholes, will reduce distortions, so productive activities are prioritized over unproductive ones designed merely to win tax credits. Reform will also remove incentives for companies to move offshore and keep overseas profits abroad.”

Democrats’ straw man fights tax cuts

Editorial

Washington Examiner

December 4, 2017

But the lesson here is not that corporate tax cuts don’t and won’t create jobs. Companies that spend an inordinate time scheming to avoid tax, and less time growing an efficient business, do so because the tax code encourages them to behave that way. They are slower to invest in making money the productive way because real business activity is riskier than the squeezing of every last penny out of a corporate tax return.

This is how a dysfunctional tax system such as the one we now have strangles a national economy, and it is why lower tax rates are needed without delay.

The main point of lowering tax rates and getting rid of loopholes is to encourage corporations to spend more time, effort, and investment on productive activity, and less time on devising new methods of minimizing tax exposure. Less productivity is detrimental to the economy.

Because the U.S. has nearly the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, American companies spend a significant, even outlandish, number of man-hours and money figuring out how to avoid paying it. They exploit loopholes, forgo opportunities, and worst of all, avoid bringing their profits home for reinvestment.

Tax reform, by closing loopholes, will reduce distortions, so productive activities are prioritized over unproductive ones designed merely to win tax credits. Reform will also remove incentives for companies to move offshore and keep overseas profits abroad.

Many companies would love to invest overseas after-tax profits in their American operations, but this would require them to surrender an enormous share of the money to the U.S. Treasury.

By removing incentives for irrational behavior, tax reform can dramatically increase the amount of corporate investment within America. It’s not just that corporations get some extra money to pass along. Rather, they’ll be freed up to operate in a whole new and far more efficient way that will inevitably result in new opportunities to grow and greater success against foreign competitors.

Read the full editorial here.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 02:38

Today, in the United States and in nations near and far, we celebrate the valuable contributions and inherent dignity of people with disabilities.  This year’s theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities—transformation toward a sustainable and resilient society for all—underscores the importance of removing societal barriers that diminish opportunities for people with disabilities and their families.  

My Administration is committed to expanding opportunities for Americans with disabilities.  In June, I signed an Executive Order to expand apprenticeship programs, giving more people—including those with disabilities—access to the relevant skills and tools needed to secure good jobs.  Through technological advancements, job training and educational opportunities, and increased engagement from business and community leaders, people with disabilities will continue to enrich our Nation and our world in new and innovative ways.  

Today, we rededicate our efforts to uphold the principles of human dignity, empowerment, and opportunity for all.  Too many people around the world hold the misguided view that disabilities justify degrading or destroying precious human lives or that people with disabilities should not be entitled to full participation in civic life.  This way of thinking will always be morally wrong and contrary to our Nation’s core values.  As Americans, we must set the global standard for ensuring those with disabilities are treated with the dignity and respect that all people deserve.  Working with other nations, we will advance the rights of people with disabilities around the world.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 14:26

President Donald J. Trump applauds the Senate for passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  The Senators who voted for these historic tax cuts did a great service to their constituents as they supported putting America first, growing the economy, and rebuilding our great country.  The policies in this bill will cut taxes for hardworking families and put our economy on a path of sustainable economic prosperity and job creation.  We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reclaim America’s great destiny. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to fulfill the promise we made to deliver historic tax cuts for the American people by the end of the year.

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj of Libya

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 02:19

President Donald J. Trump met today with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of Libya to discuss the bilateral relationship between the United States and Libya and opportunities for future partnerships.  President Trump underscored the United States’ continued support for the Government of National Accord and the United Nations-facilitated efforts to achieve political reconciliation in Libya.  The President also thanked the Prime Minister for his cooperation in counterterrorism efforts and emphasized America’s continued commitment to defeating ISIS and other jihadist terrorists in Libya.  The President and Prime Minister agreed to work together to advance Libyan stability and unity.

Nine Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 00:39

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Matthew D. Harris, of Utah, to be United States Marshal for the District of Utah for the term of four years, vice James Alfred Thompson, term expired.

Ted G. Kamatchus, of Iowa, to be United States Marshal for the Southern District of Iowa for the term of four years, vice Michael Robert Bladel, term expired.

Joseph P. Kelly, of Nebraska, to be United States Attorney for the District of Nebraska for the term of four years, vice Deborah K. R. Gilg, retired.

Joseph D. McClain, of Indiana, to be United States Marshal for the Southern District of Indiana for the term of four years, vice Kerry Joseph Forestal, resigned.

Scott W. Murray, of New Hampshire, to be United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire for the term of four years, vice Emily Gray Rice, resigned.

David A. Weaver, of Colorado, to be United States Marshal for the District of Colorado for the term of four years, vice John Leroy Kammerzell, term expired.

David C. Weiss, of Delaware, to be United States Attorney for the District of Delaware for the term of four years, vice Charles M. Oberly, III, resigned.

Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a term of five years, vice Martin J. Gruenberg, term expired.

Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a term of six years, vice Jeremiah O'Hear Norton, resigned.

Twelve Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 20:50

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Phyllis L. Bayer, of Mississippi, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Navy, vice Dennis V. McGinn.

Erik Bethel, of Florida, to be United States Alternate Executive  Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of two years, vice Sara Margalit Aviel, resigned.

Jeffrey DeWit, of Arizona, to be Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, vice David Radzanowski.

David T. Fischer, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of  Morocco.      

Tadd M. Johnson, of Minnesota, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation for a term expiring October 6, 2022, vice Terrence L. Bracy, term expired.

Lisa Johnson-Billy, of Oklahoma, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation for a term expiring August 25, 2018, vice Diane Humetewa, resigned.

Lisa Johnson-Billy, of Oklahoma, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation for a term expiring August 25, 2024.  (Reappointment)          

Mark Schneider, of the District of Columbia, to be Director of the Institute of Education Science, Department of Education for a term of six years, vice John Q. Easton, term expired.

Judy Lynn Shelton, of Virginia, to be United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vice Scott Allen, resigned.

Barbara Stewart, of Illinois, to be Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, vice Wendy M. Spencer, resigned.    

James Edwin Williams, of Utah, to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of Labor, vice James L. Taylor.

Thomas E. Workman, of New York, to be a Member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council for a term of six years, vice S. Roy Woodall, Jr., term expired.

 

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Kate Steinle Case

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 16:57

Yesterday’s verdict in San Francisco underscores the danger to public safety when our Nation fails to enforce its laws.  Kate Steinle was killed by an illegal immigrant and convicted felon who had been deported from the United States five times.  He, and countless other criminal illegal immigrants like him, should never be allowed to threaten our citizens.

It’s more important now than ever for Congress to secure our borders and provide the resources, including more ICE officers, needed to deport criminal illegal aliens and to finally stop sanctuary city policies that cause needless loss of innocent life.  Politicians who fail to address these needs share responsibility for preventable crimes committed against innocent Americans.
 
Had San Francisco enforced our Nation’s immigration laws, the Steinle family would be celebrating this holiday with all of their loved ones.

Photos of the Week: Christmas at the White House

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 14:31

First Lady Melania Trump and her son, Barron, welcome the official White House Christmas Tree to the North Portico entrance of the White House, Monday, November 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The tree, presented by the Chapman family of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wisconsin, will be stand in Blue Room of the White House for the Christmas season.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

A horse-drawn wagon brings the official White House Christmas Tree to the North Portico entrance of the White House, Monday, November 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The tree, presented by the Chapman family of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wisconsin, will be stand in Blue Room of the White House for the Christmas season.

(Official White House Photo by Kathryn DiFrancesco)

White House pastry decorator Kim Schaeffer puts the finishing touches on some of the many Christmas cookies for the White House Christmas festivities, Wednesday, November 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

White House pastry Chef Susan Morrison, right, and pastry assistant Brandon Blomquist, craft detailed designs on a White House Christmas creation, Wednesday, November 22, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

White House decoration volunteers prepare Christmas tree decorations on State Floor at the White House, November 24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

A White House decoration volunteer cuts lengths of ribbon to decorate the many Christmas Trees decorating White House, November 24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Christmas ornaments of the District of Columbia and the state of New York are just two of the decorations of the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House, recognizing the 50 states and U.S. territories.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

A White House window Christmas decoration is seen at the White House, November 26, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

A White House decoration volunteer throws fake snow onto a Christmas tree on the State Floor of the White House, November 26, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

First Lady Melania Trump examines the lighting decorations along the State Floor of the White House, Sunday evening, November 26, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

First Lady Melania Trump participates in an arts and crafts project with schoolchildren from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Monday, November 27, 2017, during their visit to the White House Christmas preview event, at the White House in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump wave to the crowd as they arrive to the 2017 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse, Thursday, November 30, 2017, in Washington, D.C. This year the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony celebrates its 95th year.

(Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

The 2017 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, attended by President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, on the Ellipse, Thursday, November 30, 2017, in Washington, D.C. This year the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony celebrates its 95th year.

(Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Pianist Gathan Graham performs in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Thursday, November 29, 2017 at the White House in Washington, D.C.

(Official White House Photo by Keegan Barber)

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Jelena McWilliams of Ohio to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 02:02

Jelena McWilliams of Ohio to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for the remainder of a six-year term expiring July 15, 2019, and to be nominated as Chairperson for a term of five years. Ms. McWilliams currently serves as Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Corporate Secretary for Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to joining Fifth Third Bank, Ms. McWilliams worked in the United States Senate for six years, most recently as Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and previously as Assistant Chief Counsel with the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. From 2007 to 2010, Ms. McWilliams served as an attorney at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Before entering public service, she practiced corporate and securities law at Morrison & Foerster LLP in Palo Alto, California, and Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells LLP) in Washington, D.C. Ms. McWilliams graduated with highest honors from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.S. in political science, and earned her law degree from U.C. Berkeley School of Law.

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims December 2017 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 01:43

NATIONAL IMPAIRED DRIVING PREVENTION MONTH, 2017

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On average, every 50 minutes, a person in the United States dies in a vehicle crash involving alcohol. We have seen too many lives cut short by impaired driving, and too many drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk every day. During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we reemphasize that impaired driving is never acceptable. We recognize that we can eliminate impaired driving through our choices, and we pledge to make the right choice by driving sober.

Forty years ago, alcohol was a factor in almost two-thirds of all traffic fatalities. Through the tireless efforts of States, communities, and advocacy organizations, we have made tremendous progress in reducing impaired driving and protecting the American people. Unfortunately, for the second consecutive year, we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities on America's roadways. In 2016, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. We must reverse this trend.

Drinking and driving affects all Americans. In 2012, 4.2 million adults reported having driven at least once within a 30-day span while impaired by alcohol. Driving while impaired, even after one drink, can dramatically change the lives of drivers, passengers, innocent bystanders, and their loved ones. My Administration is committed to raising awareness about the dangers of impaired driving and to eliminating it from our communities. Additionally, by reducing hundreds of harmful regulations, we are supporting our innovative American companies as they create new technology that can help us address impaired driving, from ride-hailing services to advanced vehicle technology. My Administration is also providing vital resources to law enforcement to support their efforts to keep our surroundings safe.

Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing impaired driving lies with each of us. We care for our loved ones when we keep them safe and prevent them taking the wheel after drinking alcohol. By taking action to educate our fellow Americans, through coordinated efforts with family, friends, neighbors, schools, churches, and community organizations, we can reduce deaths and accidents arising from impaired driving.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 2017 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to make responsible decisions and take appropriate measures to prevent impaired driving.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan, 11/30/2017, #36

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 01:39

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:17 P.M. EST

MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. As you all know, the Constitution states that the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend [to] their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

With that in mind, we're pleased to announce that the President has accepted the Speaker's invitation to deliver the State of the Union Address on January 30th.

As you all know, the holiday season is in full swing here at the White House, with Thanksgiving having just passed and Christmas on the horizon. We've also just survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the biggest shopping days of the year.

But right in the middle of all of this is another important day that deserves attention. Earlier this week was the 6th annual Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to celebrate and support philanthropy. It's a great reminder each year that we have the opportunity and the duty to give back to the people, the institutions to the country that has given us all so much.

As the Gospel of Luke says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Americans understand this. Year after year, the United States ranks at or near the top of the World Giving Index, which ranks countries according to how charitable their people are.

In a statement earlier this week, the President encouraged people all over the country to open up their hearts and their pocketbooks to support worthy causes. This Giving Tuesday, he said, "I thank those who have contributed to charitable organizations, including our houses of worship, and ask that we continue to come together to give and help others in need, especially to communities devastated by the recent natural disasters. Together we can ensure that the blessings of this holiday season are shared around the world."

The President is leading by example on this. As you're aware, he donates his full presidential salary on a quarterly basis. He donated his first-quarter salary to fund restoration projects at the [Antietam] National Battlefield. In the second quarter, he donated his salary to the Department of Education so they could host science, technology, engineering, and math camps for children.

And today, I have Acting Secretary Hargan from HHS to make an announcement regarding what the President will be doing with his third-quarter salary.

So, with that, I'd like to bring up the Acting Secretary. And before I wrap up, I just want to say how much we look forward to hosting everybody tomorrow. And I will be back up, after the Acting Secretary makes remarks about what the donation is for, to take questions on other topics. So with that, I'll turn it over to the Acting Secretary and be back up.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

ACTING SECRETARY HARGAN: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks, Sarah. So thank you, Sarah, for that. And good afternoon everyone.

As Sarah said, I'm the Acting Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, known as HHS. HHS is home not just to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but also to the National Institutes of Health, NIH; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as CDC; Food and Drug Administration, FDA; and the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency, known as SAMHSA.

That's a lot of acronyms, so sorry about that. But I want you to know what HHS does because I'm here to talk about the check that I was just given, written by President Trump to HHS using his third-quarter salary. His decision to donate his salary is a tribute to his compassion, to his patriotism, and a sense of duty to the American people. But it's his compassion, above all, that drives his interest in the issue to which HHS is going to devote his donation: America's devastating opioid crisis.

Since day one of this administration, President Trump's leadership on this issue has driven action on it across the federal government. Speaking for HHS in particular, earlier this year, we unveiled a comprehensive strategy that attacks the opioid epidemic on five fronts. The five points are: better data on the epidemic; better research into pain and addiction; better pain management; better targeting of overdose-reversing drugs; and better prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

This strategy devotes HHS's unique resources and expertise to empowering heroes on the frontlines of this crisis. Because after all, it's our local partners in community clinics, churches, law enforcement, schools, and state, local, and tribal governments who ultimately are going to turn the tide on this epidemic. They are fighting each day, face to face, with a drug crisis that is killing more than 175 Americans every day.

Just think about that for a second. That means we'll lose seven of our fellow Americans to drug overdoses during this press briefing alone.

That kind of urgency is why President Trump delivered a speech back in October calling for HHS to declare an unprecedented nationwide public health emergency regarding the crisis.

After we did so, we've continued to take aggressive action at our department, including approving state waivers to expand addiction treatment, and clarifying that doctors and hospitals can share information with the patient's loved ones in dangerous situations like drug overdoses.

Now, I got to meet some of the local heroes that we're working to empower just a few weeks ago when I traveled to Kentucky the day after the President's speech. We visited a clinic in Lexington that treats young mothers struggling with opioid addiction and their babies who are sometimes born physically dependent on opioids themselves.

The stories we heard in Lexington hit close to home for me, personally, because I'm from a small town in southern Illinois, the kind of rural community that's been hit hard by this epidemic. It's also the kind of community that President Trump has spent a lot of time in over the past couple of years where he's heard about how Americans are suffering.

Part of the way we aim to stop this crisis is by raising awareness of how devastating and deadly drug addiction can be. That's why we're so pleased that President Trump has chosen to donate his salary this quarter to the planning and design of a large-scale public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction.

And HHS is proud to be working with the White House on this effort. And our team of public health experts brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the table regarding how to make these campaigns effective.

At HHS, our goal is to create healthier lives, stronger communities, and a safer country. And we're glad to have a President who recognizes that the opioid crisis is a huge threat to all three of these goals.

The President is personally dedicated to defeating this crisis because addiction hits home for so many of us. You heard him share the story in his opioid speech about how he lost his own brother to alcoholism. And speaking personally, opioid addiction has been a presence in my hometown, in my family, for years. It was years ago, in fact, that I lost a close relative who constantly struggled with opioids.

So, this Christmas and holiday season, all of us should consider following the President's example and think about what we can do in our own private lives to help fight back against a crisis that's tearing American families apart. We all know people that are hurting this holiday season, and I know that we, as Americans, will rise to their aid.

So thanks again for having me here today, and thanks once again to President Trump for his generous donation.

MS. SANDERS: Thank you, Acting Secretary Hargan. I appreciate you being here today on behalf of the department.

Q You got a cold there, Sarah?

MS. SANDERS: I actually have strep throat, so, if you guys will bear with me a little bit I may sneak a sip of water here. Thank you for your concern. And I may not stay as long as normal, but I'm going to do the best I can.

And, Steve, we'll start with you on questions.

Q Thank you. With all these reports about Secretary Tillerson today, could you talk a little bit about the relationship between the President and the Secretary? Does the President have confidence in him? And does the President agree with all of the positions that the Secretary has taken regarding North Korea, the Gulf crisis, et cetera?

MS. SANDERS: Look, as we've said many times before -- as many of you love to write these type of stories -- when the President loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in.

The President was here today with the Secretary of State. They engaged in a foreign leader visit and are continuing to work together to close out what we've seen to be an incredible year.

Cecilia.

Q Can we deduce from that that the President has confidence in the Secretary of State?

MS. SANDERS: I think I addressed that pretty clearly just now.

Q Is that a yes?

MS. SANDERS: As I just said, and as we've said many times before, when it comes to questions like this of senior staff and Cabinet Secretaries, when the President loses confidence in somebody, they'll no longer be here.

As the President said on the record, and several of you were in the room in the Oval today, the Secretary of State is here and we're working hard to get big things accomplished and close out what's already been a very strong and positive year.

Q What's his future in the administration?

MS. SANDERS: I think his future right now is to continue working hard as the Secretary of State, continue working with the President to carry out his agenda.

Matthew.

Q Thanks, Sarah. A question on taxes. The Joint Committee on Taxation says that, by 2027, people making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year will pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes under the current bill while those earning a $1 million or more will pay $5.8 billion less. And coupled with that, the University of Chicago surveyed 38 economists. Only one said that the bill would lead to substantial economic growth, and all 38 said that the cut will increase the debt. Is it the White House position that these analyses are wrong?

MS. SANDERS: I can't speak to that specific report because I haven't had a chance to look at it and talk to the economic team here. What I can tell you is what I've said every single day that we've been of this process: The President laid out his priorities. We feel like the plans, as of right now, from the House and Senate meet those priorities of cutting taxes for the middle class, simplifying the tax code, bringing business back home. Those have been the big focus of the administration, and those are going to be the things we continue to fight for as we go through this tax policy.

Q The JCT -- nonpartisan -- their analysis seems to say middle-class taxes would actually go up in a lot of cases --

MS. SANDERS: There are several studies that say the opposite --

Q Does White House or the Treasury have data that would contradict that?

MS. SANDERS: Yeah. And there have been several studies that say that this is a good thing for the middle class. I saw one just yesterday; we'll send it to you after the briefing concludes.

But again, we're going to continue fighting for this and making sure that the middle class does receive tax cuts that they deserve and, frankly, that they need. And we think that we're making a lot of progress on this front. And we think that we're going to get it done by the end of the year.

Steve.

Q Based on Ambassador Haley's speech yesterday at the U.N., and the President's tweet this morning, does this administration now advocate regime change in North Korea? And if not, why not?

MS. SANDERS: This administration is focused on one big thing when it comes to North Korea, and that's denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That's our number-one priority. That's what we're focused on. Anything beyond that is not the priority at this point.

Jill.

Q Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask about the videos that the President tweeted yesterday. Firstly, does the President feel that he has an obligation to ensure that the information that he shares on his Twitter feed to millions of people is accurate?

MS. SANDERS: I think the President feels that bringing up important issues of our time, like extreme violence and terrorism, are important to do. That was what he was doing in that process, and I think he's going to continue to do that in a number of venues, whether it's through speeches, whether it's through Twitter, or other social media platforms.

Q But does he understand, though, that sharing those videos might incite violence against Muslims? And does he understand that he's elevated a fringe political group that many people outside of Britain didn't even know about until he tweeted?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think what he's done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat, and that's extreme violence and extreme terrorism, something that we know to be very real and something the President feels strongly about talking about, and bringing up and making sure is an issue every single day; that we're looking at the best ways to protect Americans.

John.

Q On that point, Sarah, did the President, when he retweeted Jayda Fransen, know who she was?

MS. SANDERS: No, I don't believe so. But again, I think he knew what the issues are, and that is that we have a real threat of extreme violence and terrorism not just in this country, but across the globe, particularly in Europe. And that was the point he was making, and I don't really have very much to add beyond that.

Alex.

Q Yesterday, the President tweeted that NBC should terminate Joe Scarborough because of an "unsolved mystery that took place in Florida years ago." Why did President Trump think it was appropriate to seemingly reference the death of Lori Klausutis in 2001? And does the think Scarborough is responsible for the death of his former aide?

MS. SANDERS: I don't have anything to add on that front, beyond the tweet.

April.

Q Sarah, a couple things. One, what was the tipping point between President Trump and Tillerson?

MS. SANDERS: Like I said, I don't believe there was a tipping point, considering they were sitting here in a meeting today, working hard to carry out the President's agenda. I think the tipping point is trying to do the best they can to make sure that they're making our world a better place, making America safer, and they're working together to get that done.

Q Is the President listening to Tillerson as it relates to North Korea, as North Korea is escalating?

MS. SANDERS: The President is listening to the Secretary of State, as well as the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Advisor, his Chief of Staff, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a number of other individuals, including world leaders that he has spoken to several times this week specifically about North Korea. And he's going to continue to do that and continue to talk to all of the relevant stakeholders.

Q What about John Conyers? John Conyers is in the hospital.

MS. SANDERS: Sorry, April. I'm going to keep moving.

Q What about John Conyers? He's in the hospital and there's a call for him to resign. What does the President have to say about that?

MS. SANDERS: That that's a decision for John Conyers to make.

Jon.

Q Thanks a lot, Sarah. Back to Tillerson. Where does the administration think these stories are coming from? Is it difficult, in your view, for Mr. Tillerson to carry out his job as Secretary of State with all of these questions surrounding whether or not he's going to be in the administration maybe through January of next year?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I don't know where those stories are coming from. I don't try to spend most of my day figuring that out. I'd rather focus on the points that I know and the points that we're driving through the administration. And the Secretary of State is a pretty tough guy. I think he'll be just fine carrying his job out.

Blake.

Q Sarah, we often hear the President -- or see the President talk about the stock market. We haven't yet heard from him, though, on a separate but similar issue, which is cryptocurrency. Has the President been following this at all -- Bitcoin specifically, the major run-up in it? Does he have an opinion on it? Does he feel or does the administration feel that this is now something that needs to be regulated by the government?

MS. SANDERS: I know this is something that is being monitored by our team here. In terms of specific briefings and announcements on it, I don't have anything that I can share with you right now but would be happy to follow back up with you.

Q What kind of monitoring?

MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry?

Q What kind of monitoring?

MS. SANDERS: Look, this is an issue, I know, that Tom Bossert, with the homeland security team, an advisor to the President, has brought this up in a meeting earlier this week. I know it's something that he's keeping an eye on. And we'll keep you posted when we have anything further on it.

Steven.

Q Sarah, I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Actually -- I hope you feel better -- I have a question about the President's health. Mr. Trump's predecessors, going back -- I checked as far as Ronald Reagan -- every year would go up to Bethesda to be looked at by the best doctors in the military, and they would report on their health and their vital statistics to the American public. We have a month left in the year. Does President Trump intend to get a physical at Walter Reed?

MS. SANDERS: I'd have to ask. That's not something I've checked on, but I would be happy to check on it.

Q Do you know if the President intends to share any details about his health the way his predecessors have?

MS. SANDERS: Like I said, I haven't asked him that, but I'd be happy to check. I do know that I spent 12 days on the road with him in Asia, and despite the fact that he's a little bit older than me, he had twice the energy that I do, and I'm the one sick now and he's still going. So I think he's in pretty good health, but I'll be happy to share any information.

Toluse.

Q Thank you, Sarah. You read the verse from Luke earlier about how to those who are given much, much is expected. Linking that to tax policy, the President said yesterday that this tax bill is going to cost him a fortune. Independent analysis says that that's not true; that he's actually going to save a lot of money and his family could save more than billion dollars. So can you tell us specifically what in the bill is going to cause the President to pay more in taxes than he's paying now?

MS. SANDERS: Yeah, I think some of the provisions in the bill, which may or may not be there -- we'll see what they final piece of legislation looks like -- but a lot of the deductions that he would probably normally receive might not be part of the package that would affect his actual -- what he pays in taxes.

But again, until there's a final piece of legislation, I can't go into much more detail. But I know that some versions of it take out a lot of those deductions that currently benefit the President and his family.

I'll take one last question here.

Q The President was pretty definitive yesterday when he said he would pay more, that his wealthy friends would pay more. So what was he referring to?

MS. SANDERS: Well, like I just said, I believe his reference was to a lot of the deductions that may no longer exist that are in the current policy right now. Again, we'll have to see what the final piece of legislation looks like.

Our focus, as an administration, has been to focus on middle-class tax cuts. That's why I think the President doesn't care whether or not he gets a tax cut or not, but his focus is on making sure that the middle class and middle-class families get those tax cuts, that we simplify the process, and that we bring companies back home so that they can invest here.

Margaret, I'll take one more question.

Q Sarah, you repeatedly said that Tillerson would help to close out a successful year. Are you saying that he will close out the year? Will he serve beyond that? And when you're talking about elevating the conversation here, does the President normally watch these kind of anti-Muslim videos that have been posted by this group? I mean, is that --

MS. SANDERS: I'm not sure every single video the President has viewed.

In terms of the Secretary of State, I think I've spoken about that pretty extensively and answered that question.

Q But that language seemed pretty deliberate by you. Were you really meaning to signal --

MS. SANDERS: We're all closing out the year. You guys are closing out the year in your news network. We don't set the calendar; that's something that happened a few centuries ago. The year is going to end whether we like it or not. And we're all going to close it out, and we're all going to do the very best job we can for the American people in that process.

I don't mean anything by it more than that. I'm closing out the year; you guys are. I know most of you are doing end-of-the-year stories, because that's how the calendar works -- the year ends. And we're going to end on a really strong note, and I think we're going to end the briefing on a strong note.

And I'm going to go get some water and a few cough drops. And our team will be around the rest of the afternoon to answer any other questions you guys have. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

END

 

3:37 P.M. EST

 

 

 

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims December 1, 2017, as World AIDS Day

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 22:12

WORLD AIDS DAY, 2017

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

The first documented cases of the human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) 36 years ago became the leading edge of an epidemic that swept across the United States and around the globe, devastating millions of individuals, families, and communities. As a Nation, we felt fear and uncertainty as we struggled to understand this new disease. In the decades since ‑‑ through public and private American leadership, innovation, investment, and compassion ‑‑ we have ushered in a new, hopeful era of prevention and treatment. Today, on World AIDS Day, we honor those who have lost their lives to AIDS, we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in combatting this disease, and we reaffirm our ongoing commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat.

Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, more than 76 million people around the world have become infected with HIV and 35 million have died from AIDS. As of 2014, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. On this day, we pray for all those living with HIV, and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS.

As we remember those who have died and those who are suffering, we commend the immense effort people have made to control and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the United States, sustained public and private investments in HIV prevention and treatment have yielded major successes. The number of annual HIV infections fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2014, saving an estimated $14.9 billion in lifetime medical costs. We have also experienced successes around the globe. Through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its data-driven investments in partnership with more than 50 countries, we are supporting more than 13.3 million people with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. We remain deeply committed to supporting adolescent girls and young women through this program, who are up to 14 times more likely to contract HIV than young men in some sub-Saharan African countries. Our efforts also include the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS‑free, Mentored, and Safe) public-private partnership, which has resulted in a 25–40 percent decline in new HIV infections among young women in districts in 10 highly affected African countries during the last 2 years.

While we have made considerable progress in recent decades, tens of thousands of Americans are infected with HIV every year. My Administration will continue to invest in testing initiatives to help people who are unaware they are living with HIV learn their status. Internationally, we will rapidly implement the recent PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020), which uses data to guide investments and efforts in more than 50 countries to reach epidemic control.

Due to America's leadership and private sector philanthropy and innovation, we have saved and improved millions of lives and shifted the HIV/AIDS epidemic from crisis toward control. We are proud to continue our work with many partners, including governments, private-sector companies, philanthropic organizations, multilateral institutions, civil society and faith-based organizations, people living with HIV, and many others.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 1, 2017, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and compassion to those living with HIV.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

National Taxpayers Union: "Tax reform makes America competitive again"

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 21:53

“Every Senator should support passage. Failure to cast a ‘yea’ vote could result in this opportunity slipping away, condemning our economy and country to the status quo.”

Tax reform makes America competitive again

By Michael D. Fryt and Pete Sepp

The Commercial Appeal [Memphis, Tennessee]

November 30, 2017

The U.S. Senate has the best opportunity in recent memory to do something truly beneficial for our country: Pass tax reform.

Every Senator should support passage. Failure to cast a “yea” vote could result in this opportunity slipping away, condemning our economy and country to the status quo.

Our tax code is a mess, well-known by tax experts, economists, and politicians from both parties for being economically self-destructive.

It contains a corporate tax rate that is among the world’s highest, and policies that distort basic business decisions – decisions directly affecting jobs and wages.

Most countries have aggressively improved their tax systems in the last 30 years to grow their economies by attracting new businesses. For example, the American Action Forum reports that, since 1988, all but two countries, New Zealand and the U.S., have dramatically reduced their corporate tax rates.

The Senate bill says “enough.” In a preliminary analysis, the Tax Foundation estimated that the bill, before amendments that could improve its revenue score, would produce higher wages, 900,000 new jobs, and sufficient economic growth to be very close to revenue-neutral over 10 years, assuming a current policy baseline.

Tax reform should pass not for our own selfish interests, but in the interests of our country’s future -- our children’s and grandchildren’s future.

The great majority of individuals, families and businesses will see lower tax bills if tax reform passes. Most will see their tax-filing processes simplified. But the biggest impact will be from economic growth — which benefits everyone.

Read the full op-ed here.

National Taxpayers Union: "Tax reform makes America competitive again"

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 21:11

“Every Senator should support passage. Failure to cast a ‘yea’ vote could result in this opportunity slipping away, condemning our economy and country to the status quo.”

Tax reform makes America competitive again

By Michael D. Fryt and Pete Sepp

The Commercial Appeal [Memphis, Tennessee]

November 30, 2017

The U.S. Senate has the best opportunity in recent memory to do something truly beneficial for our country: Pass tax reform.

Every Senator should support passage. Failure to cast a “yea” vote could result in this opportunity slipping away, condemning our economy and country to the status quo.

Our tax code is a mess, well-known by tax experts, economists, and politicians from both parties for being economically self-destructive.

It contains a corporate tax rate that is among the world’s highest, and policies that distort basic business decisions – decisions directly affecting jobs and wages.

Most countries have aggressively improved their tax systems in the last 30 years to grow their economies by attracting new businesses. For example, the American Action Forum reports that, since 1988, all but two countries, New Zealand and the U.S., have dramatically reduced their corporate tax rates.

The Senate bill says “enough.” In a preliminary analysis, the Tax Foundation estimated that the bill, before amendments that could improve its revenue score, would produce higher wages, 900,000 new jobs, and sufficient economic growth to be very close to revenue-neutral over 10 years, assuming a current policy baseline.

Tax reform should pass not for our own selfish interests, but in the interests of our country’s future -- our children’s and grandchildren’s future.

The great majority of individuals, families and businesses will see lower tax bills if tax reform passes. Most will see their tax-filing processes simplified. But the biggest impact will be from economic growth — which benefits everyone.

Read the full op-ed here.

Remarks by President Trump and His Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain Before Bilateral Meeting

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 18:23

Oval Office

11:12 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. It's my great honor to have the Crown Prince of Bahrain in the Oval Office. We're doing a lot of business. They're buying a lot of things. I heard $9 billion is thrown about. That's a very nice trip and we appreciate it.

We've had a long relationship and a great relationship, and it will only get better. I can tell you they've been, and you have been, a great friend. And we appreciate it very much, and we appreciate you being at the White House.

HIS HIGHNESS PRINCE SALMAN: Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor to be here. This is a very important trip for us. And indeed, we are building on a hundred years relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States of America. And the peoples of both countries have benefitted from this relationship, and we continue to seek ways to strengthen that.

And thank you, Mr. President, for honoring me with this meeting.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's a great honor, believe me. Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.

Q Do you want Rex Tillerson on the job, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: He's here. Rex is here.

Q He's here. Do you want him to stay --

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

END

 

11:13 A.M. EST

Readout of President Donald J. Trump's Call with President Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 18:21

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea for the second time since North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on November 28. The two leaders discussed next steps to respond to this most recent provocation by North Korea, including how to bring maximum pressure to bear on the regime. The presidents reiterated their strong commitment to enhancing the alliance’s deterrence and defense capabilities. Both leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to compelling North Korea to return to the path of denuclearization at any cost. President Trump committed to sending a high-level delegation to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The RATE Coalition: "An open letter to Congress signed by 137 economists supporting GOP tax reform bill"

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:11

“The enactment of a comprehensive overhaul – complete with a lower corporate tax rate – will ignite our economy with levels of growth not seen in generations.”

An open letter to Congress signed by 137 economists supporting GOP tax reform bill

The RATE Coalition

CNBC

November 29, 2017

Economic growth will accelerate if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passes, leading to more jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living for the American people. If, however, the bill fails, the United States risks continued economic underperformance.

In today’s globalized economy, capital is mobile in its pursuit of lower tax jurisdictions. Yet, in that worldwide race for job-creating investment, America is not economically competitive.

Here’s why: Left virtually untouched for the last 31 years, our chart-topping corporate tax rate is the highest in the industrialized world and a full fifteen percentage points above the OECD average.

The question isn’t whether American workers are hurt by our country’s corporate tax rate – it’s how badly. As such, the question isn’t whether workers will be helped by a corporate tax rate reduction – it’s how much.

The enactment of a comprehensive overhaul – complete with a lower corporate tax rate – will ignite our economy with levels of growth not seen in generations. A twenty percent statutory rate on a permanent basis would, per the Council of Economic Advisers, help produce a GDP boost “by between 3 and 5 percent.”

We firmly believe that a competitive corporate rate is the key to an economic engine driven by greater investment, capital stock, business formation, and productivity – all of which will yield more jobs and higher wages.

Read the full letter here.

Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 15:13

St. Charles Convention Center

St. Charles, Missouri

2:22 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: I told you that we would be saying, merry Christmas again, right? (Applause.) And it's great to be back in Missouri -- a sign of a lot of good things because you're doing really well.

And I want to thank Governor Greitens and Attorney General Hawley, who -- by the way, Josh -- where's Josh? Josh, our next senator. Where is he? (Applause.) He's going to be a great senator. And he wants to see a major tax cut. I think I can speak for him, right? (Applause.) And your current senator does not want to see a tax cut. That's not good. That's not good. She wants your taxes to go up.

AUDIENCE: Booo --

THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Mnuchin, who's doing such a fantastic job -- (applause) -- thank you -- and Linda McMahon. Everybody knows Administrator -- small business, became a big business under Linda. She's helping a lot of people. Thank you very much, Linda. (Applause.)

I especially want to thank Missouri's incredible congressional delegation: Sam Graves -- where's Sam? You all here? Yeah. They all flew in with me. They wouldn't miss that flight. Vicky Hartzler. Vicky, thank you. Thank you, Vicky.

Billy Long, who I think was my first endorser in the entire country, practically, Billy, right? Thank you, Billy.

Blaine Luetkemeyer. Blaine, thank you, Blaine. (Applause.) And he was great on television today. I watched him -- I got up early and I watched you on -- that was a good interview. Thank you. He's very much in favor of tax cuts.

Jason Smith and Ann Wagner. Thank you, Jason. Thank you, Ann. (Applause.)

And, you know, I have two others. I have a lot of faith in Faith, Sally Faith. Where's Sally, your mayor? (Applause.) Hi, Sally. Thanks, Sally. And Eric Schmitt, Missouri state treasurer. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Eric. You're doing a great job.

Just three months ago, we came to this state to launch our plan to bring back Main Street by cutting taxes for American families and small businesses. Today, I've come back to this incredible state to spend an afternoon with its amazing citizens -- you are amazing -- to help push our plan for historic tax cuts right across that finish line. We're going to do that.

With your help, we can usher in a thrilling new era of opportunity and growth for this nation that we love so much. Tax cuts have already passed the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Big ones. Big ones. The eyes of the world now turn to the United States Senate.

A successful vote in the Senate this week will bring us one giant step closer to delivering an incredible victory for the American people. Massive tax cuts and reform. I don't even mention the word reform because people don't know exactly what we're talking about.

You know, for years, they have not been able to get tax cuts -- many, many years, since Reagan. And the problem was they talked about tax reform, not tax cuts. I said, don't call it "reform," call it "tax cuts and reform." So every once in a while we'll add the name "reform." But it's tax cuts.

We cannot sit -- (applause.) Right? The Governor agrees.

We cannot sit idly by and watch ourselves losing in competition to other countries as they continue to take away our jobs because their tax codes are more competitive and less burdensome than ours. That's why we must cut our taxes, reduce economic burdens, and restore America's competitive edge. We're going to do that, too. And it's already happening. Look what's happening with our markets. People get it. (Applause.)

If we do this, then America will win again like never, ever before. (Applause.) A vote to cut taxes is a vote to put America first again. We want to do that. We want to put America first again. (Applause.) It's time to take care of our workers, to protect our communities, and to rebuild our great country. (Applause.)

You know, we've spent almost $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 16 years -- $7 trillion. Now, I'm taking care of it. We're doing numbers like ISIS has never seen before. We're wiping them out -- terrorists, they're bad. (Applause.)

And all of that, but we've spent almost $7 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country four times over. And we're going to start spending here. We're going to start spending here. (Applause.)

And with that being said, we're going to protect our country, whether it's North Korea or any -- but we're going to protect our country like never before. We're going to build up our military and make our product here and make our planes, and our boats, and our everything here. But we're going to build up our military. (Applause.)

But we've got to start focusing on our country. That's why I'm saying America first. Make America great again -- you've never heard that expression. (Applause.) All those hats. All those -- they've never heard that expression before.

Oh, that was a good expression and it's a true expression and it's already happening and long ahead of schedule. And in fact, today, some numbers came out that people haven't seen in many, many years.

This beautiful city of St. Charles is the perfect place to deliver the message that I want to deliver. It’s the place where America’s past and future come to life on its historic brick-lined Main Street. Nice street, do you agree? (Applause.)

It was along these very streets that, in 1804, the great American explorers, Lewis and Clark, gathered their final supplies before setting out on their very historic expedition of discovery. I have to say, I didn't really know that until two days ago. (Laughter.)

See? See, now the world is watching. Look at all the fake news back there. They're all --

AUDIENCE: Booo --

THE PRESIDENT: They're all watching.

Today, more than two centuries later, a new generation of American pioneers begins its own adventure, gathering inside the startups and the storefronts of main streets across the country, blazing new trails into totally uncharted territory of business and technology, and once again leading our nation into a future of limitless potential.

That's what we have in this country. We have the greatest people. It's the greatest country. I love this country so much. (Applause.)

Our country was not treated properly for a long time. We're treating it properly. We're treating it with love and with this. You got to treat it with this.

And today, just as it's always been, Main Street is the heart of our economy, the soul of our community, and the birthplace of American dreams.

But over the years, crippling taxes, massive regulation, and totally disastrous trade deals -- oh, the trade deals. Oh, I get a headache thinking about who made these deals. (Laughter.) One after another. WTO, NAFTA, the wonderful deal with South Korea -- remember, they said it's going to produce 200,000 jobs? And it did, for South Korea. (Laughter.) Didn't produce -- we lost 200,000 jobs. It turned some of our businesses' main streets into empty ghost towns. You see what's happened.

Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore American prosperity and reclaim America's great destiny. We've already made tremendous progress -- far greater than I would have thought. I will tell you this in a non-braggadocious way -- (laughter) -- there has never been a 10-month President that has accomplished what we have accomplished. That I can tell you. That I can tell you. (Applause.)

Today, again, the stock market has reached another record, all-time high. (Applause.) The unemployment rate nationwide is the lowest it's been in 17 years -- (applause) -- and 13 states this year have seen unemployment drop to the lowest levels in the history of their state. And I hate to tell you, but Missouri happens to be one of them. (Applause.)

We've created nearly 2 million jobs -- 2 million jobs, think of that. We used to lose millions. Now we've created 2 million jobs since I won the election. And, I want to say, since you won the election. I didn't win the election; you won the election. (Applause.)

And we will create countless more if we can sustain the 3 percent growth rate we have achieved for the past two quarters. But we're going to do much better than that. Remember I used to say, we can hit 4 and we can hit 3? And they were all saying, forget it, forget it. It was 1.2. It was doing terribly. We were flat. We were even. In all fairness, the stock market was going this way.

And now, we're hitting numbers that nobody thought possible, certainly not in this time. And the numbers going up are going to be much better than anybody anticipates. In fact, they're going to say that Trump is the opposite of an exaggerator -- the exact opposite. (Laughter and applause.) They're going to start saying, Governor, that he ought to be a little bit more optimistic because his predictions were low, can you believe it?

You know, a year and a half ago, they were saying, oh, he can't do that. Now they're saying, hm, that was quick. (Laughter.)

But by the way, the Commerce Department announced this morning that our GDP -- that's the big one -- in the third quarter, grew even faster than they reported previously. They made a mistake, they were too low. They had it at 3 percent. By the way, 3 percent -- did you ever think you'd hear that in less than a year?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: And now it comes in at 3.3 percent, which is the largest increase in many years. (Applause.)

And if we didn't have the hurricanes, we would have been at 4 percent. The hurricanes were devastating. And I said, they're worth a point. They said they were worth like .006, but I said they were worth a point. We would have been at 4 percent, maybe even over 4 percent, but we had hurricanes.

We took care of them. In Texas and Florida, they did a great, great job -- amazing job, tremendous leadership. And we're very proud.

Puerto Rico has been a very tough situation because of the fact that it was in very, very bad shape before the storms ever hit. But they're doing well there and it's healing and it's getting better. And we're getting them power, and all of the things that they have to have.

But I want to tell you there are a lot of brave people in every state. We have great, great people, and it's our number one resource, believe me. Really great. (Applause.)

But in order to achieve this bright and glowing future, the Senate must pass those tax cuts. Bring Main Street roaring back -- and that's what's going to happen. This was all done without the tax cuts, and I'm not sure that people even believe the tax cuts. I want to see what happens.

And the big day will be either tomorrow or the next day. I would say do it now. We're ready. (Laughter.) I said to the Republicans -- and I want to tell you, these are good people. They really want a -- I know they get hit hard, the senators and the congressmen -- but they're all working hard. It's not so easy. It's complicated stuff. It's not so easy.

But we had an incredible session yesterday. And I think we're there. That's why I said, let's do -- can we do the vote today? What do I know? I'm a business guy. Can we do the vote now? Well, they said, how about Friday? I said, I don't want to wait until Friday. (Laughter.) Right, Billy? I said, Billy, can we do the vote? Get me the vote.

Well, Billy has already passed it, so -- and then what happens, if it passes it goes into this beautiful committee -- this beautiful -- I call it a pot. And we mix it up, and we stir it up, and we bring all the best things out, and you're going to have something, I predict, that will be really, really special.

So, right now -- (applause) -- really is.

So right now, America's tax code is a total dysfunctional mess. The current system has cost our nation millions of American jobs, trillions and trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and compliance. It is riddled with loopholes that let some special interests -- including myself, in all fairness. This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing -- believe me.

Believe me, this is not good for me. (Laughter.) Me, it's not so -- I have some very wealthy friends -- not so happy with me, but that's okay. You know, I keep hearing Schumer, "This is for the wealthy." Well, if it is, my friends don't know about it. (Laughter.) I have to explain why.

Now it is great for companies, because companies are going to bring back jobs. And we're lowering the rates very substantially. But right now, we're bringing the rates down from 35 percent -- which is totally non-competitive. The highest industrialized nation in the world, by far, and we're bringing it all the way down to 20 percent. (Applause.)

But that's good for everybody in the room, whether you have company or whether you want a job, because we're going to bring back jobs. (Applause.)

And what we've had is a massive giveaway to foreign countries, which encourage businesses to relocate offshore. And you've seen what's happened.

Before this -- this is, really, I'm most proud, because, as bad as our tax code is, we have Toyota, we have big car companies coming back in, building plants in Michigan and other places. We have a lot of businesses coming back in, and they see what's happening. They see what's going on.

That's why they're doing -- our current code is a giant -- and really it is -- it's a self-inflicted economic wound. It's been that way for so many years and nobody wanted to do anything about it.

But all that will change and it will change immediately if Congress sends a tax cut and reform bill. The biggest tax cut in the history of our country -- bigger than Reagan. If they send it to my desk, I promise all of the people in this room -- my friends, so many friends in this room. It’s a great state. I promise you I will sign it. I promise. I will not veto that bill. There will be no veto. (Applause.)

Under the plan moving forward in the Senate, a typical family of four earning $75,000, as an example, will see their taxes go down by as much as $2,000. That's a lot. (Applause.)

Now, we're doing that not just to help people. We're doing that because it helps our country. You're going to take that $2,000 and maybe you’ll save some, and you're going to spend some. And we're going to make product back in our country again. It’s going to be made here -- going to be made elsewhere. But it’s going to be made here. We're opening up plants. We're opening up factories, and we're going to be great to small business. Wait until you see the final product. Wait until you see what finally comes out in what I call the mixer.

The beating heart of our plan is a tax cut for working families. That's what it is. We're going to make sure -- (applause) -- that you keep more of your hard-earned money. We're going to make sure, also, that you have a job that you want. You're going to have choice. In education we now have choice. Good word. Here you're going to have a choice. You're not just going to have one -- you're going to have a choice of many jobs. People are moving back into our country.

Under our plan, the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual will be totally income-tax-free -- zero. (Applause.) And a married couple won’t pay one dime of income tax on their first $24,000 of income -- zero. (Applause.)

Our plan will significantly increase the child tax credit and make it available to more middle-class families because the single most important investment our nation can make is in our children. Do we agree? You agree? You better agree. (Applause.)

Families will also benefit from a new credit for other dependents like a child in college, or an elderly loved one. We have our mothers, our fathers. You have your grandparents. You have people that are elderly that have done a fantastic job. They've grown old. You want to help them. Now we are going to help you help them. (Applause.)

We're also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don't know. (Laughter.) I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m President. (Laughter.) I don't care. I don't care anymore. I don't care. (Laughter and applause.)

Some of my wealthy friends care. Me? I don't care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree? (Applause.) As Hillary said, what difference does it make? It made a difference. It made a big difference. It made a big, big difference. (Applause.)

We want a tax code that is simple and fair, and that's for all Americans. The plan that senators will be voting on this week -- hopefully as soon as possible -- closes the loopholes that corporations use to shift their profits to tax havens, and it eliminates deductions for CEO salaries over $1 million. You see what some of these people are making -- a little ridiculous. (Applause.)

I’m driving up their stock. They're making a fortune. Then they go to their board, and they tell everybody what a great job they're doing. But what am I going to do? (Laughter.) And many of them, honestly, I don't like. (Laughter.) Oh, some of these bankers I don't like them, and they're making a fortune, and it’s one of those things.

Steve knows a couple of them that I’m talking about, doesn't he? (Laughter.) They say what a great job they do. Right now anybody could do their job because we're making it easy for them because we're giving them a great and strong economy. And because we've cut regulations more than any President in the history of this country by far, and that's for full terms. That's not for 10 months. (Applause.)

And it allows builders to build, and it allows farmers to farm. You know what I’ve done for farmers. (Applause.) Where if you had a little puddle in the middle of your field, you go to jail if you touch it, right? You know what I’m talking about. Not anymore. Not anymore. Not anymore. (Applause.)

And it allows bankers to lend. It allows bankers to lend again. So many people came up to me, and they said, we had a 20-year relationship with a bank. We never had a default. We never had a bad loan. Now we go back to the bank, and they say, we can't do business with you anymore.

Because they don't qualify, even though they're better than the people that do qualify. It's incredible. But we're back to the strong days of our banks. And not the days of trouble -- pre-that -- we're back to the -- where bankers can make loans and community bankers can make great loans to good people.

You saw what happened recently where the certain agency or bureau that was causing so much trouble to lenders, where they could not lend. They just couldn't lend. It was devastating. They were going out of business. Well, we're taking care of that. We've already taken care of a big part of it, and yesterday you saw we won the lawsuit. So that's going to be taken care of automatically. (Applause.) Got to get back to business.

Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and machine shops of America -- the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe fitters -- the people that like me best. (Laughter.) Actually, the rich people actually don't like me, which is sort of interesting.

And that's fine. You know what? I like that trade. (Laughter.) But really, the people that like me best are those people -- the workers. They're the people I understand the best. Those are the people I grew up with. Those are the people I worked on construction sites with. (Applause.)

All of the people who give their best each and every day to take care of their family and the country that they love -- these are incredible people. They came out to vote for me. They came out to vote for us. People that worked hard, two jobs, three jobs, that hadn't voted in many years because they never had anybody they wanted to vote for.

And they came out -- I'll never forget, in Tennessee, a great congressman told me -- they had early voting -- said, I'll tell you what, we just went through four days of early voting. At that time, it was Mr. Trump. Now they say, Mr. President. But it was Mr. Trump.

He said, and if the other parts of the country are like what's happening in Tennessee -- people are coming from all over Tennessee. They haven't voted in years, and now they've got Trump shirts and they've got Trump hats, and they've got Trump-Pence, and they've got everything Trump and Trump-Pence.

And he said, I've never seen anything like it, and I've been a politician for a lot of years. And if it's anything like Tennessee, you're going to have one hell of a victory. It turned out to be a lot like Tennessee, so -- (applause). And it turned out to be a lot like Missouri. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Because we had a big one here.

And I promised Josh that, when he gets it going -- and he's got it in very good shape, from what I hear, he's a popular -- everybody said, Josh, got to be Josh. Everyone who saw me -- I said, who's going to run against her? Josh, Josh. I said, Josh, when you're ready, you have my word, I'm going to come here and campaign with you. We got to get you in. Okay? (Applause.) Got to get you in.

It's not enough for the middle class to keep getting by; we want them to start getting way ahead. (Applause.) We're going to have them start getting way ahead.

Under our plan, middle-class families will not only see their tax bill go down, they will see their incomes go up by an average of around $4,000. (Applause.) And that's because we're going to cut taxes on American businesses so they will compete for workers, they'll raise salaries. The business is going to be happy and the workers are going to be happy and the country is going to be a happy place.

Although, we're going to have very strong borders. Please remember that, okay? Please remember. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build the wall.

THE PRESIDENT: We're going to have the wall. Don't worry about it, we're going to have the wall. (Applause.) We don't forget that wall. A lot of people say, now that he got elected, is he going to build the wall? The answer is, absolutely -- more so, I think more so. (Applause.)

It's not easy dealing with the Democrats. They want to have people pour into our country -- illegals. They don't care where the hell they come from. They want to have them pour into our country, they want to raise your taxes, they don't want to take care of your military, and all they're good at, frankly, is obstructing. They want to obstruct.

But you know what? They may obstruct, but we have gotten through all of the obstruction so far. We'll keep it going, believe me. (Applause.)

Today, America has one of the least competitive tax rates on planet Earth -- 60 percent. Think of that: 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world. So our taxes are 60 percent higher.

On my recent trip to Asia, every single one of the countries I visited, even those with communist governments, have slashed its corporate tax rates and slashed them dramatically. And it's very tough competition anyway. But when their taxes are a lot lower, it really makes it very tough.

And that trip was a tremendous success. You know, we brought back $250 billion in contracts. That's going to be over a trillion dollars very soon. (Applause.) That's a good week and a half's work. Boeing came back with contracts. So many of our companies came back, and I'm very proud of them. And we're doing great.

But at the same time, we're going to fix trade because trade is unfair. We're getting killed on trade. So we're going to fix our trade. Unless anybody would like to continue with this horrible situation that we have.

AUDIENCE: Booo --

THE PRESIDENT: Our plan gets America from the back of the pack and it'll bring us right to number one, where we were for years but where we haven't been for decades. We're going to be right back at number one. (Applause.)

And we're going to work on trade, but we're also going to work on military. When we defend nations that are very wealthy, and we do it for almost nothing, I say, why are we defending them? We love them. I won't mention names, but there are a lot of them. We love them. They're wealthy.

One of them has a cash flow that they say is unsustainable, it's so large. Think of that. How would you like to have an unsustainable cash flow? They don't know what to do with their money. And we defend them. It's going to change, folks. We're going to defend them, but they're going to treat us fairly. And they're going to pay for their defense. Does that make sense? (Applause.)

And a lot of this is from many, many years ago, when we defended a defeated country and then they became strong and they became rich and we just kept the same defense. What happened? Why didn't anybody go in and negotiate?

And when I was in Asia, I spoke to a couple of the countries about it, and they looked like this. Do you know what this is? (Laughter.) That means they know they're getting away with murder and they got to start helping us out, okay? So if you don't mind, I'll start bringing that up with some of our good friends. (Applause.)

We're going to lower our tax rate to the very competitive number of 20 percent, as I said. And we're going to create jobs and factories will be pouring into this country, and they already are starting. A lot of people think it's going to happen. I don't want to say anything. I'm not going to talk about it. I thought we had healthcare, and we will have healthcare. It's going to happen. As soon as we get the taxes, we work on the healthcare, we're going to happen. Because we thought we had the votes and something happened a little strange -- (laughter) -- that's okay.

When you lose by one vote, then it's called -- you go back. You know, some people said, oh, you failed with healthcare. I said, what do you mean we failed? We didn't fail. And by the way, what happened -- what happened is Obama took a long time -- years -- to get Obamacare, right? Again, ten months? We've had two runs at it. We're coming closer, closer. I think now we have a plan that's going to be great. But we're not talking about it until after taxes. And then we take care of healthcare.

Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don't want this -- welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform -- I see it and I've talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn't work at all. And the person who's not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that's working his and her ass off. And it's not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.)

So we're going to go into welfare reform, unless Billy doesn't want it. Billy, am I okay in saying that I speak for you? He said, yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Billy. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You got a lot of friends out there, Bill.

Well, we'll also cut taxes for the millions of small businesses that file as individuals, and that's going to come out of the hopper. (Applause.) It's getting there and it's going to be better and better. We're reducing the tax burden on businesses of all sizes and of every, single kind.

As a candidate, I pledged to fight for American jobs. I think it's possibly the number one reason I got elected. And I think we've done a lot better, at this point, than anybody ever even thought possible. Think of that, two million jobs since the election -- two million more jobs in this country since the election. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected that. Excuse me, I didn't even expect that. (Laughter.)

But you cut those regulations and you give people spirit and incentive. And when you have the highest ratings, in terms of confidence, that the country has had in many, many years -- maybe ever -- things happen.

The tax cut will mean more companies moving to America, staying in America, and hiring American workers right here. So that's so important, right? (Applause.)

Small business groups across our nation, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, grocers, contractors support this plan. We have tremendous support for this plan. Tremendous. Because these massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel -- (laughter) -- Little Rocket Man -- (laughter) -- rocket fuel for the American economy. (Applause.) He is a sick puppy.

Cassandra Porlier -- where is she? Where is Cassandra? She’s around here. Hello, Cassandra. I met you back there.

She and her mother, Teri -- hi, Teri -- they own a jewelry store on Main Street right here in St. Charles. They make really beautiful handmade jewelry. I got to see some of it. I would have taken it in my previous life. But now if I do, they don't like that. (Laughter.) We're not allowed to take jewelry, right? But they make it right here in the heartland. It’s beautiful. Our tax plan will ensure that Cassandra can keep growing her business, keep creating jobs, keep giving back to the community that she loves, and just make her more and more successful.

I assume you like that, right? Good.

Randy Schilling is also here. Where’s Randy? Randy -- hello, Randy. (Applause.) He’s the founder of O.P.O. -- that's an interesting name. It’s called O.P.O. Startups and a member to dozens of small businesses in the St. Charles area. He’s a mentor. He really mentors a lot of the businesses, and he’s respected.

He also did a terrific job renovating the old post office on Main Street, something I know something about -- old post offices. Did he do a good job, by the way? I hear. (Applause.)

They said yes, Randy. If he did a bad job, I’m going to stop right now and just say, good luck, Randy. (Laughter.) They said you did a good job. I know you did.

Randy knows firsthand how the high tax burden is holding America’s small businesses back, and our tax cut plan will unleash them to thrive like never before. He understands our plan, which will provide relief from the horrible, crushing, unfair estate tax, also known to many as the death tax. (Applause.)

We want to make it easier for loving families to pass on their life’s work to their children. Be nice. Be very nice, right? (Applause.)

That's a tough one. The Democrats fight that one I think harder than any other thing that we're doing. They fight the death tax. They don't want it. They don't like it. They don't want it. It’s one of those things. But that is one of the hardest things. I have to be -- I see people right here. They're obviously very rich, and they love their children, right, in this group? (Laughter.) They love their children. They're very rich. They want to pass on what they have without having to have the kids sell the property, mortgage up half of it. But the biggest problem we have on that one, these Democrats are being brutal. And I call them obstructionists, but they want to stop the estate tax. They want to stop the death tax from being rescinded. But we're going to try our best on that one.

Our economy will receive another enormous boost as trillions of dollars in wealth that's parked overseas will be able to come back to our country.

Now, this one that's interesting because for years Republicans and Democrats agreed. You have Apple, and you have these great companies having billions and billions of dollars overseas. Now who doesn't want the money to come back?

But to show you the lack of leadership that this country had in the past, the Republicans want it, and the Democrats want it. And nothing ever happened. You could have passed that one easy. In fact, we're just throwing it into this bill. I could have had a separate bill on that one -- I think. Don't you agree, fellas? I could have had a separate bill on that one and gotten it passed in record time. But I figured I’d put it here because it is actually popular.

But it used to be $2.5 trillion. You know what that is? Trillion. Money you can't bring back in. It’s prohibitive -- both in complexity and in the amount of tax you have to pay. So nobody brings back in -- $2.5 trillion. But $2.5 [trillion] I’ve been saying for six years. I think now it’s $4 trillion to $5 trillion. All that money is coming back into the United States, and it’s going to be invested in our country, instead of sitting and helping others. We want our own help. (Applause.)

That's sort of an easy one. Last year, American multinational companies left more than 70 percent of their foreign profits overseas because the current tax system penalizes them for bringing that money back home. They actually get penalized. Our plan switches to a territorial tax system that encourages companies to return their profits to America -- right here to the United States -- where that money belongs going back to work for you. Territorial. (Applause.)

If we want America to thrive in the 21st century, then we must stop running from the competition. And instead, we must start totally winning and winning and winning again. Remember when I used to say: We're going to win so much. We're going to win -- that the people of Missouri are going to go to your governor, and they're going to say, Governor, please, go see the President. We can't stand winning so much. Remember I used to say that? (Laughter.) Right? I used to say it, and that's what’s happening. That's what’s happening. (Applause.)

And then the governor is going to come to that beautiful historic Oval Office. He’s going to say to me, Mr. President, the people of Missouri cannot stand all this winning. (Laughter.) They don't want to win so much. They love the old way where they had lousy job numbers, lousy economic numbers, lousy -- yeah, they loved it. Please, Mr. President, please, not -- and I’ll say, Governor, I don't care what they say in Missouri, we're going to keep winning and winning and winning. Remember? (Laughter.) That's right. (Applause.)

I used to say that. I had fun with that. But we are winning. We're winning again. We're winning a lot bigger than anyone ever thought possible for such a short period of time.

For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates. It happens. Many, many companies --- they're going to Ireland. They're going all over. They're going all over Asia. But they're stopping because they now want to take advantage of what's happening and what we're about to pass, hopefully.

My administration rejects the offshoring model. In other words, let's build a factory in another country. Isn't that wonderful? That really helps us a lot. Fire everybody, and let's build a product, and let's send it in, without tax, back into the United States.

That model doesn't work for me. It never worked, and it shouldn't have worked for any of our other past Presidents, believe me. (Applause.)

Our new model is the American model. Call it the Trump model, where we build it here. As much as possible, we build it here. Simply put, our tax plan is anti-offshoring and 100 percent worker, 100 percent worker, 100 percent pro-America. (Applause.)

Under the American model, we're reducing burdens on our businesses as long as they do business in our country. Okay? They do business here.

Now, we love Mexico. It's a wonderful place. But I don't like when our car companies move to Mexico, fire everybody, build the same car in Mexico, send it through our borders with no taxes, no nothing, and we buy the car. Same price. We buy the car.

In the meantime, what do we get out of it? We get no tax and we get unemployment all over. That's stopping. So now the plants are starting to move back. And now there's a price to pay when they do that little number on us. (Applause.) That's how we will all succeed and we grow together as one team, one people, as one American family. (Applause.)

This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker.

To summarize: Our plan cuts taxes for the working and middle-income families; it nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero; it lowers tax rate; it expands the child tax credit; it provides relief from the estate tax, also known as the death tax; it cuts small business taxes; it reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent; and it provides a one-time low tax rate to return corporate money parked overseas -- trillions and trillions of dollars.

This is the right plan. This is the right time. We have a moment in time. The Republicans have the Senate. The Republicans have the House. The Republicans have the White House. It's very unusual. It's very unusual. (Applause.)

This is our chance to free our economy from our workers -- from the terrible tax burdens. We have workers that are so burdened with taxes. We're freeing our workers from those terrible burdens.

Republicans in Congress campaigned on cutting taxes. We also campaigned on repeal and replace. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. Take your time, it's going to happen -- going to happen. (Applause.)

Many Democrats have promised tax cuts that don't mean anything because they really want major tax increases. Senator Claire McCaskill -- have you ever heard of her?

AUDIENCE: Booo --

THE PRESIDENT: -- is doing you a tremendous disservice. She wants your taxes to go up. She's weak on crime, she's weak on borders, she's weak on illegal immigrations, and she's weak on the military. Other than that, I think she's doing a fantastic job. (Laughter.)

But now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp and which politicians want to drain the swamp. (Applause.)

If you make your voices heard and call up your congressmen -- and they've been terrific -- and call up your senators -- and they have been totally terrific. Most of them have been incredible. They really are. They're friends of mine. They've been incredible.

But, it doesn't take much. That's why we need more. We need to have a larger number. But most of them have been incredible. But call your senators. Call you congressmen, because we have no choice. We have to act. We have to act as a country. This isn't good for the Republican Party; this is good for the country and that's ultimately what's it all about. (Applause.)

So, this week, hopefully, the Senate can join the House and take that strong stand for middle-class families and for business, and for jobs, and for competition, and for bringing money back. Together, we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present. (Applause.)

And remember, I was the one -- when I was here last time, I said, we're going to have Christmas again. I was the one that said, you go to the department stores and you see "Happy New Years," and you see red, and you see snow, and you see all these things. You don't see "Merry Christmas" anymore.

With Trump as your President, we are going to be celebrating Merry Christmas again, and it's going to be done with a big, beautiful tax cut. (Applause.)

Thank you everybody. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.

END

 

3:06 P.M. CST

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Meeting with Foreign Ministers from the Western Balkans

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 15:11

Security Advisor H.R. McMaster met today at the White House with the foreign ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. They discussed how the United States and Western Balkan countries could further deepen and expand coordinated efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and the rule of law across the region, including in confronting the challenges of corruption and organized crime. They also discussed ways to deepen cooperation on combating terrorism and countering violent extremism. National Security Advisor McMaster noted that the Western Balkans continues to be a high priority for the United States and underscored that the Administration remains fully committed to the region’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and European integration efforts.

WTAS: Praise for President Trump's Tax Reform Speech in Missouri

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 15:05

Cabinet Members and Elected Officials

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin: “Today the President returned to Missouri to speak to hardworking men and women and small business owners, who are the engines of job creation in our country, about how tax cuts and reform will bring better-paying jobs to Main Street in America. We have the highest business tax rates in the developed world, and they have driven jobs and opportunities overseas. That is why we are working with Congress to pass historic tax reform that will not only cut taxes for families, it will make our businesses more competitive and spur sustained economic growth that will benefit all Americans.”

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: “Too much time, effort, and expense has gone into complying with the onerous tax code and people need relief. As Congress works towards a final package of tax cuts and reforms, I am hopeful that we can get this done to benefit agriculture and the entire American economy.”

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta: “Tax reform is about job creation. President Trump is working to revitalize America’s main streets by reducing taxes, and making the tax code simpler and fairer. With nearly 1.5 million jobs created since January and two consecutive quarters of GDP growth above 3 percent, the President has unleashed a spirit of economic optimism—but our work is not done. Lowering taxes for job creators will help them grow and hire more Americans for good, family-sustaining jobs.”

Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon: “America was built on the backs of our entrepreneurs….reforming the tax-code will help to revive that entrepreneurial spirit and spur further economic growth. I want to commend the President and Congressional leadership for their efforts and vision, and look forward to seeing tax reform cross the finish line.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “As President Trump made clear today, fixing our broken tax code is about two things: helping hardworking Missouri families keep more of what they earn and ensuring there are more opportunities and better-paying jobs for every American. I’ve heard from countless Missouri families, small business owners, and manufacturers about the challenges they face with our outdated tax code. They need relief, and I appreciate President Trump’s push to make sure they get it.”

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO): “Americans work too hard and produce too many great products to have our economy weighed down by outdated laws and elected officials who lack the courage to make tough decisions. It is incredible to have President Trump visit the 3rd Congressional District during this historic week. With all eyes on the Senate now, it is my sincere hope they join the House in passing meaningful reform so we can soon deliver a bill to the President’s desk.”

Rep. Billy Long (R-MO): “It was great to have @POTUS back in #Missouri today to talk about #TaxReform!”

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO): “The House Republican tax bill will ease the compliance and tax burdens small businesses will face and ensure that they are allowed to grow, create jobs, and build a stronger economy. During our trip, President Trump and I saw and heard the necessity of making sure that tax reform becomes a reality and I look forward to joining him and bringing much-needed relief to small business owners across the country.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO): “It’s an honor to accompany President Trump on his trip and welcome him to my home state. Americans are ready for a change in the tax code that allows them to flourish instead of just ‘get by.’ The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act would do just that by roughly doubling the standard deduction, which seventy-one percent of Missourians currently use. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and my colleagues in the Senate to bring Missourians and the American people much-needed relief.”

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): “President Trump knows that tax cuts for the folks in Missouri will unleash the economy and are [for] the people that he’s trying to help the most, and it’s nice to have him back in our state.”

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO): “The people of the 2nd District sent me to Washington to secure their jobs and fight to keep more of their hard earned money. Now—with the President’s continued support—Congress is finally on the verge of doing just that. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will reignite the American economy, it will make every day a little bit easier for that single mother of two, that firefighter, or that small-business owner.”

Media Outlets

The Associated Press: “During his second visit to the state to build support for the plan, Trump made a populist appeal for the Republican tax package, saying it would ‘bring Main Street rolling back.’”

Fox News: “President Trump on Wednesday traveled to Missouri to rally support for the tax overhaul making its way through Congress, as senators gear up to vote on the White House’s top legislative priority in the coming days. ‘The eyes of the world now turn to the United States Senate,’ the president said during a rally in St. Louis.”

The Hill: “President Trump on Wednesday rallied the public on tax cuts ahead of a key Senate vote. Standing in front of American flags and Christmas trees in Missouri, Trump told the crowd he came to the state ‘to help push our plan for historic tax cuts right across the finish line.’”

The Washington Times: “The president said that the tax cuts would help unleash an economic revival that he said was already underway because of his policies….He said of the Senate vote [expected] by week’s end, ‘Now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp, and which politicians want to drain the swamp.’”

Washington Examiner: “President Trump highlighted congressional Republicans’ progress toward passing a tax reform bill and touted the success of the economy on his watch during a wide-ranging speech in Missouri on Wednesday….Trump stressed that the reduction in rates contained in Republicans’ tax plan will benefit the middle class and not high-income households, as Democrats have alleged.”

Newsmax: “President Donald Trump touted the Republican Party’s efforts to pass tax reform Wednesday, saying it will help the United States win again….Trump's campaign-style speech drew several rounds of applause as he made the case for passing tax cuts and rattled off statistics that he said demonstrated his accomplishments.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “In a speech to about 1,000 invited supporters at the St. Charles Convention Center, Trump hammered at the message that the Republican tax plan is the best way to offer relief to the American people. Trump hearkened back to St. Charles’ past as a frontier city, saying America could rediscover the pioneer spirit, and he praised the city’s Main Street corridor.”

The Kansas City Star: “Trump, who spoke on a stage filled with Christmas trees, said that the tax cuts would be a present for the nation. He also promised that he would return to his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature policy, after the Senate passes tax cuts.”

St. Louis Public Radio: “Speaking before a packed audience at the St. Charles Convention Center today, Trump delivered a speech laced with a callbacks to history, promising to return the United States to a more prosperous time….He lauded benefits in the legislation for individuals and married couples, and he promised that companies would receive benefits that would let them offer more jobs.”

KMOV 4 St. Louis: “This was President Trump's second visit to the state to build support for the plan. In his speech at a local convention center, Trump made a populist appeal for the Republican tax package, saying it would ‘bring Main Street rolling back.’”

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 01:22

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Marvin Goodfriend of Pennsylvania to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the remainder of a 14-year term expiring 1/31/30. Mr. Goodfriend is the Friends of Allan Meltzer Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. He worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond 1978-2005 where he was director of research and policy advisor from 1993-2005. He served as visiting economist at the Federal Reserve Board 1982-3, senior staff economist for President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors 1984-5, and visiting professor at the University of Chicago 1988-1990. He has evaluated research and policy advice at the invitation of numerous European central banks. He is an honorary advisor at the Bank of Japan, served on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Economic Advisory and Monetary Policy Panels, is a member of the Shadow Open Market Committee, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Thomas E. Workman of New York to be a Member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council for a term of six years. Mr. Workman served as President & CEO of the Life Insurance Council of New York, Inc. from 1999 to 2016, representing 73 life insurers and 22 law, actuarial, and accounting firms. From 1973 to 1999, Mr. Workman practiced law with Bricker & Eckler LLP in Columbus, Ohio. He chaired the Insurance Law Practice Group and was Legislative Counsel to the Association of Ohio Life Insurance Companies. Mr. Workman has served on various boards, including the Ohio Farmers Insurance Company, the Federation of Regulatory Counsel, the Insurance Federation of New York, and on the Leadership Council of the Griffith Foundation for Insurance Education. The Association of Life Insurance Counsel awarded him the Buist M. Anderson Award for Distinguished Service. From 1970 to 1973, he was a Captain in the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corps. He received his B.S. and J.D. from The Ohio State University

Jeffrey DeWit of Arizona to be Chief Financial Officer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Mr. DeWit is currently the elected State Treasurer of Arizona and serves as Chairman of the Arizona State Board of Investments. As Arizona’s chief banker and investment officer, Treasurer DeWit oversees a nearly $14 billion investment portfolio of state, local and trust assets and handles over $30 Billion a year in state transactions. Prior to assuming office in January 2015, he was CEO of ECHOtrade, a firm he started in 1999 and grew to more than 500 licensed professional traders worldwide. Previously he was a market maker on the exchange floor in financial futures contracts as a full member of the Chicago Board of Trade and the CME in Chicago. Treasurer DeWit began his nearly 25-year finance career at Smith Barney in 1992. In 2016 he served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Donald J Trump for President campaign. He has an MBA from the University of Arizona and a BS in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Marketing from the University of Southern California (USC). He is also a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Board Leadership Fellow. He is married to Marina and has three daughters, Delaney, Katie, and Jamie.

Two Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 01:15

NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:

Marvin Goodfriend, of Pennsylvania, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a term of fourteen years from February 1, 2016, vice Sarah Bloom Raskin, resigned.

Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia.


 

President Donald J. Trump Promotes American Entrepreneurship

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 23:45

“I know that starting and growing a business takes tremendous grit and that facing the unknown requires determination.  I also know that taking on that risk makes our Nation and our world a better place.” -  President Donald J. Trump

A COMMITMENT TO GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: The United States is co-hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with India, which brings together more than 1,500 entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters.

• Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump is leading a contingent from the United States to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad, India, on November 28-30.

o This year, more than 350 entrepreneurs from the United States are attending the GES.

• The Summit’s theme, “Women First, Prosperity for All,” reflects that for the first time ever, the majority of United States and global attendees will be women entrepreneurs, a particular point of pride for Advisor Trump.  

o This year’s GES is focused on four key industry sectors: Energy and infrastructure, healthcare and life sciences, financial technology and digital economy, and media and entertainment.

• GES 2017 brings together emerging innovators from 150 countries and empowers women entrepreneurs in particular to take their ideas forward, and create new jobs and technologies that will benefit the United States and the globe.  

• In preparation for the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, cities around America held thematic events to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. These include:

o Pittsburgh: Technologies for the Smart City

o Houston: Investment in Energy & Infrastructure

o Milwaukee: MSME Value in Global Supply Chain

o Washington D.C.: Entrepreneurship Policy

• The Trump Administration, since day one, has created conditions that support small businesses, innovation, and entrepreneurs. 

o In America there are 11 million women-owned businesses that employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1 trillion in revenue. 

SUPPORTING AMERICA’S ENTREPRENEURS AND INNOVATORS: President Donald J. Trump and his Administration have taken action to help Americans innovators succeed.

• In February, the President signed into law the INSPIRE Women Act (H.R. 321) and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) to promote women entering and leading the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – and preserve America as an innovation hub for generations to come.

• The Small Business Administration (SBA) is focused on using privately raised capital and SBA-guaranteed leverage, stimulating technological innovation through small businesses, and supporting parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

o SBA’s microloan program provides loans up to $50,000 and technical assistance for small businesses and not-for-profit childcare centers. 

o Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) in more than 100 locations across the United States promote the growth of women-owned businesses through training and technical assistance, and provide access to credit and capital, Federal contracts, and international trade opportunities

o The Small Business Technology Transfer is a program that extends funding opportunities of $295 million annually to forge public-private partnerships that can help commercialize U.S. Federal research and development.

• The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship fosters the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services. 

o In September 2017, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that 42 organizations from 28 states would receive $17 million through the Regional Innovation Strategies program, a grant program for American entrepreneurship ecosystem supporters.

o In October, Secretary Ross announced $30 million to support 35 projects in 16 states under the 2017 Assistance to Coal Communities initiative, which include activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities.

HELPING GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: President Trump and his Administration are supporting American partnerships to help global entrepreneurs in line with the GES’s mission.

• The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the U.S. Government’s “Feed the Future” program, will launch a global competition in January 2018 for women-led enterprises to access investment and other business services to take their food businesses to the next level.  

o Feed the Future will also work with American food companies to mentor women entrepreneurs in Africa who seek to build their expertise, optimize business operations, and scale up their companies. USAID’s initial contribution of $2 million will leverage contributions from the business community.

o Building on existing and previous programs, USAID and partners are launching the WomenConnect Challenge to support comprehensive approaches to closing the digital gender divide.  

• The United States, in partnership with the World Bank, launched the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) at the 2017 G20 Leaders’ Summit along with 12 other countries. We-Fi has already raised more than $340 million in commitments. 

• America’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) works alongside the private sector to provide access to finance and services and to mobilize capital supporting business development.  In the last five years, OPIC provided loans to 3.7 million women.  This includes a $225 million loan to IndusInd Bank, which lends to 3,000 micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises and serves 1.3 million women entrepreneurs in India.  

• The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Bureau of International Information Programs connect entrepreneurs from around the world with United States businesses to exchange best practices and expand their business networks.

• U.S. Embassies and Consulates support entrepreneurs by advocating for improvements to business climates and by hosting hundreds of public events around the world each year from setting up mentoring connections, to hosting workshops on angel investing, crowdfunding, or business incubation.

President Donald J. Trump is Giving Small Businesses a Boost

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 22:25

“Together we are unleashing a new era of American prosperity, perhaps likes we have never seen before.” – President Donald J. Trump

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE CRITICAL TO THE ECONOMY: Small businesses are a primary driver of the American economy and when they succeed so does the country.

• There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, employing 57.9 million American workers, according to the U.S. Small Businesses Administration.

o 48 percent of all American workers are employed by small businesses, defined as firms employing fewer than 500 employees.

o Historically small businesses are responsible for two out of every three net new jobs created in America.

• Over half a million new small businesses are launched each year in the United States, creating more than 2.5 million new jobs per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• Nearly half of the United States gross domestic product (GDP) is driven by small businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

o Over 97 percent of United States exporters are small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

TAX REFORM FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: The tax reform plans in the House and Senate would cuts taxes for small businesses.

• Under the House tax reform bill, businesses organized as sole proprietors, S corporations, or partnerships would have their top marginal tax rate capped at 25 percent for qualified business income.  

o This would be the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years.

o Over 99 percent of American businesses are incorporated as one of these “pass-through” firms and currently face a top Federal marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent.

• Under the House bill, small businesses that file a joint return would have their first $75,000 of income taxed at a low rate of 9 percent.

• Under the Senate bill, businesses organized as sole proprietors, S corporations, and partnerships would be able to deduct 17.4 percent of their qualified business income with some restrictions on high-income households.

• For the next five years, American businesses will be able to immediately write off the full cost of their heavy equipment and other capital investments.

o This will help American businesses afford the heavy industrial machinery and other capital investments they need to grow. 

HIGHER GROWTH, HIGHER WAGES, AND MORE JOBS: The tax reform bills in the House and Senate will increase investment in the American economy, leading to higher growth, increased wages, and more jobs for hardworking Americans.

• Cutting the top Federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and allowing businesses to write off the full cost of non-structure capital investments immediately would mean faster economic growth and higher wages, according to President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

o GDP could increase by between 3 and 5 percent in the long term.

o American annual household income could increase by an average of $4,000.

• A 3 to 5 percent increase in GDP over ten years could represent an additional $700 billion to $1.2 trillion in economic output, based on CEA’s calculations and the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline. 

o Just cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent is estimated to increase long-run GDP by 3.1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.

• Developed countries that have lowered their effective corporate tax rates have experienced wage growth across skill levels.

o Wages for American workers of all skill levels would increase after corporate taxes are cut.

o Developed countries with the low corporate tax rates have seen significantly higher wage growth compared with developed countries with higher rates.

• Cutting corporate tax rates will encourage firms to invest back in the United States, creating well-paying jobs for hardworking Americans.

o After President Bush’s 2003 tax cuts, the economy created 7.8 million jobs over five years, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

o After President Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, the economy created 14.8 million jobs over five years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

o After President Kennedy’s tax cuts, the economy created 12.0 million new jobs over five years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

REMOVING THE BURDEN ON SMALL BUSINESSES: President Trump has already taken action to remove the regulatory burdens all businesses face, particularly small businesses. 

• Small business owners have the highest levels of optimism in over a decade according to Wells Fargo.

• Federal regulations cost the American economy $1.9 trillion and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees face regulatory costs nearly 20 percent higher than the average for all firms, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

o Small businesses are punished disproportionately by excessive government regulation and face $11,724 in regulatory burdens per employee versus $9,083 for firms with more than 100 employees, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers.

• President Trump signed an Executive Order, which mandates that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated in order to control regulatory costs.

• President Trump signed into law 15 Congressional Review Act resolutions – blocking harmful Obama-era regulations from being implemented.

• In President Trump’s first six months, the Administration has approved the fewest regulations with an economic impact of more than $100 million in more than twenty years, according to the American Action Forum.

Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah en route St. Louis, MO

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 22:16

Aboard Air Force One

En Route St. Louis, Missouri

1:45 P.M. EST

MR. SHAH: We're looking forward to the President's remarks later today. It will be in St. Charles, talking about the need for middle-class tax relief and business tax relief.

The focus of today's remarks are going to be on small businesses. He's going to feature two specific small businesses. One is a local small business incubator, and the other is a jewelry business -- they're a retail business that also wholesales to about two and a half dozen different retailers throughout the country.

So we're very excited about these remarks, and we're excited about the developments on pushing tax reform and tax cuts. And the President is going to make a push for "Yea" votes.

So with that -- yeah.

Q Democrats are saying that the President's tweets have become an impediment to the functioning of government, if you look at what happened yesterday and then the Muslim tweets today. How do you respond that -- that he's actually in the way of doing the work of the government?

MR. SHAH: Well, look, we think that it's never the wrong time to talk about security and public safety for the American people. Those are the issues he was raising with the tweets this morning.

With respect to the tweets yesterday -- or the tweet yesterday, we think it's very disappointing that Senator Schumer and Leader Pelosi chose to basically pick a fight and engage in a stunt rather than actually governing.

We've long been very public about our disagreements with Democrats on the issues. But choosing not to talk and not to show up, especially when we're very close to a government funding deadline, is irresponsible, it's reckless, and we find it very disappointing.

Q Is the administration doing anything to prepare for the possibility of a government shutdown?

MR. SHAH: Look, there are always contingencies in place, but we hope it doesn't get to that. We really think that Democrats' insistence on attaching amnesty provisions that don't go through the legislative process to must-pass funding bills -- something that Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have warned against in the past. I think Chuck Schumer said that that's the equivalent of an arsonist. So I think you should ask him about what's actually driving the government toward a potential shutdown.

Look, we think that it's very important to fund the government. We have vital national security interests from funding our troops to funding our veterans, and, most importantly, the national security threats around the world. We're seeing that, obviously, in the last 24 hours with North Korea's missile test.

So, we are not anticipating a shutdown. We think that we'll be able to work together, but the developments of the last 24 hours are discouraging.

Zeke.

Q The North Korean government claims now that it has the capacity to strike anywhere in the continental United States with a nuclear-topped missile. Is that the assessment of the U.S. government?

MR. SHAH: I'm not going to get into the details of our assessment, but I will say that the North Korean threat is very grave. It's not just a threat to the United States or a threat to the region -- or the Korean Peninsula region, but a threat to the entire world and the civilized world.

And we're encouraged that more countries are taking more significant steps to help apply as much maximum pressure as we can on North Korea.

Q The President, this morning, mentioned the possibility of new sanctions on North Korea. What was he talking about?

MR. SHAH: Well, I'm not going to get ahead of any announcement that's coming. I will say, though, that the maximum pressure campaign that the United States has been a big part of has really yielded a lot of results.

seen the toughest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea that the Chinese and Russians have signed onto. We've seen China restrict energy shipments to North Korea. We're seeing dozens of countries engage in different efforts in their bilateral ties with North Korea to cut off both energy, economic ties, and diplomatic ties.

So we're seeing more and more steps take place. We'll see future actions by the United States and others, and we're looking forward to applying as much pressure as we can to get to our ultimate goal, which is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

Q Can I look back on the tweets this morning? There's two separate ones I want to talk about. The first one is, obviously, the retweets of videos that were said to depict Muslims. One of them has already been sort of shown to not be a Muslim or an immigrant. The entire, sort of, decision to retweet a sort of far-right party in the U.K. has drawn condemnation from Downing Street. You might want to highlight security issues, but can't you concede that there's far better ways to do that than retweeting fake videos in a way that upsets our allies?

MR. SHAH: The President has been talking about these security issues for years now, from the campaign trail to the White House. He talked about them yesterday at the pool spray. He's going to continue to talk about them on Twitter, he's going to talk about them in speeches, he's going to talk about them in policy --

Q The security issue, right? But --

MR. SHAH: I think the President raised a security issue that we've been talking about at length. Look, we are now looking at the possibility of a difficulty in passing government funding legislation because of disagreements on immigration policy. The Democrats' priority is amnesty. Our priority is safety and security.

Q I have no idea what that had to do with a tweet of a video that has nothing to do with Muslims or immigrants or the United States. I just -- can you make the connection for me?

MR. SHAH: The President is raising these security issues that he's been raising for years.

Q Was the President aware of the source of the tweets that he was retweeting?

MR. SHAH: I haven't spoken to him about that.

Q How's the response to Theresa May and her office condemning the President for retweeting those messages today?

MR. SHAH: We have the greatest respect -- The President has the greatest respect for the British people and for Prime Minister May.

Q How did those tweets come to his attention -- the Muslim videos? Does he follow those folks?

MR. SHAH: Look, we're not going to be focusing on process. I know you guys want to. We're going to be focusing on the --

Q No, we want to focus on -- we want to focus on why the President is retweeting from a far-right, anti-Muslim party that's been condemned by the British leadership.

MR. SHAH: Again, we're going to be focusing on the issues that are being raised, which is safety and security for the American people. We're talking about extreme vetting policies, ensuring that individuals who come to the United States do not pose either a public safety or a terrorism threat, and the other measures that we want to take.

For example, ending the visa lottery system that allows individuals to come to the United States, and replacing it with a merit-based system. Remember, the eight individuals who were killed in New York City last month -- the killer, the terrorist came here through the visa lottery system.

So the President is going to continue talking about these issues because they're important for the safety and security of this county.

Q Does the President think that Muslims are a threat to the United States?

MR. SHAH: No, look, the President has addressed these issues with the travel order that he issued earlier this year and the companion proclamation.

There are plenty of Muslim-majority nations whose citizens can come to the United States without travel restrictions. But those that pose public safety or terrorism threats through our worldwide security review that was overseen by the Department of Homeland Security is why there were certain travel restrictions put in place.

Q I want to ask about -- both another tweet that happened this morning, and a story last night in the New York Times where the President seemed to be forwarding conspiracy theories. The one this morning was the implication, it seemed, that Joe Scarborough was involved, in some way, in the death of an intern in his office. I'm wondering if you could explain if there's any other explanation for what the President meant in his tweet.

Second is the New York Times story. Has the President, at any point since taking office, voiced doubt over either the authenticity of the Access Hollywood tape or the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate? And if so, can you explain why that's changed from the campaign?

MR. SHAH: On the New York Times story, there are a number of inaccuracies in that report. Each of the issues that it brings up, the President, for quite some time now, has addressed. Nothing has changed on his views.

Q What were the specific inaccuracies?

MR. SHAH: I'm not going to get into the details of it, just to state that there are a number of inaccuracies in the report. Nothing that the President or his staff has said publicly has changed. His views on those issues have not changed. And there's nothing --

Q (Inaudible) publicly?

MR. SHAH: You know, there's nothing further to add.

And then on -- I'm sorry, what was -- yeah, the -- on the issue -- look, I haven't talked to him about it. I have nothing to add on that.

Q Would the President accept a fiscal trigger in the tax cut legislation that Corker is proposing?

MR. SHAH: So we are supportive of fiscal discipline. We think that tax cuts that make American businesses more competitive and bring more jobs to the United States is the way to grow our economy, create more revenue, and fix any fiscal issues coming forward.

We're going to let Congress decide on some of these details, so I don't have specifics on that provision, and if we have something forthcoming, I'll let you know.

Q And is the President reaching out to some of these people who are on the fence -- like Senator McCain, Susan Collins?

MR. SHAH: Look, you know, he went to the Senate yesterday and, after meeting with the senators, got a yes vote out of the Senate Budget Committee. He's going to continue to engage with Senator Collins, others -- and he's spoken to Senator Collins about some of her concerns.

Look, we see a lot of momentum behind this bill. You know, we have passage out of the judiciary committee, passage out of the budget committee. We're looking forward to a vote later this week that we fully expect to pass, and we're looking forward to finally get tax cuts passage by Christmas.

Q Raj, I have two for you. One of the President's tweets this morning -- the retweets that are being condemned by Muslim groups in the United States as being part of a pattern. Some suggest that the President may be spreading Islamophobia in the United States. Does the President -- the White House want to reassure Muslims in the United States of their security? And what steps does the President take to do that going forward?

And secondly, with regards to Theresa May's criticism of the President, does the President still have plans to go England anytime soon? That seems to be -- it was delayed this year. When does he plan on making that trip now?

MR. SHAH: Well, there was nothing scheduled on a trip to the U.K., so any announcement will be forthcoming. We just don't have anything on the books right now. Look, the President is the President of all Americans. The tweets were about national security and protecting the safety and security of the American people.

Q Can you explain that? I mean, these were videos of -- now, in one case, a debunked video of some people that a far-right, anti-Islamic group was claiming was violence allegedly committed by Muslims against other unidentified people in grainy videos. Why is that anything to do about security?

MR. SHAH: Look, a lot of folks want to focus on the videos. We want to focus on the issues. It's about safety. It's about security. It's about ensuring that individuals that come to the United States don't pose a public safety or terrorism threat.

Q Does the President put the focus --

MR. SHAH: Hang on.

Q He didn't retweet issues; he retweeted videos.

MR. SHAH: No, but he is raising the issues.

Q Yeah, but with those videos, if the President wants to make a policy point and talk about national security, couldn't he do that in a way that doesn't include fake videos?

MR. SHAH: He does do that, often. He did that yesterday and he continues to do that all the time. He's talked about -- extensively about these issues. He's signed presidential proclamations, signed executive orders. He's talked about these issues at quite some length, and today was just another example of it.

Q Senator Lee and Senator Rubio, today, have been floating a proposal to sort of bump up the corporate rate to 22 percent. I know that you guys have said a lot of this is getting sorted on Capitol Hill. You've said that corporate rate is one of your bright lines -- red lines, on this. So, can you say whether or not you would support that proposal, specifically?

MR. SHAH: We do support the child tax credit. We also think that it's important to make businesses more competitive. We would not support raising the corporate rate as outlined in that amendment.

Q You talked about improving -- making improvements for the middle class. Can you give us any examples of what the President is looking for and to make things better for the middle class in this package?

MR. SHAH: In this package? Yeah, look, this bill provides significant middle-class tax relief. It provides tax relief in the form of the child tax credit. Both the House and Senate proposals that have moved forward have significant tax relief for middle-class families. A family of four in the median income would receive, on average, an $1,182 tax credit, so -- or tax cut -- so we believe it's a huge boom for the middle class.

All right, folks.

Q Monday to Utah?

MR. SHAH: I can't confirm that.

END

 

1:57 P.M. EST

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