2:06 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank you. Great job, Brock. Really fantastic. Thank you very much. And we really appreciate the job you’ve done. It’s been amazing, and you really have kept quite busy, I would say, unfortunately. We had no choice. We were hit hard. But you’ve done a fantastic job. So I want to thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Nielsen, Administrator Long, I want to thank you for hosting this incredible group of people. I’d like to sort of maybe say and pay some respects to some of the people here today. I have a list. Of course, we have to start with our great First Lady, Melania. Thank you, Melania. She’s doing great. (Applause.) She went through a little rough patch, but she’s doing great. And we’re very proud of her. She’s done a fantastic job as First Lady. The people love you. The people of our country love you. So thank you, honey.
And Vice President Pence. Mike. Mike, another great job you are doing. Secretary Michael Pompeo. We’re keeping him very busy. We’re keeping you so busy. You’re going to be flying — a lot of flying in the next couple of weeks. But what a job you’ve done, and we appreciate it. The whole country appreciates it, Mike. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Steve Mnuchin. Steve, wherever you may be. He’s working hard on those taxes and keeping the taxes down. We passed the greatest tax cut in the history of our country, and lots of other things. And thank you very much. Great.
I think we say that we have had the strongest — this is the strongest, from an economic standpoint, that our country has ever been. We’re doing better in terms of business, in terms of unemployment. We’ve broken the record with so many different groups. African American, the lowest unemployment in history. The Hispanic lowest unemployment in history. Women, lowest unemployment in 21 years. Seven trillion dollars in worth we’ve created since the election. Seven trillion with a “T.” Not with even a “B.” And that’s a number that nobody would have thought was possible. So thank you to everybody. That’s been fantastic.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you very much. Secretary Ryan Zinke. Keeping very busy. I know that, Ryan. That’s good. That’s good for you. Right? Keeping busy and opening up those lands so people can use them and enjoy them. Largest landlord in the world, Ryan. Nobody knows that. But you’re the largest — by far, the largest landlord. It’s almost half the United States if you think about it. Right? So great job you’re doing. Sonny Perdue. And those farms are doing well, and I did the farmers a big favor last night. Right?
SECRETARY PERDUE: You did. Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: I did a big, big favor for the farmers. We love the farmers, and they were happy.
SECRETARY PERDUE: They love you.
THE PRESIDENT: I know that Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst were very happy with what we did. So thank you for your help. I appreciate it.
Wilbur Ross, Secretary. I appreciate it, Wilbur. We’re renegotiating a lot of trade deals, and they’re really fantastic. And it’s going to — we have the worst trade deals ever made. And we’re going to have now fair trade deals. We have made the worst deals ever made. NAFTA is a disaster. World Trade Organization is a disaster. I could go deal after deal, and it’s been very unfair to our country, to our workers, to our companies, and to everybody else involved. And we’re changing them around rapidly. So, Wilbur Ross, thank you very much.
Secretary Alex Azar. Alex, I’m very proud of what you’ve done. And you’re coming up in about another month with healthcare. Maybe even sooner than that. We’re going to have a great healthcare bill planned. And it’s going to be great healthcare for a much smaller price than anybody ever thought possible. And I really appreciate that. And our new project that we’re really working on very hard is reducing the cost of prescription medicine. And that’s going to be something that people will not forget. Some people think that’s almost more important than the healthcare. I’ve had people say, “Which is more important?” They’re both important. But we’re reducing the cost of medicine because of what you’re doing, and we appreciate it.
Secretary Ben Carson, who’s got some things going on at HUD that we’re very excited. We had lunch the other day, and what you’re doing is great, Ben. That’s really inspirational. More than just brick and mortar. It’s really inspirational, Ben. And we appreciate it very much. Thank you very much.
Elaine Chao, Secretary. All you do is produce. You do it in a very quiet way and so effective and so incredible. What a job you’re doing with transportation. It was a great decision. Thank you very much.
Rick Perry. Rick is — I thought you were going to the VA. But we have great people at the VA, so — (laughter) — so now we don’t have to worry about the VA. I think we have great — I always thought Rick — I’d put him right over in the VA, and you would have done great there, too. But you’re doing a fantastic job at Energy. And we’re now the largest in the world in energy, Rick. The largest in the world. And we’re now exporting energy for the first time. Never did it. Now we’re exporting energy. But we have become the largest energy producer in the world. Who would have thought? But we’ve opened it up a little bit, Rick, right? And we’ve let our people go and do their thing. And they’re doing a great job.
Acting Secretary of the VA, Peter O’Rourke. And, Peter, the combination of you and Wilkie, I think that’s going to be an unbeatable combination. So thank you for all your help. I’m hearing only good things.
Secretary Nielsen. I don’t know, what do I say about you? (Laughter.) Huh? You are doing great. And the border is coming along. And the wall is going up. We have $1.6 billion being spent on phase one of the wall and we’ll get additional funding. And every week that goes by, people realize it more and more that we have to have the wall. And we’re doing great in San Diego and different places.
General John Kelly is here someplace. General? Good, General. Great job, John.
Administrator Scott Pruitt. Thank you, Scott, very much. EPA is doing really, really well. And you know, somebody has to say that about you a little bit. You know that, Scott. (Laughter.) But you have done — I tell you, the EPA is doing so well. So many approvals — and disapprovals. If they don’t qualify, they don’t qualify. But we don’t have to wait 15 years to tell somebody they don’t qualify. And people are really impressed with the job that’s being done at the EPA. Thank you very much, Scott.
Mick Mulvaney. He’s got two hats on now, right, Mick? You’ve got two hats, not just one. And you’re doing great at both. But Office of Management and Budget has been good, and our budget this year will be — there will be a lot of cutting, because we want to cut. You know, Mick is really more of a cutter than the other. But we had to get the military through. We got $700 billion approved for military. We needed that.
And in order to get that done, we had to do some things for the Democrats that we would normally not do — because we consider a lot of it waste and a horror show. But in order to get our military and $6 billion for opioid. So we got the — which Melania is so heavily involved in — and we got that taken care of. And very importantly, next year, $716 billion for military. So, Mick, great job. And this time, you can start cutting, okay? Because we have our military taken care of now, so you can start really cutting.
A friend of mine for a long time, Administrator Linda McMahon. And, Linda, I was just being told the other day what you’ve done in small business has been incredible. One of the real stars. And Vince and myself and your family, we’re all proud of you. But what you’ve done is fantastic. So much work. People don’t realize your small business is really — it’s really a very massive business. And you add it all up and those numbers are not small business. They’re bigger than just about any company you can even think of. So congratulations, Linda. Thank you very much.
Governor Rick Scott. We have a lot of people around and watching. You know, we’re on screens all over the country and I think beyond. But we have Governor Rick Scott of Florida is there, and he’s watching and he’s done a fantastic job. He’s now running for the United States Senate. And I won’t get political, but I think you’re going to do very well, okay? That’s not political, is it?
Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Deputy, who is — thanks, Patrick — really doing a job. And you’re bringing in all that money under budget. I know that. You know, you’re going to buy two airplanes instead of one for the same price, right? That’s what we want. He did a fantastic job at the company that he worked for on that. And we appreciate that very much. And it’s so important that when you go out and buy the equipment that we’re talking about buying — you know, hundreds and hundreds of jet fighters and bombers and planes and boats and ships and everything — we got to get the great price. All right? We got to get the great price. And if we can help you, let us know. Because there’s very few things so important.
Administrator Mark Green, U.S. Agency for International Development. And thank you very much, Mark. We appreciate it very much. Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Neil Jacobs and Administrator Brock Long. Vice Chairman Paul Selva. General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy. And, as you know, Charles Ray. Good old — I knew Ray Charles. I didn’t know Charles Ray, but — (laughter) — now I know Charles Ray. So, you know, that’s pretty good, too. I don’t know, maybe Ray Charles is even better, right? I don’t know. But we appreciate the great job you’ve done. Thank you very much.
I want to start just by saying that we’ve had three devastating major hurricanes that hit our country within a month’s time. There’s never been really anything like it. And in the case of Texas, it wouldn’t even go away. It would come in. We thought it was gone. It would go back out. It would reload. And this happened three different times, Brock. That was a record raindrop. That was a record water drop on a state, and it wasn’t even close.
And shortly thereafter, we dealt with the threat of another hurricane and then destructive wildfires along the West Coast, in California and other places. America has never experienced so many large-scale disasters in so short a period of time. And we have the most qualified staff between the Secretary and Brock, and all of your people. You’ve been fantastic. And it goes a little bit unrecognized, because all you do is see people fighting and working, and getting the fires out and the water off the land, and all of the things.
But believe me, the country has watched, and they’ve seen an incredible job what you’ve done.
Our entire government leapt into action to coordinate the response, along with the state and local leaders. And we did have a lot of help from some really great governors — Florida, Texas. A lot of great people helped us, and it was great.
Families in Texas and Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi — they were all affected. Hard to believe. And on tribal lands, where the hit was catastrophic, and the storms were really historic in their severity.
But in the wake of such tragedy, we also witnessed the resilience of the American people and the professionalism, talent, and devotion of the men and women of FEMA. Good group, right?
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Great group.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a great group of people, and throughout our government. Last year, more than 17,000 FEMA and other federal employees, as well as 14,000 personnel from the Department of Defense National Guard, were deployed to support the massive response and recovery efforts left by these storms and these tragedies.
Administrator Long, I want to thank you in particular for the incredible job and the unbelievable teams of men and women that you led to take care of these problems. You have done a job. They’re talking about you all over. Don’t leave us, though, okay? Just relax. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY NIELSEN: Oh, he’s here.
THE PRESIDENT: In fact, we could have put him in a different position. We didn’t want to. We want him right there. It’s not an easy position. But you have really stepped forward, and we appreciate it.
I also want to recognize the Coast Guard, our other military services. I have to tell you, the Coast Guard saved 16,000 people. What do you think of that, Ben? Sixteen-thousand people. (Applause.) And I think — you know, honestly, they don’t get enough credit in many ways.
Mike made the commencement address this year at the Coast Guard Academy. I did it the year before. I don’t think the Coast Guard gets enough credit. And I’ve said it, and I even say it to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. I said, I think this year the Coast Guard, maybe in terms of increased branding — the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible what’s happened. Saved 16,000 people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane. That didn’t work out too well. That didn’t work out too well.
So I just want to thank all of the people in the Coast Guard and all of our services for having been incredible. The National Weather Service; the American Red Cross — been amazing;, state and local governments; our brave first responders; law enforcement — always law enforcement; and so many others who came together to save lives, restore hope, and rebuild our communities.
As we enter the hurricane season again — here we go. Right? You’re ready?
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: But we’re entering it. This is it. We are marshaling every available resource to ensure maximum preparation for rapid response. That’s what we had last year. Disaster response and recovery is best achieved when it’s federally supported, state-managed, and locally executed. You agree with that, I think, Brock — right?
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: This is really the great model that we’ve built, and there’s no better model anywhere in the world. And we do help other countries, also, when there’s catastrophic events, like in Mexico and other places. We’re always there. We’re always there for them.
So I look forward to your briefing and I look forward to a very productive discussion. It’s an honor to be with all of the great people that work so hard in the Trump administration.
And, Mike, I’m going to ask you to say a few words. And thank for having done a great job.
2:22 P.M. EDT