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Roosevelt Room

11:41 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all for being here.  Very much appreciated.  We welcome you to the White House.  Have you all been to the White House before?  Have you been here before?

Q    Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s good.  Well you guys have been — most people say no.  I’m very impressed with that count.

I’m thrilled to be joined by Governor Paul LePage, Kim Reynolds, Pete Ricketts and Bill Walker, along with state and tribal leaders from around our great country.  I’d also like to thank Secretary Perry and EPA Administrator Pruitt — both here also — for their work to help the United States achieve true energy dominance.  And that’s what’s happening.  We’ve made so much progress with respect to energy just in the last four months.  It’s been an incredible journey, I will tell you.  We’ve learned a lot and we’ve made a lot — we’re here to talk about how we can create new prosperity for our citizens by unlocking vast treasures of energy reserves, which we have a great deal — far more than anyone understood.

I’m proud to have such a large gathering of tribal leaders here at the White House.  I look forward to more government-to-government consultations with tribal leaders about the issues important to Indian Country.  We love Indian Country, right?

Many of your lands have rich, natural resources that stand to benefit your people immensely.  These untapped resources of wealth can help you build new schools, fix roads, improve your communities, and create jobs — jobs like you’ve never seen before.  All you want is the freedom to use them, and that’s been the problem.  It’s been very difficult, hasn’t it?  It will be a lot easier now under the Trump administration.

For too long the federal government has put up restrictions and regulations that put this energy wealth out of reach.  It’s just totally out of reach.  It’s been really restricted, the development itself has been restricted, and vast amounts of deposits of coal and other resources have, in a way, been taken out of your hands.  And we’re going to have that changed.  We’re going to put it back in your hands.

These infringements on tribal sovereignty are deeply unfair to Native Americans and Native American communities who are being denied access to the energy and wealth that they have on their own lands.  Many of our states have also been denied access to the abundant energy resources on their lands that could bring greater wealth to the people and benefit to our whole nation.  We’re becoming more and more energy dominant.  I don’t want to be energy free, we want to be energy dominant in terms of the world.

From my first day in office, we’ve taken swift action to lift the crushing restrictions on American energy.  Scott Pruitt has done an amazing job, an incredible job, in a very short period of time, and most people love him.  There are a couple that don’t but that’s okay, right?  (Laughter.)  We’re also putting our people back to work by doing this.

Today’s conversation is a chance for these state, local, and tribal leaders to discuss how we can cooperate and support them even more in unleashing these domestic energy reserves.  They’re tremendous reserves that we never appreciated, we never understood, but now we understand them very well.

I’m confident that working together we can usher in a golden age of American energy dominance, and the extraordinary financial and security benefits that it brings to us.  So this means not only the Native Americans but all over the country.  And we’re seeing it more and more and it’s happening more and more.

I just also want to tell you that, yesterday, we had a tremendous meeting with the Republican senators — met on healthcare.  And the meeting went really well.  We’re talking about a great, great form of healthcare.  Obamacare is dying.  It’s essentially dead.  If you don’t give it the subsidy, it would die within 24 hours.  It’s been a headache for everybody.  It’s been a nightmare for many.

And we are looking at a healthcare that would be a fantastic tribute to our country; a healthcare that will take care of people, finally, for the right reasons, and also at the right cost.  It would be a tremendous reduction in costs from what Obamacare is.  Yesterday, in Alaska, a great state, they had a — it was announced a 216 percent increase.

So we have a plan that, if we get it approved — it’s very tough.  Every state is different, every senator is different.  But I have to tell you, the Republican senators had a really impressive meeting yesterday at the White House.  We had close to 50 of them.  We have 52; we need almost all of them.  That’s never easy.  But we had, essentially, 50 show up for the meeting, and the other two are on our side.  I think we’re going to get at least very close, and I think we’re going to get it over the line.  There was a great, great feeling in that room yesterday.

And what also came out is the fact that this healthcare would be so good, would be far better than Obamacare, and would be much less expensive for the people, and actually much less expensive, also, for the country.  So those are a lot of good factors.

So we’ll see what happens.  We’re working very hard.  We’ve given ourselves a little bit more time to make it perfect.  That’s what we want to do.  I think this has a chance to be a great healthcare at a reasonable cost.  People can save a lot of money.  We get rid of the mandates, we get rid of so much — got rid of a lot of the taxes.  All of the bad parts of Obamacare are gone.  Essentially, it’s a repeal-and-replace.  And I look forward to working with the Republican senators over a short period of time.  I know Rick is very excited about the healthcare that we’re talking about.

SECRETARY PERRY:  Actually, having these governors sitting around the table is a great example of it.  And one of the things that — I know Kim and Paul, they’d like to be able to put healthcare into place that they helped write and their citizens help write because I know these — I don’t know Bill that well, but my bet is he’s the same.  You give him the authority to take care of their citizens, they can have more people covered and do it at less cost.  I am quite confident —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re sending a lot of it back to the states where it belongs.  And this will be something really special if we can get it done.  Always tough.  It’s probably the toughest subject from the standpoint of approval because every state is different.  Every state has different needs.  We have a tremendous opioid problem, and some states are more affected by that than others.  But overall, I have to tell you, this will be a tremendous plan.  It will really — you’re going to have a lot of very, very happy people in this country if we can get it done.

So we’re working very hard on healthcare, and I think we’re going to have a great answer.  And hopefully, we’re going to have it soon.  And we will keep you informed.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, can you talk about the Medicaid cuts in the healthcare bill?

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s going to great.  This will be great for everybody.

11:49 A.M. EDT