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THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for being here. It’s been incredibly inspiring to be here at Willow Way with these courageous young women and the families and the great team here (inaudible).
I thank all of you for coming out, helping us to tell the positive story about recovery — recovery that’s happening all across Montana and all across America.
I want to thank Senator Daines for his excellent leadership on this issue nationally, and Congressman Gianforte for your support. Our administration is absolutely committed to confront the scourge of drug abuse and addiction all across this country with strong law enforcement, strong border security.
But we’re also absolutely committed to make sure that organizations just like this one, and courageous young men and women like those that are gathered around us here, have the resources and the support to make their way back.
And so I want to thank all of you for what you’re doing every day. Thank you for your courage. And I’m happy to take a few questions.
Q I was just going to ask you —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Please.
Q — Mr. Vice President — Becky Hillier from KULR 8. It’s a great to have you come here and give some high-profile attention to the meth crisis in Montana that’s absolutely devastated our court systems and our families, more importantly.
And I know you heard the personal stories which are incredibly inspiring to all of us as well. But what reassurances can you give these lovely, strong women — as well as the rest of the people in Montana who are dealing with these issues, these critical drug abuse issues — that the administration will do something substantive back in Washington that will really make a difference and alleviate the pressures placed on our systems and families by drug dealers?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the efforts of HIDTA, the efforts of local and state law enforcement here have been extraordinary. And we’ve seen real progress.
But I want to encourage people in Montana to know that the President is going to continue to make efforts to secure our southern border. And we recognize that the meth that has so impacted communities across Montana is coming across that southern border. And so as we build a wall, as we add additional personnel, the resources the President secured earlier this year, with the strong support of Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte, it’s making it possible for us to harden that border.
But the agreement that we just reached with Mexico now has Mexico partnering with us in ways they never have before. And we believe it’s going to make it possible not just for us to end the humanitarian crisis of over 140,000 people flowing across our border last month alone — nearly a million on track to come into the United States this year — but also it’s going to make it possible for us to focus even more energy on stopping the flow of illegal drugs that are pouring in from Mexico.
And as Senator Daines said so well, what the people of Montana know, the meth problem here is proof of the fact that you’re a northern border state with a southern border problem. And that as we get control of our southern border, we believe it’s going to — we’re going to see even more success across Montana as we reduce the supply of that very dangerous meth, and even as we do law enforcement and support recovery programs like this one here.
SENATOR DAINES: There’s one word that I think came to mind today as the Vice President and Mrs. Pence heard the stories of McKenzie (ph), and (inaudible), Amanda, Lauren, is hope. It’s hope.
We see the staggering statistics that’s going on with methamphetamines tied to violent crime and almost an overwhelming challenge that we face that we’re dealing with today thanks to the Trump administration.
Today was — this afternoon was about hope; to see what’s going on, and lives being redeemed. A new start. That was really encouraging. It’s a great way, really, to end this visit to Billings, to hear the Vice President — to have the Vice President and Mrs. Pence hear these stories of hope.
What you see in these three brave women, these three brave moms, is hope. Second chances are possible.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I want to assure the American people — even the President is meeting this afternoon as we speak, on the issue of opioid abuse and addiction.
Our commission our administration set up is partnering with corporations around the country and the federal government to provide education efforts to help people avoid choosing the path of drugs to begin with. We’re supporting recovery efforts.
But we’re simply redoubling our efforts at our southern border, and we’re going to lean into the effort of law enforcement to make sure that those that are profiting from selling meth or other opioids or any other drugs to our children are held to the fullest account of the law.
SENATOR DAINES: What we saw here today as well, as the Vice President was talking about the importance of enforcement, the importance of education, but this is a story about recovery. And we passed a bill, a piece of legislation that encourages and allows moms to be with their children going through treatment.
We heard the stories today — it’s that hope their mom has to get better for the sake of her children, and that they’re living examples of your neighbors. Three great moms are the hope. And that’s been something that Congress acted on and the President signed.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great job.
AIDE: One more question. Tom?
Q Yeah. Mr. Vice President, you know, going back and looking at our archives, when HIDTA comes up and we have, you know, guests from the executive or guests from Congress, frequently it’s — you know, the conversation centers around the stability of the funding for HIDTA. We’re sort of at that point right now where the executive has put some budget recommendations on the table. We haven’t seen anything from Congress yet. Those recommendations are a little lower than the previous appropriation. Is that an indication that the funding should be lowered? Or do you expect it to go up as it passes through Congress?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We anticipate we’re going to meet the needs that HIDTA has. It’s one of the more successful programs over the last 30 years in law enforcement in this country, dealing with high-density areas of drug abuse and the crime that proceeds out of it.
And Montana has really been a case study of the tremendous cooperation that’s contemplated in the HIDTA program. And the progress we’re making here — and we are making process in Montana as a result of that.
The President, early in our administration — we secured a billion dollars to combat drug abuse and addiction. We’re going to work with the members of Congress in both political parties to make sure that the people that are doing law enforcement at every level have the resources and the support they need.
But HIDTA is a program that’s working in Montana. We’re going to make sure that it has the resources to continue to do their job — to hold those accountable that are profiting; that are profiting from putting people into the grip of drug abuse and addiction that’s tearing apart our families and our communities.
Thank you. Anybody else?
Q Thank you.
Q We appreciate it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming out.