3:41 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. As you probably have heard, and some of you have reported, a missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea.
I will only tell you that we will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us, and we’ve had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.
With that being said, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did not show up for our meeting today. I’m not really that surprised. We have a lot of differences. They’re weak on crime, they’re weak on illegal immigration. They want the illegal folks to come pouring into our border and a lot of problems are being caused, although we’ve stopped it to a large extent as much as you can without the law, which we’re going to get.
Before this meeting and before this missile launch, they’ve been weak on military. In terms of spending, they’re very hard to get the military — they want it for a lot of other things, but the military is always secondary to them. The military, to me, is number one. We won’t be here without our powerful military, and we’re building it up stronger, bigger, better than ever before. And General Mattis can testify to that.
And the other thing: They want tax increases, and we want major tax decreases. So they decided not to show up. They’ve been all talk and they’ve been no action, and now it’s even worse. Now it’s not even talk. So they’re not showing up to the meeting.
I will say this: In light of the missile launch, probably they’ll be here fairly quickly, or at least discussions will start taking place fairly quickly.
I think we’re in a very good position in terms of the meeting we just had over at the Capitol with the Republican senators. It was outstanding. I think we have tremendous support. I was just informed by Mitch that we had a unanimous vote — from the Republican side at least — we had a unanimous vote on the tax bill. And it goes now the next step, and I think we’re going to get it passed. I think it’s going to pass. And it’s going to be very popular.
It’s going to have lots of adjustments before it ends, but the end result will be a very, very massive — the largest in the history of our country — tax cut. And lots of good things are going to happen, including the bringing back to our country of — probably will end up being over $4 trillion — money offshore that’s stagnant that companies — they’re just not able to bring it back. So I think it’s going to be a number over $4 trillion.
Corporate will be able to compete now against the world. If you look at China, if you look at so many other countries, if you look at many of the countries, China is at 15 percent. They’re lower than us. We’re getting it down to a level that is either going to be lower or right in the ballpark so we can compete much better with our companies — our great, great companies. And that means jobs and it means lots of other things.
I’m very happy to see that the consumer confidence level is just about the highest it’s ever been. If fact — I don’t want to make any mistakes in front of the press because you’ll get me on it — but to the best of my knowledge, it’s the highest it’s ever been. Consumer confidence has been setting records. They have confidence in the people leading their country.
And, I will say, that I think it’s going to go better and better, and I do believe this vote on taxes, which are really tax cuts and reform, is going to be very, very important.
So we had a good day today. We had a phenomenal meeting with the Republican senators. We had — it was very special that meeting. And, in many respects, I wish you could have been inside that room. It was very, very special — the comradery. It was somewhat of a lovefest. They want to see it happen. They want to see it happen not only for the Republican Party. I think, much more importantly, they want to see it happen for the country because they know how important it is for us to compete and win.
And, with that, I maybe will start with Paul Ryan to say a few words about where we stand with different things and then I’ll ask Mitch McConnell.
SPEAKER RYAN: Okay. I’ll just briefly say I think it’s regrettable that our Democratic colleagues and leadership chose not to join us today for a bill to become a law. Congress has to pass a bill, and the President signs a bill. That means Congress and the White House always negotiate legislation. We have important work to do. We have big deadlines to do. We have a military in need of our support, and that work needs to happen now.
And I just think it’s very regrettable that our Democratic colleagues and leadership chose to not participate because we have to negotiate these bills to get this work done for the people we represent and especially to help our military with these difficult situations we have. And I just hope that our friends in leadership on the other side of the aisle will choose to participate so we can get the people’s work done.
LEADER MCCONNELL: Mr. President, I would just add I’ve been in this position under a couple of previous Presidents. I can’t recall ever turning down an opportunity to go down to the White House.
As the Speaker mentioned, only one person in America can sign a bill into law, and that’s the President of the United States. You cannot negotiate the year-end — the omnibus spending bill without the person who signs the bill in the room.
So I think the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate need to understand the way the government works, and the administration has to be a part of the ultimate negotiation over what the spending level is going to be for the next year.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we are very far apart because our views on crime and our views on immigration and the military — so many are different. But a lot of things have happened, even over the last two hours with respect to the missile launch. We want our military funded and we want it funded now. It’s going to be bigger, better, stronger — it already is — than ever before. But we want to get going on that now. So that is a difference, in all fairness, from this morning when I told them that we’re way, way far away.
And with that, I may just have General Mattis say just a couple of words about what he has found out. General, do you want to say just a couple of little pieces of information to the media?
SECRETARY MATTIS: Mr. President, Senator, Speaker, a little over two and a half hours ago, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken. It’s a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that could threaten everywhere in the world, basically.
And in response, the South Koreans have fired some pinpoint missiles out into the water to make certain North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally.
But the bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace, and certainly, the United States.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, General. And we will take care of that situation. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Q Does this change anything to your basic approach to North Korea, these missile launches today? Does it change anything about your basic approach to dealing with them?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing changed. Nothing changed. We have a very serious approach, but nothing changed. We take it very seriously.
Q Do you believe there will be a government shutdown, Mr. President? And would you blame Democrats if that happens?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, if that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats. If it happens, it’s going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall — which everybody wants. I got elected partially because of the border wall.
If you look at the military, we want strong funding for the military. They don’t. So many things. As an example, they want high taxes; we want to cut taxes. We’re going to cut taxes. We’re going to reform. We’re going to simplify. They want high taxes; we want low taxes.
So there’s a lot of big differences. So we’ll see what happens as to shutdown. We’ll see. But right now, things have changed over the last two hours, because two hours ago, a missile was launched. I think that will have a huge effect on Schumer and Pelosi — I think. We’ll see. We’re going to learn very soon.
They should be calling immediately and saying, “We want to see you.” But probably they won’t, because nothing to them is important other than raising taxes. That’s the only thing they like doing is raising taxes.
Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.
3:50 P.M. EST