Oval Office

5:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you very much.  In a few moments, I will be signing into law the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act.  This new law directs the Treasury Department to issue 400,000 one-dollar silver coins in a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women securing the right to vote.  Nobody is going to take that one off.  We just said — nobody.  Not with these women.

We’re pleased to be joined on this special occasion by Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy Secretary Karen Dunn Kelley, Deputy Director Margaret Weichert, Acting Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor, Administrator Emily Murphy, and Chairman Mary Anne Carter.  Thank you all very much.

Also thanks to Senator Marsha Blackburn, who has been doing an incredible job, and Representative Liz Cheney, likewise an incredible job.  And actually, I just learned something, Liz.  Would you say what you just told me about Wyoming?

REPRESENTATIVE CHENEY:  Yes, sir, Mr. President.  Wyoming was the first place on Earth where women had the right to vote.  We’ve been voting 150 years in Wyoming.

THE PRESIDENT:  Number one.  Number one.  (Applause.)

That’s pretty good, right?  (Applause.)

Also with us are members of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission: Executive Director of the Commission Anna Laymon; Treasurer of the United States Jovita Carranza; Assistant Secretary Susan Combs; President of Independent Women’s Voice Heather Higgins; President of the Heritage Foundation Kay Coles James; President of the Susan B. Anthony List Major — that’s Marjorie Dannenfelser; President of Concerned Women of America — that’s Penny Nance; Julissa Marenco from the Smithsonian; Colleen Shogan from the Library of Congress.  Those are great names, I’ll tell you.  (Laughter.)  But they’re doing the job.

The one-dollar coins that we — will be issued under the Act will honor the vital history of the women’s suffrage movement and celebrate many of the brave heroes who fought for the right to vote, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Ida B. Wells.

All proceeds from the sale of these coins will go to the Smithsonian’s Women’s History Initiative.  My administration will always celebrate the immeasurable contributions of women to every facet of American history and life.  We will fight for every day, and we will fight every night.  We’ll make this happen, and we’ll continue to make it happen — this is going to be a tremendous success — to ensure opportunity, prosperity, justice, and equality for all women in the United States.

And I’m now going to sign the bill, and then I’m going to ask you, folks, some of you — whoever would like to — to say a few words, okay?  Let me sign this first.

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  Oh, yes.  Cannot wait.  Long time coming.

THE PRESIDENT:  This is a big one, right?  You came all the way back for this signing, right?

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  I did.  I did.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

(The bill is signed.)

So who should get the first pen, Marsha?  Who?

PARTICIPANT:  Marsha!

PARTICIPANT:  Marsha.  (Laughter.)

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  It’s my bill!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That sounds reasonable.

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  Yes.  (Laughs.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a big thing.  This is a great — you’ve been working on this for years, right?  (Applause.)

So — and they have.  They’ve been working on this for years and years.  And I’m curious, why wasn’t it done a long time ago, and also — well, I guess the answer to that is because now I’m President, and we get things done.  We get a lot of things done that nobody else got done.  But maybe you could say a few words, just on (inaudible).

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  Oh, I’ll be happy to.  This was a project that so many women have worked on.  Elise Stefanik was the lead sponsor in the House.  Liz Cheney helped shepherd it through the House.  Kirsten Gillibrand was the lead Democrat co-sponsor in the Senate.  We passed it out of the Senate with every single senator voting for it in June —

THE PRESIDENT:  Wow.

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  — and sent it over to the House.  And then we had to work a little harder to get it through over there.  But it came through with over 300 co-sponsors on the bill.

And it’s important to realize that women’s suffrage was a 72-year process.  It started at Seneca Falls, New York.  And then, 72 years later, in Nashville, Tennessee — August 18th, 1920 — is when the 19th Amendment was ratified.  So Tennessee and New York have a strong history in this, and we’re just thrilled to have this bill.

Proceeds from this coin — the Women’s Suffrage Commission and the Smithsonian Women’s History Project — this will go into funding that process.  Now, we’re doing this coin with no government expenditures because Jovita and her team are doing a great job on the sale of this coin.  And then it will help fund this to make certain that all Americans realize what women have done for the cause of freedom for our nation.  So thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, great job.  (Applause.)

And Jovita?

MS. CARRANZA:  I wanted to share with you that the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission had a very robust and very aggressive outreach program, with Senator Blackburn calling the Secretary of Treasury, Secretary Mnuchin.  He got the call and I got the second call, and we made it happen with all of their support.

And this is great leadership, and we’re looking forward to having several months to position this coin to benefit a very worthy cause, the Smithsonian, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  So why wasn’t this done a long time ago — years ago?

MS. CARRANZA:  Well, I think has started out with you nominating Kay Coles James this year —

THE PRESIDENT:  That helped. (Laughter.)

MS. CARRANZA: — and myself as the U.S. Treasurer on the commission.

THE PRESIDENT:  You know what helps.

MS. CARRANZA:  And then, of course, we assem- — we assembled a wonderful team.

THE PRESIDENT:  Please.  Go ahead, Kay.

MS. JAMES:  No, I was just going to say thank you.  It has been an honor to be your representative on this commission.

But one of the things that’s most noteworthy is that we have worked together in such a bipartisan way to celebrate women’s suffrage and the right to vote in this country.  And I’m sorry Barbara couldn’t be here today — Senator Mikulski.  She has done such a phenomenal job.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MS. JAMES:  And we have great leadership right here, in our chair and our co-chair.  But it has been exciting, and we look forward to educating and celebrating with the women of America.

THE PRESIDENT:  You did a fantastic job.  Thank you very much.

MS. JAMES:  Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  How about our chair saying something?  Please.

MS. SHOGAN:  Susan.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY COMBS:  Well, I just want to say that this is a privilege to be your appointee, your nominee, but also to work with this great team.

And what I really like is the zest and the energy and the enthusiasm everybody showed.  In fact, we just make it impossible not to support this.  So you go from 100 to 300, that’s the power of a lot of women working together.  So thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Great job.  Really fantastic.

Lynne [sic]?  Thank you.  Please, come on up.  Lynne [sic] Cheney.

REPRESENTATIVE CHENEY:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.  Well, it’s an honor to be here.  I think it’s really important for us to remember that all of us who are elected officials, who are women, all of us who are serving serve on the shoulders and the accomplishments of so many women who have come before us.  I’m very proud in Wyoming of the strong women — my mother, my grandmothers, my great grandmothers — and just the tremendous work and effort that went into this over the years.  And so it’s an honor to be here.

THE PRESIDENT:  Your daughter.

REPRESENTATIVE CHENEY:  Oh, my daughter.

THE PRESIDENT:  She’s the strongest.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE CHENEY:  Exactly.  That’s right.  And my daughter, Elizabeth, who’s following in our footsteps.  So thank you very much, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

Who would like to say something?

MS. HIGGINS:  Can I add something?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, you can.

MS. HIGGINS:  I think they’re underrepresenting Senator Blackburn and Jovita.  You asked why this hadn’t gotten done before.  Jovita basically took a page from the Wollman Rink in New York, and overcame an awful lot of the process and obstacles to make sure that something happened on time and in the right way.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s good.

MS. CARRANZA:  Thank you.

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  Yeah, she did.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.  I’ve heard that.  That’s great.  Fantastic.  Proud of you.

SENATOR BLACKBURN:  Great work.  Good teamwork.

MS. NANCE:  Mr. President, I would just add that — I’m Penny Nance with Concerned Women for America.  This has been just a beautiful picture of bipartisanship that I think many in Congress could take a page from.  Women of every ilk were able to come together and actually get something done.  So we hope Congress does that same.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you.  Great job.  Anybody?  Anybody?  Final — final — Kellyanne?  How about Kellyanne?

MS. CONWAY:  Mr. President, thank you —

THE PRESIDENT:  She’s always very laidback and shy.  (Laughter.)

MS. CONWAY:  I’ll be laidback.  Thank you.  I think the women speak for itself.  And thank you for your leadership.  We really look forward to continuing the celebration of the Centennial of the Women’s Right to Vote.  We go right up into next August of 2020.  But it’s even hard to imagine it’s only been 100 years.  And since we still have had — never had any female President, perhaps we’ll have that in our lifetime, but your victory kept that job open.  So we’re here to celebrate —

THE PRESIDENT:  In five years, right?  (Laughter.)  Five years.

PARTICIPANT:  Or longer.  (Laughter.)

MS. NANCE:  Yeah, we can wait.

MS. CONWAY:  That’s right.  But, sir, thank you for your leadership.  I think the four-letter word called “will” is the difference between what does not get done and what gets done.  And the leadership and, really, some of your great team here at the White House has been working around this around the clock and has helped.  Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  They have been working very hard on this.

So thank you very much.  This is a very important bill, and it’s an honor to be involved with it.  And I’m glad we got it done.  (Applause.)  This administration has gotten a lot done.  Thank you.
END

5:18 P.M. EST