Monroe, North Carolina
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming out. It’s great to be in North Carolina today. It’s exciting what’s happening in this economy, all across this state, all across this country: 5.8 million new jobs created since Election Day 2016; 180,000 jobs created by businesses large and small across North Carolina.
But I came here today to call on the people of North Carolina and call on the leaders in Washington who serve this state to join us in supporting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. I really believe the USMCA will level the playing field for manufacturers, for agriculture, and it’ll create even more growth in this economy.
We’ve seen manufacturing, in particular, come roaring back. As I just said, under the last administration, we lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs. Since the outset this administration, more than a half a million new manufacturing jobs created, including more than 10,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs here in North Carolina.
But we’re calling the Congress to do their job, to move the USMCA to the floor of the House of Representatives, to move it to the floor of the Senate, to pass this legislation, because we really do believe that the USMCA will create more opportunities for manufacturing and agriculture across North Carolina and across this country. And so it’s great to be here.
Particularly, also, it was great to be in Charlotte earlier today, where we joined a group of civic and business leaders to really celebrate what’ll be happening 15 months from now, which will be when the Republican National Convention comes here to North Carolina. I was very grateful for the strong civic support that we saw today and I was grateful for all of the local leaders who are supporting our efforts.
And I know that the President and I, and the Republican National Party, are looking forward to those days in Charlotte, and really celebrating what we know will be even more progress in this growing economy when we bring our national convention here to North Carolina.
Q What makes Charlotte so attractive? It is a heavily Democratic city, but the Mayor, though, turned out to actually offer a welcome to you guys. I mean —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, and we’re very grateful for that. Look, you know, Charlotte is literally known around the country and around the world as a dynamic city. It’s a financial center in the country. Fortune 500 companies located here. NASCAR Hall of Fame. A great tradition at the Billy Graham Library. I think we just really believed this was a great place to come to celebrate a growing economy.
But look, we’re also excited to bring the Republican National Convention to North Carolina — a state that the President and I carried in 2016. And we’re going to look forward to carrying our message all across this state and all across the country.
But it’s going to be a great honor to be in Charlotte. It’s a dynamic and exciting city — one of many across this country that are benefitting from the tax cuts, regulatory relief, the expansion of American energy, and the kind of trade deals that are really putting American jobs and American workers first.
Q Mr. Vice President, thousands upon thousands of North Carolinians are still recovering from Hurricane Florence. The House passed a sweeping severe weather relief bill — billions of dollars. What’s the hold up? Why are Republicans and Democrats sparring over this? And what is your message to those North Carolinians still suffering, waiting for that money? Because from what we understand, there’s a hold-up and an argument about Puerto Rico.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, the — I was on Capitol Hill yesterday, and we’ve made it very clear to the leaders in the House and the Senate that the President wants the Congress to do their job. We want a bill. We want a bill that addresses the needs of Americans impacted by these natural disasters, by the weather, by the flooding across the Midwest, and the impacts in the Panhandle of Florida. We’re working very diligently even as we speak.
And our hope is —
Q But did the House do its job?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — our hope is that there will be action in the Congress this week. But I want to promise you that we’re going to continue to work very diligently with leaders in both political parties to make sure that our farmers — to make sure that families impacted by these storms gets the support (inaudible).
Q But didn’t the House do its job?
Q Can you tell us — if USMCA is ratified, can you talk specifically about Parkdale and what are some of the benefits that this company will see that they haven’t seen in the past?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there’s a broad range of benefits for manufacturing. There were so many flaws in the NAFTA agreement. And quite frankly, as I saw in the state of Indiana, we literally saw some of the largest companies and communities around the state of Indiana shut their doors to go south of the border in Mexico.
And what we’ve done, particularly when it comes to manufacturing, is level the playing field to make sure that there are not — there’s not an incentive any longer for companies that are located in the United States to move south of the border. And so we’ve taken that out.
There were also some flaws in the NAFTA agreement, where specific manufactured items that were not mentioned in the agreement were simply excluded. And so countries like China and other countries around the world could export manufactured products to Canada, to Mexico, to be able to come into the United States of America duty free.
We’ve changed all of that to prevent that kind of impact on jobs and impact on our economy. So this is a real win for manufacturing, and it also is a real improvement for American agriculture, particularly when it comes to dairy. We saw some unfair trade practices taking hold in Canada. And again, we’ve addressed all of those in this agreement.
But look, we really do believe that the USMCA is an idea whose time has come. We believe that if Speaker Pelosi brings it to the floor of the House of Representatives, it’ll pass. And we remain very confident that the Senate of the United States will take up the matter and give it a favorable review as well.
But we simply need Congress to begin to work. As I said today, the President and I have done our job; now it’s time for Congress to do their job and pass the USMCA.
Q Mr. Vice President, you alluded onstage to the meetings with the President and Speaker Pelosi today. Do you think that will make it harder to pass the USMCA through the House?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope not. I really do hope that Democrats in Congress will turn their attention to the issues that matter most to the American people. I mean, from the first day of this administration, President Trump and I have focused on the security and the prosperity of the American people.
In the first two years of this administration, we worked with majorities in the Congress to pass legislation that cut taxes, it rolled back regulation and unleashed American energy, and advanced free and fair trade that’s benefitting American workers. And the results really speak for themselves.
In the midst of all of that, we fully cooperated with an investigation by the Special Counsel — for more than two years, more than 500 witnesses, more than a million documents. As the President said today, this administration is the most transparent administration in American history.
And the Special Counsel’s report is in: no collusion, no obstruction. But it seemed, today, that the President, in his meeting, just had a sense that Democrats just want a do-over. For the Speaker of the House to accuse the President of a cover-up an hour before coming to the White House to talk about an infrastructure deal is just simply unacceptable.
And the President made it clear that we’ve got to move past the partisan games on Capitol Hill. We’ve got to move past the desire for Democrats to re-litigate more than two years of work of the Special Counsel. And we’ve got to start focusing on the things that are going to strengthen this economy. That includes passing the USMCA. That includes an infrastructure bill. That includes more relief in federal red tape, where we can grow jobs and grow this economy.
But what — the President walked into the meeting today and just made it clear that we’ve got to see the partisan games come to an end on Capitol Hill. It’s time for the Congress to come together, to work with this administration, to work with Republicans in this Congress, and really focus on the issues most important to the American people.
Q They came to work with you today —
Q How will the work and manufacturing standards in the USMCA be enforced?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I have every confidence that we’ll do all the enforcement action that’s necessary in this agreement. And we talked a little bit about that today — to making sure that our enforcement agencies are doing the work that they need to do.
There’s simply no question that the USMCA is a tremendous improvement on NAFTA. It’s going to benefit manufacturing. It’s going to benefit American agriculture. And it’s time for Congress to do their job and pass the USMCA.