Remarks by Vice President Pence at Infrastructure Summit Working Luncheon
Indian Treaty Room
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
12:29 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks so much for that wonderfully warm welcome. And on behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House -- and welcome to a new era for American infrastructure in the United States. (Applause.)
It’s a great privilege to be among so many friends and this distinguished group of American leaders. And this White House infrastructure commitment is being unpacked all this week. We're actually calling it Infrastructure Week in this administration, and today I have the honor to kick off our very first summit focused on infrastructure. And we're so grateful that you all are here.
But I know I’m not the main attraction today. And you know, the American people, if you haven’t noticed it yet, did elect a builder to be President of the United States of America. And in just a few hours, you’re going to hear firsthand from the 45th President of the United States of America. President Donald Trump is committed to rebuilding America. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings from the President. This afternoon, I know he's looking very much forward to being with you all. It’s been inspiring to see the President’s leadership on this issue -- especially during this Infrastructure Week.
Just yesterday in Cincinnati, the President declared, in his words, that the “American people deserve the best infrastructure anywhere in the world,” and he laid out his vision to Buy American and Hire American as we rebuild our country and make America great again.
It’s a sign of this President’s commitment that he also sent me and so many members of the administration here to this summit.
Today, I’m so pleased to be joined by several key members of the administration who will be working very closely with all of you as we move forward this agenda in the Congress and across the country. We’ve got Secretary Elaine Chao, our Secretary of Transportation is with us today. (Applause.) And we've got the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney is with us today. (Applause.) These are two extraordinary leaders who are looking forward to being full partners with the state governments that are represented here and the local governments that are represented here as we rebuild America.
After lunch, you’ll hear from more of the team -- Secretary Sonny Perdue, Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Secretary Ryan Zinke. I got to tell you, folks, this is the A-Team. And I'm incredibly proud to be a small part of it.
It's a great privilege to be joined by so many public servants from across America -- Republican and Democrat. This room, and the history of this room, all stand for the principle that rebuilding America is a bipartisan enterprise. And we will make it so in this administration. (Applause.)
I served as a governor myself, back in the great state of Indiana, and I'm particularly glad to see not only my successor here, but eight of America’s governors here -- especially if you'll allow me some parochialism, the great Governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, is with us. (Applause.) And it’s great to be joined by no fewer than eleven mayors, five county commissioners, two tribal leaders, and two agriculture commissioners. Let's give all of these great public officials a rousing round of applause for coming to the White House to champion their states and communities. (Applause.)
The President and I wanted you here because the truth is that no one knows infrastructure better than those of you that are gathered here, and other men and women around the country who hold similar positions. In my time as Governor of Indiana, I saw firsthand just how important it is to have world-class infrastructure in our states and in our cities.
It’s about working families trying to get their kids to school safely and efficiently. It’s about small businesses and family farms trying to get their goods to the market. It’s about ending wait times at airports and train stations so commuters can get to work and lead more productive lives. It’s about opening the floodgates for affordable American energy -- the lifeblood of American growth. And it’s about what President Trump said yesterday: "Bring[ing] back our jobs…restor[ing] our dreams…" and putting America first, with the best infrastructure in the world. (Applause.)
This President knows that good infrastructure means good jobs, growth, opportunity, and prosperity. But as all of you well know, our nation's infrastructure is in a truly sorry state. The President was right yesterday when he said, in his words, “Countless American industries, businesses, and jobs depend on rivers, runways, roads, and rails" look out and see infrastructure that's in "dire and even desperate conditions” in many cases.
And for your part, you see it when you drive to work, you hear about it from the people who elected you. The truth is that our roads, bridges, and airports are crumbling in too many cases. And America, as a result, has been falling behind.
At this very moment, America only has the 12th best infrastructure in the world. Think about that for a second. The most powerful economy on Earth by a lot has the 12th-rated infrastructure on the planet. We’re miles behind countries like Japan and Germany, just to name a few.
So let me be clear: For this administration, for this President, that's not just unacceptable -- that's down-right un-American, and it's going to change. (Applause.) And the truth is that, in times past, the world stood in awe and envy of America's infrastructure, didn’t they? Not the other way around.
America built the Erie Canal and the Golden Gate Bridge. America built the Transcontinental Railroad and the Interstate Highway System. Americans have always built the monuments to progress that inspire and endure. And under the leadership of President Donald Trump, America is going to build like never before.
Working with the Congress, working with American businesses, and working with all of you in direct partnership with our state and local governments, the President is committed to making historic investments in our national infrastructure so that America has the best roads, the best bridges, the best highways, the best waterways, and the best airports we have ever had in the history of this country. (Applause.)
The President has already taken decisive action to rebuild America. After years of politics and pointless delays under previous administrations, President Donald Trump, early in our administration, quickly green-lighted the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines, opening up pathways for American energy and growth. (Applause.)
The President has signed more bills rolling back regulatory red tape standing in the way of growth than any President in American history. And the President has actually ordered a top-to-bottom review of federal permitting, because I can say to these governors, under this administration bureaucrats are no longer going to be a barrier to rebuilding America. (Applause.)
And, folks, it’s already been a banner week for infrastructure. Yesterday, in Cincinnati, President Trump highlighted the tremendous problems facing our inland waterways -- the arteries of commerce across the American heartland that I know so well.
And on Monday, the President unveiled his plan to bring a new vision, and new partners from the private and public sector, to finally fix America's air traffic control system so that air travel in this country can be cheaper, faster, and safer for the American people and for American commerce. (Applause.)
And that’s just the beginning. Our administration is working to craft a truly historic infrastructure package. And it's going to be big. The truth is that every dollar we invest in American infrastructure is a dollar we invest in America’s future.
And as you saw in President Trump’s first budget, in partnership with the private economy and our states and cities, our commitment is that we are going to invest a trillion dollars in America's roads and bridges and America’s future. (Applause.)
And unlike for our administration, we’re not just going to put up signs on the road saying we're “shovel ready." (Laughter.) Under this President, we’ll actually put shovels in the ground and work with our state and local governments to get the job done.
Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to fundamentally change also how we build infrastructure in America. President Trump laid out his vision for infrastructure yesterday in Cincinnati. We're going to put renewed focus on rural communities, and we're going to do all that we can each and every day to open arteries of opportunity for the forgotten men and women of America. (Applause.)
We’re going to restore accountability to infrastructure and forge new partnerships with your states and your cities, but also with businesses, to leverage private sector expertise and tap into the bottomless well of American innovation. We’ll revolutionize federal permitting and review with the goal of reducing wait times from ten years to two years. (Applause.)
And for all the governors and mayors who are here today, rest assured we're going to work directly with you and give you the freedom and flexibility to move forward with your projects on your timelines. The vast majority of American infrastructure is owned by state and local governments, and Washington, D.C. has no place calling the shots.
When I was Governor, I wanted an administration in Washington that would listen to me, not lecture me; that would help me build up my state, including our infrastructure, and not put roadblocks in the way of progress for our people.
And rest assured to all of you who have longed for that as long as I have: You've got a President on your side, and we're going to fight to give our states the resources and the flexibility to build infrastructure of the future so your state can grow. (Applause.)
So to all the governors and mayors and public servants here today: We’re listening. We’re looking forward to working with each and every one of you. And today, I hope you'll just see as a small down payment on what we expect to be a renewed and vibrant relationship that our administration will form with you as we work together to rebuild America.
And perhaps most important of all, under the leadership of President Donald Trump, America will once again turn our attention to truly transformational projects -- the ones that enrich the American spirit and ensure a brighter American future. We know it can be done because we’ve done it before. All throughout our history there have been those moments where American ingenuity and creativity and that extraordinary American work ethic has shown forth.
It was exactly 86 years ago last month, in the midst of the Great Depression, that American workers broke ground on a project unlike anything our nation had ever built. America had a vision to bring irrigation and electricity to vast swaths of the American Southwest, to make the desert bloom with crops and hum with industry. This required something not just new, but, frankly, revolutionary. No structure of its kind had ever built -- in size had ever been built. And the feats of engineering necessary to complete it had only been written down on paper and theorized; it had never been tested.
Many said it was impossible. But America, as usual, proved them wrong -- and we did the impossible. Our people rose to the challenge and completed their work in just five years, ahead of schedule and under budget. And when the waters of the Colorado River poured forth from the Hoover Dam, the world looked on with wonder at what America had done. (Applause.)
The President sees our duty today is simply to recapture that same spirit -- that spirit that had the world stand in awe of what Americans do and what we build. And we'll be there again. We'll demonstrate to the world again as we reach for a brighter future, as we build an infrastructure that every American can be proud of in every community large and small; that we once again can marvel the world with our innovation and our investment and our creativity and our people.
But we’ve got our work cut out for us. The infrastructure challenges of today and tomorrow are larger than any we’ve ever faced in the modern era. But I promise you, we’re up to the task, and we know you are as well. President Trump has the vision, and the American people have the ingenuity and the indomitable will to make it happen.
We have an opportunity and an obligation to accomplish great things in our time -- to rebuild our streets, to renew our cities, to usher in a new era of opportunity for the American people and our posterity. And this we know we'll do.
In partnership with each one of you, the discussions that we have today are just a beginning. And with the leadership of President Donald Trump, I have every confidence that we will rebuild America, we will make America prosperous again, we will make our roads and highways more safe again. In a word, to borrow a phrase, we'll Make America Great Again. (Applause.)
Thanks, everybody. Thank you for coming. God bless you, and God bless the United States.
12:44 P.M. EDT