Washington, DC - Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Heritage Foundation Honors Gala:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Heritage Foundation! (Applause.) It’s a great honor to be with you all tonight for this very special evening. And I know you just gave her a rousing round of applause, but would you join me in thanking Kay Coles James one more time for the extraordinary leadership that she has provided for this incomparable institution?
And to some great friends, great members of our administration who are with us tonight — the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is with us. (Applause.) Where are you, Betsy? (Applause.)
A great champion of jobs and opportunities and expanded trade all across North America — I was on the road with him this week — thank Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Where are you, Wilbur? Thank you so much. (Applause.)
To the members of Congress, to ambassadors, distinguished guests, my fellow conservatives: It is an honor to be with you tonight. All of you gathering from near and far at the first-ever Heritage Foundation Honors Gala, thank you for being here. (Applause.)
As I glance across the room, I see so many friends, so many fellow travelers who have been there all along the way as my wife and I have journeyed as a part of this movement, and it’s a joy to be with you this evening. It really is.
But before I get started, let me bring greetings from another friend of mine. (Laughter.) I just left his office and told him I was coming to speak to the Heritage Foundation’s wonderful gathering of great conservatives from all across America, and I think he looked just a little bit jealous. So allow me to bring greetings from a champion of a stronger and more prosperous America, and someone who has advanced the cause that Heritage Foundation has been advancing for 50 years — the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) Thank you.
So thank you for that. And I truly do believe that, thanks to your support and to the vision and the ideals that Heritage Foundation has advanced over the last 50 years, we’re making America great again. And we have so many of you in Heritage Foundation to thank.
Just as Heritage armed another President with this 1,100-page policy blueprint to advance conservative principles 39 years ago, Heritage Foundation has been fighting side-by-side with this President and this administration since day one, and we have a stronger an America as a result. (Applause.)
I mean, from right in the transition, we went to work availing ourselves of the resources available from the Heritage Foundation. We laid out plans for this administration. We drew on the scholarship and the resources of this historic think tank.
And let me take a moment to thank a man who was indispensable throughout that process, and, frankly, has been the indispensable man of the Heritage Foundation throughout all of the decades. He has influenced generations of young conservatives, he co-founded this organization, and I’m told that he is this year’s recipient of the Clare Boothe Luce Award. Would you join me in thanking my friend, Dr. Ed Feulner, for all he has done for the cause and the country? (Applause.)
I mean, with the support of all of you, we’ve been able to bring about historic change in this country. I mean, it’s amazing. When you think about the last three years, I think there’s only one way you can describe it. It’s been three years of action. It’s been three years of results. It’s been three years of promises made and promises kept. But we’re just getting started, Heritage Foundation. (Applause.)
And this President — this President knows, as I do, that the first obligation of our national government is to provide for the common defense. And I can tell you, President Trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people. You know, when Heritage Foundation was established, I know, personally, that it was established as a defense think tank that came together at a time that, as in recent years, America was neglecting our first obligation.
And I’ll tell you, I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces. With the support of Heritage Foundation and your guidance, we’ve rebuilt our military; we’ve restored the arsenal of democracy. (Applause.) I mean, this President has actually signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
I mean, we’re finally again giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard, and their families the resources, the technology, and the support they need to accomplish their mission and defend our nation.
I know there’s many men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States who are with us here today. In fact, if you’re a veteran of our armed forces, would you all just mind standing up for a second and letting us thank you one more time for your service to this nation? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service. This nation will always be grateful.
But let me just take a moment to thank one who is among us in particular: a special American. Tonight, we have with us a man who saved the life of one of his fellow Marines in Afghanistan. He did that at great risk of his life. It was a day in November of 2010. History records that insurgents threw a hand grenade inside their patrol base, and, without hesitation, this American dove on that grenade.
After the blast, as he lay there, he asked if his fellow Marine was okay, and then made his peace with God. He would lose consciousness for five weeks. And while he was being treated, he actually went into cardiac arrest three times.
When his mother first saw him, out at Walter Reed Hospital, she didn’t even recognize him. And to this day, he has undergone more than 70 procedures during 40 separate surgeries.
But he hasn’t let that slow him down or steal his patriotic fervor for this nation. He is now an author, a marathon runner, and testament to a strong faith in God. And he is now an inspiration to millions. Would you join me in showing our admiration and appreciation to Medal of Honor recipient, Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter? (Applause.) Thank you, Kyle. Thank you, Kyle.
You know, in this administration, we’ve been standing with our armed forces and with the families who wait for them back home, ensuring they can make the transition back to civilian life as well.
From the first days of this administration, this President has also been working to revive the American economy, taking the very principles at the heart of the Heritage Foundation and putting them into practice. I mean, from early in this administration, President Trump rolled his sleeves up. We worked with our allies in Congress, who are all so well represented here. And with their help, we cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses large and small. (Applause.) The largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history.
This President has also signed more bills cutting red tape than any President in history. And we’ve unleashed American energy; an American energy renaissance is on. (Applause.) And we’ve been fighting for free and fair and reciprocal trade around the world — opening up markets across this hemisphere, negotiated a new trade agreement with South Korea.
And it’s been a year in waiting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk — (laughter) — but the USMCA is a win for American jobs, a win for American farmers, and it’s time the Democrats in Congress passed it on the floor. (Applause.)
So it’s been about all of things the Heritage Foundation has always advocated — less taxes, less red tape, more American energy, and free and fair trade, and open markets. And the results have frankly been amazing, not that that should be a surprise to anybody in the Heritage Foundation. Since Election Day 2016, businesses large and small have created 6.5 million new jobs and the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. (Applause.)
I don’t have to tell all of you that freedom works. It’s something Heritage Foundation has known for a long time. And more economic freedom in this country has resulted in more Americans working today than ever before in the history of this country. The unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanic Americans is the lowest level ever recorded in the history of this country. The American Dream is working again for every American. (Applause.) The unemployment rate for women is at a 65-year low. And American is prospering as never before.
And with that renewed American strength, we’re also seeing wages rise. It really is remarkable that over the course of — over the course of the last 10 years, it’s been wages for working Americans that have struggled the most. I remember when I was governor of the state of Indiana, we had — we had watched the economy struggle to increase wages for working Americans.
So I’ve got to tell you: President Trump and I couldn’t be more proud. By putting all of these commonsense, conservative principles into practice, today wages are rising at the fastest rate that they’ve risen in the last 10 years and they’re rising most rapidly for hardworking, blue-collar Americans. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.)
So America is strong again. America’s military — the strongest military in the history of the world — is stronger still. And our economy is stronger than ever before.
And with that renewed American strength, I’m proud to report that the United States is once again embracing our role as leader of the free world. After years of broken promises and apologies from other Presidents, times are different now. America is standing with our allies and we’re standing up to our enemies.
We’re standing with our allies like our most cherished ally. When after four previous administrations had promised they would, President Donald Trump did when he moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel. (Applause.) This President has stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and made that historic decision.
And President Trump also has stood up to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror when he withdrew the United States of America from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. (Applause.) I mean, let me make a promise to all of you tonight: There will be no more pallets of cash to the mullahs in Iran. (Applause.)
I mean, how great is it to have a President who is standing up for America on the world stage and never apologizing for America on the world stage? (Applause.) In fact, in that strong stand, I’m pleased to report our allies are contributing more to our common defense than ever before. And with that renewed strength, the President has taken the fight to our enemies on our terms, on their soil. And earlier this year, under the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief and the strength of our armed forces and our allies in the region, we captured the last inch of territory controlled by the ISIS caliphate. (Applause.)
And America will always be grateful for our Kurdish allies and the Syrian Defense Forces who fought shoulder-to-shoulder and bravely with us in this fight. And now that our military and our allies have achieved our objectives against ISIS, President Trump is keeping his word to the American people, and our troops are starting to come home.
Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces were strong allies in the fight against ISIS, and we’ll always be grateful. In the wake of Turkish forces invading Syria, President Trump imposed strong sanctions. He called on Turkey to stand down. And last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and I traveled to Turkey and secured a ceasefire agreement to allow our Kurdish allies in the Syrian Defense Forces to safely withdraw from the areas under Turkish military control. And over the past five days, our temporary ceasefire has held. (Applause.)
Earlier today, we received word from the Syrian Defense Forces commander that all of their military forces had withdrawn from the safe zone of — under Turkish military control. And before I came here, our team was continuing in communications with both sides in the hope that a permanent ceasefire could soon take hold. And those discussions are ongoing.
But, truthfully, as I stand before you today, I can report to you that, thanks to the strong leadership of President Donald Trump, we have an opportunity for a permanent ceasefire. We may well give the international community an opportunity to establish a safe zone between Turkey and the Kurdish population in Syria that will ensure peace and security for all the peoples of this war-torn region. And in the midst of all of it, our troops are coming home. That is our aim, and that is our prayer. (Applause.)
So we’ve advanced our national security on the world stage, but this President knows that national security includes border security. And I’m proud to report that, under this administration, we’ve made historic investments in border security, Mexico is doing more than ever before to secure our southern border and theirs, and we’ve already started to build that wall on the southern border of the United States. (Applause.)
Once again, the results have been remarkable. As I stand before you today, after a crisis on — engulfed our border in the first four months of this year, apprehensions on our southern border in the last few months are already down by more than 60 percent. And with the strong counsel of scholars here at the Heritage Foundation, we’ll continue. We’ll continue to live out that principle that a nation without borders is not a nation. We will secure our borders and we will fix this broken immigration system once and for all. (Applause.)
So it’s been about security, it’s been about prosperity, but it’s also been about the rule of law. And as I stand before you today, I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who has kept his word. And as I stand here, with the strong support of our Republican majority in the United States Senate, we’ve confirmed more than 150 principled, conservatives to our federal courts at every level. (Applause.) And they’re all — they’re all men and women of integrity who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, our Bill of Rights — like the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)
And this President has stood strong for our nominees. And I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the United States Senate who are with us tonight and Senator Mitch McConnell for standing with at well — as well. It was about a year ago that we all saw the radical left try to slander the good name of a good man and a respected jurist. But President Trump and our Republicans in the Senate stood strong, and now Justice Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. (Applause.)
As he promised in the campaign, this President has appointed judges who will stand firm on our Constitution as written. And that includes — we’ll defend our first freedom, and this administration will always defend the freedom of religion of every American, of every faith, so help us God. (Applause.)
From early on, with the steady counsel of Heritage Foundation, we’ve restored federal enforcement of our nation’s conscience laws. We ended the last administration’s assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor. (Applause.)
And under the last administration — you might not have heard about this, but VA hospitals around the country were actually removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols over the holidays in the hallways of those hospitals. I can’t even imagine it.
But after we took office, we — we — this administration went to court to stop activists from removing a Bible that was carried in World War II and displayed on a Missing Man Table in a VA hospital in New Hampshire. I promise you, this administration will always protect the right of our veterans to practice their faith, and follow our conscience. And our message to the VA hospital in New Hampshire was simple: The Bible stays. (Applause.)
And finally, you know, I’ve long believed that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable. And Heritage Foundation has always stood for that principle as well. And the way a society deals with the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn speaks to the heart of the nation.
And at a time when leading Democrats are advocating late-term abortion and defending infanticide, I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to the most pro-life President in American history. (Applause.) It’s true. It’s true.
In one of his very first acts as President, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy to make sure taxpayer dollars wouldn’t be used to promote or provide abortion overseas.
And I’ll never forget the day. It was — Kay, it was very early in the administration. The March for Life had come around, but the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was going to be in town that day. And I was standing in the Oval Office in January of 2017, and they were discussing the President’s schedule and how it wouldn’t be possible for him to participate with a foreign head of state in town.
And I remember I stood there kind of shyly as they discussed his invitation to address the crowd. And I looked at him and said, “Um, well, you know, um — they invited me, too.” (Laughter.) And the President looked up from the Resolute Desk and said, “They invited you?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “You mean, to speak?” And I said, “Yes, I…” And he said, “I mean, you want to do it?” And I said, “Well, we’ve — we’ve gone to a lot of Marches for Life. We took our kids there when they were little. And I — it’d be my great honor.” And he said, “Oh, well, you’ve got to do it.” (Laughter.)
And I became the first Vice President in history to address the March for Life on the National Mall. And the next year, President Trump addressed them from the Rose Garden. (Applause.) It’s true.
That’s not all of it. You know, I — (laughter) — as the Vice President, I had the privilege of casting tie-breaking votes in the United States Senate. And I’ve cast — I think, Pat, I’ve cast about 14 of them, back when the numbers were a little tighter.
But I was never more proud than when I had the opportunity to cast the tie-breaking vote that allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood and President Donald Trump signed it into law. (Applause.)
In fact — in fact, in August, it was announced, because of the President’s strong pro-life policies, Planned Parenthood is no longer going to receive tens of millions of dollars under Title X altogether. And I promise you — (applause).
I promise all of you — Heritage Foundation is about many things, but Heritage Foundation is about life. And I’ll promise you, this President, this Vice President, this party, and this movement will always stand for the unalienable right to life. (Applause.) And as the President said well in his State of the Union Address, “All children — all children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.”
You know, and just last month, President Trump made a stand for life at the United Nations General Assembly — which he said, on the world stage, in his words, that “Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life.” So we’ve stood strong — (applause).
We’ve stood strong for life and liberty, just like Heritage Foundation has done since its very founding, and America is winning again. America is safer. America is more prosperous.
But make no mistake about it: With a little bit more than a year away from Election Day, the other side is motivated. They want nothing more than to undo all of the progress that we have made. All that we’ve achieved, and so much more, could be lost in one bad night next November.
But I know Heritage Foundation is going to be there, telling the story about the cause of freedom, telling liberty’s story, advancing those commonsense, conservative principles that this — this extraordinary vanguard has done throughout its life. And so many of you have made that possible
I mean, the truth is, you look at their agenda and look at our agenda. It’s just almost like mirror opposite. I was watching one of those debates the other night. (Laughter.) I didn’t really want to. It’s like, I figure there’s a vice presidential nominee in there somewhere. (Laughter.) I mean, those people were standing so far on the left side of that stage, I thought it was going to tip over. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, seriously.
I mean, you think about it. I mean, look at their — just look at their agenda. Where we passed the largest tax cuts in American history, they’re talking about imposing the largest tax increases in the history of this country. Where we’ve rolled back burdensome regulations at a record level, they want to bury our economy in an avalanche of red tape, under the guise of Green New Deal and Medicare for All. Where we’ve advanced the cause of life and liberty for every American, they want taxpayer-funded abortion on demand.
Today’s Democratic Party has embraced a radical, far-left agenda on issues across the board. And it’s even more remarkable today — more remarkable to me, as someone who’s spent 60 times around the sun, growing up this nation, seeing all the great ideals of this country — that today, one of the two major parties in this country actually openly advocates an economic system that has impoverished millions and robbed the liberties of generations. And that system is socialism. Extraordinary.
But everyone here involved in the Heritage Foundation knows even better than most: It was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. It was freedom. (Applause.) It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world. (Applause.)
I say to my fellow conservatives: The moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment that America ceases to be America. And so we must say, with one voice, for the next year, as President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union Address, “America will never be a socialist country.” (Applause.)
I think you all know the choice facing this country in the next year has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher. We’ve made great progress in the last three years, but now it’s time for us to continue to deliver and to defend the progress that we’ve made.
I mean, we all know — you see the headlines. The Do-Nothing Democrats will stop at nothing to roll back the progress that we’ve made. They’ve spent the last three years on endless investigations trying to overturn the will of the American people in the last election.
But enough is enough. The American people have had enough of their endless investigations and partisan impeachment. The American people want progress in America, and that’s what we’ve delivered and are going to keep delivering. (Applause.)
But I’ll make you a promise. I’ll make you a promise that whatever the Democrats and their allies in the media want to spend their time on in the next year, President Donald Trump and I are going to keep — we’re going to keep focused on the issues that Heritage Foundation has championed for generations — the issues that matter most to the American people: life, liberty, a strong national defense, secure borders, and jobs, jobs, jobs. (Applause.)
So we’ve got our work cut out for us. As that first President who came to office with a Heritage Foundation’s policy blueprint under his arm used to say, it’s important to remember that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” The truth is, men and women, it’s not going to be enough for us just to win the next election. We’ve to win the next generation, and we’ve got to win the next generation for freedom. (Applause.)
And so, in the face of the radical, left-wing agenda and their divisive politics, I just want to encourage Heritage Foundation. Keep educating. Keep communicating. Keep explaining to the American people what — what’s at the heart of this extraordinary American experiment. I mean, the success that we have enjoyed in this nation, I will always believe, is a result of a few core principles that Heritage Foundation has always celebrated. The strength of this nation has always come from our faith in God and our freedom and our vast natural resources. And this administration will continue to celebrate all of that, advance all of that — even as we stand for a strong America on the world stage.
We can do all this. We can do all this if Heritage continues to do its work educating people across this country and a rising generation of Americans in the days ahead. We can do this if we stand behind a President who’s been delivering on the ideals and the values that Heritage has been championing now for generations. And not just stand with him for the next year, but we need to stand with President Donald Trump for four more years in the White House. (Applause.)
So keep believing, Heritage. Keep believing in this President, and in this team, and all of our allies in the Congress and at statehouses around the land that are standing unapologetically for that commonsense, conservative agenda.
Keep believing in the American people. When the American people are given a choice between more freedom and more government, they choose more freedom every time.
And keep — keep believing that this idea of freedom was not ours. You know, enshrined on the Liberty Bell are ancient words that make me think of the Heritage Foundation and its mission. Enshrined around the Liberty Bell there in Philadelphia are the words “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
It seems to me, as we gather at this gala tonight, that’s what Heritage Foundation has always done. You’ve proclaimed liberty unto all of the land and all the inhabitants thereof. You strengthen the foundations of this nation because you know that, when we do freedom’s work, we make His work on this Earth our own.
So, Heritage Foundation — (applause) — keep telling freedom’s story for strong national defense and a growing economy. Keep telling liberty’s story. Keep believing in the American people. And I promise you, with President Donald Trump in the White House, with Republican leadership from our nation’s capital to capitals around the land, and with God’s help, we will keep America great.
Thank you very much. God bless you. God bless the Heritage Foundation. And God bless America.