Marinette, Wisconsin - Remarks by Vice President Pence at Fincantieri Marinette Marine:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Wisconsin! (Applause.) Thank you all for that warm welcome. And join me in thanking our brand-new Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia. He is fighting for American workers and American jobs every day. (Applause.)
It really is great to be with all of you today and with some great public servants, especially my great friend, a great ally of this administration, Congressman Mike Gallagher. Thank you for your leadership and for your service to this country. (Applause.)
But to Mayor Steve Genisot, and especially Dario Deste, Jan Allman, and standing here, before the bow of the future USS Marinette, it is great to be here with all the extraordinary men and women who have been the heart of this city since 1944. Let’s hear it for the Marinette Marine team. (Applause.) Wow.
I got to tell you, I got a chance to walk on that ship a few minutes ago, and the handiwork, the craftsmanship that’s already been at sea for generations across America that’s been produced in this shipyard is truly extraordinary. And it really is an honor to be with all of you.
It’s also an honor to be here with so many other hardworking Americans — people from across this state, neighbors, and friends. We just had a warm welcome as we drove through town. The entire school at Garfield Elementary came out on the curb, and I just had to pull over. (Applause.) It was great. And I do appreciate the warm welcome.
I even got a letter when we had to reschedule this event. I got a letter from a fourth-generation business owner in this community. She looked — one look at me, and she knew that I liked cheese. So join me in thanking Carol Cubalchini, of Joe’s Cheese House. Carol, I’m counting on you. (Applause.) She did — (laughs) — sent me a letter and said, “I’m going to bring you some cheese.” So, Carol, thank you so much. And congratulations on all your family’s success for so long.
It is great, great to be here. And it is great to be back in the Badger State. It really is.
And as I begin, allow me to bring greetings from another friend of mine. When I told him yesterday that I was headed to Wisconsin, I think he sounded just a little bit jealous. (Applause.) So let me bring greetings from a man who loves the state of Wisconsin and is fighting every day to keep the promises that he made to the Badger State. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
It really is a privilege. It’s a privilege for this Midwesterner to be back in the Heartland of America, but also to be here — to be here, on the President’s behalf, with a company that’s creating so many opportunities for generations now — not only for people in this city, but in Wisconsin, but really all across — all across this region.
It’s remarkable to think that Fincantieri’s investment here in Marinette started with just a handful of workers and a contract to build five wooden barges for the United States Navy during World War Two. It’s amazing. But since then, because of the skill and craftsmanship of the people of this community, the Marinette Marine has designed and built more than 1,500 naval vessels, and they’re some of the finest ships at sea in the world. (Applause.) Wow.
And as a result of your professionalism and the reputation of this great company, you’ve doubled your workforce in just the last decade, and created more than 200 good-paying American jobs just this year. And, today, Fincantieri Marinette Marine has created a total of more than 1,500 good-paying American jobs.
And I got a bit of an announcement I learned on the way here: If there’s any Wisconsinites, or even Michiganders, that are out there looking for work, Fincantieri is hiring right here in Marinette. (Applause.) That work?
This is a growing economy, and a growing state, and a growing nation. And it’s remarkable to think — remarkable to think that it’s only going to continue. And because I’m told that FMM is planning another $100 million investment right here in Marinette, I think that’s worth a round of applause. (Applause.) Creating 700 new jobs right here in the heart of the Heartland. Wow.
And, you know, you’re not just creating jobs in Marinette. You’re also supporting thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain of this company. And as this company proudly says, your ships are not only made in Wisconsin by American workers, but they’re made with American steel. (Applause.) Ninety-seven percent. I checked. Ninety-seven percent of all of the steel and aluminum that’s used here is made in the USA. And I’ve got to tell you, that is music to my ears and I know it’ll be music to the ears of the President when we’re catching up later today.
And you’re not just supporting American manufacturing. I’m especially grateful for the role that all of you play in the first priority of our national government. FMM has played a critical role in the national defense of the United States of America for generations. (Applause.)
And your handiwork here makes it possible for our Navy to sail the Seven Seas and defend this nation and stand with our allies. You’ve been supporting our men and women in uniform, but you’re also doing it here at home. I’m actually told that this shipyard alone employs more than 100 men and women who have served in the uniform of the United States. Would all of the veterans who are with us today just raise your hand and give us one more chance to say “thank you for your service”? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you for your service.
And I’ve got to think — I’ve got to think those that served in uniform feel like you’re still serving, because what you do here and what you build here is all a vital part of our ability to defend this nation.
And since that very first contract, a one day — on day one, 77 years ago, Fincantieri has worked with our armed forces, I’m told, to make ships like icebreakers, mine countermeasure vessers [sic] — vessels, ocean tugboats, and, as I just walked around, the littoral combat ships — the LCS — made right here in Marinette, Wisconsin. You all ought to be proud. That’s an incredible ship.
And I was actually told that you even got a little bit of an Indiana connection there — that, in fact, I’m told, that the littoral ship, USS Indianapolis, was commissioned last month back in the Hoosier State. So thanks for building the Indianapolis right here in Marinette. (Applause.)
So on behalf of our Commander-in-Chief, thank you for your contributions not just to this community, to this state, to our growing economy, and of course, to your families, but thank you for your contributions to the defense of this nation every day.
But I’m also here because we’ve got a great opportunity before us. For all that’s happening across this country, we’ve made incredible progress. I mean, when you think about the leadership that President Donald Trump has brought across this nation, I think there is only one way you can describe the last three years: 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, Marinette. We’re going to keep growing strong. (Applause.)
I mean, think about it — think about it. I mean, this President promised to rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy, and after years of reckless budget cutbacks that I’m sure you’ve felt here in this community, President Donald Trump delivered.
This President has actually already signed, twice, the largest increases in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan, including the largest pay raise for our men and women in uniform in more than 10 years. (Applause.)
As the President likes to say, “Our active-duty personnel are now the best-equipped, best-trained, [and] most technologically-advanced fighting force in the history of the world.” And we reminded the world of that just a few short weeks ago — didn’t we? — when the United States Special Forces descended on a compound in north Syria and took out the leader of ISIS without one American casualty. (Applause.) How about that? How about that?
And you’ll be glad to know, earlier this year, the President also proposed what will be, by far, the largest defense budget in American history: $750 billion to make the strongest fighting force in the history of the world stronger still. It would fund an end strength of more than 2 million active and reserve military personnel. The President’s budget would also modernize our armored brigade teams; provide resources for 12 battle force ships, 2 large unmanned surface ships, 110 fighter aircraft. And the budget also includes the largest shipbuilding budget request for the United States Navy in 20 years. (Applause.)
In fact, as we stand here at the only shipyard on the Great Lakes that builds ships for the United States Navy, I’m proud to report to all of you that we are well on our way to the 350-ship navy that President Trump promised to the American people. (Applause.) And you’re going to build a lot of it right here in Marinette.
In fact, we’re nearly at 300 ships and growing right now. And thanks in large part to all of you, the Navy soon is going to have, I’m told, 35 of those LCS ships like the one just behind me. So keep up the great work and keep delivering, and know that as you put your hands on these ships, you’re really — you’re really crafting the means for America’s finest to defend this nation. And I know you’ll continue to do it with the care and the concern and the dedication that the people of FMM have delivered for generations.
The truth is, we’ve made great progress in strengthening our national defense over the last three years. But the people of Wisconsin deserve to know that things are getting a little tied up in Washington these days. While Democrats in Congress continue to spend all their time on endless investigations and a partisan impeachment, they haven’t been able to find time to fund our national defense or give us the increases that President Trump knows that we need. It’s really incredible.
For everything that’s happening in Washington, D.C., the disgrace is also what’s not happening in Washington, D.C. Did you know Congress just delayed, again, a $20 billion increase in our national defense? And because they failed to pass a defense bill this week, they had to pass a resolution — they had to pass a resolution that would — that would make the Department of Defense delay new acquisition programs this year and potentially force the Navy to sideline 14 ships that need repairs.
Now, there’s real consequences to what’s going on in Washington, D.C. While they continue their politics as usual, it’s having a real impact on the life of the nation and our national defense.
Well, I think the American people deserve better. And it’s time for Congress to put politics aside, do their job, and fund our national defense at the level that the American people deserve. (Applause.)
And I’ll make you a promise: Whatever Democrats in Congress want to spend their time on, President Trump and I are going to keep fighting, and we’re going to keep on delivering. With all of your help and skill, we’re going to keep on giving our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, our Marines, and our Coast Guard the resources and the equipment they need to accomplish their mission and defend this nation, so help us God. (Applause.)
So we’ve rebuilt our military. You all have played a key role in that, but you’re also part of an incredible economic success story. This President not only said we could restore the arsenal of democracy, stand tall in the world again, stand with our allies, stand up to our enemies, but he also said we could revive the American economy.
When he and I were campaigning across Wisconsin three years ago, this economy hadn’t grown by more than 2 percent for the last eight years. And people were saying that was the new normal. But President Donald Trump knew better, and President Donald Trump delivered.
Right out of the gate, in our first year, we cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses just like this one. We rolled back more federal red tape in this administration than any administration in American history. We’ve unleashed American energy. We’re now going to be a net exporter of oil and natural gas for the first time in 75 years. And we fought for free and fair trade that puts American jobs and American workers first. (Applause.)
And the results — been doing it. And the results have been remarkable. Not like I got to tell any of you. I mean, since Election Day, businesses large and small — just like this one — have been growing all across this country. 6.7 million new jobs have been created across America, including 100,000 jobs in Wisconsin and Michigan alone. I mean, it’s incredible.
I remember the last administration — we had a President in the White House who was asked what he was going to do to bring back manufacturing. Now, I’m a little bit biased here. You know, I come from a state just like Wisconsin, where we — we do two things especially well: We make things and we grow things. Right?
And we actually had a President, in the summer of 2016, who said that manufacturing jobs — 200,000 jobs that have been lost — would never be coming back. Do you remember? He was actually asked what he was going to do to bring manufacturing back, and he said — he says, “What do you have? A magic wand?” Well, we didn’t need a magic wand. We just needed President Donald Trump in the White House. Five hundred thousand manufacturing jobs are back and roaring. (Applause.) I’m telling you, it’s coming back, including 5,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in Wisconsin.
But it’s not just been about manufacturing. And overall, the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. Here in Wisconsin, it’s just 3.3 percent. In fact, right now, the unemployment rate is below 5 percent in 48 states in this country. And as I stand before you today, nine states — nine states across this country have the lowest unemployment levels ever recorded.
And in just the last few months, the unemployment rate for women hit a 65-year low, and the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanic Americans is the lowest level ever recorded. The American Dream is working for everybody, and every American should be proud. (Applause.) It’s true.
And, you know, it’s not just been about more jobs; it’s been about better jobs. I mean, since President Trump was elected, the average American household has seen your disposable income go up by $5,000 a year. Under the last administration, the average American household lost $3,000 a year in income. I mean, you all felt it, and you’re seeing how it’s all — how it’s all improving.
And wages have been going up. They’re going up faster than they have in more than 10 years. And they’re rising most rapidly — the President and I couldn’t be more proud — wages, today, are rising most rapidly for hardworking, blue-collar Americans. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.) Okay?
And people know it. You all know it. You see it at this great company. I hear about it all over the country.
Karen and I slipped away for a long day-and-a-half vacation about a few months ago. We went down to Sanibel Island, Florida. You ever heard of it? It’s right over there near Fort Myers. It’s a great place.
But we were sitting out there on the beach — true story — had our ball caps on, our sunglasses, reading a book, trying to catch a little bit of time off. And these two big boys came walking by, both wearing Budweiser shirts. Men after my own heart. (Laughter.) And they did — one of them stopped and looked at me — because the local newspaper had said that we were on the island. And one of them stopped and looked at me and he said, “You’re Pence, aren’t you?” And I said, “Yes, sir. I am.” And he said, “Well, listen, next time you see the President” — he said, “You tell him to keep doing what he’s doing because I made twice as much money last year as I made the year before.” And I said, “You know, what? I’m going to tell him that word for word.” And I did. And then he took two steps away and turned back around and he said, “And I don’t know what you do, but keep doing what you’re doing too.” (Laughter.) And I told him I would. (Applause.) It’s true.
People know it. You know it. You feel the energy in this place. You see a company growing. You see a community thriving. And it’s all happening. It’s all happening for two reasons. Number one, because you got a President who understands. You got our entire administration and great allies in Congress that understand what makes the most powerful free-market economy in the history of the world work: less taxes, less regulation, more low-cost American energy, better and fairer trade deals. And we’ve been fighting for them every day.
But the truth of the matter is, the President and I also know the other half of the reason that America is prospering is because, frankly, the working men and women of America are the hardest-working people in the world. (Applause.) It’s true.
I mean, nobody can outwork us, right? Nobody can outwork the American worker. And it’s people like all of you gathered here that I’m — that’s why I’m really particularly excited to be here.
People, I’m told, like a lead shipbuilder here at Marinette. I’m told he started here as a welder more than 40 years ago. He later became an electrician. His son, Pat, followed in his footsteps and joined the company, like — like so many others that I’ve already met today. And, now, this father and son are working side by side on the LCS Minneapolis-Saint Paul. It’s a great family effort, contributing to this community, contributing to the defense of this nation.
So would you join me in showing gratitude and appreciation for 44 years of service to Joseph Klaver? Where are you, Joe. (Applause.) Where’s your son? Right next to you? Give him a round of applause, too. (Applause.) Thanks, Joe. Great. What a great team. Great family.
Or, I’m told, the former Marinette chief of police is also in our midst. He wore the badge for 30 years before joining this company as your security manager. And when he did, he joined nearly a dozen of his family members who were already here: welders, electricians, a company spokeswoman. It really was already a family affair. But he brought his leadership skills, his background, his experience, to come here and make sure that all that you create here is properly secured and protected.
In fact, I’m told one of his daughters actually met her husband here. That’s what we call a “bonus.” (Laughter.) And they’ve now been married for five years, and they got a three-year-old son named Pierce. So join me in thanking Jeff Skorik and the entire Skorik family for their service to this community, this company, and this nation. Where are you? (Applause.) Thanks, Jeff. That is really awesome.
But, really, the Klavers, the Skoriks, and the Kowalskis, and all the other families that are represented here are just emblematic of all of you. The truth is, what you’ve proved in this company is that, when we level the playing field, when we allow American businesses and American workers to compete, that we can compete and win against any workers anywhere in the world. So give yourselves a round of applause, Marinette Marine. You’re proving it every day. (Applause.)
So I’m happy to report to all of you about the promises kept by this President and this administration. But I want you all to know that we recognize that it’s thanks to all of you and that leadership, and the support we’ve had from our allies in Congress, that this country is prospering like never before. And this President, I promise you, is committed to ensuring this prosperity reaches every American home.
But to do that, we need to match the right jobs with the right workers and the skills. And this company is also leading in that as well. It’s remarkable to think that, for more than a year and a half, there have been more job openings in America than there are Americans looking for work. I mean, in fact, there are one million more job openings than there are unemployed Americans. It’s extraordinary.
So, workers in the skilled trades, like so many of you here, are in high demand. It’s true. And that demand is only going to continue to grow as this economy is revived and is growing stronger by the day.
Workers with your unique abilities and skills are going to be necessary to drive a growing American economy. And the truth is, closing what the experts call the “skills gap” has to be job one. And I promise you that you have a President and a Vice President who believes that all honest work is honorable. And we are working every single day to expand vocational education and vocational training for every American. (Applause.)
I mean, we want to make sure — we want to make sure that every American has access to the education that they want to follow their dreams.
When I was governor of the state of Indiana, I was reflecting on the fact that back when I was coming out of high school in the 1970s, things were different. I’m sure they were in Wisconsin, too. Right? I mean, there’s some people here with hair the same color as mine, right? I mean, when I went to high school, there wasn’t — I mean, we all came into the school the same way. Some of us would turn left and go down to study AP English. Some of us would turn right and go down to Industrial Arts. We ate in the same cafeteria. We cheered for the same team. We walked across the same stage on Graduation Day. All right?
I mean, but somewhere along the way — it’s true isn’t it? — our high schools got out of the business of offering education and training for every American, on every pathway. And I don’t have to tell the people here at FMM what good-paying jobs and great careers there are in manufacturing.
And that’s why this President has taken decisive action to make vocational education and job training more accessible than ever before. In our first year, the President expanded apprenticeships and vocational training to help every American adapt to this changing and growing economy.
And last year, we launched, with the help of even this company, something called the “Pledge to America’s Workers” to encourage businesses in every field to expand opportunities for training for American workers and American jobs. By signing the pledge, like this company did, companies committed to create training opportunities over the next five years for students, for workers — either through apprenticeship, continuing education, or on-the-job training.
Now, when the — I’m — this — I’m really excited to tell you this: When the Pledge for America’s Workers was launched, our first-year goal was 500,000 training opportunities and apprenticeships. But I’ve got to be honest with you, we didn’t — we didn’t hit that number. As I stand before you today, more than 370 companies have pledged almost 15 million training opportunities and apprenticeships for American workers. (Applause.) That’s called under-promising and over-delivering.
And we’re really just getting started. I mean — and I — would you just give the great team here — your CEO, Jan — give them all — Fincantieri — FMM has committed to 3,000 apprenticeships and job-training posts right here in this company. Thank you so very much. (Applause.) Thank you, Jan.
So I want to thank Dario, and Jan, and all of you for this incredible commitment to Wisconsin and to Michigan, and for leading by example.
The truth is, you know, there are people maybe looking on right now. I mean, there — the literally tens of Americans that might be watching this on C-SPAN — (laughter) — might be excited to hear, “You know what? I can go up to Wisconsin and there’s companies up there that are ready to help me get the training so I can work on one of these and I can be a part of something really important, not just for my family and for my community, but for my nation.”
And those training opportunities — we’re going to have even more people that can fill the jobs in this growing economy here in Wisconsin, and we’ll more competitive on the world stage, as well.
I mean, the truth is, under the President’s leadership, American workers are competing and winning with workers all over the world. And President Trump promised to work on making sure our economy had the conditions where companies and workers could grow and prosper.
But this President, as I mentioned, also promised to fight for trade deals that are free, and fair, and reciprocal. And President Donald Trump has delivered. We negotiated a new trade deal with South Korea. He signed two new trade agreements with Japan, and we’re working toward a free trade agreement with them.
And President Trump put China on notice. He said, “The era of economic surrender is over.” And China is at the negotiating table as we speak. (Applause.)
So, we’ve done a lot. We’re working on more. When the UK finishes Brexit, we’re going to work with them. We’re even talking to the European Union about a deal.
But closer to home, there’s a deal that’s done that I wanted to ask for your help on before I slip away and catch a plane back to Indiana. I don’t know if you all know this, but President Trump — and when he campaigned through Wisconsin — said that we could do better than NAFTA.
You know, from the time NAFTA was signed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, we literally saw tens of thousands of factories close in this country and jobs open south of the border.
President Trump said we can do better. We, right out of the gate, started into negotiations with our neighbors in Mexico and in Canada. And I’m going to tell you: President Trump drove a hard bargain. The man that wrote “The Art of the Deal,” one year ago, closed the deal. And the USMCA is a win for Wisconsin workers and American jobs, I promise you. (Applause.)
And it’s not just manufacturing. I don’t have to tell you up here in Wisconsin about dairy. I mean, there was a lot — you can go ask your friends that work in dairy around here. There’s a lot going on up in Canada that was really working against the vitality of our dairy industry here in the upper northwest. President Trump stood strong with Prime Minister Trudeau, held firm, and we delivered. We delivered for dairy. We delivered a win for American agriculture.
Now, it’s all good news; the USMCA has been done for a year. But, again, one more example of something Congress apparently hasn’t had time to get to in the midst of everything else they’re doing. The truth is, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has had the USMCA on her desk for a year. She continues to say they’re on a path to “yes,” but the truth is Democrats in Congress have refused to bring it to the floor. Because I — the truth is, if they bring it to the floor of the Congress, it’s going to pass, and it’s going to be a win for Wisconsin and a win for American workers.
And I came here today to say the time has come for Democrats in Congress to put politics aside, put America first, and pass the USMCA. (Applause.) Okay? It’s going to make a difference in Wisconsin and all across this country.
According to the ITC, this Mexico-Canada Agreement that we negotiated a year ago is going to add about $70 billion to our economy and create more than 175,000 jobs, including 50,000 manufacturing jobs.
And when it becomes law, we predict that American manufacturing workers are going to get another raise, as wages will continue to increase as exports expand. In fact, for Wisconsin: If the USMCA becomes law, the United States would increase its exports of milk and cheese by 68,000 tons. So we need to get this done.
But the last thing I just want to mention to you is I wanted to ask for your help to get it done. Because the truth is, the clock is ticking. We all know there’s a big presidential election coming next year, and if you think Congress has a hard time getting anything done when it’s not an election year, just wait for an election year to come.
So the time has come for Congress to act. And I want to encourage you, here in Wisconsin, to reach out to your members of Congress. But let me save you a nickel: You don’t need to call Senator Ron Johnson because he’s leading the charge for the USMCA in the United States Senate. (Applause.) Thank you, Senator Johnson.
And you also — you also don’t need to — you don’t need to call one of the rising stars in the Republican Congress — a seventh-generation Wisconsinite, grew up in a small-business family, die-hard Packers fan — kind of goes without saying. But I’m so inspired, as the father of a United States Marine — he was a captain in the United States Marine Corps, deployed twice for this country, and he is fighting for jobs here in Marinette and leading the charge. Join me in thanking Congressman Mike Gallagher, will you? (Applause.) He’s an incredible American. Thank you, Mike.
In fact, you don’t need to call the Republican members of Congress from Wisconsin because they’re all in there, standing with the President every single day on the USMCA and everything else.
But, if you get a minute, you might just call Senator Tammy Baldwin, and you might call Congressman Ron Kind. Tell them, “I ran into Mike the other day” — (laughter) — “at Marinette Marine, and he told me that this USMCA has been on the Speaker of the House’s desk for a year.” And tell them, “Wisconsin and America need the USMCA and we need it this year.” You call them. (Applause.) It will make a difference.
You know, I was a member of Congress for 12 years before I served as governor of the Hoosier State. And I can tell you, there’s nothing more powerful in Washington, D.C., than the voice of the American people. And the USMCA is going to be a win for every American. So let your voice be heard.
So, thanks for coming out today. Thanks for the warm welcome. I look forward to meeting as many of you as time permits.
In the days and weeks that lie ahead, I’ll make you a promise: Whatever Democrats want to spend their time on on Capitol Hill, President Trump and I are never going to stop fighting. We’re never going to stop fighting to keep the promises that we made to the people of Wisconsin. We’re never going to stop delivering on a strong national defense, secure borders, conservatives to our courts at every level, and we’re never going to stop fighting for jobs, jobs, jobs in Wisconsin and across America. (Applause.) We’re counting on it.
I mean, the — sometimes people come up to me and say a very unnecessary thing. They’ll say, “Tell the President to just — to keep going.” Let me tell you, that’s something you never have to say to President Donald Trump. I mean, as we say in the Hoosier State, “All that reverse is stripped out of that pickup truck. It only goes forward.” And we’re going to keep fighting to keep Wisconsin and America going strong. (Applause.)
So thank you again. I leave here today with this warm welcome from so many great Americans. I leave here today with renewed confidence and faith. Faith in this President that I serve with every day, that he’s just going to keep on fighting every day — keep the promises that he made to people of this state for a stronger, more prosperous America.
When I come to a company like this, my — it also renews my faith in the people of this country, in the businesses and the hardworking Americans that are driving this era of unprecedented prosperity and growth.
And lastly, I can assure you I — I get up every day and I renew that other kind of faith in my life as well. Faith in Him who said, I’ll “never leave you and never forsake you,” who was here when this great state was carved out of this dense wilderness, and is still with us today. With faith in Him, I know the best days for Wisconsin and America are yet to come.
So thank you so very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. (Applause.) And I know with your continued support, President Donald Trump in the White House, our strong allies in Congress, and with God’s help, we’re going to keep America great. Thanks everybody. God bless you.