Thursday, September 19, 2019

First Lady Melania Trump Releases Details for the Trump Administration’s Official Visit and State Dinner with Australia

Office of the First Lady
  First Lady Melania Trump Releases Details for the Trump Administration’s Official Visit and State Dinner with Australia 
First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald J. Trump will welcome Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mrs. Jennifer Morrison of Australia to the White House for an Official Visit and State Dinner on September 20, 2019.
Tonight, the First Lady will open the Rose Garden for a press preview of the State Dinner table setting and décor.  The Office of the First Lady shares the following details, which were all carefully selected by the First Lady to reflect the strong ties between the United States and Australia.  The First Family warmly welcomes the Prime Minister and Mrs. Morrison and looks forward to strengthening one of America’s most important and enduring relationships.
Arrival Ceremony
On Friday morning, the President and First Lady will welcome the Prime Minister and Mrs. Morrison of Australia during the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.  The Trump Administration is proud to carry on the traditional military arrival ceremony, which has been part of our Nation’s history for centuries.  Nearly 500 members of the United States Armed Forces from the five military branches will be present on the South Lawn for the “Review of the Troops.” Those invited to attend the arrival ceremony include the President’s Cabinet, Members of Congress, military families, and guests of the Australian Embassy.

State Dinner
The colors chosen for this visit are green and gold, which are the Australian national colors.  These colors were derived from the national flower of Australia, the golden wattle, which has a yellow flower and green foliage.  The dinner is being held in the Rose Garden, which will be filled with American varieties of yellow and white roses.  Gold woven baskets filled with yellow garden roses and golden wattle signify the combined friendship and long-lasting relationship between the United States and Australia.  Ombré shades of yellows and greens were chosen for the table linens, and the tables will be illuminated with gold oil lamps.  Golden champagne grapes will be placed on top of the tables, highlighting the richness of each of the countries’ wine industries.  The china settings for the baseplate and dinner service will consist of alternating patterns from the administrations of Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush. 

The evening’s performance will be the largest gathering of premier military musicians for a State Dinner at the White House.  The entertainment will feature musical groups from the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force: 
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Chamber Orchestra
The United States Army Chorus
The United States Army Herald Trumpets
The United States Army Strings
The United States Navy Band Sea Chanters
The United States Air Force Strings
The United States Air Force Singing Sergeants

Floral Arrangements
The Cross Hall urns will be filled with pear branches from New England.

The dinner centerpieces will feature more than 2,500 roses from California in shades of yellow and Australia’s national floral emblem, the golden wattle.  The Ground Floor Corridor will feature garden roses, jasmine vines, and dahlias, all grown in the United States.

The menu for the State Dinner with Australia highlights the lush, late summer season across the vast lands of America.  The menu pays homage to Australia’s special blend of culinary adaptations from its various cultures, not unlike the diverse food traditions of the United States.

The first course will be Sunchoke Ravioli with Reggiano Cream and Shaved Summer Vegetables.  Sunchokes, known as “earth apples,” are native to North America and will be roasted and puréed to give creaminess and sweet notes to the ravioli.  The pasta is drizzled with a lemony Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese emulsion and topped with shavings of sun gold carrots, baby kale, and sunchoke chips.

The main course will be Dover Sole, roasted whole, then fileted and accented with Fennel Mousseline.  Adding color to the plate will be the tender green and yellow summer squash blossoms, which will be picked the day before the dinner.  The combination of the mild and sweet Dover Sole, the creamy fennel, and the citrusy garlic rouille is finished with an abundant variety of perennial herbs from the White House Kitchen Garden.

Dessert will be an American classic:  Lady Apple Tart with Calvados Ice Cream.  The dessert will be made of layers of sliced apples with a flaky crust.  The Lady apples are sourced from Pacific Northwest and Mid-Atlantic orchards.  The filling combines unique flavors of sweet and tart with caramelized apples, cinnamon, lemon zest, vanilla, and brown sugar with hints of molasses.

The Spring Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is the product of Spring Mountain Vineyard located in Napa Valley, where wine grapes have been cultivated since the 1800s.  Bright floral aromas characterize this wine, and its notes of lemon zest and green grass complement the Sunchoke Ravioli.

The Argyle Pinot Noir “Reserve” 2016 is the heralded result of a combination of Australian innovation and American ingenuity.  Innovation and technological advancement have long been hallmarks of Australia’s winemaking culture.  The light and lively red fruit notes of cherry and raspberry pair well with the subtle sweetness of the Dover Sole.  Notes of green herb heighten the anise flavor of the Fennel Mousseline and the fragrant flavors of herbs fresh from the Kitchen Garden.  The well-integrated tannins and minerality from the volcanic soil of the Willamette Valley add balance and smooth complexity to this Reserve Pinot Noir.

Finally, the J Demi-Sec NV partners well with the Lady Apple Tart.  Notes of ripe pear and acacia honey are perfect accompaniments to the autumnal caramelized apples featured in the tart.  The creaminess of the Calvados Ice Cream is pleasantly counterbalanced by the Meyer lemon curd acidity that appears at the first sip and lingers through the intriguingly long finish.

Full Menu
First Course
Sunchoke Ravioli
Reggiano Cream
Shaved Summer Vegetables

Main Course
Dover Sole with Parsley Crisps
Zucchini Squash Blossoms
Fennel Mousseline
Baby Garlic Rouille

Lady Apple Tart
Calvados Ice Cream

Additional Information
The guest list and First Lady’s gown details will be released at the beginning of the dinner. 

1600 Daily The White House • September 19, 2019 Video of the day: President Trump Tours Border Wall Progress

1600 Daily
The White House • September 19, 2019

Video of the day: President Trump tours border wall progress

In San Diego, California, President Donald J. Trump got an up-close look yesterday at the great progress being made on new and replacement border wall.

“We’re building it at a breakneck speed,” the President said after receiving an update from Border Patrol officials. All told, the wall will “be over 400 miles. And we think we can get it close to 500 miles by the end of next year,” he added.

President Trump’s goal has always been to stop illegal immigration and protect the American people. Now, with border wall construction underway, the results are undeniable: Illegal border crossings plummeted 30 percent between July and August.

“Nobody is coming in unless they’re coming in legally. They’re coming in through a process,” the President said.

TOMORROW: Australia State Visit begins! 

President Trump and the First Lady will welcome Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and First Lady Jenny Morrison to the White House tomorrow for an arrival ceremony to kick off their official State Visit to Washington.

The visit will be a celebration of the close relationship and shared history between America and Australia. Throughout the weekend, President Trump and Prime Minister Morrison will reaffirm our common vision for global peace, security, and prosperity.

Official State Visits are large, formal affairs, as are appropriate to show respect to a visiting leader. The end goal of the occasion, however, is practical: President Trump and visiting heads of state meet for working sessions throughout any such visit.

In that spirit, the weekend will be filled with major events, both ceremonial and policy-specific. In addition to tomorrow’s welcome ceremony, the President and First Lady will host a State Dinner on Friday evening. On Sunday, Prime Minister Morrison will join President Trump in Ohio to tour a new, Australian-owned manufacturing facility, highlighting the strong U.S.–Australia trade relationship and its importance for American workers.

In photos: A look back at President Trump’s first State Visit with France

LIVE: Watch the arrival ceremony for Australia tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET

Photo of the Day

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Donald J. Trump visits the border area of Otay Mesa, a neighborhood along the Mexican border in San Diego, California | September 18, 2019 


Office of the Press Secretary


“We want a safe and healthy future for every American family.” – President Donald J. Trump

MODERNIZING INFLUENZA VACCINES: President Donald J. Trump is safeguarding public health by helping ensure Americans have access to effective influenza vaccines. 

  • Today, President Trump signed an executive order to modernize influenza vaccines and help protect more Americans through vaccination.
  • At President Trump’s direction, the Administration will work to promote new technologies to improve vaccine manufacturing and effectiveness.
    • This will reduce reliance on more time-consuming, egg-based vaccine production.   
    • Improving the speed of production will enable experts to better match vaccines to actively circulating viruses, an important piece of making the vaccines more effective.  
    • The Administration will advance the development of new, more effective vaccines.
  • The Trump Administration will also work to increase Americans’ access to vaccines by reducing barriers to seasonal flu vaccine services. 
  • To help put these objectives into action, President Trump is establishing a task force to identify policy priorities and monitor progress.
PROTECTING LIVES THROUGH PREVENTION: Influenza vaccines are vitally important to disease prevention, yet current production methods need to be improved.
  • Influenza vaccines are the best way to save lives, reduce the illness severity, and prevent influenza infections in the first place.
    • During the 2017–2018 flu season, influenza vaccinations prevented up to 7.1 million illnesses, 3.7 million medical visits, and 109,000 hospitalizations.
    • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that vaccines prevented more than 40,000 flu-associated deaths over a nine-year period.
  • It is especially important to be able to rapidly produce well-matched influenza vaccines using scalable technologies in the event of a future influenza pandemic.
  • Despite their important role in safeguarding the health of the American people, influenza vaccines are currently produced using more time-consuming, egg-based technology.
    • More rapid non-egg-based production methods would give experts more time to select the most relevant strains.
PROMOTING PUBLIC HEALTH: Improving the influenza vaccine is part of President Trump’s longstanding effort to combat public health threats and promote quality care for all Americans. 
  • President Trump has released a National Biodefense Strategy and a Global Health Security Strategy to help combat biological threats and pandemics.
  • President Trump has made it a priority to increase the quality and accessibility of care for American patients.
    • This year, the President launched a kidney health initiative to help prevent kidney failure, improve treatment options, and expand access to life-saving transplants.
    • The Trump Administration is working to encourage new, innovative approaches to treating childhood cancer.
    • President Trump launched an initiative to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America over the next decade. 
    • The Administration is supporting research on new treatments for opioid addiction.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Executive Order Modernizing Influenza Vaccines in the U.S. to Promote National Security and Public Health

Office of the Press Secretary
Statement from the Press Secretary on the Executive Order Modernizing Influenza Vaccines in the U.S. to Promote National Security and Public Health 
Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order, “Modernizing Influenza Vaccines in the United States to Promote National Security and Public Health.”  This action further strengthens our Nation’s public health and security by prioritizing United States Government efforts to modernize and improve the production and effectiveness of influenza vaccines to combat the seasonal flu we see every year and to combat potential influenza pandemics.  This Executive Order will also promote increased influenza vaccine immunization across our entire population.

Each year, seasonal influenza vaccines prevent millions of cases of disease and thousands of deaths in the United States.  Additionally, in the event of an influenza pandemic, the virus could kill more than half a million Americans and inflict trillions of dollars of damage on our economy.  Unfortunately, many of the vaccines we use today are produced overseas, using time-consuming, egg-based technology, which limits their effectiveness and makes production too slow to effectively combat a potential deadly influenza pandemic.

With today’s action, the Trump Administration will promote new vaccine manufacturing technologies to enable the production of vaccine doses faster and in greater quantities than is currently possible.  Reduced production times will allow experts to better match vaccines to actively circulating influenza viruses, making them more effective in treating seasonal influenza.  Additionally, more robust, secure, and responsive vaccines will aid the response in the event of a pandemic influenza.  Finally, this Executive Order will advance the development of vaccines that last longer and protect against a broader array of influenza viruses.

Through this action, President Trump has reaffirmed his Administration’s commitment to supporting American innovation and American production and to protecting the American people.  


Office of the Press Secretary


- - - - - - -



    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

    Section 1.  Findings.  (a)  Influenza viruses are constantly changing as they circulate globally in humans and animals.  Relatively minor changes in these viruses cause annual seasonal influenza outbreaks, which result in millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States.  Periodically, new influenza A viruses emerge from animals, including birds and pigs, that can spread efficiently and have sustained transmission among humans.  This situation is called an influenza pandemic (pandemic).  Unlike seasonal influenza, a pandemic has the potential to spread rapidly around the globe, infect higher numbers of people, and cause high rates of illness and death in populations that lack prior immunity.  While it is not possible to predict when or how frequently a pandemic may occur, there have been 4 pandemics in the last 100 years.  The most devastating pandemic occurred in 1918-1919 and is estimated to have killed more than 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans.

    (b)  Vaccination is the most effective defense against influenza.  Despite recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that nearly every American should receive the influenza vaccine annually, however, seasonal influenza vaccination levels in the United States have currently reached only about 45 percent of CDC goals.

    (c)  All influenza vaccines presently in use have been developed for circulating or anticipated influenza viruses. These vaccines must be reformulated for each influenza season as well as in the event of a pandemic.  Additional research is needed to develop influenza vaccines that provide more effective and longer-lasting protection against many or all influenza viruses.

    (d)  The current domestic enterprise for manufacturing influenza vaccines has critical shortcomings.  Most influenza vaccines are made in chicken eggs, using a 70-year-old process that requires months-long production timelines, limiting their utility for pandemic control; rely on a potentially vulnerable supply chain of eggs; require the use of vaccine viruses adapted for growth in eggs, which could introduce mutations of the influenza vaccine virus that may render the final product less effective; and are unsuitable for efficient and scalable continuous manufacturing platforms.

    (e)  The seasonal influenza vaccine market rewards manufacturers that deliver vaccines in time for the influenza season, without consideration of the speed or scale of these manufacturers' production processes.  This approach is insufficient to meet the response needs in the event of a pandemic, which can emerge rapidly and with little warning.  Because the market does not sufficiently reward speed, and because a pandemic has the potential to overwhelm or compromise essential government functions, including defense and homeland security, the Government must take action to promote faster and more scalable manufacturing platforms.

    Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to modernize the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of influenza viruses.  This is a public health and national security priority, as influenza has the potential to significantly harm the United States and our interests, including through large-scale illness and death, disruption to military operations, and damage to the economy.  This order directs actions to reduce the United States' reliance on egg-based influenza vaccine production; to expand domestic capacity of alternative methods that allow more agile and rapid responses to emerging influenza viruses; to advance the development of new, broadly protective vaccine candidates that provide more effective and longer lasting immunities; and to support the promotion of increased influenza vaccine immunization across recommended populations.

    Sec. 3.  National Influenza Vaccine Task Force.  (a)  There is hereby established a National Influenza Vaccine Task Force (Task Force).  The Task Force shall identify actions to achieve the objectives identified in section 2 of this order and monitor and report on the implementation and results of those actions.  The Task Force shall be co-chaired by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, or their designees.

    (b)  In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Task Force shall consist of a senior official from the following executive branch departments, agencies, and offices:

        (i)     the Department of Defense (DOD);

        (ii)    the Department of Justice;

        (iii)   the Department of Agriculture;

        (iv)    the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA);

        (v)     the Department of Homeland Security;

        (vi)    the United States Food and Drug Administration;

        (vii)   the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

        (viii)  the National Institutes of Health (NIH);

        (ix)    the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and

        (x)     the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

    (c)  The Co-Chairs may jointly invite additional Federal Government representatives, with the consent of the applicable executive department, agency, or office head, to attend meetings of the Task Force or to become members of the Task Force, as appropriate.

    (d)  The staffs of the Department of State, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the National Security Council, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) may attend and participate in any Task Force meetings or discussions.

    (e)  The Task Force may consult with State, local, tribal, and territorial government officials and private sector representatives, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

    (f)  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Task Force shall submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  The report shall include:

        (i)    a 5-year national plan (Plan) to promote the use of more agile and scalable vaccine manufacturing technologies and to accelerate development of vaccines that protect against many or all influenza viruses;

        (ii)   recommendations for encouraging non-profit, academic, and private-sector influenza vaccine innovation; and

        (iii)  recommendations for increasing influenza vaccination among the populations recommended by the CDC and for improving public understanding of influenza risk and informed influenza vaccine decision-making.

    (g)  Not later than June 1 of each of the 5 years following submission of the report described in subsection (f) of this section, the Task Force shall submit an update on implementation of the Plan and, as appropriate, new recommendations for achieving the policy objectives set forth in section 2 of this order.

    Sec. 4.  Agency Implementation.  The heads of executive departments and agencies shall also implement the policy objectives defined in section 2 of this order, consistent with existing authorities and appropriations, as follows:

    (a)  The Secretary of HHS shall:

        (i)    through the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and BARDA:

            (A)  estimate the cost of expanding and diversifying domestic vaccine-manufacturing capacity to use innovative, faster, and more scalable technologies, including cell-based and recombinant vaccine manufacturing, through cost-sharing agreements with the private sector, which shall include an agreed-upon pricing strategy during a pandemic;

            (B)  estimate the cost of expanding domestic production capacity of adjuvants in order to combine such adjuvants with both seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines;

            (C)  estimate the cost of expanding domestic fill-and-finish capacity to rapidly fulfill antigen and adjuvant needs for pandemic response;

            (D)  estimate the cost of developing, evaluating, and implementing delivery systems to augment limited supplies of needles and syringes and to enable the rapid and large-scale administration of pandemic influenza vaccines;

            (E)  evaluate incentives for the development and production of vaccines by private manufacturers and public-private partnerships, including, in emergency situations, the transfer of technology to public-private partnerships -- such as the HHS Centers for Innovation and Advanced Development and Manufacturing or other domestic manufacturing facilities -- in advance of a pandemic, in order to be able to ensure adequate domestic pandemic manufacturing capacity and capability;

            (F)  support, in coordination with the DOD, NIH, and VA, a suite of clinical studies featuring different adjuvants to support development of improved vaccines and further expand vaccine supply by reducing the dose of antigen required; and

            (G)  update, in coordination with other relevant public health agencies, the research agenda to dramatically improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability of influenza vaccine production;

        (ii)   through the Director of NIH, provide to the Task Force estimated timelines for implementing NIH's strategic plan and research agenda for developing influenza vaccines that can protect individuals over many years against multiple types of influenza viruses;

        (iii)  through the Commissioner of Food and Drugs:

            (A)  further implement vaccine production process improvements to reduce the time required for vaccine production (e.g., through the use of novel technologies for vaccine seed virus development and through implementation of improved potency and sterility assays);

            (B)  develop, in conjunction with the CDC, proposed alternatives for the timing of vaccine virus selection to account for potentially shorter timeframes associated with non egg based manufacturing and to facilitate vaccines optimally matched to the circulating strains;

            (C)  further support the conduct, in collaboration with the DOD, BARDA, and CDC, of applied scientific research regarding developing cell lines and expression systems that markedly increase the yield of cell-based and recombinant influenza vaccine manufacturing processes; and

            (D)  assess, in coordination with BARDA and relevant vaccine manufacturers, the use and potential effects of using advanced manufacturing platforms for influenza vaccines;

        (iv)   through the Director of the CDC:

            (A)  expand vaccine effectiveness studies to more rapidly evaluate the effectiveness of cell based and recombinant influenza vaccines relative to egg-based vaccines;

            (B)  explore options to expand the production capacity of cell-based vaccine candidates used by industry;

            (C)  develop a plan to expand domestic capacity for whole genome characterization of influenza viruses;

            (D)  increase influenza vaccine use through enhanced communication and by removing barriers to vaccination; and

            (E)  enhance communication to healthcare providers about the performance of influenza vaccines, in order to assist them in promoting the most effective vaccines for their patient populations; and

            (v)    through the Administrator of CMS, examine the current legal, regulatory, and policy framework surrounding payment for influenza vaccines and assess adoption of domestically manufactured vaccines that have positive attributes for pandemic response (such as scalability and speed of manufacturing).

    (b)  The Secretary of Defense shall:

        (i)    provide OMB with a cost estimate for transitioning DOD's annual procurement of influenza vaccines to vaccines manufactured both domestically and through faster, more scalable, and innovative technologies;

        (ii)   direct, in coordination with the VA, CDC, and other components of HHS, the conduct of epidemiological studies of vaccine effectiveness to improve knowledge of the clinical effect of the currently licensed influenza vaccines;

        (iii)  use DOD's network of clinical research sites to evaluate the effectiveness of licensed influenza vaccines, including methods of boosting their effectiveness;

        (iv)   identify opportunities to use DOD's vaccine research and development enterprise, in collaboration with HHS, to include both early discovery and design of influenza vaccines as well as later-stage evaluation of candidate influenza vaccines;

        (v)    investigate, in collaboration with HHS, alternative correlates of immune protection that could facilitate development of next-generation influenza vaccines;

        (vi)   direct the conduct of a study to assess the feasibility of using DOD's advanced manufacturing facility for manufacturing cell-based or recombinant influenza vaccines during a pandemic; and

        (vii)  accelerate, in collaboration with HHS, research regarding rapidly scalable prophylactic influenza antibody approaches to complement a universal vaccine initiative and address gaps in current vaccine coverage.

    (c)  The Secretary of VA shall provide OMB with a cost estimate for transitioning its annual procurement of influenza vaccines to vaccines manufactured both domestically and with faster, more scalable, and innovative technologies.

    Sec. 5.  Termination.  The Task Force shall terminate upon direction from the President or, with the approval of the President, upon direction from the Task Force Co-Chairs.

    Sec. 6.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

        (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

        (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

    (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

    (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

                        DONALD J. TRUMP


    September 19, 2019.


Office of the Press Secretary


Via Teleconference


1:04 P.M. EDT

     MS. SLOBODIEN:  Thank you.  Thank you all for joining us today to unveil CEA's report on mitigating the impact of pandemic influenza through vaccine innovation.

     Joining us for the call today, we having Acting Chairman Tomas Philipson.  We also will have, for the question and answer portion, Joel Zinberg, who is the Senior Economist and a physician at the Council of Economic Advisers.

     I’ll turn things over to Tomas to get started.

ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Okay.  Thanks, Rachel.  And thank you to everyone for joining our call today to discuss the CEA’s report.  It’s a newly released report which estimates the potential costs of pandemic influenza.  It discusses the current lack of responsiveness in reducing the risks of such pandemics, and highlights the benefit of public-private partnerships to address this problem.  The report also sets forward the rationale and cost-benefit analysis for our government to reduce this major threat to public health if it were to occur.

I’ll begin by providing a brief overview of three major components of the report.  First, we estimate the potentially large health and economic losses in the United States associated with influenza pandemics and discuss why the most commonly used vaccine production technologies are unlikely to mitigate these losses because the production process is too slow.

Second, we estimate the value of new vaccine technologies that would make vaccines available more quickly and thereby improve their effectiveness in moderating the risks of radically emerging pandemics.

Lastly, we argue that the private market incentives may be insufficient to develop new vaccine technologies or promote the uptake of existing, faster, but more expensive technologies, despite their large expected value to society.  This is because vaccine innovators only get rewarded when a pandemic occurs, even though they provide great value in terms of risk reduction when pandemics do not occur.  We therefore argue that public-private partnerships to spur innovation may be valuable to decrease the impact of pandemic health risks.

The report first addresses the health risk of potential pandemics.  While millions of Americans suffer from seasonal influenza every year -- commonly called “the flu” -- there is a more deadly and costly form of flu -- pandemic influenza -- in which a new influenza virus could spread rapidly throughout the population.  Historically, the chance of a pandemic influenza may be low -- roughly 4 percent per year -- but our nation is unprepared for such a catastrophe.

For example, the so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918 sickened approximately one-third of the world’s population, killing an estimated 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans.  As a result, life expectancy in the United States fell by 12 years.

The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the cost of a modern influenza pandemic per episode could range from $413 billion to over $3 trillion, with an average cost of $1.8 trillion, depending on the transmission efficiency and virulence of the particular influenza virus, or in other words, how easily the virus is spread and how serious the infection it generates is.  These costs include direct medical costs, reduced productivity, and the cost of fatalities using standard measures of mortality costs.  This is substantially higher than the estimated $361 billion cost of the average seasonal influenza.

We assume in a single wave of infection over the course of about half a year, in the most serious pandemic scenario, more than half a million Americans would die.

The most effective way to combat an influenza pandemic is with large-scale, immediate immunization.  Unfortunately, with the current vaccine technologies, our nation is not currently prepared to deliver a sufficient number of vaccine doses quickly enough to stop the rapid spread of a pandemic virus.

Current vaccine production for the seasonal flu primarily relies on using chicken eggs, which can take half a year or more to produce sufficient doses of the vaccine.  Half a year would be too slow to combat the rapid spread of an unexpected and highly contagious pandemic virus, no matter how effective a vaccine was.  Adequate doses of vaccine would only arrive after new infections have peaked.

Additionally, current slow egg-based production may impair the effectiveness of influenza vaccines for both pandemic and seasonal influenza because targeting the vaccine to an emerging virus must be done quickly.

Increasing the speed of influenza vaccine production is, therefore, critical to combating a future pandemic and better to target seasonal flus.  Therefore, the second part of the report estimates the value of such improved vaccine technologies.

If a pandemic occurs, faster production technologies that could deliver sufficient doses of vaccine at the outset of a pandemic would produce a $730 billion benefit over the course of an average pandemic.

Combining faster vaccine production with a 30 percent improvement in vaccine effectiveness far over the last influenza pandemic, which occurred in 2009, increases the benefit to $953 billion –- about one-half the cost of an average epidemic -- or pandemic.

However, these benefits dissipate quickly.  The average savings forgone per week of delay in vaccine availability during the first 12 pandemic weeks is $53 billion per week, declining to $26 billion during the following 12 weeks, due to following the peak of the epidemic.

Since pandemics are rare, their true expected costs, before any potential occurrence, must be discounted by the discussed 4 percent annual probability of a pandemic.  CEA finds that the expected value of having a better and faster vaccine available at the outset of a pandemic is $29 billion, which amounts to $89 per American.

Adding a 30 percent increase in vaccine effectiveness increases the expected value of an improved and faster vaccine to $38 billion, or the equivalent of $117 per American.

New and existing vaccine production methods like cell-cultured and recombinant vaccines may cut production times and improve effectiveness compared with egg-based vaccines.  While these new vaccines are more expensive than egg-based vaccines, CEA finds that their current per-dose price is far less than the discussed expected value of having a vaccine available at the outset of a pandemic.

Nevertheless, the market share of cell-based vaccines is only 10 to 15 percent, and of recombinant vaccines is 1 to 2 percent.

Lastly, the report discusses the lack of appropriate innovation incentives that exist for mitigating pandemic risk.  In the report, CEA argues that the private market has not embraced these new technologies or encouraged other innovations because of a misalignment between the social and private returns of developing and utilizing newer vaccines.

The private market does not get rewarded for the insurance value to society of mitigating future pandemic losses -- a value that accrues regardless of whether a pandemic occurs or not.  Vaccine developers only realize sales if a pandemic occurs, even though an effective pandemic vaccine would eliminate the health threat of a pandemic.

To put it simply: Provisional insurances, such as (inaudible) life insurance, reduces the financial risk for rare events, and the insurance is therefore valuable even if the risk does not turn out to materialize.  Pandemic vaccine innovators provide a similar insurance value to society in terms of health risk, but they’re sales-driven, R&D decisions that will not be impacted by it.

The lack of appropriate innovation incentives partly explains why private markets have failed to provide the innovation needed to reduce pandemic risk and improve pandemic influenza preparedness.  Public-private partnerships were key to developing existing cell-based and recombinant vaccine technologies.  These partnerships will be key to providing other innovations needed to accelerate vaccine production timeliness and a timeline needed for pandemic influenza, and could potentially improve vaccine effectiveness for both seasonal and pandemic influenza.

This concludes my discussion of the report.  But we will be happy to take some questions.

Q    Yeah, hi.  I have two question.  One, a few weeks ago, several of us, I think, were told that there was going to be an executive order related to research on the universal flu vaccine, or on improved flu vaccines.  And I was wondering if you could comment on that or tell whether that’s still in the works or how that relates to this current report?

Second, the -- you mentioned in the report, the 20- -- 2006, I believe it was, legislation that puts many billions of dollars into improving vaccines.  You mentioned that that it’s done that job partially.  Are you advocating just more money be put into these public-private partnerships, or something more -- a larger sort of structural change in how that’s done?   Thank you.

MS. SLOBODIEN:  Arthur, for the question you had about the EO, I would refer you to the White House Press Office for that.

And -- I’m sorry, hold on one moment.  And the second one is best for us not to comment on it.  I would also refer you to the White House Press Office.

Q    Hi.  Thank you again for taking the time on this.  Can you just say, essentially, what this boils down to?  This report is recommending that in order to have a breakthrough, both for pandemic situation but also breakthroughs that would help in the seasonal situation, that essentially private markets need more of a nudge of some kind?  There needs to be a new incentive if they're going to make breakthroughs here that are worth having?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah.  That’s pretty much -- I mean, we document that this benefit from these new technologies -- we document that they're not used, and we're basically providing a cost-benefit rationale for greater innovation and use of those technologies.

     Q    Hi, thanks very much.  From my understanding with conversations with people at the NIH, we're still a few years away from a universal flu vaccine, scientifically speaking.  I'm curious how, whether or not -- how much money needs to be dumped into that before that timeline can be shortened.

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah.  So in general I would leave that to HHS to address, in terms of allocating the funds for this.  And we're, in this report, laying out the value of that potential effort.

     Q    Gotcha.

     Q    Yeah.  Hi, I was just wondering if you could disclose, or if you had any more information about why the Flublok vaccine, which seemed to be, you know, able to be produced much faster and also was more effective had so much trouble getting traction in the market?

And if you could specifically talk to -- I mean, I understand it's somewhat more expensive, but how would you ameliorate a situation like that?  I mean, we do have these vaccines out there that seem to be better already, but they don’t have much market share.  I think Flublok is produced by the company that makes most of the egg-based vaccines.  Does that have anything to do with why it's been sort of tamped down -- its production?

ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yes.  So we discussed some of the barriers to adoption and innovation in the paper.  One, for the adoption piece, is the pricing of it and the reimbursement, which we'll also go through in the paper.  I think that’s the major one that is hindering its further adoption.

Q    Hey.  Sorry, when I was trying to put through a question before, I guess I had my phone on mute.  So the question I had was: Was this report put together to back up the need for the executive order that there's going to be a later call on today?

MS. SLOBODIEN:  Donna, the nature of the Council of Economic Advisers is to provide information and economic analysis to the President.  And so the report is consistent with that.

OPERATOR:  And we have no further questions in queue.

MS. SLOBODIEN:  Thank you all for joining us.  You can find the CEA report on CEA's website.

                         END                 1:20 P.M. EDT 

Eight Nominations and Three Withdrawals Sent to the Senate

Office of the Press Secretary


     Robert Anthony Dixon, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Marshal for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for the term of four years, vice Michael A. Hughes, term expired.

     Danielle J. Hunsaker, of Oregon, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, vice Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, retired.

     Grant C. Jaquith, of New York, to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for the term of fifteen years, vice Robert N. Davis, retiring.

     Robert Joseph Kruckemeyer, of Texas, to be a Member of the National Council on the Humanities for a term expiring January 26, 2022, vice Dorothy Kosinski, term expired.

     Scott J. Laurer, of Virginia, to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for the term of fifteen years, vice Mary J. Schoelen, retiring.

     William Joseph Nardini, of Connecticut, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit, vice Christopher Droney, retired.

     Mitchell A. Silk, of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, vice Heath P. Tarbert, resigned.

     Daniel Mack Traynor, of North Dakota, to be United States District Judge for the District of North Dakota, vice Daniel L. Hovland, retiring.


     Jeffrey Byard, of Alabama, to be Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, vice Brock Long, resigned, which was sent to the Senate on May 13, 2019.

     Heidi R. King, of California, to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vice Mark R. Rosekind, which was sent to the Senate on January 16, 2019.

     Thomas Marcelle, of New York, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York, vice Gary L. Sharpe, retired, which was sent to the Senate on January 23, 2019.



First Lady Melania Trump Attends the Reopening of the Washington Monument

Office of the First Lady
First Lady Melania Trump Attends the Reopening of the Washington Monument
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, First Lady Melania Trump participated in the ceremonial reopening of the Washington Monument.  The national landmark had been shut down for more than 37 months for renovations and additional construction.  The First Lady was joined by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Rob Wallace, National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Jeff Reinbold, Deputy Director of the National Park Service Dan Smith, and fourth graders from a local elementary school.

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the newly constructed visitor screening facility, the First Lady made a ceremonial first ride with the students to the top of the monument.  In line with her Be Best initiative, the First Lady also distributed “Every Kid in the Outdoors” 4th Grade passes.  This program provides free access to fourth graders, and those accompanying them, to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas including all national parks.  The program focuses on helping kids engage with nature and the environment.  Supported by various federal agencies, the program aims to establish a life-long connection between children and the American outdoor heritage.

President Donald J. Trump Approves Illinois Disaster Declaration

Office of the Press Secretary

President Donald J. Trump Approves Illinois Disaster Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Illinois and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding from February 24 to July 3, 2019.

Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in the counties of Adams, Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jackson, Jersey, Knox, Madison, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Pike, Randolph, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, St. Clair, Stephenson, Union, and Whiteside.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Pete Gaynor, Acting Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Ms. Nancy Casper as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.


REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP DURING VISIT TO THE BORDER WALL Otay Mesa Border Wall Site San Diego, California September 18, 2019

Office of the Press Secretary


Otay Mesa Border Wall Site
San Diego, California

September 18, 2019


3:11 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, why don’t you start, Kevin?  And this has been a very exciting project, as you know.  It’s -- for many years, people have wanted the proper wall and we have a wall that -- the likes of which, very few places have ever seen.

And I want to thank all of the people.  General Semonite from the Army Corps of Engineers -- we’re working very closely with them.  I want to thank Kevin and all of your staff --


     THE PRESIDENT:  -- because what they’ve done is beyond.

     And I wanted to show you some of the details of the wall.  You can see -- you can see a pretty good view.  This is going to be close to 500 miles by the time we finish.  Those are the areas that are most important.

     After we’re completed 5- -- that should be done pretty close to next year.  Over -- it’ll be over 400 miles.  And we think we can get it close to 500 miles by the end of next year, depending on certain terrain conditions.  But we’re doing all of the most important areas.  We have a lot of natural barriers, like mountains and streams and rivers and -- some pretty vicious and violent rivers, actually.  But it’s -- it’s an amazing project.

     And I think what I’d like you to do is if you could explain the interior of these pipes.  The wall is 30 feet high.  We also have 18-foot wall.  We have a combination of 30 feet and 18 [feet], depending on the area, depending on the -- on the importance.

     Tijuana is right over here.  There are thousands of people over there that had been trying to get in.  Tremendous cooperation from Mexico.  And the President of Mexico has been fantastic.  All of Mexico has been fantastic.  As you know, right now they have 27,000 soldiers.  So, in addition to the wall, we have the soldiers.

     Now, the wall still, obviously, has a ways to go, but we’re building it at a breakneck speed.  I wanted them to show you the interior of parts of the wall and what’s inside of each individual slat.  And you’ll see it’s a combination of steel, concrete, and -- as one of the folks just said -- it really is virtually impenetrable.  Any walls that were put up would get knocked down very quickly, very easily.  This wall is not something that can be really knocked down.  I guess anything can, but this is very tough.

     And it goes down six feet.  It’s three and four feet wide.  The concrete -- you see it right here; it’s exposed.  And I might ask General Semonite to say a few words about it.

And I’d like to bring them right up -- look at the inner tube -- to see what happens.  Because after the wall is up, we pour concrete, and concrete goes into the tube.  And in addition to that, we have rebar.  So if you think you’re going to cut it with a blowtorch, that doesn’t work because you hit concrete.  And then if you think you’re going to go through the concrete, that doesn’t work because we have very powerful rebar inside.

     So it’s a very powerful, very powerful wall -- the likes of which, probably, to this extent, has not been built before.

This is an area -- because it’s so highly trafficked, this was one of the most dangerous areas.  We have a double wall.  We have a wall on both sides.  One is 18 feet; that’s your border.  And the other one is 30 feet.  And everybody -- if they should be able to make that, this is where people are waiting for them.  It’s a very -- a very powerful situation.

     So, General, maybe you could take over for a couple of minutes, and then I’ll take it back.

     GENERAL SEMONITE:  So, Mr. President, I want to build on your comments.  This is a system.  It is both the two walls, but it also is the road networks, down through the middle and the back, so that the Customs and Border can go ahead and continue to be able to move around it.  Also, a lighting system.

     And if you think about this, I mean, it really is kind of a defense in depth.  When you think about these panels going up -- right now, we’re putting in about 270 panels a day that are going in the ground.  We’ve got over 44,000 panels that are already built.  And you think about the depth of how we’re doing it.

Without getting into a lot of details: 66 miles today are already completed.  There’s 251 miles that are under contract, going in the ground right now at 17 other sites.  There’s 163 miles that are actually on contracts that are going to be (inaudible) in the next 90 days.  And the remainder of the miles the President talked about is mainly private land that takes a little bit longer to get.

     One of the things I want to just remind you about: That when you have a football field -- kind of a flat area like this -- it’s a little bit easier to build a wall.  But if you just turn around and look at the mountain behind you, one of the projects that’s going to go up in the next year continues this barrier right up over the rest of that mountain.  So it goes back to being able to -- we’ve got to have this linear capability to be able to continue to provide that level of defense.

     We will talk -- this is what the bollards look like.  Thirty feet high on the backside.  And you’ll see, on the inside, there was a time --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Come on over here, if you want.  You can bring the cameras.  It’s sort of interesting.

     GENERAL SEMONITE:  -- where people were worried that maybe you could negotiate -- you could negotiate through the bollard.

     So what the bollard is now, again, is that there are two pieces of rebar -- 12 feet long -- that are inside the bollard.  And then, when we put it up, we put concrete in.  I won’t tell you the depth of the concrete, but it is a pretty substantial obstacle to be able to go through.

     And I would defer to you, Commissioner, for anything else you want to add.

     ACTING COMMISSIONER MORGAN:  Yeah.  Thanks, General.  So a very important part of this -- and that’s why the President was talking about the (inaudible).  Right here, what we -- part of what the wall gets is, is it gets the men and women of CBP, specifically Border Patrol, operational capacity to get to the area where people are trying to illegally cross.

     Before -- the old landing style -- they could cut through that in seconds.  Sometimes, they could come in a vehicle and just knock it over, and literally, within seconds, they were in the United States illegally.  This makes it almost impenetrable.

     Right now, they’ve had four attempts to cut through this.  All four times it’s failed.  Border Patrol has been able to respond and interdict those individuals.

     This, right here -- this design -- it’s a game changer.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And the reason we pour the concrete afterwards is because it’s too heavy to lift when the concrete is poured in.  So we put it up and we pour the concrete.  A lot of people don’t see that.  But we pour the concrete afterwards.

     So you have the rebar, you have the steel, and then you have concrete.  And it’s hardened concrete.  Very powerful concrete.  What is that -- 4,000 pounds or 5,000-pound concrete?

     GENERAL SEMONITE:  That would be 5,000, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a very strong -- that’s a very powerful concrete.  And a lot of technological advances have been made with concrete.  It sounds pretty simple, but it’s not.  It’s a very powerful concrete.

     So you have the rebar, you have the outer crust, and you have the inside is concrete.  And it’s pretty amazing.  And, again, the concrete is poured after it’s up.  They pour it through funnels and cover much of the territory of the bollard.

GENERAL SEMONITE:  Mr. President, also, this is a great view to look at the anti-climb.  I defer to the Commissioner to explain what that panel does.

ACTING COMMISSIONER MORGAN:  Hey, you know what?  I’d actually turn this over right now to our chief patrol agent right now, Agent Harrison.  He’s really going to be able to give you, from an agent’s perspective, exactly the magnitude of what this wall -- the operational capacity -- gives the Border Patrol agents.

AGENT HARRISON:  Thank you, Commissioner and Mr. President.  So, so you know, sir, this is the wall that the agents asked for.  And they wanted me to tell you personally that they appreciate this -- and not only this here, but the extension that -- it’s bringing the secondary out, further out.  They really appreciate it.  It makes them safer --

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  You’ve been great.  You guys have been great.

AGENT HARRISON:  -- it makes the community safer, and it allows us to make that apprehension here in the border zone, as opposed to getting in vehicles and getting in pursuits on the highway.  We want to make that apprehension here.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know, just in terms of the quality, I came with the Border Patrol -- we worked with them very closely.  I said, “Fellas, how about doing a less expensive version?”  They said, “Well, this is the version that works” -- including the poured concrete in the steel, with the rebar and everything else.  That’s the Rolls Royce version.

Then I said, “Well, fellas, how about doing one wall instead of two?”  In a lot of areas, we have two -- where you have tremendous amounts of people on the other side trying to break through.  We know exactly where those areas are -- Tijuana being over here, as I said.  And they said, “Well, sir, two works much better in these areas.”  A lot more expensive.  So, we have the one side, on the border -- 18 [feet].  And then we have over here, 30 feet.

And I think one of the things you were asking, Mark, and wanted somebody to explain is the protection on top -- how that stops.  It’s an anti-climb device, if you look at the steel on top.  It’s also structural, but actually it was there, more importantly, for anti-climb.

Do you want to explain that?  The panels up top.

AGENT HARRISON:  So it’s one thing to figure out how to navigate the vertical posts, but the transition at the top makes the climb orders of magnitude more difficult.  It requires different equipment, different tools, different skills.  And so it’s the change, as we get to the top, that adds to the protection of that fence, sir.

ACTING COMMISSIONER MORGAN:  And, again, anything that we can do to give the Border Patrol agent even a few more seconds, a few more minutes to respond -- that’s a game changer.

And, sir, if you don’t mind, I think this is important to talk about.  The chief patrol agent just mentioned -- is that there’s a false narrative out there that this wall is the President’s vanity wall.  I’m here to tell you right now that’s false.  This President, this administration -- what they did is exactly what the President just explained.  He reached out to the experts -- to the Border Patrol agents that are on the frontlines every single day, risking their lives protecting this country, enforcing the laws that Congress enacted.  He reached out to those agents, to those line agents, and asked, “What do you need to do your job more effectively to secure and safeguard this country?”  And those Border Patrol agents said, “We need this.”
So, this President -- thank you.  You listened to the agents and you gave them exactly what they asked for.

THE PRESIDENT:  This is your maximum that you can do.  And one thing we haven’t mentioned is technology.  They’re wired so that we will know if somebody is trying to break through.  And you may want to discuss that a little bit, General.

GENERAL SEMONITE:  Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  (Laughter.)  I like that.  That was a great answer.  I’ll just tell you they’re wired, okay?  They’re wired.  They’re, technologically, very advanced.  All set up for cameras any place we want.  We have all of the -- everything we need.  But it’s all set up for cameras, for anything.  And you’ve been hearing “drone technology” -- they’re all wired out for drone technology.  Anything you want, we have.

And, frankly, this is the right time to do it.  Because to do it later, after it’s built is very expensive.  This way, it’s mostly just adding wire.  So we’re all set up to adapt.

And that’s the story.  We have certain areas like this, where you have double walls.  If you look behind, you can see how it goes up the hill.  And that goes many miles in that direction.  And we’re starting now many miles in this direction.

We also have -- it all fits together like a puzzle.  How many sites would you say, over the next period of time, will have been started construction?

GENERAL SEMONITE:  Sir, probably about 35 sites.  At any one given point, all working -- and some of the contractors, actually -- if they’re building five miles, they might having one on one end, one on the other, and one in the middle, so they get the maximum amount of people building at the same time.

THE PRESIDENT:  So we have different bids and different contractors.  This is one contractor -- an excellent contractor, by the way.  They’re doing a really good job.  But we have many contractors bidding on many different parts in different states -- in Arizona; New Mexico, where I just left.  We have great contractors bidding, and we’re starting walls in New Mexico.  The Arizona wall are moving along really well.  They’re really moving along rapidly, and they need them desperately.

And part of the beauty -- sometimes you’ll see the tunneling, where they go under the wall.  Here, this goes down -- the concrete goes down very deep.  It’s very hard to tunnel.  You can’t tunnel.  It’s actually dangerous.  But, at a certain point, you hit rock, so you can’t tunnel.  So we have it covered underground.  We have it covered over ground.
And this is -- as I said, this is the finest you can do.  I said, “Let’s do it differently.  We don’t have to go 30 feet.”  They said, “Sir, if you don’t do 30 feet, it won’t be the same, because of the climb.”

We actually built prototypes and we have, I guess you could say, world-class mountain climbers.  We got climbers.  We had 20 mountain climbers.  That’s all they do; they love to climb mountains.  They can have it.  Me, I don’t want to climb mountains.  But they’re very good.  And some of them were champions.  And we gave them different prototypes of walls, and this was the one that was hardest to climb.

And we’ve all seen the pictures of young people climbing walls with drugs on their back -- a lot of drugs.  I mean, they’re unbelievable climbers.  This wall can’t be climbed.  This is very, very hard.

And what the panel does on top, as I said, is structural, but it’s also very hard to get by panel.  Plus, it’s designed to absorb heat, so it’s extremely hot.  The wall is -- you won’t be able to touch it.  You can -- you can fry an egg on that wall.  It’s very, very hot.

So if they’re going to climb it, they’re going to have bring hoses and waters -- water.  And we don’t’ know where they’re going to hook it up, because there’s not a lot of water out here.  So it’s a very, very hard thing to climb.

We were thinking about an all-concrete wall -- this is a much more expensive version -- but they want to be able to have a vision in through -- looking through Mexico, looking in both directions.  They have to be able to because otherwise you have a block; you can’t see what’s going on on the other side.  They can build -- literally, they could have a group of some pretty tough people out there.  And we don’t want to do that.

You may want to explain that.  Why would you want -- you need this vision.  It was so important.  Because, frankly, an all-concrete wall would have been a much less expensive wall to build.  But from the standpoint of Border Patrol, they were very much opposed to it.

Go ahead.

AGENT HARRISON:  So, sir, as you mentioned, it -- our agents patrol along these walls.


AGENT HARRISON:  And as they get closer to that, being able to see the threat through the wall prior to a rock coming over the fence or something else coming over the fence at them is just -- it’s an officer-safety thing, sir.  And we appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Yeah.  It worked out.  And I understood.

It’s sort of interesting; I always envisioned maybe it’s a solid concrete wall.  And that would have been easy to do.  But every time I had a meeting with Border Patrol, with ICE, with the General, with the -- everybody involved -- with Kevin, with Mark, they said, “Sir, we have to be able to see through.  If you don’t see through, this thing is not going to work.  It’s not going to be a good situation.”

They even talk about things where somebody would be talking on one side of the wall and they would throw up bags of drugs that weigh 100 pounds.  They would catapult it up and over the wall.  And it was -- I mean, we’ve had instances where people got hit on the other side because you don’t see who’s over there.  So having the wall, though it’s more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do.

And people that have seen it -- other countries are now coming, as you know, and they’re studying the wall, because other people are thinking about something.  The only thing is, I’m not sure that they can afford a wall like this.  This is --

Q    Which countries?

THE PRESIDENT:  This is really -- I will tell you at a certain point if I get their approval.  We’ve had three of them already.  They’re coming and they’re studying the wall.  But I’ll let you know.  If I can get their approval, I’ll give that.

Who asked that?  Jeff?

Q    That was me.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll give you that information if I can.  I want to ask their approval first, okay?

So that’s pretty much it.  Again, the President of Mexico has been great.  The soldiers who are right outside -- we have a lot of soldiers right now -- they’ve been great.  Twenty-seven thousand, I think, is the number, as of today.

And this will be something very special.  I want to thank Mark.  And I want to thank Kevin.  And I want to thank you.  Really fantastic job they’ve done.  The whole -- the whole group.  Border Patrol has been incredible.  And the knowledge that you’ve imparted -- who would think this is what we had to do?  But that’s it.

When you look down here, you’ll see on a more flat area -- this is fairly flat -- you’ll see what the wall looks like, and it’s pretty impressive.

If the cameras can look down here -- and these are the real people.  These are the workers that put up the wall, by the way.  All of these guys, they don’t do as much of that.  (Laughter.)  But these guys do a great job, but we appreciate it, fellas.  These are the ones that are here.

Each one of these is considered a panel.  When they said -- how many panels are you going to put up?

GENERAL SEMONITE:  Over 44,000 are in right now, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Forty-four thousand are already in.  Each one of these -- if you look they’re -- they’re together.  So each one of these, I think, they have -- so they would have -- yeah -- like eight?  Eight.


THE PRESIDENT:  Eight bollards.


THE PRESIDENT:  And each one of them -- so I guess it’s mostly an eight bollard.  We also have some very sophisticated openings when you have to get the Border Patrol through or various people through to the other side.  We have some really beautiful openings that work, I hear, really well.  I hear we finally figured that one out, right?

That’s -- that was not an easy thing to figure out because of the weight.  The weight is -- it’s tremendously heavy.

But if you look down here, you’ll see what the wall looks like.  And the beautiful thing is that people are seeing that we’re not going to do -- in another week, I understand -- no more catch and release.  We’re not allowing people into the country at all anymore.  Nobody is coming in unless they’re coming in legally.  They’re coming in through a process.

We have it covered between 27,000 Mexican soldiers.  And, really, now the wall is starting to kick in very big.  San Diego was just -- they were just thanking me for the wall we built in San Diego.  It’s like -- they said it’s a difference of day and night.  They actually said, “It’s 100 percent.”

The only thing is we have to now expand it out.  The only way they get through to walk many, many miles in the opposite direction -- one way or the other -- and go around it.  But going over it is impossible -- is virtually impossible.  But they were very, very happy with what we’ve done.

So the days -- and I tell you this very strongly: No more people can come in.  We wanted Congress to help us.  It would have made life very easy.  And we still want them to get rid of loopholes, but we’ve done it a different way.  We’ve done it with the help of Mexico.  We’ve done it with the help of Border Patrol.  And we’ve done it with the help of Kevin and all of your great people, and Mark.  We’ve done it a different way.

We still want them to do it because it would be a little bit easier, but Congress wouldn’t do it.  When I say “Congress” -- the Democrats just wouldn’t do it.  So now we have a world-class security system at the border, including the highest technology.  I would think that there’s no place like this anywhere.  There’s no place has anything like this or even close to it.

Now, other places have guards and, unfortunately, they have machine guns and they have electrified fences.  You touch them and you get electrocuted.  We don’t do that.  We don’t do that.  But this is something that is equally difficult to get across.


Q    Can you explain what was here before?  Was there fencing here?  Was there anything here?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  We had a very low fencing here.  In fact, you were here before, I think.  We had a very low fencing.  It was a -- like a sheet metal.  And people would knock it over, like just routinely.  And we ripped it out.

We have a lot of areas where we had that and even less than that, and then we have areas where we had nothing.  We had some areas where we just had a pipe along the ground and that, sort of, stopped cars or trucks, but they’d knock that out pretty quickly.

So those are areas -- but, in this case, we had -- you saw it -- it was sheet rock.  It was like sheet metal.  A very thin -- used to build runways, as just a form to build runways.  And they had a lot of it left over years ago, and they put it up.  But it would be knocked down on a daily basis.

Tell them about that.

ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN:  Can I offer, Mr. President?  This is the same area that we had the prototypes built.  The President was here 18 months ago.  We now have 24 miles of new primary and secondary wall in this sector.

The difference that makes for us, operationally is, instead of 3[00] to 500 people crossing a day, we’re now seeing 30 to 50.  And combined with our partnership with Mexico, where people aren’t being released into the U.S., the traffic in this sector has dropped dramatically.  That’s how your strategy is coming into play.

THE PRESIDENT:  And the only way you get to 50 is they walk around the areas like this that aren’t -- you know, we haven’t sealed this up yet.  We’ll be sealing this up very shortly, or, in part of this, we have a gate.  But the only way you get the 50 -- nobody is going over the wall.  But where we are still building it, that’s where they get the 50.

We think it’s going to be close to 100 percent in the end.  I don’t think anybody is -- I guess, maybe, one of the greatest pole vaulters in history can get over the low -- (laughter) -- the low one, but it’s going to be very painful when they land, right?

Q    Mr. President, it’s been about six or seven months since you declared a national emergency here at the border.  Do you still consider the country -- the situation at the border a national emergency?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Sure.

Q    And what will -- how will you measure success?  When will you withdraw that declaration?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think -- I think, really, the success is going to be when the wall is built, when human traffickers can’t go through.  You can understand, Phil.  Right here, nobody is coming through this here.  If they got through here, they have go through here.  And they drive -- they make a left turn up here and someplace where they didn’t have anything, and they drive into the country and usually go unnoticed.  And if they are noticed, it’s a big deal.  It’s -- a big chase goes on.

I think that the -- we certainly -- this is certainly a tremendous national emergency because of human trafficking, drugs, and people coming in illegally.  And, in many cases, those people have criminal records.  And we don’t want them in our country.

Q    And will troops be here indefinitely?

THE PRESIDENT:  The Mexican troops?  Indefinitely.

Q    No.  Any U.S. troops.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re lowering it down.  As we build the wall, we can just about take all of the troops out and Border Patrol takes over.  Border Patrol has really been taking over now anyway.

People are hearing about the wall and they’re not coming up nearly as much either.  You know, when you’re in Guatemala -- and, by the way, I want to thank, also, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador.  The leaders of those countries have really been working with us very strongly.  And in all fairness, they weren’t at the beginning, but they are now.

And, in a couple of cases -- in all cases, ultimately, we’ll be doing the safe third agreements.  We already have them.  In certain instances, we already have them.  And we’re talking about that.

But the thing is, when people see this -- and it’s, you know, one of the reasons I’m doing it today: People see this and they say, “Hey, there’s no reason to make that long journey up, because we’re not getting into the United States.”

AGENT HARRISON:  If I could jump in, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, please.

AGENT HARRISON:  So to your point, although we’ve had a 43 percent decrease from May to August of this year, we’re still 55 percent over last year.  This is still a crisis.  We’ve still got high numbers coming.

Q    For the Mexicans who do want to come over illegally, is the administration doing anything to streamline immigration?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they come over illegally.  They’re not going to be able to get over, so they’re going to try --

Q    Legally.

THE PRESIDENT:  -- and come in.  So that if they want to try and come in -- when the wall is built, it will be virtually impossible to come over illegally.  And then we’re able to take Border Patrol and put them at your points of entry, where you need some extra help and extra protection.  And we’re able to do a lot of things.

But the numbers now are way down.  And as the wall goes up -- literally, as the wall goes up, the numbers go down.  But also, the Mexican soldiers have been incredible.  They’ve really done a good job.

Q    But for the great Mexicans citizens who want to come over legally, are we doing anything to streamline --

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no.  When they want to come over legally, we make it absolutely -- in my opinion, it will be easier.  They’ll have passes.  They’ll have whatever we’re going to sign.  That’s being worked on right now.  And the farmers won’t be hurt at all when we have -- you know, as we -- as you know, we have many people coming over from Mexico, and from certain other countries.  And they’re coming through legally or they’re coming through with a work pass.

And do you want to explain that maybe?

ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN:  Sure.   I mean, our neighbors from Mexico -- we have 400,000 that cross the border almost every day.  We have two of the biggest, busiest ports of entry in the entire country right here in San Diego: San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.  So the border crossing cards for daily commerce, the longer-term visas for employment -- those are going to continue to be issued for people who follow the lawful process.

Q    You said, in 2016, Mr. President, that Mexico would pay for the wall.  Do you feel like you’ve kept that promise?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they’re paying for 27,000 soldiers, as you know.  And I am so -- we are all thrilled.  You know, Mexico has never done anything to impede people from pouring into our country, and now they’re doing just the opposite.  They’ve really been incredible.

I also think it’s good for Mexico, because they’re breaking up the cartels.  The cartels were really a problem.  If I took 5 percent -- 5 percent tariff for six months -- that pays for the entire wall.  But at this moment, I don’t want to do that.

But if I charged a 5 percent tariff on Mexico -- with all of the cars and everything else that comes through in commerce -- for six months, that would fully pay for the wall.  At this moment, I don’t want to do that because I’m really happy with what Mexico is doing.

Now, Mexico is doing this because they don’t want to be tariffed.  So you can figure that out any way you want.  But if I wanted to, for a six-month period, charge only 5 percent, that would pay for the wall and you would have money left over.

Q   Is that something that’s still on -- I mean, you say you don’t want to do that right now, but is it still on the table?

THE PRESIDENT:  If Mexico stopped helping us, that would be immediately on the table.  And that would more than pay for it.  That would pay for the wall many times over, because it would be for, certainly, a lot longer.

But we don’t want to do that now because they have been fantastic.  Mexico has never done anything to impede the people from coming in.  And now they’re doing yeoman’s work -- yeoman’s work.  Twenty-seven thousand soldiers on today.


Q    Mr. President, there has been a great deal of turmoil at the Department of Homeland Secretary the last several months.

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think there has.

Q    Pretty much every person --


Q    -- leading that agency is in an acting capacity.  Are you going to be --

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, being fired, because they weren’t doing jobs.  And some of them were there for a long time.

Q    When will you make permanent appointments there -- nominations?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I’m very happy, I can say.  I haven’t announced it yet, but I’m very happy with many of the people there.  And we’ll be announcing things in the future.

I mean, there were many people that were there for a long period of time, and I wasn’t happy with the job they were doing.  And who could be happy?  They were there for many years.  They weren’t doing their job.  And we’ve made some incredible replacements.  And, yeah, I’ll be announcing permanents in the -- pretty soon.

Q    But should the American people expect --

THE PRESIDENT:  I like -- you know that -- you know, Phil, I like -- I like having non-permanent, to a certain extent.  It gives me more flexibility.  I like having acting.  I like the word “acting,” because it gives me great flexibility.

But at a certain period of time, we’ll be making permanent positons.

Q    Is it not unfair for the American people to expect some stability now --

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think we have tremendous stability.

Q    -- in that agency, especially if there’s a national emergency going on?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think we have tremendous -- I mean, that’s the way you write.  But I think we have tremendous stability.  I think we’ve never had a border -- when this is completed, there won’t be a border anywhere that’s a border like this.

And a big beneficiary, frankly, is going to be Mexico.  And one of the things that is happening, and I’ve heard it from the top echelons on Mexico, is they’re breaking up the cartels.  The cartels have been disaster.  And that’s a good thing for Mexico because they have their own problems.

No, we have acting people.  And the reason they’re acting is because I’m seeing how I like them.  And I’m liking a lot of them very, very much.

We also have people that I’ve let go that have been here for many, many years and have done a bad job and I let them go.  And if you call that turmoil -- I don’t call it terminal -- I really -- I really don’t say that’s turmoil.  I say that’s being smart.  And that’s what we do.

And the structure that you see -- I wanted to have you here, because nobody would believe this unless they see it.  I hope you’re impressed.  But nobody would believe it.  This is top of the line.

And I went to the General -- General Semonite.  I said, “General, can we do a less expensive version?”  He said, “Yes, sir, but it won’t be good like this.”  He said, “This is something that you can’t cut through.  You can’t use welders to cut it.  You can’t cut it down.  It’s the real deal.”  And we can do a less expensive, but it won’t be -- it won’t be like this.  And I think you see that.

Q    (Inaudible) from San Diego.  We really appreciate it.  We are dealing --

THE PRESIDENT:  Made a big difference, right?

Q    We are dealing with the homeless issue as well, and you said --

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s a different issue.  And I’ll be talking about that soon.  But you do have a homeless issue.  And in the case of San Diego, the mayor is doing the right thing.  He’s doing a good job.

In the case of Los Angeles, it’s a disaster.  In the case of -- if you look at San Francisco, it’s a total disaster what’s happening, where they’re going to ruin those cities.  And I -- we’re going to get involved very soon on a federal basis if they don’t clean up their act.

One of the things we’re very upset about and angry about is we’re paying a lot of money to Los Angeles to build the subway system -- billions and billions of dollars.  And yet, you have tents all over the place.  And you have -- you really have a sanitary condition, because this water is rushing into the ocean and this is supposed to be storm water.  It’s not supposed to be sewage.  And it’s turning out to be sewage.

And if these Democrat, liberal politicians don’t straighten it out, the federal government will have to come in.  We’re not going to lose cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and others that are great cities.  We’re not going to allow that to happen to our cities.

And we also want to take care of the people.  And I’ll even put the people first.  Let’s say we’re going to take care of people.  But they shouldn’t be living like that and it’s destroying the city.  And they’re being destroyed.  They’re being further destroyed.

But that’s for a different day.  It’s going to be very soon though.  We’re going -- we’re working on that right now.  It’s a very good question.  Okay?

Q    Mr. President, all told, how much is this border wall costing the United States?  And where is that money coming from?

THE PRESIDENT:  So it’s coming from various sources.  We’ve had tremendous Supreme Court victories over the last short period of time -- you’ve all reported on them -- and it’s allowing us to do the proper job.  And it’s also allowing us to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, where we have very talented people, like the General, who are getting it done.

You may want to comment on this section.  How is this being paid for, General, as an example?

GENERAL SEMONITE:  This was through regular, normal congressional appropriations.  Part of this was in FY17.  Part was in FY18.  But it came through CBP appropriations.

Q    And what about the (inaudible), because the drugs are just --

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll give you an example: You know, they tried to stymie us by saying $1.6 billion, but only for renovation.  Well, if they have a little 8-foot wall, 7-foot wall, or 10-foot wall that’s like, you know -- they just pull down the panel and they walk across.  And if we rip that down, I guess you could say that’s renovation.  So, you know, we’ve used some of this (inaudible).  Some of this comes right out of the budget.  Much of the wall comes out of the budget.

But if we have even a small piece of steel going around, that’s called a “renovation,” because we take the piece of steel out, we put up a 30-foot wall.  And so, in many ways, that works very much to our advantage.

Q    Did you expect to have more of this done when you were talking about it in 2016?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think that -- I’ve always heard 500 miles.  That was always like a -- you know, a number, because, you know, you look behind and you see, even here, we’re going up the side of the mountain.  But in some cases, you can’t.  It’s very, very hard to traverse.  In some cases, you have areas that nobody is going to even get near.

So the number I heard was 500.  What we’re going to do is we’re going to stop at anywhere from 400 to 500 and we’re going to see where else we may need something.  And we can add pieces to that.  But you really won’t know until you stop, because you’re going to have tread paths.  It’s like, you know -- where are they going to go?  Where are they going to walk?    

So we’re going to get up to about 400 and then we’re going to look and see whether or not we have to go much more than 470, 5-, 500.  It could be, at maximum, I would say, 550.  So we might add another 50, but we won’t know that until it’s complete.

Q    Does that mean you don’t think you need a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexican border?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you couldn’t even do it, because in some cases you have rapidly moving rivers, which are, in many ways, more effective than a wall.  In some cases, you have mountains and they’re very dangerous mountains, which, in many cases, are more effective.  So you wouldn’t need that.

You have a little bit less than 2,000 miles, and you have 500 miles where it’s really space where people can come through.  And you may have a little bit extra, but about three quarters of it is covered by natural terrain, where the terrain doesn’t allow people to get through.

Q    Mr. President, you said earlier that you wanted the wall to be painted black --


Q    -- and have the spikes at the top.


Q    Why did you --


Q    -- go against that?

THE PRESIDENT:  The General feels that we’re better off letting it be a natural rust, letting it be the way it is.  We’ll make a determination as to painting it later.  This will be a good strong rust color.  And we’ll see.  We’ll make that -- it’s not a big deal.  The black attracts more heat, even than this color.  But this is your natural steel and I think we’re going to see how it works out.  We can paint at it at a later date if we decide to do it.

GENERAL SEMONITE:  I think the real -- the real issue though is that -- and it goes back to economics.  And so when you are able to use that money to be able to get more miles, therefore you’re able to resist the threat better.

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s enough to build many -- you know, quite a few more miles.  And I think we want to do that.  And we can paint it at any time.  We can paint it later on.


Q    Can we just ask you again quickly about Iran, Mr. President?


Q    About -- do we -- should we expect to see military strikes coming soon?  And John Bolton apparently was critical of you today -- both your policies on Iran and on the Taliban.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I was critical of John Bolton for getting us involved with a lot of other people in the Middle East.  We’ve spent seven and a half trillion dollars in the Middle East.  And you ought to ask a lot of people about that.

We are doing it the right way.  We’re doing it the smart way.  It’s very easy to go in.  We could go in in one instant.  Just one phone call, we could go in.  And we’ll see -- and that might happen.  That might happen.  But we will -- we will see what we will see.

John was not able to work with anybody and a lot of people disagreed with his ideas.  And a lot of people were very critical that I brought him on in the first place, because of the fact that he was so in favor of going into the Middle East.  And he got stuck in quicksand.  We became policemen for the Middle East and it’s ridiculous.

So -- and I’ve always felt that.  I always felt it.  From day one, I felt it.  Even though I wasn’t in government, I felt it.  But I think that you will see what happens and we’ll see what happens.

Q    He also said, on your North Korea policy, that negotiations with the North Koreans were doomed to failure, today.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s easy to say that.  He may be -- he may be right and he may be wrong.  I mean, he -- let’s see what happens.  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, for three years, there’s been no nuclear testing.  We’ve gotten our hostages back.  We’ve gotten our great soldiers back who were killed -- many of them.  And many more are coming back.  We have many more coming back.  And the families of those -- we call them “our heroes.”  And they were our heroes.  And they’re coming back.

And the relationship is good.  So I think that’s better than somebody that goes around saying we want to use the Libyan model.  He said the “Libyan model.”  That set us back very badly when he said that.  So I think John really should take a look at how badly they’ve done in the past and maybe a new method would be very good.

Now, with all of that being said -- may be a very powerful attack.  We’ve never had a military as strong as our military right now because of what we’ve done.  And when I first came into this position, our military was in very, very depleted, sad shape.

Q    And you mean a powerful attack against whom, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not saying anything.  I’m saying there may be a very powerful one, and maybe it won’t be necessary.  We’ll see.

Q    With regard to Iran?

THE PRESIDENT:  But I will tell you, guys like Bolton and others wanted to go into Iraq, and that didn’t work out too well, all right?  That didn’t work out too well.  That was a horrible idea.  It was --

And I put him in anyway.  And, frankly, everybody knows: If you move wrong, he wants to -- you know, he doesn’t realize that you get stuck.  You get stuck.  And they got stuck.  And I’m unsticking it.  Okay?  I’m unsticking it.  And we’re doing a great job.

North Korea -- we’ll see what happens.  And, frankly, in the Middle East, we’ll see what happens.  It’s very fluid.  A lot of things can happen.  Rough things and not such rough things.

Q    Mr. President, how about the Fed?  Did you see --

THE PRESIDENT:  And, by the way: very, very easy to go in.  One phone call -- we go in.  That’s a very easy thing.  And it doesn’t have to be today.  It can be tomorrow, and it can be in two weeks from now.  You understand.

Q    Mr. President, the Fed cut the rate today.  Your reaction on Twitter was not favorable.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it’s fine.  I think that, frankly, they should have acted faster.  They raised far too quickly and they lowered too soon.

And you look at Germany, where they’re actually getting paid money to loan money.  They get paid to loan money.  Japan gets paid to loan money.  And we’re a much better credit than anybody -- anybody in the world.  We’re a much better credit.  And because of our Fed, we’re actually paying interest.

So I’m not a fan.  We have no inflation.  We have an unbelievable economy.  And we have no inflation.  That’s a very big thing, Peter.

So, he just did this a little while ago.  Some people thought he might do 50, instead of 25.  He did 25.  I figured he’d probably do 25.  He -- I think that they made some mistakes.  And the mistake was he raised too fast and he lowered too slow.

But, despite that, we have a great economy.  We have the greatest economy in the world.  We’re doing really well.  Our businesses are doing very well.  And regardless -- but I thought it would give us an advantage.  When other countries are doing it and we’re not doing it, it becomes a little bit tougher, competitive-wise.  But we’re so much better than everybody else, it really doesn’t matter.

I want to just thank everybody.  This is -- I hope you folks see the level of talent that’s involved here, the level of quality that’s involved here.  If you came back here in two months, you would see this would be a paved road, right through the middle.  And you’ll have Border Patrol all over the place.  But they’re not going to have to work too hard because nobody is getting over the wall.  And if they get over the first one, they sure -- they’re not getting over the second one.

And, I think, most importantly, I want to thank you folks.  Great job.  Really great job.

PARTICIPANT:  Mr. President, there is a tradition here on the border that anyone who works on the wall signs the wall for us.  Would you be --


PARTICIPANT:  Would you do that for us today?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll sign it.  Let’s go.  I’m going to sign it.

Thank you very much.  See you back on the plane.  Maybe we’ll speak on the plane.

                        END                3:48 P.M. PDT