Friday, December 13, 2019

Message to the Congress on the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement

Office of the Press Secretary


     I am pleased to transmit legislation and supporting documents to implement the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (the "Agreement").  The Agreement is an important part of my Administration's efforts to rebalance trade in North America and to modernize our trade relationship with Mexico and Canada.  The Agreement will create significant new opportunities for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses by opening markets in Canada and Mexico and eliminating barriers to United States goods, services, and investment. 

     Approving this Agreement is in our national interest.  I look forward to the Congress expeditiously approving the legislation.


                             DONALD J. TRUMP


    December 13, 2019.


Office of the Press Secretary


“We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more.” – President Donald J. Trump


NEGOTIATING A HISTORIC AGREEMENT: President Donald J. Trump has reached a historic phase one trade agreement with China.

  • As a result of President Donald J. Trump’s leadership, the United States reached a historic and enforceable phase one agreement with China that achieves progress on a number of critical fronts.   
  • China has agreed to structural reforms in areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange.
  • The agreement includes a strong dispute resolution system to ensure effective implementation and enforcement.
    • As a result, we will be able to ensure full enforcement of this phase one agreement and the reforms it includes.  
  • As a part of this agreement, the United States has agreed to significantly modify its Section 301 tariffs.
  • These successful phase one negotiations have begun important progress towards rebalancing our trade relationship with China.
SECURING A TREMENDOUS VICTORY: This historic agreement is a tremendous victory for the American economy – especially American farmers, manufacturers, and innovators.
  • This phase one agreement will greatly benefit both the American economy and the global economy as a whole.  
  • The agreement will deliver an incredible boost to American manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and more.
  • American businesses will benefit from stronger intellectual property protection and technology transfer reforms.
    • The first steps included in this agreement will provide protections for American innovators and inventors.  
  • China has agreed to make substantial purchases of American manufacturing goods, agricultural products, energy products, and services, marking a monumental win for American farmers and businesses.
WORKING FOR FAIRER TRADE: President Trump continues to deliver on his promise to negotiate better trade deals for the American people.
  • President Trump has experienced incredible success in negotiating better trade deals that benefit American workers and industries.
  • The President renegotiated NAFTA and is replacing it with the USMCA – the largest and most comprehensive trade agreement in history.
  • Earlier this year, the President scored a huge victory for America’s farmers and businesses by striking two new trade agreements with Japan on agricultural exports and digital trade.
  • The President has renegotiated the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, preserving American jobs and leveling the playing field for the American automobile industry.

Joint Statement from President Donald J. Trump and President Mario Abdo Benitez

Office of the Press Secretary
Joint Statement from President Donald J. Trump and President Mario Abdo Benitez
December 13, 2019
Today, President Donald J. Trump and President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay committed to deepening the partnership between their two countries.  The two leaders focused on increasing economic prosperity and strengthening democracy and the rule of law.  
President Trump and President Abdo Benitez reiterated the United States and Paraguay’s support for democracy in the region, including for Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaido, the democratically elected National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people as they work to restore constitutional order in Venezuela.  The two leaders also agreed to support Bolivian Interim President Jeanine Anez’s efforts to conduct free and fair elections. 
The two leaders agreed to deepen their countries’ robust defense and security cooperation.  President Abdo Benitez emphasized Paraguay’s need for assistance in reforming its police and penitentiary systems.  President Trump announced the United States will offer two Special Forces Joint Combined Exchange Training events in Paraguay in 2020 and 2021, and the United States Southern Command will execute a regional crisis response exercise, Fused Response, in Paraguay, in 2021.  The United States also provides International Military Education and Training funding for Paraguay.  
President Trump and President Abdo Benitez discussed other means by which the United States supports economic prosperity and rule of law in Paraguay, for example through the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA).  OTA works with Paraguay’s Ministry of Finance and Central Bank to strengthen efficient and accountable management of government finances and to develop deeper financial markets that support investment and economic growth.  
President Trump announced that, upon launch, the United StatesInternational Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will pursue providing finance to Jerovia Mount Sinai Medical Center, an internationally accredited 240-bed tertiary medical center in Asuncion, Paraguay.  DFC will work with Taiwan to provide technical assistance and financing for the project.  The two leaders endorsed working within the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in order to promote investment in Paraguay and to increase bilateral trade. To this end, President Abdo Benitez reaffirmed his willingness to continue strengthening intellectual property protections in Paraguay.  
The United States Department of Agriculture’s regulatory authorities are working closely with Paraguay’s regulatory authority.  The United States looks forward to opening market access for beef and beef products once food safety and animal health can be fully assured.
The two leaders noted the historical ties between the people of Paraguay and the United States, including President Rutherford B. Hayes’ role in helping Paraguay maintain control of its territory following the Paraguayan War in the late nineteenth century, and confirmed their desire to continue building upon the strong friendship between the two countries.


Office of the Press Secretary


Oval Office

11:43 A.M. EST

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.  It's great to have the President of Paraguay here.  We're doing a lot of work with Paraguay on terrorism, on drugs, on trade -- a lot of different things.  And we've had a great relationship.  So, Mr. President, it's an honor to have you.  Thank you very much.

     PRESIDENT ABDO BENÍTEZ:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  It is a great honor for us to be here, for my country; I believe also for the region, Mr. President -- for the one who stood firmly defending democracy in the region.

     And the President of Paraguay here reaffirms our bilateral and our historic friendship.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.

     PRESIDENT ABDO BENÍTEZ:  Thank you, Mr. President.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Really tremendous.  We look forward to the meeting.

     I want to congratulate Boris Johnson on a terrific victory.  I think that might be a harbinger for what's to come in our country; it was last time.  I'm sure people will be thrilled to hear that, but a lot of people will be, actually -- a very big percentage of people.  Because this was a tremendous victory last night, and it's very interesting.  The final votes are being tallied right now, but the numbers are tremendous.  So I want to congratulate.  He's a friend of mine.  It's going to be a great thing for the United States also, because it means a lot of trade.  A tremendous amount of trade.   They want to do business with us so badly.

     Under the European Union, it was very, very hard for them to do business with us.  We just made our big deal, as you know, with Mexico, Canada.  We have a tremendous trade deal that's going through the House now.  It's going to be obviously approved.  And it's tremendous for our country.  It's really tremendous for the region, but it's fantastic for the U.S.

     We have -- the China deal, as you know, it was just approved a little while ago.  And it's -- to me, it's not complicated, but that's what I do.  It's a phenomenal deal.  The tariffs will largely remain at 25 percent on $250 billion.  And we'll use them for future negotiations on the phase two deal, because China would like to see the tariffs off, and we -- we're okay with that.  But they'll be used as a negotiating table for the phase two deal, which they would like to start immediately, and that's okay with me.  We were going to wait until the after the election, but they'd like to start them sooner than that, and that's okay.  So we'll start that negotiation soon.

     This is a very large deal -- the China deal.  It covers tremendous manufacturing, farming -- a lot of rules, regulations.  A lot of things are covered.  It’s a phase one deal, but a lot of big things are covered.  And I say, affectionately: The farmers are going to have to go out and buy much larger tractors, because it means a lot of business -- a tremendous amount of business.

     And we’ve had a very big week.  A lot of things have done.  Space Force, as you know, was approved.  That’s a tremendous -- that’s another branch of the military.  I mean, very few people have that in their legacy.  And we have that, just like the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard.  We have another branch of the military, to think of what that means.  But very vital.  It’s going to be -- with time, it’s going to be certainly one of the most important branches.

     We’ll have our own representative.  It will have its own representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  It’s a big deal -- something that a lot of people thought couldn’t be done.  But the Space Force will be a very important component of our defense and, frankly, our offense, and it’ll be very important for our country.  So we’re very honored by that.

     And we had many other things that we’ve done this week.  This has been a wild week.  And if you have any questions, please go ahead.

     Q    Mr. President, your reaction to the vote in the House Judiciary this morning?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I was actually, believe it or not, finishing up the final -- I was doing the final touches on the China deal.  And that’s going to be one of the great deals ever.  And it’s going to ultimately lead to the opening of China, which is something that is incredible, because that’s a whole, big, untapped market of 1.5 billion people.  And so I was actually doing the finals.

     But I got to see enough of it, and certainly I spoke to my people.  It’s a witch hunt.  It’s a sham.  It’s a hoax.  Nothing was done wrong.  Zero was done wrong.  I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment, which is supposed to be used in an emergency.  And it would seem many, many, many years apart.

     To be using this for a perfect phone call, where the President of that country said there was no pressure whatsoever -- didn’t even know what we were talking about.  It was perfect; the relationship is perfect.  I’ve done much more for them than Obama did for them.  It’s a scam.  It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed.  And it’s a very bad thing for our country.

     And you’re trivializing impeachment.  And I tell you what: Someday there’ll be a Democrat President and there’ll be a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to remember it.  Because when you do -- when you use impeachment for absolutely nothing, other than to try and get political gain --

     Now, with that being said, my poll numbers, as you know, have gone through the roof.  Fundraising for the Republican Party has gone through the roof.  We're setting records.  We've never -- nobody has ever seen anything like it because the people are disgusted.  The people are absolutely disgusted.  Nobody has ever seen anything like this.

     And I watched yesterday -- I got to see quite a bit of it yesterday -- and I watched these Democrats on the committee make fools out of themselves.  Absolute fools out of themselves.  And I also saw them quoting, all the time, incorrectly.  They kept saying "me."  It wasn't about me, it was about us.  The word was "us."  So, they would -- kept saying "me" instead "us."  "Can you do 'us' a favor?"  "Our country," comma, "our country."  Then it talked about seeing the Attorney General of the United States.

     For these people to say "me" -- they would say "me."  "You said, 'Do me a favor.'"  No, it didn't say that.  It said, "Do us a favor -- our country."  Talking about the past election.  Talking about corruption.

     The other thing nobody remembers and nobody likes to talk about -- and I talk about it all the time -- is why isn't Germany, why isn't France, why aren't other European countries paying?  Because we're paying.  The suckers.  You know, for years, we've been the suckers.  But we're not the suckers anymore.  Big difference.

But why isn't Germany paying big money?  They're the ones -- I mean, they have a much bigger benefit than we do because Ukraine is really a stoppage between Russia and parts of Europe -- the major part of Europe.  Why aren't European countries paying?  Why isn't France paying a lot of money?  Why is it always the United States?  We're 7,000 miles away.  Why is it always the suckers that pay?  So we've changed that, but nobody brings that up.

     I think that the whole impeachment thing -- "hoax," I guess you could call it, because it is a hoax.  And Nancy Pelosi and knows it.  By the way, they duped her yesterday.  She was on an interview, and she said, "We've been working on this for two and a half years."  So she's -- she was working on it, in other words, two years before we ever spoke to Ukraine.  She said, "We've been working on impeachment for two and a half years."  And the reporter was shocked when they got this answer, because it showed she's a liar.

     So it's -- it's a very sad thing for our country, but it seems to be very good for me, politically.  And again, those people -- because I watched some of the dishonest, fake media -- they're saying, "Well, the polls have remained the same."  No, the polls have not remained the same.  I think you understand that, John.  The polls have gone through the roof for Trump.  Because peop- -- especially with independent voters, and especially in swing states.  I could show you numbers that nobody has ever seen numbers like this before.

     So the impeachment is a hoax.  It's a sham.  It started a long time ago, probably before I came down the escalator with the future First Lady.  It started a long time ago.

     And when you look at the IG report and you look at these horrible FBI people talking about, “We got to get him out,”  “insurance policies” -- you know, the insurance policy is just in cases she loses -- meaning, Crooked Hillary, who’s crooked as a three-dollar bill.  "Just in case Crooked Hillary loses, we’ve got an insurance policy."  But we’ve been going through the insurance policy now for three years, and it’s a disgrace.

     Thank you very much everybody.  Thank you.

     Q    (Inaudible.)

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Say it?

     Q    Can you say how much China will be buying?  Will they hit $50 billion?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think they'll hit $50 billion in agriculture.

     Q    Can you say --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, much more than 50 [billion], because it’s also manufacturing and other.  But I think, in agriculture, they will hit $50 billion.  Yes.

     Q    Next year?  Or when?  What’s the timeline for that?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Pretty soon.  They’ve already stepped it up.  My deal with them was two months ago.  We had it in pretty good form.  I said, “Do me a favor: Start buying agriculture.”  And they started.  If you look -- I mean, they’re already buying.  Even before the deal is signed, they’re buying.

     Q    Are you going to speak about Venezuela, Mr. President?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we’re with the people of Venezuela 100 percent.  It’s so important to us, and we’re going to be discussing Venezuela today.  It'll be a big subject.


     Q    Mr. President, do you prefer a short process in the Senate or a more extended process?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I have heard Lindsey Graham, who’s terrific, and I heard his statement, and I like that.  And I could also -- I can do -- I’ll do whatever I want.

     Look, there is -- we did nothing wrong.  So I’ll do long or short.  I’ve heard Mitch.  I’ve heard Lindsey.  I think they are very much on agreement on some concept.  I’ll do whatever they want to do.  It doesn’t matter.

     I wouldn’t mind a long process because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud -- the whistleblower wrote a false report, and I really blew it up when I released the transcript of the call.

     And then Schiff gets up and he -- and I blew him up, too -- because he went up in front of Congress and he made a statement about what I said that was totally false.  And then a long time after he made it, when he got caught, he said, “Oh, well, that was parody.  Parody.”

     No, Schiff is a crooked -- he’s a corrupt politician and a disgrace.  And because of the fact he’s in Congress, he’s got immunity, so you can’t do anything.  But he went up there -- you know that -- he made a totally false statement.  The whistleblower wrote a totally false statement.  So it’s a fraud.

     Then I say, “Where is the informer?" -- the one that informed the whistleblower?  He had an informer.  He disappeared.  You know why he disappeared?  Because I released the transcript.  Had I not released that transcript, we would have had an informer; we would have had another whistleblower.

By the way, where is the second whistleblower?  Remember that?  “We have a second whistleblower.  We have breaking news.”

Look, not all of it, but much of the media is corrupt.  These are bad people.  They’re sick people and they’re corrupt.

And we’re fighting the Democrats and we’re fighting a lot of the corrupt media.  But I ask the corrupt media: Where’s the second whistleblower?

     Now, had I not had a transcript -- I'm lucky we had this transcript, which, by the way, has now been verified by the Lieutenant Colonel -- Lieutenant Colonel, okay?  He's another beauty.

     So where is -- where is all of this stuff that was going to happen?  Once I released it -- and I released it quick but -- quickly.  But once I released it, all of a sudden the second whistleblower disappeared.  The first whistleblower, who was all set to testify, he -- all of a sudden, he becomes this saint-like figure that they don’t need him anymore.  The one that everybody wanted to see, including Schiff, was the whistleblower.  Once I released the text of what happened -- the transcript -- that was the end.  Everybody disappeared.

     So now there's no informer.  There's no second whistleblower.  Everybody has gone.  And, by the way, a guy like Sondland -- nobody ever says it -- he said very strongly that I said, "I want nothing" and "no quid pro quo."  Nobody says that.  That’s what he said.  He said it in Congress.  Nobody ever says that.

     So, look, we're dealing with a lot of corrupt people.  There was nothing done wrong.  To use the power of impeachment on this nonsense is an embarrassment to this country.  The President just said it.  It's an embarrassment to our country.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

                                   END                11:56 A.M. EST


Office of the Press Secretary



Via Teleconference


2:38 P.M. EST

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good afternoon, folks.  Thanks for making the time.  Today, just to go over the ground rules briefly, this will be for attribution to a senior administration official.  We'll go through a few prepared remarks and then open up to a couple of questions.

     Unfortunately, we're limited on time today so I will make this quick.  Again, this is for -- I will give you the name and that will be for your awareness but not for any attribution.  The speaker will be [senior administration official].  And the topic is the upcoming head of state visit with Paraguay.

     With that, I'll turn it over to you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Thank you so much, and thank you to everyone for your attention to this.

     This visit of the President -- President Mario Abdo Benítez -- to the White House will likely cap off a year of working visits by head of states here to the White House.  And I can't think of a better way to finish.

     I recall and I remind everyone that, in 2019, the first working visit by a head of state to the White House was by Colombian President Iván Duque.  And this, we now cap it off with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez, which shows really a commitment by the President to right here, the Western Hemisphere, the neighborhood we live in, and our friends, allies, and partners in the region, and in dealing with some of the crises that we're facing, particularly Venezuela and amongst great allies in that cause, and also in our regional response to it.

     So, I mean, just to kind of just go back and kind of relay some of those visits: I mean, we began the year with Colombia.  We've seen Brazil.  We've seen the Caribbean five -- the Mar-a-Lago summit with the leaders of the Caribbean five countries.  It was Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Lucia, and the Bahamas.

     We saw it at UNGA -- bilats with Presidents of El Salvador, with Honduras.  We saw the meetings -- (inaudible) about half a dozen heads of state at UNGA, at the United Nations General Assembly just recently.  And capping it off now, Paraguay.

     One would be hard-pressed really to think about any previous administration that in one year had so many head of state engagements with the Western Hemisphere.  And again, it goes to show our dedication and the President's dedication, particularly to the Western Hemisphere, to the neighborhood we live in, and the (inaudible) that has for us as good neighbors and partners right here in the Americas.

     President -- the visit with President Benítez of Paraguay also has a lot of important angles to it.  As I mentioned beforehand, he has been one of the best allies of the United States and a leader in the region as it comes to support for democracy, for support of Venezuela, of Interim President Juan Guaidó as the democratically elected head of the National Assembly and hence, pursuant to their constitution, head of state there.

     He's also been a great ally in regards to the efforts in Bolivia for a transition there towards free and fair elections, where he supported Bolivian Interim President Jeanine Áñez, and was a key -- frankly, an important angle in helping the transit of President Morales to Mexico when they were having problems doing so, which was an important ally in that regard.

     Our relationships go far, from an economic perspective.  We have been looking, working with them in regards to the International Development Finance Corporation, previously known as OPIC, and looking at projects.

     There will be a joint statement with two countries (inaudible) with some deliverables that have been -- that have been agreed to, and progress on some main issues.  But those engagements are a continuation.

     Frankly speaking, as a former Treasury official, in regards to our office, Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance has a longstanding working relationship with Paraguay's Ministry of Finance and their central bank, which has helped them to have efficient and accountable management of government finances and develop deeper financial markets there to support their investment in economic growth.  We're really proud of, really, the Paraguay program.  The Office of Technical Assistance in the Treasury has really been a backbone of that program and success story there.

     And we hope to continue furthering these economic issues within our trade and investment framework agreement, and as well as helping them move forward and look to -- obviously, we know Paraguay is very proud of its beef market and its beef products.  And we want to make sure that within, obviously, our regulatory authority and within those health standards, we can help them expand their beef market and engage more in that.

     So there's a whole bunch of economic realms in that regards.

     Geopolitically, as I mentioned, Venezuela, but also Paraguay remains the only country in South America to recognize Taiwan.  And that’s incredibly important.  That’s an important signal.  And we look forward there to working together with our Taiwanese partners more and helping Paraguay succeed -- to be a success story there in the region and helping introduce more of trade and investment there dealing with some of the other geopolitical pressures that are clear that some of the neighboring countries they face.

     It's an interesting time.  It's a dynamic time there.  And in the MERCOSUR, in particular, their trade bloc -- I mean, we had elections in Uruguay where we have now a President that's more -- that'll be much more U.S.-leaning and much more friendly to the United States with President Lacalle there.

     Obviously, President Bolsonaro is one of the best relationships that we have, a key ally of President Trump's in the region, which is extraordinarily exciting.

     Now, with the addition of the President of Uruguay [Paraguay], President Abdo, who is coming to visit, has been one of the best allies there in the MERCOSUR region.

     And then, obviously, there's been elections in Argentina, which have taken the kind of -- a "We'll see" approach.  Obviously, they've had good conversations.  President Fernán- -- now-President Fernández and President Trump had a good phone call.  There are some concerns that we have from a foreign policy dynamic, but we hope to be able to get over those and help Argentina (inaudible) from the deep economic problems it's having.

     So it's an interesting region.  It's an interesting dynamic.  And I can't think of a better way to begin 2019 than the visit of (inaudible) the best allies of the United States, Colombian President Iván Duque, and capping off 2019 with a visit of another great ally of the United States in the Western Hemisphere, President Abdo Benítez of Paraguay.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  With that, we'll move over to questions.  Like I said, we've got a couple minutes.  So I'll turn it over to the operator to (inaudible) questions.

     Q    Hi.  I have a question about the Mexican drug cartels.  The President tweeted that the plans to designate them terrorist organizations was temporarily put on hold.  I was wondering what time frame "temporarily" referred to, if that would come to a head at some point, and how long "temporary" meant and how that might change.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, for the purpose of this call, we want to keep the questions focused on Paraguay.  [Senior administration official], I'll defer to you if you want to address that, but otherwise we're going to focus on questions that are on the topic.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I mean, I really defer to you, [senior administration official].  (Laughs.)
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Okay.  Yeah, let's move on to another question that's actually on the Paraguay visit.

     And if you want to follow up, again, my name is [senior administration official].  Feel free to send me an email and we'll be happy to work with you to get you an answer.

     Q    Si, buenas tardes.  Good afternoon.  I don't know if I have the right --

     Q    Okay.

     Q    It's Carla Angola.  Carla Angola from EVTV Miami.  Thank you for this opportunity.  I will ask you in Spanish, if I can?

     Q    (Speaks Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  (Speaks Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)

     Q    (Speaks Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  (Speaks Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)


     OPERATOR:  It appears that his line is muted.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sorry, yeah.  We’re good to move forward.  I think we’ve got time for one more question.  And then I know [senior administration official] has a conflict coming up, but we’ve got time for one more question.

     Q    Hi --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Oh, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  Can I -- I’m sorry.  Can I -- let me translate that into English for those that don’t speak Spanish.  I’m sorry, I just -- I got (inaudible).  That’s what [senior administration official] was waiting for.  I’m sorry, that was my bad.

     So let me just, real quickly, just state -- the question before had asked whether we felt -- you know, obviously Paraguay has been a partner in the Rio Treaty sanctions.  As you know, the Rio Treaty countries, which are -- they’re really a community of democracies.  Over a dozen democracies, including the United States, sanctioned 29 corrupt and human rights violators and people that are helping the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela.

     One of those individuals, Jorge Rodriguez, which is one of Maduro’s deputies, was the one that was invited to the inauguration, who came in late at night on a Turkish plane -- showed up for President Fernández’s inauguration in Argentina, which caused, frankly, my early departure from that.

     And the point there was that an individual sanctioned not only by the United States, but by this community of democracies -- clearly, his invitation by the Fernández government is a violation and an affront by the Fernández government of the Rio Treaty, of the community of democracies, frankly -- of the over dozen democracies that supported the sanctioning of these individuals not for being boy scouts, but for violating human rights for corruption, and for their attack on democracy in Venezuela.

     And frankly, as a community of democracies, we should support that -- we should support that commitment on a joint basis.

     President Abdo and Paraguay have been firm supporters of the efforts of the Rio Treaty and have been firm supporters of the democratic process -- and, you know, whether it’s in the Lima Group treaty, et cetera -- for a free and fair transition to democracy in Venezuela, and free and fair elections, which also highlights the partnership and why we’re pleased to end this year's working visit to the White House with him.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  With that, it looks like we’re out of time.  So thanks everyone.  If there are any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

     Again, just to go over the ground rules: This is for attribution to a senior administration official.  While I gave [senior administration official]'s name and my name were mentioned, those are not for attribution.

     And I look forward to continuing to work with everyone.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  Thank you.

                  END                      2:55 P.M. EST


Office of the Press Secretary



Grand Foyer

7:14 P.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  We're having a very exciting month in Washington, D.C.  There haven’t been too many like it.

     I will say this: We have the best economy we've ever had in the history of our country.  (Applause.)  And the stock market, as you probably have heard -- all those 401(k)s and all of those jobs out there -- the stock market just hit a brand-new high.  That will be 129 records that we have in, really, fairly much -- substantially less than three years.  So, that’s something.

     Our country is doing really great.  I want to thank everybody for being here.  I want to thank our great Vice President and Karen for being with us.  (Applause.)  Where's Mike?  Thank you.  Thank you, Karen.  Thank you.

     And I want to congratulate Melania.  She did such a beautiful job with the decorations.  (Applause.)  She did such a beautiful job.

     We're very proud of this country.  We're very proud of this home.  We call it a home; some Presidents called it a house.  And some Presidents called it much worse than a house, I will say.  (Laughter.)  But we love the White House.  It's a special place.  And our country is a special country.

     I just want to thank you.  We're going to come down and mingle and see everybody.  We'll spend some time here.

     Have a good time tonight.  But Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.  We're going to have a fantastic year.  We're going to have the best year we've had in many, many decades.  This is -- we're set up for one great, big, beautiful success.

     Thank you all for being here.  Thank you for being with us.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

     END                7:16 P.M. EST

WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPLES FOR CHILD CARE REFORM: Increasing Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care in America

Office of the Press Secretary

Increasing Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care in America


Today, more Americans are working than ever before. Virtually every demographic is achieving historic low unemployment rates. As the Trump Administration’s policies continue to fuel economic growth, we have seen millions of Americans come off the sidelines and rejoin the workforce. In fact, job openings have exceeded the number of job seekers for well over a year. Maintaining that growth will require strengthening policies to support working families, including increasing access to affordable, high quality child care.

This Administration is focused on making sure the U.S. is the best place in the world to conduct business, work, and raise a family. Since January 2017, there has been significant progress in implementing the President’s working families agenda, including doubling the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child and expanding refundability, establishing bipartisan consideration of national paid family leave, and signing into law the largest ever increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), representing a major new investment in child care affordability. The President’s budget requests have prioritized child care and paid parental leave to support working families. But there is more work to do.

How families balance work and raising children is a deeply personal choice. Every parent should have the freedom to make the best decisions for his or her family. This Administration is prepared to chart a new course that promotes strong families and celebrates their individual needs; one that honors, respects, and empowers both working and stay-at-home parents and caregivers. For parents who choose to, or must, work for compensation, obtaining child care is often a prerequisite for entering and advancing in the workforce.

Over the past 44 years, the labor force participation of women with children under 18 has grown from 47 percent in 1975 to nearly 72 percent in 2019.[1] Women are now the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households with children under age 18, and approximately two-thirds of mothers with children under age 6 are employed.[2] Meanwhile, the average cost of center-based child care ranges from over $11,000 for infants, approximately $10,000 for toddlers and more than $9,000 for 4-year olds. In 30 states and the District of Columbia, the average cost of center-based child care for an infant is more than in-state college tuition and fees at a public university.[3]

Evidence on the effects of child care costs on labor supply suggest that some parents, particularly women, would enter the workforce or increase their work hours if the cost of child care was lower. One study found that a 10 percent increase in child care costs is associated with a 7.4 percent decline in women’s labor force participation.[4] Policies that reduce the cost of child care can help bring more Americans off the sidelines and into the workforce, increasing opportunities for families and ensuring that our country’s strong economic growth is inclusive and sustained in the future.

The impact of high child care costs extends beyond families to communities and businesses. Employee absences and turnover resulting from lack of child care can cost employers and impact overall economic development by reducing productivity and constricting the labor market. Several states have estimated the impacts on their economy in lost revenue and economic activity, finding losses between $1-$2 billion annually due to child care-related absenteeism and turnover.[5] Meaningful child care reform that improves access to child care would have positive results for families, communities, and employers.

There is also a growing concern about the importance of ensuring child care settings are places of learning that promote and enhance healthy child and youth development and well-being. High quality child care is a rare investment that pays off now, by enabling parents to work, and later, by supporting children’s development and success in school and life. Research has shown that high quality early learning environments are important for the cognitive, language, and social development of young children, and that investments have the potential to generate economic returns in the long-run.[6] Child care licensing and regulatory systems put in place a foundation to ensure the basic health and safety of child care settings. In addition, many states have implemented quality rating and improvement systems to provide parents with transparent information on the quality of child care, and include additional tiered requirements to help providers strive toward higher quality.

The Administration’s reform principles are designed to improve access to affordable, high quality child care and support working families by taking steps to increase investment, build the supply of child care, cultivate the child care workforce, and improve options for families across a range of high quality settings.

Principles for Child Care Reform

  • Put Parents First. Parents play the leading role in choosing the care that is best suited to their child’s needs, their own values, culture, work schedules, and budget. Policymakers should directly engage parents in the design of policies and strategies for improved access to consumer education, resources, and support, including by providing the right level of information through a variety of venues—such as community-based hubs and agencies, consumer education websites, and child care resource and referral services. This includes promoting shared engagement and local partnerships and highlighting best practices and collaborations. Child care providers live in and support communities – which include children, as well as parents who work there and businesses that employ them. Improving access to child care will necessarily involve the input and feedback of stakeholders from all sectors and requires us to put parents at the center of our efforts.
  • Reauthorize and Reform the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act. The CCDBG Act authorization will expire in FY 2021. The Administration believes this is an opportune time to revisit the authorizing statute to make reforms that reflect lessons learned from implementation of the 2014 reauthorization and to better support access to high quality child care for low-income families. These include:
  • Address the Child Care Cliff The child care cliff is a widely recognized problem. Too often, the child care subsidy system penalizes parents for moving up the economic ladder when taking a raise or working more hours. Federal and state-level policies should ensure that working parents benefit from their hard work, so that they are not penalized with a reduction, or loss of child care benefits that erodes the value of their increased earnings. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published a series of briefs on marginal tax rates (i.e., benefit cliffs) across several public assistance programs and found that those families just above the poverty line receiving child care subsidies had the highest marginal tax rate among public assistance programs– noting that “a $5,000 annual earnings increase is associated with a median marginal tax rate of 73 percent, leaving families with a net increase of only $1,350.”[7] States should strengthen policies to address the sudden loss of child care assistance due to a wage increase or acceptance of a higher paying job. This may include:
    • Gradually adjusting co-payments using a sliding fee scale as family income increases to help families transition from child care assistance without experiencing a sudden, drastic loss of benefits. For example, some states have established benefit phase-outs in which subsidies are reduced by one dollar for every three additional dollars earned—so that work always pays.
    • Coordinating with other public assistance programs where possible, and keeping in mind other sources of support, such as tax credits, to stagger eligibility thresholds and phase-outs, so that families will not lose multiple benefits at the same time.
  • Improve Flexibility to Address Local Circumstances and Special Populations. States, Territories and Tribes play a key role in developing policies to support affordability of child care, and to make sure child care is a safe, high-quality early learning environment for young children. While states have made significant progress in incorporating provisions of the 2014 reauthorization into their programs, there are Federal requirements that have presented challenges to meeting the unique needs of families. Allowing more flexibility in specific areas would allow states to better tailor their child care policies to provide the most effective services for their families.
  • Strengthen Health and Safety and Increase Child Care Availability through Improved Implementation of Background Checks. The introduction of the background check requirements in the 2014 reauthorization was driven by a desire to ensure that our Nation's children are being cared for in safe environments. While the intent of the new requirements remains laudable, full implementation has proven to be a challenge due to specific language in the law that does not comport with the realities of state criminal justice and child abuse and neglect systems. Lessons learned from states have demonstrated a need to strengthen the infrastructure for conducting background checks and address state implementation hurdles across multiple programs and between states. Concepts for consideration include:
    • Allowing increased state flexibility to implement alternative but equally effective approaches where there is demonstrated overlap or duplication between the background checks’ multiple components, or where necessary for alignment with other state programs, such as background checks for early childhood teachers in state pre-kindergarten programs.
    • Addressing delays in hiring new child care staff due to background check requirements, including the current requirement to obtain the results of a fingerprint check before staff can begin working provisionally under supervision.
    • Improving quality of fingerprinting to avoid delays; expanding automation to increase efficiencies and facilitate interstate background checks; and promoting portability of results and other solutions that avoid unnecessary repeated checks.
  • Build the Supply of Child Care Providers and Increase Choices for Families. Since 2005, the overall number of licensed child care providers in the U.S. has decreased by 30 percent. This drop is almost entirely attributable to a decline in home-based licensed family child care providers, which decreased by half from nearly 200,000 providers in 2005 to less than 100,000 in 2017.[8] The loss of these family child care providers is the equivalent of approximately 540,000 “slots” for children. Family child care is an important option for working families to have, particularly those with infants where care is expensive, if available at all. In addition, family child care is often a better option for parents who work non-traditional hours outside of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays, when child care centers are typically open. Many parents choose family child care because it better fits their cultures, backgrounds, and values. Families with lower incomes, families needing care for infants and toddlers, and families who are Hispanic or African American are more likely to use home-based family child care than center-based care. We should provide funding aimed at building the supply of child care for underserved populations and in rural areas to improve the number and types of child care settings and arrangements, including faith-based and family child care providers. This includes supporting the development of family child care providers as a small business and entrepreneurship opportunity.
  • Explore new incentives for businesses looking to offer child care benefits to their employees. Many businesses are recognizing that policies such as paid parental leave, child care, and other family-friendly workplace policies are important ways to recruit and keep a talented workforce, especially for parents looking to balance their dual responsibilities of caregiving and supporting their family. This could include offering access to back-up child care, child care referral services, or flexible spending arrangements to offset the costs of child care. By banding together by geography or industry, small and medium-sized businesses can more cost effectively offer child care as a benefit by leveraging employer groups and associations. All businesses can benefit from a better understanding of the child care needs of their employees. Beyond current tax credits, technical assistance around employer sponsored child care models and best practices, as well as general information about employee-parent child care needs and return on investment from family-friendly policies, could be more widely distributed. 
  • Promote Innovation and Modernize the Child Care Business Model.  We need to pioneer better business models that enable child care providers both to thrive as small businesses and meet the needs of American families. We should seek to make best use of providers’ experience, expertise, and passion, and improve the availability of child care across the full spectrum of child care arrangements -- such as through the use of shared services alliances, child care center hubs, or family child care networks. For example, shared services alliances can be used to help providers share costs and deliver services in a more streamlined way by pooling resources and hiring centralized staff for operations and business support. This should include developing innovative financing models and public-private partnerships (including philanthropy and the private sector) that utilize multiple funding sources to meet the needs of working families.
  • Increase the Availability of High Quality Child Care Across Settings. High-quality child care is a multi-dimensional concept and may vary based on setting, such as center-based care or family child care homes. Many states have implemented quality rating and improvement systems that provide parents with information on the quality of care available in their communities and help child care providers strive for high quality. However, these systems often give a single “rating” to a child care setting, generally focused on center-based care. Quality requirements that fail to address dimensions of quality that are unique to the setting, such as faith-based, family or home-based providers, and/or that fail to reflect the preferences and needs of parents and children, can drive providers out of the market and reduce options for working families. Respecting the role that parents play in choosing the care that is best suited to their child’s needs, their own values, language, culture, and work schedules is critical. One-size fits all directives on what constitutes high quality child care can be counterproductive if there are few child care providers left in the market from which to choose. Child care policy and quality ratings systems should be designed to be inclusive of all provider types, including home-based family child care, to enable the full array of safe, nurturing child care options and settings.  
  • Ensure Common Sense, Aligned Regulations for Child Care Providers. Licensing, regulatory, and monitoring frameworks are the basis for ensuring that child care settings are healthy and safe for children. However, policies to regulate the health and safety of child care are created separately at the Federal, state, and local levels. This can result in an overlay of contradictory policies and procedures and the imposition of unnecessary and burdensome requirements, as well as multiple visits from regulatory officials and program monitors at many levels of government. Some regulatory practices, such as local zoning laws, inadvertently drive up price and reduce availability but do not necessarily create a more safe or nurturing environment for children. The Federal government, as well as states and localities, should ensure that regulatory frameworks, requirements, and monitoring practices are not duplicative, and/or unintentionally drive up the cost of providing care, reduce availability, or push different types of providers, such as faith-based or home-based family child care providers, out of the market. 
  • Address the Child Care Workforce Shortage. An important component of high quality child care, particularly for young children, is ensuring a nurturing, responsive relationship with caregivers.[9] A college degree alone is, at best, an uncertain proxy for quality child care. Requiring child care staff in a child care setting (center or home-based) to have a college or other degree can increase costs, unnecessarily burden already low-paid providers with unnecessary student loan debt, and drive others out of the profession. Policies should encourage skills-based hiring to ensure that providers bring the competencies and skills needed to provide quality care, irrespective of academic degrees. Making it easier for educators and caregivers to gain the skills and competencies they need to provide high quality care that promotes healthy development and learning can encourage more providers to enter and stay in the workforce. Removing barriers and creating multiple pathways to enter and advance in the field is critical, as is ensuring that compensation aligns with market demands.
  • Promote Child Care Apprenticeships. Compensation for child care providers, especially for those workers who care for infants and toddlers, is generally very low, but policymakers at the federal and state level have increased credentialing and degree requirements over time. Apprenticeship models provide a viable credentialing option for the early childhood education workforce. At least eight states currently offer early childhood registered apprenticeships. We should establish child care apprenticeship models, highlight industry best practices for professional development that do not require providers to incur student loan debt, and explore competitive grants to expand apprenticeship access in child care. The President’s budget has prioritized expansion of apprenticeships in other sectors, which is a model that could be applied to child care and early education. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration is working to replicate Texas’ Early Childhood apprenticeship program in other states.
  • Develop Recommendations for Creating a Rational Financing Framework for Child Care in America. Financing for child care and early education in the United States involves multiple programs and funding streams, with different eligibility requirements, governance structures, and quality standards. This creates challenges to families and communities in navigating these differences, and can lead to overlap, gaps in services and wasteful spending figuring out how to make programs work better together. Multiple funding streams with similar goals often intersect in a way that makes the child care problem worse, not better. For example, many states have invested in expanding pre-kindergarten care to 3 and 4-year olds. This is a well-intended investment but can be problematic for child care providers who often rely on care provided to 3 and 4-year olds to subsidize the high cost of providing infant care to make their business model viable. Ideally, public investments would complement each other and the private market, not undermine it. An independent working group would make recommendations to Congress for more efficient use of the nearly $40 billion[10] in child care and early education funding that American taxpayers provide each year, including exploration of a Federal and state financing structure that reduces overlap and fragmentation and effectively supports affordability of child care and early education in America. So long as Federal and state funding continues to be fragmented across multiple divergent delivery systems, the gap in funding to ensure more children and families can access high quality and affordable care will persist. Public support for child care and early learning has grown, at both the Federal and state level, and as future investments are contemplated, more attention should be paid to our current system and whether it is the right foundation upon which to build. 

[1] “Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement; Council of Economic Advisers calculations.
[2] “Breadwinning Mothers Continue to be the U.S. Norm,” Center for American Progress, May 2019.
[3] “The US and the High Price of Child Care: An Examination of a Broken System,” Child Care Aware of America, 2019 Report.
[4] “How to Improve Economic Opportunity for Women,” Aparna Mathur and Abby McCloskey, American Enterprise Institute, June 2014.
[5] “The Mounting Costs of Child Care,” Washington State Child Care Collaborative Taskforce, September 2019; “Opportunities Lost: How Child Care Challenges Affect Georgia’s Workforce and Economy,” Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, October 2018; “Lost Opportunities: The Impact of Inadequate Child Care on Indiana’s Workforce and Economy,” Indiana University Public Policy Institute, June 2018.
[6] “Invest in Early Childhood Development: Reduce Deficits, Strengthen the Economy,” James Heckman, University of Chicago, 2012.
[7] “Effective Marginal Tax rates for Households with Child Care Subsidies: What Happens Following an Earnings Increase?” Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 2019.
[8] “Addressing the Decreasing Number of Family Child Care Providers in the United States,” National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, September 2019.
[9] “Including Relationship-Based Care Practices in Infant-Toddler Care: Implications for Practice and Policy,” Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers, May 2016.
[10] “Improving Access to Affordable High Quality Child Care: Request for Information,” Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 84 FR 52507.


Office of the Press Secretary




Via Teleconference

December 11, 2019 

4:37 P.M. EST

     MS. DITTO:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for dialing into today’s background briefing call on the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave for America’s working families.  You will be hearing from a number of senior administration officials on this call to give you a full rundown of tomorrow’s summit that will be taking place in the morning at the South Court Auditorium and the White House.

     The content of the Q&A will be considered on background, attributable to a senior administration official.  And everything will be embargoed until the conclusion of this call [midnight tonight].  However, we will go ahead and start with two notable speakers who will have on-the-record statements that they will make.

     The contents of this call will be -- oh, I’m wrong about the embargo.  Please note that the contents of this call are embargoed until midnight tonight.  Thank you.

     First you will hear from Advisor -- in a second, you will from Assistant to the President Joe Grogan and White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council, who will discuss more in depth some of the child care accomplishments the administration has seen over the last three years, and the notable accomplishments the Trump administration has made in supporting the working families agenda.

     You will also hear from Secretary Azar of Health and Human Services, who will discuss the CEA report and the rollout of the administration’s child care principles that will be unveiled during tomorrow’s summit.

     And due to a number of events today, our speakers will have to depart shortly after their statements.  But the Q&A will be answered by our subject-matter experts within the White House and HHS.  Before we move on to Q&A, I’ll go ahead and pass this on to Director Grogan.

     DIRECTOR GROGAN:  Thank you, Jessica.  And thank you for today’s call.  I’m pleased to share with members of the media information about tomorrow’s summit here at the White House on child care and paid leave.

     Tomorrow, we will hear from lawmakers, private sector CEOs, and senior administration officials, and we’ll have some very solid and productive discussions on these important topics and how to move our policies forward for the American -- for American families.

     To give you a little background on the administration’s actions thus far: President Trump’s administration has been supporting America’s families from the moment he took office.  This President has taken bold steps to make America the best place to work and raise a family.  In just three years, we have seen historic successes for America’s workers.  This President focused on bringing Americans off the sidelines and into the workforce.  6.7 million jobs have been created under his leadership, and the unemployment is at the lowest level in half a century at 3.5 percent.

     With a growing workforce; access to affordable, high-quality child care; and paid family leave, it is becoming even more important to our economy and to working families.

     That’s why President Trump signed into law the largest-ever increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant -- “CCDBG” -- an increase of nearly $2.4 billion.  Through block grants to the states, these funds help parents afford child care for their children.

     President Trump also signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, through which we doubled the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, and expanded refundability.  Almost 40 million families receive this tax credit, and it offers real relief for America’s moms and dads.  Policies like these are extremely important to working families like mine.

     President Trump has always tackled complicated problems that other administrations have shied away from.  He was the first President to include a nationwide, paid family leave program in his budget, further reflecting the administration’s active commitment to the policy.  And yet, the President advocated for paid leave in his 2017 Joint Session of Congress Address, and the 2018 and 2019 State of the Union Addresses.

     This is a bipartisan issue, and I’m pleased that the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report that Congress will be voting on includes paid parental leave for federal government employees for the first time.  This is an important first step to providing paid parental leave for all Americans -- a top priority for this administration.

     And now, we’ll hear from Secretary Azar to provide an update on what we’ll be specifically releasing at the summit.

     SECRETARY AZAR:  Thank you, Joe, for your work with HHS on this and many other issues.  To begin, I’d also like to thank the President and Ivanka Trump for their advocacy for working families, which is epitomized by tomorrow’s summit at the White House.

     Supporting working families with access to affordable, high-quality child care is a priority for the Trump administration and for HHS.  Child care can be an essential piece of helping Americans attain self-sufficiency and economic independence, which is a key part of HHS's mission.
     As all of you know, the economy is roaring.  We have more opportunities than ever to use our Human Services programs to connect Americans to self-sufficiency and independence.

     We know that the cost and availability of child care has an effect on finding work.  A CEA report being released this week suggests that decreasing child care costs through more flexible government support, expanded options, and regulatory reforms could meaningfully increase the number of Americans entering the labor workforce.

     Access to child care also creates a virtuous cycle in the labor market by reducing turnover and making it easier for employers to attract employees.

     Further, HHS is prioritizing this issue because high-quality child care means healthier future generations.  Evidence has shown that high-quality, early-learning environments are important for the cognitive and social development of young children.

     As Joe mentioned, President Trump has already delivered results on child care affordability and access.  But we believe there is room for bipartisan, commonsense improvements to improve access and affordability even further.

     To understand how we can further improve child care and expand access, we've held a series of 10 roundtables around the country to hear about challenges and innovative solutions from the public and private sector and from child care providers of all kinds.

     We also issued a formal request for information this fall and received 213 written comments this month from national, state, and local organizations.  That work has informed the eight child care principles that the White House is releasing this week -- commonsense, practical reform ideas that I want to describe briefly.

     To start, we want to put parents first.  Policymakers should directly engage parents in developing policies and strategies for improving access to child care.  And we should also be looking at how to ensure parents have the information they need to make child care decisions.

     Second, we want to reauthorize and reform the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, which will expire in fiscal year 2021.  This is an opportune time to revisit the authorizing statute, including by addressing the “child care cliff,” which HHS research has found to be one of the steepest implicit marginal tax rates in all federal benefit programs.

     We also want to promote flexibility within the statute and reform implementation of the new background checks created in the 2014 reauthorization.

     Third, we want to build the supply of child care and increase choices for families.  Since 2005, the overall number of licensed child care providers in the U.S. has decreased by 30 percent -- almost entirely attributable to a decline in home-based, licensed family child care providers.

     We want to target funding to build the supply of child care for underserved populations and in rural areas by supporting a wide array of child care options, including faith-based and family child care providers.

     We also want to help employers invest in child care, including new incentives for businesses of varying sizes.

     Fourth, we want to -- we want to promote innovation and modernize the child care business model.  For example, through the use of shared services, family child care networks, and innovative public-private financing models.

     Fifth, we want to increase the availability of high-quality child care across all settings.  Quality child care does not always mean center-based care.  It can often be family child care providers.

     But many states have quality rating and improvement systems that aren't a good fit for assessing the quality of family child care.

     Sixth, we want to ensure commonsense-aligned regulations.  We want to address duplication in regulations and ensure regulations aren’t unintentionally driving up costs or pushing different types of providers out of the market.

     Seventh, we want to address the child care workforce shortage by looking at both educational requirements and compensation.  That means exploring competency and skills-based hiring, rather than relying on higher education credentials and creating multiple pathways to enter and advance in the field, including apprenticeships.

     Finally, we believe there is a need for recommendations for a rational financing framework for child care in America, as opposed to the fragmented and complex system for financing child care and early childhood education today.

     All of these principles are aimed at one goal: making America the best place in the world to raise and support a family.  That will be the topic of all of our discussions at tomorrow's summit.  And I look forward to continuing work toward that goal at HHS.

     MS. DITTO:  All right.  Thank you, Secretary.  And with that, we will go back to the ground rules.  And, as I mentioned, the Q&A will now be handled by our subject-matter experts within the White House and HHS.  Those individuals are [senior administration officials].

     Again, all answers are on background and attributable to senior administration officials.  The content of this call, again, is embargoed until midnight on Thursday.  Midnight -- okay, right, midnight.  (Laughs.)

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Operator, if you want to go ahead and get started, we can do the Q&A.

     Q    Hey guys.  Thank you so much for doing this call and for taking some questions.  I just want to ask, is there any evidence that, you know, the administration has -- are there any statistics that show that, you know, more people are taking paid leave or that this has been successful in increasing the number of people doing this?  I mean, are there statistics that you guys are pointing to that support that?  And if not, how will you measure success going forward?  And how will we be able to evaluate whether this effort has been successful?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, this is [senior administration official].  I know that there's a number of components here who are responsible for the paid leave policy portfolio.  Obviously, a lot of that progress is just getting underway with the actual vote underway on NDAA for federal workers.  A policy that’s been implemented individually at various companies is difficult to measure.

     And so we’ll have to get back to you on that, but certainly that’s part of the dialogue happening tomorrow with the private-sector panel, along with our government officials at the congressional end and gubernatorial level for tomorrow’s summit.

     And I would also just say, you know, there’s a number of companies that have come on recently that have been providing paid leave.  In fact, when the tax cut bill came about, in December of 2017, we saw a number of companies who started providing that benefit due to the returns that they were getting.  Walmart, I think, was one example.

     But as we’ve seen a number of companies, sort of, start to embrace more parental paid leave policies -- and a few states have done it -- it’s, sort of, been a haphazard approach across the country.  And so that is why the President has, sort of, been calling for a nationwide paid parental leave program in a way in which we can start to measure it and start to ensure that everyone is getting the benefit, especially those who we believe have not received a benefit -- those who are low income, who we really want to target.

     And so that’s been our approach and the path we’ve taken and have been pushing for, for the past number of years.

     Q    Hi.  Thank you again for taking the time.  Can you just help us understand tomorrow?  Tomorrow is more like a listening session.  Is there an announcement coming from the administration tomorrow?  Or is it, sort of, an "exploring next steps" situation?  What’s happening tomorrow?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think it’s a lot of different things.  One is, we’re going to be having some really just great conversations.  You’ll be hearing from governors talking about the child care initiatives that they have going on in their states.  You’ll be hearing from lawmakers talking about the paid leave plans that they’re really interested in pushing.  And you’ll also hear from some private sector CEOs who have been doing a lot of child care work in the private sector.  And so you’ll be hearing a lot of great ideas from them.

     The administration will be releasing a couple things.  One will be a CEA report talking about the affordability of child care, which goes along great with a lot of discussions we’ll have tomorrow.

     And we’ll also be releasing the administration’s child care reform principles, which we’re viewing as general practical principles that the left and the right should be able to come together on to really try to take practical steps to ensure that America's families are able to afford the care that they need, especially with -- as Joe Grogan pointed out at the beginning of the call, we're seeing more and more Americans join the workforce, and this is becoming an even bigger issue for America's families.

     And so we just thought it was great to release this draft of principles that we're hoping, like I said, the left and right can come together and make some -- make a difference.

     Q    Hi, thanks for doing the call.  Again, I just wanted to follow up a little bit on Josh's question.  Could we get a little bit more detail about tomorrow?  The previous speaker mentioned that there would be some governors, some lawmakers, some private sector CEOs.

     Can you say what governors and which states they're coming from?  Which lawmakers we'll hear from?  Which private sector businesses will be represented tomorrow?

     And is this a day-long summit or a half day?  And who from the administration will be speaking besides the President and Advisor Ivanka Trump?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure, Darlene.  Thank you.  And, as you know, like on a lot of our domestic policy priorities, we've outlined principles to help guide our legislative directives and conversations on the Hill and with states.

     So the healthcare -- I mean, the child care principles that will be released tomorrow are new and will be used to invigorate that conversation and keep the momentum going based on the progress that we have made over the last two years in making substantial investments in child care, as well as paid leave.

     Now we're -- for the summit itself, it will be from 9:30 to 11:30 tomorrow.


     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  9:00 to 11:30, at the South Court Auditorium.  There will be a packed room of people from across the country participating in the audience, as well as a number of panels.  We will be providing press guidance for this agenda.

     And so at the risk of misstating the full agenda, we will provide the press guidance to everyone registered to this call, immediately following or as soon as we can, so that everyone has the details going in for planning purposes tomorrow.

     Q    Okay.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We do have -- we do have a number of -- we have Secretary Azar managing a panel, as well as Ivanka helping to moderate and drive the conversation throughout the morning.  She will be delivering remarks.  As well as Dr. Laurie Todd-Smith, the Director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, will be moderating a panel as well.

     So we'll get all of that information to everyone on this call via an e-mail press package tonight.

     Q    Okay.  Thank you.

     Q    Hi.  I know you guys mentioned that -- you highlighted the (inaudible) and the paid family credit and (inaudible).  Is there going to be any talk of expanding that, maybe in the CEA report or any other sort of tactical role to (inaudible) this effort?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think all -- all conversations around paid leave are going be -- we're going to be talking about tomorrow.  That’s obviously something that we've been following.

     You know, the President was the first person -- the first President to ever sign into law any sort of paid leave legislation with the tax cut provision.  So we'll be looking at that, looking about extending it, having a conversation about that, among many other proposals that are working their way through Congress.

     Q    Hi, thanks guys.  My question is: Will the administration be officially backing any number of the proposals that are making their way through Congress right now?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, we will not be coming out officially in supporting any one proposal over another.  The idea is to have a conversation around proposals that are gaining momentum and that have especially gained recent bipartisanship.  We've seen a lot of momentum over the past six months specifically, and so those are the proposals we're looking to highlight.  But we will not be coming out and, sort of, supporting one over the other.

     MS. DITTO:  Okay.  Operator, thank you.  And thank you, everyone, for joining.  As a reminder, this call is on background for the Q&A portion, and the opening remarks by Secretary Azar and Director Grogan are on the record.

     If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to myself, Jessica Ditto, or Carolina Hurley in White House Communications Office.  Carolina has all of the media logistics guidance and will be coordinating with the President's pool, as well as the expanded opportunities to cover the rest of the summit.

     It's also important to note that this will be livestreamed on and we will be providing a press package with the full agenda and the list of participants.

     It's my understanding that we do not have your e-mail addresses for -- at the ready, from those who have logged into the call, so if you would please reach out to us.  We will send the press package first thing in the morning as is typical for a presidential event.

     But for those of you on this call interested in the agenda and details of the summit, as well as the accomplishments the administration has achieved to date that Director spoke about, we'll be glad to provide that to you via e-mail.  Reach out to Carolina, please.

     And thank you again for participating on the call, and thank you to our subject-matter experts for being available for these questions.

     Have a good evening.

                                       END                4:58 P.M. EST