Monday, March 18, 2019



On The GoldFish Report No 341, week 113 POTUS Report, Louisa reports on the President and First Ladies recent Press activities including the First Lady's Be Best Initiative and the recent meetings pertaining to that as well as the POTUS's recent press releases regarding meetings with President Bolsanaro of Brasil , Higher Education Initiative  and more. The Fetz reports on the New Zealand gun-grab fake shooting videos and incident. Jim shared videos and analysis of the scene and why it doesn't make sense. Jim also reports on Israel, Venezuela, Gun legislation, more social media censorship and much more.

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Office of the Press Secretary
Via Teleconference

12:06 P.M. EDT

    MS. DITTO: Thank you.  And thank you all for joining today's background briefing on the Trump administration's Principles to Modernize the Higher Education Act.

     Before we begin the call, I want to go over some ground rules.  The information will be embargoed until the conclusion of the call.  The call will be led by Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President, who will provide opening comment; and James Redstone, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, who will walk you through the principles document and answer questions.

     Ivanka's opening comments will be on the record, and then she must depart to lead the council meeting that is taking place this afternoon.

     Earlier today, Ivanka was speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management meeting with CEO Johnny Taylor, a member of our advisory board, talking about these priorities.  It is really important that we continue to engage the private sector as we move along these workforce priorities.

     James will be available to answer questions, and the Q&A portion and his comments will be on background, attributable to a senior administration official.

     The purpose of the call is to discuss the principles to modernize the Higher Ed Act that we are releasing today.  We kindly ask that you keep your questions on that topic.  And please keep in mind, following the release of the agenda at the council meeting, which will be taking place shortly, the White House will issue a statement with a link to the principles for access to all media.

     With that, I will turn it over to Ivanka Trump for opening comments.

     MS. TRUMP:  Thank you, Jessica.  Thank you all.  Today, we are pleased to announce that the National Council for the American Worker released a set of White House proposals to reform the Higher Education Act to create a more innovative and demand-driven system that is responsive to students, workers, employers, and taxpayers.

     We need to modernize our higher education system to make it affordable, flexible, and outcome-oriented so all Americans, young and old, can learn the skills they need to secure and retain good-paying jobs.

We look forward to working with bipartisan members of Congress to pass these policies into law.  Chairman Alexander has already been very supportive of our priorities and has expressed his appreciation for the White House leadership.

     Since the President signed the executive order establishing the National Council for the American Worker, we have been aggressively working on the objectives and encouraging more private sector engagement.

     Today is the third meeting of the council.  I, along with Secretary Ross, Secretary DeVos, and Joe Grogan, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, will lead today's discussion of higher ed reform.

     Over the past two years, the White House has worked with members on both sides of the aisle to promote workforce development and improve the affordability and accessibility of higher learning opportunities.

     Since the signing of the executive order, more than 200 private sector companies and associations have signed our Pledge to America's Workers, promising more than $6.5 million new, enhanced career and training opportunities.

     Last summer, the President signed Strengthening Career and Technical Education for 21st Century Act that reauthorized and modernized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, making more than $1 billion available for career and technical education programs that reach more than 11 million students and workers across the nation.

     Over the past two years, the President has called for the expansion of apprenticeships, creating industry-recognized apprenticeships to help more Americans earn a paycheck while also earning an industry-recognized credential.

     At the White House, we’ll continue to push for inclusive growth in this booming economy and look for ways that the private sector and bipartisan legislation can empower American workers.  The Higher Education Act reforms that we are proposing include, but are not limited to: simplifying student loan repayment; allowing low-income students and workers to use Pell grants for short-term, high-quality programs; enhancing outcome-based transparency; and expanding federal aid for workforce training programs for prisoners eligible for release.

     We think these are absolutely critical reforms and, really, the most comprehensive approach to higher ed reform in over a decade.

     So we're very excited to work with members on both sides of the aisle as we advance these and other important education initiatives.

    So, with that, I will turn it over to my colleague… so with that I will turn it over to my colleague.  And thank you all for participating and joining us.

     MS. DITTO:  All right, [senior administration official] feel free to walk through this entire document.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Right, so we'll take these in sequential order.  And thanks for being here.

     When it comes to our principles, we start by asking that our creditors focus on student outcomes.  We are less concerned with how education is provided and more concerned with making sure that students are getting access to academic experiences and support services that they need to have a positive experience.  And I think by evaluating students based on the quality of their -- by evaluating the quality of students' experience based on the outcome the students receive, that's the best way to ensure that.

     Moving forward, we're asking for increased innovations.  We understand that, as the system currently exists, it was designed and it's grown in a way that suits traditional students well, or students matriculating directly from high school to a postsecondary program.  Where we see the system having challenges is providing services to students who might be returning to school or to students who are first-generational college students.

nd we want to provide increased access to non-traditional programs that might be able to offer them a quality academic experience and workforce development experience that is aligned to their particular needs.    And from our perspective, in many cases, that means an accelerated program.  And we think many of the best programs provided right now are on the non-credit side of the shop.

     We're requesting that Congress reorient the Higher Education Act and focus more on the workforce needs.  And as part of that, we want to provide increased access on the credit side to accelerated programs.  These include the Pell grant reforms that Ms. Trump previously mentioned and changes to the federal work study program to ensure that federal work study dollars can be used to support students getting a quality work experience aligned to their career goals, rather than simply a subsidized employment program for on-campus jobs.

     As part of this ongoing conversation, we want to make sure that students are getting good value for their dollars and that taxpayers are getting good value for their dollars.  And we want to hold institutions accountable.

     And again, this is based on outcome measures.  We understand that there a lot of challenges when it comes to institutional accountability, and we look forward to working with Congress in this session.

     And then, we want to increase -- we want to accelerate program completion.  There's a lot of confusion regarding what credits are accepted by institutions, particularly for students who are enrolling with AP credits or CLEP credits.  And we want to make sure that they understand whether these credits will be accepted by their institution.  We think doing this will help accelerate completion and reduce program costs.

     Given the administration's leadership on supporting historically black colleges and universities, we think Congress should recognize this and then continue the administration’s initiative in this front.  And we think that actually doing this through statute is the best way to ensure that the initiative lasts longer than the administration.

     Finally, we want to encourage responsible borrowing.  We are concerned about the lack of responsible limits on the Parent PLUS and grad loan programs.  And we would like to reinstitute limits on the Parent PLUS and grad programs.

     We understand college administrators have the best understanding of expected program outcomes and we think they can help students more responsibly (inaudible) the federal government.  That includes potentially setting programmatic-long caps rather than an institutional-wide-long caps.

     Finally, we want to make sure that students are getting the information they need to make an effective career choice and education choice so that they have some understand of what their future earnings might be, tied to the future or the current cost of their education.

     When it comes to student loan repayment, we understand a simplified system will help borrowers more effectively manage their debt, and we've proposed a 12.5 percent cap on a borrower’s discretionary income for all students.  This would offer students loan forgiveness after 180 months of repayment for all their undergraduate loans, regardless of where they're working.  And we think that this system can be reformed by using IRS tax data to do it.

     Lastly, we want to support academic access for returning students.  This is an expansion of Pell and (inaudible) federal and financial aid for student -- for incarcerated Americans who are eligible for parole.  Thank you.

     MS. DITTO:  All right, with that, Operator, [senior administration official] is available to take a few questions.

     Q    Hello, this is Toby Capion calling from EWTN.  Are you adding money to the pool of funds available to college students or simply shifting it around and creating a new set of winners and losers?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  You know, based on the structure of the federal student loan portfolio or federal student aid, we're changing the rules for how you can access it.   We think this will expand access for students who are pursuing short-term programs without necessarily affecting the access of federal student loan dollars.

     Q    Hello, this is Kyle Mazza from UNF News.  Thank you so much for hosting the call.  Can you expand on your talk about the loan forgiveness for 180 days -- put that in a little bit more perspective?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think it should be made clear that it's 180 payments.  And this is for undergraduate loans.  The current program is exclusive to folks operating in the for-profit sector, and this would expand the programmatic eligibility and it would exclude graduate loans from the program.

     Q    Hey, this is Michael Stratford at Politico.  Thanks for doing the call.  Two quick questions.  One, can you talk about if you have a timeline for when you'd like to see Congress do this?  I know Senator Alexander has talked about getting a law passed by the end of the year.  Is that the same timeline you’re operating on?

And then, secondly, when you talk about reinstituting limits on Parent PLUS and grad PLUS loans, do you have an idea of what those limits -- you want to see those limits set up?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think we'd like to see a bill happen as soon as possible, but we support Chairman Alexander's timeline.  And then I think we're open to having a robust conversation about what the appropriate loan limits are.

Q    Hi, this is Andrew Kreighbaum with Inside Higher Ed.  I’ve got a question for you about the College Transparency proposal you guys have included in here.  I know that Congress has -- there have been a couple of different approaches proposed in Congress, and the administration is -- the Department is also looking to expand the college scorecard.  So does the White House like either the College Transparency Act -- the approach there -- or what was offered in the PROSPER Act?  Is there a legislative approach to transparency that the White House likes?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We're looking to improve access to program-level outcome data.  We don’t have a position on the approach taken.

Q    Hi, thanks for taking my question.  Carolyn Phenicie with The 74.  I know both Senator Alexander and Murray have said they're open to discussing the Title IX and sexual assault issues in the Higher Ed reauthorization.  Where are you guys on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We understand that’s the rule-making process at ED, and defer you to the Department of Education and the White House Press Office for that.

MS. DITTO:  All right.  Thank you, Operator.  And thank you all for joining today's background briefing.

To reiterate the ground rules, everything was embargoed until the conclusion of this call.  Ivanka's opening comments are on the record, and the background information and Q&A portion are on background, attributable to a senior administration official.

We will be issuing a press statement with a link to the principles available on the website.  And if there's anything else, please do not hesitate to reach out to Judd Deere in the White House Press Office for any follow-up questions that you might have.

With that, we thank you for participating and we'll be providing additional information throughout the day. 

                         END                 12:20 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary

Via Teleconference

4:07 P.M. EDT

OPERATOR:  Hello, and thank you for joining today’s Brazil background briefing.  This call is embargoed until 5:00 p.m. or until the call concludes.  Please note, at this time, all audience members are in listen-only mode to minimize background noise.  There will be a Q&A at the end of this call, and we will provide instructions at that time.  I would now like to formally begin today’s call and introduce a senior administration official.  Please go ahead.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, good afternoon.  So obviously, tomorrow, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be meeting with President Trump.  Clearly, we have seen, since day one, President Bolsonaro’s election as a real opportunity to fundamentally remake our relationship with Brazil.

This is something that we have been doing since day one, in which, within an hour of President Bolsonaro being -- at that time, President-elect Bolsonaro being confirmed as the President-elect, President Trump called him, was on the phone with him.  A couple of weeks later, National Security Advisor John Bolton went down to Rio to visit with him.  Secretary of State Pompeo led the delegation to his inauguration.

And now this is the first bilateral overseas visit of President Bolsonaro’s presidency.  And, in coming to the United States, it’s the first time in history that a Brazilian President has first come to the United States as his bilateral overseas visit.  And that’s very meaningful to us, as clearly it is to them.

The U.S.-Brazil relationship has always been one of potential, but yet it always seemed that that potential has never been met.  This time, it is different.  This is a historic remaking of the U.S.-Brazil relationship, where there's truly going to be a North-South axis of the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere and a true partnership of the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere.

This is historic in all proportions because it’s no longer what the potential of the U.S.-Brazil relationship could be; it’s about what the U.S.-Brazil relationship is, and the performance and the execution of, really, a large bilateral agenda that we have set forth since he was President-elect, since that first conversation, since that first visit by Ambassador Bolton, since the follow-up by Secretary Pompeo.

We were already, from day one, ready to move forward with a big bipartisan agenda.  And, in this trip, you will see, as a follow-up, the execution of a lot of what has been discussed and agreed to in a historically short time.  Here we are, just three months in, and we’re already way ahead of the curve on this one.

So this is a very exciting opportunity, and not just, obviously, for what it would mean for the United States, the United States economy, for Brazil and its economy, but my understanding -- and I haven't followed up in the last couple hours -- but my understanding is, today, the Brazilian stock market was going through the roof, was having a big up-turn.

And so -- by the way, forgive me if my news is not as current; I haven’t checked since this morning.  But that goes to show the positivity of the markets and the way the markets are receiving, really, this axis of North and South America with its two largest economies.  That’s extraordinarily important.  It’s important domestically and it’s important for our foreign policy.

Who would have thought -- you know, we always joke around that even the friendliest of Brazilian governments was really never that “friendly.”  But here we have, now, a government in Brazil that (inaudible) consider an ally.  And, as such, we’ll be working together -- have been working together on regional issues, like Venezuela, and look forward to working together on international issues, on non-regional issues like Iran, China, North Korea, and others.

So this is a real, historic opportunity where the United States and Brazil are aligned on domestic, regional, and foreign policy priorities.  You will see -- after the visit tomorrow, we will plan to announce a joint statement that will have a lot of deliverables, some which are currently, frankly, right now being signed and being finalized and being negotiated.  And that’s all extraordinarily positive.

We think that we have, really, a historic opportunity to reframe hemispheric relations with this North-South axis.  And it’s really centered upon the relationship of President Trump and President Bolsonaro -- one that they've created from that moment he got elected.  Obviously, there’s great synergy there and there’s a great mutual respect.  And that personal relationship will stand at the core of this remake of our bilateral and regional relations with -- (inaudible) a lot of consequences, as I said, that are positive.

So, with that, I will really just answer questions going forward.

Q    Hello, it's Toby Capion calling from EWTN.  What are the remaining disagreements between Brazil and the United States?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I wouldn’t characterize them as disagreements.  I think one of the things that's really encouraging and it's been a different side of our bilateral relations when we sit down and have these discussions is, really, we look towards -- you know, so there's been a long history, whether it's been on trade issues, whether it's been on regional or other international issues, where there has been differences between -- and frankly, disagreements between the United States and Brazil.

Frankly, ever since we sat down on January 1st, and even before, with the government of President Bolsonaro, it was very clear that we sought to move, you know, on all of these issues -- domestic, economics, on trade, on regional, and international issues -- that when we sat down and said, "Okay, what can work together on?"  And then from there, we worked downwards to remove obstacles.

So we've actually approached this relationship as now one that's looking at disagreements and then moving upwards, but what we want to accomplish as partners and then working downwards to get through them.  So we have the goals set, and what we've been doing is ensuring how to reach those goals, how we overcome any speedbumps along the way.

So I wouldn't characterize anything as any disagreements, per se; it's really more a technicality, and then -- because there's a huge will and disposition to move forward on goals, whether it's on the economic trade front, the regional front, or the broader international front.

Q    Hi, it's Roberta Rampton from Reuters.  I'm wondering if you can tell us whether the United States is going to support Brazil's bid to become a member of the OECD as part of this remaking of the relationship?  And secondly, if you can tell us whether U.S. officials or the President are going to ask President Bolsonaro or his officials to sort of pull back or prevent Huawei from building its 5G network in Brazil.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So the United States, as we'll be seeing -- has seen and has expressed a very positive mindframe and has welcomed the efforts on economic reforms, best practices, regulatory frameworks, and truly a commitment to overcome some of the issues that Brazil has had in the past, in order to gain accession to OECD.  We see those efforts and that positive movement in a favorable light, and clearly, we want to help Brazil achieve its goal, and we'll do everything we can in order to help them achieve their goal.

In regards to Huawei and 5G, in regards to China, look, clearly, the United States -- you know, we have discussed our concerns in regards to security issues, in regards to China, in regards to what that will mean for Brazil.  They have had a whole host of different meetings here where they heard from our experts on security, intelligence matters, and otherwise, in order to understand the consequences of these networks and how, frankly, dangerous and how it can undermine their security domestically.

So, obviously, as friends and as allies, we have those conversations and we have had them in full confidence, and we expect to be working together on those moving forward.

Q    Hi, this is Kyle Mazza from UNF News.  Thanks for hosting the call.  I wanted to ask if Venezuela would be a subject of discussion in the bilateral meeting with President Bolsonaro.  Thanks so much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Venezuela will absolutely be a subject of discussion between -- clearly, President Bolsonaro and President Trump share a strong support for Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó.  Brazil has allowed the United States to pre-position humanitarian aid for Venezuela on Brazil's northern border.  And obviously, we're very grateful to that.

We also give them credit for working tirelessly to provide humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people and, frankly, opening their doors.  I think there is more than 120,000 Venezuelans who have fled to Brazil to escape Maduro's (inaudible).  So they're suffering the firsthand consequences on that.  They saw the violence at the border on February 23rd, and they've been good partners.

     There's also an opportunity here whereby they can be very good interlocutors.  The Brazilian military has very good relationships with the Venezuelan military.  The Brazilian military can clearly communicate with them in regards to what should be the role of the Venezuelan military in regards to civility; in regards to protecting civilians, not repressing, and not maintaining the usurpation of democracy that Maduro seeks.  That could be very positive messaging.

We view the Brazilian military as a very important interlocutor with the Venezuelan military.  One also that can express the intentions of the United States (inaudible) with this peaceful constitutional transition.  And we look forward to working closely with them as such.

     Q    Hey, thanks for doing the call.  First, just sort of a logistical one.  I know it's on background; we've asked that it be on the record.  But barring that, can the SAO just identify himself so that we know who it is?

     And then, more substantively, I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about what the discussions have included and whether you've reached any agreements on U.S. access to the rocket-launch pad in Brazil, on uranium mining, or on visa-free travel for U.S. citizens in Brazil.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'll take the first part.  If you reach out to us, we can identify the necessary SAO components and all of that.

So the President has welcomed, and we're moving forward in regards to the -- as you refer to the Technology Safeguards Agreement, which is what you're referring to, which we hope -- which will allow for U.S. commercial space launches from Brazil and for closer defense cooperation.  And so we look forward to that conclusion.  And that would be, obviously, a great advance and another great example of this close (inaudible).

     Q    Hi, this is Doug Palmer with Politico.  Thanks for taking the call.  I know that some senators have written asking for the administration to press Brazil on wheat market access issues.  Can we expect anything on that front tomorrow?  And is there any other trade deliverables that you could maybe preview ahead of the meeting?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, there's been extensive discussions on agricultural issues.  I think you'll see, tomorrow in the joint statement, some of the deliverables.  Brazil has indeed agreed to some of these issues, and we look forward to expanding our relationship on these.  And you'll see it in the joint statement.  Obviously, I don't want to get ahead of the President and won't reveal those.  But there has been great progress.

     Q    Hi, good afternoon.  This is Luigi Sofio for TV Globo, Brazilian TV, and I have two questions.  The first is regarding the use of (inaudible).  (Inaudible) confirm that it was Congress?  And my second question is, what are the concrete steps being taken --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Can you repeat the first question?  Can you repeat the first question before you get to the second one?  Can you repeat the first question?  I didn't hear it.

     Q    Yes, sir.  Yes, sir.  Can you hear me now?


     Q    My first question is regarding the use of the Alcântara base.  Does the U.S. need to confirm it by the U.S. Congress?  And the second question is: What are the concrete steps being taken by the U.S. government to increase trade cooperation with Brazil?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, going to the first question, I think that is in line with what we were previously talking about in regards to the Technology Safeguards Agreement.  And that was understanding.  I'm not sure, in regards to whether -- I don’t believe that it needs to go to Congress.  We can get you a follow-up after with that, for sure.  But, obviously, that is a big development and it goes back to what I was saying in regards to the U.S. commercial space (inaudible) and the closer defense cooperation.  And we think that that's a great development.

     In regards to trade, we had a trade surplus of about $27 billion with Brazil last year.  We want to move forward.  You know, these are two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere.  There's a lot of things that we do and we share and we produce in common, but there's also a lot of things from where there's a comparative advantage.

And clearly, you know, we've always kind of looked past each other, and I think we have a unique opportunity here to really create this North-South axis, as I said, not only in regards to these regional and international foreign policy issues, but as regards to trade and moving forward, and deepening our trade relationship, per se.

     We've also -- on the business side, we've been discussing other ways.  And you'll see some announcements tomorrow in regards to how to bring our business communities closer, how to bring our private enterprises closer, and also new initiatives in regards to energy cooperation, new initiatives in regards to infrastructure.

So you'll see tomorrow, really, a full gamut in regards to the economic relationship between the United States and Brazil and, really, just in a short time, in three months, taking a huge step forward -- I would say a historic step forward -- towards realizing that potential that has always been discussed but that has never seemed to be (inaudible).

     Q    Hi, this is Jill Colvin from the Associated Press.  Thank you very much for doing this call.  I wanted to ask you about the relationship between the two leaders.  You mentioned President Trump calling very early on.  Can you talk us through a little bit about how often they've spoken, what their relationship is based on, and how the two of them get along personally?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, they've definitely spoken on -- they've spoken on a couple of occasions.  And it's been -- clearly, President Trump has followed President Bolsonaro's campaign.  Obviously, his name was invoked on many occasions during the campaign, and all of you in the broader media have referred to him as the "Trump of the Tropics."  That obviously has caught the President's attention.

     And, really, I think one of the things that we also have to look at here in regards to this -- to the election of President Bolsonaro -- is that, in his election, he broke all of what I would say were the historic taboos of winning an election in Latin America.  He was unabashedly -- and particularly in Brazil -- unabashedly pro-American.  He ran on the campaign that he wanted to be the best friend to the United States, that he wanted to have this close relationship with President Trump and what that would mean for Brazil, what that would mean for the region and the world.  I think that was very important.

     He also ran on a very critical campaign in regards to Venezuela, in regards to Cuba, which broke those taboos that he run toward the left in Latin America.  And he also was very critical of his concerns in regards to Chinese debt and investment in Brazil and in the region as a whole.  So his -- that election really broke a lot of those taboos.

     In regards to the first, in wanting to be one of the best allies of the United States, if not the best in the Western Hemisphere, it really, obviously, caught the President's attention.  We recognize, again, these are the two largest economies of the Western Hemisphere, and this could create a historic North-South axis.  This is something (inaudible) really want to pursue for many reasons.  And part of it, and the key underlying it and making it all possible, is this mutual respect that exists between President Trump and President Bolsonaro.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  So, we've got time for one more question.  Before we move onto it though, I just want to reiterate attribution is on background as "senior administration official."  We will be working to put a transcript together later today, most likely.  So thanks everyone, again, for joining us.

     Q    Hi.  This is Emel Akan from the Epoch Times.  Thank you very much for this call.  I have a follow-up question on China.  China is one of the biggest trading partners of Brazil and the largest importer of oil.  And the U.S. is now in talks with China.  Will there be any discussions between the U.S. and Brazil with respect to China's structural reforms, or (inaudible) structural reform discussion and IP theft and forced technology transfers?

     And what is basically the goal of the U.S. administration at the moment with respect to China in the bilateral talks?  Thank you.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The United States and Brazil share some things in common here.  Yes, you know, Brazil is one of China's big trading partners.  The United States is one of China's big trading partners as well.  And as such, we face a lot of the same difficulties.  We face a lot of the unfairness and a lot of the security concerns.

     So we both -- you know, these are two countries, as the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere -- these are two countries that face many of the same challenges from China on the economic influence space and in regards to the inherent structural unfairness of the trade relationship and the effect that it could have.

     So, clearly, that has been a subject of President Bolsonaro's trip.  That will be a subject of discussion tomorrow.  Brazil is a member of the BRIC countries -- of the B-R-I-C countries -- where China is also a member.  Brazil has already -- it's been very interesting, because even just last week or week before, Brazil came out clearly in its position, and within the BRIC system sought to tell the other countries that they were wrong-headed as regards to Venezuela and their continued support for Maduro's usurpation of democracy there.

     You know, when you have a BRIC member, a member of the BRIC that discusses these issues that were taboo -- obviously, China is also a member of the BRIC countries -- you know, it kind of changes the whole dynamic of the conversation.

So, clearly, this is a unique opportunity to voice concerns.  They face a lot of the similar issues that we do.  And we look forward to cooperating with them on these solutions.

     OPERATOR:  Okay, that concludes our last question.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  Correct.  Thanks, everybody for joining.  Again, we'll have a readout as soon as possible.  In the meantime, if you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to check in with us.  And look forward to seeing everybody tomorrow.
                     END                 4:32 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary

     By the authority vested in me as President by the laws of the United States of America, and in accordance with section 251A of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (the "Act"), as amended, 2 U.S.C. 901a, I hereby order that, on October 1, 2019, direct spending budgetary resources for fiscal year 2020 in each non-exempt budget account be reduced by the amount calculated by the Office of Management and Budget in its report to the Congress of March 18, 2019.

     All sequestrations shall be made in strict accordance with the requirements of section 251A of the Act and the specifications of the Office of Management and Budget's report of March 18, 2019, prepared pursuant to section 251A(9) of the Act.

                             DONALD J. TRUMP

    March 18, 2019.

Readout of First Lady Melania Trump’s Meeting with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs

Office of the First Lady
Readout of First Lady Melania Trump’s Meeting with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs

First Lady Melania Trump convened the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs this morning in the State Dining Room of the White House.
The meeting focused on several programs within the Administration’s agencies that closely align with the three pillars of the First Lady’s initiative, Be Best - well-being of children, social media safety, and families affected by opioid abuse.

Mrs. Trump led the meeting and gave opening remarks, then called on Secretary DeVos of the Department of Education, Secretary Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Azar and Admiral Giroir of the Department of Health and Human Services, Acting Administrator Gaynor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Administrator Green of the Agency for International Development to share information about programs that positively impact the lives of children both domestically and abroad.

Among the programs described were the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Strong Families Initiative”, which provides resources to caregivers and parents, helping to strengthen the family unit for children.   The United States Department of Health and Human Services has a dedicated program focused on finding the best approaches to identifying and testing treatment procedures for infants experiencing neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome.  Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor gave a presentation regarding the work the Federal Emergency Management Agency is doing to prepare children in cases of emergencies.  Administrator Green gave a briefing on the United States Agency for International Development’s youth integration and engagement efforts.

“Today was a great opportunity to hear from these agencies on the programs that most align with Be Best,”  said First Lady Melania Trump. “I am looking forward to working with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs to help children receive all the tools and support they need to be successful in life.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mrs. Trump thanked the attending members and spoke briefly on future opportunities to work together.

Roundtable Participants:
Secretary Alex Azar, United States Department of Health and Human Services
Matt Dummermuth, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice
Ms. A.T. Johnston, Deputy Assistant Secretary, United States Department of Defense
Acting Secretary David Bernhard, United States Department of Interior
Secretary Wilbur Ross, United States Department of Commerce
Patrick Pizzella, United States Department of Labor
Secretary Ben Carson, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Betsy DeVos, United States Department of Education
Secretary Elaine Chao, United States Department of Transportation
Henry Darwin, Acting Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Pete Gaynor, Acting Administrator, FEMA
Ayanna Hudson, Director of Arts Education, NEA
Michelle Giuda, Assistant Secretary, United States Department of State
Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation
Administrator Mark Green, United States Agency for International Development
Barbara Stewart, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service
Admiral Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services
Jamila Robinson, Office of National Drug Control Policy

List of Attending Agencies:
The US Department of State
The US Department of Defense
The US Department of Justice
The US Department of Interior
The US Department of Commerce
The US Department of Labor
The US Department of Health and Human Services
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development
The US Department of Transportation
The US Department of Education
The US Environmental Protection Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency
The National Endowment for the Arts
The National Science Foundation
The US Agency for International Development
The Corporation for National and Community Service
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Office of National Drug Control Policy

White House Announces 2019 Spring Garden Tours

Office of the First Lady
White House Announces 2019 Spring Garden Tours

This spring, the White House will open its gardens and grounds to visitors.  The grounds will be open on Saturday, April 13, from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and Sunday, April 14, from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM.  On these days, visitors can discover the beauty of the South Lawn of the White House.  The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, and the White House Kitchen Garden will also be accessible to guests.

This event is free and open to the public.  A ticket is required, however, for all attendees (including small children).  The National Park Service (NPS) will distribute free, timed tickets at a tent stationed near the entry point each day beginning at 8:30 AM.  The entry point for all guests, including those going to the NPS tent, will be located near the intersection of 15th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest.

Tickets will be distributed—one ticket per person—on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note the following items are not allowed on the White House grounds:

·                 Aerosols of any kind
·                 Animals (except guide dogs)
·                 Any pointed object
·                 Backpacks (oversized)
·                 Balloons
·                 Beverages of any kind
·                 Duffle bags and/or suitcases
·                 Electric stun guns
·                 Fireworks / firecrackers
·                 Food of any kind
·                 Guns / ammunition
·                 Insulated metal containers
·                 Knives of any kind
·                 Mace
·                 Selfie sticks
·                 Smoking (including e-cigarettes)
·                 Tablets (including iPads)
·                 Toy weapons of any kind
·                 Water bottles
·                 Bicycles and scooters

The Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items.  However, strollers, wheelchairs, umbrellas (no metal tips), and cameras are permitted.  All items needed for medical purposes will be permitted on the tour (such as wheelchairs, electric scooters, glucose tablets, and EpiPens).  Please identify and explain all items needed for medical purposes to Secret Service personnel upon arrival.

In the event of inclement weather, the event may be cancelled.  Please call the 24-hour information line at (202) 456-7041 to check on the status of the event.


Statement from the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary
Statement from the Press Secretary

Today, President Donald J. Trump and his Administration released a set of principles to modernize the Higher Education Act.  The principles, unveiled this afternoon at a meeting of the National Council for the American Worker, set forth concrete legislative actions that, if enacted into law, would provide more Americans access to affordable and quality education, improve institutional accountability, and help students and families make informed decisions regarding their educational options.

Now, because our economy is strong and technological advancement is increasing at rapid speed, postsecondary education is more critical than ever before to individuals’ economic success.  More Americans must be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, and individuals returning to the classroom after years in the workforce need access to flexible, accelerated learning opportunities so they can support their family while securing the skills needed to excel.  Unfortunately, many colleges and universities have not been providing Americans the education they need to succeed in a cost-effective manner.  Remarkably, student loan debt exceeds what Americans owe in credit card debt, auto loans, or home equity loans.  Members of Congress who are committed to ensuring Americans thrive in today’s strong, modern, and growing economy should support and pass these reforms.


First Lady Melania Trump to Convene Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs

Office of the First Lady
First Lady Melania Trump to Convene Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs

Where: State Dining Room, the White House
When: Monday, March 18, 2019

On Monday at 10:00AM, First Lady Melania Trump will host an Interagency meeting to discuss youth programs throughout each of the member agencies.   The purpose is to convene the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, originally established under former President George W. Bush, in an effort to build upon and improve youth programs that align with the First Lady’s Be Best initiative.

Mrs. Trump will lead the discussion with opening and closing remarks.

List of participating Agencies:
The US Department of State
The US Department of Defense
The US Department of Justice
The US Department of Interior
The US Department of Commerce
The US Department of Labor
The US Department of Health and Human Services
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development
The US Department of Transportation
The US Department of Education
The US Environmental Protection Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency
The National Endowment for the Arts
The National Science Foundation
The US Agency for International Development
The Corporation for National and Community Service
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Office of National Drug Control Policy

Press Availability: Expanded pool coverage