Pence's comments came in a wide-ranging interview Friday evening about the Biden agenda and the upcoming midterm elections at the Family Leadership Summit after he gave remarks to a crowd of about a thousand Christian conservatives in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. While Pence has made a number of speeches since leaving office on January 20 this year, this interview with Breitbart News is his first since he left office.
“The extension of, the plus-up on unemployment benefits by the Biden administration has worked a real hardship on small businesses and our recovery,” Pence said. “Look, this economy started to recover in the summer of 2020 demonstrating the resilience of the American people and the rightness of our agenda. With tax cuts, and rolling back regulations, and unleashing American energy, and America First trade deals, we had laid a foundation within the first three years that created 7 million jobs. I believe it also was the foundation on which America has made this historic recovery and in so many ways what the Biden administration has done and continues to do — and adding to that they're pushing for the largest tax increase in 50 years to pass the largest spending bill in American history — I think what the Biden administration is doing threatens to short-circuit the American recovery we all long to see and that is underway. It is. But I think the fact that inflation is now rising at the most rapid pace in 13 years is evidence of the fact that markets are starting to respond to the big government solutions — higher taxes, more regulation — being planned and coming out of this administration. That's why we got to fight back and fight back hard.”
Pence said he is “incredibly proud” of House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy for holding House Republicans together “in opposing the radical left agenda of [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi.” He pointed specifically to that $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending plan, passed in March along purely partisan lines in both the U.S. House and Senate, that extended the newly-created federal unemployment benefits program that, at the beginning of the pandemic, supplemented similar state benefits. Combined, the federal and state benefits collected together could often pay people more to not work than to actually work — something that has led to small businesses like restaurants and stores across America having trouble hiring employees. The federal government never before offered supplemental unemployment insurance benefits. But, at the beginning of the pandemic, the Trump administration — with support on a bipartisan basis in Congress — passed such benefits. The program, meant to be temporary as the government was literally telling people to stay home and not work, was extended as part of the partisan plan Biden pushed at the beginning of his presidency. Pence ripped Biden for turning this into a partisan matter.
“Even in the early vote on COVID [Chinese coronavirus] relief, they were able to stand united in opposition to a massive spending bill which really was a betrayal of the whole posture our administration had taken during the pandemic with regard to Congress,” Pence said. “Every bill we passed for COVID in Congress passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. We said we're going to check politics at the door. Everything we did, everything we did was bipartisan. For President Biden and [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer and Pelosi right out of the gate to abandon the bipartisan precedent we had established in combatting the coronavirus pandemic I thought was a betrayal of everything we'd done to bring the Congress together around a united effort to end the pandemic.”
It is not just the economic recovery that Biden is bungling, though, Pence said. When it comes to the vaccine, Pence said Biden should give former President Donald Trump and the previous administration credit for developing the vaccine — and getting the rollout up to speed — as there were a million shots a day being administered by the time Trump and Pence left office. Pence said that he does believe Americans generally see through Biden's politicization of the pandemic.
“I couldn't be more proud of what the American people accomplished over the last year and a half,” Pence said. “Only in America, in the face of a global pandemic, could we reinvent testing from a standing start and do a billion tests within a matter of months. Only in America could you stand up a supply chain and enlist companies to manufacture medical company [sic] and fly medical equipment from all around the world so that no American was ever denied the healthcare that they need facing this pandemic. And only in America could you have the kind of research companies and the kind of innovation at the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] that would permit the development of therapeutics and vaccines within nine months. We when we first sat down, when I first became head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, we called all of the heads of all of the major pharmaceutical and research companies in — we were in the Cabinet Room. I remember the President asking them how long it would take to get a vaccine? Vaccines take five to seven years, if you can get one. We all said ‘not good enough — what do you need? What needs to happen?' And that's where the idea of clearing the way for FDA review and approval without shortcutting safety measures and initiating the idea for Operation Warp Speed because early on we were hearing that several of these vaccines showed very promising returns in the early Phase One trials. We just made the decision we'll pay you to go ahead and manufacture millions of doses so that, if it's approved, we won't wait another year for you to manufacture. The combination of all of those things is an American accomplishment”
“The fact that the Biden-Harris administration, that spent much of the campaign talking down a vaccine developed under the Trump-Pence administration, now has seen its way clear to ignore our administration's efforts is disappointing but not surprising,” Pence lamented. “The thing is, I think the American people see through it. Everywhere I go–today I had a man come alongside me at a picnic I was at in Western Iowa. It was tough. He told me he lost his wife to COVID. But he wanted to express his appreciation to me. I was very moved. I told him ‘I'll be praying for you and I'm very sorry for your loss.' He said ‘I just still wanted to thank you for what you've done and what the vaccine has meant for other people.' I just honestly believe the Biden-Harris administration would do well to give credit where credit is due, first to the American people and second to efforts of a prior administration to demonstrate everything we've accomplished putting the health of the American people first in this pandemic is a tribute to the American people and American innovation and only in America could we be at a place where we are today where America is coming back and we're seeing life returning to normal. I flew out to my daughter's wedding not long ago and couldn't barely get through the airport and I just found myself walking through the airport thinking ‘Only in America.'”
With the upcoming midterm elections, Pence said that Republicans can turn the tide and slam the door shut on the Biden agenda. To retake the U.S. House majority, Republicans only need to flip a net five seats from Democrat hands into GOP hands and, to retake the Senate majority, the GOP only needs to flip a net one seat.
“We've seen this movie before. I was in Congress in 2010 with a Democrat president, a Democrat Senate, and a Democrat House,” Pence said. “What we did was we brought Republicans together around a unified conservative agenda and we stood strong against the Pelosi majority and we won 63 seats in the House of Representatives in 2010. We won the Senate a few years later and the White House two years after that. I think we're going to do it all again in the next three and a half years.”
Pence said he is noticing “buyer's remorse across America” with regard to Democrat control in Washington and the Biden agenda.
“I heard about it today when I was in western Iowa,” Pence said. “One of the families I met with spoke of a friend who voted for the Biden-Harris ticket and now admitted she was wrong. People see that what Biden is attempting to do is not advance kind of traditional Democrat policies but is literally trying to transform the country into a European-style welfare state.”
Pence then called one Biden administration proposal — the implementation of an international minimum corporate tax rate, whereby other countries and the United States would agree to tax entities at the same levels at least and the U.S. would essentially be handing control over tax rates over to some international community entity — “downright un-American.”
“You look at the international minimum corporate tax rate that is being orchestrated and discussed with powers around the country that I think is unconstitutional — the power to tax falls squarely with the government and the power to initiate taxes falls squarely with the United States House of Representatives,” Pence said. “The idea that the Treasury Secretary or the Biden administration could negotiate with President Macron to establish a minimum corporate tax rate that would be imposed on our companies is downright un-American. But I think your point is well taken that what the administration is advancing is agenda that is destined to short-circuit the economy but more than that it's an attempt to transform America into a fundamentally different place than it's ever been before.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced this past week that he intends to try to force a vote on the so-called “Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework” — for which there still is no bill text — this coming week in the U.S. Senate. Combined with that, the Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration are backing a separate but parallel plan that would spend another $3.5 trillion through reconciliation — which allows them to use a budget gimmick to pass bills out of the Senate with a simple majority. Pence warned his Republican friends in the U.S. Senate against going along with this plan.
“With regard to the infrastructure bill, I will just tell you during my years in Congress I always thought it was good to let your yes be yes and let your no be no,” Pence said. “And I'd rather Republicans in the Senate simply made it clear that unless all the Green New Deal stuff is out, they're not voting for an infrastructure bill. I think there is great risk in a two-bill strategy that could result in us seeing them advance the radical left's climate change agenda. I would encourage Republicans to think really hard before going along with a first infrastructure bill as it might pave the way for policies that have very little to do with infrastructure but will stifle American prosperity for generations.”
Pence also, as he did in his speech here, told Breitbart News about how during the Trump administration the United States became energy independent — and a net exporter of energy — for the first time in 70 years. But, he said, Biden has already undermined that.
“America is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” Pence said. “This administration, with its climate change agenda, has set itself against the American people permitting to use the resources of our land in an environmentally responsible way. But what's incomprehensible to me is that President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline but approved the Russian pipeline to western Europe. Think about that? One of your first acts in office is to kill a natural gas pipeline in the United States of America — one that had been tied up for years, one that we cleared the way on, and one that would add to our energy infrastructure — and then to allow Nordstream 2 to go forward? We have tens of thousands of troops in western Europe ostensibly under the mission of NATO protecting Europe from Russian aggression. The idea that they would now pave the way for European countries to become dependent on Russia for natural gas — it's incomprehensible to me. What we ought to be doing is seeing our European trading partners building ports to be able to import natural gas from the United States of America. Again, what you're seeing is I think an administration that's lapsing back into the bad policy decisions of the past and they were policy decisions that the American people were glad to see our administration overturn to the benefit of an incredible boom economy before the coronavirus pandemic struck.”
Pence also ripped the Biden administration — and specifically his successor as vice president, Kamala Harris — for mishandling the border crisis.
“The Biden-Harris administration took the most secure border in American history and has turned it into the worst immigration crisis in my lifetime,” Pence said. “Suspending construction on the wall, ending the policies that we put into effect that had ended asylum abuse, I thought it was one of the signature accomplishments of our administration. President Trump tapped me and Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo to sit down in the Roosevelt Room and negotiate out an agreement that anyone applying for asylum in the United States would be required to remain in Mexico. It had been talked about for years and years and in the early years of our administration the Mexicans were only allowing it on a fraction of their border, so President Trump said ‘we're going to tariff everything coming across the border from Mexico unless you agree to the remain in Mexico policy.' The secretary of state and I sat down with the Mexican foreign minister and the ambassador and, over the course of several days, we negotiated and secured a remain in Mexico agreement for the entire southern border. That, which essentially ended catch and release on the southern border, sent a message to the northern triangle countries of Central America that the opportunity to game the system was over.”