PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – Vice President Mike Pence addressed governors at a National Governors Association meeting Friday, urging them to support what he called the “Senate health care bill.”
Pence along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke about the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Donald Trump called “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere.”
Inside the Rhode Island Convention Center, Pence focused on selling the new health care bill released Thursday, telling the crowd of over 30 governors – a record-breaking attendance for a summer meeting – and a few hundred other attendees “President Donald Trump is going to lead this Congress to rescue the America people from the collapsing polices of Obamacare.”
His comments on the Affordable Care Act “imploding all across America,” and promises that the new bill offers “better care, better coverage and better outcomes” for everyone to make “the best health care system in the world even better,” were received with a smattering of applause.
“The good news is,” Pence said, his voice booming, “the Senate’s health care bill will expand state freedom and flexibility to an even greater degree than the law permits our administration to extend today. The bill actually rolls back restrictions on waivers, giving states the ability to stabilize your insurance markets after they’ve been virtually destroyed in recent years.”
He also stated the new health care bill will address the governors’ concerns regarding the opioid crisis, by allocating $45 billion of federal funding to confront the issue.
The vice president briefly commented on NAFTA, saying he was grateful for the $620 billion relationship flourishing under the present agreement established in 1994, and the modernization of the agreement would be a “win, win, win for all of our trading partners in North America.”
Other national concerns were also brought up momentarily.
“Our president has been busy unleashing American energy,” Pence said. “He’s opening the way for more offshore drilling, rolling back the clean-energy plan, and the president’s approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to strengthen the energy infrastructure of this nation.”
Before handing the stage over to Trudeau, the vice president – wearing a dark suit with bright light blue tie – ended his 30-minute talk with the slogan, “We will make America great again.”
Trudeau, the first foreign leader ever to address the governors’ association, took the stage on the second day of the event to hoots and hollering amidst thunderous applause.
He focused on NAFTA, immediately stressing that Canada is America’s biggest client, and promoting open borders to facilitate prosperity and job growth.
Trudeau called the two nations’ relationship “the most successful economic partnership in the history of the world.”
“Canada is America’s biggest and best customer,” he said. “Canada buys more from the U.S. than China, Japan and the U.K. combined.”
He continued, “It is a model to the world. It is of critical importance to people on both sides of the border that we maintain and indeed improve it. We must get this right.”
Wearing a dark suit with a purple tie and purple socks, he advised the governors to resist “politically tempting shortcuts” because “such policies kill growth” and negatively impact “the very workers these measures are nominally intended to protect.”
He also cautioned to avoid restructuring the NAFTA agreement to promote “thicker” borders.
“Once we travel down that road, it can quickly become a cycle of tit-for-tat, a race to the bottom, where all sides lose,” he said, also translating in French for his countrymen.
“But NAFTA isn’t perfect,” Trudeau added. “No such agreement ever is. We think it should be updated and modernized, as it has been a dozen times over the past quarter century, and I have every expectation that it will be to the ultimate benefit of working people in all three partner countries.”
The governors’ meeting continues Saturday, including a recap of the coding showcase by Girls Who Code and talks on building resilient communities.