Vice President Mike Pence visited Coast Guard Base Portsmouth in Virginia on Wednesday to note that “the nation, frankly, saw your character in high relief in recent weeks” during the 35-day government shutdown.
Pence received a briefing from DHS Joint Task Force-East, Joint Task Force-West and Joint Task Force-Investigations focused on border security threats, vulnerabilities and risks related to transnational criminal organizations, his office said. The veep then toured the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear.
Pence said President Trump sent him to the base not only “to hear the latest on the efforts of the joint task force, but also just to express a word of appreciation to each and every one of you and, to no less extent, your families for the service that you render to the people of this country each and every day.”
“Looking out at all of your shining faces and thinking of all that you represent here, across this department, across this country — indeed, the state of our union is strong and it is safer because of the work that all of you do every day. And the American people know it,” he added. “And we know that your service comes with sacrifice for you and your families. And, frankly, your character shines through each and every day through deployments, through missions that you undertake.”
On the stress of the shutdown, and with the next appropriations deadline looming on Feb. 15, Pence told the Coasties that he and Trump “couldn’t more grateful or couldn’t be more proud of all our federal employees and their families who rose to the challenge, stayed on task — but we are especially grateful to the men and women of the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security.”
“You stood tall, you stood your watch, you did not relent. And you have our thanks for your commitment to your mission and your duty. Thank you all,” he said. “Thank you for standing your post. And just know this president and I, and our entire administration, have your back. And even as we speak today, the Congress is working on funding not only for the Coast Guard, for the Department of Homeland Security, but for other critical agencies of the government. And we’re working in good faith to resolve these issues.”
While not hinting whether the administration was open to another shutdown or declaring a national emergency to use military construction funds on a border wall, Pence declared that “we are going to secure our border one way or another.”
“Every day our southern border remains unsecured gives criminal syndicates and drug traffickers and human traffickers another opportunity to threaten our families and harm people on both sides of the border,” he said. “The men and women of the Coast Guard and DHS know firsthand about these transnational criminal organizations in Mexico and Central America — the drug cartels that fuel their deadly trade. They represent one of the greatest national-security and public-health threats in the history of this country.”
The vice president added that “the challenges and threats that you personally face in the line of duty underscore the reason why we are so determined to give you the resources that you need to secure our border and protect this homeland. And we will do it.”