Washington, DC – Vice President Mike Pence hosted a luncheon for the nation’s governors who were gathered for an annual meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA). More than 30 of them, from both parties, attended Pence’s luncheon according to a list provided by the vice president’s office. VP Pence promised the attending governors a historic infrastructure legislation and asked for their help in due course of time.
As the VP Pence and the Second Lady Karen Pence took the stage, she said, “We are thrilled that you all are here,” adding, “We know, we really do know, the sacrifices that you all make. We know how much you serve your country. We know how much your family serves as well.”
Wearing a black dress with tan trim, the Second Lady talked about her initiative to help military families. She asked governors to help ease the problems military spouses have with getting professional licenses as they move from state to state. Because families who serve make sacrifices too, Karen Pence said she had a “special gift” for each gubernatorial spouse and child in attendance as “our way to say thank you to you as you help us say thank you to military spouses.”
A few hands rose when VP Pence started to speak and asked if this was the first visit to the VP residence for anyone. “Ours too,” he said, to laughter.
“This is a day that we look forward to every year,” Pence said, explaining that his wife insisted on starting the tradition of having the governors over because “we never got invited” when they attended the NGA winter meeting as Indiana’s governor and first lady.
Pence called for a round of applause for the first ladies and Karen Pence added, for the “first gentlemen.”
Pence said the event was about fellowship and encouragement. He offered some history of the residence and urged the guests to walk the grounds before leaving.
VP Pence hoped the attending governors leave Washington, DC “with confidence in the gratitude and the respect of the President, his Vice President, our entire administration for the job that you do, the burden that you bear, and the way that you serve the people of your great state and the people of this great nation with real honor every day.”
Pence said the Trump administration is led by a president who truly believes in state based innovation and reform. Trump, Pence said, told governors at the first NGA meeting that he wanted a true partnership of collaboration. “We’ve worked to do just that,” he said.
Pence said the administration has given states flexibility on health care, a greater voice on land management, help combating opioid abuse, and allowed states to open up natural resources to responsible development.
“I’ll make you a promise. And we’ll ask for your help. That in this Congress we’re going to pass historic infrastructure legislation,” Pence said, receiving some applause. He said the legislation is already being discussed with congressional leaders from both parties and governors will play a leading role. Since states will be deploying the resources, Pence said, “we need your voices at the table about what those needs are.”
In addition to including an “historic investment in infrastructure,” Pence said the bill will also cut red tape so states can build faster and more efficiently.
Governor Bullock, Chair NGA
As he finished his speech, VP Pence introduced Montana Governor Steve Bullock, chair of the NGA.
Bullock said he has fond memories of visiting the Pences at Indiana’s gubernatorial residence. He said governors have to deal directly with the action and inaction of Washington and, “like you,” are often frustrated with inaction. But as a former governor, Pence is “one of the few individuals” who might understand the difficult decisions governors make, Bullock said.
“We’re encouraged knowing that someone who sat in the governor’s seat continues to reach out to us both when we agree and when we disagree,” he said. “I’m an optimist,” Bullock concluded. “Together we can certainly jumpstart the wheels of cooperative governing again.”
As the journalists were ushered out, there were glimpses of VP Pence interacting with several governors, including posing for a photo with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
Decor and Menu
The residence was decorated with red, white and blue flowers – a patriotic theme instead of specific state flowers used some years. There was a buffet on offer in the dining room where the attending governors filled their plates from the dishes including:
Apple Cider Braised Brisket of Beef
Seared Cod Filet with Pea Puree & Spring Pea Tendrils for Garnish
Orzo Pasta with Wild Mushrooms, Parmesan and Italian Parsley
Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Watercress & Endive Salad with Sliced Pears and Herb Goat Cheese
Passionfruit Mousse “Bites”
There were drinks like iced tea, white wine, sparkling and still water — on silver trays on offer by the staff as the governors mingled in the foyer, dining and living rooms. Before the hosts arrived, some governors posed for photos in front of the podium set up in front of the stairs. The podium was flanked by the flag of the United States and the flag of the Vice President.
Governors of states and territories, including many of the 22 who have taken office since last November’s midterm elections, are in town to participate in discussions on topics such as child welfare, resilience against disaster, education reform, entrepreneurship and more. The 111th Annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting is being held at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington, DC. The Winter Meeting is one of the two marquee annual convenings and the NGA’s Summer Meeting is scheduled for July in Salt Lake City.