THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for that warm welcome, and thank you to Jane Harman for that very kind introduction and those stirring words. And thank you for your leadership at the Wilson Center. I served in the Congress of the United States with Jane Harman and it was always better to be with her than against her. (Laughter.) Do join me in thanking Jane Harman for her great leadership here at the Wilson Center.
Let me also mention someone, who, as Jane noted, is not here today but may well be looking on. When I grew up in a small town in Southern Indiana, there was a fixture in that town -- someone who was actually elected to the Congress from Columbus, Indiana, but he was no stranger to anyone in the town. On any given week it would be easy to find Congressman Lee Hamilton walking down Washington Street in Columbus, Indiana, stopping on the curb -- always available. I have great memories, although it may pain him, of the times that he visited my high school and would lean against the teacher's desk and explain in a way that he's so capable of the uniqueness and specialness of the United States House of Representatives. And, Lee, I know you're looking on today, and while our politics are still different, my respect for you is boundless. Thank you for your service to the country, and thank you for your leadership in your years here at the Wilson Center. God bless you. (Applause.)
It's an honor to be here at the Director's Forum with the members and friends of this well-respected institution -- an institution of "independent research, open dialogue, and actionable ideas." It's truly a bipartisan stalwart here in Washington, D.C. -- the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I'm honored to have the opportunity to speak to so many leaders from public life, academia, and the international community, especially. And to all of you, I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
And I'm here, at the President's direction, to reaffirm the United States' commitment to, in his words, an America First agenda -- an agenda of advancing security and prosperity and freedom across the world. And I'm also here to reaffirm our commitment to the Western Hemisphere as a whole and especially the nations and people of Central America.
But before I do, let me, again, thank the Wilson Center for hosting this forum and for all you do all across this country. The Wilson Center and all of you gathered here today have a unique perspective on America's essential role in global affairs. And that's been true since the founding of this institution in 1968. You recognize that the world looks to America as the standard bearer for freedom; that American strength is critical to peace and prosperity across the wider world.
From the outset of this administration I can tell you, we've been busy. We've been busy holding up that standard in the world, but we've also been busy here at home keeping our promises to the American people.
Quick report for my fellow citizens gathered here today. President Trump has signed 39 bills into law since Inauguration Day. He's actually signed more bills into law rolling back federal red tape than any President in American history. And along the way in the first 100 days, we confirmed a principled jurist to the Supreme Court of the United States in Justice Neil Gorsuch. The President's put a renewed focus on American energy, set the stage for historic tax relief for working families and American businesses.
And today, my fellow Americans here can be assured before this summer is out, working with the Congress, President Donald Trump will keep his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Following on the work of the House of Representatives, today the United States Senate released its repeal-and-replace bill.
And the President and I are grateful to Leader Mitch McConnell and all the Senate Republicans for their deliberative efforts over the past month. We look forward to working with the Senate majority to move this legislation forward. And the President and I are determined, before this summer is out, to keep our promise to the American people -- to repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people the kind of world-class healthcare they deserve.
So we've been busy here at home. But in case you haven't noticed, we've been busy abroad, as well. Since day one of this administration, President Trump has been taking decisive action to restore America's role as the leader of the free world by putting America first. Just last week, in defining his foreign policy, President Trump said that the United States is adopting a principled realism rooted in our values, our shared interests, and common sense.
And this President, by his actions, has shown the world that America Ffirst does not mean America alone. Since the outset of this administration, President Trump has engaged with the wider world in new and in renewed ways, and this President has rebuilt America's standing in the world and forged even stronger ties with our allies and friends across the globe.
President Trump has personally spoken to foreign leaders 93 times since he's taken office. He's hosted 32 foreign leaders at the White House. In fact, President Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Abe, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Prime Minister May of the United Kingdom, and of course, Chinese President Xi of the People's Republic of China, just to name a few. And in just a few days, the President will host the new President of South Korea and the Prime Minister of India -- yesterday, was speaking to the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
The world saw the leadership that this American President has taken on the world stage just last month when President Trump traveled to the Middle East and Europe. And our President took the occasion of that trip to reaffirm historic alliances and forged new partnerships to ensure the safety and security of the American people in a time of widening challenges and unknowable threats.
For my part, I can tell you it's been very humbling and a great privilege for me to have the opportunity to represent this President and meet many world leaders here in Washington, D.C. and travel across the world on the President's behalf. In February, the President sent me to the Munich Security Conference to deliver a message to the nations and people of Europe that under President Trump, the United States strongly supports our North Atlantic alliance and strongly supports NATO, and we will be unwavering in our commitment to that alliance. (Applause.) The President had me deliver a message then that he reiterated on his recent trip that we expect our allies to live up to their word. We expect NATO to continue to evolve as changing threats occur in the world stage. I reiterated this message in Brussels in my meeting with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, and at the President's direction, I met with leaders from the European Union to reinforce our ties with those nations as well.
But President Trump also dispatched me to the Asian Pacific to strengthen our alliances and partnerships across that vital region with South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia on the itinerary and all the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. I had the opportunity to meet with the representatives of ASEAN when I was there.
As I told them, our primary focus was on the greatest threat to security in the Asian Pacific -- the brutal regime in North Korea. And my message was very straightforward: When it comes to North Korea, under this administration, the era of strategic patience is over.
This week, American hearts broke with the news that Otto Warmbier had passed away shortly after being restored to his family from his brutal incarceration at the hands of the regime in North Korea. And our prayers are with Otto's family and friends today as they lay him to rest and give their final goodbyes.
As the President said just a few days ago, North Korea's treatment of Otto Warmbier was a disgrace. And I can assure you it only deepens our determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people in the days ahead.
As I expressed on the President's behalf on my trip to the Asian Pacific, under this administration, the United States will continue to work diligently with our allies across the region and China and the wider world to bring increased economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea. And we will do so until North Korea abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all. (Applause.)
Under the leadership of President Trump, the United States stands strong for our most cherished ideals. And to protect these ideals, we stand with our allies and our partners across the world. And that holds true here in our hemisphere, and literally with our neighbors to the south. We feel a connection, as I said last week in Miami -- a connection in history, a connection in geography. And I'm here to tell you, Latin America is a priority for the Trump administration. (Applause.)
Our partnerships and alliances throughout the region are critical to our national interests. The President has said -- in his words -- it's best for America to have freedom in the Western Hemisphere. And last Friday, on that count, as Jane just mentioned, the President took decisive action to end the last administration's failed policy toward Cuba and support the courageous Cuban people in their six-decade struggle for liberty.
Under this administration, the United States now will restrict financial transactions with repressive military, security and intelligence services of the Castro regime and instead redirect lawful commerce to entrepreneurs, to private enterprises in Cuba, and to all those brave Cuban citizens who yearn for freedom and for a brighter future.
No longer will America enrich the Cuban regime at the expense of the Cuban people. Because America stands for opportunity, not oppression; for liberty, not tyranny. The Cuban regime must make real progress on human rights and individual freedom. And as the President has said, our policy will not change until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections occur. That's what American leadership looks like. (Applause.)
But, as we all know, Cuba is not the only nation in the region where democracy and freedom are in steep decline and at risk of being completely eradicated. It's increasingly true of the troubled nation of Venezuela. Venezuela's collapse into authoritarianism and anarchy has been heartbreaking to see. The people of that once-rich nation now suffer rampant crime and grinding poverty on a daily basis.
Just as we stand with the people of Cuba, under President Trump, the United States stands with the people of Venezuela. The United States of America condemns the Maduro regime's abuse of power and the abuse of its people, and we call upon the Maduro regime to restore a robust democracy and the rule of law, and do it now. (Applause.)
Throughout this week, our diplomats at the Organization of American States General Assembly in Cancun worked with likeminded partners to build a consensus in support of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. We were, frankly, disappointed that the OAS did not act in the face of crisis and was unwilling to protect the inter-American democratic charter that was founded to preserve.
Nevertheless, 20 nations did courageously speak out against the Maduro regime's repression. And to them, we say thank you. And rest assured, the United States of America will continue to support international efforts to restore freedom, democracy and the rule of law to Venezuela until freedom occurs. (Applause.)
America cares deeply for the plight of the Venezuelan people and the Cuban people, because what happens in our neighborhood affects everybody in the neighborhood. And that holds true in Central America. Under President Trump, the United States has three priorities when it comes to that vital region, particularly in the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. We seek to destroy the gangs and criminal networks, to halt illegal immigration.
And lastly, we're working to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our country, into our communities that are tearing apart American families. Last Thursday, at the President's direction, I traveled to Miami to discuss these goals at the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America that we organized along with our ally, Mexico. The conference was co-hosted by our Departments of State, Homeland Security, and the government of Mexico.
And in my remarks, I commended Foreign Minister Videgaray and Interior Minister Osorio for their actions to address the serious problems throughout the region. And I had time with the foreign minister privately when we were there. Mexico is a valued partner of this administration. And we will continue to seek ways to advance security and prosperity in the region with them. (Applause.)
When we met, I reaffirmed that the United States is grateful for the significant investments made by leaders in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to strengthen security, to promote prosperity, and to bring real reforms to their nations, and to promote reform across the region. And on President Trump's behalf, I assured them the United States is with them.
We stand with them to root out corruption and crime. We stand with them to stop the scourge of illegal drugs and illegal migration. And under President Donald Trump, the United States stands with the nations and the people of the Northern Triangle to ensure a brighter future for themselves and their posterity. (Applause.)
These three nations literally sit at the heart of the Western Hemisphere, where north meets south. And every day, countless people and products pass over their streets, through their airports, their seaports, and across their borders. By and large, this flow of commerce and crowds benefits us all, and the exchange of cultures as well as goods and services. But, as we all know, Central America is also plagued by vicious gangs, vast criminal organizations that drive illegal immigration and carry illegal drugs north into the United States.
Sad truth is that American demand is driving the flow of drugs. And fully 80 percent of documented drug smuggling travels through Central America. The cartels and kingpins cause untold suffering in that region, and so too do these merchants of death spread violence and leave victims all across America. President Trump has said this must end. And working with our allies in the region, and with men and women of law enforcement in this country, this will end. (Applause.)
The President has already taken decisive action to protect the American people from the harshest consequences of illegal immigration and the transnational drug trade. At the President's direction, American law enforcement is targeting gangs and criminals like never before. As President Trump has pointed out, criminal cartels like MS-13 are being decimated, in his words, and being sent directly to prison.
Thanks to President Trump and with the help of our partners in Mexico and in the Northern Triangle, reports of illegal border crossings at America's southern border are already down nearly 70 percent since the first of this year.
This progress is remarkable. But President Trump knows that fully addressing these problems requires confronting them in new and in renewed ways. And just last night, President Trump called for new immigration rules that will say that those seeking admission to our country would not be able to do so unless they can support themselves financially. And he promised to take action very shortly to ensure that that is the policy and practice of the United States.
And beyond our immigration laws, the United States is committed to addressing the demand for illegal drugs here in our nation, which drives so many of the problems south of our border. And finally, under President Trump, the United States is firmly committed to cracking down on the gangs and criminals before they ever reach this nation; to partnering with nations in Central and South America to foster prosperity and give their people the opportunities they need to prosper.
As we all know, the United States has long partnered with nations in the region to accomplish these goals. Under President Trump, this administration is now directed to continue to work in new and renewed ways with our partners to support the programs that prove effective. The President made that clear in our commitment when he requested an additional $460 million in our budget for security and prosperity in Central America. Yet the most important work throughout the region belongs -- the President and I know -- to the nations and the people who call the region home.
As I said at the conference in Miami last week, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador must now redouble their efforts to bring about the reforms that will protect their citizens and promote economic growth; to give people hope, a reason to put down roots in their own homes; to give them a vibrant economy and an alternative to a life of poverty or, worse, a life of crime. I made it clear that they must bring in new partners in the business community, in the faith community, and the public sector to ensure continued progress.
Now, I am pleased to report that the conference in Miami has already generated concrete results. At the conference, key private sector leaders identified policies that will promote sustainable economic growth and create a more attractive destination for investment. And the Northern Triangle governments have now committed to enact the kind of reforms to improve their business climates, including minimizing red tape, improving transparency, and streamlining business formalization and processes.
Three nations have also committed to develop a roadmap to enhance economic integration in the region, and streamline import/export systems and customs procedures. And we began initial discussions to further integrate energy markets and develop infrastructure.
And on security, the United States is committed to enhancing our work with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries to combat organized crime, strengthen citizen security, improve border security, and promote regional security cooperation through programs that are focused on capacity building and information sharing.
These steps are encouraging, and I hope all of you find them as heartening as we do. And in the days and months ahead, I can assure you this administration will continue to work with the Northern Triangle, and with all of Central and South America, to promote prosperity and security throughout the Western Hemisphere.
As I announced last week, in less than two months, at the President's direction, I will be trying to build on the work that's been done thus far in this administration. I'll be traveling to Colombia, Argentina, and Chile, and Panama to represent the United States and the commitment of this administration to the nations and the people of that region. And it will be my great honor to go.
Each of these nations is an important partner for this administration, and I look forward to discussing areas of shared concern and new opportunities for collaboration, for the benefit of our people and the benefit of this hemisphere that we all call home.
We are, all of us, bound together -- as I said at the outset, we're bound together by history and geography in this new world. And under the leadership of President Trump, I believe we're entering a new era in the new world. The Old Book tells us that we should encourage one another and build each other up, just as, in fact, we are doing.
Under President Trump's leadership, I can assure you that we will build on the foundation of friendship in this hemisphere, between our lands and between our people. Together, we will achieve new heights of security and prosperity. And I have faith that with our partners across this hemisphere, and with the help of all of you gathered here, and with President Trump in the White House -- together, we will claim the promise of a brighter future for ourselves, for our hemisphere, and for generations to come.
So, thank you. And God bless you. And God bless the work you do in these halls. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
MS. HARMAN: Well, Mr. Vice President, I was looking out at the heads nodding as you charted the course of continued U.S. engagement in the world. It matters a lot to my colleagues at the Wilson Center and this international audience that the United States project strong and secure and sure leadership. And the things you were talking about are really central to doing that, so thank you. And thank you also for doing something that I know is unusual so far in your vice presidency and that is agreeing to take a few questions. And I offer these questions on behalf of myself, but also my colleagues and some in the audience, and they relate specifically to the summit, which is our topic today.
So you described what is happening coming out of the summit, which is only a week ago. Time flies. What's new? What are things that you are doing that, perhaps, the past administrations -- all of which talked about Latin America and most of the leaders visited Latin America. What's different in the approaches you're taking, especially in the Northern Triangle?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Jane, and again thank you for the opportunity to be here and thank you all for making time to be here for this forum today. I think what's new is a new and renewed engagement that combines security and prosperity as co-equal goals in the region, and perhaps especially in the Northern Triangle.
Our Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary Kelly, in his last assignment, when it was General Kelly, forged extraordinary relationships with leaders in countries across the region. And at the President's direction, he tasked Secretary Kelly and Secretary Tillerson to bring together the nations in the region around the conference that's focused on both of those issues, and to seek ways that we could work with countries in the region to fight insecurity, impunity, lack of opportunity, but also coordinate in ways that would advance public safety in those nations and our national security.
As I mentioned in my speech, I think what's also new is a renewed energy that we see, particularly in the Northern Triangle, to advance not only cooperation on security issues -- which, in the case of almost all the countries, has been strong in other countries in the region -- but, also as I described, the discussion of standardizing customs rules, of creating a more attractive business environment.
We actually had at the conference last week a significant number of American businesses who have a great interest or would consider investing in the region, and connecting those businesses with those countries we believe is a key part of advancing our security and prosperity interests.
So I think it's a holistic approach, looking at security and prosperity simultaneously; a great focus on promoting the kind of reforms in the Northern Triangle that we think will advance their prosperity and our interests. And that's what might be fresh.
MS. HARMAN: Well, I applaud you for that, and for sending
-- I applaud the administration for sending the A-team down there. And just so you know, Secretary Kelly is no stranger to the Wilson Center. The Homeland Secretary Department has some offices in this building, and he's already hosted one of his advisory board meetings -- I sit on that board -- here at the Wilson Center. And he does offer unique leadership because of his experience as head of the Southern Command.
So congratulations to you -- and also to him.
Let me turn to Mexico. You mentioned Mexico and the fact that Mexico co-chaired the conference -- I think that was a brilliant idea -- and that Vice President Videgaray and others were there. There have been a few bumps in the road in terms of a relationship with Mexico in the last months, but there have also been some very good stories. And it's complicated, as they say.
The Southern border between Mexico and the Northern Triangle is, I think, quite secure now. And that's a great credit to Mexico. The Northern border with the U.S. between Mexico and the U.S., as you said, is working better. Bad people are being stopped at the Northern border.
What are your expectations in the relationship with Mexico? And what do you want them to do to be the best ally for the United States? And what do you think the United States should do to be the best ally for Mexico?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you for making mention in your remarks and reiterating it. This was a conference that was conceived of when the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security visited Mexico earlier this year and said, where are ways that we can begin to work together on issues of common interest.
And I don't want to paper over -- look, we're in the Reagan Building, and President Reagan is my second favorite President. (Laughter.) He had some memorable lines. One of them is, a nation without borders is not a nation. And people know that President Trump has made it clear we're going to invest in border security, we're going to build a wall. We're going to secure the Southern border of the United States of America. And he's spoken very plainly about that, both in the campaign and in the course of this administration.
But that being said, we've also been engaging with Mexico. I know that's created some tension, but we've also been engaging with Mexico on areas where we strongly agree. And we do strongly agree on the issue of transnational migration. And you're right, Mexico has made great progress securing their Southern border. We've been providing assistance to them with regard to confronting criminal gangs, and we will continue to.
We also just minted a very successful trade agreement on sugar with Mexico. And so where we agree to disagree, where we have differences, our friends will always know where those are. But I can assure all those present that we're going to continue to work with the Mexico as a critical partner in the region, critical partner in this hemisphere, and dealing with the issues of promoting security in the region and promoting prosperity in the region is in the interest of the United States of America.
And so I appreciate that. We saw Miami as a great example of both governments' commitment to find things that we can work on together, and we'll continue to do so.
MS. HARMAN: Well, I'm totally unbiased, but our Mexico Institute here at the Wilson Center is absolutely best in class. And we're really proud -- Duncan Wood, where are you? We're really proud of what we have. And we're happy to have it. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great.
MS. HARMAN: So turning to a painful subject -- drugs. You mentioned it, Mr. Vice President. And this morning, I was on Capitol Hill participating on something called the National Security Forum. And John Kelly was there, and he said, "Our drug demand is brutalizing Northern Triangle societies." Our drug demand. The U.S. drug demand. The pull factor. I mentioned that 90 percent of the cocaine last year that came into our country came in from Central America to Mexico to the U.S.
And I don't think it's as big a problem in Indiana as perhaps opioids are, but it's a huge problem in California, my home state of California. You mentioned that we're doing things. But we've spent billions of dollars on this problem. What can this administration do hopefully to solve this problem?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that the President's view of this is that we've got to deal with this in a multifaceted way. It's the reason why the President has taken decisive action to secure our borders and to prevent the flow of illegal drugs into our country to begin with.
We've also, with the Justice Department, working with local law enforcement, we've been taking swift and decisive action against drug gangs across this country -- not just people that are in the country illegally that are involved in these gangs, but we're moving very swiftly to interdict. We announced 12 cities' federal grants just yesterday morning, and are encouraging even greater collaboration.
But the President also recognizes that while we must vigorously secure our borders, we must vigorously enforce our laws. We've also got to recognize, particularly when it comes to opiate abuse and addiction, that we've got to lean into this challenge with new and compassionate efforts. I mentioned healthcare reform, which continues to make progress on Capitol Hill. And we remain hopeful that there will be action in the coming days in the United States Senate.
I can tell you that, as governor of the state of Indiana, our Medicaid program that we were able to modify through a state waiver plan was enormously important in dealing with opiate abuse and drug abuse and addiction in our state. And we're working with members of Congress to give states greater flexibility to focus resources in Medicaid on the point of the need.
I have to tell you, I've sat at kitchen tables with recovering addicts, great young people, top of their class, promising futures who found themselves addicted to opiates, oftentimes beginning with prescription medication that then avalanched into heroin abuse. And then I've also sat at kitchen tables with parents who buried their children. And that's one of the reasons why the President tapped Governor Chris Christie, established a commission to confront opiate abuse in the country. And our administration is deeply committed to identifying new approaches.
Vigorous law enforcement, strong border security, but also finding ways that we can extend health and healing and compassion to people that are caught up in the grip of drug abuse and addiction in this country. The approach has to be multifaceted, and President Trump is committed to advancing that in our administration.
MS. HARMAN: Well, I appreciate your use of the word "compassion." And maybe we could add prevention too, if there's a way, possibly, to start -- to stop the process before it starts. Because it is taking our youngest and best lives.
Finally, you mentioned North Korea. I'm not going to ask you about North Korea, but it obviously is an urgent problem, something else that we know a great deal about at the Wilson Center. But North Korea, the problems in Syria, challenges around the world are also commanding U.S. attention. And so my question is, how does this conference las week on security and prosperity in Central America fit into our broader engagement in the region and in the world?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the conference this week was an expression of the President's desire to ensure that we are advancing security and prosperity in our neighborhood. Even as we see widening asymmetrical threats developing around the world we'd do well to see to Central and South America to ensure that these countries are advancing the kind of reforms that will encourage growth, promote prosperity and promote security.
And we also -- I was with the President in Miami at the close of our conference when he announced that we were abandoning the last administration's policy on Cuba and implementing -- new approach demanding that if -- Cuba live up to the empty promises it made to the last administration about advancing reforms. And we'll hold them to that.
And also, the issue of Venezuela, which continues to spin out of control. The headlines this morning about even new developments in Venezuela -- I think the President will continue to call for real leadership in the region to bring pressure on Venezuela, to hold elections as their constitution requires, and to uphold free elections and the rule of law.
And so I think it's -- for us it's about putting first things first. And the first priority of President Trump and this administration is the safety and security of the American people. And that begins with ensuring the security and prosperity of nations in this region, but also I think people have seen, as I mentioned in the first part of my speech, this is a President who will always stand for America first. That doesn't mean America alone.
What I've seen this President do in one meeting after another in the Oval Office, what the world saw him do as he traveled around the world was engage -- engage on behalf of the United States, engage on behalf of the people of this country and our vital national interests. But the United States is engaging. We're going to continue to engage.
I think that involves diplomacy. The President believes strongly that involves rebuilding our military to ensure that we have the readiness and capability as the arsenal of democracy to see to our vital national interests around the world and those of our treaty allies.
But it all begins close to home, and I hope, as we confront challenges in the Middle East, in the Asia Pacific, and we confront them with firmness and resolve and with clarity, that our neighbors in this hemisphere know that we're also with them, we stand with them, and we are determined to advance the peace and security and prosperity of this hemisphere.
So I thank you, Jane. Thank you for the invitation. And thank you all for making time to join us here today. God bless you. (Applause.)
MS. HARMAN: Well, if I just might add one thing -- and then we'll applaud you again -- you started your comments by talking about Lee Hamilton. And Lee Hamilton was a mentor to me, as well as to you, and he was a role model in the United States Congress of the kind of person we need more of. He was well-informed. He was humble. He was bipartisan. He was friendly. And if he were here, he'd be totally embarrassed by these comments. He provided enormous leadership at the Wilson Center for 12 years, and with other Hoosiers like Dick Lugar, showed that bipartisanship can work.
So it's just my plea to a town where there is too much partisanship that Lee Hamilton remain as a model not just to the Wilson Center and to me and to Vice President Pence, but to all of us.
And in this spirit, thank you so much for coming here. It's a huge honor for us. (Applause.)