Following are remarks made at swearing-in ceremony of USTR Robert Lighthizer (please check against transcript)
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, opened the ceremony by saying he was speaking on behalf of so many of the farmers, ranchers and people throughout rural and small-town America who have been going through a real rough patch these days.
We're glad to have the family of Bob Lighthizer, who has been such a wonderful, experienced person, Roberts said. Lighthizer comes to this job after working for 15 years with his mentor and dear friend Bob Dole [sitting in the front row, who received tremendous applause].
At any rate, I also want to say a debt of thanks to the president, who met with President Xi and worked out an agreement for the first time in 13 years for trade with China, Roberts said. I just cannot imagine that market and what it will do for small-town America.
I should yield to the Vice President of the U.S.
VP Pence said thank you and welcome to the assembled guests. "On behalf of the president of the U.S., today it is my great privilege to administer the oath of office to the 18th USTR, Robert Lighthizer. And with this ceremony, President Donald Trump's Cabinet is finally complete," Pence said.
It is a special occasion and an honor to have Lighthizer's daughter Claire [check spelling] and Bob Jr. there, and two grandchildren in the audience. Pence thanked Roberts, but especially Dole, whom he called one of the greatest Americans. "To hear Bob Lighthizer tell it, he learned everything that he knows from Bob Dole," Pence said.
"President Donald Trump made a promise to the American people, to fight for trade that puts America first," Pence said. "And in choosing Robert Lighthizer as USTR, President Trump is keeping his promise to put America first," he said.
Lighthizer is uniquely qualified for this role, because he is frankly one of the leading experts on trade in America, Pence said. His career spans back to 1970, where he worked as a lawyer in private practice before joining the Senate Finance Committee, rising to serve as chief counsel. As his reputation grew, President Ronald Reagan took notice and in 1983, the president named him the deputy USTR.
In this capacity, Lighthizer directly contributed to the growth and prosperity of that era by negotiating more than two dozen bilateral trade agreements with nations across the world, Pence said. For the past 30 years, Lighthizer has represented American businesses that are the "beating heart of our economy" as a trade litigator.
From manufacturing to agriculture, high-tech to financial services, Lighthizer has distinguished himself as a tireless defender of America's workers and future, and now he'll be doing that for the USA, Pence said.
"Robert, President Trump has now called on you to bring your extraordinary career and considerable talents to help us restore trade that is both free and fair; benefits the American people above all else," he said.
Given your experience, integrity and unwavering commitment to promoting America's interests, and protecting the economic prosperity of the American people, President Trump and I are confident that with you as USTR, we will continue to restore opportunity and prosperity for working Americans for generations to come, and we will make America prosperous again, Pence said.
After the oath was administered, Lighthizer thanked many of the people in the room and said it was a privilege to be a part of this administration.
"I believe that when all the dust of partisan vitriol has settled, and serious people provide thoughtful analysis, the Trump administration will be ranked as one of the greatest in American history," Lighthizer said.
"I'm grateful to have been asked by the president to serve him on this very important issue, international trade," he said. "I firmly believe that when my grandchildren, who are here today, talk to their grandchildren, they will say that President Trump permanently reversed the dangerous trajectory of American trade, put America first, made our farmers, ranchers and workers richer, and the country safer."
"And I hope I can make some small contribution to that progress," Lighthizer said.