Subject: In-Town Print Pool #5a More details from the Oval and lunch lid
Prior to signing S.442 President Trump made a brief statement. He was seated at his desk flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA personnel, and members of Congress including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Bill Nelson, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Rep. John Culberson. White House staff provided your pooler with a full list of attendees, which is included below.
"For almost six decades NASA's work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on Earth. I'm delighted to sign this bill. It's been a long time since a bill like this has been signed reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA, human space exploration, space science and technology. With this legislation, we support NASA's scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discovery. We support jobs. It's about jobs. Also this bill calls for ongoing medical monitoring and treatment of our heroic astronauts for health conditions that result from their service," Trump said.
Trump paused to remark on the difficulty of being an astronaut.
"It's a pretty tough job," Trump said before turning to Cruz. "I don't know Ted would you like to do it? I don't think I would."
Cruz shook his head indicating that he would not want to be an astronaut. Trump then turned to Rubio.
"Marco, do you want to do it?" he asked.
"I'm not sure we want to do it," Trump said.
Cruz piped in with a proposal.
"You could send Congress to space," said Cruz.
"We could," Trump said turning to look at Pence. "What a great idea that could be."
This quip prompted laughs from the attendees. Trump then continued making his statement:
"This bill will make sure that NASA's most important and effective programs are sustained. It orders NASA to ... continue transitioning activities to the commercial sector where we have seen great progress. It's amazing what's going on. So many people and so many companies are so into exactly what NASA stands for, so the commercial and the private sector will get to use these facilities and I hope they're going to be paying us a lot of money. ... They're going to make great progress. It continues support for the commercial crew program which will carry American astronauts into space from American soil once again — been a long time. It supports NASA's deep space exploration including the space launch system and the Orion spacecraft. ... It advances space science by maintaining a balanced set of mission and activities to explore our solar system and the entire universe and it ensures that, through NASA's astronauts and aeronautics research, the United States will remain a total leader in aviation. Now these astronauts are amazing. I've met some of them. They are very brave people and they're right at the forefront. So, we salute them with this legislation and we salute the ones who have lost their lives doing what they love to do. America's space program has been a blessing to our people and to the entire world. Almost half a century ago our brave astronauts first planted the American flag on the moon. It was a big moment in our history. Now, this nation is ready to be the first in space once again. Today we're taking the initial steps toward a bold and bright new future for American space flight. I am honored to sign this new bill. The folks behind me have been so involved in it. They love NASA. They love everything it stands for and they love the people in their areas. You have a couple of areas that are going to be ... very much benefited by this. So, I just want to thank all of the people standing behind me. They've done a great service for the country and for their community. It's a lot of jobs and these are great jobs, so thank you very much and we'll sign this."
Trump then proceeded to sign the bill with a black and gold pen. Afterwards, he began lifting the document to display it for the assembled cameras as the attendees applauded..
"So, I'll hold that up," Trump said. "It's a lot of pages. Look at the pages in there thats a lot of — we don't want to let that slip."
Trump then handed out some of the pens he used to sign the bill. He was also presented with a NASA astronaut flight jacket on behalf of the agency.
"Does anybody have anything to say? Ted you want to say something?" Trump asked.
Cruz called the bill "terrific" and said it was "the first time in seven years we've had a NASA authorization bill."
"Thank you Mr. President for signing it," said Cruz.
Trump then invited Rubio to speak.
"Marco?" he asked.
"I'm happy to see that Florida is going to continue to do more than Texas is," quipped Rubio.
"It's going to be a good competition," Trump said turning to McCarthy. "Right Kevin?"
Trump next invited Pence to speak. Pence suggested he allow Nelson to make remarks.
"Well, he's a Democrat. I wasn't going to let him speak," Trump said as the group laughed.
Nelson then praised the bill for putting the country "on the dual track."
"We have the commercial companies going to and from the International Space Station and we have NASA going out and exploring the heavens," Nelson said, before adding, "And we're going to Mars."
"Good. I love that," Trump said.
Culberson then piped in.
"Mr. President, if I may? Just as Americans remember that President Eisenhower was the father of the interstate highway system, with your bill signing today and your vision and leadership, future generations will remember that President Donald Trump was the father of the interplanetary highway system."
"Well that sounds exciting," Trump said, adding, "First we want to fix our highways. We're going to fix our highways."
Pence was last to speak. He thanked the bill's sponsors and also vowed "that in very short order the president will be taking action to relaunch the National Space Council."
"We're going to be bringing together the best and the brightest in NASA and also in the private sector," Pence said. "We have elected a builder president and, as he said, America once again has to start building and leading to the stars."
The press was ushered out at about 11:15 a.m. As reporters departed they asked Trump about the wiretapping explanations, his confidence in FBI Director James Comey, and "Trumpcare." He did not respond to any of the questions except the one about whether the healthcare bill could be called "Trumpcare." Your pooler has posted a short video of this on Twitter for anyone who is interested. At 11:25 a.m. the White House called a lunch lid until 1:15 p.m.
Here is the list of people who attended the signing in the Oval Office that was provided to the pool by White House staff:
The Vice President
Robert Lightfoot, Jr., Acting NASA Administrator
Lesa Roe, Acting Deputy NASA Administrator
Christopher Cassidy, Active Astronaut
Sen. Ted Cruz, Sponsor of S.442
Sen. Bill Nelson, Cosponsor of S. 442
Sen. Marco Rubio, Cosponsor of S. 442
Sen. Luther Strange
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader
Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Rep. Frank Lucas, Vice Chair of House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Rep. Mo Brooks
Rep. Jim Bridenstine
Rep. Brian Babin
Rep. Martha Roby
Rep. Steve Palazzo
Rep. Robert Aderholt
Rep. Bill Posey
Rep. John Culberson
Rep. Neal Dunn