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Remarks on Signing a Proclamation on the National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for Our National Response and Recovery Efforts and an Exchange With Reporters

September 01, 2017

The President. Hello, folks. Thank you very much. Thank you. Americans have always come to the aid of their fellow countrymen. Friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger—we've seen it perhaps more so than at any time, so vividly at least, during Hurricane Harvey. From the beginning of our Nation, Americans have joined together in prayer during times of great need to ask for God's blessing and God's guidance. When we look across Texas and Louisiana, we see the American spirit of service embodied by countless men and women.

Brave first responders have rescued those stranded in drowning cars and rising water, and I have to tell you that I've watched the Coast Guard—thousands of lives have been saved by our great Coast Guard. They have done incredible work in the most vicious seas that they've seen in many, many years. Families have given food and shelter to those in need. Houses of worship have organized efforts to clean up communities and repair damaged homes. People have never seen anything quite like this. Individuals of every background are striving for the same goal: to aid and comfort people facing devastating losses. As Americans, we know that no challenge is too great for us to overcome—no challenge.

We invite all Americans to join us as we continue to pray for those who have lost family members and friends and for those who are suffering from this great crisis. And behind me, we have faith-based people. People who are highly respected and especially so in their communities where they're not only respected, but they're loved—evangelical leaders, Christian leaders—many people of faith. And I just want to thank you all for being with us today because we're going to be signing a Day of Prayer, and that will be on Sunday. It will be a very special day. And I don't know when this was done last, but it's been a long time ago. Is that a correct statement?

Pastor Robert J. Jeffress, Jr., of First Baptist Church Dallas in Dallas, TX. Yes. That's correct.

The President. It's been a long time ago.

So I'm going to sign it, and then a few of the folks will say a few words, and Pastor Jeffress will say a prayer for not only the people so affected—so horribly affected—by Hurricane Harvey, but for the people of our Nation and, in fact, the people of our world. Okay?

[At this point, the President signed the proclamation.]

Okay? Good. So this is this going to Paula.

[The President handed the pen to Paula White-Cain, senior pastor, New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, FL.]

This is going to all of you.

[The President displayed the proclamation.] You are all going to get one of them. Would somebody like to say a word or two to these very lovely people gathered before us?

Founding Pastor Tom Mullins of Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach, FL. Mr. President, we want to thank you for your leadership and for declaring this Day of Prayer that we desperately need in our Nation. I was talking with some of the faith leaders on the ground in Houston today who are diligently working to not only rescue and help recover and restore these families. And they commented on the great cooperation that they're experiencing both from the local, State, and Federal levels, and they wanted to send their heartfelt gratitude to you and to all of your team for the difference we're making in these people's lives.

So thank you for your leadership.

The President. Yes. Thank you very much. That's very nice.

Pastor Mullins. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you.


Faith and Freedom Coalition Founder and Chairman Ralph E. Reed, Jr. Mr. President, I think it goes without saying that in a moment like this, we all come together as Americans, we all bow to almighty God, we ask for his grace and his mercy over those who are affected. And we thank you, the Vice President, and your entire team—FEMA—everything you're doing to deploy every resource of Government to help those who have been affected. And most of all, Mr. President, we thank you for acknowledging that ultimately it is God who is the source of our unity as Americans, and I thank you for issuing this proclamation today.

The President. Thank you. Thank you, Ralph, very much. I appreciate it.

Reverend Ramiro Peña, founder and pastor, Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, TX. Mr. President, people of faith of all backgrounds know that prayer changes things. And a great work is done by anyone who calls a nation to prayer. And so we want to give you thanks for calling us to prayer, because no matter where we are and whatever—across whatever spectrum, we know that prayer changes things, and it unites a nation.

So thank you, sir, for uniting our Nation and calling us to prayer.

The President. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Pastor Harry R. Jackson, Jr., of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD. I just wanted to add that, in our community, we have been praying. We started a 40-day fast for the healing of America and the solemn protection of God. There are some things that we have to make—not diminishing your office—but in appeals to a higher source. We've got to look to heaven. He will empower us, strengthen you, and give you wisdom.

The President. Thank you very much. That's beautiful. Thank you.

Pastor Jackson. Bless you.

The President. Thank you. Don't be shy. When are you—since when are you shy?

Campaign for Working Families Founder Gary L. Bauer. [Laughter] I'm not shy, Mr. President. Mr. President, this is a great moment. The country has a lot of challenges; you know that as President. To ask the country to turn back to God, to pray, is just an incredible thing for a President to do. I guess George Washington was the first one to do it. A lot of Americans may have forgotten that the country was built on a moral idea. In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence—I know you know it—"All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator"—that's God—"with certain unalienable rights, among these are right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

That's what makes this a shining city on the hill that you're the honored President of, and reminding the American people of that is an amazing thing.

The President. Well, thank you very much. That's very nice. I appreciate it. Anybody else? Anybody else? How about it?

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Right from the beginning. Go ahead.

Mr. Page. Yes, indeed. Thank you so much for your personal gift to the victims. I know Southern Baptists and evangelicals and people of all faiths and no faith are out there helping one another. And we appreciate your example in going tomorrow to show presence. We call—something called ministry of presence. Sometimes, it just means something to be there for people, and I appreciate you already having been there, and you're going again. I just deeply appreciate that, and it shows a connection with the people that is so needed. And so I just personally want to say thank you——

The President. Thank you very much.

Mr. Page. ——on behalf of Southern Baptists and Americans. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Very nice.

Pastor Paula.

Pastor White-Cain. I just thank you, sir, for calling on our Nation to God, and it's been an honor to not only know you for 16 years, but to serve with your faith leaders. And to say that you always have put God first, and you challenge us and continue to challenge us as you lead us. We thank you for your personal works. And this, I do believe, is a new beginning for us. And as we look forward, we are going to see great things come. Thank you for—[inaudible].

The President. Thank you, Paula. Thank you, Paula.

Pastor White-Cain. Thank you.

The President. Pastor Jeffress——

Pastor Jeffress. Yes.

The President. ——a prayer?

Pastor Jeffress. Let's pray together, may we?

The President. Yes.

[At this point, Pastor Jeffress said a prayer.]

That's beautiful. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.

Pastor Jeffress. It was pleasure.

Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Policy Q. Mr. President, what is your decision on DACA? Mr. President, a decision on DACA? Can we expect one——

The President. Sometime today or over the weekend, we'll have a decision.

Q. Should DREAMers be worried?

The President. We love the DREAMers. We love everybody.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. We'll issue it sometime over the weekend. Maybe this afternoon.

Disaster Relief Funding

Q. Will you sign emergency funding——

The President. We're working on emergency funding. We're doing everything we can, and we're working very well with the Governor, who has done a terrific job.

Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Policy

Q. What do you say to the DREAMers who are scared right now, who feel like they're going to be—[inaudible]?

The President. We think the DREAMers are terrific. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:55 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Gregory W. Abbott of Texas. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks on Signing a Proclamation on the National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for Our National Response and Recovery Efforts and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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