With the exception of an infamous trip to insure Hamilton last November and a controversy about whether it’s OK to dine with women other than his wife, we’ve heard relatively little about Vice President Mike Pence since the election. In May, CNN even ran a narrative with the headline, “Mike Pence’s Disappearing Act.”
He’s a heartbeat away from the presidency and seems very interested in following his own political ambitions beyond this administration, so what exactly has Mike Pence been up to lately? A lot, actually.
Here’s 20 things Mike Pence has done since taking office:
1. In January, Pence and others lobbied Trump to take hard-line postures on abortion, making good on some of his anti-choice campaign pledges.
Just days after taking office, Trump signed a slew of executive orders. Among them was the reinstatement of the so-called “Mexico City policy, ” restricting foreign aid from going to groups that offer abortion services.
The Independent wrote about the decision to reinstate the policy, saying that pro-choice activists “feared[ Trump] would reintroduce the policy as a gift to Vice President Mike Pence, known for his staunch opposition to abortion rights.”
2. Pence has led the charge to advance Trump’s policy agenda.
You may have watched him popping up on the Sunday morning political talk proves to push Trump’s agenda items. This has especially been the case when it’s an issue where Trump himself may not appear to have a total grasp of the policy being discussed, such as health care.
ObamaCare will be replaced with something that actually worksbringing freedom and individual responsibility back to American health care.
Vice President Pence (@ VP) February 22, 2017
3. He’s been very vocal about supporting the use of taxation dollars to fund religious schools.
Under the guise of “school choice, ” Pence has been a long-time supporter of using taxation dollars to fund charter schools and religion schools. As governor, Pence expanded Indiana’s charter school program and opted out of the nationwide “Common Core” standards. One of the side effects of Pence’s reign in Indiana was an uptick in the number of publicly funded schools teaching creationism. Pence, himself, hasn’t given a clear answer on whether he believes in evolution.
Trump was short on specifics about education policy during the campaign. In office, he’s rallying behind Pence’s ideas.
4. In January, Pence met with anti-abortion activists at the White House and delivered a speech at the annual March for Life.
During his address at the anti-choice procession, Pence riled up the crowd with a guaranteed to “work with Congress to aim taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers, ” along with promises to support Supreme court nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
5. Pence spent much of February selling the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as “mainstream.”
Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat on Jan. 31. Gorsuch, who had a record as a far-right, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ magistrate, would face an uphill climbing. That’s where Pence came in.
Rather than nominate someone who could find the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, Trump picked Gorsuch, and Pence immediately began work exhorting Republican leaders in the Senate to blow up the filibuster. They eventually did, and Gorsuch was sworn in on April 10.
Rest assured, we will work w/ Senate leadership to ensure that Judge Gorsuch gets an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor- one style the other
Vice President Pence (@ VP) February 4, 2017
6. Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, the first time a vice president has done so on a cabinet pick.
In February, DeVos was under immense scrutiny from Democrats and moderate Republican. The billionaire heiress had zero education-related qualifications to operate the department, but she did have a history of donating to far-right causes and championing the use of public money to money schools that would “advance God’s kingdom, ” in line with Pence’s own positions on education.
With Republicans Lisa Murkowski( Alaska) and Susan Collins( Maine) voting against DeVos’ confirmation, the 50 -5 0 referendum went to Pence to break the affiliation. He voted to confirm her.
7. In May, Pence was named the head of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
This commission was established based on Trump’s unproven and unfounded assert that there was widespread voter scam during the 2016 election. Pence was named commission chair, with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair. Together, Pence and Kobach have begun attaining requests for extensive voter datum from states, with many voting rights groups worried that the commission will lead to widespread voter suppression.
8. Pence invited anti-abortion activists to the White House to discuss how to merge their agenda with that of the administration.
On March 9, Pence met with anti-abortion activists to discuss what sort of provisions they would like to see in the American Health Care Act bill, afterward pitching it to conservative member states of the House of Representatives.
9. Later that month, he would cast the tie-breaking election to nullify an Obama-era rule letting that Title X funds be used for family planning services.
In his eight years in office, Joe Biden never cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Pence, merely months into the job, has broken four ties( confirming DeVos, the motion to proceed on blocking the Title X regulation, the final vote on blocking the Title X regulation, and the motion to proceed on the Senate’s health care bill ).
Gutting the Title X rule is bad news, especially for low- and middle-income girls across the country.
10. Pence has met with members of the financial industry and championed make further efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank consumer protections.
Shortly after taking office, Pence addressed the GOP retreat, promising to dismantle the legislation enacted in the consequences of the fiscal breakdown and its “overbearing mandates.” In May, he spoke out in favor of Republican Rep. Hensarling’s( Texas) CHOICE Act, which would deregulate the financial markets once again.
11. In May, Pence addressed the Susan B. Anthony List “Campaign for Life” gala.
Touting the administration’s successes when it came to curtailing reproductive rights, Pence proclaimed, “For the first time in a long time, America has an administration thats filled top to bottom with people who stand without apology for life.”
To cheers, he would afterwards promise to ensure that people obtaining health care subsidies would not be able to purchase insurance coverage that includes access to abortion.
12. Pence played a role in recommending Trump to sign a “religious liberty” executive order during a National Day of Prayer ceremony.
While the final order was viewed by many conservatives as simply represent one step in the right direction and not everything they wanted, the move demonstrated just how much pulling the extremely religious vice president has over his boss.
13. Pence addressed the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians on May 11.
The speech bolstered the administration’s narrative that Christians are the true victims of terrorism in the Middle East. The truth is that people of all religions have been targeted by ISIS, and messages about how Christians are the most persecuted merely help advance some of the inherent Islamophobia in actions such as the travel banning which merely helps ISIS.
14. At the University of Notre Dame, Pence delivered a fiery commencement address, targeting “political correctness.”
The idea that college campuses are suppressing freedom of speech is a popular talking phase, especially among conservatives. Pence utilized his platform to stoke that flame, telling, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness all of which amounts to nothing less than the suppression of freedom of speech.”
15. In May, Pence started his own political action committee “ve called the” “Great America Committee.”
Marking another first for a sitting vice president, the formation of a PAC signals that maybe he has some larger political ambitions that go beyond the Trump administration and his role as VP. Coupled with outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying that he’d be on board with a Pence run in 2024, this is worth keeping an eye on.
16. In June, Pence was put in charge of U.S. space policy.
Pence, being someone who likely doesn’t genuinely believe in that whole “evolution” thing and once claimed that “smoking doesn’t kill, ” seems like an odd choice to dictate anything related to science. But that’s what President Trump did after signing an executive order bringing back the National Space Council.
It’s still unclear what sort of direction Pence will take, though he has attained have committed themselves to put people on Mars.
17. He’s created money for his own PAC and other political causes.
What’s the point of having a PAC if you’re not going to raise money for it, right? In July, The New York Times reported that Pence has been playing host to “a string of dinners held every few weeks at the vice presidents official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington, ” courting “big donors and corporate executives.”
18. On June 23, Pence addressed Focus on the Family, a powerful anti-LGBTQ organisation, for its 40 th anniversary.
Speaking about the administration’s commitment to helping “persecuted people of faith” and protecting their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of “religious liberty, ” Pence told the crowd, “This president believes that no American , no American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life, and he has taken action to protect the expressions of religion by men and women across this nation.”
19. As special elections have popped up across the country, Pence has been hitting the campaign trail in support of his fellow Republicans.
It’s not so surprising that Pence is get out there. A little curious, however, is how little Trump has done comparatively and how little coverage Pence’s presence has garnered. This once again depicts Pence for the shrewd legislator he is, able to help prop up other nominees. Trump, on the other hand, is mostly good at promoting one person: Trump.
20. Pence has been pressuring Congress to implement anti-transgender policies in the military.
Days before Trump tweeted that he was banning trans people from serving in the military, Foreign Policy reported that Pence was lobbying hard to fight back against trans inclusion in the military. Pence was reportedly putting pressure on member states of Congress to hold the 2018 defense authorization bill captive unless it included a rider barring monies being used on transition-related health care.
According to Politico, Trump was motivated to outright banning all trans people from the military for fear that the defense bill would stall and he wouldn’t receive the funding he requested for his wall. In the end, however, Pence got what he asked for and more. Though the Department of Defense is holding on implementing the tweeted policy until Trump formally submits a scheme, it’s almost a done deal.
This matters because Pence might not always be in the background.
It’s pretty clear that Pence’s political aspirations don’t end with being Trump’s vice president. With scandals rocking the White House on what seems like a daily basis including calls for investigations and even some for Trump’s impeachment it’s damned important to take a long hard look at “the mens” next in line for the position.
During the campaign, Pence’s extreme postures were largely whitewashed. His extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views were rarely talked about. As vice president, Pence has shown himself to be “the mens” he’s always been: a smooth-talking legislator with far-right social conservative opinions. So let’s keep a watchful eye on what he’s doing now because he might just be president one day.
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