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Transcript of Swearing-In Ceremony of Ms. Penny Pritzker as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce

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Please welcome Acting Secretary of Commerce Cam Kerry, Ms. Penny Pritzker, and the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.

[Acting Secretary Cameron Kerry]

Please be seated. So to my friends and colleagues at the Department of Commerce, good afternoon to all of our guests.

Welcome to the Department of Commerce.

It's been my honor for a short season to lead this department, and there are such extraordinary work that goes on here from in a world class science that can predict a tornado minutes before it touches the ground.

It can forecast a track of Hurricane Sandy days before it makes landfall to nanotechnology and nobel prize winning work on quantum physics, to work promoting trade deals and
investments around the world and leading in creating the foundations for innovation for economic growth with the patent and trademark system with work standards with leading new innovation clusters, spectrum, internet policy and governance and data that tells us essential information about our population and our economy.

This work is truly remarkable so I want to thank everyone here for what you do, for our country, and for our future.

Come on, give yourselves a hand.

So as we have had the opportunity to work with Penny Pritzker, I have seen how she understands the value of this work not just from the study that she has done but from her own work in start-up businesses and in fortune five hundred companies.

She is going to be a great champion for the Department of Commerce.

Vice President Biden honors us today, honors Penny Pritzker with his presence.

He has been a great friend to the Department of Commerce, evidenced maybe best of all by his sending his niece

Missy Owens to work here for Becky Blank when she was the Deputy Secretary.

I think everybody knows what family means to the Bidens so sending Missy here is like sending his own daughter.

So Mr. Vice President let me say to you that thanks in no small measure to the support from the White House for the basic mission of economic growth and job creation and innovation that this department is stronger today than it was four years ago.

And it will be stronger still with Penny Pritzker at it's head.

So it's with great pleasure

and with great anticipation for what lies ahead that we welcome you here today to swear-in Penny Pritzker as the thirty eighth Secretary of Commerce.

[Vice President Biden]
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the things I'll be able to tell my grandchildren and god willing my great-grandchildren is I served an administration

with two Kerrys in the Cabinet.

Speaking of family, this guy has been my friend for a long long time, and I told him really a long time ago when we were working on John's campaign.

He is capable of holding any job, any job in any administration.

We are lucky you did this for us. Thank you.

You know what Cam just described is not only the breath and depth of the mandate of the Department of Commerce, but the potential for this department even to grow in it's dynamism.

I predict to you that twenty years from now the Commerce Department will be the department that is the sort of the economic engine and heart of the administrative enterprise in trying to promote labor and business in this country.

And Doc, I think that Senator Rockefeller described your wife best when he said she is a force of nature.

This woman is a force of nature. Penny has been my friend for a while and as we turned the corner I said Penny you're getting the right you're getting your hands on the right wheel here.

Your dynamism, your optimism, and your sense of anything can get done if you put your mind to it is what this department needs most of all because you have the talent you have the raw talent that's here.

Cam stole part of my speech in that it is the wide spectrum of capacity that exists here, and I know of no man or woman with whom I've been engaged in the last twenty years who has a greater sense of the capacity of this country and the role of this outfit and Penny Pritzker.

You know as I've said and I won't go into my formal comments because Cam said it better but your role is increasingly more important, the globalization of the world, the nature of the competition, and one of the things that many things that Penny and I agree on is that we are better positioned than any nation in the world. I mean by a longshot.

Don and Rose can probably tell you that.

But literally think about it any other place in the world would you rather be in order to be able to capture the essence and growth and the dynamism of the twenty-first century.

Penny I'm often referred to as you've observed since you have such a close relationship with the President and with so many of us that I'm always referred to as the White House optimist.

As my grandfather Ambrose Finnigin you would say like I fell off the turnip truck yesterday.

I like it because it makes the outside world think well maybe he's the new guy.

But I've been there longer than all of them.

I'm optimistic for a reason, part of the reason is the folks I'm looking at.

Part of the reason is I know the history of the journey of this country.

And part of the reason is all you have to do is take an objective look around the world

and whatever problems we have, they literally pale in comparison to our closest competitors.

We want them all to succeed it's in our interest.

Penny was in China I made the comment that we welcome, and I really mean this, we welcome the competition and the wake-up call about six years ago.

We want to see China, we want to see Europe grow because we can out-compete anybody.

No, I mean this sincerely.

I would note parenthetically one of the reasons we can out-compete anybody is the kind of thing we're doing right now in the Senate and that is passing the immigration bill because we constantly have new blood, new innovation, new excitement.

And so I really can't think of anybody, and I mean literally anybody, who is better suited to take over this department at this moment.

So Penny what I'd like to do is I'd like to make this official official. We signed the papers in the back before you can change your mind, or you can change your mind. I'd like to make this official and what I'm going to do is walk over here, and I understand that Doc's going to hold the Bible, and I'm going to administer the oath with your children load looking on so the whole world knows you're in for real.

Ok, alright.

[Biden] I, please repeat your name,
[Penny Pritzker] I, Penny Pritzker,

[Biden] Do solomnly swear
[Pritzker] Do solomnly swear

[Biden] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States
[Pritzker] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States

[Biden] against all enemies foreign and domestic
[Pritzker] against all enemies foreign and domestic

[Biden] that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same
[Pritzker] that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same

[Biden] that I take this obligation freely
[Pritzker] that I take this obligation freely

[Biden] without any mental reservation or purpose of avation
[Pritzker]without any mental reservation or purpose of avation

[Biden] and that I will well and faithfully discharge
[Pritzker] and that I will well and faithfully discharge

[Biden] the duties of the office on which I am about to enter
[Pritzker] the duties of the office on which I am about to enter

[Biden] So help me God.

[Pritzker] So help me God.

[Biden] Congratulations Madame Secretary.

[Secretary Penny Pritzker begins speaking]

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Mr. Vice President thank you for doing the department the honor of swearing  me in.

We've known each other for almost twenty five years, and I never in my life dreamed that we might one day be here.

I am truly honored by your presence and this opportunity.


thank you for stepping up in doing such a great job of leading this department so seamlessly these past few weeks.

And even though she's not here today, I also want to acknowledge Dr. Rebecca Blank who led the department twice as Acting Secretary, including over the past year.

I have come to appreciate what a terrific steward and leader she has been for all of us.

And of course I want to thank my family

for their patients, their senses of humor, and their unwavering support. My husband Brian and our two children Don and Rose.

Perhaps most importantly I want to thank all of you, the men and women of the Commerce Department.

You have shown me much kindness over the past several weeks, and I look forward to meeting many more of you in the days ahead.

I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be your new Secretary.

So let me be very clear:

I am all in.

My full focus, my attention, and my commitment is here.

I'm moving to D.C. This will be home for me.

I have found a few running trails and even a swimming pool so I can train,

and I'm sure it's very soon I will figure out the biking routes here.

So maybe some of you if you have advice about biking you can pass that along to me.

But more importantly, I'm also going to ask for your advice on how we can advance our mission here at the Commerce Department.

For starters I'm going to be visible around this building in the days ahead.

I'm also going to visit some of our facilities in the area.

I want to learn how I can help everyone do the best possible job.

And after all I know that all of us at the Commerce Department want to succeed on behalf of the American people and American businesses.

I want to hear your ideas, I want to learn from you, and I want to meet as many of you as I can so please introduce yourself.

Also stay tuned for new ways that I'm going to reach out to get your input.

We are already working on a plan to strengthen two-way communication, which is so important.

As well I'll be going across the country to listen to our stakeholders and to business leaders.

I want to play an active and vital and visible role just like each of you do in helping businesses create jobs. I hope that you know just how strongly I
feel about coming here. Like many of you, I have felt a strong call to public service from much of my life.

I'm here because i want to serve the nation, I want to give back because america has been has given me and my family so many opportunities over many years and I'm excited to be here at this unique moment in our nation's history.

The work you're doing right now, as the Vice President said, the work you're doing right now is helping to build a stronger foundation for American business to succeed.

You provide data for businesses to make smart decisions, you helped drive innovation through your work in manufacturing patents and more, and you prove each day that made me in America remains number one.

While I still have a great deal to learn, I do know this, you are the people on the front lines, you protect, promote, and anticipate what america needs to be competitive and innovative in the twenty-first century.

So I'm going to go to work each day twenty four seven to make sure that everyone knows the great work you are doing here in D.C., across the country, and around the world.

And I hope you'll join me in making sure that we get this important message out:

America is open for business.

So thank you, it's an honor to serve with you.