Pence’s Accomplishments As VP
In his first three years in office, Pence has struggled at times to find a successful role. From overseeing the ill-fated voter fraud commission (which was unable to find widespread instances of malfeasance at the polls) to failing as an emissary to Capitol Hill, the vice president has mostly fashioned himself as a hype man for Donald Trump, campaigning on his behalf. Pundits have even wondered whether he has outlived his usefulness, speculating that the president may replace Pence with someone like former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley or even Trump’s own daughter Ivanka. Commentators cycle between calling Pence the shadow president and a useful idiot.
“He’s not Dick Cheney,” says former Marion County GOP chairman Mike Murphy, who bases the speculation on what he has heard from friends. “But he has mitigated many of Trump’s more impulsive policies and directives.”
Even if Pence hasn’t been conspicuous in this job, he has achieved a few things. Here, a look at his three biggest accomplishments in office the last three years—a feat itself in an administration with a turnover rate of nearly 75 percent.
1. He has staffed most of the federal government.
Pence stocked the cabinet and federal agencies with a number of Hoosiers. Approximately 34 people from Indiana work in the Trump administration, including high-profile cabinet members like Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Pence himself. Until July, that list included Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. “If you look at the strength of the people Pence has brought, it has been tremendous,” Murphy says. “To Indiana’s benefit, a lot of them are Hoosiers.”
2. He has taken the lead on rebuilding the nation’s space program.
The National Space Council, a group of experts that advises the president on space policy, disbanded in 1993. But Trump and Pence brought it back in 2017. In addition to spearheading an eventual mission to Mars, Pence has championed $8 billion in new funding for Space Force—an extraplanetary military unit. At press time, Congress was deadlocked over the idea and funding for the command.
3. He has raised a lot of money for 2020.
In 2017, Pence made news when he became the first vice president to establish his own political action committee in his first term, the Great America Committee. Over a two-year period, Pence raised more than $4 million, money that will likely be deployed during the 2020 presidential election season. “He’s a tireless campaigner,” Murphy says. “He does the kind of stuff the president isn’t willing to do.”