Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other bipartisan Members of Congress participated in a rally at the Capitol this afternoon to support the 21st Century GI Bill, which provides a four-year college scholarship to veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bipartisan legislation has 58 co-sponsors in the Senate and 249 co-sponsors in the House, as well as the endorsements of the nation's leading veterans' organizations Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“Thank you very much, Senator Webb, for your words of welcome and for your leadership on this important legislation.
“What a great day this is. Here we are, in a bipartisan way, demonstrating the unity that we all have to support our veterans. We're here with the clearest demonstration of the responsibility of one generation to the next. When Matthew [Boulay] was talking about the original GI Bill of Rights signed in 1944 by President Roosevelt, I learned from our veteran service organizations that that bill was the product of the thinking of the veterans of World War I. And they saw what they missed and they knew what they wanted to have for that next generation.
“And this GI Bill is the product of many veteran service organizations, veterans across our country knowing what we need to have for this generation, over a million and a half of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I want to acknowledge the fact that the student veterans that are here are benefiting from the activism of our VSOs who have served in former conflicts.
“The original GI Bill launched millions of families on a course of prosperity and toward achieving the American Dream–and set the American economy on the right course after a draining war. We can strengthen the middle class again with a new 21st Century GI Bill.
“'Leave no veteran behind,' the button says. Following up on what the military says on the battlefield, 'On the battlefield, we will leave no soldier behind.' And when they come home, we will leave no veteran behind.
“I want to thank Senator Webb for his leadership, and from the House, Congressman Harry Mitchell, our colleague from Arizona for his outstanding leadership, and Representatives Bobby Scott of Virginia and Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, who are here. Bob Filner, who is not, the Chair of the Veterans Committee, but a leader on this issue and Chet Edwards as well.
“We are all here today to make and renew the commitment we have made to our veterans. This legislation is wise; it has consensus; it brings us together in a bipartisan way, and we are definitely going to leave no veteran behind. We're going to say thank you to our veterans by sending them to college. Thank for the honor of participating.”