Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairmen Bob Filner and Chet Edwards, Congressman Harry Mitchell and leaders from veterans service organizations held a news conference today on the steps of the Capitol to discuss the House's accomplishments on behalf of veterans. Below are the Speaker's remarks. To read more about what the House has done on veterans' issues, click here.
“This coming Monday, on Memorial Day, Americans across this great nation will solemnly remember our veterans and those who have fallen in battle. In the New Direction Congress, we treat every day as if it were Memorial Day.
“Every day, our thoughts and prayers are with our troops in harm's way. And when they come home, our thoughts are with them as veterans, and their families. I am so pleased that we are joined today by the Gold Star Wives. Thank you for being here.
“This past weekend, I had the privilege of leading a bipartisan delegation to visit our troops in Iraq in preparation for Memorial Day to extend to them the appreciation of the American people for their courage, their patriotism, and the sacrifices that they and their families are willing to make.
“We have a responsibility to them, and with every vote, we work to ensure that our troops have the tools they need to complete their mission safely, and the benefits and health care they were promised once they return home.
“The record of the New Direction Congress on veterans' issues is truly historic: The largest investment in veterans' health care in the 77-year history of the VA. Chairman Chet Edwards of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and the VA helped lead this effort.
“Just this week, the House passed bipartisan legislation providing $1.3 billion in tax relief to military families, as well as bills that improve VA health care and increase benefits for veterans with disabilities. Chairman Bob Filner of the Veterans Committee was a driving force behind these bills.
“Landmark legislation–the new, bipartisan GI Bill. We gathered on the steps on the other side of the Capitol a few weeks ago, where we heard from Congressman Harry Mitchell of Arizona, the lead sponsor of the GI Bill in the House. We had a demonstration there with bipartisan support in both Houses of Congress for that legislation. With all of the major veterans' organizations supporting the new GI Bill, we urge the President to sign this critical legislation.
“We also created the Wounded Warrior Program to place veterans in jobs with Members of Congress, Committees, Leadership offices, and in support services for those who wish to continue in public service. Retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Patricia Orsini is leading the Wounded Warrior Program in the House.
“And today, the House will pass a budget for the coming year that provides $48 billion for veterans' health care and services and has the strong support of major veterans groups.
“Our pledge to meet the needs of our veterans is about redeeming a promise made by an American president long ago in the midst of our nation's bloodiest war. In his Second Inaugural Address, President Lincoln promised that our nation would '…care for him who shall have borne the battle, his widow, and his orphan…'
“We are keeping that promise to America's veterans. On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. And when they come home, the New Direction Congress pledges to leave no veteran behind.”