Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Members of Congress held a roundtable discussion with leaders of veterans and military service organizations today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Leader's opening remarks:
" The last time we met, two of the issues that were very prominently presented as priorities were the issue of jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs and then the issue of ownership and equity and small businesses. And our men and women in the military know how to lead. They want to lead in creating small businesses, having ownership, creating jobs for others.
"As you know, the President has put forth some of his jobs proposals, which we will discuss, and we have, shall we say, emphasized further beyond his proposals the importance of the ownership part of this. I took the liberty of telling the President what you told me, it's not only about jobs but it's about ownership of veterans, ownership, and honoring our veterans' preferences in our federal contracting, and as he has put forth faster pay for contractors and subcontractors.
"So then the other issue that we will talk about, I am sure, is health, and we will talk about, if you wish, what our view is of what's happening at the Supercommittee table and how it may impact our discussions.
"I know that you will hear from Sanford Bishop, who is the Ranking Member, a senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee that has VA proudly in its jurisdiction and Tim Walz, as you know, our highest-ranking enlisted person ever in the history of the country to serve in the Congress of the United States. He'll be right here. He and Mr. Bishop will be responding to some of the concerns you bring up. Our other Members of course, stand ready to be a resource, legislative, intellectually, in any possible way.
"What emerged from our last meeting was that you would come back and have some earlier conversation about jobs. Joe Wynn will be talking to us, from National Association of Black Veterans. We'll hear from Heather Ansley from Vets First, for disabled veterans. And we will be hearing from Brian Hawthorne, Student Veterans of America, to give a brief presentation. Then the floor, of course, will be open as you know.
"I'm trying to take the time now before the other Members get here just to dispense with our preliminary niceties and just tell you how absolutely honored we all are that you are here time and time again as we try to make progress, more and more progress for our veterans, with our motto: On the battlefield, the military leaves no soldier behind; and when they come home, we leave no veteran behind.
"Again, we are trying to make this more about what you have to see then what we have to say. Since the bell hasn't gone off again, I think Mark, would you like to say a few words before you may have to run upstairs? Elected officials, they never turn down the mic."