When the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction sits down in the coming weeks to look at ways to cut more than $1 trillion from the federal budget, veterans benefits won't be one of the casualties.
Addressing The American Legion's 93rd National Convention in Minneapolis today, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told convention delegates that the interests of veterans will be protected during the budget crisis.
"In the weeks ahead ... Congress will take up the budget at a table of 12," Pelosi said. "I want The American Legion, and all of America to know - that the values of America's veterans will have a strong presence at that congressional table. I want to assure you that as we reduce the deficit, America's veterans will not be short-changed. Meeting the needs of our veterans ... is a value of the American people that we will protect in those negotiations.
"Supporting our veterans is a bipartisan cause. That's the beautiful part of it. It's a place we can all come together. America's veterans have earned our respect by their actions, their bravery and their valor, their willingness to step forward and serve on our behalf."
Pelosi also touched on the unemployment crisis facing U.S. veterans - including an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent for post-9/11 veterans. "Our work will not be complete until every American who has fought for our country abroad can find a job when they come home," she said. "We must build an economy that welcomes our servicemembers home with an opportunity for a paycheck and a fair shot to succeed. "
Pelosi said one way to create more jobs is to stop exporting them to other countries. "It is a national security issue that we stop the erosion of our manufacturing base in our country," she said. "We must be self-reliant. We cannot defend our country when we are depending on other countries supplying us with the means to produce what we need to defend."