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Pelosi Stresses Veterans’ Benefits During Recess

Fire drills in government buildings are the big news on the Hill this week as Congressional leaders spend the Memorial Day recess fundraising and getting reacquainted with their constituents.

Before leaving for the break, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she would be “doing some politics” around her home state but mostly putting in time with constituents in her San Francisco district.

Pelosi will also attend fundraisers in San Francisco and Silicon Valley toward the end of the week.

Otherwise, the Speaker’s recess message revolved around what Democrats have done for veterans.

On Wednesday, Pelosi blasted President Bush for bringing “cynicism to what should be an occasion of great pride” after the president’s remarks at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

During his speech, Bush compared the valor of U.S. soldiers in Iraq to those who fought in World War II. But, as Pelosi pointed out, Bush continues to oppose expanding GI benefits for returning soldiers, despite such legislation overwhelmingly passing the House and Senate this month.

Support for a new GI Bill “will welcome home our returning heroes by sending them to college and makes them part of a new economic recovery, just as the Greatest Generation was after World War II,” she said.

On Wednesday, Pelosi planned to sit down with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle to discuss Democrats’ accomplishments, especially related to veterans. The Speaker intended to tout two bills that cleared the House just before the break: a measure to beef up GI benefits and a bill that provides about $2 billion in tax breaks for veterans.

Later Wednesday, Pelosi teamed up with House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) for a tour of the San Francisco VA Medical Center, where they met with patients.

On Friday, Pelosi will meet with the San Francisco-based Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit group that provides resources to homeless and low-income veterans in the region. The Speaker will likely tout the recently enacted farm bill, which deals with food prices and the role of food banks in providing for needy families.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is keeping a schedule that is “pretty much political,” according to a GOP aide.

Boehner will be in Cleveland on Wednesday night, and then in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, to attend fundraisers for his campaign committee. Also Thursday, Boehner will speak to Republican state legislators.

On Friday, the Minority Leader will attend a fundraiser for Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio).

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