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Pelosi Ties Jobs to Veterans in American Legion Speech

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to tie Democrats’ latest jobs initiative to veterans in a speech Wednesday before the American Legion in Milwaukee.

Unlike Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who addressed the American Legion on Tuesday, the California Democrat avoided discussions of the controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in her speech, instead focusing on the need to care for soldiers and veterans and their families. Part of that, she said, was making sure they can get jobs when they come home.

“We will put veterans to work with our ‘Make It in America’ economic strategy,” Pelosi said. Pelosi likened the Make It in America package, which consists of legislation aimed at boosting manufacturing, to President Dwight Eisenhower’s building of the interstate highway system in the 1950s.

Eisenhower’s decision “created an enormous amount of jobs,” Pelosi said. “Just think of where we would be as a country if we had not invested.”

And, she said, the eroding manufacturing base in the country is a national security issue.

“We have a challenge now to invest in our infrastructure, which will create jobs in America,” she said.

Pelosi’s comments come as Democrats are under fire with unemployment staying high heading into the midterm elections.

Pelosi also touted a laundry list of legislation passed since she took the gavel in 2007 that have beefed up veterans’ benefits, including a massive increase in education aid, which now can pass to spouses and children of soldiers. She highlighted a bill that will ensure that the children of soldiers killed in action get the college aid their parent earned, as well as the passage of the largest increase in veterans’ funding in history and a quadrupling of travel reimbursements for veterans traveling to Veterans Affairs facilities, among other items.

She told the American Legion to take pride in those accomplishments.
“It would not have happened without you,” she said.

Pelosi also repeatedly tied her support for veterans to personal stories — including her father’s construction of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore when he was mayor and the veterans in her own family, including four brothers, a nephew and an uncle who died in the Battle of the Bulge.

She recalled one of her earliest childhood memories was of V-J Day, when a man dressed as Uncle Sam rode a white horse through Little Italy in Baltimore. It was “the first time I saw people laughing and crying at the same time,” she said.