Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Negative Impact of #GOPTaxScam on Veterans
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Senator Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congresswoman Julia Brownley at a press conference with veterans’ advocates to highlight the negative impacts of the #GOPTaxScam on veterans. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being here. I am very honored that we are joined by Senator Duckworth, our former colleague of whom we are very proud and who has been an inspiration to our nation; to be here with Congresswoman Brownley of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. [Congresswoman] Debbie Wasserman Schultz will join us. She is the Ranking Member of the subcommittee of Appropriations that deals with veterans’ affairs – here she is. We may be joined by our colleague [Congressman] Ted Lieu who is a veteran in the Congress.
Our special visitors today are Will Fischer from VoteVets and Will Attig of the Union Veterans Council [at the AFL-CIO]. So you will be hearing from them as we go along here.
We are here to talk about how the GOP tax scam threatens our veterans. In fact, it threatens Americans in every sector in every stage in life in our country from the coasts to the rural heartlands, from newborn children to our seniors, students and teachers, police officers and firefighters, our first responders. Today, we stand with yet another group of Americans hurt by this bill: our heroic veterans, of whom we are very proud.
We owe our veterans everything: home of the brave, land of the free, protect our constitution and way of life. Just as the military leaves no one behind on the battlefield, we leave no veteran behind when they come home.
As you probably know, there are not too many veteran billionaires, so the medium income of a veteran is less than $40,000 a year – we’ll hear from Will Fischer later. When Republicans attack the working class, they attack the veterans who risked everything to serve and save America. When Republicans target Medicaid and food stamps, they are targeting lifelines that millions of veterans rely on. How dare the Republicans vote for deficit-exploding tax breaks for billionaires and then insist that investments in veterans’ health must be paid for – paid for.
We are honored to stand with champions of our veterans who will share their stories of what is at stake in this monstrous tax scam and so, part of our agenda is spoken to by our Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee who can’t be here right now – [Congressman] Tim Walz of Minnesota. He said, ‘This tax plan includes provisions that will specifically harm members of the armed services and veterans to help pay for tax cuts for corporations and ultra-wealthy.’
From our guests today, we will hear about how the tax scam ends the Hire Our Heroes initiative, abandons disabled veterans, makes veterans’ education more expensive and dismantles the SALT.
With that, I’m pleased to yield, again, to our distinguished visitor from the Senate side, formerly of the House. I’m very proud to welcome Senator Duckworth.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much to all our presenters today for putting some facts and figures on this tax scam. It’s the three R’s – when you talk about education for our vets, I think about our three R’s: it robs the future, it rips off the middle class, it rewards the rich and corporate America – all of it at the expense of the American people and our veterans.
As you know, 62 percent of the advantages of the bill go to the top one percent – 78 million middle-class Americans will have their taxes increased under the provisions of this legislation.
But how it affects our veterans really touches the hearts of all Americans because we know the debt that we owe them and it is not a debt that is honored by this legislation. So, thank you Senator Duckworth. Thank you Will Fischer of VoteVets. Thank you Representative Brownley. Thank you Will Attig of Union Veterans Council. Thank you to my colleague [Congresswoman] Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is the top Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that addresses veterans issues in our country – we are well-served by her there.
Q: I have a question on a different subject.
Leader Pelosi. Well, let’s stay with this for now. Any questions on how veterans are affected by this tax bill? Because this is really – almost every category – when you talk about education and higher education and deducting interest on student loans as Senator Duckworth mentioned have to incur – talk about graduate students and initiatives there and how it affects veterans who are graduate students and the rest. You wonder, what could they be thinking?
And you think about disabled veterans of America and how they have spoken out against the provisions in this legislation – you wonder – how hypocritical are [Republicans] talking about honoring our veterans and then doing this in this legislation. So I thank you all for being present.
If there are no questions on this subject – [to Senator Duckworth] I know you have to get back to the Senate, we are honored that you’re here, hugs and kisses to the baby – who is now three years old but still a baby.
Congresswoman Brownley had to go deal with the fires and the provisions – imagine in the bill – if you have lost property in the hurricanes, you get a deduction, if you lost property in the fires, you don’t get a deduction. Maybe that’s what they want to talk to the Californians about – I don’t know.
Q: Two part question – this morning, President Trump tweeted about Senator Gillibrand that has been characterized as sexist and insinuated on her sexuality – do you have any reaction to that? And secondly, hoping you can react to the Mayor’s death in San Francisco – what that means to you personally, what it means as a loss to the city.
Leader Pelosi. You are so very nice to ask about our Mayor [Ed Lee]. Practically in the middle of the night, a call came that our dear Mayor was shopping in the Safeway – 10:30 at night – shopping for groceries, had a heart attack, was rushed to the hospital and died a few hours later. A terrible loss to our city. This is a man who never had an unkind word to say about anyone, nobody ever had an unkind word to say about him.
A person of great values – took pride in being the first Asian-American mayor of San Francisco – took pride in being the mayor of San Francisco – took pride in his beautiful family – who have to be shocked as we all are – of course ever more so – by his loss. Mayor Lee was a person who came to the office ready to get the job done. He was operational. He has served as a community organizer with great pride, he served as the Chief Administration Officer of our City, so he knew the inner workings and he knew how to make the city work for all of our community. It’s a terrible official loss – personally for me it’s a great loss, he was my dear friend and a person who, again, always was thinking of the little guy.
And again, when all of you were talking about the vets, I was thinking about one of his priorities in San Francisco, addressing the issue of homelessness – one of his issues was to eradicate homelessness among veterans – and he made great strides in that direction.
It’s a terrible loss; he was admired not only personally by those who knew him, officially by how he served our city, nationally by other Mayors who recognized his excellence. He will be sorely missed, thank you for asking.
What was your second question?
Q: My second question was on Kirsten Gillibrand –
Leader Pelosi. Do you all allow him to have a second question? Ok.
Leader Pelosi. As I observe the President’s behavior I always think of him as projecting his own behavior onto other people. What he said – why would anyone be surprised? But just when you think you’ve seen it all, he takes it to another limit. I think it was shameful and I feel sad for the country that a President would say such a thing.
Q: I just want to ask you directly, he said, ‘she was begging for campaign contributions and would do anything for them.’ What do you take that to mean and what does that mean to you as a woman who has been the most powerful woman in Washington?
Leader Pelosi. I think what the President said was disgusting, disgraceful and of course obviously not true. But as I said the President’s words were a projection of his own behavior, and he figured that’s how other people operate, because that’s how he operates.
But let’s take it to another place. I’m very proud of our Members who sent a letter to the – what do they call it now, Government Reform Committee? When I was on they called it Government Operations – the Government Reform Committee – asking the Committee to investigation the allegations made against the President and his behavior. I think this is an appropriate action. I doubt the Republicans in Congress will enable such an action to go forward but I wish they would follow the comments of Ambassador [Nikki] Haley, who said the women should be heard. But then women will be heard if they take their case to court as one of them has, and others have supported.
I happened to be – just anecdotally to tell to this story – I happened to be a part of the delegation, House and Senate, Democrat and Republicans, part of the delegation to visit the ceremony for the expansion of NATO. It was in Paris in the 1990s, about 20 years ago. And our way back from Paris to London we visited the new Prime Minister Tony Blair – it was very festive with President [Bill] Clinton, Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton, here we were at 10 Downing Street, here we were at a Cabinet Meeting about to have a Press Conference and word comes to us that the court said that Paula Jones could take the President to court. It was horrible, it was terrible but it happened. And if there are allegations against the President and someone wants to take him to court, there is the law and there is the precedent, that has already happened to a President.
So, I think when the President says he has witnesses to the fact that none of this stuff ever happened, that would be quite a remarkable thing. But, nonetheless, he may have his hand in court to prove that.
Q: And if Democrats retake the House, would you initiate the investigation in the Committee to investigate –
Leader Pelosi. When we win the House we’re going to pass a big jobs bill right away, we’re going to build, build, build. Build the infrastructure of America, build the human infrastructure of America through supporting our veterans and educating our children, building the role of democracy by eliminating the role of money in politics – dark money in politics.
Q: Senator Gillibrand said that the President should resign followed by [inaudible] other Senators. Do you join them in that?
Leader Pelosi. I think there’s a course of action here the Committee should allow the investigation to go forward, the courts should allow the case to go forward and let the due process work its will.
Q: Should he resign?
Leader Pelosi. I don’t think he ever should have been President.
[Laughter] Thank you all very much.
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