Political Headlines March 18, 2013: President Barack Obama Nominates Cathy Russell as New Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Nominates New Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-18-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama has announced that Dr. Jill Biden’s chief of staff, Cathy Russell, will be his nominee for the ambassador at large for global women’s issues. Russell is a longtime Biden staffer and the wife of Obama’s National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon.

Dr. Biden released a statement following the president’s announcement Monday:

“We are so grateful for all of Cathy’s hard work and can’t imagine a better choice to be our next Ambassador to work on the most pressing issues faced by women and girls around the globe. Through the more than 25 years we have known Cathy, she has made a tremendous difference in the fight to promote gender equality and advance the status of women and girls, helped raise awareness about the issues critical to military families through Joining Forces, and strengthened the role community colleges play in creating the workforce of the future. We will miss Cathy, but know that she will make a real difference in the lives of women and girls throughout the world in her new role.” 

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Full Text Obama Presidency March 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Women’s History Month Reception

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Hosts a Celebration of Women’s History Month at the White House

Source: WH, 3-18-13

President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama and Amanda McMillan at the Women’s History Month reception, March 18, 2013.President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Women’s History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. Standing at right are First Lady Michelle Obama and Amanda McMillan, who introduced the President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama today welcomed a group of accomplished and inspiring women to a reception in the East Room of the White House. The group, which included leaders like A&E Networks CEO Abbe Raven, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Girl Scouts’ CEO Anna Maria Chávez, astronaut Sunita Williams, activists Dolores Huerta and Lilly Ledbetter, and WNBA star (and 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist) Tamika Catchings, joined the President, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to celebrate the progress women make in this country each and every day. President Obama highlighted the changes we’ve seen in the past century….READ MORE

Remarks By The President at Women’s History Month Reception

The East Room

East Room

5:04 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  And can everybody please give Amanda another big round of applause?  (Applause.)  It seems to me she would be pretty good at sales.  (Laughter.)  I was sold just listening to her right there.

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story, the wonderful introduction. It is an honor to welcome all of you here to the White House.

Now, let’s be clear, I am used to being surrounded every day by talented, accomplished women — (applause) — from all the meetings I have in the West Wing to the dinner table with Michelle, Malia and Sasha. (Laughter.) But I have to say, even for somebody who is accustomed to it, this is a pretty exceptional group that I’m looking around here.

We’ve got business leaders like Abbe Raven, CEO of the A&E Networks.  (Applause.)  There she is right there. We’ve got activists like Dolores Huerta and Lilly Ledbetter.  (Applause.)  All-star athletes like Tamika Catchings.  (Applause.)  And outstanding public servants from Congress and my administration, including Valerie Jarrett, who serves as our chair of the Council for Women and Girls here at the White House.  (Applause.)

And when I look around this room, it is hard to believe that 100 years ago this month, thousands of women were marching right outside this house demanding one of our most fundamental right:  the right to vote, to have a say in our democracy.  And today, a century later, its rooms are full of accomplished women who have overcome discrimination, shattered glass ceilings, and become outstanding role models for all of our sons and daughters. And that means we’ve come a long way, and that’s thanks to the efforts of so many people like you.

Because of the hard work and exemplary leadership of the women in this room, military families have protected family and medical leave.  Women have legal recourse to fight against pay discrimination, as Amanda took advantage of.  Women have the opportunity to serve on the front lines of our military conflicts, and that means that they’re getting paid and promoted equally.  Women have the opportunity to make their own choices about their health.

We’re also seeing expanded opportunity for women to reach their full potential all around the world.  That’s in large part because four years ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — (applause) — a tireless advocate for women herself, designated an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues whose sole job it is to make sure that women and girls are a central part of every aspect of our foreign policy, that their concerns are considered at the highest level of our diplomatic decision-making.

For four years, the incredible Melanne Verveer held that role.  (Applause.)  Where is Melanne?  Is she here?  All right, well, she’s incredible.  Take my word for it.  (Laughter.)  We’re so grateful for her service, along with the millions of women around the world that she helped to amplify and helped to fight alongside on the causes that are so important.  But with Melanne leaving on, we’ve got some big shoes to fill.  So today, I am very pleased to announce that I will be nominating Cathy Russell as our next Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.  (Applause.)

Cathy is a longtime advocate for women, for justice, for fairness. She’s worked on preventing violence against women here and around the world. Throughout my first term, she’s served as chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden.  (Applause.)  She’s worked tirelessly alongside Michelle and Jill to make sure that our military families get every single benefit and bit of assistance that they so richly deserve and have earned.  I’m certain that Jill will miss Cathy, but I know she joins me in saying that we could not be prouder of Cathy’s hard work and her advocacy.  And we know that she’s going to be a powerful voice on behalf of women and girls around the world.  So thank you, Cathy, for your continued service.  (Applause.)

It’s women like Cathy, like Jill, like Amanda, like Michelle, like all of you, that inspire so much progress each and every day.  And I’ve got to tell you, all of you inspire me to make sure that I’m doing everything that I can as President to carry on that progress, and to do everything we can to ensure equality and opportunity for all women.

Just last week, I was proud to sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act -– (applause) — a law, by the way, that Cathy helped to make possible in the first place, securing for women the protections and the services to help them live their lives free from fear of violence and free to pursue their own measure of happiness.

And that’s what everybody deserves in this country -– the opportunity to make of their lives what they will, no matter who they are, what they look like, whether they are boys or girls, women or men.  That’s why I ran for President in the first place –- to put the same rights and opportunities within the reach of all of our daughters and sons.  And while there’s still a lot of work to be done, I am confident that we can reach that goal, that we can make sure that every single door is open, every dream is within reach — for Malia, for Sasha, for your daughters, for your granddaughters — to make sure that they never feel like there are barriers in front of them, and that if they work hard, they can make it.

So I want to thank all of you for your incredible advocacy.  I could not be prouder of you.  I’m glad that you had a chance to join us.  I understand that we had some great panels earlier today, and I expect this conversation and, more importantly, the work will continue for many years to come.

So thank you very much, everybody.  Enjoy the reception.  (Applause.)

END                5:15 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines March 18, 2013: RNC Republican National Committee’s Releases Review of 2012 Presidential Campaign in “Growth and Opportunity Project” Report

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

RNC Completes Report on 2012 Loss

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-18-13

Growth and Opportunity Project Report

In what they called the “most comprehensive post-election review” ever made of an electoral loss, the Republican National Committee and a group of project co-chairs unveiled a report Monday saying that they need to open their playbook and put their “cards on the table face up” in order to win presidential elections in the future.

While unveiling the 100-page report at the National Press Club, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said he wanted the report, or autopsy, to be “honest” and “raw,” stressing the message of inclusion to Americans who might not be on board with all the party’s policies….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 18, 2013: ABC News / Washington Post Poll Tracks Dramatic Rise in Support for Gay Marriage

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Poll Tracks Dramatic Rise in Support for Gay Marriage

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-18-13

Langer Research Associates

Support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade. Fifty-eight percent of Americans now say it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed….READ MORE

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

Political Headlines March 18, 2013: President Barack Obama Nominates Thomas Perez for Labor Secretary

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Nominates Thomas Perez for Labor Secretary

Source: ABC  News Radio, 3-18-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama on Monday nominated Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez to be the next secretary of labor, calling him a “consensus-builder” who “reminds us of this country’s promise.”

Announcing his nomination in the East Room of the White House, Obama said Perez embodies the notion that “if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is — you can make it if you try.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 18, 2013: Hillary Clinton Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Hillary Clinton Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

Source: NYT, 3-18-13

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate, said in a video posted on the Internet Monday that “gay rights are human rights.’’…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Announcing the Nomination of Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Nominates Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor

Source: WH, 3-18-13

President Barack Obama announces Thomas Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013.  Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama today announced that he has chosen Thomas Perez, the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to be the next Secretary of Labor. Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the President introduced Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants and a lawyer who helped pay his way through college by working as a garbage collector, to the American people….READ MORE

Remarks by the President Announcing the Nomination of Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor

Source: WH, 3-18-13 

East Room

11:47 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Everybody have a seat.  Have a seat.  As I’ve said before, my top priority as President is doing everything we need to do to make sure that we’re growing our economy and that we’re strengthening our middle class.  And as I said in my State of the Union address last month, every day we should be asking ourselves three questions.  One — how do we make sure America is a magnet for good jobs?  Number two — how do we equip people with the skills they need to get those jobs?  And number three — how do we make sure that hard work actually pays off in a decent living?

These are the challenges that I’ve instructed my team here at the White House and in my entire Cabinet to focus on.  And a position that’s instrumental to tackling these challenges is having an outstanding Secretary of Labor.

So I want to begin by thanking Hilda Solis and her entire team — (applause) — including Acting Secretary Seth Harris — (applause) — for the outstanding work that they’ve been doing over the past four years.  Their efforts at the Department of Labor have given more young people a chance to earn new skills, more returning vets the chance to find a job.  They’ve looked out for worker safety from construction sites to coal mines.  They’ve stood up for workers’ rights to organize, women’s rights to get paid equally for the work that they do.  They’ve done an extraordinary job fighting on behalf of working families across the board.

And today, I’m proud to nominate a leader to carry on those efforts as America’s next Secretary of Labor — Tom Perez.  (Applause.)

Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of opportunity.  He is the son of Dominican immigrants.  He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse.  He went on to become the first lawyer in his family.  So his story reminds us of this country’s promise, that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is — you can make it if you try.

And Tom has made protecting that promise — for everybody  — the cause of his life.  As a civil rights attorney, an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy, a member of the Montgomery, Maryland County Council, Tom fought for a level playing field where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and working families can get ahead.

And this is not the first time that he’s chosen to be a labor secretary, either.  We’ve got here today Governor Martin O’Malley, and Martin appointed Tom as Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, where he helped implement the country’s first statewide living-wage law, because he understood that a minimum wage should be a wage that you can live on.

In his current role as the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Tom has fought to open pathways into the workforce for everyone willing to contribute, including people with disabilities, LGBT Americans, and immigrants.  And he has helped settle some of the largest cases ever on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending.

Now, while he’s tackled plenty of tough issues, Tom has also spent a career as a consensus-builder.  He’s worked with CEOs, he’s worked with labor leaders.  He’s worked at federal, state, and local government levels.  And throughout, he understands that our economy works best when the middle class and those working to get into the middle class have the security they need on the job, a democratic voice in the workplace, everybody playing by the same set of rules.

So Tom’s knowledge and experience will make him an outstanding Secretary of Labor.  And there’s plenty of work to do.  We’re going to have to work very hard to make sure that folks find jobs with good wages and good benefits.  We’ve got to make sure that our veterans who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have a chance to put their incredible skills and leadership to work at home.  We need to build an immigration system that works for every employee and every family and every business.  I’m confident that Tom is going to be able to work to promote economic growth, but also make sure that that growth is broad-based.  And he’s going to be an integral part of our overall economic team.

So these are just a few of the many challenges working families out there are facing and where they need an advocate, and Tom is the right person for that job.  So I hope that the Senate will act swiftly to confirm Tom so we can work together to address all these concerns.  I want to thank not only Tom but his wonderful family for agreeing to take on this new role.  I just heard that Tom has been coaching basketball and baseball.  He doesn’t claim to be a great coach — (laughter) — but he brings passion to it.  He may end up missing a few of the games over the next several months, but it’s going to be for a good cause.  And I appreciate his family being willing to make these sacrifices as well.

So with that, I would like to introduce my nominee to be our next Secretary of Labor, give him a chance to say a few words.  And, again, I’d urge the Senate to confirm him as quickly as possible.

Mr. Tom Perez.  (Applause.)

MR. PEREZ:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Mr. President, for your confidence in me.  (Speaks in Spanish.)  It is a remarkably humbling and exciting phenomenon to be here today.

My parents taught my four siblings and me to work hard, to give back to our community, and to make sure that the ladder of opportunity was there for those coming after us.  Over my career, I’ve learned that true progress is possible if you keep an open mind, listen to all sides, and focus on results.  I look forward to taking these lessons with me, if confirmed, to my new role as Secretary of the Department of Labor.

As you well know, our nation still faces critical economic challenges, and the Department’s mission is as important as ever.  I am confident that together with our partners in organized labor, the business community, grassroots communities, Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike, we can keep making progress for all working families.

In the coming weeks, as the confirmation process unfolds, I look forward to meeting with senators of both parties to discuss the Labor Department’s key role — protecting and growing the middle class.

I’ll close again, Mr. President, by thanking you once again for this tremendous opportunity.  (Speaks in Spanish.)  I look forward to this opportunity to continue serving our nation.

Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

END
11:55 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 18, 2013: President Barack Obama & Prime Minister Taoiseach Kenny of Ireland Remarks Before a Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Reaffirming the Incredible Bond Between the United States and Ireland

Source: WH, 3-18-13

President Barack Obama welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland and the Irish delegation to the Oval OfficePresident Barack Obama welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland and the Irish delegation to the Oval Office, March 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama held a bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the White House before the two leaders traveled to the Capitol for a St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon.

In their Oval Office meeting — the fifth since President Obama took office — the President and Taosiseach reaffirmed the incredible bond between the United States and Ireland….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland Before a Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 3-18-13 

Oval Office

10:41 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is a great pleasure to welcome back Taoiseach Kenny to the Oval Office, to the White House and his entire delegation.  Obviously, we cherish this opportunity once a year to reaffirm the incredible bond between the United States and Ireland.  This year, it also gives us an excuse to stretch out St. Patrick’s Day for a couple of extra days, which is always good.

This is now my fifth time to welcome the Taoiseach to the Oval Office.  I’ve had the occasion to visit Ireland as well — one of the truly wonderful trips that I’ve taken as President of the United States.  And the reason that these meetings go so well is because of the incredible bond and history between our two countries.

Obviously, the contributions of Irish Americans to the United States is legendary.  But what is also true is that we have an incredibly strong partnership on economic issues, on security issues.  The Taoiseach has shown great leadership during difficult times in Ireland.  And we’re seeing progress in the Irish economy.  That’s good for the U.S. economy because we have a lot of trade, a lot of investment in Ireland.

There was a story this morning about a deal between Ryanair and Boeing in which we’ll be selling a whole lot of airplanes to Ireland.  And it’s an example of how the progress that’s made in Ireland benefits jobs and businesses here in the United States.  Obviously, the Taoiseach is very interested, as well as in continuing to attract direct investment from the United States to Ireland.  So this will be a major topic of discussion.

Ireland also punches above its weight internationally when it comes to humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping.  Irish troops are in many very difficult places in the world and provide the kinds of stabilization and humanitarian efforts that make all the difference and save lives.

And so I am very much looking forward to having a good conversation.  I’m sure we will also touch on the issue of Northern Ireland in which we have continued to see progress coming out of the Good Friday agreements, but we also have to recognize that there’s a lot more work to be done before there’s true unity of effort in that country.  And I know that both in discussions with the Taoiseach as well as in talking to the ministers who are here from Northern Ireland, we’ll have an opportunity to find out how the United States can be helpful in that overall effort as well.

So, again, Taoiseach, I want to welcome you.  Thank you for giving me an excuse to break out my green tie.  (Laughter.)  And I’m sure that we’ll have a wonderful lunch up on Capitol Hill and once again be able to reaffirm the incredible friendship between our peoples.

PRIME MINISTER KENNY:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Could I to say that it’s a particular privilege to be able to come here to the White House to visit President Obama to continue this wonderful tradition that the American government over the years has shown to Ireland because of the particular and unique relationship between our countries covering many centuries.

I come here both as Taoiseach, but also as the presidency of the European Union.  I suppose I should say this because I’ll never get the chance again, it’s great to be on presidential terms here.  (Laughter.)  The President of the United States, an Irishman, and the President of Europe, an Irishman, meeting in the Oval Office.  (Laughter.)

But I would like to say seriously, it’s an opportunity for me to brief the President on the progress being made in challenging times for the Irish government, following a very clear and strategic plan.  It’s also an opportunity to brief the President on issues of the European Union and the progress being made by the European Council, with particular reference to the EU-U.S. trade — participation and free trade, to which the President referred in his State of the Union address.  I’d like to follow that through with him.  Also, to brief the President on opportunities in respect of Northern Ireland, immigration — undocumented Irish — and, of course, the general perspectives both for the world economy.  And as the President is moving to the Middle East this evening, I can give him an update on the recent meeting and discussion that the European Council held there.

Besides, it’s a real opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Week.  I have a second tie for the President, if he so wishes.  And, of course, there is a standing open invitation to President Obama to come back to Ireland whenever is convenient and appropriate and when he so wishes.  And maybe the next time, when our economies are moving in a more positive direction, we might actually have time to take out the sticks on the golf course.  I’m looking forward to that sometime in the future.

So to First Lady Michelle, the children, Malia and Sasha, we wish the President continued success and good fortune in the very onerous responsibilities that he lay up on his shoulders as the leader of the free world.  And it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be in the Oval Office.

END
10:46 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 18, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at Champions of Change Women’s Veterans Event

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at Champions of Change Women’s Veterans Event

Source: WH, 3-18-13 

Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, D.C.

11:39 A.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Hello!  (Applause.)  Good afternoon — morning.  It’s still morning.  How is everyone?  You all, rest yourselves.  (Laughter.)  I hear we’ve been keeping you pretty busy, right?

Well, I’m really thrilled to be here.  I am just delighted to have the opportunity to stop by and say hello, and to add my thanks to the many thanks.  But I want to start by thanking Secretary Shinseki, not just for his kind introduction but for his stalwart service to this country.  And also, when — I hear Patty is here, too.  Patty — there is Patty Shinseki, who has been with you.  I want to thank you for joining us today, and for all that you’ve done as a partner, with Jill and I, through Joining Forces.  It’s wonderful to see you, as well as everyone here from the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, for the exceptional work that they do every day for women’s veterans.

And, of course, I want to recognize the 14 extraordinary women we’re honoring as our Champions of Change.  I had an opportunity to take some quick photos and meet Joshua over there, who is — (laughter) — he’s riveted by today’s proceedings.  (Laughter.)

And I want to thank every single woman in this room who has worn our country’s uniform.  And I know there are a few men here, so I don’t want you to think I’m ignoring you, but this is really not about you today.  (Laughter.)  Not at all.  But you look — you all look good.  You dressed up for your respective people.  You’re not embarrassing anyone, which is good.  (Laughter.)

But to our women veterans, you all are part of a long line of women who have broken barriers and defied expectations and served this country with unparalleled courage and determination.  You’ve been on the front lines, often in the line of fire.  And generation after generation, women like you have proven that you not only serve alongside men — you lead them, as well.  Let’s just take a moment.  (Laughter.)  Whether you’re in combat or aboard a submarine or anywhere else service takes you, you’re doing the job, and you’re doing it with grace and poise and dignity.

And the beautiful thing about our veterans — and this is especially true for our women veterans — is that long after you stop serving this country, you don’t stop serving it after you hang up your uniforms.  And that’s something that we say all the time about our veterans.  It’s important for the nation to understand that you all keep working.  You make me tired — (laughter) — but you keep doing it.

You are the leaders in our businesses and schools in our communities.  You’re mothers raising your kids with that same sense of honor that defines your own lives every single day.  You’re volunteers in your neighborhoods, on the PTA, your houses of worship, always finding ways to keep lifting folks up.

And the 14 women we’re celebrating today are truly the living embodiment of that spirit of service.  They’re helping women veterans and military families start their own businesses.  They’re fighting to promote gender equality in the military.  They’re working to end homelessness and domestic violence and sexual assault.

One of our honorees, Marsha Four, a former Army nurse in Vietnam, founded a transitional housing residence for homeless vets.  She started another program specifically for homeless women’s veterans.  And she says she does it — and these are her words — she says, “When I die, I will know that I have spent some of my time here on Earth in a very important way; that I was part of something bigger than me.”  Yes, we all nod to that.

Being part of something bigger than ourselves — that is the common thread that connects our 14 honorees, and, quite frankly, everyone in this room.  And Dr. Jill Biden and I have seen all of this occurring all across this country.  That is the thread that connects all our nation’s veterans and our military families.

And through Joining Forces, Jill and I, we are determined to match that extraordinary service with some extraordinary service of our own.  We’re determined to ensure that all of our veterans and military families get the benefits, support and respect that they have earned and that they deserve.

And this mission is particularly urgent today — I spoke of this last week.  With the Iraq war now — is over, and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, hundreds of thousands of veterans, particularly our women veterans, are going to be looking for work and are looking for work.  Right now, we have so many talented, highly skilled veterans who have so much to offer this country.  And they’re going to need that opportunity to make that happen.  We need that service operating here at home.

And that’s why, last week, I went to the Business Roundtable to speak with CEOs from 80 of our nation’s leading businesses — companies like Walmart, and JPMorgan Chase, and UPS.  And at that meeting, I challenged them.  I challenged some of the biggest countries [companies] in this nation to hire and train even more of our veterans and military spouses in the coming years as the needs increase.

And this kind of challenge and call to action is really just one part of a much bigger effort by this administration to ensure that our veterans have access to the jobs they need and deserve when they return home.  For example, over the past few years, my husband has made tax credits available to any business hiring an unemployed veteran or wounded warrior.  We’ve also been working to help our troops translate their skills into civilian résumés and match them with careers that suit their experiences.

We’ve created an online jobs bank, and we’re connecting companies across America to veterans in local communities through our American Job Centers that have been created.  And we’re also working to streamline the credentialing processes so it’s easier for military truck drivers and welders and machinists and medics to earn the certifications they need here at home so that they can get jobs and they’re not bogged down in paperwork trying to make that happen.

And I have said this before, but this work couldn’t be more urgent.  With so many women hanging up their uniforms and looking for that next mission — because that’s what you all are doing; you’re just transitioning missions — we know that right now is the time when you need us most.  And that’s what we’ve been talking to this nation about — because everyone is grateful.  We live in a grateful nation.  People respect and value your service, but now is the time when we’ve got to step up on your behalf.

We know that right now, as this transitioning is happening for so many veterans, this is the time when they’re feeling whether or not this country is truly there for them right at that transition point.  Now is the time.

So I just want you all to know that I’m not going to stop working, Jill is not going to stop working, my husband and the Vice President, we are not going to stop working until all of our veterans and all of their families feel the support of our entire country.  And we’ve got work to do.  (Applause.)

Because here is the thing about our veterans — every time this country has issued a call, our veterans and our women veterans in uniform have answered it.  And — absolutely.  (Applause.)  And as the 14 women we honor today remind us, they continue to answer that call as veterans every single day in our communities.  And it is my hope that as Americans, the rest of us will step up to meet that example — to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and to serve all of you as well as you’ve served us.

But here’s the good news — through Joining Forces, there has never been a “no.”  There isn’t a request that we have made, a challenge that we’ve issued that this country, from every sector — private, non-profit, businesses, our houses of worship — people are ready and willing to answer the call for you.  And I think that’s so important for you to know, because there are times that you don’t feel the gratefulness of this nation, but it is there.  It is truly there.

There is more work to do.  There are more challenges to meet.  But as you go through the process and you come across young veterans transitioning, it’s important for them to know that they’re not alone.  We’re going to get it right, and we’re going to keep working hard.  And we are so grateful, and so proud.

This is one of the best things I do every single day, is work with our servicemembers, our veterans and their tremendous families.  Because none of you, I know, could do what you do without somebody having your back.  And that’s usually a spouse, or a son, or a daughter, or someone else who has sacrificed tremendously so that you could serve.  And I know a little bit about that.  (Laughter and applause.)

So thank you to our Champions of Change.  As I told them, just don’t get tired.  We still need you.  And to all of our veterans, not just in this room but all across this country, we are proud of you.  We are grateful.  And we’re going to keep working.  Just keep working for our nation, because we still need you.

Thank you for being here.  God bless.  Take care.

END
11:50 A.M. EDT

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