Here’s the video and transcript of President Donald Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin at a listening session on veterans’ affairs the White House Roosevelt Room on Friday, March 17, 2017. The complete text and replay are below.
Remarks by President Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin at Veterans Affairs Listening Session
10:31 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: A special group of people. Very special to me, very important. And I want to thank you all for being here and for your work on behalf of our nation’s veterans, our great, great people, our veterans.
We’re all united by a very common mission: We will protect those who protect us. I’ve been saying that a lot over the last two years at rallies and speeches. We will protect those who protect us, and that’s just starting, because I think the veterans have not been treated fairly. And David and a group of brilliant, brilliant doctors and businessmen are forming a board, and you’ve got the most talented people that I’ve ever seen working with you. This is — no more games going to be played at the VA.
And I want to thank David, your Secretary — your new Secretary, who’s going to be so outstanding. I think he actually passed 100 to nothing. When I heard that vote I said, where did that come from? A hundred to nothing, right? Passed 100 to nothing — for bringing your vision, experience and determination to the crucial task of reforming the VA and ensuring care for our returning heroes and warriors.
And tonight I’m having a major meeting with some of the people that we put on a board. Ike Perlmutter is an amazing man — Marvel — is one of the great, great businessmen of our time, and others — we’re having a meeting tonight at what we call affectionately the Southern White House. Seems to be the most convenient location. Everybody always wants to go to the Southern White House. So are you going to be at that meeting? You heard about it, right? It’s going to be great — all about the VA.
The VA’s mission statement is engraved in the plaques outside its headquarters. It reads: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.” And that was stated by Abraham Lincoln. That was Lincoln’s pledge — called Lincoln’s pledge. But for too many veterans, this hasn’t been their experience at all. We’ve been reading horrible stories over the years, and already, David, I’m hearing it’s getting much better. A lot of improvements are being made and it’s going to change. And under my administration, it will change — very important to me.
During my campaign, I outlined a detailed plan to reforming veterans’ care throughout the country, and we’re working to put that plan into effect. And it’s moving, I think I can, honestly, ahead of schedule.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will not accept substandard service for our great veterans. Every member of our government is expected to do their utmost to ensure our veterans have the care that they’re so entitled to — maybe more entitled to than anybody. And that hasn’t been the way they were treated. But it is the way they’re going to be treated.
So again, I want to thank you all for being here. It’s a great honor. And maybe I’ll ask David just to say a few words.
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Sure. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Mr. Vice President. I wanted to let you know the people in this room are some of the most dedicated, passionate people advocating for our veterans. And they are our partners in this quest to transform VA. And we really are so grateful that they’re here with us standing as partners.
I also want to thank you, Mr. President, for the budget. I think that you’ve honored your commitment to showing that this country cares about the veterans, and you’ve given us the ability to make sure that we are able to care for them. I also wanted to tell you that yesterday the House passed an accountability bill, and we’re very, very grateful for Chairman Roe’s leadership and for the House’s leadership in doing that. We’re looking forward to the Senate bringing a bill forward.
And so, I think, as you said, we’re committed to the plan that you outlined during your campaign to making the VA the type of organization that Americans want it to be, and we’re well on our way to do that. So thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s great. And unrelated, we just had a meeting with probably 12 congressmen, and it was an amazing meeting because they were all “nos,” would you say, Mike? They were all “nos” or pretty much “no,” and after 15 minutes — now, in all fairness, not 15 minutes, it was really actually about four or five days, but after 15 minutes, they went from “no” to all “yeses.” So the healthcare looks like it’s going to be in great shape. It’s a great plan. The press doesn’t give it a fair read but I’ve heard that before. What are you going to do — the fake news.
But it’s a great plan or I wouldn’t be involved with it. I wouldn’t be involved. So you have 12 “nos,” and we have rejiggered it and we’ve done some great things, but the “nos” in every single case went to a “yes.” So that was a great honor, and healthcare looks like it’s really happening, and it’s going to great.
Obamacare is dead. Some of you folks have yourself — you have family members that have suffered greatly under Obamacare. It’s dying. It’s just about on its last legs. If we did nothing, if we did absolutely nothing, Obamacare is dead. It will fail. In Tennessee, where I just left, half of the state has no insurance and –no carrier. It’s gone. And they’re going to leave the other half of the state very soon. You have that in many cases. Many states are down to one and they’ll end up with nothing.
So Obamacare is dead. We’re going to come up with a replacement that’s going to be fantastic. We have no support from the Democrats. That’s why it’s a little — we have to go interesting little routes. Instead of just approving it, it has to be approved in pieces, and that’s working out really well. But we just got 12 very, very great people that went from “no” or “maybe” — but “maybe” leaning to “no” — right, Mike? And they all have given me a commitment that they’re voting for our healthcare plan. So that was great.
I want to thank you all for being here, and let’s talk. And the press will leave. Thank you very much.
10:38 P.M. EDT
President Trump’s public schedule for Friday, March 17, 2017 is below (EDT; GMT/UTC – 4)
9:30 a.m. — Meets with the Republican Study Committee
10:00 a.m. — Holds a “listening session” on veterans affairs; Roosevelt Room
11:20 a.m. — Welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel; West Wing Lobby
11:30 a.m. — Meets with Merkel
12:30 p.m. — Leads a roundtable discussion on vocational training with United States and German business leaders; Cabinet room
1:20 p.m. — Holds a joint press conference with Merkel; East Room
1:50 p.m. — Working luncheon with Merkel; State Dining Room
4:00 p.m. — Departs White House
6:25 pm.m. — Arrives West Palm Beach, Florida
Photo credit: screenshot via White House YouTube/Facebook
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