John Kerry delivered keynote addresses today at three Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) brain trust sessions on health care, education and veterans.
Washington, D.C. – This morning at the Congressional Black Caucus’ 35th annual legislative conference, Senator John Kerry talked about the “real test” posed by Hurricane Katrina and the need for America to move forward – particularly in the areas of health care and education.
“This is the real test of Katrina: Will we be satisfied to only do the immediate: care for the victims and rebuild the city? Or will we be inspired to tackle the incompetence that left us so unprepared, and the societal injustice that left so many of the least fortunate waiting and praying on those rooftops?” Kerry asked.
Kerry delivered the keynote addresses today at three Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) brain trust sessions on health care, education and veterans.
Kerry began the day with Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) at the CBC Health Brain Trust. “The truth is that this week, as a result of Katrina, many children languishing in shelters are getting vaccinations for the first time. Thousands of adults are seeing a doctor after going without a check-up for years. Illnesses lingering long before Katrina will be treated by a health care system that just weeks ago was indifferent. We have to act now to be sure it won’t soon be indifferent again.”
“This nation silently tolerates the injustice of 11 million children and over 30 million adults in desperate need of health care. We tolerate a chasm of race and class some would rather pretend does not exist. And ironically, right in the middle of this crisis the administration quietly admitted that since they took office, six million more of our fellow citizens have fallen into poverty. That’s over five times the evacuated population of New Orleans. Their plight is no less tragic – and no less worthy of our compassion and attention. We must demand something simple and humane: health care for all those in need – in all years, at all times.”
Before Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald’s (D-Calif.) Education Brain Trust, Kerry addressed the challenges America still faces. In his remarks, Kerry said “it’s fitting that we’re here today discussing Brown v. Board of Education the same week that we’re debating a Supreme Court nominee, because we still have so far to go.”
Kerry concluded, “The bottom line is this: when China and India are graduating tens of thousands more engineers and PhDs than we are, America needs to make college education affordable and accessible for every child willing to work for it, and stop making a mockery of the words No Child Left Behind.”
At the conference today, Kerry also said America must also do better by our active duty, Guard and Reserve troops who are serving at home and abroad, as well as our military veterans. At Rep. Corrine Brown’s (D-Fla.) Veterans Brain Trust, Kerry said that this administration has too often reserved compassion when it comes to America’s veterans.
“To me, the first definition of patriotism is keeping faith with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. Young men and women are still being sent into harm’s way without body armor. They return home to a VA under-funded by $1 billion. Truly supporting our troops requires that we act not just as individuals, but as a nation. We owe our troops the opportunity to serve in the best-planned, best-equipped and best-led military force in the world, and we owe them the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they and their families will be taken care of if they sacrifice life, limb or the ability to sleep without war’s nightmares,” Kerry said.
“Our troops and veterans deserve more than our thanks and best wishes. They deserve action in our nation’s capital,” added Kerry.