Vice President Mike Pence visits Fort McCoy

Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks to military members and their families at Fort McCoy Thursday afternoon. This was his first visit to the Wisconsin military base.

The vice president thanked the soldiers in attendance for all they do to keep our country safe. “We owe a debt of honor and respect to each and every one of you.”

He also thanked the military spouses, children and families for standing behind their loved ones who chose to defend our country.

“This president, vice president, this administration will always fight for the men and women who fight for us. I promise you that,” Pence told the crowd. “The American people are counting on you for the readiness of our military.”

“For 35 years, Fort McCoy has trained more than 100,000 military personnel every single year, from every branch of the service,” Pence said. “To all the men and women who train here, who work here at Fort McCoy, to all the civilian support, let me assure you, your Commander in Chief and I and the American people know that the work you do here is vitally important, vitally important to our national security. And your work here does not go unnoticed.”

Pence also touted the administration’s defense spending. He said budget cuts in previous years made troops less prepared for deployment.

“I’m proud to report to all of you, over the last two years President Trump has taken decisive action to rebuild our military, we’re restoring the arsenal of democracy with the largest increases in our military defense in more than a generation. And we’re grateful for the strong bipartisan support we’ve had in the Congress.”

Speaking to reporters after the address, Pence said the administration will continue to hold VA employees accountable if they do not provide veterans with the healthcare they need. While some improvements in providing healthcare for service members have been made, like the Veterans Choice Program, the vice president said more work needed to be done.

Pence also talked about the military’s importance in defeating ISIS. “We’re standing with our allies and standing up to our enemies.”

“Thanks to the courage of our armed forces, two months ago the last inch controlled by the Islamic State in Syria was liberated.”

Earlier in the day, Pence took part in a roundtable discussion with business leaders in Eau Claire.

It was part of his promotional tour for the new North American trade agreement by telling workers at a factory that U.S. manufacturing will blossom with a new deal.

Pence spoke at a family-owned business in Eau Claire that creates ventilation systems for agriculture.

He told about 100 people gathered at J&D Manufacturing that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, would “level the playing field” and Congress should pass it this year.

Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, said he thinks the USMCA will improve the state’s manufacturing economy and help mitigate the harm done by tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Pence is encouraging Senator Tammy Baldwin and Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind, both Democrats, to support the agreement. Kind has said previously that he has serious questions about the agreement, including the enforcement of labor standards and lifting of tariffs.

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