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Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Congress to Mark Change With 100 Hour Agenda

In the three weeks before President Bush's State of the Union address, the new Congress will put down a clear marker that the conservative era is over, according to Campaign forAmerica's Future co-director Robert Borosage.

Meanwhile, the new Senate majority leader today called for bipartisan change on Capitol Hill.

"Common sense is no longer exiled from the nation's capital," says Borosage. "Much will take place in first 100 hours, before the beleaguered president gives his State of the Union address. The slim new Democratic majority in the House will demonstrate that they heard what voters were saying. They will take immediate steps to clean up Washington, and turn the agenda from the dictates of corporate lobbies to the concerns that Americans worry about over their kitchen tables at night."

Borosage notes that the measures in the 100 hour agenda are a down payment before the Congress turns to the staggering challenges facing the United States -- unsustainable global deficits, broken health care system, utter budget mess and the debacle in Iraq.

"These measures represent a dramatic turn from the Congress of Tom DeLay, where none of this legislation would have been allowed to come to a vote," says Borosage.

Nicknamed "The Hammer," DeLay was, before his resignation from Congress last year amid an investigation, the fiercely partisan Republican majority leader who helped tightly steer the House agenda for the GOP.

Borosage also says that progressives should support this effort, not scorn it, by mobilizing to hold their legislators accountable.

"Once these measures pass the House, we should be putting real pressure to get them through the Senate, where the corporate lobbies are already concentrating their forces, certain that delay, diversion and dollars can frustrate common sense reform," says Borosage. "This is a fight worth having. After years of folly, this 100 hour agenda will mark a stark change from conservative misrule."

Voters will expect results from members of both political parties, according to Sen. Harry Reid, who today officially began as Senate leader.

"Last November, the voters sent us a message -- Democrats and Republicans. The voters are upset with Congress and the partisan gridlock. The voters want a government that focuses on their needs. The voters want change." Reid said on the Senate floor. "Together, we must deliver that change. No longer can we waste time here in the Capitol, while families in America struggle to get ahead. No longer can we afford to pass the problems of today to Congresses of tomorrow.

"From keeping families safe to raising the minimum wage to instituting new ethical reforms, we can -- and must --get to work. As the new Congress begins, the challenges facing America are complex," Reid says. "They range from an intractable war in Iraq to a health care crisis here at home, from a middle class that is squeezed to an energy policy that is warming our globe, from a higher education system that has exploded in cost to jobs with benefits that have disappeared. We can make a difference in each of these areas if we remember we are here to fight for our country, not to fight each other."

Reid says change is possible on a bipartisan basis.

"The majority my party holds is slim -- 51-49. Some may look at thiscomposition as a recipe for gridlock, but I see it as a unique opportunity-- an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to debate our differences and seek common ground. We must turn the page on partisanship, and usher in a new era of bipartisan progress," he says.

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