With New Congressional Majority, Should Democrats Focus on Domestic Agenda as Bush Escalates Iraq War?
Friday, January 5th, 2007http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/05/1539243
On the opening day of the 110th Congress, the Democrats took control of the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years. The Democrats have outlined an ambitious domestic agenda for its first 100 hours in power, including raising the minimum wage and negotiating lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. Peace activists are criticizing the Democrats for not focusing on Iraq amid the Bush administration’s plans for a troop surge. We host a debate between peace mom Cindy Sheehan and Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. [includes rush transcript - partial]
In Washington, Nancy Pelosi was elected Thursday to be the country’s first female speaker of the house as the Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in a dozen years. In the Senate, Harry Reid was elected Majority Leader. Shortly after becoming Speaker, Pelosi addressed the full House.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Hours after the Democrats took control, the House passed what the Washington Post described as the broadest ethics and lobbying revision since the Watergate era. House members or employees are now prohibited from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist’s client. Lawmakers can no longer fly on corporate jets. The ethics committee must now pre-approve any Congressional travel financed by outside groups and all such trips will be immediately disclosed to the public. Only Republican Dan Burton of Indiana voted against the measure.
The ethics rule changes are part of Pelosi’s ambitious plan for the Democrats first 100 hours in power. Pelosi also wants to increase the minimum wage, allow the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients and increase federal support for stem cell research.
But Pelosi’s 100 Hours plan has also come under criticism by anti-war activists for not focusing on Iraq. On Wednesday, Cindy Sheehan and others disrupted a press conference by Rahm Emanuel, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus. As soon as Emanuel began speaking, the activists started chanting "de-escalate, investigate, troops home now." Because of the protests, Emanuel abruptly postponed the press conference. After he left the podium, Cindy Sheehan took over the microphone.
- Cindy Sheehan: “Our leaders who get us into these messes are the ones who need to be held accountable. And if that happens then maybe my grandchildren won't have to be fighting in an illegal and immoral war.”
And Cindy Sheehan joins us live now from Washington, D.C. to talk more about the Democrats first 100 hours in power -- She is the co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. Her son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004. And next to Cindy is Roger Hickey. He is the co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. His organization is part of the Change America Now coalition - a national campaign effort pushing Congress to pass the economic elements of Pelosi’s 100 Hour legislative agenda.
- Cindy Sheehan. Her son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She is the co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.
- Roger Hickey. Co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Shortly after becoming Speaker, Pelosi addressed the full House.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: It’s an historic moment for the Congress. It’s an historic moment for the women of America. It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and our granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters now, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible for them.