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What Others Are Saying: The Accomplishments of the 110th Congress

Overall

'Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scored some major wins in the final few weeks before the recess, including pushing through a major rewrite of congressional ethics and lobbying laws, legislation to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and an energy reform bill that includes new taxes on oil companies while giving tax breaks for renewable fuels and conservation. The House also adopted its version of all 12 annual spending bills, including the $459 billion Defense appropriations bill, which was approved late Saturday night by a 395-13 margin.'  (Politico, August 6, 2007)

''They can send their Members home crowing about their accomplishments, and they've done it in a bipartisan way, which is exactly what they promised to do,''[Rep. Ray] LaHood (R-Ill) said.'  (Washington Post, July 26, 2007)

'Democrats who control Congress headed into a summer recess having passed several high-profile bills from raising the minimum wage to bolstering U.S. security and expanding children's health care.  Their top priority -- ending the Iraq war -- remains frustratingly unfulfilled. But the Democrats who took over in January were able to go home early on Sunday for a month-long break having won more support in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for bringing combat troops home by early next year, marking a significant turnaround from last year.  (Reuters, 8/5/07)

'Some nonpartisan observers agreed Democrats had reason to boast. 'Democrats have had a good run legislatively over the past few weeks and that does help them going into the recess,' said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.'  (Reuters, 8/5/07)

'Congress's Democratic majority made major strides toward implementing its domestic agenda before going home, but will face a large hurdle when lawmakers return at summer's end: President Bush.
Farm, lobbying reform, energy, education and child health insurance bills all advanced in a volatile 10-day march before the recess, establishing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a legislative player.'  (Wall Street Journal, 8/6/07)

'Besides their success on increasing the federal minimum wage, ethics and lobbying, and the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations, Democrats have moved forward with initiatives to expand health insurance for children through the State Children's Health Insurance Program and to shift U.S. energy policy away from reliance on fossil fuels...they have helped focus the war debate on the question of when, not if, U.S. forces will begin pulling out.'  (Los Angeles Times, 8/6/07)

'I have long been and continue to be an advocate of congressional oversight as a fundamental element of our system of government.  I also have publicly expressed my belief that congressional debate on Iraq has been constructive, appropriate and necessary.'  (Letter of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, 7/25/07)

'They did however chalk up a string of domestic goals, raising the minimum wage, enshrined into law the recommendations of the commission into the September 11 attacks in 2001, passed an ethics bill, improved healthcare for children and passed energy reforms.'  (Agence France Presse, 8/5/07)

'... Pelosi outlined a domestic policy agenda so elegant in its symmetrical pursuit of both long-range change (an attack on global warming) and lunch-bucket progress (a bumper crop of 'green-collar jobs' to be created from investing in new energy technologies) that you begin to believe she is of a rare species among practiced Washington hands: That is, her political instincts come from somewhere well beyond the Beltway.'  (Marie Cocco, Washington Post Writers Group, 8/8/07)


9-11 Commission Recommendations

'This law will probably stand out as one of the biggest achievements of the new Congress...' (Philadelphia Inquirer editorial, 8/8/07)

''It's a great step forward,' said commission chair Tom Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey.' (Philadelphia Inquirer editorial, 8/8/07)

'Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, said with enactment of the bill ... 'The bottom line is that the American people will be safer.'' (AP, 7/27/07)

'When Democrats became the majority party in Congress this year, they promised to enact the 9/11 Commission's recommendations to improve the nation's defenses against attack. They've delivered. A bill to do much of what the commission advised was approved last week....the bill would make the nation safer, and it should be signed into law.' (Newsday editorial, 8/1/07)


Lobbying Reform

 'The most far-reaching [reforms] since Watergate.' (USA Today, 8/6/07)

'In the most sweeping overhaul of congressional ethics rules since the Watergate era, the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill aimed at curbing the influence of lobbyists and repairing Congress' corruption-sullied image. Democrats promised to pass the measure after they won control of Congress following a campaign that denounced the Republican 'culture of corruption' on Capitol Hill.  The legislation is one of a number of accomplishments that the majority party has...' (Los Angeles Times, 8/1/07)

'These are big-time fundamental reforms that will end the secrecy surrounding the multiple ways in which Washington lobbyists use money to curry favor and gain access and influence with members of Congress.' (Fred Wertheimer - President Democracy 21, AP, 8/1/07)

'It is a major step toward resisting the Capitol corruption laid bare in the downfall of Jack Abramoff.' (New York Times editorial, 8/1/07)

'This important lobbying and ethics reform bill will be a landmark of more honest government for years to come.'    (Craig Holman - lobbyist for Public Citizen, 7/30/07)

The bill 'should change the way business is done in Washington by shining the light on the often mutually dependent relationships between lobbyists and members of Congress.' (Common Cause, AP, 8/1/07)

'This is a big step in the right direction,' says [Norman] Ornstein [congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute].  (Voice of America, 8/3/07)

'Congress took a major step in cutting the cord between lobbyist and politician with a landmark vote this week. The reasons aren't hard to fathom...House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the issue a priority. The overwhelming margin of 411-8 for the changes showed that Republicans are fed up as well.' [San Francisco Chronicle, 8/1/07]


Energy Independence Initiative

'The national RES [Renewable Electricity Standard] passed today stands to save consumers billions on their electricity and natural gas bills; create billions in new income for ranchers, farmers, and rural landowners; and create tens of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs. ... Speaker Pelosi has delivered a new day on energy in Congress.  Instead of determining how many billions in unnecessary subsidies will be shoveled to the coal, oil, and nuclear industries, the House energy bill marks the beginning of a dramatic reorientation of our energy policy toward one focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a new energy economy designed to benefit the many, not the few.' (Sierra Club, 8/4/07)

'The House yesterday passed a far-reaching package of energy legislation that would promote conservation and the use of renewable resources at the expense of the country's oil and gas interests.' (Washington Post, 8/5/07)

'Pushing to chart a new national energy policy, House Democrats on Saturday passed legislation that would require the nation's utilities to generate more electricity from clean-energy sources, such as the wind and the sun. And in another indicator of the changed political landscape on Capitol Hill, they stripped the oil and gas industries of $16 billion in tax incentives and voted to apply those tax breaks to efforts to spur production of cleaner forms of energy.' (Los Angeles Times, 8/5/07)

'House of Representatives Takes Historic Step Forward on Clean Energy, Passes Renewable Electricity Standard...By passing the renewable electricity standard the House of Representatives has taken a real step forward in enacting the clean energy policies we need to reduce global warming pollution.' (Natural Resources Defense Council, 8/4/07)


Children's Health and Medicare Improvements (CHAMP Act)

'Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives made a monumental statement last week, providing millions of children with health care by expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program.  Congress stood up to the demagoguery of the White House and the insurance lobbyists by passing an expansion of the program, also known as S-Chip, and giving children a higher priority than insurance companies' quarterly earnings.... The truth is that everyone wants to give all children basic health care, and this is a good way to do it. The Democrats, for once, can't worry about being cast as 'liberals,' because they have 90 percent of the public behind them. That's why they shouldn't settle for anything less than the House bill.' (Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal editorial, 8/5/07)

 'The House health-care bill unveiled last week has two noteworthy innovations. It would focus additional federal health-care spending on ensuring that poor children eligible for coverage actually receive it. And it would end expensive and unnecessary subsidies for managed-care programs for seniors while making new efforts to help the poorest seniors...' (The Washington Post, 07/30/07)

'The CHAMP Act will reduce significantly the number of children without health insurance, and we appreciate your efforts in constructing a strong bill that will make a real investment in improving health care for children.'  (American Academy of Family Physicians, 7/25/07)

'This well-balanced, fiscally responsible legislation addresses several priority issues for AARP's nearly 39 million members and their families ... In short, this package of health care changes will help both children and older Americans, as well as make positive improvements to our health care system.' (AARP, 7/26/07)

'SCHIP has been the most successful and efficient of all our country's health reform efforts. The president and Congress must broaden the successful SCHIP program to make sure the remaining 9 million uninsured kids get the protection they deserve.'  (Jack Levine in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, 07/29/07)


Broad Innovation Legislation

'Investing in our 'innovation pipeline' - education and basic R&D - will further -American job growth and economic competitiveness,' added John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. (PC Magazine, 8/6/07)

'This vital piece of legislation will help keep America on the cutting edge of science and technology well into the 21st century' (Business Roundtable, 8/2/07)

'With a rare bipartisan agreement, Congress is adopting a significant, tech-friendly increase in basic science research and more training and support for math, science and foreign-language programs. The House voted 367-57 Thursday for the America Competes Act, with about $33 billion in new spending over the next three years, including an increase that will almost double the National Science Foundation budget over the next four years.' (San Jose Mercury News, 8/3/07)

'Broad legislation to promote math and science skills and develop the technology needed to compete in the global economy easily passed the House on Thursday.  The House-Senate compromise ...[creates] programs to encourage people to study and teach math and science, support high-risk technology research and increase funds for the National Science Foundation and other science-based agencies.' (AP, 8/2/07)

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. 'This bill will enhance the economic competitiveness of our nation by stopping the long-running decline in the number of U.S.-trained engineers and mathematicians.' (PC Magazine, 8/6/07)


Minnesota Bridge Repair

'Two days after the catastrophic bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the U.S. House and Senate unanimously approved separate relief measures Friday ... House passage came less than 48 hours after the accident.' [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/6/07]

'Congress responded quickly. The U.S. House Transportation Committee approved legislation Thursday directing $250 million to Minnesota to help replace the collapsed bridge.' [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 'Catastrophe highlights need for transportation funding,' 8/2/07]

'Disaster often brings clarity, and this seems to have happened again in the wake of Wednesday's bridge collapse in Minneapolis...From Washington comes news that funding for a new bridge can be expected soon. The House of Representatives has approved $250 million, the Senate seems poised to, and the president indicates that he'll go along.' [Grand Forks Herald, Editorial: 'Minnesota roads need funding plan,' 8/5/07]