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Washington Post: What a Democratic Congress Achieved

The Post's assessment of the first seven months of the 110th Congress ['The Congress So Far,' editorial, Aug. 5] was unduly negative and incomplete. In fact, the Democratic majorities in Congress have demonstrably moved our nation in a new direction and established a strong record of achievement, despite Republican obstructionism.

As the editorial noted, we have enacted a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage, recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission, and the broadest ethics and lobbying reforms since Watergate (which await President Bush's signature) -- measures that received strong bipartisan support but languished in the Republican-led Congress.

Democrats also sent bipartisan legislation to the president that will enhance America's competitiveness (signed into law Thursday) and expand lifesaving medical research on stem cells (vetoed by the president, even though two-thirds of Americans support it). Additionally, we reestablished congressional oversight -- most notably demanding that the administration and the Iraqi government be accountable for the first time in more than four years.

The House and Senate also passed historic energy independence initiatives, the largest expansion of college aid since the GI Bill and legislation extending health insurance to millions of children who today have none. And we have restored fiscal discipline by reinstating budget rules that produced record surpluses in the 1990s.

House Democrats also passed the largest increase for veterans' health care in history, major new investments for equipment and training for our troops, and a farm bill that shifts priorities to family farmers, nutrition and biofuels.

Obviously, our work is not finished. However, as our record demonstrates, we are moving America in a new direction. As Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) told The Post: Democrats '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.'

Steny H. Hoyer

U.S. Representative (D-MD)

House Majority Leader

Washington