Washington, D.C. - Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi held a news conference this morning in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol to announce the creation of a Select Intelligence Oversight Panel and discuss Democrats' first 100 legislative hours of the 110th Congress. Below is the transcript of Pelosi's remarks and attached is a fact sheet on the panel:
'Good morning. As we begin this morning, I want to extend my personal warm wishes and prayers to Barbara Johnson and the Johnson family for a speedy recovery for our former colleague in the House, Senator Tim Johnson. As you know, he served with us here for 10 years, and many of those still in the House. We are proud to call him colleague, and we are hoping for the best for him and praying for a speedy recovery.
'Five weeks ago, the American people went to the polls and demanded change and a New Direction. This week, the people of
'The 109th Congress is over. Democrats are working hard on our plans for the 110th. We have taken some measures already, in many cases in a bipartisan way, to reform the Page Board to better protect the children entrusted to our care here; precious treasures, these pages.
'In a break from the past, we as Democrats are proposing this continuing resolution without any earmarks for fiscal year 2007. On a bipartisan basis, we are creating a task force to consider and propose an outside enforcement mechanism for the ethics process. We are preparing to work a full five-day week so that we can get the people's work done in a way we want to be relevant to their lives, and our Six for '06 is a way for us to do that.
'As you know, in the first 100 hours of the new Congress we are proposing Six for '06 to make our economy fairer, to make the American people safer, and to have the most honest and open Congress in history.
'One of the issues that I wanted to talk to you about today is the 9/11 Commission recommendations. We have said that our very first order of business after we pass our rules package is to make the American people safer by passing the 9/11 Commission recommendations. We will do them one better on port security, where we have even tougher proposals to screen 100 percent of the containers long before they reach U.S. shores.
'Another measure, though, on congressional oversight, is in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations, but something that many of us in Congress have long thought was necessary. We recognize our first responsibility is to protect the American people. We all know the importance intelligence plays in that role and that important responsibility. So as an appropriator for many years, as the longest-serving member of the Intelligence Committee, and now ex-officio, as Speaker, I have conferred with the Republicans, and I am proposing a Select Intelligence Oversight Panel. It will be within the House Appropriations Committee.
'This panel will have the responsibility to hold hearings, to consider the budget for intelligence. The particulars are handed out to you in this Select Oversight Panel fact sheet, and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about it. But its purpose is to protect the American people with the best possible intelligence, recognizing the role that Congress plays in all of this, and it is to bring the House Intelligence Committee and the authorizing committee closer together, which was one of the criticisms of the 9/11 Commission of congressional oversight, one I know well as one who has served on both panels.
'It is with really some degree of excitement, frankly, that I make this proposal. I know it will make the American people safer.
'Having said that, we move on again to other items in the Six for '06. After making the American people safer, we move on to making our economy fairer by raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable, health care more accessible, by advancing progress in stem cell research, by rolling back subsidies to big oil and using money from the reserve fund for alternative energy sources, by mandating that the Secretary of Health and Human Services negotiate for lower prices and, of course, by all that we do to guarantee a dignified retirement by preserving Social Security.
'It is about the issues that are relevant to the American people's lives. It is a New Direction. It is what they sent us here to do, and we will do it first and foremost by making this the most honest and open Congress in a spirit of integrity, civility, and bipartisanship, and in a way that is fiscally sound.'