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Pelosi: In Our New Direction, We Have Kept Our Promises to Make Progress for the American People

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held a news conference in the Capitol this afternoon with House and Senate Democratic freshmen to discuss Democratic efforts to take America in a New Direction.  Below are the Speaker's opening remarks:

'Thank you very much, Leader Reid.  Congratulations on your excellent nine new senators and I'm very proud of the members of the House who have joined the ranks of Democrats in the Congress as well to make us the majority.  As I used to say to my colleagues, 'You're the greatest collection of intellect, integrity, and idealism.  But you're not the majority.'  Now we have three more Members with those values and we have the majority.  We have with us here today Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, Congressman Ron Klein of Florida, and Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota. 

'Before I begin, I want to say to Tim Walz and to Senator Klobuchar how sad we all are at the tragedy that occurred in Minnesota this week.  It's stunning to think a person could be a mom, a dad, a child, sister, brother, and something so unusual would happen.  I congratulate Keith Ellison, who represents the district where this occurred, for the response, the recovery and rescue.  The operation has appeared to be excellent, minimizing the loss of life, and we all stand ready, not only extending our sympathy but our support for the state.  As we speak here, on the House floor we're taking up the movement to consider a package for Minnesota, adding $250 million to the federal highway emergency fund in order to help quickly build that infrastructure that was damaged.

'At the beginning of this Congress, we had the first 100 hours, where in that short period of time a flurry of activity that related to protecting the American people, growing our economy, strengthening our families, and preserving our planet, and doing that in a fiscally sound, open and honest way. 

'This happened because we had new Members of Congress who brought with them their energy, their enthusiasm, straight from the campaigns, with the clearest picture of the desires of the American people.  Here we are now in August, and a similar number of hours this week, we have another record of achievement in terms of legislation.  Some of it following up on bills that were introduced at that time. 

'To make America safer, Leader Reid and I signed the enrollment that sent the bill to the President on Wednesday, the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  Six years after 9/11, three years after the recommendations, long overdue for the American people, but just in a number of months since the Democrats came to power.  The families of 9/11 made all of that possible by their advocacy for the commission in the first place, against great resistance, for their advocacy for this legislation.  They turned their grief into advocacy and strength and America is safer for it.  We are deeply in their debt. 

'In terms of accountability, this week both houses passed the lobbying reform bill, as Mr. Leader said, and it will soon be signed into law by the President.  This is historic, a historic change in the relationship between lobbyists and legislators as we break that link.  It has been hailed by the reform groups outside the Congress as an outstanding step forward. 

'In terms of how we grow our economy, both houses this week passed the America COMPETES Act, our commitment to competitiveness, to keep America  Our Innovation Agenda will create good paying jobs and business in America.  It recognizes the importance of small business and we're very proud of that work.  It recognizes that innovation begins in the classroom, so that the strong commitment to education, to research and development, to small business, and to energy independence.

'Energy independence takes us to preserving our planet, which we will take up tomorrow.  We're very proud of the work that has been done in the COMPETES Act in furtherance of energy independence. 

'Most important of all is how we strengthen our families.  And this week, both the House and Senate passed the SCHIP legislation.  Millions of dollars more for millions of children to be able to receive quality health care.  Who are we as a nation, if we don't care for our children?  It's probably one of the happiest days of my official life to be there on the floor, which I called 'the children's hour,' when in the people's House, we passed that legislation, which now has been passed in the United States Senate.  We look forward to reconciling those bills and sending them to the President's desk. 

'Also in strengthening our families, of course, are bills we passed to promote higher education and increase the minimum wage.  And we passed the Ledbetter bill in our House, which would end gender discrimination and pay.

'So these are issues that relate directly for the well-being of the American people.  They're relevant to their lives, they hit home with the American people.  I'm very proud that in our New Direction we made a number of promises that have been kept and a great deal of them happened in the 100 hours of this week.'