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June 22, 07

NEWS / Democratic Accomplishments in the 110th Congress: Leading America in a New Direction

Less than six months into the 110th Congress, Senate Democrats have made significant strides in passing important, common-sense legislation that reflect the priorities of the American people. After nearly a decade of Republican control, Democrats have worked to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington and pass key legislation on Iraq policy, homeland security, troop readiness, veterans’ health care, economic competitiveness, ethics reform, the minimum wage, health care, education, energy independence, stem cell research, and Gulf Coast revitalization. Democrats are committed to proving that elections do matter, and we will continue to pursue the international and domestic priorities that matter most to the American people. Together, we will take the country in a new direction.

Under Democratic leadership, the Senate has passed the following measures:

* A fiscally responsible budget: a budget that restores fiscal discipline and will lead to a surplus, while cutting middle-class taxes and funding foreign anddomestic priorities, including education, children’s health care, veterans, and our troops;

* 9/11 Commission recommendations: a bill to make America more secure by giving our first responders the tools they need to keep us safe; making it more difficult for potential terrorists to travel into our country; advancing efforts to secure our rail, air, and mass transit systems; and improving intelligence and information sharing between state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies;

* Homeland security funding: legislation that provides $1.05 billion in funding necessary to address dangerous border and transit vulnerabilities left open by the Bush Administration since 9/11;

* Support for our troops: legislation funding the President’s requests for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including $1.2 billion in additional funding for a total of $3 billion to provide our troops in Iraq with mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles;

* Health care for wounded soldiers and veterans: legislation that provides $3 billion in supplemental funds for military health care and $1.8 billion in supplemental funds to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to accommodate the increasing number of new veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan;

* Benchmarks for Iraq: legislation that conditions U.S. economic support for the Iraqi government on its progress toward achieving key political benchmarks;

* National Guard readiness: legislation to provide an additional $1 billion to President Bush’s request for National Guard equipment needs to remedy equipment shortfalls that are compromising the quality of force training and limiting the Guard’s ability to quickly respond to natural and potential man-made disasters at home;

* Continuing Resolution: legislation providing funding for the nine remaining appropriations bills that were not completed by Republicans in the 109th Congress. In passing this legislation, Democrats stayed within budget limits, eliminated earmarks, and increased funding for national priorities, including veterans’ medical care, Pell grants, elementary and secondary education, the National Institutes of Health, state and local law enforcement, and global AIDS prevention and treatment;
* Energy Bill: landmark legislation to increase our energy independence, strengthen the economy, reduce global warming emissions, and protect American consumers.

* American competitiveness: bipartisan legislation to increase the nation’s investment in basic and innovative research; strengthen educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from elementary through graduate school; and develop the infrastructure needed to enhance innovation and competitiveness in the United States;

* Ethics and lobbying reform: a bill to slow the “revolving door” for former Senators and staff, strengthen limits on gifts and travel, expand lobbying disclosure requirements, establish a study commission on ethics and lobbying, prohibit pensions for Members of Congress convicted of certain crimes, and implement reform procedures relating to earmarks and conference reports;

* Minimum wage: legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25/hour;

* Middle-class tax cuts: the 2008 Budget Resolution provides for permanent extensions of the Marriage Penalty tax relief, the $1,000 refundable Child Tax Credit; the 10 percent income tax bracket; the adoption tax credit; the dependent care tax credit; U.S. soldiers’ combat pay for the earned income tax credit; and reform of the estate tax to protect small businesses and family farms;

* AMT patch: the 2008 Budget Resolution ensures that the number of taxpayers subject to the alternative minimum tax will not increase in 2007, giving Congress and the Administration time to come up with a permanent solution;

* Head Start: a bill to expand eligibility for the Head Start program;
* Stem cell research: legislation to expand the number of human embryonic stem cells eligible for federally-funded research;

* Children’s health coverage: the 2008 Budget Resolution and the 2007 Emergency Supplemental provide needed funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program;

* FDA reauthorization: a bill to greatly improve the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of drug safety;

* Rebuilding the Gulf Coast: legislation providing a total of $6.4 billion for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including $1.3 billion to complete levee and drainage repairs, $50 million to reduce violent crime in Gulf Coast states, and $110 million to repair the seafood and fisheries industries, which is vital to the region’s economic recovery;

* Army Corps reform: legislation to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers does its job more effectively and soundly;

* Disaster assistance for small businesses: legislation providing recovery assistance for small businesses impacted by the 2005 hurricanes in an effort to revitalize the Gulf Coast economy;

* U.S. Attorney appointments: legislation ending the indefinite appointment of interim U.S. Attorneys and restoring the role of the Senate in the selection of U.S. Attorneys;

* Tax relief for small businesses: legislation providing a range of deficit-neutral tax incentives designed to help small businesses grow;

* Education and training: the 2008 Budget Resolution provides for the largest increase since 2002 in funding for elementary and secondary programs; and

* Energy and environment programs: legislation increasing funding for basic science research at the Department of Energy and for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

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