Republicans Focused on More Drilling and Tax Breaks for Oil Companies

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) criticized Republicans for responding to gas price concerns with calls for increased oil drilling and tax breaks for oil companies during the weekly Democratic radio address this morning.

Last year Exxon-Mobil posted $36 billion in profits, the largest for any corporation in United States history. Thursday the top four oil companies reported a first-quarter profit of $20 billion and oil executives, like former Exxon-Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, retire with $400 million retirement packages. Meanwhile, gas prices keep skyrocketing, and in Washington Republicans continue to turn to a blind eye to the oil industry's activities.

From this Republican-controlled Congress, we hear more of the same: let's just drill our way to energy independence, sacrifice our environment, and provide big tax breaks to big oil. Democrats, on the other hand, want to implement bold changes that ease consumers' pain today and in the longer term wean America from its addiction to foreign oil. 


Former RNC Chairman Potentially Involved in Unlawful Campaign Tactics

Sens. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, citing media reports that  Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), former chair of the Republican National Committee, was involved in unlawful campaign tactics during the New Hampshire elections of 2002.
The media reports that Haley Barbour, a former National Republican Party chairman, arranged a quarter-million dollar loan to provide startup financing for the telemarketing company implicated in the scheme.


U.S. and Europe Must Forge Common Approach to Iran

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) discussed the need for the U.S. and Europe to create a common approach to Iran's nuclear program.
I’m not saying that military force is necessary at this moment; indeed, military action is always the last option we should consider, and moving toward sanctions will help forestall the need for greater coercion. But to preemptively forswear options is to weaken our diplomatic hand. In the end, there is only one thing worse than military action, and that is a nuclear armed Iran. By standing united on this issue, we can block Iran’s efforts to split the great powers and increase the chances of a peaceful resolution.

And as in so many other issues, the U.S. and Europe must define their policy not just by what we stand against, but also by what we stand for.


Irresponsible Tax Cuts Shows Disregard for Nation

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) introduced an amendment to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that would eliminate tax cuts in order to pay for the war effort in Iraq. Biden attacked the President's tax policies.
It is a record of indifference to the price our children and grandchildren will pay to redeem our debt when it comes due. It is time for us to call a halt to this irresponsibility. It is time for us to pay for the choices we make. It is time to pay our bills.


Iranian Nuclear Program Must Be Stopped

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) today said that Iran's nuclear program must be addressed and accused Congress for failing to act.
The IAEA report released today provides overwhelming evidence that Iran continues to defy the international community by advancing their nuclear program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be stopped. To date, the Congress has failed to act on the growing threat in Iran.

I went to the floor of the United States Senate yesterday to encourage my colleagues to join me in making a strong statement against the government of Iran and their nuclear ambitions, and to support additional funding for the support of democracy in Iran. I introduced an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act that would provide an additional $25 million to fund pro-democracy efforts in Iran. This amendment is vitally important to our national security. We must support efforts to transition to democracy so that the government of Iran can no longer continue to bully the rest of the world. Iran is a threat to America, our allies, and to the stability of the international community.

Surging Economy Result of Tax Cuts

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) credited the strong first quarter economic growth to Republican tax policies. The Department of Commerce reported that the economy grew 4.8% in the past three months.
This remarkable American economy continues to grow as a result of the tax policies this Congress has worked to put into place...Americans deserve continued tax relief and job growth, and they can rest assured this Republican Congress and the president will continue these policies. 

Lawsuit is Necessary to Prevent Abuse of Power

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke about a lawsuit by House Democrats to test the constitutionality of the Budget Reconciliation Bill which was passed in February.
Every elementary school student knows that the exact same bill must pass the House and Senate before it can be signed into law and have the force of law.  It is an unambiguous requirement in our Constitution.

However, what happened on February 8 was a direct violation of the Constitution.  The President signed a version of the Budget Reconciliation bill that only passed the Senate, but not the House; therefore, that bill is invalid.  This serious constitutional defect occurred with the knowledge of Republican Congressional leaders, and according to media reports, with the knowledge of the White House. 

These actions not only constituted an abuse of power, but undermined the rule of law.  It is not surprising that the Republicans wanted to avoid any further votes on an unpopular budget bill loaded with special interest provisions and that slashed funding for students and health care coverage for children and low-income Americans.  But the Constitution does not permit shortcuts to the process by which the laws under which we live are made.  Adherence to the Constitution protects the American people from arbitrary abuses of power.  That is why this lawsuit is necessary: to uphold the Constitution on behalf of the American people.

Gas Tax Rebate to Ease The Burden of High Prices

Like many others, I've heard first hand from my constituents about the pain high gas prices are causing. This package (the proposal for gas relief unveiled yesterday by Senate Republicans) would provide some relief. I am particularly pleased that we are easing the burden on American families by providing them with a $100 rebate to help offset high prices. I hope this tax rebate will make a difference for hard-working American families.

Congress Has Abandoned Oversight Responsibilities

Yesterday, I cast an unapologetic vote against H.R. 5020, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. I hate to oppose an authorization bill coming out of the Intelligence Committee because I serve on it and dedicate a great deal of my time and energy to intelligence issues. However, the refusal of the Republican Leadership in the House to adequately address the issue of Iranian intelligence and the Republicans' abdication of Congress' oversight responsibility over the intelligence community left me no choice. H.R. 5020 authorized the largest intelligence budget in history. It's the only bill Congress will pass this year that can provide the instruments our intelligence agencies use to keep our country safe. And yesterday, at a time of escalating global threats and with America's security on the line, House Republicans brought legislation to the floor that reeks of politics and compromises the safety of Americans.