By Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - 01/15/08 06:22 PM EST
One year ago, Americans entrusted their hopes and aspirations for themselves, for their families, and for the future, to a new Democratic Congress. Democrats kept that trust. Much work remains, but in 2007 the New Direction Congress began to make progress for the American people.
The New Direction Congress promised to make Americans safer. And we did, by enacting the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommendations. This action fundamentally changed the way our nation confronts terrorism, improves emergency communications among first responders, and ensures the screening of 100 percent of air cargo and 100 percent of shipping containers before they reach the United States.
We also began to address the worst readiness crisis since the 1970s, which was caused by the president’s Iraq policy, by increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps and reinvesting in the tools our troops need to complete their missions and return safely home. Democrats will not allow the president’s failed Iraq policy to leave America less prepared to win the real fight against terrorism.
The New Direction Congress promised to make our economy fairer for working and middle-class Americans. And we did, by enacting the first minimum wage increase in a decade, cutting taxes for the middle class, and investing in innovation to bolster math and science teaching to support basic science research, and to create jobs.
The latest economic news makes clear that we need to go further to reverse the Bush economic policies that have failed to create jobs and increase wages. In the coming weeks and months, we will work to improve the economic security of those with the greatest economic hardships: Americans facing rising unemployment rates and stagnant wages, spiraling costs for healthcare and loss of coverage, increasing energy prices, and the devastating consequences of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
The New Direction Congress promised to preserve our planet. With the first increase in fuel economy standards for cars and trucks in 32 years, we will increase our energy independence, reduce energy prices for consumers, and fight global warming. Our historic energy bill will cut the amount of Middle East oil we consume in half, save consumers $700 to $1,000 each year, and reduce greenhouse gases equal to taking 28 million cars off the road. We must do more to help Americans facing high energy prices by reinvesting billions of subsidies for Big Oil in clean energy and renewable fuels and enacting protections against price gouging.
The New Direction Congress promised to care for our veterans. And we did, by providing the largest investment in veterans’ healthcare in the 77-year history of the VA to ensure improved care for all who wore the uniform of their country, particularly those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
We promised to do all of this work with strong bipartisan support, in a fiscally responsible way, and while establishing the highest ethical standards. We did, and we reaffirm our commitment to honest leadership and open government in 2008.
We will also continue listening to the American people who are as committed in 2008 as they were in 2006 to bringing a New Direction to Iraq. Democrats in Congress stand ready to work with President Bush to bring our troops home before the end of his presidency.
However, should the president still refuse to change course, we will continue to stand with our men and women in uniform, hold the administration accountable, and work to bring our troops home honorably, safely, and soon.
We left in December with great confidence and pride in the work that we have done and in the work that we have begun.
This month, we return reinvigorated and filled with that same commitment to bringing change to Washington, because there is still a great need for change in this city and across America.
With faith in the future, the New Direction Congress will continue to move America in a New Direction.
With faith in God, I know we will succeed.
Pelosi is Speaker of the House.
SPECIAL REPORTS: CONGRESS RETURNS 2008
Congressional Women’s Caucus continues legacy
FAA reauthorization bill needs attention early in this session
We should strengthen consumer protections
One-party rule in a divided Congress sure to fail
In 2008, let’s hope that the majority retreats in its War on American Jobs
‘New Direction Congress’ committed to preserving safer, happier America