After nearly 4,000 American casualties and more than $500 billion dollars, the misguided war in Iraq continues to be plagued by mismanagement and failed policies. While reduced violence in Iraq is encouraging, the goal of the surge – political reconciliation – has not been achieved. The will of the American people must be done. We require bold leadership in charting a new course that puts Iraqi’s in charge of their country and brings an end to the war in Iraq.

I am glad that President Bush has recognized the recent advances in stem cell research. This again highlights the need for a new, national initiative supporting all types of ethical cell-based research, including embryonic stem cell research. We must establish a robust national stem cell research program with a strict ethical framework.

I find it cynical that the President would call on Congress to ban reproductive cloning when it was his Republican colleagues that defeated my bill last year that did just that.

The President was similarly out-of-touch on the economy. As the nation slides closer to a full-blown recession, the President’s only answer is more of the same. Americans continue to struggle – gas and oil prices are at all-time highs, college tuition is increasing, unemployment is on the rise, and health care costs are skyrocketing. The Bush Administration’s economic policies have failed to provide the long-term vision we need to grow our economy, boost our ability to compete in the global marketplace, and protect the middle-class.

I’m working with my colleagues to restore the confidence of the American people, but we face challenges as great as any I have seen. Our bipartisan plan to stimulate the economy will give more than 100 million Americans a recovery rebate and provide families with the tools necessary to avoid losing their homes. Congress is working aggressively to counter the abuse of power and failed policies of the Bush Administration that have hindered the progress of our country. Ours is a nation founded on the principle of compromise, and until the President ceases his cavalier my-way-or-the-highway showmanship, many of the challenges he highlighted tonight, will remain unmet.