On the first business day of 2007, Capitol Hill was somber pomp and circumstance this morning, as President Gerald Ford lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda before his National Cathedral funeral.
But on the first business day of the new 110th Congress, on Thursday, the hush is gone and the whirlwind, the Democrats hope, begins. After twelve long years in the political wilderness, the Democrats are back with majorities in both houses.
They have promises to keep. The country has expectations to be met. And the challenges - from Iraq on down - are huge.
This hour: We'll talk with Democrats about their plan of attack for the 110th Congress, from war and Baghdad, to the economy and your community.
Quotes from the Show:
"The Democrats are promising to get through [their agenda for the first 100 hours in the House of Republicans] by the 23rd of January." Noam Levey
"There's a collection of about nine broad areas that they want to address ..., including some new bans on gifts from lobbyists, some new rules to identify so-called earmarks that are put into bills by lawmakers, rules to try to control the budget deficits, enact some of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, raise the minimum wage, allow the government to negotiate for lower prices for prescription drugs, a stem cell bill comeback to liberalize some of the rules for federal funding for stem cell research, reduce interest rates by half on student loans, a rollback of big oil subsidies, and a promise to block any attempts to privatize social security." Noam Levey
"First of all, we're going to try to go back to the basics, and the most basic thing we can do is put us back on track to a balanced budget. It won't be easy for sure, it can't be done overnight, but we'll try to move the budget back to a track where within five years we would hope ..., we're back to where we were in 2000 or 2001. That's what we regard basic to everything else ... and is the single most essential piece of legislation we'll have to pass early in this session." Congressman John Spratt
"The first thing you're going to see and it's going to be an immediate change in Congress is that you're finally going to have some vigorous oversight of the Bush administration's national security policies in general but Iraq in particular. ... The committees will begin to do their job and part of that will be to review every proposal the President comes out with in the next couple of days and to determine what the best course is." Congressman Chris Van Hollen
"I personally do not think escalation is the right way to go in Iraq; it think it will put us into an even bigger mess. The biggest focus has to be on achieving some kind of political reconciliation in Iraq; our military folks on the ground have said that you can't solve this issue militarily alone." Congressman Chris Van Hollen
Noam Levey, Congressional correspondent for the Los Angeles Times
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D) Maryland
Congressman John Spratt (D) South Carolina
This program aired on January 2, 2007.