Reid and Pelosi Deliver Address on the State of Our Union

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Senate Majority Leader
 Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the National Press Club this
 morning to deliver Democrats' national Address on the State of Our Union.
 The new Democratic Congress is committed to working in a bipartisan fashion
 to make America energy independent, to express the overwhelming opposition
 of the American people to the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq,
 and to take America in a new direction. Below are their remarks as
 prepared:
     Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
     It is an honor to be here with my friend Senate Majority Leader Reid
 for what has become an annual pre-State of the Union tradition.
     This year, we come to you as the majority. The American people have
 called for a new direction for the Congress and for the country. They want
 to see their leaders focus on American priorities and they want us to work
 together for the American people.
     Change is here.
     In the first 100 hours:
     We have begun to make the American people safer, by passing the
 recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
     We have begun to make America's families more economically secure, by
 raising the minimum wage, lowering prescription drug prices, and making
 college more affordable.
     We have brought hope to America's families, by advancing stem cell
 research.
     We have begun to set America on the path toward energy independence, by
 rolling back multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil and investing in
 alternative resources.
     And, we have created the most open and honest Congress in history by
 passing tough ethics reform.
     I am proud that we passed many of these measures with the broad support
 of Democrats and Republicans in the Congress and across the country. Under
 the leadership of Senator Reid, the Senate is working to pass similar
 bills.
     These dramatic successes are just the beginning for this Congress.
     Next week, President Bush will come before the Congress and the nation
 and report on the state of our union.
     The state of our union is strong.
     We believe that with the hopes and aspirations of our children as our
 compass, our future is bright.
     The founders of this great nation foresaw an America driven by the
 optimism and creativity of its people. They imagined an America always
 renewing itself to meet ever-changing challenges and to seize ever-growing
 opportunities.
     We stand on the edge of a new century of discovery, innovation, and
 solutions. Congress must use the opportunity given to us by the American
 people to prepare a new America for the 21st century.
     A new America that seizes the future and forges 21st century solutions
 through discovery, creativity, and innovation, sustaining our economic
 leadership and ensuring our national security.
     A new America with a vibrant and strengthened middle class for whom
 college is affordable, health care accessible, and retirement secure.
     A new America that declares our energy independence, promotes domestic
 sources of renewable energy, and combats climate change.
     A new America that is strong, secure, and a respected leader among the
 community of nations.
     Energy independence is a national security issue. It is also an
 environmental issue, and an economic issue for our country and for
 America's families.
     Last week, when I met with mayors from all across the nation, Patrick
 Hays, the Mayor of North Little Rock, Arkansas told me about the hybrid car
 he drives. He said, 'When I drive that car, I do it for my granddaughter.'
     It is important to our children's health and their global
 competitiveness to rid this nation of our dependence on foreign oil and Big
 Oil interests. Taking bold measures today to achieve energy independence
 within 10 years must be the highest priority for this Congress.
     In the last Congress, House Democrats' put forth our plan to energize
 America with homegrown alternative fuels. We must also promote energy
 efficiency, standards, and effective conservation.
     As it says in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's
 creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God
 who made us.'
     To preserve our planet, God's creation, we must make a serious
 commitment to combat global warming.
     Global warming is an increasing threat to our world, with implications
 for our health, food supply, and the survival of many species, and perhaps
 entire ecosystems.
     The science of global warming and its impact is overwhelming and
 unequivocal. The American people understand the urgency of the problem of
 climate change. 2006 was the warmest year on record, capping a nine year
 warming streak.
     Working with the global, religious, business, and scientific
 communities, we intend to continue robust research on global warming and
 produce policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously
 creating good-paying jobs.
     We want to work with President Bush on this important issue in a
 bipartisan way. But we cannot afford to wait.
     Therefore, with openness and participation from all parts of our
 democracy, we will pass groundbreaking legislation that addresses global
 warming and energy independence.
     Essential to our children's future is the economic security of their
 families now. Preparing for the 21st century means bolstering our
 commitment to keep our nation number one. In our Innovation Agenda,
 unveiled more than a year ago here at the Press Club, House Democrats made
 a commitment to competitiveness. We will provide our nation with the tools
 necessary to unleash the next generation of growth and jobs.
     In his State of the Union address last year, President Bush spoke of
 keeping America competitive. With Democrats in the majority, we must work
 together with our Republican colleagues to do so -- nothing less than
 America's economic leadership and our national security is at stake.
     Innovation and economic growth begins in America's classrooms. To
 create a new generation of innovators, we must fund No Child Left Behind so
 that we can encourage science and math education, taught by the most
 qualified and effective teachers.
     In order for our children to have a bright future, they must have a
 healthy start. Today, more than 8 million American children are uninsured.
 This year, through the State Children's Health Insurance Program, we have
 an opportunity to reduce the number of uninsured children by millions. This
 shouldn't be a partisan issue; we should work together to make the
 wealthiest nation in the world, also the healthiest.
     And we must match every aspect of our current policies on education,
 childcare, and health care for our children against the wealth of new
 information produced by our leading scientists and scholars.
     Great strides have been made in understanding how children's brains are
 shaped and developed, how positive behaviors can be encouraged, and how
 investments in early childhood create success in later years.
     We will ensure that our policies match the latest research and that
 families are given what they need to take advantage of these scientific
 advances.
     Innovation also requires federal grants to our universities, which have
 long been the spark for great breakthroughs: from the Internet, to
 biosciences, to fiber optics, to nanotechnology.
     We must commit to doubling federal funding for basic research and
 development in the physical sciences and modernize and expand the research
 and development tax credit. And we will bring broadband access to every
 American within five years, creating millions of jobs.
     These investments, and initiatives to support a thriving small business
 environment, will allow us to pursue the long-term, trailblazing research
 that gives rise to new advances, spawns new industries, and creates good
 jobs here at home.
     In order to be competitive and strong, we must be fiscally responsible.
 We owe our children boundless opportunity, not mountains of debt.
     That is why Democrats have passed the strict standards of
 pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.
     For our future to be strong, all of our communities must be strong. It
 says in the Bible, 'When there is injustice in the world, the poorest
 people, those with the least power, are injured the most.'
     That was certainly true for the people of Hurricane Katrina.
     Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, compounded by a man-made
 disaster. It is now 18 months past time to get our response right.
     This Congress has begun our hard work of reviewing the response to
 Katrina, beginning with hearings on housing. Our House Democratic Caucus
 Katrina Task Force, led by the delegations from the region, is committed to
 find solutions for the communities of the Gulf Coast.
     The response to Katrina is one of the great moral challenges facing our
 nation. So is ending the war in Iraq.
     It was a great President who said, 'America will pay any price...to
 assure the survival and the success of liberty.'
     And we will.
     The American people have demonstrated clearly their desire for a new
 direction in Iraq. The war has produced tens of thousands of U.S.
 casualties, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and damaged the standing
 of the United States in the international community. The strain the war is
 placing on our Army and Marine Corps diminishes our ability to respond to
 other challenges and thereby threatens our security. Escalating our
 military involvement in Iraq will not reverse these negative effects, it
 will only add to them.
     The solutions to the issues which divide Iraqis are political and
 diplomatic, not military. As such, they are beyond the ability of our
 troops, who have performed their difficult and dangerous missions with
 great courage, to resolve. The Iraqis and their neighbors have the most at
 stake in an unsafe Iraq. The sooner we give them the responsibility for
 their future, the sooner our troops can come home.
     That is why, Senator Reid, many House members support the bipartisan
 resolution in the Senate, that states, 'It is not in the national interest
 of the United States to deepen our involvement in Iraq, particularly by
 escalating the United States military force presence.'
     We must make this Congress about the future for a new America.
 Innovation will provide the new ideas to defend America, care for our
 children, grow our economy, and preserve our planet.
     Thank you.
     I am honored to present Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and in
 doing so acknowledge his great leadership for our country.
     Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
     Thank you Speaker Pelosi for that introduction and for the leadership
 you provide our party and our country. You've made history, and Americans -
 regardless of their partisan perspective -- share joy in your achievement.
     In its first 100 hours, the new leadership in the House has shown
 America that Democrats and Republicans can work together to deliver
 results. Last night - on the issue of ethics - the Senate scored its first
 victory of this new year, passing perhaps the most sweeping ethics reform
 legislation in history.
     Now that we've changed the way Washington does business, it's our job
 -- and the job of every member of Congress -- to keep moving America in a
 new direction.
     The new Congress will confront many difficult issues in 2007, but none
 more important than keeping America safe. We live in a dangerous world. We
 face many threats. There are critical challenges around the world America
 must confront:
     In Afghanistan, where the Taliban and al Qaeda are resurgent.
     In North Korea and Iran, which continue to march forward with their
 nuclear programs.
     In Darfur, where genocide rages, and elsewhere in Africa, where poverty
 and sickness are leading to mass human suffering and dangerous instability.
     In Latin America, where Chavez and Castro want to put their leftist
 mark on young democracies.
     And in the Middle East and here at home, where, as the Speaker
 indicated, we need to find a way to free ourselves from our dangerous
 dependence on oil.
     These are just some of the national security challenges we face.
 Unfortunately, we have yet to adequately confront these or other problems,
 because this Administration has been all consumed and, frankly, overwhelmed
 by its own failed policies in Iraq.
     The Iraq war has now lasted longer than World War II -- a war that took
 us to far away Okinawa across North Africa and throughout the continent of
 Europe.
     The costs of the war have been staggering.
     We've lost 3,025 of our troops, and seen tens-of-thousands more
 wounded. The war has strained our military, and depleted our Treasury. Last
 year, violence claimed the lives of at least 34,000 Iraqis - a rate of
 almost 100 a day.
     Yet despite these tremendous costs, despite this great sacrifice, the
 Iraq war has made America less safe, not more safe. Our troops in Iraq --
 including hundreds of fine Nevadans -- have done everything asked of them.
 It's their political leaders at home who've failed.
     We must change course.
     Unfortunately, the President's new plan can be summed up in four words:
 "more of the same."
     Like our military generals, the American people and a growing
 bipartisan chorus in Congress, I believe escalation is a serious mistake.
     As both our top commanders in the region -- Generals Abigail and Casey
 -- have testified, Iraq is experiencing a violent civil war. Interjecting
 more U.S. military forces will not end the civil war, only a comprehensive
 political settlement by the Iraqi government will.
     For over a year, Democrats have been proposing a better plan for Iraq:
 a plan based on what is in the best interest of our country now and in the
 long- term fight against terror and a plan embraced by the bipartisan Iraq
 Study Group.
     Our plan for Iraq begins by transforming the military mission. The
 mission of our troops should be transitioned away from combat to training,
 force protection, logistics and counter-terror. U.S. forces have been given
 an impossible mission -- policing a civil war. It's Iraqis -- not our
 troops -- who should be walking the streets of Baghdad, trying to sort
 friend from foe.
     Next, we should begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces within the
 next four to six months, so Iraqis understand they must lead the fight and
 take responsibility for their future.
     Only Iraqis can ultimately secure Iraq.
     A phased redeployment will allow our country to rebuild the military
 force here at home, and increase the number of troops available to hunt for
 Osama bin Laden and stabilize Afghanistan.
     Third, we need to bring Iraq's neighbors into the process of
 stabilizing the country. This step will not be easy for an Administration
 that has failed at diplomacy. Yet, diplomacy is exactly what is needed.
     The violence won't stop in Iraq until all factions agree to stop the
 violence.
     It is true, the Iranians and the Syrians have played a destabilizing
 role in Iraq, but that doesn't mean we can't communicate with them as part
 of a regional framework. As Secretary Jim Baker of the Iraq Study Group
 noted, we must talk to our enemies, not just our friends.
     Our plan for Iraq will do what this President has been incapable of
 doing: turning Iraq over to the Iraqi's and bringing our troops home. This
 is what the majority of Americans voted for last November, and this is what
 Congress will continue to hold the President accountable to do.
     As Speaker Pelosi said, the President's plan will receive an up-or-down
 vote in both Chambers of Congress. With that vote, our hope -- our prayer
 -- is that this President will finally listen. Listen to the Generals.
 Listen to the Iraq Study Group. Listen to the American people. And listen
 to a bipartisan Congress. The answer in Iraq is not to "double down" --
 literally to do more of the same. The answer is to find a new course that
 brings this war to an end.
     Let me say more about votes in Congress. When we hold the up-or-down
 vote -- and in the many votes that follow -- our troops will get everything
 they need. It is the President who will find he no longer has a blank
 check.
     The days of a rubberstamp Congress are over. This Congress - unlike the
 previous Congress -- will always put the needs of our troops first. We'll
 keep America's promises to our soldiers, our veterans and our National
 Guard. And after years of overuse and neglect, we'll rebuild and reinvest
 in the military, so it remains the finest force in the world.
     As much as we're convinced the President has chosen the wrong direction
 in Iraq, we're increasingly concerned he's headed in the wrong direction in
 Iran and Afghanistan .
     Five years after we defeated the Taliban, the extremists are returning.
 Drug production is soaring. And attacks on U.S. and NATO forces are on the
 rise. By all measures, the country is at risk of slipping away; yet, some
 reports suggest the President will be moving some U.S. troops out of
 Afghanistan and into Iraq. This is a terrible mistake.
     Although time is short, there is still an opportunity to defeat our
 enemies in Afghanistan once and for all. The President must acknowledge
 what's at stake, and immediately take action to prevent the country from
 returning to what it was -- a haven for international terrorism.
     Much has been made about President Bush's recent saber rattling toward
 Iran. This morning, I'd like to be clear: The President does not have the
 authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking
 Congressional authorization -- the current use of force resolution for Iraq
 does not give him such authorization.
     Let there be no doubt, the Iranian regime poses one of the great
 threats of the new century, but the Iranian people -- 2/3rds of which are
 under the age of 30 -- present a great opportunity for progress.
 Regrettably, this Administration has no strategy for connecting with this
 generation of potential reformers.
     One of the reasons Iran is free to thumb its nose at the world
 community is oil. Iran sends millions of barrels of crude oil to the
 Western world, and gets billions of dollars in return.
     Fortunately, we have the power to turn the tables on Iran. That power
 is energy independence. If the United States led the world in developing
 new alternative fuel technologies, we could create new jobs, export new
 products, slow global warming and reduce Iran's leverage on the
 international stage.
     When it comes to energy, the Congress has already moved forward on a
 number of fronts -- from reducing global warming to promoting renewable
 fuels to mandating ethanol from biomass. On Tuesday, we're looking forward
 to the President finally joining the energy debate. For our security, our
 economy, and our environment, we must pull together and secure America's
 energy future.
     Fortunately, I know we can.
     Like all Americans, I vividly remember September 11, 2001 and the days
 that followed. Democrats and Republicans stood together as Americans in
 doing whatever it took to keep our country safe.
     9/11 was a terrible day, but it showed our country united and strong,
 with the world by our side.
     Regrettably, bipartisanship -- and the alliances that shined so bright
 after 9/11 -- have been challenged in recent years: the President's conduct
 of the war in Iraq has divided our country and our allies. The White
 House's detainee policy and abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have
 damaged our moral authority. And this administration's disdain for
 diplomacy has hardened our enemies, and cost us opportunities in the
 developing world, where extremists are out-working the U.S. in the battle
 for hearts and minds.
     Together this year, we must reclaim that bipartisan spirit. It
 shouldn't take a national tragedy to get us to work together. We should be
 equally inspired by our responsibility to keep America safe.
     From Afghanistan to energy, our challenges are great, but we know
 America can meet them. And we know we must begin by changing course in
 Iraq.
     In Congress, we'll continue working with Republicans to keep America
 safe, and we'll listen to President Bush Tuesday night. Together, we must
 move in a new direction, and build a safer, stronger nation.
     CONTACT: Jim Manley, Reid, 202-224-2939
               Brendan Daly / Jennifer Crider, Pelosi, 202-226-7616
 
 

SOURCE Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Office of Senate Democratic

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