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January 19, 2007

Speaker Pelosi, Take a Bow

And "This is only the beginning", says Ms. Pelosi, after passing the promised first 6 bills (in addition to their impressive new internal ethics rules) in way less than the the first 100 hours.  They began with moving to restore the public trust by passing  HR 1,  implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations;  HR 2, raising the minimum wage; HR 3, expanding stem cell research; HR 4, requiring Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices; HR 5, cutting interest rates on student loans; and HR 6, eliminating subsidies for big oil and investing the savings in renewable energy.   

The house accomplished this with record Democratic support and impressive Republican support.  These are not done deals but I'm guessing that 5 of the 6 make it all the way past the Senate and Bush into law, along with the ethics changes.  The Senate, moving at a different pace than the House, with different rules, will get to these more slowly and there are bound to be compromises needed to prevent filibusters. 

But, the big point is, we are moving forward, folks.  This, along with the hearings that the Senate is already conducting, are what we worked so hard for last fall.  We now are in a position to contribute to the governing process, and we will kick ass.

Lastly, Pelosi knows to include the netroots in her messaging - she is writing on Huffington Post herself - and to make information on what they are doing readily available in easy form for us to use.  For example, I have a paragraph from Speaker Pelosi's website on each of the six new bills, with links to even more information, over the fold:

H.R. 1 - Implementing 9/11 Commission's Recommendations

This legislation provides for the implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations remaining after the enactment of the Intelligence Reform bill in 2004. The bill’s provisions include requiring major improvements in aviation security, border security, and infrastructure security; providing first responders the equipment and training they need; beefing up efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; and significantly expanding diplomatic, economic, educational, and other strategies designed to counter Islamic terrorism.

H.R. 2 - Raising the Minimum Wage

This bill increases the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years. Increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour would bring a pay raise for up to 13 million Americans.

H.R. 3 - Promoting Life-Saving Stem Cell Research

The DeGette-Castle stem cell research bill increases the number of lines of stem cells that are eligible to be used in federally-funded research. The bill authorizes Health and Human Services (HHS) to support research involving embryonic stem cells meeting certain criteria, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from an embryo. Current policy allows federal funds to be used for research only on those stem cell lines that existed when President Bush issued an executive order on August 9, 2001. The bill only authorizes the use of stem cell lines generated from embryos that would otherwise be discarded by fertility clinics. The bill includes stronger ethical guidelines than the President’s current policy.

H.R. 4 - Requiring Medicare to Negotiate Lower Prescription Drug Prices

This bill repeals the current provision that prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices for those enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans and instead requires the Secretary to conduct such negotiations. The bill also requires the HHS Secretary to submit to the relevant congressional committees a report on the negotiations conducted by the Secretary, not later than June 1, 2007, and every six months thereafter. Under the bill, the Secretary has discretion on how to best implement the negotiating authority and achieve the greatest discounts.

H.R. 5 - Cutting Interest Rates on Student Loans

This bill makes college more accessible and affordable by cutting the interest rates on subsidized student loans in half – from the current 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. This significantly cuts the student debt burden of about 5 million students.

H.R. 6 - Repealing Big Oil Subsidies/Investing in Renewable Fuels

This bill invests in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency by repealing billions in subsidies given to big oil companies that are raking in record profits. Specifically, the measure ensures oil companies that were awarded the 1998 and 1999 leases for drilling paid their fair share in royalties. It also closes loopholes and ends giveaways in the tax code for Big Oil. Finally, the bill creates a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve to invest in clean, renewable energy resources, promoting new emerging technologies, developing greater efficiency and improving energy conservation.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 19, 2007 at 11:04 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

Pelosi should NOT take a bow on H.R.5. Most support the bill without even fully understanding the bill and it's additions (Sunshine Act & Star Act). Rightfully so, since its sugar coded with, "It's going to lower your student loan interest rates"!Yes, loan rates will drop .68% every year for the next 5 yrs however, it's not an instant drop and it's ONLY on subsidized loans. Most student loan borrowers loans are unsubsidized loans which will not be reduced at all. Also, subsidized loan rates will change right back to 6.80% once the 5yr term is over, just in time for those new graduates to become responsible for the interest on these loans. Hmm, sounds like the Govt is just giving themselves a break, not the students. Additionally, H.R. 5 and it's additions will increase the fees to FFELP lenders which will force a lot of these lenders out of the student loan industry, minimizing borrowers choices and reducing incentives only FFELP lenders give to borrowers. The GOVT is trying to monopolize the industry with this bill and it's additions. THESE BILLS ARE BAD NEWS FOR STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS!I advise doing your online research, you'll be shocked at all the hidden things these bills are going to do student loan borrowers. If you do not support this bill I recommend contacting your states senator, contact info is available at: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. It takes less than 60 seconds to voice your opinion.

Posted by: Dale Henderson | Mar 8, 2007 8:49:32 AM

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