House Democrats Set Goals, Seek Return to Power

For Immediate Release:

September 23, 2004

Contact:Thomas Ferraro

Reuters

In a scene reminiscent of the 1994 "Republican Revolution" that turned the U.S. Congress upside down, Democrats on Wednesday set ambitious goals for the nation and urged voters to finally put them back in charge.

Standing outside the Capitol, lawmakers spelled out "six core values" -- on such matters as defense, education, job creation and fiscal responsibility -- that they hope will help them win the Nov. 2 elections and end a decade of Republican control of the House of Representatives.

"When the American people entrust us to set the legislative agenda of this House, we will succeed and so will our country," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Republicans mocked the Democratic event as a poor imitation of their own 1994 political call to arms and charged that Democrats cannot lead because they cannot deliver.

"Democrats are making bumper stickers and the Republicans are making history," said Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, a member of the House Republican leadership.

On Monday it will be 10 years since House Republicans stood on the Capitol steps and unveiled their "Contract with America," a political manifesto to cut taxes and federal regulations and make Congress more responsive to voters.

Republicans successfully ran on the "contract" that year and won a majority in the House for the first time in four decades. During the 1994 "Republican Revolution," they also took the Senate.

Much of the "contract," such as welfare reform, has been enacted during the past decade. But some key proposals, like imposing congressional term limits, have failed.

Republicans now hold 228 of the 435 House seats, and 51 of the 100 Senate seats.

Democrats are encouraged about their prospects this year as polls have shown most Americans believe the nation is on "the wrong track" and disapprove of the Republican-led Congress.

But political analysts predict Republicans will retain both chambers, largely because of the advantages of incumbency in name recognition and ability to raise campaign funds.

Just 30 of the 435 House races are seen as competitive. For Democrats to win control, they would have to keep their vulnerable seats and take most of the Republican seats in play.

Democrats believe that they can catch a needed political wind if they can convince voters that they represent their best chance for a better future.

Toward that end, House Democrats presented their "New Partnership for America's Future: Six core values for a strong and secure middle class."

While no new initiatives or specific legislation is spelled out, this "partnership" basically provides a statement of principles and offers scores of goals.

They include: creating 10 million jobs over the next four years; enacting middle-class tax relief; providing health care coverage to all children; ending deficit spending, and stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the initiative is a road map to reverse the Republicans' "misguided policies that are failing the American people."

After the Democratic rally, House Republicans gathered inside the Capitol to eat cake, celebrate their 10 years in power and tweak the opposition.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas held a copy of the pocket-size Democratic "partnership" and said: "This document was forged from Republican accomplishments."