Friday, May 11, 2007

Congressman Boren Gives ODP Readers DC Update

We asked Democratic Congressman Dan Boren to write us a piece for the Blog and Yellow Dog Dispatch. Here is what he sent....

Congressional Democrats Deliver

by Congressman Dan Boren

It’s an exciting time for Democrats here in Oklahoma and across the country. The party controls Congress for the first time in a decade and we’ve got a great shot at the White House in 2008. Discontent with the current administration is working in our favor, but we know we can’t rely on that alone.

For the first six years of the Bush Administration the Republican-controlled Congress abdicated its oversight authority, allowing the administration to do what it wanted with no mechanism for accountability. The Democratic Congress is doing what the American people expect and the constitution requires: asking questions, demanding answers and holding government accountable to the taxpayers.

We are also working hard to strengthen our military, grow our economy, promote energy security and care for our families. In just four months the House has passed 37 key measures; most with broad, bipartisan support. We’ve advanced legislation for middle-class families and worked hard to rid Congress of corruption.

Never is it more important to meet and exceed our obligations to veterans than in a time of war. When news broke of the substandard care soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were receiving at Walter Reed and other military hospitals, we held hearings and saw to it that those directly responsible were shown the door. We then got to work on legislation to make sure this never happens again. The Wounded Warrior Assistance Act passed the House by a unanimous vote of 426-0.

Congress last raised the minimum wage in 1996. Adjusted for inflation the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is at its lowest rate in more than 50 years. Minimum-wage earners make up a higher percentage of the workforce in Oklahoma than any other state and it’s time their wages caught up with the increases they have seen in their expenses over the past decade. That’s why I voted in January for a bipartisan bill to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over two years.

The best investment we can make is in educating the next generation. Democrats recognize that this is the key to a vibrant economy and productive workforce. That’s why we have worked to cut in half the interest rate on federal student loans, expand and improve the Head Start program, invest federal dollars in 10,000 new math, science and technology teachers, and encourage entrepreneurial innovation.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Congress and the President created an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate government failures that day and propose changes to prevent future attacks. For more than two years, the Republican Congress left the majority of those recommendations unfulfilled. In January, the House passed H.R. 1 to improve our border, port, aviation and infrastructure security.

All 50 states, private corporations, the Veteran’s Administration and large pharmacy chains use their bargaining clout to obtain lower drug prices for the patients they serve. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should have the same ability to lower drug prices for seniors. The House passed H.R. 4 to give Medicare the authority to use its buying power to get prescriptions at the lowest possible price.

I’m proud to call myself a member of the party that stands up for veterans, opens doors of opportunity for our children, works for middle-class Americans, and who believes that values are best exhibited by actions and rather than words.

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