Accessibility links

Breaking News

Democrats Lay Out Agenda for Majority Rule in House

After their victories in Tuesday's mid-term election, Democratic Party leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are laying out their agenda for majority rule, while Republicans analyze their losses. Democrats have again called on President Bush to work with them on a plan that would bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.

Democratic leaders in the House used separate news conferences to talk about how they intend to use their new power in the House.

Voted into the majority with a gain of at least 30 seats in the House, Democrats plan to tackle a range of foreign and domestic issues, from the war in Iraq to the economy and corruption in Congress.

Rahm Emanuel, chief architect of the Democrats' campaign strategy, says they will use their majority to move the country forward, while trying to avoid what he calls the politics of polarization practiced by Republicans.

"There are not just good Democratic ideas and bad Republican ideas, or good Republican ideas and bad Democratic ideas; there are ideas that either move you forward or take you back and if we approach it that way I think we're going to make a lot of progress," he said.

Democratic priorities, include implementing recommendations of the bipartisan commission that investigated the September 11 [2001] attacks, increasing the minimum wage, and laying the groundwork for an eventual U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, poised to become the first female to hold the powerful post of Speaker of the House in January, says Democrats want to bring integrity and civility to Congress, and held out the offer of cooperation to President Bush.

"We pledged partnerships with Republicans in Congress, and with the president, and not partisanship," she said.

But for Democrats to achieve their goals will partly depend on the final election results for the Senate, now hanging on the outcome of one still undetermined race in the state of Virginia.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are analyzing their losses.

Congressman Tom Reynolds, who headed his party's campaign operations, blames losses on what he calls the sour national [political] environment, asserting the results while disappointing were not really surprising.

"The election really was a matter of history repeating itself," he said. "Second term, mid-term elections are the toughest for the president's party, and one like last night is absolutely no different."

In a post-election telephone conversation with President Bush, House Speaker-designate Pelosi says she emphasized the need to work together on Iraq.

"We know that stay the course [in Iraq] is not working, has not made our country safer, it has not honored our commitment to our troops and it has not brought stability to the region. We must not continue on this catastrophic path."

Pelosi and other Democrats will have an opportunity to drive home their views on Iraq and other matters when they meet with the president on Thursday.

In a news conference Wednesday, the president stood firm in his position that any precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be harmful and undermine democracy there.

Prospective House Majority Leader, Congressman Steny Hoyer, said Democrats want success in Iraq no less than Republicans, adding that an upcoming report by a special commission headed by former Secretary of State James Baker will be a key to charting a new course.

Baker has said that report was delayed to ensure it would not influence the results of the congressional mid-term election.