Congress is on a summer break, a good time to look at what has and has not been accomplished during the first seven months of this session. The good news is that there has been progress - not enough, but some progress - toward helping veterans, improving conditions for working people, making college more affordable, reversing our disastrous energy policies and increasing access to health care. The bad news is that six years into the worst administration in the modern history of our country Congress has failed so far to significantly reverse President Bush's most misguided policies and change the direction that he has taken our country.
Exhibit A in what has not been accomplished is ending the war in
Action to end the war in
There is good news.
In both the House and the Senate legislation has been passed which would break our dependency on fossil fuels, move us toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy and help us reverse the crisis of global warming. Do these bills go far enough? Absolutely not! But they are a start. I am proud that the Senate bill included a provision I introduced to create "green collar jobs," a whole new workforce in the emerging field of making homes and businesses more energy efficient. I also was able to include language in the bill to create an Environmental Block Grant Program for states, cities and towns as well as a similar type program for colleges and universities.
As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee I will do everything I can to see that the bill that I introduced, S.309, the strongest and most comprehensive global warming bill in Congress, is passed. This bill, which has been endorsed by Al Gore, has 19 co-sponsors, including Senator Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and Senator Patrick Leahy. It also is cosponsored by every Democratic senator running for president from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Barak Obama to Joe Biden to Chris Dodd.
At a time when the middle class is shrinking and poverty is increasing a step forward was made in helping some of the lowest-paid workers in
At a time when college costs are soaring, higher education would become more accessible under a Senate-passed bill. The legislation would provide $17 billion in additional college aid to students, including $39 million in additional Pell Grants for
Health care, veterans and children would benefit from a $2.9 trillion budget resolution Congress passed. We secured additional budget authority for a network of federally funded community health centers. The budget resolution also creates a $5 billion reserve fund for childcare assistance. It sets aside another $43.1 billion in discretionary spending for veterans -- $3.6 billion more than Bush requested -- including the largest increase for veteran's medical care in
This country faces some very serious problems. In the last seven months Congress has made some progress, but much, much more needs to be done.