In this week’s Democratic response to President Bush’s radio address, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talked about his party’s successes so far this year and why they haven’t been able to accomplish more. “On day one of the new Congress, we passed the toughest ethics reform in history to restore faith in the integrity of our government. We have honored our commitment to the working families that built our country and keep it great by, passing a balanced budget with tax cuts for working people; raising the minimum wage for the first time in ten years; extending health insurance to thousands of children of working class parents; and providing disaster relief for farmers and ranchers after three years of Republican inaction. And finally, over President Bush’s objection, we provided funds for Gulf Coast recovery so that families devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita can return to their homes.”

Reid continued to list the Democrats accomplishments. “We said we would make America safer, and we delivered. We passed the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission – after Republicans had let them languish for five years. And just last week, we passed a comprehensive energy bill that reduces our dependence on oil from unstable countries, tackles record gas prices, makes cars more fuel-efficient for the first time in over 25 years, and gets serious about global warming.

We said we would put our faith in the hope of stem cell research, and we did – but once again, President Bush vetoed funding this research that could save millions of lives. And perhaps our most important commitment of all was to stand by our troops and their families. We passed legislation to change course in Iraq, only to see the President veto it. But we also supplied our troops with better equipment and protection, and provided our veterans with the health care they have earned,” Reid said.

Reid then blamed the Republicans as the reason why the Senate hasn’t passed more legislation. “Too many Republicans have stood in the way of progress instead of helping us lead the way. The immigration vote we had this week was just the latest example. With that bill, we had a rare chance to make progress on one of the country’s top problems. The overwhelming majority of Democrats voted to move forward on a bill even President Bush supported, but just a handful of Republicans joined us. Voting against a bill on a matter of principle is one thing. But Republican obstruction has gotten so bad that now they’re blocking bills that they actually support. The ethics reform bill passed by a vote of 96-2, but now Republicans are blocking it. The 9/11 Commission bill passed with heavy Republican support, but they are also blocking this critical legislation.”

His last point was an obvious one. Republicans and Democrats are going to have to work together more if they want to accomplish anything. “To go forward, we will need far more Republicans to put partisan politics aside and work with us for the American people. This can start next week with the Defense Authorization bill, which is a new opportunity to change course in Iraq. While a growing number of Republicans are saying the right things on Iraq, we’ll soon find out if they have the courage to vote the right way too.” Sen. Reid was trying to answer some of the criticisms of the Senate that have been made mostly by his fellow Democrats. What he has to realize is that most Democrats are disappointed in the Congress because both he and Nancy Pelosi promised the moon and stars during last fall’s mid term elections.

Congressional Democrats soon realized that they didn’t have the power to deliver what they promised, but instead of working harder on issues that Democrats care about, they wasted weeks supporting President Bush’s immigration reform bill. Immigration is a much bigger issue for Republican voters than it is for Democrats, who would have been happier if they would have spent this time dealing with the war in Iraq or health care.  I think that the Democratic leadership has gotten a bit of a bad rap from its constituents. They aren’t a do-nothing Congress, but they promised to end an unpopular war, and thus far haven’t delivered, so in that respect, the criticism is deserved.

Full text of Reid’s address 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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