Washington, DC–The Senate Democratic Leadership today sent the following letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, calling on him to direct the Senate to address five issues critical to the American people. The Senators called on Congressional Republicans to put aside their partisan agenda and join Democrats in building an America that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
The text of the letter is below.
July 13, 2006
The Honorable William Frist, M.D.
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Frist:
As you are well aware, the 109th Congress is quickly coming to an end. With only 21 legislative days left in this year’s session, the opportunity to achieve substantive achievements for the American people is quickly coming to an end and we have little to show for it in terms of addressing their real needs. It is crucial that we use the days remaining in this work period to address four critical issues facing American families. Without taking action to lower gas prices, make college tuition more affordable, finally reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, or demand that the Bush administration follow the law and make 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq, the Republican Congress will have failed the American people.
We are pleased that you have answered our call to schedule stem cell legislation for next week. It is our hope that we can join together in passing meaningful bipartisan legislation, such as H.R. 810, that will open the door for cures and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.
During this summer’s busy driving season, record high gas and energy prices are squeezing families, small businesses and hurting our economy. It is long past time for the Senate to address this energy crisis. Last May, you told the American people that the Congress would respond yet to date no action has been taken. We urge you to take up the Clean EDGE Act, a comprehensive piece of energy legislation that will give consumers a break from these high prices and put America on the path towards energy independence.
At the same time, we should also address the needs of working families by fighting to make college education more affordable. On July 1, 2006, college students and their families were hit with an increase in the cost of student loans. After years of skyrocketing tuition costs, this added pressure is an undue burden. The Senate should take action to make a college education more affordable by passing a college tuition tax credit. This action would provide major relief to American families.
It is of great concern to us that the Republican Congress appears to be on the brink of failing to renew the Voting Rights Act. This milestone legislation, which provided needed protections, is a cornerstone of the 1960s civil rights legislation that brought the promise of freedom and liberty to all Americans. Given the concerns of voting irregularities in recent elections, there is no excuse for failing to renew the Voting Rights Act this month. We urge you to provide your leadership to ensure this happens.
While American families are concerned about these issues, the war in Iraq continues to weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of all Americans. Last year, we joined together in a bipartisan way to demand that the Bush administration make 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq. Now more than halfway through this year, the Bush administration has failed to follow that law and that transition is not proceeding. Despite our effort to engage in a real debate last month on a way forward in Iraq, the Republican Senate voted to rubberstamp the same failed policy of stay the course. Since that time, an additional 31 U.S. soldiers have died and Iraq is slipping into a civil war. Clearly the status quo is not working. We owe it to our troops and their families to find a way forward and we hope you will provide the Senate with the opportunity to do so.
This Congress faces the very real threat of breaking new records as a “Do Nothing Congress”. We urge you to turn your attention to these issues during the next four weeks so that we can return home in August proud of the achievements of this Congress.
Senator Harry Reid Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Charles Schumer