Senate Democrats

DEMOCRATS FIGHT FOR A NEW DIRECTION

While Republican Congress serves multi-millionaires, Democrats call for stem cell research and a real minimum wage raise

Washington, DC — With Congressional Republicans putting their allegiance to the right wing and the super-rich above the interests of the American people, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, and Senators Edward Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein, and Tom Harkin today joined Harley Thomas, President of the Board of Directors of the National Spinal Cord Association, and Kris Gulden, a victim of spinal cord injury hoping for the promise of stem cell research, to call for a new direction for America. The Senators continued their fight for stem cell research and for a Congress that puts the economic security of the American people, and an increase in the minimum wage, above trillion-dollar giveaways to multi-millionaires.

Unfortunately, instead a Republican Congress that did nothing to challenge President Bush’s veto of stem cell legislation has now sprung into action to extort massive handouts to multi-millionaires from working families. Instead of serving the American people, this Do Nothing Congress is pushing a sham minimum wage bill that would cut the wages of workers across the country. The American people have had enough with a Congress that ignores sound science and the challenges facing working families, and today the Democrats called for a new direction.

“This Congress has done nothing for the people, and what they have done has hurt,” said Senator Reid. “Republicans have hijacked the Senate to improve their electoral chances, and it has come at the expense of the American people. First, Republicans voted in favor of Stem Cell research. Then they refused to override the President’s veto. Now they’re holding the minimum wage and middle-class tax relief hostage, so they can repeal the Estate Tax. Republicans are putting 800 billion dollars in tax breaks for 8,100 people ahead of millions of America’s families. America needs a new direction, and we need it now.”

“Instead of changing an obviously flawed policy, the President vetoed a bill that offered new hope for the child with diabetes struggling with daily insulin injections, new hope for the patient afflicted with the tremors of Parkinson’s Disease, and new hope for families across America praying for a better life and a brighter tomorrow for loved ones affected by disease. Sadly, the Republican majority in Congress sided with the President and upheld his veto of hope,” Senator Kennedy said. “And now under the cynical Republican estate tax bill, Paris Hilton and her family will get $250 million, while the tipped workers in Hilton hotels will lose up to $5.60 an hour. That’s un-American. It’s wrong. It’s unfair. And we’re going to fight it.”

“Five years ago, the President announced his restrictions on the development of new stem cell lines,” said Senator Feinstein. “Since then, it has become all too clear that this is a failed policy – that meets neither the needs of research nor provides an adequate ethical framework. Last month, the Senate passed major legislation that expanded the number of lines available for research. It was a balanced, ethical bill. Yet, the President vetoed it. I hope he will have a change of heart and unleash the full potential of embryonic stem cell research.”

“Let’s be clear, Democrats will not give up the fight on stem cell research. The President’s veto is not the final word. We are determined to chart a new direction for America – a new direction that is on the side of science and hope. That’s why we will reintroduce this bill in the next Congress. And we intend to prevail,” said Senator Harkin.

Kris Gulden, a victim of spinal injury, made clear the real effect of Congress inaction, saying, “I have never bent down to pick up my niece, or carried my nephew on my shoulders. I can no longer walk on the beach, windsurf, or do back flips off a diving board. I can’t feel a hand resting on my thigh. Limited strength in my left hand makes it difficult for me to button a shirt, open jars, and use kitchen utensils. Since I don’t have bowel or bladder function, I have to plan every single day around when and where I will use the restroom. Stem cell research may change those things.”

Republicans have shown they’re willing to bow to the right wing on vital stem cell research, work to cut wages for workers across America, and fight to give massive handouts to multi-millionaires. Democrats believe Congress should serve ALL Americans. Over the course of the 109th Congress, Democrats have laid out a comprehensive agenda that will put America back on the right track, address the serious challenges facing the American people today, and provide a real raise in the minimum wage and a commitment to scientific research. After the failures of the Do Nothing Republican Congress, it is time to take this country in a new direction.

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