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Parties to Trade Jabs Over ‘100 Days’ Agenda

House Democrats head back to their districts next week for the April recess to tout the passage of the majority’s “New Direction” agenda, including bills to increase the minimum wage and cut student loan rates among other goals, while the chamber’s Republicans will attempt to highlight the failure to enact any of those measures yet.

“We have had 100 days … of extraordinary progress,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said at a Wednesday press conference touting the first 100 days of the 110th Congress. That date actually will fall on April 14, during the House’s two-week break.

In a memo distributed at the weekly Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday, House leaders urged rank-and-file Members to host events tied to the New Direction agenda Democrats campaigned on in the fall, highlighting a slate of bills approved by the House earlier this year that target minimum wage, student loans, stem cells, energy independence, prescription drug prices and the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, the nonpartisan body that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The document also encouraged Democrats to discuss the Iraq War spending bill, which would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq no later than 2008, as well as the federal budget and ethics reforms.

“We will not rest on our laurels,” Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) said at the Wednesday press conference. “We are just getting warmed up, and this first quarter was opening season for us.”

But Republicans will return home armed with rebuttals to those initiatives, notably disparaging Democrats over the fact that none of the “New Direction” items have reached President Bush’s desk.

“Nearly 100 days on, not a single one of those pieces of legislation has become law,” a talking-points booklet distributed by Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) states.

The document — which also asserts that the majority is attempting to “micromanage” the Iraq War as well as attacking the Democratic-authored federal budget for allowing Republican-implemented tax cuts to expire in 2011 — reminds GOP lawmakers that the president has threatened to veto at least two of the bills.

Despite that delay, however, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fervently argued House Democrats have not failed to deliver on their campaign season promises, stating: “That’s simply not the case.”

Pelosi noted that both chambers have approved measures to increase the minimum wage and to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations, although the chambers must reconcile significant differences in their wage bills.

“They are moving forward in their timetable. We moved forward in ours, and there is more to come,” Pelosi added, saying that legislation promoting stem-cell research is expected on the Senate floor following the April recess. “Each House in its own tempo is moving forward.”

In addition, Hoyer took aim at Senate Republicans, blaming that chamber’s minority for holding up legislation.

“I would hope that the Republicans in the United States Senate, where the rules do not provide [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid (D-Nev.) with the ability to get legislation through as quickly that the American people want … would cooperate with Mr. Reid in allowing that to happen,” Hoyer said, referring to Senate rules that require a 60-vote majority to move legislation.

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