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Pelosi Lays Out First 100 Days

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spent Wednesday outlining her goals for the first 100 days of the 111th Congress, but warned that lawmakers will have “diminished options” when it comes to spending.

Democrats pledged to balance the budget by 2012 when they became the majority in Congress in 2006. “That would still be our hope,” Pelosi said Wednesday, but “we have a lot less money to draw upon because of the downturn in the economy.”

The economy, “of course,” is the top item on the agenda for the next Congress, Pelosi said. In terms of short-term priorities, she cited passing federal funding for stem-cell research and enhancing the children’s health insurance program, both of which were previously passed by the Democratic House but vetoed by President Bush.

General priorities that “have tracked the Obama campaign priorities for a very long time” include access to health care, ending the nation’s foreign oil dependence and ending the war in Iraq, Pelosi said.

The Speaker said she called President-elect Obama this morning to congratulate him on his victory, but said they didn’t discuss the legislative agenda. A senior Democratic aide said that conversation will likely come in the next few days.

In terms of advancing key legislation in the Senate, Pelosi said the five Senate seats picked up by Democrats on Tuesday night are “very significant.” The party still lacks a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority.

With President Bush leaving office, GOP Members will no longer need to protect him from having to sign or veto sensitive bills, Pelosi said.

“Because when the president vetoes legislation, the world knows,” she said. Republicans “did not want to raise the profile of those popular issues needed by the American people with the president vetoing them.”

Despite being a self-described “proud progressive Democrat,” Pelosi pledged to push her agenda in a bipartisan way and said the “country must be governed from the middle.” She said Republicans “have left a lot of field open as to how you define middle.”

However, bipartisan discussions will not include GOP plans to “destroy Social Security” or “unravel Medicare,” Pelosi added.

“In other words, are you committed to this, the principle of Social Security and Medicare and the rest?” she asked. “Now let’s see how we can work in a bipartisan way to strengthen them.”

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