WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter joined New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes and other House Democrats in completing an ambitious two-week legislative agenda.
The legislation included initiatives that have strong popular support but had been blocked by the Republican leadership for several years. These include bills to increase the minimum wage, require the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare, cut rates for student loans, implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, promote stem cell research, help find cures for intractable diseases, and strengthen ethics rules for Congress.
Legislators spoke in an informal session on the House floor, led by Congressman Hodes. Carol Shea-Porter said that she was proud to have fulfilled promises she had made to the people of New Hampshire.
"This week surely we have shown what we are capable of doing," she told her colleagues on the House floor. "People really worried about Congress being able to get together to pass legislation that would actually help the people. This week we have shown that we know how to get this job done. And it is an exhilarating feeling to be part of it."
Shea-Porter was a sponsor of legislation to require the federal government to negotiate lower prices on prescription drugs for the Medicare program. The result would lower costs to seniors and save money for taxpayers. The 2003 Medicare bill, pushed through by the Republican leadership, had explicitly prevented the government from negotiating for lower prices.
Congresswoman Shea-Porter responded to some who have criticized the idea of forcing the government to seek lower costs on prescription drugs: "I'll tell you something," she said, "you will never see the CEO of a company ordering their purchasing department not to negotiate anything. You need to negotiate if you want the best deal for the American public."
Commenting on the entire package of legislation, Shea-Porter said: "This is what we had been asked to do," she said. "And this is what we delivered."
The House has passed the following items since the start of the 110th Congress:
- Ethics Reform, 1/4/07, Passed 430-1 (D 232-0; R 198-1)
- Restoring Fiscal Responsibility, 1/5/07, Passed 280-152 (D 232-0; R 48-152)
- Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations, 1/9/07, Passed 299-128 (D 231-0; R 68-128)
- Increasing the Minimum Wage, 1/10/07, Passed 315-116 (D 233-0; R 82-116)
- Expanding Stem Cell Research, 1/11/07, Passed 253-174 (D 216-16; R 37-158)
- Requiring Negotiation for Lower Prescription Drug Costs, 1/12/07, Passed 255-170 (D 231-0; R 24-170)
- Cutting Interest Rates on Student Loans, 1/17/07, Passed 356-71 (D 232-0; R 124-71)
- Ending Subsidies for Big Oil and Investing in Renewable Energy, 1/18/07, Passed 264 - 123 (D 228-4; R 36-159)