WASHINGTON – Capitol Hill's top Democrats said Friday they hope next week's State of the Union speech will tackle global warning,but warned they would not wait for President Bush to begin reform.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif.,said fighting global warming is essential to “preserve our planet,God's creation.”
Pelosi,along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev.,spoke before a packed room of reporters at the National Press Club to outline their plans for the 110th Congress and take a pre-emptive stance on the president's address,scheduled for Tuesday night.
The two congressional leaders beamed about their recent successes,including voting to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission,to cut student loan interest rates and to revise the Senate's ethics rules.
“We've created the most open and honest Congress in history,” Pelosi said.
The speaker,who earlier in the week announced plans to create a new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming,said greenhouse gases must be reduced. She said the country needs to end its dependence on foreign oil and big oil businesses to increase safety in the 21st century.
In the House,the first step against big oil was a measure,passed Thursday,to repeal tax breaks the oil firms received in 2004. But Pelosi still needs a majority vote in the House to create the committee,and the energy measure awaits Senate approval.
President Bush said in his 2006 State of the Union speech that “America is addicted to oil” but did little to appease Democratic concerns last year.
“On Tuesday,we're looking for the president to finally join the energy debate,” Reid said.
Replacing oil with alternative energy,such as solar and wind power,would also create new jobs in the United States and lessen Iran's leverage on the world. That country's regime,who Reid said posed “one of the greatest threats” to our time,earns billions each year from oil sales.
Pelosi and Reid said they hope to gain presidential support and have a more bipartisan approach to the issue,but neither hesitated to criticize the administration's handling of the war in Iraq.
Both Democratic leaders said the way to succeed in Iraq is through diplomacy and passing the responsibility to Iraqi forces. They said they support the non-binding resolution introduced Wednesday by Sens. Chuck Hagel,R-Neb.; Joseph R. Biden,Jr.,D-Del.,and Carl Levin,D-Mich.
“I believe escalation is a serious mistake,” Reid said,referring to the announced surge of 21,500 troops. “The United States forces have been given an impossible mission.”
Pelosi agreed that a phased redeployment of troops must begin to secure America's safety. “What is the success of the status quo?” she said. “There is none,only failure.”