Good morning and Happy New Year. This is Congressman- elect Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, California, a new Member in the 110th Congress.
As we move into the New Year and the new Congress, I am excited about what we can achieve for the American people. In this election, the American people clearly called for change: change in the way we do business in Washington, change in the way that we shape our energy policy, and most importantly, a change of direction in Iraq.
As our first responsibility in fulfilling the mandate of this critical election, House Democrats will restore integrity and civility in Washington in order to earn the public trust.
We will ban gifts from lobbyists and lobbyist-funded travel, prohibit the use of corporate jets, and shut down the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street Lobbyists. We will restore the House tradition of allowing a reasonable 15-minute voting period to prevent extended votes, and we will require that Congress put away the credit card and operate under a pay-as-you-go common sense budget rules. We will hold Members of Congress accountable to the people who voted them into office, not lobbyists and special interests.
Our heavy dependence on foreign oil is putting our economy, our climate, and our national security at great risk. We are actually funding the very terrorists around the world who are trying to harm us. It's our patriotic duty as citizens of this great nation to end our dependence on imported oil. Democrats will quickly and significantly reduce our consumption of foreign oil while creating jobs, prosperity, and a healthy environment with a new energy technology, including renewable energy and bio-fuels.
Most of the technologies needed to reshape our energy future are already at hand; what has been lacking is the political will to develop and expand their use. Democrats have a vision of creating a new energy economy using good old-fashioned American ingenuity to achieve energy independence. New American jobs and a bright future will be the dividend.
Democrats will also lead the way for a new direction in Iraq. My son was in the military when he convinced me to run for office, and we continue to keep our soldiers and their families in our prayers. But our troops need more than our well-wishes, and our veterans need more than lip service; we need a change in policy, as confirmed by the Iraq Study Group report released earlier this month.
I share the concern of my Democratic colleagues that President Bush may use his same failed logic to increase our troop strength in Iraq by up to 30,000 soldiers. The incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, has said that an increase in troops at best won't change a thing, and at worst could exacerbate the situation even further in Iraq.
The Iraqis need to understand that the responsibility for the future of that country is theirs. Beginning the redeployment of American forces would send that message. We must also improve the training of Iraq security forces by ensuring that Iraqi units are not infiltrated by either militia members or insurgents. The consequences of not doing so are unacceptable. In my district there is a Gold Star mom whose son was killed in Iraq by the very Iraqis he was training. He and his mom are always in my thoughts. We simply can not ask our young men and women to train Iraqis without doing everything possible to make certain that the people they are training are not attacking our troops.
Our troops have done everything asked of them in Iraq with great courage. Particularly at this time of the year, when families gather to celebrate the holiday season, we need to remember the huge sacrifices being made by the brave men and women in our military, and give thanks for their service.
Thank you for listening. I wish everyone the very best 2007 and pray that God blesses you and your families for this holiday season. This is Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney.