WASHINGTON – House Democrats raced Thursday to the finish line of their "first 100 hours" agenda well before their 100 hours clock ran out.
With more than 57 hours to spare, early Thursday evening, Democrats passed the last of their "Six for '06" plan — a renewable energy measure that adds $15 billion in new fees, royalties and taxes for the oil industry — 264-123, and prepared to turn off the clock.
“In the November election, the American people signaled their wish for change, a wish for our country to go in a new direction, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who celebrated reaching the goals outlined in the agenda while other lawmakers continued debate on the energy bill on the House floor.
"Democrats promised that we would and these past two weeks we have delivered on the promise,” Pelosi said.
“We have passed an agenda which we promised the American people we would pass in the first 100 hours,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “No matter how much fun they make of it, no matter how many different ways to count it, we made it within our first 100 hours.”
The clock began ticking Thursday morning with more than 65 hours left in the countdown and one bill left to complete the Democrats' campaign pledge — getting six high-priority items finished in the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress.
The hours were clocked by measuring only the amount of time Congress debated the six items since convening the 110th Congress on Jan. 4. Republicans complained that Democrats were able to whip out the six bills in short order because they did not allow Republican involvement in the debate.
"House Democrats' first 100 hours has come to an end, and with it, we hope we'll see the beginning of the open and accountable discussion of the issues Americans deserve from their legislators," said Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who argued Republicans wanted to work in a bipartisan way but Democrats refused to include them.
"Republicans look forward to working with the Democrat majority in the second 100 hours and beyond to achieve real progress on the issues Americans care about," Blunt said in a written statement.
GOP leaders tried to register their objections to being shut out by motioning for the House to adjourn, a commonly used procedural trick the minority party frequently fails to employ.
"We're being silenced in this process," said House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. "I'm here today to ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to live up to the promises that were made."
Pelosi said Democrats used 34 hours to pass the first five bills. Procedural voting on the last bill began in the 41st hour.
Democrats approved the remaining Sept. 11 commission recommendations that had not been made into law on Jan. 9; pushed through an increase of the minimum wage on Jan. 10, expanded federal funding for stem cell research on Jan. 11; allowed the government the power to re-negotiate Medicare drug prices on Jan. 12; and gave a cut in interest rates on students' college loans on Wednesday. They were on the verge of investing in renewable energy Thursday.
Democrats also won approval of internal House rule changes dealing with ethics, lobbying and budgeting. They were passed on the first two days of the new Congress but were not legislative actions so were not included.
All the bills have to be approved in the Senate, a generally slower deliberative body that has already demonstrated their own will on some of the hot topics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.