WASHINGTON – Social Security and tax code reforms, class action lawsuit limits and energy legislation are at the top of Republicans' priorities for the 109th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday.
Also among the priorities for Frist is continuing the fight in the War on Terror, addressing rising health care costs, allowing permanent marriage penalty relief, encouraging jobs and growth, passing a law that prevents minors from being taken across state lines for an abortion, and improving education of students.
A constitutional ban on gay marriage is not on the top 10 list but it could also come up some time during this session, Frist said. He was vague about when that might happen.
"These 10 bills are aimed at what the American people expect and deserve — and that is for us to govern with meaningful solutions," Frist, R-Tenn., said. "They are bills that will improve the lives of Americans across this great country in meaningful ways."
Democrats, on the other hand, have a very different set of priorities as their top 10 action items for this congressional session. Among the most critical were health, education and jobs.
"There are many problems we must face together ... the Republican solution is give people tax cuts. Let them fend for themselves," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "The vision of Republicans is very clear ... it's called the ownership society. Just remember, we're all in this alone. That's wrong."
Democrats outlined some areas where they plan to introduce legislation: prescription drug reimportation, fully funding the "No Child Left Behind Act," addressing the trade deficit, creating education legislation that would include tuition deductibility, increasing the minimum wage, making sure members of the military have the protection and equipment they need and adequate health care when they return from combat.
Social Security reform was not on the Democrats' list, said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, because it's not really in crisis.
"We have leaders who love to create crises that don't exist. Social Security isn't a crisis. For more than 50 years, we're going to be just fine," Reid, D-Nev., said.
But Republicans say Democrats are kidding themselves if they think they can ignore Social Security, the retirement program that in 2018 is expected to start taking in less money than it disperses. GOP leaders said it's important not to delay on solving the impending problem.
"We were elected to solve problems, not to kick them down the road or pass them to future generations. For those who say there is no problem facing Social Security, Americans do not want us to pass problems to future generations," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said.
"When you have a clear-cut diagnosis and you have a demographic shift that is coming ... young people today are right ... [they] believe in UFOs more than they do in Social Security being there for them. And I would say that, to me, is enough critical information drawing upon the word of crisis that we should act and have responsibility to act now," Frist said.
Frist said the reform, one that the president has yet to send to Congress, is expected to include provisions for individuals to divert part of their payroll taxes that now go to Social Security into personal investment accounts. He reserved bill number S. 1 to mark its importance.
Democrats were assigned S. 11 through S. 20, and recognized the battle will be uphill in a 55-44-1 divided Congress that favors Republicans.
However, with Democrats proposing to increase military troop strength by 40,000 over the next two years, they were willing to emphasize the failures in the War on Terror.
"We have leaders whose poor planning and mismanagement are exemplary in the negative sense. Sure we won the war, but we're losing the peace ... we have sent young kids into battle without the equipment and support they deserve to succeed on the battlefield," Reid said.
In response, Frist said if Democrats were so concerned about fighting terror, they would not have delayed the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice to be the next secretary of state. Rice's nomination was expected last week, but Democrats asked for a postponement.
"I was a little disappointed. When they fight us tooth and nail on all of our priorities, they are certainly within their right to do so. But I hope that we continue and we will continue to reflect our desire, our willingness to work together," he said. "We're talking about the safety and security of this country."
Rice's confirmation is expected on Wednesday.
FOX News' Julie Asher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.