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Nancy Pelosi opens 110th Congress as the balance of power shifts to the Democrats

Politics / US Politics Jan 04, 2007 - 09:57 PM GMT

By: John_York


Nancy Pelosi became the first female House speaker, and third inline to the Presidency after Dick Cheney. In the chamber of the House, its new speaker, Representative Nancy Pelosi, beamed and clapped as she listened as members elected her by voice vote. She said: 'Today we make history. Today we change the direction of our country.'
'This is an historic moment - for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years,' Ms Pelosi said in prepared remarks. 'Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights.' 'For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling,' she said.

Nancy Pelosi opens 110th Congress as the balance of power shifts to the Democrats

Democrats rode public unhappiness over the Iraq war to election victories in November. But now, some analysts contend, they will have to take some responsibility for finding a bipartisan solution to the country's top foreign policy challenge, even though the issue divides Democrats. Especially from liberal anti-war activists like Cindy Sheehan, who demand that Congress force the Bush administration to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. "We elected them to bring the troops home, stop funding the war and for accountability," she said.

The democrats lead the House by 233-202, with democrats obtaining control for the first time since 1994. Ms Pelosi had vowed to clean up politics in Washington following a series of corruption scandals involving Republicans, and it is expected that the power shift will put pressure on the Bush administration to begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq.

The democrats also have a wafer thin majority of just one seat in the senate, which means they could face problems in getting their ambitious program passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law.

The Democrats have promised to initiate a blitz of legislation during their first 100 legislative hours of control of the House, which includes raising in the federal minimum wage, to $7.25 an hour from $5.15. They also promise an ethics package that would halt lobbyist-funded travel and gifts for politicians and another measure to reduce interest charged on federal student loans.

The Democrats also want to pass legislation that would ease restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, which President Bush opposes, and to make it easier for Americans to import low-cost prescription drugs from countries such as Canada.

University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato says it may take a while for Republicans to adjust to their new minority status."The Republicans are going to have some time in the wilderness, and that is not just because of Iraq. It is also because of the multitude of scandals that disgusted even many conservative Republicans," he said.

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