DEMOCRATIC AGENDA -- (House of Representatives - February 08, 2006)
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, we again want to thank Leader NANCY PELOSI for the opportunity to talk about the things that are important to the American people. Again, we have laid out our vision for America's competitiveness into the future and how we can keep America number one and actually match rhetoric with what the President laid out in his State of the Union with action and deeds. You can get a copy of this, you can peruse a copy of our innovation agenda, which was developed not in Washington, not sitting around a conference table in a hearing room in the Nation's Capital, but out in the country, in the high-tech centers around this country, with bipartisan input, with the leaders and CEOs of some of the major technologically advanced corporations across this country that can be viewed at HouseDemocrats.gov. That is our Web site where you can get a copy of this.
Again, in addition to broadband access, we are the ones that laid out our commitment to growing a new generation of innovators. We committed in this document to educate 100,000 new scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the next 4 years by proposing a new initiative by working with States, businesses, and universities to provide scholarships to qualified students who commit to working in the fields of innovation.
But the Republicans could not say that they were going to do that because in every successive budget, they have cut student financial aid. You cannot make sure that you expand access to higher education in the math and sciences and in areas that are significantly underrepresented now unless you provide the aid that these students are going to need.
It is not that we do not have the students in these programs because there is a bumper crop of wealthy kids that are just not going into the math and sciences; it is to make sure that we go into the communities across this country and encourage and nurture the desire from the smallest children and the youngest ages and across the cultural and ethnic spectrum to ensure that people of all colors, of all economic walks of life choose to pursue math and science and engineering.
I read something earlier this morning that talked about China graduating 600,000 engineers. I think the number is right, that we graduated 50,000. I believe that it is that drastic a difference in terms of the proportion.
We have always been known as the innovators in the world. Every major accomplishment scientifically, at least in my lifetime, in our lifetime, has been achieved by Americans. But we are slowly but surely not going to be the leaders in those areas of science and math unless we go back to our traditional financial commitment to ensuring that kids can get access to education.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. And I mean, forgive me. But, come on, am I the only one that felt it was a little disingenuous to hear from this President that America is addicted to oil and we need to end that addiction? I mean, come on. Where has the commitment to that been?
In the two energy bills that we were asked to vote on in the last year since I have been here, where we were basically giving away the store to the energy and oil companies? I mean, where is the financial commitment? Where has it been to exploring alternative energy sources? Has there been a miraculous transformation in the White House that I am not aware of?
I just do not understand how the administration could not see that you have to, in order to get the American people to believe what you say and to have faith and restore their confidence and belief in you, you have to do what you say you are going to do. And that just does not seem to happen on almost any score, particularly not when it comes to energy independence and exploring alternative energy sources.
And you know, I am proud to be a member of the Democratic Caucus, because when we say something, we mean it. But when we lay out a goal, we back it up with how we might do it were we in charge. You know, we would make a funding commitment to exploring alternative energy resources. We would invest our energy and effort into the Midwest so that not only can we become foreign-oil independent, we can become independent from oil, period.
You know, I am from a State where I do not want to see drilling off the coast of my shoreline. None of my constituents want to see it either. So we need to explore other ways of generating energy in this country that are not dedicated solely to the production of oil, whether it is developed here or in another country. But we actually have to have a plan that would do that, and have Members who actually cast votes in favor of that plan, which just has not happened by any stretch of the imagination here that I have seen.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. No.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, we spent a great deal of time tonight talking about the challenges that are facing our country, and the thing that I have noticed that is the most frustrating for me, Mr. Ryan, is in the short time that I have been here, you know, I was hopeful that just like when I was in the Florida senate, I was able to work effectively across the aisle and on the major issues that were important to our State, just like I was hopeful that we would be able to do here for the important issues in our country.
I was hopeful that I could come to the Congress and sit down, and I was ready to continue to work with Members on the other side on the major issues, not the issues on the margins, because, you know, you are able to find individual Members who you can work with one on one or in small groups on various issues, but on the hot-button issues, on education, on health care, on energy, on prescription drugs, on any of the issues that are really significant to the American people.
It is like those issues are radioactive somehow, and there seems to be an impenetrable wall around the Republican Conference, where it is virtually impossible to get any Member from the other side of the aisle to sit down with a group on our side of the aisle and try to hammer out compromise.
I just do not come from a place where I was used to dealing with my-way-or-the-highway rules of engagement. And you know, maybe now that there is new leadership in the Republican Conference, things will change. Certainly we are hearing words to that effect. It remains to be seen whether those words will be backed up by action. And I look forward to that possibility. I know you do too.
Do you want to talk about the Web site and tell people how they can get in touch with us and reach out to us?
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Absolutely, I do.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. We have a new Web site, Mr. Ryan. We revamped it, and it has a lot of new cool bells and whistles.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Thank you. We do miss our good friend from the great State of Florida, who is in the neighboring district next to me.
I do want to point out to people who might have seen this tonight that they not only can find all of the posters that we use usually on the next day once we have first introduced one on the floor, but they can also submit questions and comments to us through our Website. We want to make this as interactive as possible and get their feedback and input, and we want to know what their concerns are.
The leader has given us this opportunity to speak to the American people, and our generation is often underrepresented in terms of the things that we care about in this country. And it is a privilege to serve in this body with you, Mr. Ryan, and under the leadership of NANCY PELOSI.