ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
With Congress now adjourned and lawmakers heading to their respective congressional districts to campaign for reelection, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the top Democratic House leadership held a post-adjournment press conference this afternoon to review the top accomplishments of the 111th Congress.
“We started with the president on the steps of the Capitol. We come to a point where this week on Monday, President Obama signed the small business bill, providing credit and lending to the tune of $300 billion for our small businesses,” Pelosi said. “We’re very proud of the work of the Congress. We have worked closely, not only as a team, but as partners and leaders to make this happen, and of course none of it would have been possible without the visionary leadership of President Barack Obama.”
Pelosi, D-California, singled out the $787 billion stimulus bill, health care reform, Wall Street reform, an education bill and the “Make it in America” initiative that Democrats have pushed to boost domestic manufacturing.
“We’re very proud of many, many issues on the agenda that relate to the American agenda: creating good-paying jobs here, not shifting them overseas,” Pelosi said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the Democrats’ agenda during the 111th Congress was designed to help every American “make it in America,” and building an environment that encourages investment and innovation in the United States.
“From the day we began our work, Congress had the overriding goal of stopping the free-fall, creating jobs and building a solid foundation for the future,” Hoyer said. “There’s no doubt Americans are still hurting. There’s a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
The House Democratic Leadership was asked about the Congress’s failure to enact legislation to extend the Bush-era tax cuts before the midterm elections and the Republican perception that the Democratic leadership ‘ran out of gas’ heading into adjournment.
Hoyer, D-Maryland, promised to pass an extension of the middle class tax cuts during the lame duck session after the congressional midterm elections.
"We're going to make sure that no American is taxed any additional tax on their income up to $200,000, no American. One hundred percent of America will not have any increase in their taxes individually up to $200,000 and as families up to $250,000," Hoyer said. “We will do that by the end of the year when the Republican policy of phasing out the present tax would have required an increase in their taxes. We’re going to make sure that does not happen.”
The speaker brushed aside criticism directed at the Congress for adjourning 34 days before the congressional midterm elections on November 2.
“Our members are called ‘representatives,’ and as I say over and over again, your job description and title is one of the same: Representative,” Pelosi said. “Our constituents want us to hear what they are saying about the issues to they can represent us. So our members are doing the other part of their job, listening to constituents, and listening to what their priorities are, so that they can come back here and fight for those priorities. The job is not just what happens in Washington, DC. It is almost two jobs. A job in your district and a job in Washington, DC to come here and legislate and vote. So our members work very hard.”
The Democrat leadership railed against the Republican’s Pledge to America, and decried the Republican strategy of gridlock and failure.
“Our record contrasts sharply with the Republican plans to deliver, and I quote ‘the exact same agenda’ of the failed Bush years, which exploded the deficit, devastated working Americans, and ushered in the worst economy we have seen since Herbert Hoover,” Hoyer said.
Chris Van Hollen, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Democrats chose to reign in the power of corporate special interests that was prevalent during the Bush administration.
“The previous eight years have an economic agenda that serve the interest of some few special interests at the expense of American consumers, American workers and American taxpayers,” Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said. “The choices we made were in support of America’s workers, American taxpayers and American consumers.”
Speaker Pelosi was also asked to comment on her former House colleague Rahm Emanuel, who is leaving his post as White House chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago.
“Rahm has a great reputation and affection among his colleagues in the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said. “He can do anything he sets his mind to and we wish him success.”
As she left the podium, Pelosi was asked whether she would endorse Emanuel for mayor of Chicago. The speaker paused, smiled and replied, “yes.”