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Democrats Set Ambitious Fiscal Agenda for 110th Congress

The Democrat-controlled Congress, whose goals include raising the minimum wage and reducing corruption, was sworn in Thursday. House Ways and Means Committee chair Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., discusses plans for fiscal reform and Iraq. Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., addresses hopes for cooperation.

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    We'll hear first from 19-term Democrat Charles Rangel of New York. He's the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. I spoke with him a short time ago, from the Cannon House Office Building.

    Congressman Rangel, welcome.

    Nancy Pelosi said today she accepted the speaker's gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship. Is that an opening day hope, or is there a real commitment on the part of Democrats?

    REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), New York: You can't have a commitment without hope. We think it's important policy and important politics to work in a bipartisan way.

    We cannot have a Democratic program for Social Security, taxes, health care; we're going to have to work with the Republicans. And it's in their best interests to work with us. There's no presidential coattails.

    And I heard them today — I heard Minority Leader Boehner. I've talked with Republicans on my committee. I really think that we believe that working together in a bipartisan way is good for our committees, it's good for the Congress, and I know it's good for the country.


    Now, as you know, the Republicans are complaining that, despite this pledge on your part, that this first 100-hour agenda of yours, you're going to push through these major pieces of legislation with no committee hearings and no opportunity for Republican amendments. Why are you doing it that way?


    Well, I think they have a legitimate complaint. I'm working with the leadership to see that we don't get caught doing the same thing that the Republicans did. All decisions have not been made, but I do believe that we should have an opportunity to have hearings on these issues within the 100 hours.


    So you're going to pressure on leadership to change that, then?


    I'm not that certain that they've made this locked in concrete. I'm moving forward in my committee working with the Republicans believing that there's no reasons why we shouldn't have hearings.