House Democrats Beat 100-Hour Clock

The Associated Press
Friday, January 19, 2007; 8:13 AM

WASHINGTON -- Hickory, dickory dock, the Democrats beat the clock.

They passed their six-bill, 100-hour agenda with 13 hours to spare.

The last of "Six for '06" bills that Democrats promised voters in the fall passed shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, about 87 hours after the 110th Congress opened Jan. 4.

"This was only the beginning," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a news conference hailing her party's accomplishment more than two hours before the final vote, which came on an energy bill.

Pelosi's "game" clock showed only 42 hours and 15 minutes of the 100 hours had elapsed when the roll call ended on the energy bill, which would reimpose $15 billion in fees, royalties and taxes on the oil industry.

Pelosi had promised the six-bill, 100-hour drive to voters last the fall. After recapturing a House majority in the November election following a dozen years of Republican rule, Democratic leaders said their clock for measuring the hours would include only those spent directly on the six bills.

How it's counted is irrelevant, House Democrats said.

"No matter how many different ways they want to count it, we made it within our 100 hours," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland

Republicans complained the bills were hammered through after Democrats reneged on a campaign promise to let the opposition offer amendments and help shape legislation. Democrats had leveled the same criticism that Republicans, when they held the majority, denied them those opportunities.

"Many of the flawed 100-hours bills either face an uphill battle in the Senate or are destined for a veto pen," said Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Pelosi dismissed the complaints. "It was about keeping our promise, not about adhering to some process," she said.

President Bush has threatened to veto two of the bills _ a measure to expand stem cell research and legislation that would force the government to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs under Medicare. Last year, he vetoed a similar stem cell bill, the only time he's wielded the veto pen during his six years in office.

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© 2007 The Associated Press