There was no shortage of issues in the President’s speech.  However, having listened to six of these annual addresses, I must admit that I’ve found from experience that there is often no correlation between what the President says is important and what the President actually does.

I've become skeptical. I remember in one of President Bush's earliest addresses he mentioned veteran's health care and I was greatly encouraged because that was an issue I was working hard on. Well it turned out that all he did was mention it. That was it. The Administration went on to grossly under-fund veteran's health care.

Then I heard the President talk about education. He signed the No Child Left Behind Act and went around the country taking credit for great progress. Then, when the Administration’s budget came out, President Bush didn't fund the initiatives that were passed in the bill.

Similarly, in last year's State of the Union speech, President Bush said that America was addicted to oil, suggesting that he was going to change our energy policy. In fact there has been very little change.  The President also predicted in last year’s address that we were winning the war in Iraq and that we "should be able to further decrease our troops levels,” yet here again, this evening he has asked for more troops, not less.

In November, the American people called for real change in Washington, and a new direction for our nation.  Democrats have responded.  In less than two weeks after taking control of the Congress, we passed legislation that will reform ethics laws for Members of Congress, implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, increase the minimum wage, expand stem cell research, require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for our seniors, end the subsidies for oil companies and invest in renewable energy.  Importantly, we achieved each of these legislative successes with the support of bipartisan majorities in the House.


Tonight, President Bush in his words seemed to embrace that same spirit of partnership and innovation when he proposed dramatically scaling back American consumption of gasoline.  And I couldn't agree more with his proposal.  No matter how many dollars we invest in developing alternative energies, it is critical to recognize that those will be one component of our long-term solution to the energy crisis.  If we are truly serious about reducing our dependence on foreign oil in the short-term, we must immediately begin to consume less gasoline.

Only time will tell if the President is really serious about this. But the important thing is that the Democrats are in control of Congress now and we are serious about all of these issues.

Our task is to hold the President accountable for his promises as we have held ourselves responsible over these last few weeks.

I look forward to working together with President Bush and my colleagues in Congress on this worthwhile endeavor.