Thursday, June 15, 2006

Democrats promise more oversight if they win House

Democrats promise more oversight if they win House
By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday that they would investigate spending in Iraq and require government agencies to comply with accounting rules if voters give them control of the House of Representatives in November's elections.

"The American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, said at a news conference.

Pelosi and other Democrats have begun to lay out the agenda they will enact if they win control of the House in November, an outcome political analysts say is possible.

Democrats highlighted a recent report by the Government Accountability Office that found that most federal agencies do not live up to federal accounting standards and cannot fully explain how they spend their money.

A bill introduced by California Rep. Dennis Cardoza would force agency heads who don't produce a clean audit within two years to appear before the Senate for reconfirmation.

"There is no business in America that would be run the way this country is being run," said Tennessee Rep. John Tanner, like Cardoza a member of the Blue Dogs coalition of centrist Democrats. "The books are so fouled up we can't tell what's going on."

Democrats also said that they would set up a committee to make sure that money given to private companies for support operations in Iraq is spent responsibly.

Other elements of the House Democrats' agenda include raising the minimum wage, making college tuition deductible from taxes, and negotiating lower drug prices for Medicare's prescription-drug program.

New York Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds said in a press release that the Democratic agenda contained no new ideas.

"What Minority Leader Pelosi is calling an agenda today is nothing more than a rehashing of the failed, tax-and-spend liberal policies of the past," said Reynolds, who as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for holding on to the Republican majority.