Labor-friendly candidates take Congress
With more than 40 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots, the November 7 elections put the Democrats into power in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The Democrats also made their mark in many state races and now hold 28 governorships across the country.
"Labor, and especially rail labor, has a lot to celebrate in these elections," BLET National President Don M. Hahs said. "We hope that the shift in power will be a shift towards the interests of the working men and women of this country and away from corporate special interests.
"Rail labor has several specific goals, including long-term funding for Amtrak, that it hopes to accomplish with a new Congress in place, and hopefully, with more worker-friendly legislators, we will be able to accomplish these goals."
The BLET and rail labor are looking forward to a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee led by Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) and a Railroad Subcommittee chaired by Corrine Brown (D-FL). Both of these Representatives have shown their support of issues of importance to the BLET and rail labor during their years in Congress. Representative Oberstar is serving in his 17th term in Congress. Representative Brown is serving in her 8th term.
The Senate Committees with jurisdiction over issues of interest to the BLET will also be led by friends of rail labor. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will be chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will be chaired by Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI).
Many BLET members volunteered alongside their Teamster brothers and sisters throughout the country campaigning for worker and family-friendly candidates.
"I would like to thank all the BLET members who worked so hard on this election. Our work paid off," said BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman. "I hope that we will be able to get some of our issues addressed in the 110th Congress. November 7th was a great day for working men and women."
Representative Nancy Pelosi - the California Democrat poised to become the first female Speaker of the House - has outlined a "First Hundred Hours" agenda. The plan includes promises to reform lobbying, enact the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 commission, raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, cut the interest rate on student loans in half, streamline Medicare's prescription drug program and expand federal funding for stem cell research.
The Democrats have a 34 seat majority in the House of Representatives (with five races still being counted as of press time) and the Senate is tied 49-49, with two independents - Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) - having announced that they caucus with the Democrats. The Democrats had a net gain of 28 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate to take the majorities in both.
© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen