Dear Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid,
The post-election session of Congress “is not for sissies.” It affords a historical opportunity to draw the bright lines between what you stand for and what your opposing Republicans are concretely beholden to. No more generalities or pitiless abstractions for you to tolerate. Specifically, there are two bills in both Houses that need attention for the safety of the American people.
One is the auto safety legislation that has cleared committees in the House and Senate to strengthen sanctions and advance certain safety improvements and capabilities of NHTSA,
The other is the House passed food safety bill to reduce the number of fatalities (over 5000 a year), hospitalizations (hundreds of thousands a year) and illnesses (over 70 million per year). See, for example, the lead page one story in the Washington Post (October 22, 2010) headlined “Food Inspection is Often Flawed: Conflicts of Interest Abound.” This legislation is decades overdue, moderately strengthening the abysmally weak enforcement authority of the Food and Drug Administration.
You will need, of course, to enlist the bully pulpit of the President and your own highlighting of these bills.
For other necessary bills in this period of the Democrats’ “last clear chance,” a larger framework and a faster tempo needs to reflect your leadership. The election is over but the time for the incumbents is not yet over under the elections of 2008. Let the necessities of the American people animate your resolve to much higher levels of productivity. This is no time for serial legislation. Win or lose you will have made your gains or your points for future reference.