Nancy Pelosi

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Posted by pompos 03/20/2009 @ 12:23

Tags : nancy pelosi, the house, government, politics

News headlines
Senate testimony sheds light on alleged torture - San Francisco Chronicle
(05-14) 04:00 PDT Washington - -- Senate testimony painted a stunning picture Wednesday of panicked Bush administration officials resorting to harsh interrogation techniques, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained mum about what she knew when about...
Pelosi to Obama: Health care bill by August - USA Today
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told President Obama today that the Democratic-led House will have a health care bill on the floor before it leaves for the August recess. The goal is "quality, affordable, accessible health care for all Americans," Pelosi told...
Better intelligence is needed after troops exit, Pelosi says - Los Angeles Times
AP Baghdad -- US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Iraqi officials on a visit Sunday to Baghdad that America would need to improve its intelligence in their country after US troops pull out. "If we are going to have a diminished physical military...
Feherty deserves a mulligan on this one - San Jose Mercury News
The on-course golf analyst apologized Monday for writing in D Magazine (that's D for Dallas): "If you gave any US soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden,...
GOP Shifts Torture Blame From Bush To Pelosi - Auburn Journal
Yet now they assail House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not going public after she allegedly learned about some of George W. Bush's "enhanced interrogation techniques." In other words, the politicians on the right are condemning her for not publicly...
Nancy Pelosi, Torture, and Bush's Warmongering - Huffington Post
Yet now they assail House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not going public in 2002 after she allegedly learned about some of George W. Bush's "enhanced interrogation techniques." They condemn her for NOT publicly opposing torture....
Patrick Leahy: Nancy Pelosi not the issue - Politico
By ANDY BARR | 5/13/09 4:14 PM EDT Pelosi is certainly not the issue. In fact the issue is not any person or persons. The issue is our nation's leadership in the world. Dick Cheney may not believe it, but we set the bar. If we set it low, then there is...
Pelosi Pledges Continued Support In HIV/AIDS Fight - RTT News
(RTTNews) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that the government's commitment to fighting AIDS remains strong, despite a lower sense of public urgency about the issue. Pelosi's remarks came at a meeting of the amfAR Research Foundation...
On Nancy Pelosi, torture and the truth - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Washington and the blogosphere are all atwitter about whether and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed by the CIA about the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on suspected terrorists. Of course she knew. At some point, anybody who was...
Congress inches toward 'truth commission' for torture probe - Christian Science Monitor
“Now, I don't know what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it, and I really don't think she'sa criminal if she was told about waterboarding and did nothing. But I think it is important to understand that members of Congress allegedly were briefed...

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is the current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. She is a Democrat. Before being elected Speaker in the 110th Congress, she was the House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th, and 109th Congresses.

Since 1987, she has represented the 8th Congressional District of California, which consists of four-fifths of the City and County of San Francisco. The district was numbered as the 5th during Pelosi's first three terms in the House.

With her election as Speaker, she is the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. She is also the first Italian-American and first Californian to serve as Speaker. She is the second Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains, with the first being Washington's Tom Foley, who was the last Democrat to hold the post before Pelosi. As Speaker of the House, Pelosi ranks second in the line of presidential succession, following Vice President Joe Biden, which makes her the highest-ranking female politician in United States history.

Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Maryland. The youngest of six children, she was involved with politics from an early age. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., was a U.S. Congressman from Maryland and a Mayor of Baltimore. Her brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, also a Democrat, was mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971, when he declined to run for a second term. Pelosi graduated from Institute of Notre Dame, a Catholic all-girls high school in Baltimore, and from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University) in Washington, D.C. in 1962. Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) alongside future House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. She met Paul Frank Pelosi (b. April 15, 1940 in San Francisco, California) while she was attending Trinity College. They married in a Catholic church on September 7, 1963. After the couple married they moved to New York, and then to San Francisco in 1969, where his brother, Ronald Pelosi was a member of the City and County of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors.

After moving to San Francisco, Pelosi worked her way up in Democratic politics. She was elected as party chairwoman for Northern California on January 30, 1977. She later joined forces with one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton. And in 1987, after her youngest child became a high school senior, she decided to run for political office.

Pelosi is a board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women.

Pelosi lives in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

Pelosi has five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra, as well as seven grandchildren. Alexandra, a journalist, covered the Republican presidential campaigns in 2000 and made a film about the experience, Journeys with George. In 2007, Christine published a book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders.

The Pelosi family has a net worth of nearly $19 million as of 2007, primarily from investments. In addition to their large portfolio of jointly owned San Francisco Bay Area real estate, the couple also owns a vineyard in St. Helena, California, valued at $5 million to $25 million. Pelosi's husband also owns stock, including $5 million in Apple Computer. Pelosi continues to be among the richest members of Congress.

Phillip Burton died in 1983 and was succeeded by his wife, Sala. In late 1986, Sala became ill with cancer and decided not to run for reelection in 1988. She picked Pelosi as her designated successor, guaranteeing her the support of the Burtons' contacts. Sala died on February 1, 1987, just a month after being sworn in for a second full term. Pelosi won the special election to succeed her, narrowly defeating San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt on April 7, 1987, then easily defeating Republican candidate Harriet Ross on June 2, 1987; Pelosi took office a week later. She has the distinction of contributing the most among members of Congress to other congressional campaigns because she is in a safe district and does not need the campaign funds.

Pelosi represents one of the safest Democratic districts in the country. Democrats have held the seat since 1949, and Republicans, who currently make up only 13 percent of registered voters in the district, have not made a serious bid for the seat since the early 1960s. Pelosi has kept this tradition going. Since her initial victory in 1987, she has been re-elected 11 times, receiving at least 75% of the vote. She has never participated in candidates' debates.

In the House, she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, and was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee until her election as Speaker.

In 2001, Pelosi was elected the House Minority Whip, second-in-command to Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri. She was the first woman in U.S. history to hold that position. Since then, she has campaigned for candidates in 30 states and in 90 Congressional districts, making her a vital factor for the Democratic Party.

In 2002, after Gephardt resigned as minority leader to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election, Pelosi was elected to replace him, becoming the first woman to lead a minority and major party in the House.

Shortly after winning re-election, President George W. Bush claimed a mandate for an ambitious second-term agenda that would include the privatization of Social Security. Pelosi strongly opposed the privatization of Social Security, and as minority leader imposed intense party discipline on her caucus, leading them to near-unanimous opposition of Bush's proposal. With a unified Democratic Party pushing against the President's plan, Social Security privatization was defeated.

In the wake of George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, several leading House Democrats believed that Democrats should pursue impeachment proceedings against the president. They asserted that Bush had misled Congress about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and had violated the civil liberties of Americans by authorizing wiretaps without a warrant.

After becoming Speaker of the House in January 2007, Pelosi held firm against impeachment, notwithstanding strong support for that course of action among constituents in her home district. In the November 2008 election, Pelosi withstood a challenge for her seat by antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, who ran as an independent primarily because of Pelosi's refusal to pursue impeachment.

On November 16, 2006, Pelosi was unanimously chosen as the Democratic candidate for Speaker, effectively making her Speaker-elect. While the Speaker is elected by the full House membership, in modern practice the election is a formality, since the Speaker always comes from the majority party.

Pelosi supported her longtime friend, John Murtha of Pennsylvania, for the position of House Majority Leader, the second-ranking post in the House Democratic caucus. His competitor was House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who had been Pelosi's second-in-command since 2003. Pelosi and Hoyer had a somewhat frosty relationship dating back to 2001, when they ran against each other for minority whip. However, Hoyer was elected as House Majority Leader over Murtha by a margin of 149-86 within the caucus.

On January 3, Pelosi defeated Republican John Boehner of Ohio with 233 votes compared to his 202 votes in the election for Speaker of the House. She was nominated by Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the incoming chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and sworn in by her longtime friend, John Dingell of Michigan, as the longest-serving member of the House traditionally does.

With her election, Pelosi became the first woman, the first Californian and the first Italian-American to hold the Speakership. She is also the second Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains. The first was Washington's Tom Foley, the last Democrat to hold the post before Pelosi.

As Speaker, Pelosi is still the leader of the House. However, by tradition, she does not normally participate in debate (though she has the right to do so), and almost never votes on the floor. She is also not a member of any House committees.

Pelosi was re-elected Speaker in 2009.

Prior to the U.S. 2006 midterm elections, Pelosi announced a plan for action: If elected, she and the newly-empowered Democratic caucus would push through most of its program during the first hundred hours of the 110th Congress' term. Later she said this referred to business hours rather than clock time, and began on the Tuesday (January 9, 2007) after the swearing-in ceremony on January 4.

The origin for the name "first hundred hours" is a play on words derived from former Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise for quick action on the part of government (to combat the Great Depression) during his "first hundred days" in office. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker, had a similar 100-day agenda to implement the Contract with America.

Pelosi was named Permanent Chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Pelosi was one of seven American lawmakers to participate in a 2007 Mideast tour — with Keith Ellison (D-MN), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and David Hobson (R-OH) — that included stops in Israel, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Three Republican congressmen — Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt — met with Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier. Pelosi had the opportunity to address the Israeli Knesset where she expressed concern "that the new (Hamas-Fatah) Palestinian government, some of the people in the government, continue to remain committed to the existence of Israel". An Israeli spokeswoman said Pelosi would convey "that Israel is willing to talk if they (Syria) would openly take steps to stop supporting terrorism" in order to be "a partner for negotiations". The delegation talked "extensively" with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about a relaunched 2002 Saudi peace plan with Israel, which Olmert welcomed as a "new way of thinking, the willingness to recognize Israel as an established fact and to debate the conditions of the future solution", but expressed reservations over the plan and invited Arab leaders to discuss them. The delegation met with the families of the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers during the visit and Pelosi said she planned to raise the issue when she met with Assad.

At a press conference after her meeting with Assad, Pelosi said that she had conveyed a message from Olmert to Syrian President Assad saying that Olmert was ready to negotiate for peace. Olmert's office later clarified what he had actually told Pelosi, saying that "although Israel is interested in peace with Syria, that country continues to be part of the axis of evil and a force that encourages terror in the entire Middle East". Sources at the Israeli Prime Minister's Office at the time said that, "Pelosi took part of the things that were said in the meeting, and used what suited her".

The Bush Administration disapproves of Syria's backing of Hamas and Hezbollah and says Syria is destabilizing Lebanon's government as well as fueling Iraq's violence by allowing Sunni insurgents to operate from its territory. Syrian officials have been implicated in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in Beirut, and the U.S. subsequently withdrew its ambassador. Pelosi still holds out hope for a peaceful solution, stating that "the road to Damascus is a road to peace".

Later, in Saudi Arabia, Pelosi met with King Abdullah. Pelosi visited the Shura Council, the kingdom's unelected advisory council, and raised the issue of Saudi Arabia's lack of female politicians with Saudi officials.

On March 21, 2008, Pelosi criticized the People's Republic of China for its handling of the unrest in Tibet and called on "freedom-loving people" worldwide to denounce China. She was quoted as saying, "The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world", while addressing a crowd of thousands of Tibetans in Dharamsala, India. She however did not call for a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics that were held in Beijing.

On October 24, 2008, Pelosi commended the European Parliament for its "bold decision" to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Chinese dissident and human rights activist Hu Jia. "I call on the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release Hu Jia from prison and to respect the fundamental freedoms of all the people in China", Pelosi's statement read.

Pelosi publicly scolded Colombian President Álvaro Uribe during Uribe's May 2007 state trip to America. Pelosi met with Uribe and later released a statement that she and other members of Congress had "expressed growing concerns about the serious allegations" of links between Paramilitary groups and Colombian government officials. Pelosi also came out against the Colombian free trade agreement.

Pelosi voted in favor of keeping the travel restrictions on American citizens to Cuba, until the President has certified that Cuba has released all political prisoners, and extradited all individuals sought by the U.S. on charges of air piracy, drug trafficking and murder.

In a February 15, 2007 interview, Pelosi noted that Bush consistently said he supports a diplomatic resolution to differences with Iran "and I take him at his word". At the same time, she said, "I do believe that Congress should assert itself, though, and make it very clear that there is no previous authority for the president, any president, to go into Iran". On January 12, 2007, Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina introduced a resolution requiring that—absent a national emergency created by an attack, or a demonstrably imminent attack, by Iran upon the United States or its armed forces—the President must consult with Congress and receive specific authorization prior to initiating any use of military force against Iran. This resolution was removed from a military spending bill for the war in Iraq by Pelosi on March 13, 2007.

In mid-October 2007, after the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution to label the 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide, Pelosi pledged to bring the measure to a vote. The draft resolution prompted warnings from President Bush and fierce criticism from Turkey, with Turkey's prime minister saying that approval of the resolution would endanger U.S.-Turkey relations. After House support eroded, the measure's sponsors dropped their call for a vote, and in late October Pelosi agreed to set the matter aside.

Pelosi is regarded as a liberal, in part because she represents most of San Francisco, well known for its tradition of left-leaning politics. She consistently receives high ratings from liberal lobbying groups such as Americans for Democratic Action and People for the American Way, and she has a lifetime rating of 3 from the right-leaning American Conservative Union. During the 2004 and 2006 election cycles, Republicans frequently used the prospect of a "San Francisco liberal" or "Bay Area liberal" becoming Speaker as a tool to win votes, especially in the South. She was a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but left in 2003 after being elected Minority Leader. She felt that it would be inappropriate for her to be a member of any caucuses.

Among Pelosi's Democratic colleagues, she is considered to be far less liberal than portrayed. Her longtime friend, Jim McDermott of Washington, told Newsweek that he and other left-leaning Democratic congressmen sometimes wish that "she would tilt a little more our way from time to time". During the 2006 campaign, corporate consultants suggested that the Democrats portray themselves as a party that governed for all. As Speaker, Pelosi has tried to focus more on economic than social issues.

In San Francisco, Pelosi is seen as being a moderate and sometimes even a conservative rather than a liberal, which has led to some conflicts with her constituents, particularly with anti-war activists. Nonetheless, she has never faced a serious challenger in the Democratic primary or from the Green Party, which is competitive in local elections.

On September 2, 2008, she visited Hiroshima, Japan, for a G8 summit meeting of lower house speakers and offered flowers in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing. While many world leaders have visited Hiroshima over the years, she is the highest-ever sitting U.S. official to pay her respects.

Pelosi supports the legality of abortion. She voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and earlier attempts at similar bans. She voted in favor of the 1998 Abortion Funding Amendment, which allowed the use of district funds to promote abortion-related activities.

She has also voted in favor of using federal funds to perform abortions in overseas military facilities, against parental notification when a minor is transported across state lines for an abortion, and in favor of providing funding for organizations working overseas that promote or perform abortions and abortion-related activities.

Leading bishops of the Roman Catholic Church have criticized Pelosi about her stance on abortion.

During the 2008 campaign season, Pelosi commented that there was disagreement within the Catholic Church about abortion and when life begins. This drew a rebuke from the Archbishop of Washington, who said Pelosi was incorrect and the official catechism of the Catholic Church on the matter was clear and unchangeable. In February 2009, Pelosi met with her bishop, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, and with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss her position on abortion. The Catholic News Service reported that the Pope rebuked Pelosi for her position.

Pelosi favors the federal bailout of the banks and the auto industry.

Pelosi has been an advocate for a balanced budget, though she voted against the 1995 Balanced Budget Proposed Constitutional Amendment, which was passed by the House by a 300-132 vote, but in the Senate fell two votes short of the 2/3 supermajority required (with 65 out of 100 Senators voting in favor).

The ACLU's Congressional Scorecard has given Pelosi a lifetime rating of 93% for her voting record on civil liberties. In 2001, she voted in favor of the USA Patriot Act but voted against reauthorization of certain provisions in 2005. She voted against a Constitutional amendment banning flag-burning and against a Congressional resolution supporting the display of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms.

Pelosi favors delaying the transition to digital TV to later in 2009 and funding an additional $650 million to give away digital TV converters.

Pelosi voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, which instituted testing to track students' progress and authorized an increase in overall education spending.

Pelosi has supported the development of new technologies to reduce U.S. dependence upon foreign oil and ameliorate the adverse environmental effects of burning fossil fuels. Pelosi has widely supported conservation programs and energy research appropriations. She has also voted to remove an amendment that would allow for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Pelosi has blocked efforts to revive offshore oil drilling in protected areas, reasoning that offshore drilling could lead to an increase in dependence on fossil fuels.

Speaker Pelosi has voted to increase Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Pelosi has been a supporter of rights for immigrants in the U.S. She voted against the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

Pelosi reaffirms that "America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship". Pelosi emphasized that "a strong relationship between the United States and Israel has long been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering,...owever, the war in Iraq has made both America and Israel less safe." Pelosi's voting record shows consistent support for Israel. Prior to 2006 elections in the Palestinian Authority, she voted for a Congressional initiative disapproving of participation in the elections by Hamas and other organizations defined as terrorist by the legislation. She agrees with the current U.S. stance in support of land-for-peace. She has applauded Israeli "hopeful signs" of offering land, while criticizing Palestinian "threats" of not demonstrating peace in turn. She states, "If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace".

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Pelosi voted in favor of Resolution 921 on the count that "the seizure of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists was an unprovoked attack and Israel has the right, and indeed the obligation, to respond". She argues that organizations and political bodies in the Mideast like Hamas and Hezbollah "have a greater interest in maintaining a state of hostility with Israel than in improving the lives of the people they claim to represent". Pelosi asserts that civilians on both sides of the border "have been put at risk by the aggression of Hamas and Hezbollah" in part for their use of "civilians as shields by concealing weapons in civilian areas".

In September 2008, Pelosi hosted a reception in Washington with Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, along with 20 members of Congress where they toasted the "strong friendship" between Israel and the United States. During the ceremony, Pelosi held up the dog tags of the three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006 and stated that she keeps them as a "symbol of the sacrifices made, sacrifices far too great by the people of the state of Israel".

Pelosi opposed U.S. intervention to liberate Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

Pelosi received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the 107th,108th, and 109th sessions of Congress, indicating that she voted in agreement with HRC's slate of pro-gay legislative issues. In 1996 she voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, and in 2004 and 2006, she voted against the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the United States Constitution to define marriage federally as being between one man and one woman, thereby overriding states' individual rights to legalize gay marriage. When the Supreme Court of California overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Pelosi released a statement welcoming the "historic decision." She voiced her opposition to Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative, which sought to define marriage as between a man and a woman in the state.

Pelosi introduced the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act to Congress.

Pelosi supports reform in marijuana laws. She also supports use of medical marijuana.

In regard to Representative Charles Rangel's (D-NY) plan to introduce legislation that would reinstate the draft, Pelosi stated that she did not support such legislation.

As Speaker of the House, she also spearheaded the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 as part of the 100-Hour Plan. The Act raises the minimum wage in the United States and the territories of the Northern Marianas Islands and American Samoa. American Samoa was initially absent from the act, but as part of HR 2206 it was included. One Republican congressman who voted against the initial bill accused Pelosi of unethically benefiting Del Monte Foods (headquartered in her district) by the exclusion of the territory, where Del Monte's StarKist Tuna brand is a major employer. Pelosi co-sponsored legislation that omitted American Samoa from a raise in the minimum wage as early as 1999, prior to Del Monte's acquisition of StarKist Tuna in 2002. As of the 2002, 2004, and 2006 election cycles, Del Monte has not contributed to Democratic candidates.

Pelosi officially opposes the interrogation technique of waterboarding. In 2002, Pelosi and several other Congressional leaders received a briefing on then-secret interrogation techniques including waterboarding. Pelosi's office stated that she later protested the technique and that she concurred with objections raised by a Democratic colleague in a letter to the C.I.A. in early 2003.

Pelosi opposed the welfare reform proposed by then-President Bush as well as reforms proposed and passed under President Clinton.

In mid-July 2008, two days after President George W. Bush stated that Congress was relatively inactive and said, "This is not a record to be proud of, and I think the American people deserve better", Pelosi responded by calling the president "a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the war, on the economy, on energy, you name the subject" and that Congress had been "sweeping up after his mess over and over and over again".

Pelosi's only close race so far has been the special election to succeed Sala Burton's seat after her death in February 1987. In the special election's Democratic primary, Pelosi narrowly defeated San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt, considered the more "progressive" candidate, with 36 percent of the vote to his 32 percent. In the runoff against Republican candidate Harriet Ross, Pelosi received more than a 2 to 1 majority of cast votes in a turnout that comprised about 24% of eligible voters. Since then, Pelosi has enjoyed overwhelming support in her political career, collecting 76 and 77 percent of the vote in California's 5th congressional district for the 1988 and 1990 Race for U.S. House of Representatives. In 1992, after the redistricting from the 1990 Census, Pelosi ran in California's 8th congressional district, which now covered the San Francisco area. She has continued to post impressive results since, dropping beneath 80 percent of the vote only twice.

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Keith Ellison (politician)

Keith Ellison (politician)

Keith Maurice Ellison (born August 4, 1963) is an American lawyer and politician belonging to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He became the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress when he won the open seat for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, which centers on Minneapolis, in the House of Representatives in 2006. He is also the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota, currently serving in the the 111th United States Congress. Ellison is also active on a national level in advocacy for Muslims in the United States.

Keith Ellison, the third of five sons, was born and raised a Roman Catholic in Detroit, Michigan by his parents Leonard and Clida Ellison, a psychiatrist and a social worker respectively. Ellison and three of his siblings became lawyers while the other became a doctor. One of his brothers is also the pastor of the Baptist "Church of the New Covenant" in Detroit. Ellison's youth was influenced by the involvement of his family in the civil rights movement, including the work of his grandfather as a member of the NAACP in Louisiana.

He graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy in 1981 where he had been active in sports and the student senate. At age 19, while attending Wayne State University in Detroit, Ellison converted from Catholicism to Islam. After graduating with a B.A. in economics in 1987, he married his high school sweetheart and moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota Law School. While attending law school, Ellison wrote several articles in support of Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, which caused controversy in his 2006 election campaign (see below). In 1990 he graduated with a degree of Juris Doctor.

As of 2006, Ellison and his wife Kim, a high school mathematics teacher, have four children born between 1989 and 1997. They have a daughter, Amirah; and three sons, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Isaiah. Kim is not a Muslim, but their four children have been raised in that faith. During Ellison's 2006 campaign, Kim Ellison revealed that she has been living with "moderate" multiple sclerosis for several years.

After law school Ellison worked with the firm of Lindquist & Vennum for three years where he was a litigator specializing in civil rights, employment, and criminal defense law. Ellison then became executive director of the nonprofit Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis that specialized in the defense of indigent clients. Upon leaving the Legal Rights Center, Ellison entered private practice with the law firm Hassan & Reed Ltd, specializing in trial practice.

In Nov. 2002, Ellison was elected to his first public office, as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives serving House District 58B. At the time he took his seat, his party was the smallest House minority in Minnesota history. During this session, Ellison was appointed to the Governmental Operations & Veterans Affairs Policy Committee, the Judiciary Policy & Finance Committee and the Local Government & Metropolitan Affairs Committee. In this session he spearheaded an ethics complaint against Rep. Arlon Lindner concerning remarks about homosexuals in the Holocaust.

Ellison carried 84% of the votes and was re-elected to the seat for Minnesota’s House District 58B in the 2004 election. He began to serve in the 84th Minnesota Legislative Session (1/4/2005 to 1/2/2007). During the 84th session, Ellison served on the Civil Law & Elections Committee, and the Public Safety Policy & Finance Committee. With his ascent to the national Legislature, Ellison's seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives was filled by Augustine Willie Dominguez, a Latino community activist and fellow member of the DFL.

Ellison's House seat was previously held by Martin Olav Sabo, whose announcement of his intention to retire precipitated Ellison's candidacy. The 5th district is one of eight congressional districts in Minnesota.

In the primary, Ellison faced former state senator Ember Reichgott Junge, Minneapolis city council member Paul Ostrow, and Sabo's chief of staff Mike Erlandson, whom Sabo had endorsed. Ellison won the primary on September 12, 2006, with 41% of the vote.

In the November 2006 election, Ellison faced Republican Alan Fine, the Green Party's Jay Pond, and Tammy Lee of the Independence Party. Ellison won the seat with 56% of the vote. Ellison is only the fourth person to represent the district since 1943.

Ellison faced prison chaplain Barb Davis White in the November election. He was overwhelmingly favored for a second term; the 5th is so heavily Democratic (it has been in DFL hands since 1963) that it is very unlikely he will face significant opposition in the foreseeable future.

In the 2008 election cycle, Keith Ellison has received three times as much money from individuals as he has from PACs ($541,079 v. $166,855). Ellison has received twice as much money from out-of-state donors than in-state donors ($223,117 v. $79,819) and received more in contributions from health care industry donors this year than from any other economic sector. Ellison has received slightly more money from labor PACs than business PACs in the 2008 election cycle. Of the 10-member Minnesota delegation, Ellison ranked seventh in the amount of earmarked dollars he secured.

On Dec. 1, 2006, Ellison announced he had hired Kari Moe as his chief of staff. She had previously served in the same position for the late Minnesota U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. Ellison later announced that Brian Elliott (previously of the Clean Water Action Alliance of Minnesota) would serve as his district director, and Trayshana Thomas (who worked with Ellison in his legal practice and throughout all stages of his political career) was made his district scheduler.

Ellison was appointed to the Financial Services Committee. He said he intends to focus on wages and housing for "relief and justice for the middle class". He will be joined on this committee by fellow Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R).

Because of Ellison’s campaign position calling for an investigation for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, his appointment to the Judiciary Committee (which has jurisdiction on these matters) was hailed by those seeking to have the president impeached.

In his first week as a congressman, Ellison voted with the majority of other Democrats to raise the minimum wage, voted for stem cell research, and voted to allow Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices.

After President Bush vetoed HR 1591 that provided military funding for the Iraq War (because it contained timetables for withdrawal), Ellison and fellow Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum joined with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top House Democrats in voting "no" to HR 2206 that provided the funding without any timetables. The bill passed the House on a 280 to 142 margin.

On May 3, 2007, Ellison introduced a bill to outlaw universal default, the practice whereby credit card companies raise interest rates on customers if they are behind on payments to any other creditors. The bill was also supported by House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank. Ellison, who described the bill as “the beginning of a whole credit reform effort we’re going to be pursuing,” also announced his interest in limiting high interest rates on credit cards and easing the process for those who have a legitimate need to file bankruptcy.

On Feb. 20, 2007, Ellison endorsed the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama saying, “He speaks with a unifying spirit.” He said he supports “Obama's message of an open and fair economy, a balanced prosperity and clear opposition to the war in Iraq.” When asked about Hillary Clinton, he promised he would support whomever won the Democratic nomination, and felt that at that stage of the campaign Obama would “keep her honest”.

On July 25, 2007, Ellison joined fellow Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in voting 22-17 to issue citations of Contempt of Congress to White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers for "failure to comply with subpoenas on the firings of several federal prosecutors". When asked about the president's offer to allow them to testify in private and without a transcript, Ellison stated, "That won't do. There's no point of accountability. They have to be sworn. These kind of measures are necessary to ensure that truth-telling occurs." Having passed the Committee the citations moved on to be voted upon by the full House.

In late March and early April 2007 Ellison was a member of a congressional delegation on a "fact-finding trip to the Middle East." The group included Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Dave Hobson (R-OH) and was led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The delegation visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. Ellison called his visit to Islam's third-holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as "personally moving". The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and discussed the peace plan devised by the Saudis in 2002. The delegation also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Pelosi also addressed the Israeli Knesset. The group's visit to Syria was criticized by the Bush administration, which restated its view that the United States should not have diplomatic relations with state sponsors of terrorism. While there the delegation conveyed a message from Olmert to Syrian President Bashar Assad that "Israel is interested in peace if Damascus stops supporting terrorism". In Lebanon the group met with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Speaker Nabih Berri. They also visited the grave of Rafik Hariri and met with his son Saad Hariri. In Saudi Arabia the group spoke to King Abdullah and his Shura Council. They praised his peace plan and advocated a greater role for women in his nation's political process. Ellison's inclusion in the delegation was praised by council member Abdul-Rahman al-Zamel. Ellison called the king a "visionary leader" and that "Even being in the same country where Mecca and Medina are located was personally uplifting for me." Ellison also said he hoped his presence as a Muslim among the delegation conveyed a message to the Israelis and Palestinians that "people can come together. Reconciliation is possible." He also said he was there to learn and did not consider himself qualified to mediate in the conflict.

Soon after returning home from his trip to Iraq, Ellison joined with 19 other Congress members (mostly freshmen Democrats) on a week-long trip to Israel sponsored by the America Israel Education Federation. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) led the group and personally invited Ellison to join them for a stay from August 12-18, 2007. The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Ellison's spokesperson told reporters that the trip was "a natural extension of his visit to Iraq" and that "the Middle East peace issue is important to the diverse communities of his Minneapolis-area district — from the Jewish Community Relations Council to the patrons of the Holy Land Middle Eastern eatery on Lake Street and Central Avenue. He hears about it every time he goes back to his district." The group traveled to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the northern Galilee region, and Ramallah, and viewed the Israeli border with Lebanon.

With his victory to the United States House of Representatives Ellison became the first Muslim elected to the Federal Government and the highest Muslim elected official in the United States. Ellison joins State Del. Saqib Ali (D-MD), State Senator Larry Shaw (D-NC), State Rep. Saghir "Saggy" Tahir (R-NH) and Congressman André Carson (D-IN) as the known elected Muslim officials in the United States of America as of 2008. Ellison’s election has been seen as inspirational to American Muslims, encouraging civic empowerment through participation in the political process. Ellison generally “downplayed the role of religion in his drive for office,” but since his 2006 election he has become active in advocacy for Islamic causes on a national level.

On Nov. 18, 2006 Ellison gave a speech called “Imams and Politics” to the Fourth Annual Body Meeting of the North American Imams Federation. The Federation' materials presented the issues to be outlined in Ellison's speech as follows: "Many Muslims around the United States are involved in political activities at different levels. Recognizing the sensitivity of political issues and the potential for divisiveness within the communities as a result of divergent political views, Imams must be able to provide Muslims with the proper guidance and educate them on the etiquettes of any political involvement within the Islamic context. Questions also arise on whether Imams and Islamic centers should be involved in politics at all and what the extent of this involvement should be, therefore Imams should have the ability to address these concerns. Overall, it is important that Imams are aware and understand the general political climate of their communities and be especially conversant with the issues that affect Muslims." Ellison also took part in "Community Night" with Imam Siraj Wahhaj, and Imam Dr. Omar Shahin. This was “for Imams to meet and interact with community members.” Some of the participants of this meeting became involved in the Flying Imams controversy after being removed from an Arizona bound plane for concerning behavior. Ellison became involved in this controversy shortly after it erupted when he attempted to arrange a meeting between parties including US Airways executives, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and other legislators and community members.

Ellison was listed as the keynote speaker for the Community Service Recognition Luncheon on September 1, 2007 during the Islamic Society of North America 2007 annual convention.

While a law student in 1989 and 1990, Ellison wrote several columns as Keith E. Hakim in the student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily. In the articles, he defended Louis Farrakhan against accusations of antisemitism, and suggested that affirmative action served as a "sneaky" way of paying reparations to African Americans for slavery. In another article, he purportedly suggested the creation of a separate state for black residents.

In 1997, when Joanne Jackson, executive director of the Minneapolis Initiative Against Racism (MIAR), allegedly said that, "Jews are among the most racist white people", Ellison, using his religious name Mohammed, read a statement supporting her on behalf of the The Minneapolis-St. Paul Study Group of the Nations of Islam. Ellison later suggested that he used the controversy to " out in favor of increased dialogue between the Jewish and African-American communities." In 1998, during his Minnesota State Legislature House campaign, Ellison asserted that he "rejected anti-Jewish attitudes".

Questions about Ellison's involvement with the Nation of Islam arose during his 2006 campaign. After winning the Democratic party nomination in May, he wrote a letter to the local Jewish Community Relations Council where he reportedly "asserted that his involvement with the Nation of Islam had been limited to an 18-month period around the time of the Million Man March in 1995, that he had been unfamiliar with the Nation of Islam's anti-Semitic views during his involvement with the group, and that he himself had never expressed such views." He also stated that he was never a member of the Nation of Islam, but only worked with it to organize the Minnesota contingent to the Million Man March.

In Ellison's letter, he denounced the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan, writing "I wrongly dismissed concerns that they were anti-Semitic. They were and are anti-Semitic and I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did." He explained his previous views, saying that he, "did not adequately scrutinize the positions and statements of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, and Khalid Muhammed." He also stated that "any kind of discrimination and hate are wrong. This has always been my position".

During the 2006 election Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), flew to Minneapolis. Along with James Yee (the former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay), Awad spoke at an August 25th fundraiser for Ellison. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune Ellison accepted thousands of dollars from Nihad Awad and another leader of CAIR; Ellison responded that he had fully disclosed all contributions and asserted that he had "nothing to hide". Ellison stressed that he was supported by individuals, and that the organization CAIR itself did not endorse him. His Republican opponent in the race, Alan Fine, criticized Ellison for accepting these contributions. Fine said that CAIR was "a group that Democrats say has deep ties to terrorism". The Fine campaign quoted Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) alleging CAIR's "ties to terrorism" and "its association with groups that are suspect." Many conservatives and Jewish groups claim CAIR is rooted in the Hamas movement and that its leaders also secretly support Hezbollah in Lebanon. Fine went so far as to say "CAIR is to Muslims as the Ku Klux Klan is to Christians." During the 2006 election Independence Party candidate Tammy Lee also accused CAIR of having secret ties to Hamas. CAIR director Nihad Awad has known Ellison since they both attended the University of Minnesota.

In response to Ellison's opponents, CAIR leaders Parvez Ahmed and Nihad Awad wrote "We are proud of our personal donations to Ellison's campaign" and derided any 'guilt by association' arguments. During this time the "Not in the Name of Islam" paid advertisement began appearing on Minnesota television channels for the first time, with Communications Director of CAIR, Florida Ahmed Bedier, coordinating the ad campaign.

Campaign finance has also been an issue for Ellison. In early 2006, the Minnesota State Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board reprimanded Ellison for unreported contributions, discrepancies in cash balances, and misclassified disbursements. These transgressions occurred in the years 2002–2004. In 2005 when the board tried to get more information about the problems in Ellison's reports, they got no response from Ellison or his treasurer (his wife Kim). When the board heard nothing, they opened the investigation. Ellison was subpoenaed and fined. The board has also fined Ellison numerous times for late filings been sued twice by the attorney general, and has been warned many times for absent or incomplete disclosure.

Ellison also failed to pay all or part of his income taxes in five separate years between 1992 and 2000, forcing the state and Internal Revenue Service to put liens on his home. He later paid in excess of $18,000.

Because Ellison stated an intent to use the Quran instead of a Bible at his photo-op reenactment of the swearing in ceremony (the official ceremony is done en masse without any books), Conservative columnist Dennis Prager wrote a column criticizing him. This drew responses from organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), The American Family Association, and The Anti-Defamation League.

CNN reported that on the January 4, 2007 (the opening day of Congress), Ellison met Goode on the House floor to shake hands and Goode accepted an offer to talk over coffee.

That same day during his oath reenactment Ellison used a two volume Quran published in London in 1764 that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and loaned to Ellison by "the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress". According to Ellison, "It demonstrates that from the very beginning of our country, we had people who were visionary, who were religiously tolerant, who believed that knowledge and wisdom could be gleaned from any number of sources, including the Quran." Historian Kevin J. Hayes in his book How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur’an explains that Jefferson purchased the book in 1765 while studying for the bar exam to become a lawyer (when he began questioning British Common Law after the Stamp Act Crisis).

Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID) drew criticism for his comments in an August 8, 2007 interview with the conservative Christian-based American Family News Network. Sali, an outspoken Evangelical Christian, denounced the Senate leadership for allowing a Hindu to lead the opening prayer. He held that invoking a non-Christian god in the Senate threatened to endanger America by removing "the protective hand of God." He then went on to say "We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The principles that this country was built on, that have made it great over these centuries, were Christian principles derived from Scripture. You know the Lord can make the rain fall on the just and the unjust alike." Former Idaho Democratic congressman Richard Stallings, among others, demanded that Sali either apologize or resign. In response Sali sent Ellison an e-mail saying he "meant no offense." At the time Ellison was in Iraq with a congressional delegation, his spokesperson said "The congressman just doesn't respond to comments like that." Sali stressed to reporters that he was not calling for Ellison to be removed, "He got elected the same way I did. People certainly have the right to elect anyone they want." Sali defended his claim about America's founding principles saying "The idea that somehow we can move to multi-culturalism and still remain the same — I think that's a little dangerous, too. From my standpoint, I believe the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly Christian and the God they were talking about is the God of the Bible." When asked about his policy discussions with those of other faiths he stated, "I would say, 'These are principles that I think are important,' and if he agrees with those, great. At the end of the game, maybe it does get down to religious beliefs and how they impact how you make public policy." It has been noted in a New York Sun editorial that claims dogging Ellison that the founders of the US did not anticipate Muslim legislators are factually incorrect. The specific subject was brought up in many of the State conventions to ratify the Constitution, including remarks by William Lancaster in the North Carolina Ratifying Convention in 1788.

Congressman Martin Sabo, DFL retired after 26 years in the House. Keith Ellison, also a DFLer, replaced him. Although Ellison was endorsed by the DFL convention, three non-endorsed candidates ran strong campaigns against him in the DFL primary: Mike Erlandson, Ember Reichgott Junge, and Paul Ostrow. Ellison won the primary with 41% of the vote. In the general election, he won with 56% of the vote against Jay Pond of the Green Party, Tammy Lee of the Independence Party and Alan Fine of the Republican Party. Ellison is the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress.

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Democratic Party (United States)

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The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. It is the oldest political party in continuous operation in the United States and it is one of the oldest parties in the world.

The Democratic Party traces its origins to the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other influential opponents of the Federalists in 1792. However, the modern Democratic party truly arose in the 1830s, with the election of Andrew Jackson. Since the division of the Republican Party in the election of 1912, it has gradually positioned itself to the left of the Republican Party on economic and social issues. Until the period following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Democratic Party was primarily a coalition of two parties divided by region. Southern Democrats were typically given high conservative ratings by the American Conservative Union while northern Democrats were typically given very low ratings. Southern Democrats were a core bloc of the bipartisan conservative coalition that lasted through the Reagan-era. The economically activist philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which has strongly influenced American liberalism, has shaped much of the party's economic agenda since 1932, and served to tie the two regional factions of the party together until the late 1960s. In fact, Roosevelt's New Deal coalition usually controlled the national government until the 1970s.

In 2004, it was the largest political party, with 72 million voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation. By comparison the Republican Party has 55 million members. An August 2008 estimate claims that 51% of registered voters, including independents, lean toward the Democratic Party and 38% lean toward the Republican Party. Since the 2008 general elections, the Democratic Party is the majority party for the 111th Congress; the party holds a majority in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Democrats also hold a majority of state governorships and control a majority of state legislatures. Barack Obama, the current President of the United States, is the 16th Democrat to hold that office.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is responsible for promoting Democratic campaign activities. While the DNC is responsible for overseeing the process of writing the Democratic Platform, the DNC is more focused on campaign and organizational strategy than public policy. In presidential elections it supervises the Democratic National Convention. The national convention is, subject to the charter of the party, the ultimate authority within the Democratic Party when it is in session, with the DNC running the party's organization at other times. The DNC is currently chaired by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) assists party candidates in House races; its current chairman (selected by the party caucus) is Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Similarly the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raises large sums for Senate races. It is currently headed by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), currently chaired by Mike Gronstal of Iowa, is a smaller organization with much less funding that focuses on state legislative races. The DNC sponsors the College Democrats of America (CDA), a student-outreach organization with the goal of training and engaging a new generation of Democratic activists. Democrats Abroad is the organization for Americans living outside the United States; they work to advance the goals of the party and encourage Americans living abroad to support the Democrats. The Young Democrats of America (YDA) is a youth-led organization that attempts to draw in and mobilize young people for Democratic candidates, but operates outside of the DNC. In addition, the recently created branch of the Young Democrats, the Young Democrats High School Caucus, attempts to raise awareness and activism amongst teenagers to not only vote and volunteer, but participate in the future as well.The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) is an organization supporting the candidacies of Democratic gubernatorial nominees and incumbents; it is currently chaired by Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana. Similarly the mayors of the largest cities and urban centres convene as the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.

Each state also has a state committee, made up of elected committee members as well as ex-officio committee members (usually elected officials and representatives of major constituencies), which in turn elects a chair. County, town, city and ward committees generally are composed of individuals elected at the local level. State and local committees often coordinate campaign activities within their jurisdiction, oversee local conventions and in some cases primaries or caucuses, and may have a role in nominating candidates for elected office under state law. Rarely do they have much funding, but in 2005 DNC Chairman Dean began a program (called the "50 State Strategy") of using DNC national funds to assist all state parties and paying for full-time professional staffers.

Since the 1890s, the Democratic Party has favored "liberal" positions (the term "liberal" in this sense describes social liberalism, not classical liberalism). In recent exit polls, the Democratic Party has had broad appeal across all socio-ethno-economic demographics. The Democratic Party is currently the nation's largest party. In 2004, roughly 72 million (42.6 percent) Americans were registered Democrats, compared to 55 million (32.5 percent) Republicans and 42 million (24.8 percent) independents.

Historically, the party has favored farmers, laborers, labor unions, and religious and ethnic minorities; it has opposed unregulated business and finance, and favored progressive income taxes. In foreign policy, internationalism (including interventionism) was a dominant theme from 1913 to the mid-1960s. In the 1930s, the party began advocating welfare spending programs targeted at the poor. The party had a pro-business wing, typified by Al Smith, and a Southern conservative wing that shrank after President Lyndon B. Johnson supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The major influences for liberalism were labor unions (which peaked in the 1936–1952 era), and the African American wing, which has steadily grown since the 1960s. Since the 1970s, environmentalism has been a major new component.

In recent decades, the party has adopted a centrist economic and more socially progressive agenda, with the voter base having shifted considerably. Once dominated by unionized labor and the working class, the Democratic base currently consists of well-educated and relatively affluent liberals, the socially more conservative working class, middle class moderates, the young, women, minorities, and LGBTS. Today, Democrats advocate more social freedoms, affirmative action, balanced budget, and a free enterprise system tempered by government intervention (mixed economy). The economic policy adopted by the modern Democratic Party, including the former Clinton administration, may also be referred to as the "Third Way". The party believes that government should play a role in alleviating poverty and social injustice, even if such requires a larger role for government and progressive taxation.

The Democratic Party, once dominant in the Southeastern United States (with the exception of Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida), is now strongest in the Northeast (Mid-Atlantic and New England), Great Lakes region, and the Pacific Coast (including Hawaii). The Democrats are also strongest in major cities.

Social liberals, also referred to as progressives or modern liberals, constitute roughly half of the Democratic voter base. Liberals thereby form the largest united typological demographic within the Democratic base. According to the 2008 exit poll results, liberals constituted 22 percent of the electorate, and 89 percent of American liberals favored the candidate of the Democratic Party. While college-educated professionals were mostly Republican until the 1950s, they now compose perhaps the most vital component of the Democratic Party. A majority of liberals favor diplomacy over military action, stem cell research, the legalization of same-sex marriage, secular government, stricter gun control, and environmental protection laws as well as the preservation of abortion rights. Immigration and cultural diversity is deemed positive; liberals favor cultural pluralism, a system in which immigrants retain their native culture in addition to adopting their new culture. They tend to be divided on free trade agreements and organizations such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Most liberals oppose increased military spending and the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings.

This ideological group differs from the traditional organized labor base. According to the Pew Research Center, a plurality of 41 percent resided in mass affluent households and 49 percent were college graduates, the highest figure of any typographical group. It was also the fastest growing typological group between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Liberals include most of academia and large portion of the professional class.

Many progressive Democrats are descendants of the New Left of Democratic presidential candidate Senator George McGovern of South Dakota; others were involved in the presidential candidacies of Vermont Governor Howard Dean and U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio; still others are disaffected former members of the Green Party. The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is a caucus of progressive Democrats, and is the single largest Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives. Its members have included Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, John Conyers of Michigan, Jim McDermott of Washington, John Lewis of Georgia, Barbara Lee of California, the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, now a Senator.

Civil libertarians also often support the Democratic Party because Democratic positions on such issues as civil rights and separation of church and state are more closely aligned to their own than the positions of the Republican Party, and because the Democratic economic agenda may be more appealing to them than that of the Libertarian Party. They oppose gun control, the "War on Drugs," protectionism, corporate welfare, government debt, and an interventionist foreign policy. The Democratic Freedom Caucus is an organized group of this faction.

See also: Southern Democrats.

The Pew Research Center has stated that conservative Democrats represent 15% of registered voters and 14% of the general electorate. In the House of Representatives, the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of fiscal and social conservatives and moderates, primarily southerners, forms part of the Democratic Party's current faction of conservative Democrats. They have acted as a unified voting bloc in the past, giving its forty plus members some ability to change legislation and broker compromises with the Republican Party's leadership. Historically, southern Democrats were generally much more ideologically conservative. In 1972, the last year that a sizable number of conservatives dominated the southern wing of the Democratic Party, the American Conservative Union gave higher ratings to most southern Democratic Senators and Congressmen than it did to Republicans. Today, Democrats are usually classified as 'conservatives' on the basis of holding some socially conservative views to the right of the national party, even though their overall viewpoint is generally far more liberal than conservative Democrats of years past.

Though centrist Democrats differ on a variety of issues, they typically foster a mix of political views and ideas. Compared to other Democratic factions, they tend to be more supportive of the use of military force, including the war in Iraq, and are more willing to reduce government welfare, as indicated by their support for welfare reform and tax cuts. One of the most influential factions is the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a nonprofit organization that advocates centrist positions for the party. The DLC hails President Bill Clinton as proof of the viability of "Third Way" politicians and a DLC success story. Former Representative Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee is its current chairman.

Professionals, those who have a college education and whose work revolves around the conceptualization of ideas, have supported the Democratic Party by a slight majority since 2000. Between 1988 and 2000, professionals favored Democrats by a 12 percentage point margin. While the professional class was once a stronghold of the Republican Party it has become increasingly split between the two parties, leaning in favor of the Democratic Party. The increasing support for Democratic candidates among professionals may be traced to the prevalence of social liberal values among this group.

A study on the political attitudes of medical students, for example, found that "U.S. medical students are considerably more likely to be liberal than conservative and are more likely to be liberal than are other young U.S. adults. Future U.S. physicians may be more receptive to liberal messages than conservative ones, and their political orientation may profoundly affect their health system attitudes." Similar results are found for professors, who are more strongly inclined towards liberalism and the Democratic Party than other occupational groups.

Academics, intellectuals and the highly educated overall constitute an important part of the Democratic voter base. Academia in particular tends to be progressive. In a 2005 survey, nearly 72% of full-time faculty members identified as liberal, while 15% identified as conservative. The social sciences and humanities were the most liberal disciplines while business was the most conservative. Male professors at more advanced stages of their careers as well as those at elite institutions tend be the most liberal. Another survey by UCLA conducted in 2001/02, found 47.6% of professors identifying as liberal, 34.3% as moderate, and 18% as conservative. Percentages of professors who identified as liberal ranged from 49% in business to over 80% in political science and the humanities. Social scientists, such as Brett O'Bannon of DePauw University, have claimed that the "liberal" opinions of professors seem to have little, if any, effect on the political orientation of students. Whether or not that is true, some conservatives and Republicans complain they are offended and even threatened by the liberal atmosphere of college campuses. As of July 2008 the Students for Academic Freedom arm of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative organization, posted a list of 440 student complaints, most of which pertain to perceived liberal bias of college professors (Abuse Center).

The liberal inclination of American professors is attributed by some to the liberal outlook of the highly educated.

Those with Postgraduate education, have become increasingly Democratic beginning in the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections. Intellectualism, is the tendency to constantly reexamine issues, or in the words of Edwards shields, the "penetration beyond the screen of immediate concrete experience," have also been named as an explanation why the academy is strongly democratic and liberal.

Although Democrats are well represented at the post graduate level, self-identified Republicans appear to dominate among those who have, at the least, attained a 4-year college degree. The trends for the years 1955 through 2004 are shown by gender in the graphs below, reproduced with permission from Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality, a book published in 2008 by Joseph Fried. These results are based on surveys conducted by the National Election Studies, supported by the National Science Foundation.

Studies have shown that younger voters tend to vote mostly for Democratic candidates in recent years. Despite supporting Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, the young have voted in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since Bill Clinton in 1992, and are more likely to identify as liberals than the general population. In the 2004 presidential election, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry received 54% of the vote from voters of the age group 18–29, while Republican George W. Bush received 45% of the vote from the same age group. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats received 60% of the vote from the same age group. Polls suggest that younger voters tend to be more liberal than the general population and have more liberal views than the general public on same-sex marriage and universal healthcare, helping Barack Obama carry 66% of their votes in 2008.

Since the 1930s, a critical component of the Democratic Party coalition has been organized labor. Labor unions supply a great deal of the money, grass roots political organization, and voting base of support for the party. Democrats are far more likely to be represented by unions, although union membership has declined, in general, during the last few decades. This trend is depicted in the following graph from the book, Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality. It is based on surveys conducted by the National Election Studies (NES).

The historic decline in union membership over the past half century has been accompanied by a growing disparity between public sector and private sector union membership percentages. The three most significant labor groupings in the Democratic coalition today are the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations, as well as the National Education Association, a large, unaffiliated teachers' union. Both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win have identified their top legislative priority for 2007 as passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Other important issues for labor unions include supporting industrial policy (including protectionism) that sustains unionized manufacturing jobs, raising the minimum wage and promoting broad social programs such as Social Security and universal health care.

While the American working class has lost much of its political strength with the decline of labor unions, it remains a stronghold of the Democratic Party and continues as an essential part of the Democratic base. Today roughly a third of the American public is estimated to be working class with around 52 percent being either members of the working or lower classes. Yet, as those with lower socioeconomic status are less likely to vote, the working and lower classes are underrepresented in the electorate. The working class is largely distinguished by highly routinized and closely supervised work. It consists mainly of clerical and blue-collar workers. Even though most in the working class are able to afford an adequate standard of living, high economic insecurity and possible personal benefit from an extended social safety net, make the majority of working class person left-of-center on economic issues. Most working class Democrats differ from most liberals, however, in their more socially conservative views. Working class Democrats tend to be more religious and likely to belong to an ethnic minority. Socially conservative and disadvantaged Democrats are among the least educated and lowest earning ideological demographics. In 2005, only 15% had a college degree, compared to 27% at the national average and 49% of liberals, respectively. Together socially conservative and the financially disadvantaged comprised roughly 54% of the Democratic base. The continued importance of the working class votes manifests itself in recent CNN exit polls, which shows that the majority of those with low incomes and little education vote for the Democratic Party.

From the end of the Civil War, African Americans almost unanimously favored the Republican Party due to its overwhelming political and more tangible efforts in achieving abolition, particularly through President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The south had long been a Democrat stronghold, favoring a state's right to legal slavery. In addition, the ranks of the fledgling Ku Klux Klan were comprised almost entirely of white Democrats angry over poor treatment by northerners, both perceived and actual. However, as years passed and memories waned, African Americans began drifting to the Democratic Party, as Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs gave economic relief to all minorities, including African Americans and Hispanics. Support for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s by Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and a hard-fought Republican congressional movement, helped give the Democrats even larger support among the African American community, which consistently vote 85-95% Democrat. However, this alienated many of the southern whites that had been a stronghold for Democrats in the past. In addition, recent Caribbean and African immigrants have voted solidly Democratic.

The Hispanic population, particularly the large Mexican American and Salvadoran American population in the Southwest and the large Puerto Rican and Dominican populations in the Northeast, have been strong supporters of the Democratic Party. They commonly favor liberal views on immigration. In the 1996 presidential election, Democratic President Bill Clinton received 72 percent of the Hispanic vote. Since then, however, the Republican Party has gained increasing support from the Hispanic community, especially among Hispanic Protestants and Pentecostals. Along with Bush's much more liberal views on immigration, President Bush was the first Republican president to gain 40 percent of the Hispanic vote (he did so in the 2004 presidential election). Yet, the Republican Party's support among Hispanics eroded in the 2006 mid-term elections, dropping from 44 to 30 percent, with the Democrats gaining in the Hispanic vote from 55 percent in 2004 to 69 percent in 2006. The shift in the Hispanic population's support back to the Democratic party was largely due to the Immigration Debate, which was sparked by H. R. 4437, a Republican enforcement-only bill concerning illegal immigration. Democrats increased their share of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 presidential election, with Barack Obama receiving 67%. Cuban Americans still heavily vote Republican but Mexican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Dominican Americans, and Central American and South American immigrants have all voted dependably for Democrats.

The Democratic Party also has considerable support in the growing Asian American population. The Asian American population had been a stronghold of the Republican Party until the 1992 presidential election in which George H. W. Bush won 55% of the Asian American vote, compared to Bill Clinton winning 31%, and Ross Perot winning 15% of the Asian American vote. The Democrats made gains among the Asian American population starting with 1996 and in 2006, won 62% of the Asian American vote. This is due to demographic shifts in the Asian American community, with growing numbers of well-educated Chinese and Indian American immigrants that are typically economic centrists and social progressives. Newer generations of more liberal Vietnamese American and Filipino American youth have also began to replace older more conservative generations that have voted reliably Republican. Vietnamese Americans still vote mostly Republican (though this has lessened recently), while Chinese Americans, Indian Americans, Korean Americans, Japanese Americans, Southeast Asian Americans other than Vietnamese (especially Hmong Americans, Cambodian Americans, and Laotian Americans,) and Pacific Islander Americans have voted mostly Democratic. Filipino Americans have recently begun to lean Democratic, especially males and the young. Younger Asian-Americans of all ethnic backgrounds aged 18–30 have gravitated towards the Democratic Party in the last few elections.

The Democratic Party also has strong support among the Native American population, particularly in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

Jewish American communities tend to be a stronghold for the Democratic Party, with more than 70% of Jewish voters having cast their ballots for the Democrats in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Support tends to vary among specific sectarian groups, with only 13% of Orthodox Jews supporting Barack Obama while around 60% of Conservative Jews and Reform Jews do so.

Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have leaned Democratic since the Iraq War. Zogby found in June 2007 that 39% of Arab Americans identify as Democrats, 26% as Republicans, and 28% as independents. Arab Americans historically voted Republican until recent years, having supported George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000.

These views are generally held by most Democrats. Some Democrats take other positions on these issues.

Democrats favor a higher minimum wage, and more regular increases, in order to assist the working poor. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was an early component of the Democrats' agenda during the 110th Congress. In 2006, the Democrats supported six state ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage; all six initiatives passed.

Democrats have opposed tax cuts and incentives to oil companies, favoring a policy of developing domestic renewable energy, such as Montana's state-supported wind farm and "clean coal" programs as well as setting in place a cap and trade policy in hopes of reducing carbon emissions.

Democrats generally support a more progressive tax structure to provide more services and reduce injustice. Currently they have proposed reversing those tax cuts the Bush administration gave to the wealthiest Americans while wishing to keep in place those given to the middle class. Democrats generally support more government spending on social services while spending less on the military. They oppose the cutting of social services, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and various welfare programs, believing it to be harmful to efficiency and social justice. Democrats believe the benefits of social services, in monetary and non-monetary terms, are a more productive labor force and cultured population, and believe that the benefits of this are greater than any benefits that could be derived from lower taxes, especially on top earners, or cuts to social services. Furthermore, Democrats see social services as essential towards providing positive freedom, i.e. freedom derived from economic opportunity. The Democratic-led House of Representatives reinstated the PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) budget rule at the start of the 110th Congress. DNC Chairman Howard Dean has cited Bill Clinton's presidency as a model for fiscal responsibility.

Some Democratic governors have supported purchasing Canadian drugs, citing lower costs and budget restrictions as a primary incentive. Recognizing that unpaid insurance bills increase costs to the service provider, who passes the cost on to health-care consumers, many Democrats advocate expansion of health insurance coverage.

Democrats believe that the government should protect the environment, and have promised to fight to strengthen the laws that ensure people have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. They also promise to make sure these laws are enforced. They feel that a sensible energy policy is key to a strong economy, national security, and a clean environment.

Most Democrats have the long-term aim of having low-cost, publicly funded college education with low tuition fees (like in much of Europe and Canada), which should be available to every eligible American student, or alternatively, with increasing state funding for student financial aid such as the Pell Grant or college tuition tax deduction.

The Democratic Party has a mixed record on international trade agreements that reflects a diversity of viewpoints in the party. The liberal and cosmopolitan wing of the party, including the intelligentsia and college-educated professionals overall, tend to favor globalization, while the organized labor wing of the party opposes it. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration and a number of prominent Democrats pushed through a number of agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then, the party's shift away from free trade became evident in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) vote, with 15 House Democrats voting for the agreement and 187 voting against.

The Democratic Party supports equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of sex, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, or national origin. The Party supports affirmative action programs to further this goal. Democrats also strongly support the Americans with Disabilities Act to prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of physical or mental disability.

The Democratic Party is divided on the subject of same-sex marriage. Some members favor civil unions for same-sex couples, others favor full and equal legalized marriage, and others are opposed to same-sex marriage on religious or ideological grounds. A June 2008 Newsweek poll found that 42% of Democrats support same-sex marriage while 23% support civil unions or domestic partnership laws and 28% oppose any legal recognition at all. The 2004 Democratic National Platform stated that marriage should be defined at the state level and it repudiated the Federal Marriage Amendment. Senator John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, did not support same-sex marriage.

A broad majority of Democrats have supported other LGBT related laws such as extending hate crime statutes to cover violence against LGBT people, legally preventing discrimination against LGBT people in the workforce, and repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Some issues are controversial while others have wide support. A 2006 Pew Research Center poll of Democrats found that 55% support gay adoption with 40% opposed while 70% support gays in the military with only 23% opposed.

Most members of the Democratic Party believe that all women should have access to birth control, and supports public funding of contraception for poor women. The Democratic Party, in its national platforms since 1992, has called for abortion to be "safe, legal and rare" — namely, keeping it legal by rejecting laws that allow governmental interference in abortion decisions, and reducing the number of abortions by promoting both knowledge of reproduction and contraception, and incentives for adoption. When Congress voted on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003, Congressional Democrats were split, with a minority (including current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) supporting the ban, and the majority of Democrats opposing the legislation.

The Democratic Party opposes attempts to reverse the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which declared abortion covered by the constitutionally protected individual right to privacy under the Ninth Amendment, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which lays out the legal framework in which government action alleged to violate that right is assessed by courts. As a matter of the right to privacy and of gender equality, many Democrats believe all women should have the ability to choose to abort without governmental interference. They believe that each woman, conferring with her conscience, has the right to choose for herself whether abortion is morally correct. Many Democrats also believe that poor women should have a right to publicly funded abortions.

Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid self-identifies as 'pro-life', while President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi self-identify as 'pro-choice'. The pro-life faction in the Party is represented by groups such as Democrats for Life of America while the pro-choice faction is represented by groups such as EMILY's List. A Newsweek poll from October 2006 found that 25% of Democrats were pro-life while a 69% majority were pro-choice. Pro-life Democrats themselves state that they represent over 40% of Democrats.

Democrats in the House of Representatives and United States Senate near-unanimously voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists against "those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States" in Afghanistan in 2001, supporting the NATO coalition invasion of the nation. Most elected Democrats continue in their support of the Afghanistan conflict, and some have voiced concerns that the Iraq War is shifting too many resources away from the presence in Afghanistan. Some Democrats also oppose the invasion. In spring 2008, Gallup found that 41% of Democrats called the invasion a "mistake" while a 55% majority disagreed.

Since 2006, Democratic candidate Barack Obama has called for a "surge" of troops into Afghanistan and, since 2008, Republican candidate John McCain has also called for a "surge". Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer have expressed support for Obama's plan. Pelosi has stated that “We need more resources there... We are understaffed there, not only in our military presence, but also in terms of the reconstruction of Afghanistan." In spring 2008, Gallup found Democrats evenly divided about whether or not more troops should be sent — 56% support it if it would mean removing troops from Iraq and only 47% support it otherwise.

See also: National Jewish Democratic Council. See also: Israel-United States relations.

71% of Americans, and 64% of Democrats define themselves as both supporters of the state of Israel, making it Americans' 5th most favored country. Democrats are no exception and have both recently and historically supported Israel. A 2008 Gallup Poll found that 64% say that they have a favorable image of Israel while only 16% say that they have a favorable image of the Palestinian Authority. Within the party, the majority view is held by the Democratic leadership with the minority pro-Palestinian view held by individual members of the party's left-wing such as John Conyers Jr., George Miller, Nick Rahall, Dave Obey, Dennis J. Kucinich, Jim McDermott, and Cynthia McKinney as well as former President Jimmy Carter. The party leadership refers to the other side as a "fringe".

It is in the best interests of all parties, including the United States, that we take an active role to help secure a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a democratic, viable Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish State of Israel. To do so, we must help Israel identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability, and stand with Israel against those who seek its destruction. The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements. Sustained American leadership for peace and security will require patient efforts and the personal commitment of the President of the United States. The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

In 2002, Democrats were divided as a majority (29 for, 21 against) in the Senate and a minority of Democrats in the House (81 for, 126 against) voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Since then, many prominent Democrats, such as former Senator John Edwards, have expressed regret about this decision, and have called it a mistake, while others, such as Senator Hillary Clinton have criticized the conduct of the war but not repudiated their initial vote for it. Referring to Iraq, in April 2007 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war to be "lost" while other Democrats (especially during the 2004 presidential election cycle) accused the President of lying to the public about WMDs in Iraq. Amongst lawmakers, Democrats are the most vocal opponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom and campaigned on a platform of withdrawal ahead of the 2006 mid-term elections.

A March 2003 CBS News poll taken a few days before the invasion of Iraq found that 34% of Democrats would support it without United Nations backing, 51% would support it only with its backing, and 14% would not support it at all. The Los Angeles Times stated in early April 2003 that 70% of Democrats supported the decision to invade while 27% opposed it. The Pew Research Center stated in August 2007 that opposition increased from 37% during the initial invasion to 74%. In April 2008, a CBS News poll found that about 90% of Democrats disapprove of the Bush administration's conduct and want to end the war within the next year.

On February 27, 2009, President Obama announced, “As a candidate for president, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we’ve made and protect our troops... Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months." Around 50,000 non-combat related forces will remain. Obama's plan drew wide bipartisan support, including defeated Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain.

Democrats usually oppose the doctrine of unilateralism, which dictates that the United States should use military force without any assistance from other nations whenever it believes there is a threat to its security or welfare. They believe the United States should act in the international arena in concert with strong alliances and broad international support. This was a major foreign policy issue of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign; his platform attributed rifts with international allies to unilateralism. Barack Obama's 2008 campaign also discussed promoting the image of the United States abroad.

In a general sense, the modern Democratic Party is more closely aligned with the international relations theories of liberalism, neoliberalism, and functionalism than realism and neorealism, though realism has some influence on the party. Wilsonian idealism, in which unilateral foreign intervention is justified to end genocide or other humanitarian crises, has also played a major role both historically and currently- with its supporters known as 'liberal hawks'.

We believe that the people of Puerto Rico have the right to the political status of their choice, obtained through a fair, neutral, and democratic process of self-determination. The White House and Congress will work with all groups in Puerto Rico to enable the question of Puerto Rico’s status to be resolved during the next four years. We also believe that economic conditions in Puerto Rico call for effective and equitable programs to maximize job creation and financial investment. Furthermore, in order to provide fair assistance to those in greatest need, the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico should receive treatment under federal programs that is comparable to that of citizens in the States. We will phase-out the cap on Medicaid funding and phase-in equal participation in other federal health care assistance programs. Moreover, we will provide equitable treatment to the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico on programs providing refundable tax credits to working families.

We believe that four million disenfranchised American citizens residing in Puerto Rico have the right to the permanent and fully democratic status of their choice. The White House and Congress will clarify the realistic status options for Puerto Rico and enable Puerto Ricans to choose among them.

Puerto Rico has been under U.S. sovereignty for over a century and Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, but the island’s ultimate status still has not been determined and its 3.9 million residents still do not have voting representation in their national government. These disenfranchised citizens — who have contributed greatly to our country in war and peace — are entitled to the permanent and fully democratic status of their choice. Democrats will continue to work in the White House and Congress to clarify the options and enable them to choose and to obtain such a status from among all realistic options.

Democrats are opposed to use of torture against individuals apprehended and held prisoner by the U.S. military, and hold that categorizing such prisoners as unlawful combatants does not release the U.S. from its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Democrats contend that torture is inhumane, decreases the United States' moral standing in the world, and produces questionable results. Democrats largely spoke out against waterboarding.

All Democrats in the U.S. Senate, except for Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, voted for the original USA PATRIOT Act legislation. After voicing concerns over the "invasion of privacy" and other civil liberty restrictions of the Act, the Democrats split on the renewal in 2006. Most Democratic Senators voted to renew it, while most Democratic Representatives voted against renewal. Renewal was allowed after many of the most invasive clauses in the Act were removed or curbed.

The Democratic Party believes that individuals should have a right to privacy. For example, Democrats have generally opposed the NSA warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens.

Some Democratic officeholders have championed consumer protection laws that limit the sharing of consumer data between corporations. Most Democrats oppose sodomy laws and believe that government should not regulate consensual noncommercial sexual conduct among adults as a matter of personal privacy.

With a stated goal of reducing crime and homicide, the Democratic Party has introduced various gun control measures, most notably the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Brady Bill of 1993 and Crime Control Act of 1994. However, many Democrats, especially rural, Southern, and Western Democrats, favor fewer restrictions on firearm possession and warned the party was defeated in the 2000 presidential election in rural areas because of the issue. In the national platform for 2004, the only statement explicitly favoring gun control was a plan calling for renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

The Democratic Party evolved from Anti-Federalist factions that opposed the fiscal policies of Alexander Hamilton in the early 1790s. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison organized these factions into the Democratic-Republican Party. The party favored states' rights and strict adherence to the Constitution; it opposed a national bank and wealthy, moneyed interests. The Democratic-Republican Party ascended to power in the election of 1800. After the War of 1812, the party's chief rival, the Federalist Party disbanded. Democratic-Republicans split over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe, and the party faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, became the Democratic Party. Along with the Whig Party, the Democratic Party was the chief party in the United States until the Civil War. The Whigs were a commercial party, and usually less popular, if better financed. The Whigs divided over the slavery issue after the Mexican–American War and faded away. In the 1850s, under the stress of the Fugitive Slave Law and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, anti-slavery Democrats left the party. Joining with former members of existing or dwindling parties, the Republican Party emerged.

The Democrats split over the choice of a successor to President James Buchanan along Northern and Southern lines, while the Republican Party gained an ascendancy in the election of 1860. As the American Civil War broke out, Northern Democrats were divided into War Democrats and Peace Democrats and Southern Democrats formed their own party. Most War Democrats rallied to Republican President Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans' National Union Party. The Democrats benefited from white Southerners' resentment of Reconstruction after the war and consequent hostility to the Republican Party. After Redeemers ended Reconstruction in the 1870s, and the extremely violent disenfranchisement of African Americans took place in the 1890s, the South, voting Democratic, became known as the "Solid South." Though Republicans continued to control the White House until 1884, the Democrats remained competitive. The party was dominated by pro-business Bourbon Democrats led by Samuel J. Tilden and Grover Cleveland, who represented mercantile, banking and railroad interests, opposed imperialism and overseas expansion, fought for the gold standard, opposed bimetallism, and crusaded against corruption, high taxes, and tariffs. Cleveland was elected to non-consecutive presidential terms in 1884 and 1892.

Issues facing parties and the United States after the Second World War included the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. Republicans attracted conservatives and white Southerners from the Democratic coalition with their resistance to New Deal and Great Society liberalism and the Republicans' use of the Southern strategy. African Americans, who traditionally supported the Republican Party, began supporting Democrats following the ascent of the Franklin Roosevelt administration, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights movement. The Democratic Party's main base of support shifted to the Northeast, marking a dramatic reversal of history. Bill Clinton was elected to the presidency in 1992, governing as a New Democrat when the Democratic Party lost control of Congress in the election of 1994 to the Republican Party. Re-elected in 1996, Clinton was the first Democratic President since Franklin Roosevelt to serve for two terms. The Democratic Party regained majority control of Congress in the 2006 elections. Some of the party's key issues in the early 21st century in their last national platform have included the methods of how to combat terrorism, homeland security, expanding access to health care, labor rights, environmentalism, and the preservation of liberal government programs.

The most common mascot symbol for the party is the donkey. According to the Democratic National Committee, the party itself never officially adopted this symbol but has made use of it. They say Andrew Jackson had been labeled a jackass by his opponents during the intense mudslinging that occurred during the presidential race of 1828. A political cartoon titled "A Modern Balaam and his Ass" depicting Jackson riding and directing a donkey (representing the Democratic Party) was published in 1837. A political cartoon by Thomas Nast in an 1870 edition of Harper's Weekly revived the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party. Cartoonists followed Nast and used the donkey to represent the Democrats, and the elephant to represent the Republicans.

In the early 20th century, the traditional symbol of the Democratic Party in Midwestern states such as Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Ohio was the rooster, as opposed to the Republican eagle. This symbol still appears on Oklahoma, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia ballots. In New York, the Democratic ballot symbol is a five-pointed star. For the majority of the 20th century, Missouri Democrats used the Statue of Liberty as their ballot emblem. This meant that when Libertarian candidates received ballot access in Missouri in 1976, they could not use the Statue of Liberty, their national symbol, as the ballot emblem. Missouri Libertarians instead used the Liberty Bell until 1995, when the mule became Missouri's state animal. From 1995 to 2004, there was some confusion among voters, as the Democratic ticket was marked with the Statue of Liberty, and it seemed that the Libertarians were using a mule.

Although both major political parties (and many minor ones) use the traditional American red, white, and blue colors in their marketing and representations, since election night 2000 the color blue has become the identified color of the Democratic Party, while the color red has become the identified color of the Republican Party. That night, for the first time, all major broadcast television networks used the same color scheme for the electoral map: blue states for Al Gore (Democratic nominee) and red states for George W. Bush (Republican nominee). Since then, the color blue has been widely used by the media to represent the party, much to the confusion of non-American observers, as blue is the traditional color of the right and red the color of the left outside of the United States (c.f. red for the Liberals and blue for the Conservatives in Canada, or red for Labour and blue for Conservative in the United Kingdom). Blue has also been used by party supporters for promotional efforts (e.g. ActBlue, BuyBlue, BlueFund) and by the party itself, which in 2006 unveiled the "Red to Blue Program" to support Democratic candidates running against Republican incumbents in the 2006 midterm elections.

Jefferson-Jackson Day is the annual fundraising event (dinner) held by Democratic Party organizations across the United States. It is named after Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, whom the party regards as its distinguished early leaders.

The song "Happy Days Are Here Again" is the unofficial song of the Democratic Party. It was used prominently when Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for president at the 1932 Democratic National Convention and remains a sentimental favorite for Democrats today. For example Paul Shaffer played the theme after the Democrats won Congress in 2006. More recently, the emotionally similar song "Beautiful Day" by the band U2 has become a favorite theme song for Democratic candidates. John Kerry used the song during his 2004 presidential campaign, and it was used as a celebratory tune by several Democratic Congressional candidates in 2006. Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man is traditionally performed at the beginning of the Democratic National Convention.

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Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Seal of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The current Speaker is Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat representing California's 8th congressional district.

The Speaker is second in the United States presidential line of succession, after the Vice President and before the President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate. Unlike Speaker of the House of Commons in the British Parliament, the Speaker of the House is a position of leadership in the majority party and actively works to set that party's legislative agenda. Also unlike the British counterpart, the Speaker of the House does not normally personally preside over debates, instead delegating the duty to other members of Congress of the same political party. Aside from duties relating to heading the House and the majority political party, the Speaker also performs administrative and procedural functions, and remains the Representative of his or her congressional district.

The Speaker is elected on the first day of a new session of Congress. The election is presided over by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and each party nominates a candidate. Whoever receives a simple majority of the votes is elected and, after election, is sworn in by the Dean of the House, the chamber's longest-serving member. There is no requirement in the Constitution that the speaker must also be a current member of the House of Representatives to serve as speaker; however, every speaker elected has also been an elected representative.

In modern practice, the Speaker is chosen by the majority party in the House; it is usually obvious within two to three weeks of a House election who the new Speaker will be. It is expected that members of the House vote for their party's candidate. If they do not do so, they usually vote for someone else in their party or vote "present." Voting for the other party's candidate is dealt with very severely. For example, when Democrat Jim Traficant voted for Republican Dennis Hastert in the 2001 election for Speaker, the Democrats stripped him of his seniority and refused to appoint him to any congressional committee.

The first Speaker was Frederick Muhlenberg, who was elected as a Federalist for the first four U.S. Congresses. The position of Speaker was not a very influential one, however, until the tenure of Henry Clay (1811–1814, 1815–1820, and 1823–1825). In contrast with many of his predecessors, Clay participated in several debates, and used his influence to procure the passage of measures he supported—for instance, the declaration of the War of 1812, and various laws relating to Clay's "American System". Furthermore, when no candidate received an Electoral College majority in the 1824 presidential election causing the president to be decided by the House, Speaker Clay threw his support to John Quincy Adams instead of Andrew Jackson, thereby ensuring the former's victory. Following Clay's retirement in 1825, the power of the Speakership once again began to decline; at the same time, however, Speakership elections became increasingly bitter. As the Civil War approached, several sectional factions nominated their own candidates, often making it difficult for any candidate to attain a majority. In 1855 and again in 1859, for example, the contest for Speaker lasted for two months before the House achieved a result. Speakers tended to have very short tenures; for example, from 1839 to 1863 there were eleven Speakers, only one of whom served for more than one term.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the office of Speaker began to develop into a very powerful one. One of the most important sources of the Speaker's power was his position as Chairman of the Committee on Rules, which, after the reorganization of the committee system in 1880, became one of the most powerful standing committees of the House. Furthermore, several Speakers became leading figures in their political parties; examples include Democrats Samuel J. Randall, John Griffin Carlisle, and Charles F. Crisp, and Republicans James G. Blaine, Thomas Brackett Reed, and Joseph Gurney Cannon.

The power of the Speaker was greatly augmented during the tenure of the Republican Thomas Brackett Reed (1889–1891 and 1895–1899). "Czar Reed," as he was called by his opponents, sought to end the obstruction of bills by the minority, in particular by countering the tactic known as the "disappearing quorum". By refusing to vote on a motion, the minority could ensure that a quorum would not be achieved, and that the result would be invalid. Reed, however, declared that members who were in the chamber but refused to vote would still count for the purposes of determining a quorum. Through these and other rulings, Reed ensured that the Democrats could not block the Republican agenda. The Speakership reached its apogee during the term of Republican Joseph Gurney Cannon (1903–1911). Cannon exercised extraordinary control over the legislative process; he determined the agenda of the House, appointed the members of all committees, chose committee chairmen, headed the Rules Committee, and determined which committee heard each bill. He vigorously used his powers to ensure that the proposals of the Republican Party were passed by the House. In 1910, however, Democrats and several dissatisfied Republicans joined together to strip the Speaker of many of his powers, including the ability to name committee members and chairmanship of the Rules Committee. Much—but not all—of the lost influence of the position was restored over fifteen years later by Speaker Nicholas Longworth.

The middle of the 20th century saw the service of one of the most influential Speakers in history, Democrat Sam Rayburn. Rayburn was the longest serving Speaker in history, holding office from 1940 to 1947, 1949 to 1953, and 1955 to 1961. He helped shape many bills, working quietly in the background with House committees. He also helped ensure the passage of several domestic measures and foreign assistance programs advocated by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Rayburn's successor, Democrat John William McCormack (served 1962–1971), was a somewhat less influential Speaker, particularly because of dissent from younger members of the Democratic Party. During the mid-1970s, the power of the Speakership once again grew under Democrat Carl Albert. The Committee on Rules ceased to be a semi-independent panel, as it had been since the Revolt of 1910; instead, it once again became an arm of the party leadership. Moreover, in 1975, the Speaker was granted the authority to appoint a majority of the members of the Rules Committee. Meanwhile, the power of committee chairmen was curtailed, further increasing the relative influence of the Speaker.

Albert's successor, Democrat Tip O'Neill, was a prominent Speaker because of his public opposition to the policies of President Ronald Reagan. O'Neill is the longest-serving Speaker without a break (1977 through 1987). He challenged Reagan on domestic programs and on defense expenditures. Republicans made O'Neill the target of their election campaigns in 1980 and 1982; nevertheless, Democrats managed to retain their majorities in both years. The roles of the parties were reversed in 1994, when the Republicans regained control of the House after spending forty years in the minority. Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich regularly clashed with Democratic President Bill Clinton; in particular, Gingrich's "Contract with America" was a source of contention. Gingrich was ousted in 1998 when the Republican Party fared poorly in the congressional elections—although retaining a small majority—his successor, Dennis Hastert, played a much less prominent role. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats won majority of the House. Nancy Pelosi became the Speaker when the 110th Congress convened on January 4, 2007, making her the first female Speaker.

Historically, there have been several controversial elections to the Speakership, such as the contest of 1839. In that case, even though the 26th United States Congress House section convened on December 2, it could not begin the Speakership election until December 14 because of an election dispute in New Jersey known as the "Broad Seal War". Two rival delegations—one Whig and another Democratic—had been certified as elected by different branches of the New Jersey government. The problem was compounded because the result of the dispute would determine whether the Whigs or the Democrats held the majority. Neither party agreed to permit a Speakership election with the opposite party's delegation participating. Finally, it was agreed to exclude both delegations from the election; a Speaker was finally chosen on December 17.

Another, more prolonged fight occurred in 1855 in the 34th United States Congress. The new Republican Party was not fully formed, and significant numbers of politicians, mostly former Whigs, ran for office under the Opposition label. This label was likely used because the Whig name had been discredited and abandoned, but former Whigs still needed to advertise that they were opposed to the Democrats. Following the election, the Opposition Party actually was the largest party in the U.S. House of Representatives, with the party makeup of the 234 Representatives being 100 Oppositionists, 83 Democrats, and 51 Americans (Know Nothing). Neither the Republican nor the Democratic candidate could attain a majority because of the American Party. As a compromise, the Republicans nominated Nathaniel Prentiss Banks, an American candidate. This is the first example in U.S. history of a form of coalition government in either house of Congress. The House found itself in the same dilemma in the 36th, 37th and the 38th United States Congress. The three speakers elected during these House sessions where William Pennington, ironically the New Jersey governor who certified the disputed Whig candidates during the earlier Broad Seal War controversy, Galusha A. Grow, and Schuyler Colfax, who later became Vice-President under Ulysses Grant.

The last Speakership elections in which the House had to vote more than once occurred in the 65th and 72nd United States Congress. In 1917 neither the Republican nor the Democratic candidate could attain a majority because 3 members of the Progressive Party and other single members of other parties voted for their own party. The Republicans had a plurality in the House but James Clark remained Speaker of the House because of the support of the Progressive Party members. In 1931 both the Republicans and the Democrats had 217 members with the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party having one member to decide who would be the deciding vote. The Farmer-Labor Party eventually voted for the Democrats' candidate for speaker John Nance Garner, who later became Vice-President under Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the most notable recent elections was that of 1999. Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was widely blamed for the poor showing of the Republican Party during the general elections of 1998, declined to seek another term as Speaker and announced his resignation from the House. His expected successor was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Bob Livingston, who received the nomination of the Republican conference without opposition. However, Livingston—who had been publicly critical of President Bill Clinton's perjury during his sexual harassment trial—abruptly resigned from the House after it was revealed that he had been engaged in an extramarital affair. As a result the chief deputy, Dennis Hastert, was chosen to serve as Speaker.

On November 16, 2006, Pelosi, who was then the House Democratic leader, had been selected by her party to be the next speaker. When the 110th Congress convened on January 4, 2007, she was nominated and elected as the 60th Speaker, 233-202, over the Republican challenger John Boehner. Pelosi is the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House and to be second in the line of succession to the presidency.

The Constitution does not spell out the political role of the Speaker. As the office has developed historically, however, it has taken on a clearly partisan cast, very different from the speakership of the British House of Commons, which is meant to be scrupulously non-partisan. The Speaker in the United States is, by tradition, the head of the majority party in the House of Representatives, outranking the Majority Leader. However, the Speaker usually does not participate in debate (though he or she has the right to do so) and rarely votes on the floor.

The Speaker is responsible for ensuring that the House passes legislation supported by the majority party. In pursuing this goal, the Speaker may utilize his or her power to determine when each bill reaches the floor. He or she also chairs the majority party's House steering committee. While the Speaker is the functioning head of the House majority party, the same is not true of the President pro tempore of the Senate, whose office is primarily ceremonial and honorary.

When the Speaker and the President belong to the same party, the Speaker normally plays a less prominent role as the leader of the majority party. For example, Speaker Dennis Hastert played a very low-key role during the presidency of fellow Republican George W. Bush. On the other hand, when the Speaker and the President belong to opposite parties, the public role and influence of the Speaker tend to increase. The Speaker is the highest-ranking member of the opposition party and is normally the chief public opponent of the President's agenda. Recent examples include Tip O'Neill, who was a vocal opponent of President Ronald Reagan's domestic and defense policies; Newt Gingrich, who fought a bitter battle with President Bill Clinton for control of domestic policy; and Nancy Pelosi, who has clashed with George W. Bush over domestic policy and the Iraq War.

The Speaker holds a variety of powers as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, but normally delegates them to another member of the majority party. The Speaker may designate any Member of the House to act as Speaker pro tempore and preside over the House. During important debates, the Speaker pro tempore is ordinarily a senior member of the majority party who may be chosen for his or her skill in presiding. At other times, more junior members may be assigned to preside to give them experience with the rules and procedures of the House. The Speaker may also designate a Speaker pro tempore for special purposes; for example, during long recesses, a Representative whose district is near Washington, D.C. may be designated as Speaker pro tempore for the purpose of signing enrolled bills.

On the floor of the House, the presiding officer is always addressed as "Mister Speaker" or "Madam Speaker" (even if the Speaker him- or herself is not the individual presiding). When the House resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole, the Speaker designates a member to preside over the Committee as the Chairman, who is addressed as "Mister Chairman" or "Madam Chairwoman." Before any member may speak, he or she must seek the presiding officer's recognition. The presiding officer may call on members as he or she pleases, and may therefore control the flow of debate. The presiding officer also rules on all points of order, but such rulings may be appealed to the whole House (although the appeal is invariably tabled on a party-line vote). The Speaker is responsible for maintaining decorum in the House, and may order the Sergeant-at-Arms to enforce the rules.

The Speaker's powers and duties extend beyond presiding in the chamber. In particular, the Speaker has great influence over the committee process. The Speaker selects nine of the thirteen members of the powerful Committee on Rules, subject to the approval of the conference of the majority party. (The remaining four members are chosen by the leadership of the minority party.) Furthermore, the Speaker appoints all members of select committees and conference committees. Moreover, when a bill is introduced, the Speaker determines which committee shall consider it. As a member of the House, the Speaker is entitled to participate in debate and to vote. By custom, however, he or she does so only in exceptional circumstances. Normally, the Speaker votes only when his or her vote would be decisive, and on matters of great importance (such as constitutional amendments).

The Speaker is further responsible for overseeing the officers of the House – the Clerk, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Chief Administrative Officer, and the Chaplain. The Speaker can dismiss any of these officers, with the exception of the Chaplain. The Speaker appoints the House Historian and the General Counsel and, jointly with the Majority and Minority Leaders, appoints the House's Inspector General.

The Speaker is second in the presidential line of succession, immediately after the Vice President, under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. He or she is followed in the line of succession by the President pro tempore of the Senate and by the heads of federal executive departments. Some scholars, however, have argued that this provision of the succession statute is unconstitutional.

To date, the implementation of the Presidential Succession Act has never been necessary; thus, no Speaker has ever acted as president. Implementation of the law almost became necessary in 1973, after the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew. Many at the time believed that President Richard Nixon would resign because of the Watergate scandal, allowing Speaker Carl Albert to succeed. However, before he resigned, Nixon appointed Gerald Ford to the Vice Presidency in accordance with the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Nevertheless, the United States government takes the place of the Speaker in the line of succession seriously enough that, for example, since shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Speakers have used military jets to fly back and forth to their districts and for other travel. The Speaker of the House is one of the officers to whom declarations of presidential inability or of ability to resume the presidency must be addressed under the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Finally, the Speaker continues to represent the voters in his or her congressional district.

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110th United States Congress

Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer meet with President George W. Bush on November 9, 2006

The One Hundred Tenth United States Congress was the meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, between January 3, 2007, and January 3, 2009, during the last two years of the second term of President George W. Bush. It was composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The apportionment of seats in the House was based on the 2000 U.S. census.

The Democratic Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995. Although the Democrats held fewer than 50 Senate seats, they had an operational majority because the two independent senators caucused with the Democrats for organizational purposes. No Democratic-held seats had fallen to the Republican Party in the 2006 elections. Democrat Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House. The House also received the first Muslims and Buddhists in Congress.

Members debated initiatives such as the Democrats' 100-Hour Plan and the Iraq War troop surge of 2007.

Following President Bush's 2007 State of the Union Address, Congress debated his proposal to create a troop surge to increase security in Iraq. The House of Representatives passed a non-binding measure opposing the surge and then a $124 billion emergency spending measure to fund the war, which included language that dictated troop levels and withdrawal schedules. President Bush, however, vetoed the bill as promised, making this his second veto while in office. Both houses of Congress subsequently passed a bill funding the war without timelines, but with benchmarks for the Iraqi government and money for other spending projects like disaster relief.

These are partial lists of prominent enacted legislation and pending bills.

Membership changed with one death and two resignations.

Membership fluctuated with seven deaths and eight resignations. Democrats achieved a net gain of three seats as a result of their victories in special elections. See Changes in membership, below.

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Source : Wikipedia