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Happy New Year!  This is my first blog post on DailyKos, and I'm really looking forward to interacting more with this tremendous community in the coming weeks and months.

As we begin the new year, we herald the beginning of a new chapter in our nation's history. In November, Americans from every corner of our country sent a message of change to Washington. America restored Democratic leadership to the House and Senate, and this change of leadership couldn't come at a more critical time for our country.

Today, a new Democratic Congress is working to make America's hopes for a better tomorrow a reality. Here in the Senate, much like Speaker Pelosi's 100-hour plan in the House, our Democratic caucus has already unveiled an ambitious agenda to provide a new direction for America.  But there is a lot of work to be done -- so today I'm asking for your input.

Tell me what priorities you want the Senate to focus on.  Click here to rank the most important issues facing America now!

More below the flip.

When the Senate convened for the first day of the new 110th Congress last Thursday, Democrats introduced 10 new bills that focus on three key goals -- providing real security for America , restoring transparency and responsibility to government, and helping working Americans get ahead.  

Here are those first 10 bills:

  • S.1 -- Ethics & lobbying reform
  • S.2 -- Increasing the minimum wage
  • S.3 -- Lowering prescription drug prices for seniors
  • S.4 -- Fully implementing all 9/11 Commission recommendations
  • S.5 -- Expanding stem cell research
  • S.6 -- Developing new technology to promote energy independence
  • S.7 -- Making college more affordable
  • S.8 -- Rebuilding America's military
  • S.9 -- Immigration reform
  • S.10 -- Reinstating "Pay As You Go" rules for the federal budget

In addition, Senate Democrats will provide aggressive oversight of the Bush Administration's war in Iraq -- keeping our troops safe, stopping war profiteering, and bringing the war to an end as soon as possible.  

Help me set the Senate's agenda -- prioritize these important issues now!

As Assistant Majority Leader, part of my responsibility is to work with Majority Leader Harry Reid to manage the flow of legislation on the Senate floor.  In these first few weeks of the 110th Congress, we want to make sure we're focusing on the issues that matter most to all Americans.

Ultimately, we hope to pass all of this legislation, but, here in the more deliberative body of the Senate, it will take time.  So, I want to make sure your priorities are our priorities.

Rank the issues that you want the Senate to focus on first!

It's a new year, a new Congress, and a new opportunity for Democrats to lead.  Last year's campaign is over -- now it's time to govern.

Thanks for being a part of the effort to provide a new direction for America!  I look forward to visiting DailyKos often in these exciting coming weeks to discuss the many pressing issues facing America.

-- Dick Durbin

P.S.  I'll be back in about 30 minutes to respond to some of your comments and questions.  I look forward to our dialogue!

UPDATE #1 (3pm ET):  Thanks to all of you for your terrific questions and comments.  I tried to answer as many as I could.  I look forward to returning often to work through more of these important issues.  Thanks again!

UPDATE #2 (3:45pm ET):  One last thought.  You've all raised some very important issues.  Some have wondered why certain issues weren't included in the poll we're taking at  Just so you know, we started off with S.1 through S.10, as well as Iraq oversight -- but we recognize there is much more work to do.  This may be where we're starting in the Senate -- but we're not going to stop after these first 10 bills.  Thanks for all of the useful feedback you've provided in the comments!

Originally posted to Dick Durbin on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 09:14 AM PST.

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