The bill also makes "earmarks" - funding for pet projects written into law by individual Senators - transparent so taxpayers can see how their money is being spent. In a show of overwhelming bipartisanship, this bill passed the Senate 96 to 2.
Now the Senate is considering a bill to raise the minimum wage and to cut taxes and regulatory red tape for the small businesses that provide most new jobs. By pairing these two goals, I'm hopeful we can continue to get results with bipartisan support.
Soon the tasks will grow bigger. President Bush highlighted several issues America must confront in the next two years if we are to pass on to our children a nation as strong and as free as the one passed on to us.
Thanks to the significant tax relief of the last six years, our economy continues to grow. Unemployment remains low, we've created over 7.2 million new jobs in the last 40 months, and in the last two years we've cut the budget deficit dramatically.
Now the President has urged us to eliminate the deficit altogether in five years. We can do that by cutting spending. What we must not do is raise taxes and reverse the economic gains created by tax relief for American families.
Social Security reform is another key to getting our budget in order. Over the next 20 years, more than 77 million Baby Boomers will retire, while fewer young people will enter the workforce to fund the retirement program. Without significant reform, by the time today's kindergartners graduate high school, the Social Security system will pay out more than it takes in.
Unless we act now to save Social Security, we will soon be forced to significantly increase the debt, impose crippling taxes, or drastically cut benefits. Both parties ought to work together and work seriously to solve this dilemma now.
The President also pushed to decrease our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Congress should act to increase our domestic supply of fuel and expand the use of safe nuclear technology. And because the United States has an abundance of coal, we should focus more attention on using coal safely, cleanly and efficiently.
Almost four years after liberating a people from a dictator's brutal rule, things remain difficult in Iraq. Yet I believe the American people still want us to prevail there. A secure, democratic Iraq will be a valuable partner in the War on Terror.
President Bush has plotted a new strategy for victory in Iraq, and in his State of the Union address he asked Congress to give it a chance to work. Both parties can work together to ensure our troops in the field have the opportunity to succeed.
Trying to micromanage the battle from Capitol Hill would be a grave mistake. Rather than undercutting our effort with non-binding resolutions of non-support, Congress must work with the President to reach an honorable conclusion in Iraq.
Only bold solutions will solve the difficulties before us. There's no reason to think the men and women of the 110th Congress can't rise to the moment.
Our predecessors successfully navigated through a depression, a world war and the scourge of communism. With a civil tone and in the spirit of bipartisanship, it can be our turn to change America and the world. And we can show that a divided government stands united to find bold solutions to the big challenges facing our nation.