Democrat praises Jeffords' switch from GOP
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A year after his party gained control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-New Jersey, praised the man who made it possible.
The decision by Sen. Jim Jeffords to leave the Republican Party and become an independent tilted the Senate balance in the Democrats' favor and led to the Vermont lawmaker's ostracism by many former colleagues.
"He was willing to risk his career, friendships and relationships in an act of great courage," Torricelli said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.
Democrats have been able to defeat or pass a number of key legislative bills as a result, Torricelli noted, citing the Patients' Bill of Rights as a victory for doctors and patients over insurance companies.
"The difference could not be more profound," Torricelli said.
Hitting on a popular Democratic theme, Torricelli said that "a Democratic Senate prevents Republicans from privatizing Social Security, so that no American has to live with doubt about their retirement."
Torricelli said the Democratic Senate had fought for smaller class sizes and performance accountability in public schools and stopped the Bush administration from authorizing exploratory drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
"Not every American will have Sen. Jeffords' opportunity to so profoundly affect the agenda of our country and the lives of so many working families," Torricelli said. "But every American has the opportunity to exercise moral courage and join the fight to improve our neighbors' lives and the quality of their communities."
Torricelli challenged listeners to think about how they can better the lives of their fellow Americans and make a difference on the Memorial Day weekend intended to remember the men and women of the armed forces who died for their country.
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