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U.S. News

FACTBOX: Top goals of Obama and fellow Democrats in Congress

(Reuters) - Democrats expanded their control of the U.S. Congress to position themselves to act on their campaign promises as well as those of President-elect Barack Obama.

Here is a look at some of their priorities:

* House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, says the top goal will be to set timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, which would free up additional U.S. troops to help root out militants in Afghanistan and other countries.

* Democrats want to reverse what they view as years of inadequate federal regulation of the financial industry, which has helped lead to the current turmoil on Wall Street and record home foreclosures.

* Stimulate the economy. This could be done, in part, by spending the hundreds of billions of dollars on hiring people to rebuild crumbling U.S. roads and bridges as well as sewer and water systems. Obama also wants to cut taxes for the middle class and plug tax loopholes he says encourage U.S. companies to move overseas, taking American jobs with them.

* Expand health care, perhaps starting with passing a bill vetoed by outgoing President George W. Bush to increase federal aid to the State Childrens’ Health Insurance Program.

* Move the U.S. toward energy independence by encouraging oil companies to drill where they already are allowed, step up conservation, accelerate development of alternative energy sources and rein in oil speculators blamed, in part, for steep prices increases this year.

* Enact legislation vetoed by Bush that would expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

* After eight years of Bush nominating anti-abortion rights conservatives to federal courts, Obama would likely name moderate and liberal ones.

* Legislation to allow workers to organize if a majority of them sign a union card. This would let them avoid secret-ballot elections that critics say are often thwarted by employers.

Reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan; editing by David Wiessler

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