Reid Leads the 111th "Do-Something" Congress to Fitting End in "Anything But Lame" Duck

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Below is a roundup of coverage of Democrats’ successful lame duck session and the 111th Congress, which observers and independent experts say is one of the most productive in history.

The Hill- Sen. Lindsey Graham: “‘When it’s all going to be said and done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch,’ Graham said on Fox News radio.” [12/21/10]

CNN, Paul Begala. “They need to build a statute of him [Reid]. What he’s gotten done after a tough re-election, the guy should be taking a vacation instead of doing all this work but god bless him.” [Anderson Cooper 360, 12/20/10]

New York Times-With Major Bills Passed, Reid Takes a Victory Lap. “Repeal over the weekend of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy barring gay, lesbian and bisexual members from serving openly in the military joined the economic stimulus package, the national health care legislation, new financial regulations and a huge tax-cut bill on a list of accomplishments that even Republicans can’t help admiring. ‘He [Reid] has, in fact, achieved a great deal,’ said Sheila Burke, who was the chief of staff to Bob Dole, the former Republican senator, when he served as majority leader. ‘I don’t think anyone can credibly suggest otherwise.’” [12/20/10]

Red State, Erick Erickson. “In the past week, Harry Reid maneuvering on the Senate floor to get things done Republicans were convinced couldn’t get done shows that he really is a master of the Senate rules and gets things done. The president gets the credit because he’s the president and there’s 100 senators. But you can’t dispute how effective Harry Reid has been this year much to the chagrin, frankly, of people on the right and the left.” [Anderson Cooper 360, 12/20/10]

Washington Post-A Lame-Duck Session With Unexpected Victories. “When the lame-duck session of Congress started more than a month ago, President Obama looked defeated and deflated, publicly acknowledging the “shellacking” his party had taken in the November midterm elections. Now, a six-week session that was expected to reflect a weakened president has turned into a surprising success. On Wednesday, Obama signed into law the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members, and the Senate approved a new nuclear treaty with Russia that the president had declared a top priority.” [12/22/20]

CNN, David Gergen. “After handing the president and Congressional Democrats the worst drubbing in more than half a century, they can only watch in disbelief as Obama has reeled off a series of unexpected victories. A new stimulus bill, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and now START — who would have believed that this shirt-tail session of Congress would have been so triumphant? They call it “lame duck” but it was anything but lame.” [12/22/10]

Slate- The Most Productive Lame Duck Since World War II.
“The food safety bill joins the 9/11 first responders’ aid, the tax cut compromise, repeal of DADT, and ratification of START as the last work of the lame duck. Nothing that Tea Partyers were worried about passed; a lot of stuff that liberals wanted did pass.” [12/22/10]

MSNBC- The Do-Something Congress. “This Congress, which likely will come to a close this week, accomplished more, legislatively, than any other Congress since the 1960s (the Great Society) or the 1930s (the New Deal). …’I would probably rank the New Deal [Congress] first,” congressional scholar Norm Ornstein told First Read. ‘I think this one edges the Great Society. It is at least on par with the Great Society.’” [12/21/10]

Bloomberg News, Al Hunt. “This has certainly been a better month than anyone anticipated… the lame duck session I derided, thought it would be a waste of time and terrible and been far more productive, if he gets the arms treaty, which I suspect he will, it will be a productive month.” [Morning Joe, 12/21/10]

ABC News-Lame-Duck Session Churns Out Surprising Successes. “This year’s lame-duck session of Congress has been anything but lame. In the past week alone, lawmakers have passed a tax cut compromise bill to avert the biggest tax hike in history and a repeal of the military’s controversial ‘don’t Ask, don’t Tell policy’ on gays serving openly in the military. And its not over yet.” [12/21/10]

Bloomberg-No Congress Since ’60s Makes as Much Law Affecting Most Americans as 111th. “However history judges the 535 men and women in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate the past two years, one thing is certain: The 111th Congress made more law affecting more Americans since the “Great Society” legislation of the 1960s. For the first time since President Theodore Roosevelt began the quest for a national health-care system more than 100 years ago, the Democrat-led House and Senate took the biggest step toward achieving that goal by giving 32 million Americans access to insurance. Congress rewrote the rules for Wall Street in the most comprehensive way since the Great Depression. It spent more than $1.67 trillion to revive an economy on the verge of a depression, including tax cuts for most Americans, jobs for more than 3 million, construction of roads and bridges and investment in alternative energy; ended an almost two-decade ban against openly gay men and women serving in the military, and today ratified a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.” [12/22/10]

Washington Post- The Do-Something Congress Keeps Doing Things. “The 111th Congress refuses to go quietly into that sweet night. Friday, of course, saw the $850 billion tax deal sent to President Obama. On Saturday, the Senate broke the filibuster protecting the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rules. On Sunday, it passed the food safety bill. Those three accomplishments — all of them significant in their own right — now join the 111th’s other achievements: Health-care reform, the financial-regulation bill, the stimulus, Ted Kennedy’s national-service bill, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and student-loan reform, just to name a few. And the 111th may not be done: Chuck Schumer wants them to stick around to pass a bill giving health benefits to the Ground Zero responders.” [12/20/10]

LA Times- Senate wraps up with victories for Democrats. “The Senate Wednesday approved a nuclear-arms treaty with Russia and a bill to aid 9/11 first responders, wrapping up a lame-duck congressional session that left Democrats jubilant and some Republicans feeling whipsawed. The treaty, dubbed New START, appeared to be in trouble as recently as this weekend, when the two top Republicans in the Senate came out against it. But as has repeatedly been the case over the final days of the 111th Congress, other GOP senators failed to hold the party line and joined Democrats to pass the accord in a 71-26 vote. Republican opposition had similarly crumbled in the face of votes on repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy towards gay soldiers, a food-safety bill, and long-stymied legislation to help 9/11 firefighters and other first responders who are suffering health problems as a result of exposure to the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center.” [12/23/10]

Associated Press- Democratic Majority Ends with Accomplishments. “From tax cuts to a nuclear arms treaty and the repeal of the ban on openly serving gay soldiers, Congress and the Obama White House closed up their respective shops and headed out for the holidays with an uncommonly full bag of accomplishments. Bipartisanship was one of them.” [12/23/10]

New York Times- After Bruising Session, Congress Faces New Battles.
“The 111th Congress ended as it began two years ago, with a burst of legislative productivity, as Democrats forced through a historic social change by lifting the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military and a major foreign policy achievement in approving the New Start arms control treaty with Russia. Along the way, they enacted a landmark health care law and a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street rules, bookended by a $787 billion economic stimulus package at the start of 2009 and an $858 billion tax-cut package at the end of 2010.” [12/23/10]

New York Times- The Senate Surmounts Politics. “Wednesday was not a good day for Senator Mitch McConnell’s single-minded project  to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Over the minority leader’s objections, 13 Republicans joined every Democratic senator to ratify the New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia, reducing the size of the countries’ nuclear stockpiles and making the world a safer place. The 71-to-26 vote was the capstone to what now shapes up to be a remarkably successful legislative agenda for President Obama’s first two years. Earlier in the day, the president signed a bill allowing the repeal of the military’s ban on open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers — a bill passed with the assistance of 23 Congressional Republicans, again over the objections of Mr. McConnell. And the Senate unanimously approved a bill to pay for the medical care of workers who cleaned up ground zero after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, coming to its senses after Mr. McConnell and other Republicans blocked the bill 13 days earlier, causing a national uproar.” [12/23/10]

Las Vegas Sun- Lame-duck session?
“After a series of legislative victories in the lame-duck session of Congress, President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared that it was the ‘most productive postelection period we’ve had in decades.’ That’s no exaggeration. Congress finished work on several important issues this week, marking major victories for not only the president, but also for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid set an aggressive pace in the lame-duck session, overcoming Republican obstacles to guide a series of landmark bills to passage.” [12/23/10]

Philadelphia Daily News- Congress Not Playing Lame Game.
“This Christmas, you’ll believe that a lame duck can fly. Seriously, movie-trailer lingo aside, what’s up with this new storyline down in Washington? A flurry of major legislation – capped by three major, long-gridlocked measures passed since Saturday – has made it impossible for any pol to pull a Harry Truman and rail against the ‘do-nothing Congress,’ at least not for a while.” [12/23/10]

The Atlantic- The Most Productive Lame Duck Since WWII
— and Maybe Ever. “It didn’t just feel like the lame duck session of Congress now winding down got an unusual amount done. It’s a fact, say congressional observers. ‘It’s official. Like it or not, this lame-duck session is the most productive of the 15 held since WWII,’ University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato said in a Wednesday tweet.” [12/22/10]

Washington Examiner-Lame-Duck Congress Not So Lame After All. “It wasn’t such a lame-duck session after all. Despite predictions that the final weeks of the 111th Congress would produce little significant legislation, lawmakers pushed through a number of major initiatives in the final days of the session, most of them from the Democratic wish list. The crowning achievement of the postelection session occurred Wednesday, when the Senate voted 71-26 to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Ratification of the START treaty, which required 66 votes, was for weeks thought to be out of reach because of Republican opposition.” [12/23/10]

Reuters- This Lame Duck Sure Can Fly. “The lame duck session of Congress has produced — tax cut extensions have been signed into law, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask , Don’t Tell’ to allow gays to serve openly in the military will be signed into law tomorrow, and the START treaty is moving toward ratification.” [12/21/10]

The Atlantic- If START Passes, Congress Works.
“Since Thanksgiving, Congress has extended the expiring Bush tax cuts, extended expiring unemployment benefits, passed food safety legislation, prevented Medicare reimbursement rates from automatically dropping, repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and set Estate Tax rates to prevent a scheduled hike next year. … If New START passes, faith in the legislative process might–just might–be restored.” [12/21/10]

ABC News-Despite Bruising Election, Democrats and GOP Pass Major Legislation. “With time ticking away towards Christmas and a new Congress where Republicans will have much more power, Democrats got two key victories Wednesday on a nuclear disarmament treaty and a bill to provide continuing health care for 9/11 first responders. The two measures ended blizzard of legislation — from extending tax cuts, to repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” – that is unlike any lame duck session before, according to Congress watchers. More pieces of major legislation passed in the month of December than since March. That’s when Democrats passed the landmark health reform bill and all action ground to a halt until the November elections, which crushed Democrats and emboldened Republicans.” [12/22/10]

USA Today-Lame-duck Lessons. “Lame-duck sessions of Congress typically don’t accomplish much, but this one has been a surprise. Perhaps its most momentous action was the weekend Senate vote to repeal the military’s destructive “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which since 1993 has forced some 14,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers out of the armed forces and required untold thousands more to be silent about their sexual orientation if they wanted to serve. President Obama is set to sign the repeal on Wednesday. When historians look back decades from now at the profound social changes that began in the 1960s and continue today, the civil rights movement, the empowerment of women and the more tolerant attitudes toward gays will all seem inevitable — the natural byproduct of evolving American views.” [12/20/10]

Talking Ponts Memo-Senate Passes… Everything. “Today in the Senate, they passed (by unanimous consent) the defense authorization bill that Republicans held up over objections to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell just two short weeks ago; they passed by a voice vote the 9/11 First Responders Health bill that had been the subject of so much drama and debate; and they passed by a 71-26 vote the START nuclear treaty with Russia despite Republican objections to that as well.” [12/22/10]

TIME- The 111th Congress. “Despite whatever problems arose in getting presidential appointees confirmed, treaties ratified or the government, um, funded, the 111th has indeed done a lot. One might have had reason to challenge Ornstein’s perspective in January, but could anyone really make a strong argument against it now?” [12/20/10]

Mother Jones- Lame Duck Not So Lame After All. “So Obama will have a tax deal, repeal of DADT, a food safety bill, approval of New START, and (maybe) the 9/11 first responders bill to his credit during the lame duck session. On the downside, the DREAM Act and the omnibus budget bill failed. If this is how things turn out, that’s a helluva lame duck session. Maybe we should have more of them?” [12/20/10]

The Atlantic- So Far, A Productive Lame-Duck Session. “In the face of an onerous legislative docket and partisan tones emanating from all corners of the political sphere, Congress has actually managed to resolve most of the large, immediate issues that came before it in the last few weeks of 2010. This lame-duck session, it turns out, is what a functioning Congress looks like.” [12/20/10]

Baltimore Sun-Not Such A Lame Duck. “Like it or not, the 111th Congress has been nothing if not productive. In two years, it has passed the stimulus bill, health care reform and an overhaul of financial industry regulations, along with a host of other bills, dealing with issues ranging from fair pay to hate crimes to credit cards. Perhaps we should not, then, be surprised that its lame duck session is on track, despite the political tumult that accompanied November’s election, to be particularly productive as well. Late on Thursday night, the House of Representatives approved a massive tax bill that effectively amounts to a second stimulus, and on Saturday, the Senate voted to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military.” [12/20/10]

New York Times-“Lame Duck” Session.
“A session that began with a stalemate over the Bush-era tax cuts and the prospect of virtually nothing being passed ended with victories for the president on a string of items high on his agenda, including the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly and the ratification of the New Start treaty with Russia.” [12/22/10]

ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE 111th CONGRESS


American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Child Nutrition

Children’s Health Insurance Program

Confirmed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan To The Supreme Court

Credit Card Company Regulations

Education Funding

Emergency Border Security Supplemental

Fair Sentencing Act

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

FMAP Funding

Food Safety

Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act

Funding for Our Troops – Defense Appropriation and Supplemental

Hate Crimes Prevention

Health Care Reform

Housing Loan Modification

Iran Sanctions

James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

Jobs Package (HIRE Act)

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

National Service Programs

Pigford/Cobell Settlement

Public Land Management Act

Ratification of START Treaty

Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Small Business Lending Fund

Student Loan Reform

Tax Relief Package

Tobacco Regulation

Travel Promotion Act

Veterans Caregiver Assistance

Wall Street Reform

Weapons Acquisition Overhaul

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