Posted: 8:50 pm Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
By Jamie Dupree
For all the griping and complaining that Democrats have done in recent weeks, they will be able to look back on this Lame Duck session of Congress and see a series of significant actions.
Yes, they didn’t particularly care for the tax deal negotiated by the White House with Republicans in the Congress – but it was approved on a solid bipartisan vote, and it means that no across-the-board tax increase occurs at the end of the year.
And that deal did include extra money for long term jobless benefits, something that Democrats had been calling for.
Meanwhile, it took awhile, but the Congress approved a bill that repeals the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on gays openly serving in the military.
As President Obama signs that bill into law today, he might well reflect on the number of times that he was heckled on the campaign trail this year, as gay activists showed their displeasure at the lack of action on that military issue.
“We are going to do that!” Obama yelled at a protestor during a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) back in April of this year.
Also headed to his desk for signature is a major food safety bill that had been declared dead, mainly because of a major parliamentary mistake by Democrats in the Senate.
But in these final days, the bill moved out of the Senate and won easy approval in the House on Wednesday.
“This is the first significant change in food and drug law since 1938,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-MI).
As if that isn’t enough, today the Senate is expected to approve a nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia, the so-called New START deal, which will deliver a major foreign policy victory to the White House, and one that is bipartisan as well.
“This would not have happened without bipartisanship,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who pushed hard for the votes of Republican Senators in recent days, along with Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton, both of whom visited their old Senate stomping grounds on Wednesday to lobby for votes.
About the only major piece of legislation that Democrats failed to get through the Congress was the Omnibus budget bill that went down in flames last week in a fight over budget earmarks.
Lawmakers yesterday approved a stop-gap budget plan that keeps the government running through March 4, which will give Republicans the chance to make some cutbacks in the current fiscal year.
It seems hard to believe, but the new Congress begins two weeks from today.
For a lot of Republicans, it can’t come quick enough, as they have watched a parade of Democratic legislative victories in this Lame Duck session.
While most Democrats are still sulking over their election losses and their change to minority status in the House, if they sat up for a minute and looked at what’s happened in recent weeks, they might realize their President is probably in better shape now than he was on the morning of November 3.
Whether he stays that way after the new Congress is sworn in on January 5, that’s to be determined in the run to the 2012 elections.