Posted Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, at 3:09 PM
I'd argue that this is almost a fluke, given that previous Congresses were not as sloppy and ossified as this one -- twenty years ago, things like the food safety bill, which passed on a 75-23 vote, would not have been punted to the lame duck. But one man's fluke is another man's Historic Victory. 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.
During the START debate, a number of Republicans, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, claimed that a treaty ratification during a lame duck was unprecedented. This is true in one sense -- no nuclear arms reduction treaty had ever been ratified in a lame duck. In the 1994 lame duck session, after Republicans won Congress but before they took over, the House and Senate passed GATT, and Bill Clinton signed it.
That's more trivia, though. What happens to the Obama agenda in the long term? Jon Ward answers the question : Not much. It's still going to be brutal in two weeks.