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The Phantom Supermajority

GOP tool and Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Pribus, appeared on Meet the Press, Sunday Dec. 4, for an interview with David Gregory.  Preibus hardly came up for air once he got started.

The barrage of toxic rhetoric he spewed left Gregory almost mute.

Here's a sampling of Reince Priebus's remarks from the Meet the Press interview transcript.

People's opinions of this president couldn't be any lower.
I mean, the reality is everything this president has touched, everything he's touched, has not turned out to go very well. Everything he touched has gotten worse. Now, the debt commission, he didn't follow it; supercommittee, he's out campaigning, he was nowhere to be found. Health care costs, he said that Obamacare would make everything better in regard to health care, it would lower the cost of health care. Guess what? Costs are higher, debt is higher, the deficits are higher.
This president has been a disaster to this country, David. .

The worst part was the out and out lie that President Obama had a supermajority in the Congress.
Here’s Reince.  Feel free to advance the vid to 7:45.

Maybe he doesn’t know what a supermajority is?  This excerpt from a description of our legislative process given by the White House defines it:

When the bill comes up for consideration, the House has a very structured debate process. Each member who wishes to speak only has a few minutes, and the number and kind of amendments are usually limited. In the Senate, debate on most bills is unlimited — Senators may speak to issues other than the bill under consideration during their speeches, and any amendment can be introduced. Senators can use this to filibuster bills under consideration, a procedure by which a Senator delays a vote on a bill — and by extension its passage — by refusing to stand down. A supermajority of 60 Senators can break a filibuster by invoking cloture, or the cession of debate on the bill, and forcing a vote. Once debate is over, the votes of a simple majority passes the bill.

Or maybe he doesn’t know how to count.  Here’s how the US Senate was divided when the 111th Session of Congress began in January 2009.

Democrats:    56
Republicans:  41
Independents: 2

Here’s what the rollcall looked like, if anyone has any doubts.
Here are the Democrats

1    Amy Klobuchar
2    Barbara Boxer
3    Barbara Mikulski
4    Ben Cardin
5    Ben Nelson
6    Bill Nelson
7    Blanche Lincoln
8    Bob Casey
9    Bob Menendez
10    Byron Dorgan
11    Carl Levin
12    Christopher Dodd
13    Chuck Schumer
14    Claire McCaskill
15    Daniel Akaka
16    Daniel Inouye
17    Debbie Stabenow
18    Dianne Feinstein
19    Edward M. Kennedy
20    Evan Bayh
21    Frank Lautenberg
22    Harry Reid
23    Herb Kohl
24    Kirsten Gillibrand
25    Jack Reed
26    Jay Rockefeller
27    Jeanne Shaheen
28    Jeff Bingaman
29    Jeff Merkley
30    Jim Webb
31    Ted Kaufman
32    John Kerry
33    Jon Tester
34    Kay Hagan
35    Ken Salazar
36    Kent Conrad
37    Maria Cantwell
38    Mark Begich
39    Mark Pryor
40    Mark Udall
41    Mark Warner
42    Mary Landrieu
43    Max Baucus
44    Patrick Leahy
45    Patty Murray
46    Richard Durbin
47    Carte Goodwin
48    Roland Burris
49    Ron Wyden
50    Russ Feingold
51    Sheldon Whitehouse
52    Sherrod Brown
53    Tim Johnson
54    Tom Carper
55    Tom Harkin
56    Tom Udall

And, for the heck of it, here are the Republicans.

1    Arlen Spector
2    Bob Bennett
3    Bob Corker
4    Chuck Grassley
5    David Vitter
6    George Voinovich
7    Jeff Sessions
8    Jim Bunning
9    Jim DeMint
10    Jim Inhofe
11    Jim Risch
12    John Barrasso
13    John Cornyn
14    John Ensign
15    John McCain
16    John Thune
17    Johnny Isakson
18    Jon Kyl
19    Judd Gregg
20    Kay Bailey Hutchison
21    Kit Bond
22    Lamar Alexander
23    Lindsey Graham
24    Lisa Murkowski
25    Mel Martinez
26    Michael Enzi
27    Mike Crapo
28    Mike Johanns
29    Mitch McConnell
30    Olympia Snowe
31    Orrin Hatch
32    Pat Roberts
33    Richard Burr
34    Richard Lugar
35    Richard Shelby
36    Roger Wicker
37    Sam Brownback
38    Saxby Chambliss
39    Susan Collins
40    Thad Cochran
41    Tom Coburn

With the two Independents added to the Democrats and Republicans,  there were still only 99 Senators.  One was missing.  Al Franken was prevented from taking his seat due to a recount in Minnesota where he won with a slim margin.  

On April 29, Sen. Arlen Spector changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. That changed the tally.

Democrats:   57
Republicans:  40
Independents: 2

On July 7, Al Franken was finally sworn in when his opponent Norm Coleman conceded the election to him.  Once again the tally was changed.

Democrats:   58
Republicans:  40
Independents: 2

That’s still not a supermajority and it was the highwater mark for the number of seats held by the Democrats for the rest of the session.   On paper, it might look like there could have been a supermajority by tossing in the 2 Independents with the Democrats.  Bernie Sanders, a reliable progressive, would bring the Democrats tantalizingly close to the supermajority number.  Joe Lieberman, was the other Independent.  Once a Democratic Party nominee for Vice President, Lieberman had given a primetime speech at the Republican Party nominating convention some months earlier.  (There’s a place in hell reserved for him and I hope he enjoys his accommodations there when he arrives.)

At the same time, Sen. Edward Kennedy was gravely ill and he passed away on Aug. 25.  His seat remained empty for a month.  Then it was filled temporarily by Paul Kirk, until Scott Brown won the special election in Massachusetts on January 19, 2010.  When Brown was sworn in to the Senate on February 4, 2010, the possibility of a Democratic supermajority was gone.

People like Reince Priebus can lie all they want and lie they will.  Not just about the supermajority but also about the accomplishments of the 111th Session and President Barack Obama.  Here’s what Reince said:

Nancy Pelosi controlled the Congress for two out of the three years that President Obama's been president. Harry Reid controlled the Senate for two of those three years. Guess what? We are living under the Barack Obama Democratic policies today.

Amen.  Let that be the case.  This is just a partial list of the bills that were passed in 2009 – 2010.  History will show that the 111th Congress was a landmark session that deserves to be remembered for what it accomplished.

•    Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 -  Pub.L. 111-2
•    Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act -  Pub.L. 111-3
•    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009  -  Pub.L. 111-5
•    Credit Card Act of 2009 -  Pub.L. 111-24
•    Supplemental Appropriations - Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash for Clunkers) -  Pub.L. 111-32
•    Matthew Shepard and James Byrd  Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act -  Pub.L. 111-84
•    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -  Pub.L. 111-148
•    Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act -  Pub.L. 111-203
•    Tax Relief  Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization  and Job Creation Act of 2010 -  Pub.L. 111-312
•    Don't Ask  Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 -  Pub.L. 111-321

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