It's Been 951 Days Since the Senate Passed a Major New Law
Here's an impressive fact about life in today's Washington: The last time a major new piece of policy legislation passed the U.S. Senate was July 15, 2010.
That's when the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill came through the Senate. And it was 951 days ago.
If you're wondering whether President Obama's ambitious second-term agenda has a chance to make it through Congress, this little fact might be worth keeping in mind. Pessimistic analyses of the prospects for the Obama agenda have mostly focused on the recalcitrant, GOP-led House of Representatives. But Obama's problem may actually be with the house of Congress his party controls. House Speaker John Boehner has signaled that he'll consider proposals that make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate. Based on recent history, that could be a tall order.
Lest you think this is about Republican obstruction of the Democrats' Senate majority via the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome, that's only part of the problem. Note that this period of inaction doesn't quite correlate with the last time Democrats had 60 votes, which was January 2010. And the Senate has actually done plenty of things in the past two years and seven months -- the deals that ended the 2011 debt-ceiling fight and the recent "fiscal cliff," for example, as well as contentious items like the highway bill and the reapproval of the Export-Import Bank.