Obama’s Senate super-majority: Fiction at its finest

Posted on January 5, 2014

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To all my Republican friends, those of you who are faulting Barack Obama and Democrats for “doing nothing while they had a super-majority for two years,” I’d like to present you with something called “facts.” I know this concept is alien to you, but try to follow along as best you can.

A “super-majority” occurs when one party physically has 60 or more members seated and active in a political body, such as the U.S. Senate. As its first order of business under President Obama, Republicans changed the Senate rules to require ALL votes to have a mandatory 60-vote super-majority instead of a 51-vote simply majority, and filibustered 428 times to prevent any Democrat bill passage.

Here is the factual timeline of the U.S. Senate in the first two years of the Obama administration:

  • January 20, 2009: President Obama sworn in, 58 Democrats in the U.S. Senate. (Al Franken won in Minnesota, but Republican challenges to his election kept him from swearing into office for seven months until July 2009).
  • April 29, 2009: Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Arlen Specter switched parties. 59 active Democrats in the U.S. Senate, still one vote shy of a super-majority.
  • May 12, 2009: Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia was hospitalized for the fifth time in 15 months and rendered inactive in Congress, casting no votes. 58 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate.
  • July 7, 2009, Al Franken sworn in. 59 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate (Byrd still inactive).
  • August 25, 2009, Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts died. 58 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate (Byrd still inactive).
  • September 26, 2009: Paul Kirk temporarily filled Kennedy’s seat. 59 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate (Byrd still inactive).
  • February 4, 2010: Republican Scott Brown was sworn into the seat Senator Kennedy once held. 58 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate (Byrd still inactive).
  • June 28, 2010: Democrat Senator Robert Byrd died. 58 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate.
  • Jul 20, 2010 – Democrat Carte Goodwin sworn in to replace Robert Byrd. 59 active Democrat Senators in the U.S. Senate.

So, if you count Robert Byrd as a viable Democratic senator while he was comatose in the hospital, then Democrats had *THEORETICAL* control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives for a grand total of seven weeks – from July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009.

If you opt for reality instead of agenda-supporting fuzzy math, the Democrats have *NEVER* held an actual, functioning physically filibuster-proof super-majority in the U.S. Senate during the Obama administration.

Let the denial begin …

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