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When Obama Had "Total Control of Congress"

By The Reverend Published: September 9, 2012

Lies are easy to get away with if they are repeated often enough and given voice by many different people. Repeat a lie often enough and that lie often becomes conventional wisdom. Repeating a lie doesn't change the lie into the truth, it changes the people hearing the repeated lie. They begin to accept the lie as truth. One huge example: 'Iraq has WMD.'

Lies make it impossible for people to communicate with each other......lies make it impossible to, as the Villagers often talk about it, have a real "conversation."

One particular lie, often stated by right-of-center advocates, is the statement...."if Barack Obama wanted to increase taxes on the rich, stop the wars, pass a budget...blah, blah.....he could have chosen to do so because he had "total control" of the House and Senate for two full years."

Sometimes the "two full years" is omitted from the statement......but the lie is spread nevertheless, by the "total control of Congress" phrase.

Let's clear that all up, shall we?

Starting January 2009, at the beginning of the 111th Congress, in the month that Barack Obama was inaugurated president, the House of Representatives was made up of 257 Democrats and 178 Republicans. There is no question that Democrats had total control in the House from 2009-2011.

Even with numerous "blue-dog" (allegedly fiscally conservative) Democrats often voting with Republicans.....Speaker Pelosi had little difficulty passing legislation in the House. The House does not have the pernicious filibuster rule which the Senate uses. A majority vote in the House is all that's necessary to pass legislation, except in rare occurrences (treaty ratification, overriding a presidential veto).

Okay, that's the House during the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. For a lie to prosper, as it were, there needs to be a shred of truth woven inside the lie. It is absolutely true that from 2009-2011, Democrats and President Obama had "total control" of the House of Representatives.

But legislation does not become law without the Senate.

The Senate operates with the 60-vote-requirement filibuster rule. There are 100 Senate seats, and it takes 60 Senate votes for "closure" on a piece of legislation....to bring that piece of legislation to the floor of the Senate for amendments and a final vote....that final vote is decided by a simple majority in most cases. But it takes 60 Senate votes to even have a chance of being voted upon.

"Total control", then, of the Senate requires 60 Democratic or Republican Senators.

On January 20th, 2009, 57 Senate seats were held by Democrats with 2 Independents (Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman) caucusing with the Democrats...which gave Democrats 59 mostly-reliable Democratic votes in the Senate, one shy of filibuster-proof "total control." Republicans held 41 seats.

The 59 number in January, 2009 included Ted Kennedy and Al Franken. Kennedy had a seizure during an Obama inaugural luncheon and never returned to vote in the Senate.....and Al Franken was not officially seated until July 7th, 2009 (hotly contested recount demanded by Norm Coleman.)

The real Democratic Senate seat number in January, 2009 was 55 Democrats plus 2 Independents equaling 57 Senate seats.

An aside....it was during this time that Obama's "stimulus" was passed. No Republicans in the House voted for the stimulus. However, in the Senate.....and because Democrats didn't have "total control" of that chamber.....three Republicans.....Snowe, Collins and Specter, voted to break a filibuster guaranteeing it's passage.

Then in April, 2009, Republican Senator Arlen Specter became a Democrat. Kennedy was still at home, dying, and Al Franken was still not seated. Score in April, 2009....Democratic votes 58.

In May, 2009, Robert Byrd got sick and did not return to the Senate until July 21, 2009. Even though Franken was finally seated July 7, 2009 and Byrd returned on July 21.....Democrats still only had 59 votes in the Senate because Kennedy never returned, dying on August 25, 2009.

Kennedy's empty seat was temporarily filled by Paul Kirk but not until September 24, 2009.

The swearing in of Kirk finally gave Democrats 60 votes (at least potentially) in the Senate. "Total control" of Congress by Democrats lasted all of 4 months. From September 24, 2009 through February 4, 2010...at which point Scott Brown, a Republican, was sworn in to replace Kennedy's Massachusetts seat.

The truth....then....is this: Democrats had "total control" of the House of Representatives from 2009-2011, 2 full years. Democrats, and therefore, Obama, had "total control" of the Senate from September 24, 2009 until February 4, 2010. A grand total of 4 months.

Did President Obama have "total control" of Congress? Yes, for 4 entire months. And it was during that very small time window that Obamacare was passed in the Senate with 60 all-Democratic votes.

Did President Obama have "total control' of Congress during his first two years as president? Absolutely not and any assertions to the contrary.....as you can plainly see in the above chronology....is a lie.

*Chronology link

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