With Congress out of session until early April, The Fix highlights the 10 moments that mattered most so far this year.
#10 Joe Biden swears in new Senators
“Biden showcased everything people love and hate about him. He joked. He jabbed. He jibed. It was Biden at his most Biden-esque.”
#9: The Violence Against Women Act become law (again)
“The law sunsetted in 2011. The measure passed the GOP-controlled House with 87 Republican votes; marking the 3rd time since December that House Speaker John Boehner allowed legislation to move off the floor without the support of the majority of the GOP Conference. President Obama signed the legislation into law in early March.”
#8 The Senate’s old bulls say goodbye
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, as well as Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, called it quits. Those departures, coupled with the deaths of Hawaii’s Daniel Inouye, Massachusetts’ Ted Kennedy and West Virginia’s Robert Byrd – not to mention the defeats of Indiana’s Dick Lugar and Utah’s Bob Bennett — in recent years mean the Senate is an altered institution.
#7 The Ted Cruz Experience
“The Texas Republican freshman senator came to Washington with high expectations from the tea party crowd. And, man, did he deliver — and then some — on those expectations. Cruz roughed up Chuck Hagel during the latter’s confirmation fight to be Secretary of Defense, …he hammered then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. He clashed with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on gun control. Cruz gave every impression of a man entirely unimpressed and unaffected by the tradition of collegiality in the Senate. And his supporters loved every minute of it.”
#6 The Obama Charm Offensive
“Obama began to court Senate Republicans and a handful of House GOPers through a barrage of lunches, dinners and phone calls. The aim was clear; with gun control and immigration — not to mention the debt ceiling looming (again) this summer — Obama wanted to extend the political olive branch in hopes of getting some of his priorities accomplished before his political clout disappeared.”
#5 Senate Democrats Pass a Budget
When the Senate passed a budget on March 23, it marked the FIRST TIME IN MORE THAN FOUR YEARS that they had done so.
#4 Rob Portman (and some Democratic Senators) come out in support of gay marriage
“Portman (R-OH) was the first high-profile Republican elected official to announce a position switch on the issue, citing the fact that one of his sons is gay as the reason for the change of heart.”
#3 Harry Reid says there are only “40 votes” for the assault weapons ban
“Citing that he didn’t have the necessary 60 votes, the gun control legislation he will put forward when Congress returns in April will include neither an assault weapons ban nor a ban on high-capacity clips. After Newtown, it’s become clear that the same divisions — geographic, cultural — remain.”
#2 The sequester
“The entire point of the sequester after all, was an attempt by politicians to force themselves into action because the political penalties of not doing something — across the board cuts to defense and domestic programs — were so severe. Or not. As the March 1 deadline for averting the sequester approached, it became clear that politicians had decided it wasn’t so bad after all — a testament to the fact that Congress will, always, take the path of least resistance.”
#1 The Rand Paul filibuster
“When Rand Paul (R-KY) took to the Senate floor and pledged to speak until he could speak no more in opposition to the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director, no one thought much of it. But, as Paul spoke — and spoke — about his objections to the possible use of drones domestically against American citizens, it became clear that something big was happening. Paul’s tea party compatriots in the Senate — Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas —joined in. Then Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke in support. By the time he was done talking, Paul — and his colleagues — had talked for nearly 13 straight hours and, in so doing, turned himself into (even more of) a cult hero for a not-insignificant chunk of the GOP.”