"I think it's fair to say that this has been the most productive post-election period we've had in decades."
- President Obama
8House seats that states west of the Mississippi will gain in the 2012 cycle due to the 2010 Census's decennial reapportionment process. That's the largest share by far of the 12 seats shifting across states; the other four seats will be added to the Southeast. This also marks the first time that the population of the West will exceed that of the Midwest, making it worth keeping an eye out as the delegations of Western states begin asserting their growing clout in Congress.
13Senate Republicans who crossed party lines to support ratification of the New START treaty last week. The treaty was ratified by a vote of 71 to 26. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) voted against cloture but voted "yes" to ratification; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was thought to be a possible "yes" vote, ultimately voted against both.
168House members who were missing in action on the final day of the 111th Congress last Wednesday. The previous day, about 80 members were MIA. The number included retiring and defeated members as well as many who had simply skipped town for the holidays. Despite its depleted ranks, the House passed its final major piece of legislation for the year, a 9/11 first responders health-care bill.
The best thing that happened to Republicans
The Democrats' four-year reign in the House came to an end. The end of the lame-duck session means Republicans will be in control next time the House convenes, giving the GOP a prominent seat at the table for at least the next two years. For good or ill, the Democrats accomplished a lot during their time with full control of the legislative and executive branches, and they did it largely without any GOP support. They passed a historic health-care bill, a stimulus package and financial regulatory reform. Republicans, who previously had to rely on the Senate filibuster to thwart Democrats, can now craft their own legislation and push their own priorities.
The best thing that happened to Democrats
President Obama got his mojo back. The president got many of his priorities passed in the lame-duck session, and though he didn't get everything he wanted (the DREAM Act or an end to the Bush tax cuts, most notably), his ability to work out compromises was notable. Large amounts of Republicans wound up voting for the START treaty and the 9/11 responders health-care bill, and even a few crossed over to support the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for gays in the military. For a president recovering from a "shellacking" on Election Day, it was a solid rebound.