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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lame Duck Passes START and 9/11 Health Care

George Wenschhof

After plenty of obstruction in the Senate led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Jon Kyl (R-Az.), the New Start treaty with Russia was ratified by a 71-26 vote. AP has more here.

Thirteen Republicans joined all Democrats, in ratifying the treaty today. Even Democrat Ron Wyden (Ore.), who had prostate surgery two days ago, was present to cast his vote in favor. A two-thirds vote was necessary to ratify a treaty.

Also approved today by Congress was 4.3 billion health care aid package to 9/11 Responders who suffer illnesses as a result of their heroic action. The NY Times has more here.

These approvals come after a compromise agreement on a 858 billion tax extension bill and the repeal of the D.A.D.T. policy in the military.

In a press conference taking place as I write this update, President Obama expressed his satisfaction of the bills which have passed during the lame duck congress, but expressed disappointment in the failure to pass the DREAM act.

Obama promised to return to immigration reform in the new congress. The other newsworthy comment by the president was his answer to a question pertaining to the closing of Gitmo prison in Guantanamo Bay. I reported earlier today, an executive order was being prepared to continue the holding of terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The president said he would comment when an upcoming report is made available, but also expressed disappointment they have not yet closed the prison as he promised during the 2008 campaign.

The president will head to Hawaii tonight to join his family for the Holidays.


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