111th Congress Ends Term as One to Remember

WASHINGTON - The lame duck session has officially ended, bringing the tumultuous 111th Congress to an end. Whether you like the laws that were passed or not, there is no denying that Congress has produced more legislation these past two years than almost ever before.

Despite all the talk of gridlock, the gavel has come down on one of the busiest periods in Congressional history, reports CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes

"I think this Congress really will go down in the record books as one of the more remarkably productive of the past half-century," said Sarah Binder, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Starting with the $787 billion stimulus bill.

There was the first-time homebuyer tax credit. And Cash for Clunkers. A crackdown on credit card companies. Wall Street reform. Student loan reform. Loans for small businesses. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for Women. And the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices.

"This has been the most extraordinary two years I've ever seen!" said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

Veteran Democrat Durbin pushed through two longtime priorities - tobacco reform and food safety reform.

"Democrats in Congress got so much flack from liberals in this country who said you weren't doing enough!" said speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

"There will always be people within your party who want you to be more faithful to what they view as the principles of the party," said Durbin.

That was true of health care reform, which extended insurance to $32 million Americans - bud divided the Congress and the country.

"I do not want health care fixed," one woman said to applause at a town hall meeting.

Democrats owe their success to their large majorities, which enabled them to ram bills through despite Republican opposition.

"It's going to kill millions of American jobs!" said one Republican on the floor.

But Democrats paid for that power in November.

And in the final weeks, struck a compromise on tax cuts, repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ratified the START Arms Treaty with Russia and passed $4 billion in aid for ailing first responders to 9/11.

"We came here to do a job. We got much of it done," said Pelosi. "It all relates to solving problems for America's families."

Some of those achievements may not be lasting ones. Republicans taking over the House want to repeal health care reform. It's also being challenged in the courts. They want to rework Wall Street reform too.
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.

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