Obamacare is the product of a brief moment of total Democratic dominance in Washington. Key to that dominance was a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority. It wasn't a sure bet for Democrats; despite victories in 2008, the party's hopes for that majority depended on the defection of formerly Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and the outcome of a contested race in Minnesota. After a controversial recount, Al Franken became the 60th Democratic senator on July 7, 2009, giving Democrats an unassailable edge.
But that majority disappeared just 49 days later when, on Aug. 25, 2009, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy died. State law called for a special election to fill the empty seat. That would have taken months, and as public opposition to Obamacare grew, Democrats became increasingly anxious to pass the bill as quickly as possible. Luckily for them, Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature came to the rescue, changing the law to allow the immediate appointment of Democrat Paul Kirk. Sworn in on Sept. 24, 2009, Kirk gave Democrats 60 votes once more.
After Obamacare passed the House on Nov. 7 -- over the opposition of 39 Democrats and all but one Republican -- Senate Democrats raced to get the job done. Threatening to keep the Senate in session through the holidays, they finally passed the bill -- 60 Democratic votes, not one to spare -- in the early hours of Christmas Eve.
As they say, go read the whole thing. This thing belongs to the Democrats, lock, stock, and barrel.Even as that vote was taken, a little-known Massachusetts Republican named Scott Brown was rising in the polls in the race for Kennedy's seat -- by promising to become the 41st vote against Obamacare. On Jan. 19, Brown's victory shocked the political world. When he was sworn in on Feb. 4, the second period of a Democratic filibuster-proof majority was over. It had lasted 134 days.