Blumenauer said he saw the same dynamic after President Clinton won reelection, which helped produce the first balanced budget in decades. And he said President Bush was able to find consensus on energy policy with a Democratic Congress after he was reelected.
He cited immigration and gun control as two issues that he now expects to advance in the 113th Congress, in part, because of this dynamic.
"These are two things that even four or five years ago, even when the Democrats controlled everything, was unlikely to be moving forward."
Blumenauer's assessment on guns is at odds with that of some Republicans, who believe gun control legislation will find great difficulty in the Senate and is unlikely to pass the House. However, several Republicans appear to be working toward a compromise on immigration reform.
Blumenauer noted that many saw Obama's reelection and a House and Senate that did not flip to the other party as a status-quo election. But he said there are "decidedly different" people in the House and Senate, which will also contribute to a more productive session.
"This is, I think, going to be an unusually active session of Congress," he said.
Last year's Supreme Court decision in favor of the 2010 healthcare law is another factor that will make it easier for Congress to work, he said. Other issues that Congress could have time to deal with this year include finding a way to reform the Pentagon's spending, and agricultural reform, such as ending direct payments to farmers.
The House and Senate return next week — the House is expected to take up jobs-related legislation, and the Senate is hoping to consider a gun bill that would expand background check requirements.