2009: An ‘extraordinary’ year in politics

2009: An ‘extraordinary’ year in politics

2009 was a year of many fierce policy disputes, the death of a Senate icon, scandals that hit both major political parties, and the nation’s first black president.
 
President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNew data challenges Trump's economic narrative Trump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers MORE said 2009, his first year as commander in chief, has been an “extraordinary year.”
 

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Indeed.
 
Rank-and-file House members, including Reps. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonCities are the future: We need to coordinate their international diplomacy House Problem Solvers are bringing real change to Congress 75 years after D-Day: Service over self MORE (R-S.C.) and Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson Live results: Arizona and Florida hold primaries The Hill's Morning Report: Frustration mounts as Republicans blow up tax message MORE (D-Fla.), became household names.
 
New scandals hit South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), as old ones involving House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) intensified.
 
There was no shortage of stunning developments, ranging from Sarah Palin’s (R) resignation as Alaska governor to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize to Sen. Arlen Specter’s (Pa.) decision to leave the GOP.
 
There were bizarre moments as well, including Obama going way off message during a healthcare reform press conference by saying Cambridge, Mass., police officers acted “stupidly” in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. America was introduced to Michaele and Tareq Salahi, alleged White House party crashers. Meanwhile, Rep. Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusBiz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank On The Money: White House files notice of China tariff hikes | Dems cite NYT report in push for Trump tax returns | Trump hits Iran with new sanctions | Trump praises GM for selling shuttered Ohio factory | Ex-Im Bank back at full strength Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations MORE (R-Ala.) said there are 17 socialists in Congress but declined to name them.
 
Policy disputes on Capitol Hill grew heated amid record government spending on the stimulus package, auto bailouts and an increased U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
 
Healthcare dominated the year. Democrats missed self-imposed deadlines on getting the bill passed, and took a lot of heat for their legislation at town hall meetings over the summer. But Democrats seized momentum in the fall and winter, passing legislation through both the House and Senate.
 
Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) death in August left a huge void on Capitol Hill. Kennedy, a staunch liberal, was widely respected on both sides of the aisle. In a 2009 survey conducted by The Hill, Senate Republicans said Kennedy was the most bipartisan Democrat in the Senate.
 
The stock market and the nation’s unemployment rate were volatile throughout 2009. While the market ended the year on an upswing, Obama and congressional Democrats said the unemployment rate is unacceptable and are vowing to enact a jobs measure in early 2010.
 
A month-by-month breakdown of  2009’s most memorable political events follows.
 
January


February

  • Obama orders 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan
  • Tom Daschle withdraws as Health and Human Services secretary nominee
  • Obama signs children’s healthcare bill into law
  • FBI raid on PMA shines ethics spotlight on Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.); ethics office later clears Murtha
  • Senate strikes deal on stimulus
  • Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdraws as Commerce secretary nominee
  • Congress passes $787 billion stimulus
  • Burris under pressure to resign after new information surfaces on Gov. Blagojevich
  • Obama addresses Congress
  • Obama proposes $3.6 trillion budget plan

March

  • Dow drops below 6,800
  • House passes housing cramdown bill; measure later falters
  • After delay, Congress passes omnibus spending measure
  • Obama administration announces it will give ailing auto industry billions of dollars
  • AIG bonus controversy explodes
  • Election for Gillibrand’s former House seat is too close to call; subsequently stays in Dem hands

April

  • Justice Department drops case against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
  • House and Senate pass their budget measures
  • Rep. Bachus claims there are 17 socialists in Congress
  • Allegations on Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and wiretaps surface
  • Sen. Specter bolts the GOP to become a Democrat

May

  • Supreme Court Justice David Souter announces he will retire
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) under fire for what she knew about waterboarding
  • Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney deliver dueling speeches on military prison in Guantanamo Bay
  • Congress passes credit card reform
  • Obama selects Sonia Sotomayor to replace Souter

June

July

August

  • Lawmakers confronted at town halls on healthcare reform
  • Sen. Kennedy dies
  • August is deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan

September

  • Unemployment hits 9.7 percent
  • Obama address Congress on healthcare reform; Rep. Wilson shouts “You lie!” at Obama
  • Wilson reprimanded by the House; Pelosi fears political violence
  • House passes education reform bill
  • Congress votes to strip ACORN of federal funding
  • Pelosi commits to public option in healthcare reform bill

October

November

  • Fort Hood shooting kills 13
  • House adopts Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) abortion language to healthcare bill, 240-194
  • House passes healthcare bill, 220-215
  • Dems win special election for McHugh’s seat as GOP split over candidates; GOP wins gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia
  • Unemployment rate increases to 10.2 percent
  • Senate health bill clears procedural hurdle

December