Nightly News | December 22, 2010
>>> good'veing've. you may think of congress has a legislative body unable to agree on anything. and yet, thanks to a final day frenzied day of activity, when it's said and done, this congress passed more laws affecting more americans than any congress perhaps going as far back as the great society era of president johnson . and as for president obama , he seemed to be saying today, while he got shellacked in november, he came back this december. a torrent of legislation, for 9/11 first responders, don't ask, don't tell for the military, and the s.t.a.r.t. nuclear arms treaty. our team is in place and ready to go tonight. we'll begin in new york with savannah guthrie . savannah, at least they leave town in dramatic fashion.
>> reporter: this ended better than the president probably expected out of the ashes of those midterm losses. the president was able to cobble together a string of bipartisan victories in the final weeks of this congress, and just in case americans busy with the holidays might have missed it, he held a news conference today to draw attention to those accomplishments. as washington wrapped up its business for the year, the president took what amounted to a victory lap .
>> i think it's fair to say that this has been the most productive post election period we've had in decades. it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we've had in generations.
>> the resolution and ratification is agreed to.
>> reporter: with vice president biden presiding, the senate passed new s.t.a.r.t. in the end, 13 republicans joined democrats in passing the agreement. the president anxious to highlight another bipartisan victory, on the heels of his tax cut compromise with republicans.
>> if there's any lesson to draw from these past few weeks, we are not doomed to endless gridlock.
>> reporter: today, the president also put pen to paper, signing the repeal of the ban on gays in the military .
>> your country needs you and wants you and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known.
>> reporter: but he acknowledged he's wrestling with his own position on gay marriage .
>> my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have, and i think that's the right thing to do. but i recognize that from their perspective it is not enough.
>> reporter: speaking about the failure of the dream act , the president sympathized with children of illegal immigrants who have no path to citizenship.
>> even though i feel american, i am an american, the law doesn't recognize me as an american. i'm willing to serve my country, i'm willing to fight for this country. i want to go to college and better myself. and i'm at risk of deportation. and it is heartbreaking. that can't be who we are.
>> reporter: the president said he's persistent and he will make immigration reform a priority in the coming years. one other item, that bill to provide health benefits for 9/11 first responders who became ill when they were working at ground zero .
>> what a day in washington. thanks for starting us off.