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2010 Nation In Review: All Eyes On Gulf Oil Spill, Midterm Elections

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The year 2010 saw a historic nomination to the Supreme Court, a major environmental catastrophe, and a big rush of political news in the final weeks of the year. NY1's Kristen Shaughnessy filed the following report.

An explosion on a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico last spring turns into an environmental and economic catastrophe for the region. Nearly five million barrels of oil pour into the Gulf, making it the worst oil spill in U.S. History. Eight months later the investigation into what went wrong continues.

Midterm elections send a number of incumbents packing, giving the Republicans an edge in the House of Representatives and cuts into the Democratic majority in the Senate. The Tea Party raises its profile and spells a rocky road ahead for President Obama and his policies. However, in this Congress's waning hours it passes two key pieces of legislation.
President Obama signs the bill repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which had been in effect for 17 years. Once all areas of the military undergo the necessary training and is given the go-ahead, gays and lesbians will be able to openly serve in the military for the first time in history.

The Senate passes the James Zadroga, 9/11 Health and Compensation Act after $2 billion was cut from the price tag. This provides up to $4.2 billion in new aid to survivors and responders. The package also provides $1.5 billion to monitor the health of rescue and cleanup workers and treat illnesses related to Ground Zero. It also reopens a victims' compensation fund with $2.7 billion.

Whether to extend the Bush Tax Cuts becomes a contentious fight as the year comes to a close. Senate Republicans are able to get a two year extension by arguing that taking them away actually would be the same as a tax hike.

Earlier this year, the Health Care reform bill is signed into law. A controversial bill, it could be repealed, altogether or in part. One of the more controversial aspects of the law and one that several federal judges have ruled against is the mandate that every individual buy health insurance or risk being fined.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer creates an uproar when she signs SB 1070, the controversial legislation makes it a crime to be an immigrant in the state without proof of citizenship. She said it's a way to deal with the escalating costs of illegal immigration. The federal government has challenged the law in court.

Results from the 2010 Census mean New York will lose two congressional seats and political clout in 2012. It is the only state to lose more than one seat and drops New York's House delegation to 27, its lowest level since 1823. Adding the most seats in the U.S. house is Texas with four. Florida adds two and is the only other state to pick up multiple seats based on new figures.

Elena Kagan becomes the youngest member of the Supreme Court. She is the fourth female justice and third on the current court. She is also the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior judicial experience.

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