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NBC's Relieved Chuck Todd Proclaims: 112th Congress 'Finally Leaves Us Today'

After worrying on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News about possible House GOP "shenanigans" preventing a fiscal cliff deal, on Monday's Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd breathed a sign of relief: "...this 112th Congress does leave us today, and some people say finally leaves us today....it began with a threat of a government shutdown just two months into this Congress. And then, of course, we had the debt ceiling showdown. Then it culminated with this fiscal cliff..." [Listen to the audio]

Picking up on Todd's rant against Congress, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly quoted New York Times columnist David Brooks: "If Congress couldn't make a single tough decision under these circumstances, why should we think it'll make any further down the road? More likely, there will just be more squabbling and brinkmanship, more posturing and punting, which could not only poison future budget talks, but also prospects for immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and many other projects."

Neither Todd nor Lauer laid any blame on President Obama for the contentious atmosphere in Washington.  

Todd went on to tout how Republicans had been out-maneuvered on the fiscal cliff negotiations: "...this was a debacle for the Republican Party. I mean yesterday we almost had the Republican leadership in the House completely undermined the Republican leadership in the Senate when it looked like they were threatening to scuttle the whole thing. And then they ended up helping Barack Obama raise taxes more than any Republican Party in a generation has ever helped anybody raise taxes, and they got nothing for it."

Here is a full transcript of the January 2 segment:

7:05AM ET

MATT LAUER: Chuck Todd is NBC's chief White House correspondent and of course our political director. Chuck, good morning to you, happy New Year.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, happy New Year.

LAUER: So they got this done at the 11th hour – actually the 13th hour if you really want to be accurate about it. But there aren't a lot of people happy about this. The tax situation we know about. But when it comes to spending and the deficit, this is purely a kick the can approach, isn't it?

CHUCK TODD: It's totally that. And what's coming in March with what they've done, and by the way, they've done this to themselves now multiple times. I mean this is the story, this 112th Congress does leave us today, and some people say finally leaves us today, because this is the story of this Congress. Every major decision that they came up to – and it began with a threat of a government shutdown just two months into this congress. And then, of course, we had the debt ceiling showdown. Then it culminated with this fiscal cliff and all we've done is created what's coming in March. And Matt, what's coming in March, take all the fights we had separately and put them all in one fight and put them all expiring all at the same time, debt ceiling, funding the entire federal government, that expires, and then this.

LAUER: Yeah, I thought that David Brooks column yesterday was really powerful and eye opening. He went on to say this, Kelly mentioned something he said, but he said, "If Congress couldn't make a single tough decision under these circumstances, why should we think it'll make any further down the road? More likely, there will just be more squabbling and brinkmanship, more posturing and punting, which could not only poison future budget talks," Chuck, "but also prospects for immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and many other projects." Not a rosy picture.

TODD: It isn't. And you know, what I'm trying to figure out is the relationship between, for instance, House Speaker John Boehner and the White House is terrible. Let's not pretend they can get – get anything done. And yet you still have to get something through the House. Perhaps this new – this relationship, renewed relationship between the White House, Joe Biden in particular, and Mitch McConnell is a way to get some things done, but it is going to dominate this thing.

And one thing to look back here and to figure this out is Republicans have to figure out what they want. I mean this, if you look back on it, Matt, this was a debacle for the Republican Party. I mean yesterday we almost had the Republican leadership in the House completely undermined the Republican leadership in the Senate when it looked like they were threatening to scuttle the whole thing. And then they ended up helping Barack Obama raise taxes more than any Republican Party in a generation has ever helped anybody raise taxes, and they got nothing for it.

LAUER: But if you're asking what Republicans want. Here's a prominent Republican, Lindsey Graham, saying this. "Round two's coming and we're going to have one hell of a contest about the direction and vision of this country."

TODD: Well, the Republican Party has to figure out what it wants to be first before they sit down at the negotiating table. And then they've got to figure out who's going to do the negotiating for them. Is it Mitch McConnell? Is it John Boehner? Who runs the Republican Party? I think that's unclear out of all this. I mean, one piece of fallout here – look, Lindsey Graham's right. It's going to be a giant fight. But until the Republican Party is sort of unified at what it wants to do, they're not going to be an effective negotiating force against the President.

LAUER: Gonna be a busy couple of months. Chuck Todd. Chuck, thank you very much.

TODD: You got it, Matt.