Obama's legislative achievements (w/edits)
by Artificial Intelligence, Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 06:25:13 AM EST
Charles Peters, the founding editor of the Washington Monthly, wrote in a January 4, 2008, Washington Post op-ed
People who complain that Barack Obama lacks experience must be unaware of his legislative achievements. One reason these accomplishments are unfamiliar is that the media have not devoted enough attention to Obama's bills and the effort required to pass them, ignoring impressive, hard evidence of his character and ability.
But was Peters referring to Obama's "legislative achievements" during his two years in the U.S. Senate? No. He wants the media to examine Obama's accomplishments in the Illinois Senate and compare them to the legislative accomplishments of his Democratic rivals in Congress.
But what about Obama's legislative accomplishments since joining the Senate? Since he declared that he was officially running for the presidency in February 2007, what about the legislation that he introduced and was passed in 2007 during the 110th Congress?
The following was taken from a sample of approximately 50 pieces of legislation introduced by Obama during the 110th Congress that are identified by GovTrack.us (taken from Thomas). Of the sample, only three were passed in the Senate and those were commemorative resolutions. One, S.453: Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007: "A bill to prohibit deceptive practices in Federal elections," was introduced January 31, 2007. There are 19 cosponsors, including 1 Republican and 18 Democrats. The bill was scheduled for debate October 4, 2007, but there was no further action.
A sampling of legislation introduced by Obama includes:
January 4, 2007: S.115: Oil SENSE Act. "A bill to suspend royalty relief, to repeal certain provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal certain tax incentives for the oil and gas industry." No cosponsors. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
January 4, 2007: S.133: American Fuels Act of 2007: "A bill to promote the national security and stability of the economy of the United States by reducing the dependence of the United States on oil through the use of alternative fuels and new technology, and for other purposes." Three Democratic cosponsors as of December 10, 2007. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
January 30, 2007: S.433: Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007: "A bill to state United States policy for Iraq, and for other purposes." Three cosponsors (2 Democrats and 1 Independent) as of December 10, 2007. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
February 16, 2007: S.674: Transparency and Accountability in Military and Security Contracting Act of 2007: "A bill to require accountability and enhanced congressional oversight for personnel performing private security functions under Federal contracts, and for other purposes." Four Democrat cosponsors. Referred to Senate Armed Services Committee.
February 27, 2007: S.692: VA Hospital Quality Report Card Act of 2007: "A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a Hospital Quality Report Card Initiative to report on health care quality in Veterans Affairs hospitals." One Democrat cosponsor as of December 11, 2007. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
February 28, 2007: S.713: Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act of 2007: "A bill to ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries." The bill has 34 cosponsors as of December 11, 2007 (30 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 Independent). Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
April 10, 2007: S.1084: Homes for Heroes Act of 2007: "A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans." Nine Democrat cosponsors as of December 11, 2007. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
May 2, 2007: S.1271: Homecoming Enhancement Research and Oversight (HERO) Act: "A bill to provide for a comprehensive national research effort on the physical and mental health and other readjustment needs of the members of the Armed Forces and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and their families." Four Democrat cosponsors. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
May 17, 2007: S.1430: Iran Sanctions Enabling Act: "A bill to authorize State and local governments to direct divestiture from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20,000,000 or more in Iran's energy sector, and for other purposes." Twenty-two cosponsors (11 Democrats, 10 Republicans, 1 Independent) as of December 11, 2007. Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.
August 2, 2007: S.1977: Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act of 2007: "A bill to provide for sustained United States leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related material and technology, and support the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology." Two cosponsors (1 Democrat, 1 Republican) as of December 11, 2007. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
November 1, 2007: S.J.Res.23: "A joint resolution clarifying that the use of force against Iran is not authorized by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, any resolution previously adopted, or any other provision of law." No cosponsors. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
So, here you have it. An assortment of pieces of legislation introduced in the Senate, none of which ever made it out of committee. Not all had a cosponsor. Few had bipartisan cosponsorship. Three mostly ceremonial resolutions passed in the Senate. One left languishing awaiting debate.
Sen. Obama's Illinois legislative achievements may have been of note. However, his ability to gain not only bipartisan support for his bills is less than stellar and his ability to get his legislation passed is conspicuous by its absence. This does not support his claims of the necessary leadership skills to run the U.S. government and it definitely does not display the skill necessary to get even one bill passed.Note: Edit was made to reflect that this was a representative sample and does not include all legislation during the 110th Congress. Full legislative record is available here. Note that of 113 items, numbers 64 through 113 are amendments.