Obama’s Senate Accomplishments

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UPDATE:  There has been some speculation that Gov Sarah Palin is just as — or more — qualified than Barack Obama.  Let’s try to put that to rest by re-running this post from July 31, 2008, by our MsJoanne.

Much has been made of Obama’s lack of accomplishments, that he hasn’t done anything, that he’s an empty suit, and all the other inexperience meme’s you can think of.

I wonder, do you find the following empty (details after the fold)? And thank you Helenann at DailyKos for your efforts! I quote her in full below (Note that I changed the formatting and order of some of the data for ease in reading. Nothing else was changed.) :


It has really been bothering me – the charges that Obama is all talk and no action. Those of us who support him and have reviewed his record know there is no basis to this charge, but just to make sure, I went to the Congressional Record (www.thomas.gov) and did a search for bills sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Obama in his three short years in the US Senate. I searched the 109th and 110th Congresses which cover the years 2005-2007.

In a nut shell I found:

Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 570 bills in the 109th and 110th Congress.

Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 15 bills that have become LAW since he joined the Senate in 2005.

Senator Obama has also introduced amendments to 50 bills, of which 16 were adopted by the Senate.

His record is in fact quite impressive for a junior Senator from Illinois.

Most of his legislative effort has been in the areas of:

  • Energy Efficiency and Climate Change (25 bills)
  • Health care (21 bills) and public health (20 bills)
  • Consumer protection/labor (14 bills)
  • The needs of Veterans and the Armed Forces (13 bills)
  • Congressional Ethics and Accountability (12 bills)
  • Foreign Policy (10 bills)
  • Voting and Elections (9 bills)
  • Education (7 bills)
  • Hurricane Katrina Relief (6)
  • The Environment (5 bills)
  • Homeland Security (4 bills)
  • Discrimination (4 bills)

And the full details including bill numbers? Keep reading. I promise you will be impressed!

The following information was put together by Helenann. I am not using blockquotes to save space.


Below I summarize Senator Obama’s legislative record in the US Senate. First I list the bills he sponsored that have become law. Next I summarize the bills that he has sponsored or cosponsored since he became a US Senator in 2005.

I have only included major pieces of legislation and have not summarized continuing resolutions or naming post offices, for example.

His record suggests several priorities and the bills he supports address many of our most pressing problems.

Of the 15 bills Senator Obama sponsored or co-sponsored in 2005-7 that became law:

Two addressed foreign policy:

  • Promote relief, security and democracy in the Congo (2125)
  • Develop democratic institutions in areas under Palestinian control (2370).

Three addressed public health:

  • Improve mine safety (2803)
  • Increased breast cancer funding (597)
  • Reduce preterm delivery and complications, reduce infant mortality (707).

Two addressed openness and accountability in government:

  • Strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (2488 )
  • Full disclosure of all entities receiving federal funds (2590)

Two addressed national security

  • Extend Terrorist Risk Insurance (467)
  • Amend the Patriot Act (2167)

One addressed the needs of the Armed Forces

  • Wave passport fees to visit graves, attend memorials/funerals of veterans abroad (1184).

Of the 570 bills Senator Obama introduced into the Senate during the 109th and 110th Congress (Senate Bill numbers are in parentheses), they can be summarized as follows:

25 addressed Energy Efficiency and Climate Change

  • Suspend royalty relief for oil and gas (115)
  • Reduce dependence on oil; use of alternative energy sources (133)
  • Increase fuel economy standards for cars (767, 768 )
  • Auto industry incentives for fuel efficient vehicles (1151)
  • Reduce green house gas emissions (1324)
  • Establish at NSF a climate change education program (1389)
  • Increase renewable content of gasoline (2202)
  • Energy emergency relief for small businesses and farms (269)
  • Strategic gasoline and fuel reserves (1794)
  • Alternative diesel standards (3554)
  • Coal to liquid fuel promotion (3623)
  • Renewable diesel standards (1920)
  • Reducing global warming pollution from vehicles (2555)
  • Fuel security and consumer choice (1994, 2025)
  • Alternative energy refueling system (2614)
  • Climate change education (1389)
  • Low income energy assistance (2405)
  • Oil savings targets (339)
  • Fuel economy reform (3694)
  • Plug-in electric drive vehicles (1617)
  • Nuclear release notice (2348 )
  • Passenger rail investment (294)
  • Energy relief for low income families (2405)

21 addressed Health Care

  • Drug re-importation (334)
  • Health information technology (1262, 1418 )
  • Discount drug prices (2347)
  • Health care associated infections (2278 )
  • Hospital quality report cards (692, 1824)
  • Medical error disclosure and compensation (1784)
  • Emergency medical care and response (1873)
  • Stem cell research (5)
  • Medical Malpractice insurance (1525)
  • Health centers renewal (901, 3771)
  • Children’s health insurance (401)
  • Home health care (2061)
  • Medicare independent living (2103)
  • Microbicides for HIV/AIDS (823)
  • Ovarian cancer biomarker research (2569)
  • Gynological cancers (1172)
  • Access to personalized medicine through use of human genome (976)
  • Paralysis research and care (1183)

20 addressed Public Health:

  • Violence against women (1197)
  • Biodefense and pandemic preparedness and response (1821, 1880)
  • Viral influenza control (969)
  • End homelessness (1518 )
  • Reduce STDs/unintended pregnancy (1790)
  • Smoking prevention and tobacco control (625)
  • Minority health improvement and disparity elimination (4024)
  • Nutrition and physical education in schools (2066)
  • Health impact assessments (1067, 2506)
  • Healthy communities (1068 )
  • Combat methamphetamines (2071)
  • Paid sick leave (910)
  • Prohibit mercury sales (833, 1818 )
  • Prohibit sale of lead products (1306, 2132)
  • Lead exposure in children (1811, 2132)

14 address Consumer Protection/Labor

  • Stop unfair labor practices (842)
  • Fair minimum wage (2, 1062, 2725, 3829)
  • Internet freedom (2917)
  • Credit card safety (2411)
  • Media ownership (2332)
  • Protecting taxpayer privacy (2484)
  • Working family child assistance (218 )
  • Habeus Corpus Restoration (185)
  • Bankruptcy protection for employees and retirees (2092)
  • FAA fair labor management dispute resolution (2201)
  • Working families flexibility (2419).

13 addressed the Needs of Veterans and the Armed Forces:

  • Improve Benefits (117)
  • Suicide prevention (479)
  • Needs of homeless veterans (1180)
  • Homes for veterans (1084)
  • GI Bill enhancement (43)
  • Military job protection
  • Dignity in care for wounded vets (713)
  • Housing assistance for low income veterans (1084)
  • Military children in public schools (2151)
  • Military eye injury research and care (1999)
  • Research physical/mental health needs from Iraq War (1271)
  • Proper administration of discharge for personality disorder (1817, 1885)
  • Security of personal data of veterans (3592)

12 addressed Congressional Ethics and Accountability

  • Lobbying and ethics reform (230)
  • Stop fraud (2280)
  • Legislative transparency and accountability (525)
  • Open government (2180, 2488 )
  • Restoring fiscal discipline (10)
  • Transparency and integrity in earmarks (2261)
  • Accountability of conference committee deliberations and reports (2179)
  • Federal funding accountability and transparency (2590)
  • Accountability and oversight for private security functions under Federal
  • contract (674)
  • Accountability for contractors and personnel under federal contracts
  • (2147) Restrictions awarding government contracts (2519)

10 addressed Foreign Policy:

  • Iraq war de-escalation (313)
  • US policy for Iraq (433),
  • Divestiture from Iran (1430)
  • Sudan divestment authorization (831)
  • Millennium Development Goals (2433)
  • Multilateral debt relief (1320)
  • Development bank reform (1129)
  • Nuclear nonproliferation (3131,977,2224).

9 address Voting/Elections

  • Prohibit deceptive practices in Federal elections (453)
  • Voter access to polls and services in Federal elections (737)
  • Voter intimidation and deceptive practices (1975)
  • Senate campaign disclosure parity (185)
  • Require reporting for bundled campaign contributions (2030)
  • Election jamming prevention (4102)
  • Campaign disclosure parity (223)
  • Presidential funding (2412)
  • Integrity of electronic voting systems (1487)

11 addressed Education

  • Increase access of low income African Americans to higher education (1513)
  • Establish teaching residency programs (1574)
  • Increase early intervention services (2111)
  • Middle school curriculum improvements (2227)
  • Public database of scholarships, fellowships and financial aid (2428 )
  • Summer learning programs (116)
  • TANF financial education promotion (924)
  • Higher education (1642)
  • Build capacity at community colleges (379)
  • Campus law enforcement in emergencies (1228 )
  • Support for teachers (2060).

6 addressed Hurricane Katrina

  • Hurricane Katrina recovery (2319)
  • Emergency relief (1637)
  • Bankruptcy relief and community protection (1647)
  • Working family tax relief (2257)
  • Fair wages for recovery workers (1749)
  • Gulf coast infrastructure redevelopment (1836)

5 addressed the Environment

  • Drinking water security (218, 1426)
  • Water resources development (728 )
  • Waste water treatment (1995)
  • Combat illegal logging (1930)
  • Spent nuclear fuel tracking and accountability (1194)
  • Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (Introduced in Senate)[S.726.IS ]

4 addressed Discrimination

  • Claims for civil class action based on discrimination (1989)
  • Domestic partnership benefits (2521)
  • Unresolved civil rights crimes (535)
  • Equality or two parent families (2286)

4 addressed Homeland Security

  • Judicial review of FISA orders (2369)
  • National emergency family locator (1630)
  • Amend US Patriot Act (2167)
  • Chemical security and safety (2486)

Next time someone asks you “where’s the beef” in Senator Obama’s Senate record, please feel free to send the link to this diary.

UPDATE: Should you want a couple of examples of Obama working across the aisle in the state of IL, here is some information for you:

Obama had an uphill battle to get legislation enacted which had strong Republican opposition. And, because it was related to police interrogations, many Democrats were afraid to support it fearing that they would be labeled soft on crime.

Obama worked to get that bill passed – and he did. He also worked across the aisle on issues of tax credits for the poor, ethics reform and other issues while in the Illinois senate.

UPDATE: Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings and Washtington Monthly, has provided some additional accomplishments.  I thought I would include them here, as well.

Here is a compare and contrast between McCain and Obama.

Here is Obama’s record on Amendments to bills.

In short:

Bills Placed On Calendar:

  • S.223: A bill to require Senate candidates to file designations, statements, and reports in electronic form. (21 original co-sponsors)
  • S.1606: A bill to provide for the establishment of a comprehensive policy on the care and management of wounded warriors in order to facilitate and enhance their care, rehabilitation, physical evaluation, transition from care by the Department of Defense to care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and transition from military service to civilian life, and for other purposes. (30 original co-sponsors)
  • S.2: A bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage. (28 original co-sponsors. Eventually passed via another bill.)
  • S.2166 : A bill to provide for greater responsibility in lending and expanded cancellation of debts owed to the United States and the international financial institutions by low-income countries, and for other purposes. (5 original co-sponsors)
  • S.2555 : A bill to permit California and other States to effectively control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, and for other purposes. (17 original co-sponsors)


Obama: 25 Co-Sponsored Amendments

  • S.AMDT.3 to S.1 In the nature of a substitute. (This is, for all intents and purposes, the Senate Ethics bill: it begins: “Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:” (or: delete the existing bill, and replace it with this), and then the “amendment” takes up six or seven pages of the Congressional Record. 9 original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.4 to S.1 To strengthen the gift and travel bans. (Three original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.15 to S.1 To require Senate committees and subcommittees to make available by the Internet a video recording, audio recording, or transcript of any meeting not later than 14 business days after the meeting occurs. (Obama is the only original co-sponsor)
  • S.AMDT.31 to S.1 To prohibit former Members of Congress from engaging in lobbying activities in addition to lobbying contacts during their cooling off period. (Obama is the only original co-sponsor)
  • S.AMDT.33 to S.1 To prohibit former Members who are lobbyists from using gym and parking privileges made available to Members and former Members. (Obama is the only original co-sponsor)
  • S.AMDT.529 to S.CON.RES.21 To increase funding for the COPS Program to $1.15 billion for FY 2008 to provide state and local law enforcement with critical resources necessary to prevent and respond to violent crime and acts of terrorism and is offset by an unallocated reduction to non-defense discretionary spending and/or reduction to administrative expenses. (13 original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.1009 to S.1082 To insert provisions relating to antibiotic access and innovation and certain enantiomer drugs. (Five original co-sponsors. Underlying bill held at the desk.)
  • S.AMDT.1169 to S.1348 To reduce to 200,000 the number of certain non-immigrants permitted to be admitted during a fiscal year. (Four original co-sponsors. Underlying bill failed cloture vote.)
  • S.AMDT.2132 to H.R.1585 To provide and enhance rehabilitative treatment and services to veterans with traumatic brain injury and to improve health care and benefits programs for veterans. (12 original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.2268 to H.R.1585 To provide for an increase in the number of nurses and faculty. (10 original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.2402 to H.R.1538 In the nature of a substitute. (50 original co-sponsors. An immensely long substitute for HR 1538, the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act.)
  • S.AMDT.2467 to H.R.2638 To authorize the release of data used to determine eligibility for assistance under title IV of the Robert T Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. (Obama sole original co-sponsor)
  • S.AMDT.2509 to H.R.2638 To mitigate the health risks posed by hazardous chemicals in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and for other purposes. (Five original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.2719 to H.R.2764 To prohibit the application of certain restrictive eligibility requirements to foreign nongovernmental organizations with respect to the provision of assistance under part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. (12 original co-sponsors. I think this is legislaton lifting the global gag rule.)
  • S.AMDT.2797 to H.R.3074 To prohibit the establishment of a program that allows Mexican truck drivers to operate beyond the commercial zones near the Mexican border. (Six original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.2872 to H.R.1585 To assist certain Iraqis who have worked directly with, or are threatened by their association with, the United States. (13 original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.2962 to H.R.1585 To implement the recommendations of the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health. (Obama one of two original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.2969 to H.R.1585 To provide for the establishment of a Center of Excellence in Prevention, Diagnosis, Mitigation, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of Military Eye Injuries. (Obama one of four original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.2999 to H.R.1585 To provide for the study and investigation of wartime contracts and contracting processes in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. (26 original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.3349 to H.R.3043 To prohibit the Secretary of Education from using funds with respect to an evaluation for the Upward Bound Program until congressional examination of the regulation providing for such review. (Seven original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.4203 to S.CON.RES.70 To increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. (27 original co-sponsors.)
  • S.AMDT.4230 to S.CON.RES.70 To increase FY 2009 funding for the Byrne/Justice Assistance Grant program to $906,000,000 with an offset. (18 original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.4245 to S.CON.RES.70 To restore full funding for the international affairs budget, in support of the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear nonproliferation, foreign assistance, fighting global AIDS, promoting sustainable development, and other efforts, with an offset. (17 original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.4370 to S.CON.RES.70 To provide for a deficit-neutral reserve fund to make improvements to ensure access to the Medicare program for low-income senior citizens and other low-income Medicare beneficiaries. (16 original co-sponsors)
  • S.AMDT.4539 to H.R.1195 To call for a review by the Department of Justice of allegations of violations of Federal criminal law. (Three original co-sponsors. Adds section requiring investigation of the Coconut Road earmark, which mysteriously appeared in an earlier transportation bill between when it was passed and when the President signed it.)

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11 thoughts on “Obama’s Senate Accomplishments

  1. O’Reilly Factor bombshell

    Dick Morris slips and states that the only way McCain can win is by scaring the electorate enough in order to demonize Obama!

    Get all the details of that conversation @


    How do you think the Obama campaign should respond, and do you think that this is truly the only way that McCain can win? Doesn’t the center have more options than Morris gives him credit for ?

  2. jrfoleyjr this is the description of the link:

    THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include the features and content listed below.

    If this link isn’t sufficient then we don’t know what to tell you.

  3. That’s all good information but if I see one more fool do the Republicans’ work for them by comparing Obama to Palin I’m gonna throw up. Barack is the presidential candidate running against McCain. If you want to diminish him keep comparing him to Palin.

  4. Thank you for this comprehensive list. I heart you!!! 😉

    A rightwing nutjob has been touting Palin and her cough…accomplishments all day on my Blogger blog..I got tired of it and googled..

  5. Nobody likes Mcain! Atleast not if you ask… the rest of the WORLD!

    Done some reading and it appears that BBC recently did a survey in 22 countries, asking people who they belive would improve Americas relation with the rest of the world. Well to summon up …

    46 percent voted for Obama and

    20 percent for Mcain and

    34 percent said they where not shure!

    AH… In Canada which after all is the neighbouring country 69 percent voted for Obama, Italy 64%, France 62% and Germany 61%…

    ONLY in USA… in a new survey it reveals that Obama gets 47 percent of the votes and Mcain 46! How in the world is it that the rest of the planet, people like Obama vastly more than Mr Mcain … while only in The US, it appears to be equal?

    No matter the reason, I believe the rest of the planet also should get their say in this election… (or at least the 100 countries America has put under their military control !!) Anybody more affected by an election should be able to vote… otherwise it cant under any circumstances be called a democratic system. We live in a global world where no nation stands excluded from neighbours around. Obviously its hard to have a global election for the president-post in every country, but think about it… don’t you believe a great deal of people in Iraq are more affected by this election than a whole lot of people in the USA… ? I do! If the US e´wants all this global military/financial responsibility, they can atleast hear what the world has to say… jao!

    But hey … anywho anyways anywhat, that just me right!?

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