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FACT SHEET: Clinton. Obama. Their bills.

By Adriel Bettelheim March 28, 2008

SUMMARY: We compare the legislative accomplishments of the Democratic candidates.

The legislative accomplishments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama reveal different interests and styles. Obama shows a consistent interest in making government more open and efficient, while Clinton has a focus on health care efforts she started as first lady, though in a more incremental way. Here's a look at each senator's noteworthy legislative accomplishments:

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, 2000-present

• Wrote a section of the 2001 "No Child Left Behind" education law (PL 107-110) that authorized funding for recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals, citing a projected shortage of 2.2-million teachers by 2011.

• Co-authored a 2003 law (PL 108-155) that compels drug companies to conduct pediatric safety tests when their products are prescribed for children. The measure strengthened an earlier law that awards manufacturers added patent protection, allowing them to market drugs exclusively for six additional months if they agree to test them for use on children as well as adults. The 2003 law bestowed the extra six-month extension even if the Food and Drug Administration orders the testing.

• Worked with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to add language to a fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill (PL 108-375) giving military reservists and members of the National Guard access to the military's Tricare health system even when they are not deployed. Previously, reservists only got covered while on active duty and for a limited time afterward. The measure came at a time when about 40 percent of U.S. forces in Iraq were reservists. Was enacted as law as part of a broader defense authorization bill.

• Sponsored a 2005 bill to distribute flu vaccines more efficiently, which inspired similar provisions in a 2006 law (PL 109-417) promoting adequate vaccine production and stockpiles to improve the nation's responses to public health emergencies.

• Wrote a 2006 law (PL 109-442) providing grants to state and local governments to pay for respite care services for family caregivers. (Respite care is designed to give principal caregivers of sick or disabled individuals temporary relief in their caregiving obligations.)

• Worked with Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-N.Y., to insert language in a fiscal 2007 defense authorization measure (PL 109-364) keeping the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open at a time when the Pentagon was closing bases. The move saved 800 upstate New York jobs.

Number of bills sponsored: 635

Number of bills co-sponsored: 2,441

Number of bills sponsored or co-sponsored that became law: 54

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, 2005-present

• Collaborated with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in 2006 to pass a law (PL 109-282) creating a Google-like database of federal contracts and grants allowing users to type in key words that would bring up exactly how much money any particular recipient received.

• With then-Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., won enactment of a 2006 law (PL 109-401) that allowed the United States to export nuclear fuel, technology and reactors to India for the first time in three decades. The law accepted India as a nuclear-armed power and was enacted despite concerns about India's ties to Iran and past sanctions for transferring sensitive equipment to Iran.

• Chief sponsor of legislation signed into law in 2006 (PL 109-456) that authorized a 25 percent increase in U.S. assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been ravaged by civil wars since its independence from Belgium in 1960 and which received $33-million in fiscal 2006. The law called for a special envoy to help mediate an end to the conflict there and urged the Bush administration to strengthen the United Nations peacekeeping force now operating in parts of the nation.

• Co-sponsored legislation by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., signed into law in 2007 (PL 110-175) that speeds the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act by revising requirements for federal agency disclosures of requested information.

• Played a significant role in the 2007 overhaul of congressional lobbying and ethics rules. Sided with Republicans who wanted stronger rules for the disclosure of earmarks in spending bills and tried to set an example by releasing a lengthy list of requests he asked to be included in annual appropriations bills. His support is believed to have persuaded some other Democrats (there were nine total) to adopt the amendment.

• With Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., proposed requiring senators to make full reimbursement for the market rate of corporate jet flights. Under old rules, senators reimbursed for the first-class commercial rate of the flight. In some cases, that meant paying $2,000 for a private jet flight that actually may have cost upwards of $20,000 per seat. The proposal was incorporated into a broader package of reforms.

Number of bills sponsored: 272

Number of bills co-sponsored: 834

Number of bills sponsored or co-sponsored that became law: 16

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Our Sources

Washington Post blog "The Trail, Anonymous comment posted on blog, Feb. 4, 2008

ABC News blog "Political Radar," Anonymous comment posted on blog, Feb. 20, 2008

NBC News blog "First Read," Anonymous comment posted on blog, Feb. 25, 2008

Talking Points Memo "Election Central," Anonymous comment posted on blog, Feb. 20, 2008

Library of Congress, Thomas legislative search engine, advanced bill summary & status search

CQ Almanac, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006

CQ Weekly, "The Space Between Clinton and Obama," by David Nather, Jan. 14, 2008

CQ Today, "Senate Moving Toward Passage of Bill to Advance Nuclear Pact With India," by Elaine Mohaghan, Nov. 16, 2006

CQ Weekly, "House Clears Creation of Database on Federal Grants and Contracts," by Martin Kady II, Sept. 18, 2006

CQ Today, "Bill That Would Beef Up U.S Aid to 'War-Torn Regions' Is Expected to Be Approved," by John M. Donnelly, May 22, 2006

Phone interview with Sarah Binder, Brookings Institution, March 19, 2008

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FACT SHEET: Clinton. Obama. Their bills.