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By Adriel Bettelheim September 2, 2008
Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan September 2, 2008

We found a few things

In a major speech to the Republican National Convention, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut praised his friend John McCain and attacked the Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Lieberman was a Democrat who lost his primary race in 2006. He ran as an Independent Democrat in the general election and won his fourth senate term.

Lieberman praised McCain on Sept. 2, 2008, at the convention in St. Paul, Minn., as an independent thinker who puts his country first. Obama, Lieberman said, is too inexperienced to be effective.

"Sen. Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead," he said. "But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times. In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party."

Here we'll look at the statement that Obama has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done.

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But we've found several instances of legislation that Obama passed in concert with Republican lawmakers.

• Obama 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., Obama 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.

• He also worked with Lugar on a Senate bill that authorized the president to carry out a program to provide assistance to foreign countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Another part of the measure was intended to stop the spread of conventional weapons, notably shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that the legislation refers to as man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS. The bill's provisions were incorporated into a House bill that passed later that year and was signed into law in January 2007 (PL 109-472).

These bills arguably meet the threshhold of significance, particularly the two measures with Lugar on important foreign policy issues. Since Obama is a Democrat, and Lugar and Coburn are Republicans, that seems to qualify as reaching across party lines. We find Lieberman's claim False.


Our Sources

CQ Almanac, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006

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

Thomas, Public Law 109-472 (HR 6060) , became law Jan. 11, 2007

Thomas, S.2566: A bill to provide for coordination of proliferation interdiction activities and conventional arms disarmament, and for other purposes, introduced April 6, 2006

Barack Obama Senate office, Lugar-Obama Nonproliferation Legislation Signed into Law by the President , Jan. 11, 2007


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