Obama Tries to Beef-Up Skimpy Bi-Partisan Resume

B. Hussein is really reaching. Check out this press release. It’s especially good for insomnia.

Obama Record of Bipartisanship


2006: Obama And Lugar Passed Law Boosting U.S. Efforts To Keep WMDs And Other Dangerous Weapons Out Of The Hands Of Terrorists. In 2006, Obama and Lugar introduced The Cooperative Proliferation Detection Act, which was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously on May 26, 2006 and was eventually incorporated into the Department of State Authorities Act of 2006 and signed into law on January 11, 2007. According to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on its legislative activity in the 109th Congress, “The committee passed S. 2566, The Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2006 by unanimous consent on May 26, 2006. The legislation authored by Chairman Lugar and Senator Obama enhances: (1) U.S. cooperation with foreign governments to destroy conventional weapons stockpiles around the world; and (2) the United States’ ability to provide assistance to foreign governments aimed at helping them detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction. The legislation, which garnered 26 co-sponsors (including 8 committee members), sought to energize U.S. programs to secure lightweight anti-aircraft missiles…The initiative was modeled after the Nunn-Lugar program that focuses on weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union. The legislation was signed into law on January 11, 2007, as a part of H.R. 6060, the Department of State Authorities Act of 2006.” [P.L. 109-472, 1/11/07; House Report 109-706, 9/3/06; S. 2566, 109th Congress; S.1949, 109th Congress; Senate Report 110-40, 3/29/07]

Ø Lugar Said He Was Enthused And Encouraged By “Senator Obama’s Commitment To Adding His Strong Voice And Creativity To The Proliferation Challenge. “It is a pleasure to appear before the Council on Foreign Relations with my good friend Senator Barack Obama. As you have heard, we had an extremely successful trip in August. I appreciate his strong support for the Nunn-Lugar Program. In his first year in the Senate, he has committed himself to improving the U.S. response to the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. We discussed existing programs and new opportunities extensively during our trip, and we are eager to share with you the first public mention of the joint legislative initiative that developed from our findings…I was particularly pleased that Barack chose Nunn-Lugar as the subject of his first foreign travel as a Senator. This choice was not an accident or the result of a last-minute whim. During his Senate campaign, well over a year ago, he identified the threat posed by unsecured weapons of mass destruction as the greatest national security threat facing the United States. On the Foreign Relations Committee, he has followed these issues intensely, and he has been a steadfast voice of support for non-proliferation efforts…In this context, I am enthused and encouraged by Senator Obama’s commitment to adding his strong voice and creativity to the proliferation challenge.” [http://lugar.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=248080&&]

Obama And Lugar Passed An Amendment Into Law To Fund Research For Hybrid/Flex Fuel Vehicles. In 2005, Obama and Lugar sponsored an amendment, which was signed into law, to the Energy Policy Act that established an applied research program to improve technologies for the commercialization of a combination hybrid/flexible fuel vehicle; or a plug-in hybrid/flexible fuel vehicle. The program would provide grants with preference to proposals that achieve the greatest reduction in miles per gallon of petroleum fuel consumption, achieve not less than 250 miles per gallon of petroleum fuel consumption and have the greatest potential of commercialization to the general public within 5 years. [SA 851 to HR 6, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 6/23/05; H.R. 6, Became Public Law No: 109-58]

Obama Passed Legislation Providing $25 Million In Funding For Avian Flu Research And Containment Efforts By U.S. Agencies In South East Asia. “The amendment calls for greater investment in our preparedness efforts by providing more than $3 billion to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs and necessary medical supplies…Obama first introduced legislation in April requiring the United States to stockpile antiviral drugs…In May, Obama worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to appropriate the $25 million called for in the Foreign Assistance Act authorization bill. This money is currently being used by U.S. agencies in South East Asia to combat and contain possible outbreaks of avian flu.” [Obama Press Release, 1/12/07]

Obama Passed A Law Requiring The Defense Secretary To Report On The Pentagon’s Efforts To Prepare For Military And Civilian Personnel For A Possible Influenza Outbreak. In 2006, Obama, Lugar and others sponsored an amendment to the FY 2006 Defense Authorization Act that required the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on the Pentagon’s efforts to prepare for pandemic influenza, including pandemic avian influenza, including status on the procurement of vaccines, public health containment measures that could be implemented on military bases and other facilities; surge capacity for the provision of medical care during pandemics; surveillance efforts domestically and internationally and how such efforts are integrated with other ongoing surveillance systems; the integration of pandemic and response planning with those of other Federal departments; collaboration (as appropriate) with international entities engaged in pandemic preparedness and response. [SA 1453 as modified agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 11/18/05; S. 1042/H.R. 1815, Became Public Law No: 109-163]


Obama and Coburn Passed A Bill Creating A “Google-like” Database For The Public To Search Details About Federal Funding Awards. In 2006, Obama and Coburn co-authored a bill to create a “Google-like” database of information on federal spending. The bill requires the OMB by January 1, 2008, to make available to the public a searchable, free website that includes the (1) amount; (2) transaction type; (3) funding agency; (4) North American Industry Classification System code or Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number; (5) program source; (6) an award title descriptive of the purpose of each funding action; (7) the name and location of the recipient and the primary location of performance; and (8) a unique identifier of the recipient and any parent entity. The site must allow users to conduct separate searches that distinguish between awards that are grants, sub-grants, loans, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance and awards that are contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders. [S. 2590, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 9/7/06; Became PL 109-282, 9/26/06]

Ø Obama And Coburn Had Found Common Ground On Government Transparency. CQ reported, “Coburn, a foe of earmarking, said he and Obama have co-sponsored other open-government proposals. ‘I consider Barack a friend,’ said Coburn, an outspoken conservative. ‘He’s a liberal. He’s not ashamed of it. What we agree on is that things should be transparent.'” [CQ, 9/10/07]

Ø Providence Journal: Coburn And Obama “Deserve Credit For Fighting Doggedly For This Legislation.” “What a great idea: Create a searchable online data base of federal grants and contracts, identifying the members of Congress behind the spending, so that citizens, even on their home computers, can easily determine where, how and why the government is spending their money…That may be why liberal Democrats have joined with conservatives on the bill. It presents an opportunity to break the deathgrip of incumbency. Coburn and the co-sponsor, Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill., deserve credit for fighting doggedly for this legislation.” [Providence Journal Editorial, 9/20/06]

Ø The Google For Government Bill Was A “Fine Accomplishment” And “Passed Largely Because Of The Bipartisan Leadership Of Tom Coburn, R-Okla And Barack Obama, D-Ill” “The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act is a fine accomplishment. It will create an earmark database that the public can easily access on the Internet. The bill passed largely because of the bipartisan leadership of senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 10/15/06]

Obama Passed Legislation With Tom Coburn Prohibiting DHS >From Entering Into Open-Ended, No-Bid Contracts For Emergency Response Activities. “Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) that will stop the abuse of no-bid contracting in the aftermath of a disaster was included in the final Department of Homeland Security funding bill likely to pass the Senate today. After Senate passage, the bill will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law…After Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency used emergency authority to enter into open-ended, no-bid contracts. What was meant to be temporary stop-gap authority ballooned into wasteful contracts that lasted many months and wasted significant federal resources. Obama and Coburn legislation will stop this practice by restricting the use of emergency contracting authority only to urgent needs in the immediate response to emergencies…On three separate occasions, Obama and Coburn have passed legislation in the Senate that would end no-bid contracting with Gulf Coast reconstruction funds. Legislation that would have specifically prohibited no-bid contracts with Gulf Coast reconstruction was stripped from a previously passed funding bill.” [Obama Press Release, 9/29/06]

Ø Obama Had Previously Passed Amendments Prohibiting The No-Bid Contracts To Three Bills, But Each Was Stripped From Its Respective Funding Bill. “On three separate occasions, Obama and Coburn have passed legislation in the Senate that would end no-bid contracting with Gulf Coast reconstruction funds. Legislation that would have specifically prohibited no-bid contracts with Gulf Coast reconstruction was stripped from a previously passed funding bill.” [Obama Press Release, 9/29/06; SA 4624 as modified agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 7/13/06; SA 4254 agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 6/16/06; Vote 106, SA 3810, Agreed to in Senate, 98 – 0; 5/2/06]


Obama Passed Law to Promote Relief, Security, and Democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Bill Was Cosponsored By Brownback, Inhofe, And DeWine. In 2005, Obama sponsored the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. The bill would set forth specified U.S. political, social, civil, and economic policy objectives (policy objectives) with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and obligated a specified minimum amount of foreign assistance funding for FY2006-FY2007. [S.2125, 12/16/05, Become Public Law No: 109-456, 12/22/06]


Obama And Hatch Passed Legislation To Protect Individuals’ Rights To Continue Donating To Charities And Religious Organizations During Bankruptcy. In 2006, Obama was an original cosponsor of a bill that protected individuals’ rights to continue donating to charities and religious organizations during bankruptcy proceedings. The Hatch-Obama bill responded to a court ruling that above-medium income debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy could not deduct charitable contributions, including religious contributions, from their payment plans. The ruling was based on an interpretation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). Hatch and Obama authored S. 4044 to ensure that all individuals in bankruptcy, no matter their income, would be able to continue giving to charity and their church. The bill passed the senate by unanimous consent and was signed by the president. [S. 4044, Signed 12/20/06, Became Public Law No. 109-439]

Ø Michelle Singletary Praised Obama’s Bill In A Washington Post Editorial. Michelle Singletary wrote in an op-ed that a judge’s ruling that some debtors can’t tithe or donate money to charity if they want federal bankruptcy protection “prompted Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to propose legislation that would allow individuals in bankruptcy to continue giving to churches and charities. Obama, who voted against the 2005 bankruptcy legislation, said the bill would clarify that Congress didn’t intend for the law to prioritize creditors over religious institutions and charities. The bill passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House. ‘For millions of Americans, charitable giving and tithing is an essential part of their lives,’ Obama said in a statement. ‘And in a country where 37 million citizens live in poverty, we should be encouraging charitable giving, not limiting it.’ I certainly hope the House follows the Senate’s lead. Even the judge in the New York case thinks the bankruptcy reform law is flawed.” [Washington Post, 11/19/06]


Obama And Mel Martinez, The Senate’s Only Immigrant, Partnered To Lay Out First Principles On Immigration Reform As The Senate Began Considering Legislation in 2005. “Sens. Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today said that any immigration reform legislation must include tough border and workplace enforcement measures as well as a realistic guest worker program that acknowledges the role of the 11 million immigrants currently living and working illegally in the U.S. At a press conference in Washington, the two announced a set of principles they believe must be included in any comprehensive immigration reform package. Those principles include combining the strongest elements of the current border security and employment verification proposals by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) with the most realistic workplace and earned citizenship reform program proposed by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Martinez and Obama pledged to work on a bipartisan basis to ensure these complementary efforts are included in any final legislation…Martinez and Obama today sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) outlining their principles and offering suggestions on how they could be most effectively included into the Chairman’s Mark. The two are working to build a bipartisan coalition of likeminded members who agree that any successful immigration reform proposal must include both border security and a realistic guest worker program…Martinez is the only immigrant currently serving in the United States Senate. He came to the United States at age 15 after fleeing communist Cuba through a program called Operation Pedro Pan. His parents joined him four years later in Orlando, Florida.” [Martinez Press Release, 12/15/05]

Obama Passed Amendments To The Senate’s 2006 Immigration Bill That Would Have Established An Employment Verification System And Protected American Workers From Losing Jobs To Guest Workers In 2006, Obama passed an amendment to the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that ensured that prevailing wage requirements apply to all workers covered by the bill’s wage protection provisions. In a speech on the Senate floor, Obama said, “This amendment essentially says that the prevailing wage provisions in the underlying bill should be tightened to ensure that they apply to all workers and not just some workers. The way the underlying bill is currently structured, essentially those workers who fall outside of Davis-Bacon projects or collective bargaining agreements or other provisions are not going to be covered…Everybody in this Chamber has agreed that if we are going to have a guest worker program, it should only be made available where there is a genuine need that has been shown by the employers that American workers are not available for those jobs. Without this amendment, that will not be the case…” Obama was also an original cosponsor of an amendment that would strike the underlying bill’s employment verification system and replace it with an electronic verification system that would allow employers to verify the legal status of workers within three days. If a worker’s status could not be verified, it would obligate the employer to discharge the worker. It would allow legitimate workers wrongly discharged because of a verification system error to be compensated by the government for lost wages. It would fine employers up to $20,000 for each unauthorized worker hired but the system would not take effect until 18 months after Congress appropriated the $400 million needed to put the program in place. The underlying bill did not pass. [S. Amdt. 4177, Vote 140, Adopted 59-39 (R 17-37; D 41-2; I 1-0); 5/23/06; CQ, 5/23/06; SA 3971 as modified agreed to in Senate by Voice Vote, 5/17/06; Obama Press Release, 5/17/06]

Kennedy And McCain, Authors Of Immigration Reform Bill, Thanked Obama As One Of Small Bipartisan Group Of Senators Who “Stood Together To Make This Legislation Possible.” McCain said, “After several weeks of extensive debate and consideration of numerous and complicated amendments, the Senate is about to move to final passage on S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act…I also commend the Senate Leadership on both sides of the aisle for their efforts to ensure that the Senate addressed this important issue and gave us more than adequate time for a thorough debate. This is a proud moment for the United States Senate, as we have conducted good work and returned to orderly traditions of the legislative process as envisioned by our founding fathers…And of course, I commend Senator Kennedy, who is perhaps the leading expert on this difficult issue…I also want to thank Senators Brownback, Lieberman, Graham, Salazar, Martinez, Obama, and Dewine for their shared commitment to this issue, and working to ensure this bill moved successfully intact through the legislative process.” In a speech on the Senate floor, Kennedy said, “I thank those of our bipartisan group who stood together to make this legislation possible–Senator Graham, Senator Salazar, Senator Martinez, Senator Hagel, Senator Durbin, Senator Lieberman, Senator Brownback, Senator Obama, and Senator DeWine.” [McCain Press Release, 5/25/06; Congressional Record, 5/26/06]

Ø Gannett: “Low-Ranking Obama Front-And-Center On Immigration.” In an article entitled, “Low Ranking Obama Front-And-Center On Immigration, Gannett News Service reported, “When the president sat down with eight senators to strategize about immigration last week, the group represented the Senate’s elite on the issue. Among them were the top Democratic and Republican leaders, those from border states, two Hispanics and those with a history of involvement with immigration legislation. And then, there was Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois’ junior senator, who ranks 98 out of 100 in seniority in the Senate. He is not on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee where immigration legislation originated and the state he represents is closer to the Canadian border than the deserts of Mexico…Alejandro Lugo, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois who studies border issues, says Obama’s recognition of a border control problem coupled with a practical solution will play well if people are paying attention.” [Gannett News Service, 5/1/06]


2008: Obama Worked With Bond On Proposals Providing Improvements In Health Care For Recovering Soldiers Which Were Passed Into Law, Including Requirements For Post-Deployment Mental Health Screenings And National Study On The Needs Of Iraq War Veterans. H.R. 976, passed by the Senate on August 2, 2007, includes several provisions from bills originally sponsored by Senators Obama and McCaskill. The provisions would improve health care services and health care tracking for service members, and would require post-deployment, face to face mental health screenings for returning service members within 30 days. The bill also adopts other Obama-McCaskill legislation, the HERO Act, which would launch a major national research endeavor into the readjustment needs of returning service members, veterans and their families. The bill also included measures to improve and reform the disability rating process. [Vote 307, H.R. 976, Passed, 68-31, 8/2/07; S. 713, 110th Congress; S. 1271, 110th Congress; Obama Press Release, 7/25/07; H.R. 4986, Became Public Law No: 110-18, 1/28/08, Press Release, 1/29/08]

Obama Worked With Bond On Legislation, Some Of Which Became Law, Improving Standards For Military Medical Treatment Facilities And Requiring Annual Reports On Conditions Of Military Medical Care Facilities Passed Into Law. In 2008, Obama passed several provisions into law that would improve standards at military medical care facilities. The new law would require the Secretary of Defense to establish a set of standards for military medical care facilities and oversee compliance with those standards by a specific deadline. Finally, the new law would require an annual report to Congress on the conditions of those facilities. [S. 713, 110th Congress; S. 1271, 110th Congress; Obama Press Release, 7/25/07; H.R. 4986, Became Public Law No: 110-18, 1/28/08, Press Release, 1/29/08]

Obama Worked With Republicans To Pass Legislation, Which Became Law, Improving And Increasing Services For Homeless Veterans. In 2006, Congress passed a Veterans Affairs Committee bill which included several provisions originating in Obama’s SAVE Act (S. 1180) and Homes for Heroes Act (S. 3475). “The legislation…includes a number of proposals from legislation Senator Obama had previously introduced (S.1180, the SAVE Act and S.3475 the Homes for Heroes Act) to expand and improve services for homeless veterans. The bill permanently authorizes and increases funding to $130 million per year for a competitive grant program to provide homeless services to veterans. It greatly increases a successful program to provide rental vouchers to homeless veterans. The legislation extends programs to providing treatment for veterans with mental illnesses and other special needs. And it permanently extends VA’s ability to transfer property it owns to homeless shelters.” Obama worked with VA Committee Republicans Craig and Burr on the committee legislation that eventually became law. [S. 3421/P.L. 109-461; S. 1180, 109th Congress; S. 3475, 109th Congress; Obama Press Release, 6/26/06]


Obama Passed 161 Bills, 151 Of Which Became Law, In Six Years As A Member Of The Minority Party In The Illinois State Senate. In the 90th GA, Obama sponsored 35 bills that became law, and 2 that were vetoed. In the 91st GA, Obama sponsored 44 bills that became law, and 4 that were vetoed. In the 92nd GA, Obama sponsored 72 bills that became law, and 4 that were vetoed. [90th GA, 91st GA, 92nd GA Sponsored Abbreviated Reports, Accessed 4/2/07]

Ø Obama Passed 167 Bill, 162 Of Which Became Law, In Two Years As A Member of The Majority Party In The Illinois State Senate. In the 93rd GA, Obama passed 167 bills that become law, and 5 that were vetoed. For the first time in his career in the state legislature, the Democrats controlled the Senate and Governor’s Mansion. [93rd GA, Sponsor Legislation Listing For Barack Obama, Accessed 4/2/07]


Obama Passed A Bill Creating $100 Million Earned Income Tax Credit As A Member Of The Minority Party In The Illinois Senate. In 1999, Obama was the lead sponsor of a bill making Illinois the 11th state to adopt an earned income-tax credit. The bill provided that each individual taxpayer is entitled to a credit against the tax imposed by the Act in an amount equal to 5% of the federal earned income tax credit allowed. Then-Gov. George Ryan opposed the move, but an unlikely political alliance – including Republicans and Democrats – formed to reduce the tax burden on working poor families. The AP wrote, “The new law, which offers about $105 million in tax breaks over the next three years, gives a state income tax credit equal to 5 percent of a similar federal tax credit. For the average working family making less than $30,580, that amounts to about $55 a year, or 15 cents a day. The maximum credit for families with two or more children is $191 a year.” [91st GA, HB 3939; 4/14/00, 3R P; 59-0-0; P.A. 91-0700, 5/11/00; Chicago Tribune, 4/10/99]

Ø Chicago Tribune Cited Obama’s EITC Work In their Endorsement. The Chicago Tribune, in endorsing Obama, wrote, “He played a key role in welfare reform legislation and the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, a boost for the working poor.” Similarly, the Hyde Park Citizen wrote, “Obama also received much deserved credit for getting the Earned Income Tax Credit – which supplied more than 100 million in tax cuts to working families – enacted.” [Chicago Tribune, 2/29/04; Hyde Park Citizen, 3/10/04]


Obama Passed A Bill To Double Charter Schools In Chicago; The Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. In 2003, Obama was the co-sponsor of collective bargaining bill requiring Chicago Board of Education to enter into a partnership agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union regarding advancing student achievement and “authorizing an increase in the number of Chicago charter schools to 30 from 15.” [Chicago Defender, 4/9/03; 93rd GA, SB 0019, 2/6/3, 3R P; 55-0-0, PA 93-0003, 4/16/03]

Ø Chicago Sun-Times: Obama ‘Has Demonstrated An Ability To Forge Partnerships Across Party Lines,’ Citing Specifically Charter School Expansion. In an editorial, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Obama has demonstrated an ability to forge partnerships across party lines by enacting key legislation, such as bringing together the Chicago Board of Education, the Chicago Teacher’s Union and school choice advocates to expand charter schools and increase accountability for all school districts.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/27/04]

Obama Passed A Bill To Grant In-State Tuition For Non-Citizens; The Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. Obama was the alternate co-sponsor of bill to grant in-state tuition for non-citizens. Certain conditions must be met, including: (1) the student has resided with his/her parent while attending high school; (2) graduated from public or private high school or received a GED; (3) attended school in Ill. for at least 3 years as of the date they graduated or received GED, and (4) provides an affidavit stating that he/she will file an application to become a permanent resident of the U.S. at the earliest opportunity. [93rd GA; HB 0060; 5/7/03, 3R P 55-1-1; Signed into law 5/20/03, PA 93-0007]

Ø Chicago Daily Herald: In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants ‘Logical.’ The Daily Herald wrote, “Many of the young people who will benefit from in-state tuition have lived in our communities for most of their lives. The law requires three years of Illinois residency and graduation from an Illinois high school to qualify for in-state tuition. While one could argue for a slightly longer time requirement, the fact is that many of those now eligible for in-state tuition were brought to Illinois by their parents when they were in elementary school or even younger – far too young to understand the implications of illegal entry into the country, let alone to make that choice for themselves. Many of these young people grew up here; they attended our public schools and participated in extracurricular activities, even as their parents worked and paid taxes in various forms. The United States is and has long been their home, and Illinois has long been their home state. Many have been high-achieving students and exemplary residents, if not, strictly speaking, citizens. We think it logical that they be granted in-state tuition. We hope that many of those who use the in-state tuition will also pursue citizenship. Again, while there are many ways in which the nation must re- gain control of its borders, denying in-state tuition to those who have grown up here does not strike us as a means to accomplish that.” [Chicago Daily Herald, Editorial, 5/20/03]

Obama Passed A Bill To Expand Community Technology Centers; The Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. Obama was the chief co-sponsor of House bill creating the Eliminate the Digital Divide Law, establishing a Community Technology Center Grant Program to be administered by the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. The Program would authorize the making of grants for the planning, establishment, administration and expansion of community technology centers. Obama said, “Our kids must be ready for the jobs of the future, which are going to be in high-technology industries.” [91st GA, HB 4374, 2000, Signed into law 5/17/00, PA 91-0704; Chicago Citizen, 12/2/99]


Obama Passed Illinois State Gift Ban Act “Heralded As the Most Sweeping Good-Government Legislation in Decades.” In 1998, Obama passed the Illinois Gift Ban that prohibited legislators, state officers
and employees, and judges from soliciting or receiving gifts from a person or entity with interests affected by government. The Chicago Tribune wrote, “Gov. Jim Edgar signed into law Wednesday an ethics and campaign finance package heralded as the most sweeping good-government legislation in decades.” The law also required greater campaign finance disclosure and limited the uses for which raised money could be spent. Obama said, “I have seen a general cynicism from taxpayers about government. They believe they have no influence on the process since they don’t have the money of special interest groups. With the gift ban and the ban on Springfield fund-raisers that are contained in this legislation, I think at least some of this confidence will be restored.” [HB672, 3R P 52-4-1, 5/22/98; PA 90-0737, 8/12/98; Chicago Tribune, 8/13/98; Chicago Independent Bulletin, 6/4/98]

Ø Illinois Ethics Bill Most Far Reaching Since Watergate, Product Of Bipartisan Work. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote of Obama’s bill, “The ethics restrictions would be the most far-reaching since the Watergate-era campaign financial disclosure law. They are the product of months of negotiations among two lawmakers of each party, other state officials and Mike Lawrence. He is an aide to former Sen. Paul Simon, a Democrat, and used to be an aide to Edgar, a Republican.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/24/98]

Ø Illinois Campaign for Political Reform: Sponsors Of Ethics Legislation “To Be Strongly Commended” For “Landmark Legislation.” The leaders of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform wrote, “The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform applauds the Illinois legislature for passing the bipartisan campaign finance and ethics package. The bill currently awaits Gov. Jim Edgar’s signature. Shepherded by former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Mike Lawrence of Southern Illinois University’s Institute for Public Policy, the bill’s sponsors, state Sens. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Barack Obama (DChicago), and state Reps. Gary Hannig (D-Litchfield) and Jack Kubik (R-La Grange Park), made campaign finance reform in Illinois a reality by forging areas of common ground. With the support of legislative leaders, both parties and houses moved beyond their differences to pass this landmark legislation. All are to be strongly commended.” [Chicago Tribune, 6/20/98]


Obama Passed A Bill To Create Hospital Report Cards To Assist Consumers; The Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. Obama was the chief sponsor of Hospital Report Card Act, a bill that provides specific requirements for staffing levels for nurses to ensure that the number of nurses is consistent with the types of nursing care needed by the patients and the capabilities of the staff. The bill also provides requirements for orientation, training of hospital staff, whistleblower protection and requires hospitals to prepare a quarterly report detailing specified information as a condition of licensure. [93rd GA; SB 0059, 2003; 3/19/03, 3R P 55-0-1; Signed into law 8/20/03, PA 93-0563]

Ø Obama Said Report Card Would Help Consumers Make Informed Decisions About Care. Obama said that the Hospital Report Card would present information to consumers to inform their choices on health care decisions. Obama said, “If I want to go eat out in a restaurant, I can go online and find out details about the number and type of health code violations a restaurant has been cited for…But if I need to go into a hospital for open-heart surgery, I can’t find out what the surgical infection rate has been for heart surgeries in that hospital. I’d say a lot more is at stake when I go in for surgery than when I go out to dinner…I think it’s going to be very hard to argue against this Bill…Because, essentially, at this stage, all we are saying is that we need a consumer report for hospitals in this state.” [Pantagraph, 1/10/03]

Obama Passed IL Mental Health Parity Law; Members Of Both Parties Sponsored The Bill. Obama co-sponsored and voted for mental health parity bill that requires coverage for serious mental illnesses to be provided on the same terms and conditions as are applicable to other illnesses and diseases. [92nd GA; SB 1341; 4/5/01, 3R P 51-0-6; Signed into law 7/27/01, PA 92-0185]


Obama Passed A Bill To Reduce MTBE Pollution; Members Of Both Parties Sponsored The Bill. In 2001, Obama co-sponsored and voted for House bill creating the MTBE Elimination Act, which provides that no person shall use, sell, offer for sale blend, distribute or manufacture MTBE as a fuel additive in Illinois. “The MTBE Elimination Act, House Bill 171, states that the General Assembly finds that MTBE ‘presents substantial environmental risks to the water quality in Illinois,’ as well as to the health of Illinois’ residents. The fuel additive has been shown to contaminate ground water in several states and is the main competitor to ethanol as a way to comply with the oxygenated fuel requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. Illinois is the largest consumer and producer of ethanol, which is made from corn.” [92nd GA; HB 0171; 5/2/01, 3R P 56-1-0; Signed into law 7/24/01, PA 92-0132; State Journal Register, 2/22/01]


Obama Passed Near-Unanimous Death Penalty Overhaul Package. Obama was the chief co-sponsor and voted for bill creating the Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee Act. The proposal, which was approved on a 57-1 vote, was virtually identical to reforms pushed in 2002 by then-Gov. George Ryan. If passed by the House and signed into law by the governor, the bill would let judges rule out a death sentence for someone convicted solely on the testimony of a jailhouse informant, accomplice or single witness; let the state Supreme Court overturn a death sentence that was “fundamentally unjust.; Reduce the crimes eligible for the death penalty by focusing on “inherently violent” offenses; Expand defendants’ access to genetic evidence used against them; Ban police officers from the police force if they committed perjury in a murder case; and Require juries to consider a defendant’s history of abuse or mental illness when deciding whether to impose the death sentence. Obama said, “As far as the Bill goes, it doesn’t address whether the death penalty is applied fairly to all races and in all regions of the state. And it doesn’t appease those who want capital punishment eliminated.” [93rd GA, SB 0472; 4/3/03, 3R P; 57-1-0; 5/29/03, HA1 SC; 56-3-0; 11/5/03, OAV P; 58-0-0; P.A. 93-0605, 11/25/03; Pantagraph, 4/4/03; Associated Press, 4/24/03]

Ø Chicago Tribune: “State Legislators Should Take A Bow” On Death Penalty Reform. The Chicago Tribune wrote in an editorial, “These bills are far from perfect. Even with their passage there will be work left to do on repairing the state’s flawed death penalty. These bills alone will not necessarily provide a green light to lift the moratorium on executions…Considering how bleak the prospects for criminal justice reform were just months ago, state legislators should take a bow. They have set in motion a series of laws that are destined to become a model for other states.” [Chicago Tribune, 3/23/03]

· Obama Passed A Bill To Ensure Lawyers For Poor Defendants Subject To Death Penalty. Obama was the chief co-sponsor of bill providing that if an indigent defendant is charged with an offense for which a sentence of death is authorized, and it is unclear whether the State’s Attorney will seek the death penalty, the trial court shall immediately appoint a Public Defender or other qualified attorney to represent the defendant. [91st GA, SB 0574, 3/25/99, 3R P; 58-0-0; 5/21/99; HA1 + HA3 SC; 59-0-0; P.A. 91-0589, 8/14/99]

Obama Sponsored Bill Criminalizing Discrimination In Employment And Housing Based On Sexual Orientation. Obama co-sponsored a bill amending the Human Rights Act to make discrimination unlawful in employment and housing based on sexual orientation. [93rd GA; SB 101; 2003; Fiscal Note Filed from the Dept. of Human Rights, 11/18/03; 93rd GA; BO Obama was the chief co-sponsor SB 2597; 2004; Referred to Rules 2/4/04, Co-sponsor added 3/25/04; 92nd GA; HB 101; 2000; Session Sine Die 1/7/03; 90th GA; SB 0847; 1997; Session Sine Die 1/12/99; 93rd GA; BO Obama was the chief co-sponsor SB 2597; 2004; Referred to Rules 2/4/04, Co-sponsor added 3/25/04; 92nd G.A., HB1039, 5/16/01, 3R, P; 55-2-0]


Obama Passed A Bill To Require Law Enforcement To Best Determine Prior Ownership Of A Recovered Firearm. Obama was the chief co-sponsor and voted for the House bill providing that upon recovering a firearm that was lost, mislaid or stolen, or used in the commission of any offense, local law enforcement will used the best available information to determine prior ownership of the firearm. [92nd GA; HB 3262; 5/16/01, 3R P; 57-0; PA 92-0300, 8/9/01]

Obama Passed A Bill To Determine If Person Gained Firearm Legally, Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. Obama was the chief co-sponsor and voted for House bill providing that law enforcement shall use the best available information, including a firearms trace, to determine how and from whom a person who is not permitted by federal or State law to possess a firearm gained possession. [91st GA; HB 0076; 5/7/99, 3R P; 57-0; PA 91-0364, 7/30/99]

Obama Passed A Bill To Trace Illegal Possession To Rightful Owner, Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. Obama was the chief co-sponsor of bill providing that local law enforcement that recovers a firearm from a person under 21 who is not authorized to possess the firearm shall trace where the person obtained the firearm. [90th GA; SB 0550; 3/17/97, 3R P; 55-0; PA 90-0137, 7/22/97]

Obama Passed A Bill To Increase Penalties For Gunrunning, Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties. Obama was the chief co-sponsor of bill providing that a person convicted of gunrunning is ineligible for probation, periodic imprisonment or conditional discharge. [90th GA; SB 1249; 4/1/98, 3R P; 57-0; PA 90-0680, 7/31/98]


Obama Passed Bill For Racial Profiling Law In Illinois, Was Praised For His Fight. Obama was the chief sponsor and voted for racial profiling Bill that requires law enforcement to record the race, age, and gender of all drivers they stop for traffic violations, to be analyzed by IDOT for evidence of racial profiling and then sent to the Governor. Bill also incorporated the racial and ethnic sensitivity training for all law enforcement personnel. The Chicago Defender wrote, “The African-American community should be proud of Obama and Rev. Paul Jakes, pastor of the West Side’s Old Saint Paul Church, for their fight to end racial profiling…State Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago) led the fight in Springfield for passage of the Bill, which among other things will identify arrests and stops of minority citizens in mostly white neighborhoods.” [93rd GA, SB 0030; 4/3/03, 3R P; 58-0-0; P.A. 93-0209, 7/18/03; 93rd GA, HB 0361, 4/3/03, 3R P; 58-0-0; House Total Veto Stands, 11/6/03; Chicago Defender, 1/8/04]

Obama Passed A Bill To Identify Hate Crimes, Add ‘Conspiracy Against Civil Rights’ To List Of Hate Crimes. Obama was the chief co-sponsor and voted for House bill creating identifying classes of felonies for the commission of a hate crime. The bill also creates the offense of conspiracy against civil rights, when a person, with the intent to interfere with the free exercise of a right or privilege secured to the person by the United States Constitution agrees with another to inflict physical harm on any person or of threat and either the accused or a co-conspirator has committed any act in furtherance of that agreement. The Chicago Tribune wrote, “The Illinois Senate on Tuesday approved a measure that would allow prosecution of leaders who inspire others to commit hate crimes. The measure was inspired by the 1999 shooting spree of Benjamin Smith, who prosecutors said was motivated to kill blacks, Asians and Jews by self-styled white supremacist leader Matthew Hale.” [92nd GA; HB 0136; 3R P, 51-0, 5/7/02; PA 92-0830, 8/22/02; Chicago Tribune, 5/8/02]

Obama Passed Law To Require Videotaped Interrogations. Crafted from one of the findings of the Death Penalty Moratorium Commission of former Gov. Ryan, Obama was the chief sponsor and voted for a bill requiring the electronic recording of all homicide interrogations, conducts a police officer training program, and provides grants to local law enforcement agencies for the purchase of necessary equipment. A Chicago Tribune Editorial said, “Never underestimate the power of a good idea. Around the country, an impressive number of police chiefs and political leaders are warming to proposals to require the videotaping of police interrogations – a measure almost guaranteed to reduce the number of false confessions…. Making a record that proves the confession was not coerced would go far toward reducing this shameful roster…The sponsor, Sen. Barack Obama, has made serious efforts in recent weeks to meet with the state’s major law enforcement groups and accommodate most of their concerns…. This isn’t really about money, though. It’s about old, entrenched institutions resisting change. Let’s hope the Illinois Senate does not turn out to be one of them.” Obama said, “I think the videotaping of interrogations and confessions is both a tool for protecting the innocent as well as a tool for convicting the guilty.” [93rd GA, SB 0015, 4/3/03, 3R P; 58-0-0; P.A. 93-0517, 8/12/03; 93rd GA, HB 0223, 5/15/03, 3R P; 58-0-0; P.A. 93-0206, 7/18/03; Chicago Tribune, 3/4/03; Chicago Tribune, 7/18/03]


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