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On the July 8 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor William Kristol falsely claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "hasn't passed any legislation" and added that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "hasn't either." In fact, Clinton and Obama have both been instrumental in the passage of legislation during the time they have served in the Senate, including legislation on which they were the lead sponsors.
For example, on his presidential campaign website, Obama describes the legislation he "wrote and passed" to promote stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the country's competitive national elections there in 2006. From Obama's website:
Ending the Conflict in Congo
An estimated 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began. Nearly 80 percent of Congo's 56 million people live in extreme poverty and more than 70 percent are undernourished. The United Nations has its largest peacekeeping force in the world in the Congo, and in the summer of 2006, the country held competitive national elections for the first time in more than 40 years.
Senator Obama wrote and passed legislation to build on this historic election and promote stability in the country. Senator Obama revamped U.S. policy in the Congo to include a commitment to help rebuild the country, develop lasting political structures, hold accountable destabilizing foreign governments, crack down on corrupt politicians, and professionalize the military. The bill also authorizes $52 million in U.S. assistance for the Congo, calls for a Special U.S. Envoy to resolve ongoing violence, and urges the administration to strengthen the U.N. peacekeeping force.
"It was a source of considerable encouragement to learn that the Congo Bill which (Senator Obama) graciously initiated and sponsored was recently passed and signed into law (S.2125). This is an important and most welcome development for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at this critical juncture of its history."
- William Lacy Swing, U.N. Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Indeed, Obama was the primary sponsor of this legislation (S.2125) that passed Congress on December 8, 2006, and became law on December 22, 2006. In a June 25 column for The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof wrote that Obama was "among the few prominent American politicians who have focused on the war here [in the Congo]."
Among the legislative accomplishments listed on Clinton's presidential campaign website is "her work to ensure the safety of prescription drugs for children, with legislation now included in the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act" -- a reference to her work on the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003 (S. 650), which, according to her Senate website, "gives the FDA the authority to ensure that drugs marketed to pediatric populations have first been tested on children." The legislation became law on December 3, 2003.
Upon the bill's passage, The Post-Standard of Syracuse, New York, published an editorial titled "Clinton helps remedy a threat to sick children." From the November 24, 2003, editorial:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has won a victory for children with passage of a bill that will ensure that drugs are safe and effective for kids to take.
Incredibly, it took an act of Congress to guarantee that drugs widely used by children will be studied, tested and labeled for safety and efficacy. The Pediatric Research Equity Act passed the House last week after previously winning approval in the Senate.
When Clinton's husband was president, the Food and Drug Administration adopted a "Pediatric Rule" in 1998 that required drug manufacturers to provide guidelines for the safe use of their products by children. The FDA in March 2002 announced it would suspend enforcement of the rule. The agency later reversed its decision, but a court blocked the rule in October 2002 because Congress had not authorized the FDA to enforce it.
So Senator Clinton and other advocates for childrens' health introduced legislation this year that should give parents the peace of mind they deserve.
The Post-Standard reported on December 18, 2003, that "[Dr. Richard] Gordon [chair of the Committee on Drugs for the American Academy of Pediatrics] praised the bipartisan effort in Congress, and Clinton's work in particular, for moving quickly to pass the bill after the court set aside the regulation."
In a July 23, 2003, floor statement, then-Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), who was the lead sponsor on the bill, said: "I would like to thank [then-]Majority Leader [Bill] Frist [R-TN] and Senators Clinton, [Chris] Dodd [D-CT], [Judd] Gregg [R-NH], [Edward M.] Kennedy [D-MA], and [Patty] Murray [D-WA] for their leadership on this issue. Without their support, this bill would not be a reality."
In her July 23 floor statement, Clinton said: "Senators DeWine and Dodd and I now have worked on pediatric research for many years, and we will continue to be around to work on behalf of children, who, without dedicated advocates like Senators DeWine and Dodd, would not have a political voice."
Clinton continued: "This bill was the product of compromise. We all worked hard and made concessions on all sides to craft the language the Senate was able to pass today. Some of us would have preferred a strong, permanent assurance for children, and not a sunset of these crucial protections in 2007. Indeed, because the purpose of this legislation was to address the uncertainty caused by the court-triggered lapse of pediatric studies, not codify such a lapse into statute, I cannot support the sunset provision."
On March 27, 2007, Clinton introduced legislation that would make permanent the "Pediatric Rule."
Since Clinton took office in 2001, she has sponsored two bills that have become law and co-sponsored 49 bills that have become law, according to the THOMAS database. According to the same database, Obama, who took office in 2005, has sponsored one bill that has become law and co-sponsored 13 bills that have become law.
From the July 8 edition of Fox's Fox News Sunday:
FRED BARNES (executive editor of The Weekly Standard): You know, when you look back over the presidential elections of the last 50 years or so, you realize how little the voters care about experience. I mean, they elected George Bush. I mean, his idea of -- he said he was a foreign -- experienced in foreign policy because Texas had a relationship with Mexico. I don't think that convinced anybody.
And Bill Clinton -- was he experienced? Was Ronald Reagan -- was he experienced in foreign policy and national politics? Was Jimmy Carter? No, people don't care much.
I think this -- the notion that people are going to vote in the Democratic primaries for Hillary over Obama on the basis of experience -- it's just not empirically provable.
MARA LIASSON (NPR national political correspondent): Well, first of all, I do think experience is a big factor. And I think since 9-11, things have changed.
BRIT HUME (Fox News Washington bureau managing editor and host of Special Report): In primary voting?
LIASSON: I think so. I mean, they -- well, they want somebody who can win. If they think that because she's experienced, she has a better chance of win -- of prevailing in the general election, that could help her. I do think, though, that after 9-11, experience in foreign policy became more important. I don't know if George W. Bush could have been elected after 9-11.
KRISTOL: And what exactly is her extensive experience in foreign policy or in anything? She's been a senator for six years. Obama's been a senator for two years. So, I mean, big deal.
She hasn't passed any legislation. He hasn't either. She sat in the White House while her husband was president.
JUAN WILLIAMS (NPR senior correspondent): Literally. She was in the White House.
KRISTOL: Well, big deal.
WILLIAMS: All right.
KRISTOL: Let's nominate Laura Bush. I mean, it's ridiculous.
WILLIAMS: Well, no, no. It's different. She's run and won a Senate seat from a huge state -- New York state.