Last Saturday night, I appeared on the Justice with Jeanine Pirro show on Fox. It was maybe my 30th appearance representing liberals and it was my worst. I was terrible. Judge Pirro asked me a question that I didn’t know was coming: What specifically did Hillary Clinton actually accomplish in the Senate for women? I had prepared for a dozen topics, but not this one. In this situation, you’re supposed to pivot and shimmy, but I didn’t. I stammered. I blinked. If you’ve ever fallen apart on live, national TV, you know it does two things: keeps you awake and validates the trolls.  More importantly, my terrible four minutes bolstered the opinion held by Pirro’s viewers that Hillary Clinton has achieved nothing.  

The argument lobbed at me on Saturday night was simple: Hillary Clinton’s name appears on just three laws, each of which are akin to renaming a post office after a famous person; therefore, she accomplished nothing as a Senator. Unfortunately, even afterwards, I couldn’t come up with that perfect answer that you always get when the argument is over. So, I decided to answer, for myself, what Hillary Clinton did in the Senate. I spent the last few days in a deep dive through Hillary Clinton’s actual legislative record in the Senate.

HIllary in the SenateHere’s the bottom line: She accomplished an enormous amount, for women and for men, boys and girls. She worked on real problems, applied real solutions and got real results. I was stunned by the breadth of her proposals and achievements. Below are some of the things she worked on, led on and pushed on that made it into law.

The Problem: Drug companies refused to test drugs on kids, making for dangerous situations. Kids died or had dangerous reactions to drugs made for adults but dosed to children.
The Fix: Empower the FDA to compel drug companies to do drug tests for kids before prescribing them to kids.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton co-authored and introduced the bill.
The Result: The Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003 became law (PL 108-155).
Continuity Alert: This extended work done in the Clinton administration, which established the push to get drug companies to test – carefully – drugs prescribed for children on children before rolling out to the market.
Bipartisan Alert: The bill was signed into law by Republican president George W. Bush.


The Problem: Lilly Ledbetter worked for 19 years in a tire plant without realizing she earned 30% less than men doing the same job. She sued for wage discrimination immediately after she learned about it. The law – Title VII – gave her 180 days to sue. Prior to Ledbetter’s case, that meant she had 180 days after she discovered the salary discrepancy to sue. But, the conservatives on the Supreme Court changed that to mean she had to sue within 180 days after her salary was determined, which was years before she learned about the discrimination. She lost. More importantly, this would have made it practically impossible to fight wage discrimination.
The Fix: Amend Title VII to clarify that everyone has 180 days after discovery of the discrimination to sue.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton was an original co-sponsor of the law. She also told Lilly Ledbetter’s story on the trail during the 2008 campaign, publicizing the need for change.
The Result: The Lilly Ledbetter Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton standing over his right shoulder.


The Problem: Women make less money than men for the same jobs.
The Fix: Make it easier for women to discover and remedy when they get paid less than men for the same jobs.
Her Work: She was the lead sponsor on the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005 and 2006.
The Result: Adoption of methods for women to discover and remedy unequal pay were adopted by President Obama in an April 2014 Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages. Republicans have repeatedly blocked attempts to get these reforms into statute.


The Problem: People who care for family members with severe physical and mental disabilities suffer emotional, physical and financial hardships, particularly without support. This is largely a burden that falls on women and the burden is heavy.
The Fix: Create and fund caregiver respite programs around the country.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton wrote a law to distribute grants to states to pay for home healthcare training to alleviate the burdens on family caregivers. She introduced that law every year until passage.
The Result: The Lifespan Respite Care Act finally became law in 2006.
Bipartisan Alert: Final bill was sponsored with John Warner Republican Senator from Virginia and was signed into law by George W. Bush.


The Problem: Families of veterans disabled in battle need to care for their loved ones, but were not guaranteed time off; and families of deployed soldiers need extra time to pick up the slack caring for their families.
The Fix: Extend family medical leave rights for families of deployed soldiers and disabled veterans.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton co-sponsored, co-authored and held hearings in support of the bill to extend family medical leave rights to families of deployed and disabled veterans.
The Result: In 2008, the The Support for Injured Servicemembers Act became law.
Continuity Alert: Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1993.
Bipartisan Alert: The bill was signed into law by Republican president George W. Bush.


The Problem: 40% of the American forces serving in Iraq came from the military reserves and National Guard. But, as soon as their deployment ended, they would no longer qualify for military health insurance.
The Fix: Give national guard and reservists access to the military’s Tricare health system.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton wrote language to extend health insurance coverage saying “it’s one of those issues we hear about on a weekly basis.”
The Result: Health insurance coverage for non-deployed military reservists and National Guard members was signed into law ( PL 108-375).
Bipartisan Alert: She worked with Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina, on this project.


The Problem: Some assholes crashed two planes into the twin towers.
The Fix: Rebuild.
Her Work: She and Senator Charles Schumer secured $21 billion in appropriations to fund the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex.
The Result: The center point of the site is rebuilt.
Bipartisan Alert: The bill was signed into law by Republican president George W. Bush.


The Problem: Hundreds of first responders worked at Ground Zero, recovering bodies and cleaning up rubble. The government said that the air quality was safe and failed to supply people with adequate safety equipment.  Many of those first responders became sick with a variety of illnesses, particularly related to their lungs.
The Fix: Monitor the health of first responders and workers, take steps to clean up the air and pay for the health care of all those people affected.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton was a hero:

  • In 2001, she got $12 million included in the 2002 Defense Appropriations Act to track the health of the 9/11 first responders.
  • In early 2002, she pushed for hearings to study the health of 9/11 workers. From the New York Times:

She said she is particularly concerned about reports of firefighters and others who work at the site who have begun to suffer respiratory ailments, and about discrepancies between the reports from the Environmental Protection Agency and independent investigators who have monitored toxic substances in the air downtown.

  • She demanded of the Bush Administration to find and implement solutions to health and air quality.
  • She introduced legislation to fund health care benefits for Ground Zero workers.
The Result: She got results:

  • A law providing for health insurance benefits was finally passed in 2010 by her successor, Kirsten Gillibrand. 
  • In 2004, first responders held an event to commemorate Hillary Clinton’s work. Senator Clinton, thank you very much, if you decide to throw your hat in the ring to run for the other office, you have my support,” said Chuck Capo, head of EMS local 3621.
  • The doctors who monitored the workers’ health credited Clinton with steering $12-million to a Centers for Disease Control program for that work.


The Problem: The government predicted that the country would face a teacher shortage of 2.2 million people by 2011.
The Fix: Prescribe and fund the recruitment and training of teachers around the country to make up the shortfall.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton authored a bill on teacher recruitment and training.
The Result: Result: Became part of the law under No Child Left Behind (PL 107-110).
Bipartisan Alert: Signed into law by Republican president George W. Bush.


The Problem: The country was running out of flu vaccines because of production problems in the UK.
The Fix: Require the government to: (1) create and implement plan for buying and stockpiling flu vaccines; and (2) require manufacturers of vaccines to provide at least one-year notice of a discontinuance of the manufacture of a vaccine.
Her Work: Hillary Clinton co-authoried the bill and was the co-sponsor.
The Result: The bill was eventually folded into another bill, The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which became law PL 109-417
Bipartisan Alert: The sponsor was Senator Mike DeWine, Republican from Ohio. The bill was signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush

Let me be clear. In the Illinois primary, I voted for Bernie Sanders. Though I admired Hillary Clinton, some things she has done or said or failed to do made me suspicious: her vote for the bankruptcy “reform” bill; her support for Libyan regime change; her praise of Nancy Reagan’s HIV/AIDS record; her inability to seduce the electorate.

But, now I’ve seen the slow boring of hard boards evident in the 635 bills she sponsored (not to mention the 2,441 bills she co-sponsored).  Her bills were proposals – arguments – that were progressive, sensible and intriguing. The ones that haven’t become law yet are just as terrific as the ones that did. For example: bills to create and fund rural entrepreneurship programs, rural broadband installation, urban startup incubators, food stamp benefit expansion and testing of the obscene backlog of rape kits. That was not the legislative record of a neophyte, of a corrupt toady, of a tribeswoman or a sociopath.

She not only pitched well-developed proposals, she collaborated to give them life. Her work was good and noble and obviously grounded in a preference to help people rather than weaponize elites. Consider what she got into law: taking care of soldiers and their families; demanding the truth about the dangerous air at Ground Zero and how it would affect people; sending support for a mother caring for a disabled child; busting through a new wall built to separate women from justice for wage discrimination; and forcing drug companies to protect kids from medicine not made for their bodies.

Senator Clinton’s roster of proposals shows us someone totally different than the craven hostage of big business of the left or the rabid, flighty diva of the right. Her legislative work reveals someone dogged, smart, concerned and humane; ambitious for success as a maker of policyViewed through a prism of history, Hillary Clinton’s legislative record reveals a woman who has trawled through the gloopy sludge of defamation – for 25 years – still devoted to making life better for people she may never meet, who may pray for her demise or her incarceration, who may curse her name and will her ill, but whom she sees and works to help. Now, having done some homework, I see a president.

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