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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Clinton’s Bipartisan Bluster

Former Sen. Hillary Clinton said she did not know of “a single Republican who didn’t cosponsor one of the bills that I worked on.” Actually, our analysis shows 14 of the 70 GOP senators who served with Clinton didn’t cosponsor any of her bills.

Clinton made her bipartisan boast on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Feb. 1, the day of the Iowa caucus. She was responding remotely to a question from a young man in Iowa, who was selected by ABC’s Jonathan Karl to ask Clinton a question.

The young man asked Clinton how she is going to work with “a very partisan Congress” if she should become president. She spoke of her time as senator from New York, singling out her work with Sen. Lindsey Graham before going on to include all Republican senators as cosponsors of her bills (at the 3:55 mark).

Clinton, Feb. 1: I don’t know that there was a single Republican who didn’t cosponsor one of the bills that I worked on.

Did every Republican senator at some point in her eight years in the Senate cosponsor at least one of her bills? No.

Clinton served as a senator from New York for eight years, from Jan. 3, 2001, to Jan. 21, 2009. During that time, Clinton sponsored 363 bills, according to GovTrack, a nonpartisan site that tracks federal legislation. Also using GovTrack, we were able to identify 56 different Republican senators who were cosponsors of Clinton’s bills.

How many GOP senators did Clinton serve with? To answer that, we went to the official congressional biographical directory and identified all Republican senators who served from Jan. 3, 2001, to Jan. 21, 2009, when Clinton was in office.

We found that Clinton served with 70 Republican senators over eight years, so that means that 14 of them did not sponsor any of her bills.

Those who did not cosponsor a single Clinton bill: Sens. John Barrasso, Jim Bunning, Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, William Frist, Phil Gramm, Tim Hutchinson, Jon Kyl, James Risch, Craig Thomas, Fred Thompson and Strom Thurmond.

The 70 senators include two freshmen — Risch and Mike Johanns — in the 111th Congress who barely served with Clinton before she left to join the Obama administration as secretary of state. Johanns did cosponsor one of the two bills Clinton introduced in the 111th Congress.

If we exclude Johanns and Risch, then Clinton served with 68 GOP senators over four full congressional sessions (the 107th, 108th, 109th and 110th sessions), and 13 Republicans did not cosponsor a Clinton bill.

Either way, about 20 percent — or 1 in 5 Republicans — did not cosponsor a Clinton bill.

A deeper look at the numbers shows that 12 GOP senators each cosponsored just one Clinton bill, meaning 44 of 70 Republicans cosponsored more than one of her bills.

And three of the 12 joined on legislation that was more ceremonial than substantive: Sen. Trent Lott cosponsored her bill awarding a congressional gold medal, and Sens. John Thune and Roger Wicker cosponsored stamp bills honoring veterans who earned a Purple Heart.

So, bipartisanship only went so far when measured by cosponsors.

Clinton did have some regular Republican partners in the Senate, mostly moderates from the northeast. Her two most frequent GOP cosponsors were the Maine senators, Sen. Susan Collins (28 bills) and Olympia Snowe (22 bills). Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who switched to the Democratic Party in April 2009 after Clinton left the Senate, cosponsored 17 bills.

But those three senators were among the minority. In all, only seven of the 70 Republicans cosponsored 10 or more Clinton bills during her eight years in the Senate.