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The United States Senate career of Barack Obama began on January 3, 2005, and ended on November 16, 2008.[1] He resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate upon being elected President of the United States. Obama won the seat in an election against Alan Keyes who replaced Republican Primary election winner Jack Ryan.

Prior to his election but after Ryan withdrew from the race, he rose to national prominence by delivering the 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address. Upon his election, he became the fifth African-American Senator in U.S. history, the third to have been popularly elected.

As a Senator, he served on a variety of committees and chaired the United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. His bill sponsorship and voting records indicates that he was a loyalist to the Democratic Party. He was considered to be among the most liberal by various analyses. In his first session (109th Congress), he was involved in immigration reform. Legislation bearing his name was passed for armament reduction and federal transparency as well as relief aid.

In the first year of the 110th Congress, he worked on lobbying and campaign finance reform, election reform, climate control and troop reduction. In the second year, he legislated for oversight of certain military discharges, Iran divestment and nuclear terrorism reduction, but President George W. Bush vetoed his legislation for State Children's Health Insurance Program-related military family job protections.

Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (ROK) and Obama discuss the Coburn-Obama Transparency Act.[31]

Partnering first with Sen. Richard Lugar (RIN), and then with Sen. Tom Coburn (ROK), Obama s

Obama took an active role in the Senate's drive for improved border security and immigration reform. In May 2005, he cosponsored the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act introduced by Sen. John McCain (RAZ).[27]

He later added three amendments to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which passed the Senate in May 2006, but failed to gain majority support in the U.S. House of Representatives.[28]

In September 2006, Obama voted for a related bill, the Secure Fence Act, authorizing construction of fencing and other security improvements along the United States–Mexico border.[29] President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law in October 2006, calling it "an important st

He later added three amendments to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which passed the Senate in May 2006, but failed to gain majority support in the U.S. House of Representatives.[28]

In September 2006, Obama voted for a related bill, the Secure Fence Act, authorizing construction of fencing and other security improvements along the United States–Mexico border.[29] President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law in October 2006, calling it "an important step toward immigration reform."[30]

Partnering first with Sen. Richard Lugar (RIN), and then with Sen. Tom Coburn (ROK), Obama successfully introduced two initiatives bearing his name. Lugar-Obama expands the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines.[32][33][34] The Lugar-Obama initiative subsequently received $48 million in funding.[35]

The Coburn-Obama Transparency Act provides for the web site USAspending.gov, managed by the Office of Management and Budget. The site lists all organizations receiving Federal funds from 2007 onward and provides breakdowns by the agency allocating the funds, the dollar amount given, and the purpose of the grant or contract.[36]

Obama and Coburn also collaborated on repeated efforts to end the abuse of no-bid contracting in the aftermath of natural disasters.[37] In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief

The Coburn-Obama Transparency Act provides for the web site USAspending.gov, managed by the Office of Management and Budget. The site lists all organizations receiving Federal funds from 2007 onward and provides breakdowns by the agency allocating the funds, the dollar amount given, and the purpose of the grant or contract.[36]

Obama and Coburn also collaborated on repeated efforts to end the abuse of no-bid contracting in the aftermath of natural disasters.[37] In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.[38]

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In August 2005, he traveled with Richard Lugar to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. The trip focused on strategies to control the world's supply of conventional weapons, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction as a first defense against potential terrorist attacks.[39]

Following meetings with U.S. military in Kuwait and Iraq in January 2006, Obama visited Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. At a meeting with Palestinian students two weeks before Hamas won the legislative election, Obama warned that "the U.S. will never recognize winning Hamas candidates unless the group renounces its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel."[40]

He left for his third official trip in August 2006, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. In a nationally televised speech at the University of Nairobi, he spoke forcefully on the influence of ethnic rivalries and corruption in Kenya.[41] The speech touched off a public debate among rival leaders, some formally challenging Obama's remarks as unfair and improper, others defending his positions.[42]

In the first month of the newly Democratic controlled 110th Congress, Obama worked with Russ Feingold (DWI) to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress and require disclosure of bundled campaign contributions under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007.[43]

He joined Chuck Schumer (DNY) in sponsoring Chuck Schumer (DNY) in sponsoring S. 453, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections, including fraudulent flyers and automated phone calls, as witnessed in the 2006 midterm elections.[44]

Obama's energy initiatives scored pluses and minuses with environmentalists, who welcomed his sponsorship with John McCain (RAZ) of a climate change bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2050, but were skeptical of his support for a bill promoting liquefied coal production.[45] Obama also introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007, a bill to cap troop levels in Iraq, begin phased redeployment, and remove all combat brigades from Iraq before April 2008.[46]

Later in 2007, Obama sponsored with Kit Bond (RMO) an amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges, and calling for a review by the Government Accountability Office following reports that the procedure had been used inappropriately to reduce government costs.[48]

He sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry,[49] and joined Chuck Hagel (RNE) in introducing legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism.[50]

A provision from the Obama-Hagel bill was passed by Congress in December 2007 as an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill.[50] Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.[51] After passing both houses of Congress with bipartisan majorities, SCHIP was vetoedHe sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry,[49] and joined Chuck Hagel (RNE) in introducing legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism.[50]

A provision from the Obama-Hagel bill was passed by Congress in December 2007 as an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill.[50] Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.[51] After passing both houses of Congress with bipartisan majorities, SCHIP was vetoed by President Bush in early October 2007, a move Obama said "shows a callousness of priorities that is offensive to the ideals we hold as Americans."[52]

One analysis of bill co-sponsorship classified Obama as a "rank-and-file Democrat". Another, of party-line votes, tagged him a "Democratic Party loyalist."[53] The National Journal, in its 27th annual vote ratings, identified Obama as "the most liberal senator" in 2007,[54] though this conclusion was rated "Barely True" by PolitiFact.[55]

Asked about the Journal's characterization of his voting record, Obama expressed doubts about the survey's methodology and blamed "old politics" categorization of political positions as conservative or liberal for creating predispositions that prevent problem-solving.[56]

Ratings of Obama's liberalism by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), based on 20 ADA-selected votes each year, declined from 100% in 2005 to 95% in 2006, with one vote the ADA counted as not-liberal in 2006, and 75%, with five missed

Asked about the Journal's characterization of his voting record, Obama expressed doubts about the survey's methodology and blamed "old politics" categorization of political positions as conservative or liberal for creating predispositions that prevent problem-solving.[56]

Ratings of Obama's liberalism by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), based on 20 ADA-selected votes each year, declined from 100% in 2005 to 95% in 2006, with one vote the ADA counted as not-liberal in 2006, and 75%, with five missed votes, in 2007.[57][58] A study of the voting records of all one hundred senators, using an average of the ratings of seven liberal interest groups, described Obama as "among the least liberal", of the Democrats, scoring an 80%.[59]

After his election to President of the United States, Obama announced on November 13, 2008 his plan to resign his Senate seat, effective on November 16, 2008.[60] On January 12, 2009, the Senate accepted former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris as Obama's replacement after he was controversially appointed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.[61]

Recognition and honors

While in the U.S. Senate, Obama had a number of awards and honors bes

While in the U.S. Senate, Obama had a number of awards and honors bestowed on him by various groups. An October 2005 article in the British journal New Statesman listed Obama as one of 10 people who could change the world,[62] the only politician included on the list. In 2005 and again in 2007, Time magazine named him one of the world's most influential people.[63]

During his first three years in the U.S. Senate, Obama received Honorary Doctorates of Law from Knox College (2005),[64] Honorary Doctorates of Law from Knox College (2005),[64] University of Massachusetts Boston (2006),[65] Northwestern University (2006),[66] Xavier University of Louisiana (2006),[67] Southern New Hampshire University (2007),[68] Howard University (2007),[69] and Wesleyan University (2008).[70]

The audiobook edition of Dreams from My Father earned Obama the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2006.[71] He won the award a second time in 2008 for the spoken word edition of The Audacity of Hope.[72] A school in Obama's father's hometown, which the senator visited on his 2006 Kenya trip, was renamed the Senator Barack Obama Primary School.[73]