In the three presidential debates between John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL), we’ve heard a lot about their voting records in the Senate. Votes on funding the troops in Iraq, stem cell research, equal pay for women, childrens’ health care, and energy policy have been raised by the candidates several times. Here’s a side-by-side look at those votes, plus 45 others, that McCain and Obama have put down on the record during the two sessions of Congress that they were in the Senate.

The votes below are divided into categories very roughly. I selected the votes based on the following criteria: they were brought up in the debates, they mark a significant rift in the candidates’ voting histories, they mark a surprising similarity in the candidates’ voting histories, or they were on highly newsworthy pieces of legislation. I have put notes on the legislation in parentheses where I thought it would be helpful.

Foreign Policy:

Legislation in Question McCain Obama
H.R. 2206 – Iraq War Funding Bill with No Withdrawal Timeline Yes No
H.R. 1591 – Iraq War Funding Bill with a Troop Withdrawal Timeline No Yes
S. Amdt. 2022 to H.R. 1585: To restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States No Yes
S. Amdt. 2087 to H.R. 1585: To specify minimum periods between deployment of units and members of the Armed Forces deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. (require troops to have at least equal time at home as the length of their previous deployment overseas). No Yes
S. Amdt. 2934 to H.R. 1585 To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces. (this is a direct response to’s “General Betray Us” ad.) Yes Abstain
S. Amdt. 3875 to H.R. 2764: To provide for the safe redeployment of United States troops from Iraq. (redeploy most troops out of Iraq in 9 months) No Yes
S. Amdt. 2673 to H.R. 2642: To limit the cases in which funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to convert to contractor performance an activity or function of the Department of Veterans Affairs that is performed by more than 10 Federal employees. Yes Abstain
S. 3930 – Military Commissions Act of 2006 Yes No
S. Amdt. 1351 to S. 1042: To stop corporations from financing terrorism. No Yes
S. Amdt. 1977 to H.R. 2863 – Relating to persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government. (sponsored by McCain, this amendment prohibits torture by confining military interrogations to the techniques in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation). Yes Yes


Legislation in Question McCain Obama
H.R. 1424 – Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (aka the Bailout Bill) Yes Yes
S. Amdt. 116 to H.R. 2: To afford States the rights and flexibility to determine minimum wage (repeal the federal minimum wage by allowing states to set their own minimum wages) Yes No
S. Amdt. 3013 to S. Con. Res. 83: Pay-as-you-go Amendment (require that all new spending is offset by an equal revenue increase Yes Yes
S. Amdt. 578 to S. Con. Res. 21 Repeal the Death Tax (aka the Estate Tax) Yes No
S. Amdt. 545 to S. Con. Res. 21: To restore the top marginal tax rate to pre-2001 levels on taxable income in excess of $1 million and use the increased revenue to increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act Abstain Yes
H.R. 5140 – Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act of 2008 (aka the Economic Stimulus Package) Yes Abstain
S. 256 – Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (designed to prevent bankruptcy fraud by making it more difficult to file for bankruptcy) Yes No
S. Amdt. 4347 to S. Con. Res. 70: To establish an earmark moratorium for fiscal year 2009 Yes Yes
H.R. 5970 – Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006 Yes No


Legislation in Question McCain Obama
S. 1348 – Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants) Abstain Yes
S. Amdt. 1151 to S. 1348: To amend title 4, United States Code, to declare English as the national language of the Government of the United States, and for other purposes Yes No
S. Amdt. 1384 to S. 1348: To preserve and enhance the role of the English language (states that nothing in the act can be used to diminish or expand any existing rights relative to non-English services or materials provided by the government) No Yes
S. Amdt. 1331 to S. 1348: To clarify the application of the earned income tax credit (Make temporary guest workers eligible for the EIC) No Yes
S. Amdt. 1374 to S. 1348 To improve the criteria and weights of the merit-based evaluation system (put more weight on job skills than family connections) No No
Motion to Table S. Amdt. 4309 to S. Con. Res. 70: To create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists. (since this is a motion to table, things are reversed. So, a “no” vote is a vote to create the fund and a “yes” vote is a vote against the fund) No Abstain


Legislation in Question McCain Obama
H.R. 6 – Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Increase fuel-efficiency standard to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, shifts energy-tax incentives and require electric utilities to use renewable-energy sources for 15 percent of their electricity by 2020. This vote came up in the debates a few times – McCain, I believe, said it was “festooned” with pork) Abstain Yes
S. Amdt. 1704 to H.R. 6: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for energy advancement and investment, and for other purposes (this is a giant package of tax credits for alternative energy) Abstain Yes
S. Amdt. 1519 to H.R. 6 To amend the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal (aka NOPEC) Abstain Yes
S. Amdt. 168 to S. Con. Res. 18: To strike section 201(a)(4) relative to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (this is a vote to keep ANWR closed to drilling) Yes Yes
S. Amdt. 784 to H.R. 6 (109th): To improve the energy security of the United States and reduce dependence on foreign oil imports by 40 percent by 2025 No Yes


S. Amdt. 4689 to S. 403: To authorize grants to carry out programs to provide education on preventing teen pregnancies, and for other purposesNoYes

Legislation in Question McCain Obama
S. 5 – Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research) Yes Yes
H.R. 976 – Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (S-CHIP reauthorization and expansion) No Yes
S. Amdt. 2535 to H.R. 976 To codify the unborn child rule. (Define a fetus as an “unborn child”) Yes No
S. Amdt. 510 to S. Con. Res. 21: To provide for the consideration of an increase in the tobacco products user fee rate, but only to the extent that such rate increase does not result in an increase of more than 61 cents per pack of cigarettes, with all revenue generated by such increase dedicated to the reauthorization and expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. No Yes
S. 403 – Child Custody Protection Act (“to prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions”) Yes No
S. Amdt. 3330 to H.R. 3043: To prohibit the provision of funds to grantees who perform abortions Yes Abstain
S. Amdt. 244 to S. Con. Res. 18: To expand access to preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women’s health care No Yes


Legislation in Question McCain Obama
S. Amdt. 5064 to H.R. 6304: To strike title II. (Striking telco immunity form the FISA bill) Abstain Yes
H.R. 6304 – To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ( with telco immunity included) Abstain Yes
H.R. 800 – Employee Free Choice Act of 2007 No Yes
H.R. 2831 – Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 No Yes
S. 1257 – District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 No Yes
H.R. 7081 – United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act Yes Yes
S. 397 – Firearms Manufacturers Protection bill Yes No
S. J. Res. 1 – Same Sex Marriage resolution (“A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage”) No No
S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010: To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. No Yes
S. Amdt. 2797 to H.R. 3074 To prohibit the establishment of a program that allows Mexican truck drivers to operate beyond the commercial zones near the Mexican border. Abstain Yes
S. Amdt. 1189 to H.R. 2360: To provide that certain air cargo security programs are implemented, and for other purposes (increases funding for the TSA). No Yes
S. Amdt. 2213 to H.R. 3010: To increase the maximum Federal Pell Grant award by $200 to $4,250. No Yes


Obama and McCain – Legislative Accomplishments

By the Bills: Obama vs. McCain

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