How Barack Obama Works

By: Josh Clark

Voting Record of Barack Obama: National Security and the Economy

Sen. Obama delivers the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Sen. Obama delivers the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Beyond rhetoric, spin and messages, perhaps the truest means of establishing what a candidate values is his or her voting record. Here are some select important issues that came up for a vote during Obama's term in Congress.

The Iraq War and National Security:

  • In 2007, Obama voted in favor of restoring habeas corpus to detainees in American custody (S. Amendment 2022) [source: Project Vote Smart].
  • He voted against a successful bill in 2007 which funded the Iraq War without including a timetable for withdrawal (H.R. 2206) [source: The Washington Post].
  • In 2007, he voted against another successful bill which gave $120 billion in funding for the Iraq War (vote 181), but voted for two different votes on a separate failed bill (HR 1591), which appropriated similar amounts for the Iraq War but included timetables for American troop withdrawals [source: The Washington Post].
  • He voted in favor of HR 4939 in 2006, which granted $67 billion in emergency funding to the Department of Defense [source: Obama Senate].
  • Obama voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, (S. 3930) which granted legal immunity for CIA officials involved in acts of torture, outlawed certain acts of torture by U.S. agents, and barred detainees labeled enemy combatants from protesting their incarceration. He voted in favor of an amended version of this bill (S. Amdt. 5095), which included Congressional oversight of some CIA programs [source: ­U.S. Senate].
  • He voted in favor of providing $965 million in additional funding to increase port security in 2006 (S. Amdt. 3054) [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2005, Obama voted against a House resolution to reallocate $36 million to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (HR 1268 # 93) [source: TPM Election Central].
  • Obama broke with the Democratic Party line when he voted in favor of H.R. 6304, a bill that supports the extension of the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and provides retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that provided their customers' information to the U.S. government [source: U.S. Senate].

Economy/Government Finance:


  • In 2007, Obama voted no (S. Amdt. 491) on an $18 billion decrease in funding for programs deemed ineffective -- including Border Patrol, rural education and Coast Guardsearch and rescue. He also voted against $40 billion in reduced spending over five years on programs including agriculture student loans and other programs, but allotted funds towards hurricane recovery [source: U.S. Senate].
  • He voted against an amendment in 2005 (S. Amdt. 31) that would have capped the amount of interest allowed to be charged on credit at 30 percent [source: U.S. Senate].
  • He voted against the successful passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005 [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2005, Obama voted yes on a bill (S. 5), which affected class action lawsuits filed in separate states, bringing them together into the jurisdiction of the federal government [source: The Washington Post].
  • Voted in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour in 2007 (H.R. 1591) [source: The Washington Post].

On the next page, we'll see how Barack Obama voted on immigration and health care issues during his senatorial career.