On leap day, Hillary Clinton did something I do not believe either McCain or Obama has done since they started their run for President: she introduced legislation into the Senate. And not some bill to commemorate the architect of a bridge, but real legislation that would have a concrete and meaningful impact.
This legislation, tilted “United Nations Population Fund Restoration Act of 2008” would restore U.S. funding to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). Evidently (according to Clinton) funding was cut off by the Bush administration after they claimed that the organization used funds to promote abortions in China, something which a committee enacted by the White House itself to research the claims determined was untrue.
This is not a bill without controversy, either. Even though the bill is really intended to provide health care to protect mothers from reproductive-system illnesses and the medical dangers accompanying having children, it will have some trouble passing into law because it allows American money to be used to provide contraceptives in areas where they are not currently available. It’s a relatively minor part of the bill, but there are enough people in Congress who won’t vote for spending money on any birth control measure that doesn’t begin and end with abstinence that it will be a battle to get through. So it’s not like it’s a safe, watered-down, “gimme” bill that is often used for political gain in Washington.
Now, I have positive and negative opinions on it, and I have strong opinions on the effect global poverty has on the issue of maternal health and I could write pages upon pages putting this topic into a broader context. But I didn’t write this post to discuss the measure.
The real point of this post was to give Hillary some credit for proposing meaningful legislation at a time when she’s running for President. There is not much, if any, talk of this bill in the press. And it’s not because the press is ignoring it. Hillary has not talked about it. I looked for information regarding the bill on her website. It’s not located prominently anywhere. There is a press release about it on her website, which I only know because it came up during a Google speech; it’s not listed on her “Press Releases” page. She has four speeches posted on her site since she introduced the legislation, and it was not mentioned once in any of them. I would bet most Hillary supporters don’t even know about it.
To be honest, I’ve never wanted a Hillary Presidency. I always wanted a woman from the Clinton White House to be President; I was just hoping it would be Janet Reno. And this isn’t an Obama thing, by the way; I didn’t like her well before I even heard of the guy. (She didn’t do any favors ditching my Cubbies for the Yankees to win a Senate seat. Talk about selling out. I mean, the Mets maybe, but the Yankees?? Tsk, tsk.) But the more I thought about this, the more I felt compelled to commend her. Hillary Clinton, despite being enthroned in a battle for the White House, is taking time to introduce real “meat and potatoes” legislation. And even though this could be a popular move among her base during a primary she’s losing with time running out, she’s not using it as a way to rally voters. She seems to be doing this because she thinks it’s the right thing to do. Which isn’t always the smartest thing to do in politics, but it is refreshing.