An existential crisis, a test of whether democracy survives
Not even during the Civil War did insurrectionists breach our Capitol, the citadel of our democracy. But six months ago today, insurrectionists did. They launched a violent and deadly assault on the people's house, on the people's representatives, and
on the Capitol police sworn to protect them, as our duly elected Congress carried out the sacred ritual of our republic and certified the Electoral College vote. This was not dissent. It was disorder. It posed an existential crisis and a test of
whether our democracy could survive--a sad reminder that there is nothing guaranteed about our democracy.
But six months later, we can say unequivocally that democracy did prevail--and that we must all continue the work to protect and preserve it.
That requires people of goodwill and courage to stand up to the hate, the lies, and the extremism that led to this vicious attack, including determining what happened so that we can remember it and not bury it hoping we forget.
Daily press briefings for White House, State Dept., and DOD
PROMISE MADE: (2020 campaign website JoeBiden.com): Immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Defense. Our foreign policy relies on the informed consent of the
American people. That is not possible when our government refuses to communicate with the public.
PROMISE KEPT: (Albany Times Union, 2/22/21): White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has made her goals very clear: help the public trust
the government, set up a better press shop than former presidents Donald J. Trump or Barack Obama and get out of the post in about a year. Since her first daily press briefing on Inauguration Day, she's delivered President Joe Biden's plans with few
OnTheIssues ANALYSIS: The State Department and Defense Department have also restored daily press briefings as of February 2021.
President-elect Biden addressed the nation amid the chaos and called on Trump, who remained silent after pouring fuel on the flames during a MAGA rally outside of the
White House Wednesday morning, to end the siege.
"Our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we have seen in modern times," Biden said.
Source: Detroit Metro Times on Jan. 6th insurrection
, Jan 7, 2021
30 years ago, I proposed campaign finance reform
Bernie Sanders: If you want to make real changes in this country, you need to take on the drug companies, and the fossil fuel industry. You don't take campaign contributions from them.
Biden: You want to do that? Do what I proposed over 30 years ago:
federally fund all elections.
FACT-CHECK: Did Biden propose campaign finance reform long ago? Yes, he proposed donation limits when there were no limits, in 1974, with federal matching funds:
Biden on 1974 WGBH "Open Vault" (PBS interview): "The
system does produce corruption; I think implicit in the system is corruption. If the only way you can raise any money to run for public office is to go to vested interest groups, then you prostitute the ideas you have about government. If you limit the
amount that can be spent, you run the risk of the tyranny of the incumbent [against] a challenger. [I support] a bill that limits the amount that an individual can contribute [to] $3,000. And I support [a bill to federally] match donations up to $100.
Justice Department is not the president's private lawyer
The Justice Department is not the president's private lawyer. It's the people's lawyer.
I will never direct the Justice Department as to who they should or should not indict and under what circumstance they should or should not. That is an independent judgment to be made.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 with Anderson Cooper
, Feb 20, 2020
Statehood good for Puerto Rico, and our whole country
For decades, Puerto Ricans and their interests have been ignored by Washington. There's a clear solution to this challenge that a majority of Puerto Ricans support. And it's a solution that, polls show, two-thirds of all Americans also support:
statehood. But most candidates for president have been too afraid to back it. Not me. I'll state it clearly: I support statehood for Puerto Rico. I believe statehood would be good not only for Puerto Rico, but for our whole country.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel on 2020 Presidential Hopefuls
, Jan 27, 2020
Immediate focus on health care, education, climate change
I refuse to postpone one more minute spending billions of dollars on curing cancer, Alzheimer's, and other diseases which, if we invest in them, we can find cures. I refuse to postpone giving single child in
America, no matter their zip code, pre-K all the way through high school and beyond. I refuse to postpone any longer taking on climate change.
Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston
, Sep 12, 2019
AdWatch 1972: Do you trust politicians? Let me change that
In 1972, Biden entered into the US Senate election in Delaware. One of the campaign adverts was simple: a staff member recording comments from a voter. The recording was played on radio stations. It went:
Biden campaigning; Joe Biden is my name.
I'm a Democratic candidate for the United states Senate, mind if I ask you a question?
Voter: No, go ahead.
Biden: Do you believe politicians when they tell you something in election year?
Voter 1: (laughter) No.
Voter 2: Most of the time, no.
Voter 3: No comment. Not particularly. Definitely not.
Biden: Would you believe me if I told you something as a politician in an election year?
Voter: Maybe, but what about later?
Biden talking to listeners: That's what we've come to, politicians have done such a job on people that the people don't believe them anymore, and I'd like a shot at changing that.
Reject Super-PACs: "We the People" became "We the Donors"
[Campaigning in 2015], to speak to the middle class, I felt we had to do one more thing: Biden for President was going to reject the super PAC system. It was tempting to play the game because we would be getting such a late start.
And for the first time in all my years of campaigning, I knew there was big money out there for me. But I also knew people were sick of it all. "We the People" didn't ring so true anymore.
I wrote as a United States senator was for public funding of elections. Now, foolhardy or not, I was going to try to upend the new money rush that was overwhelming our politics.
Countries without state-church separation are in turmoil
Q: Thomas Jefferson wrote about the First Amendment, building a wall of separation between church and state. Why do you think that’s so important?
A: The best way to look at it is look the every state where the wall’s not built.
Look at every country in the world where religion is able to impact governance. Almost every one of those countries are in real turmoil. Look, the founders were pretty smart.
They had gone through, you know, several hundred years of wars--religious wars. And they were in the midst of religious wars in Europe. And they figured it out:
The best way to do this is to keep the government out of religion. They took religion out of government. But they didn’t mean religion couldn’t be in a public place, in the public square.
Transparency on earmarks: $250B earmarked for Del. In 2009
Sen. Biden is requesting more than a quarter-billion dollars in earmarks to pay for projects in his home state of Delaware in fiscal 2009, but Republicans want to know when he will release the wish lists from the rest of his 35-year Senate career. A
Republican National Committee spokesman said, "For decades, Biden has sought millions upon millions in earmarks and has yet to disclose those requests so that the American people can review his special-interest track record for themselves."
for Biden derided the criticism as "Republican hypocrisy" and said [Biden's opponent] Gov. Sarah Palin requested "more pork per person than any governor in America," pointing out that Palin asked for $197 million in earmarks for 31 projects as governor.
The spokesman said, "Joe Biden believes in transparency, which is why long before he was the vice-presidential nominee he'd listed the investments he'd brought home to Delaware right on his Senate Web site, along with last year's earmark requests."
How do you preserve family farmers? And if you continue the system the way it is, it’s breaking the system. It’s going to just flat break the system. And the cost of an acreage has gone up with these excessive payments, the fact that we’re not
focusing on the things the farm program started out focusing on, helping farmers that are distressed. It’s gotten all out of whack, and so it seems to me that we need a radical change. I voted today to lower the caps on the subsidies for big agribusiness
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate
, Dec 13, 2007
Pledges to stop no-bid contracts
Q: Would you pledge to stop no-bid contracts?
A: Yes. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum
, Aug 8, 2007
The greatest sin is abuse of power
I was asked to give a talk about how my faith and religion informed my public policy views. It was a topic I had always shied away from because it makes me a little uncomfortable to carry religion into the arena of politics, but writing that speech
turned out to be one of the most enlightening exercises of my life.
The central lesson I received from the Catholic Church and my parents had been the governing force in my political career.
To wit, the greatest sins on this earth are committed by people of standing and means who abuse their power.
With power and privilege, I was taught, comes a responsibility to treat others with respect and fairness. When we see people abusing power,
it is our duty to intercede on behalf of their victims.
As I looked back on my career, it was obvious that what had animated me was the belief that we should stand up to those who abused power, whether it was political, economic, or physical.
Public financing needed: donations are implicitly corrupt
I think the reason Americans have this image of politicians being "on the take" is because of the way we've financed our campaigns in this country, accepting contributions from lobbying and special-interest groups. The problem is not "under the table"
corruption--politicians taking money for their personal use. But I think the system is implicitly corrupt in the sense that very few people contribute for purely altruistic reasons. They give--legally--because they hope to have policies which favor them
continued or implemented. That is why businesses, labor, even why "good-government" groups contribute. They all have a legislative interest. And that is why I support public financing of elections, because I'd like to see that kind of impact lessened or
eliminated. No one came to me and said, "Look, if I contribute, will you do thus and so?" But implicit in their giving was either that they agreed with a position I already held, or that they hoped I'd be sympathetic to their position in the future.
We were very careful not to accept more than 2% or 2.5% of our total [campaign donation] income from any one group or individual. At that amount, how much influence can they have over you? If they said, "If you don't do this or that,
we won't support you next time," you can say, "Take your 2% and go fly." If you aren't beholden to anyone as a source of campaign funds, it seems to me you can act as a more independent representative without the explicit or implicit restraints.
To a degree, though, the whole Watergate thing has been healthy in putting politicians on notice that the "paying-off" kind of corruption is just not acceptable.
I think you should err on the side of being overly scrupulous in terms of how you maintain the public confidence.
Commission of experts to decide on expanding Supreme Court
PROMISE MADE: (Politico.com, 10/22/2020): "I'll put together a bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative. And I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with
recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it's getting out of whack," Biden said.
PROMISE KEPT: (White House press release, 4/9/21): President Biden will issue an executive order forming the Presidential Commission on
the Supreme Court, comprised of a bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate. The Commission's purpose is to provide an analysis of Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform
proposals, within 180 days of its first public meeting.
ANALYSIS: The proposed reform, which critics call "court packing," would be to add 4 Supreme Court seats, to change the current 6-3 conservative majority to a 7-6 liberal majority.
Commit to appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court
National Black civil rights leaders participated in a call with former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, a day after the release of Lift Every Voice: The Biden Plan for Black America.
Al Sharpton noted, "I urge
Biden to fulfill his commitment to appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court as well as to prioritize diversity of experience and thought in his administration. The Black community knows that it is essential for a person of color to have the ear of
The President and CEO of the National Urban League raised the issue of voter protection and voter suppression. "A no-excuse vote-by-mail program with prepaid postage and expanded early voting would go
a long way toward expanding access to the ballot and ensuring that the pandemic is not used as an excuse to trample vulnerable Americans' right to vote," he said.
Q: What about adding new Supreme Court seats to create a liberal majority and protect things like abortion rights?
BIDEN: Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. In fact every woman should have that right. I would not pack the Court.
What I would do is make sure that the people that I recommended for the Court, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Elena Kagan support the right of privacy on which the entire notion of a woman's right to choose is based.
Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate
, Oct 15, 2019
1987: Bork fight changed rules of nomination process
In the 1987 Bork nomination, Biden wrote later, "I had to reset the table on the nomination process, which had focused almost solely on character and qualifications. Robert Bork was a bona fide scholar. The way to stop was on the question of his
outside-the-mainstream judicial philosophy--or ideology--and that was a long shot, too."
The basic understanding was that as long as a Supreme Court nominee had the intellectual capacity, a breadth of experience in constitutional law, and a reasonable
judicial temperament, the Senate was bound to confirm a nominee. Ideology was the third rail of Supreme Court nominations.
Biden wrote that in the toughest confirmation cases in the 1960s, the nominees "were rejected for personal shortcomings, but the
clear and unspoken reason was ideology. I thought it was time to take up ideology in the open and avoid personal attacks." In a major speech on the Senate floor, Biden cited specific precedents in which ideology had been the deciding factor.
As Judiciary Chair, rejected Bork and supported Thomas
Biden became a nationally-recognized face while chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, when presiding over televised hearings on controversial Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork--a lone triumphant moment from liberal
Democrats--and Clarence Thomas. Many women’s groups complained about what they felt was Biden’s harsh treatment of Anita Hill, and many progressives have never forgiven him for his vote to confirm Thomas.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.178-179
, Nov 11, 2007
1988: led fight against nomination of Robert Bork
[In 1988, Pres. Reagan nominated Robert Bork for Supreme Court Justice. As Judiciary Committee chair, Biden ran the confirmation hearings.] I had serious doubts about Bork. If there was an argument to be made against him, it would have to be made to
Republicans and Democrats in the political center. If we tried to make this a referendum on abortion rights, for example, we’d lose.
At a meeting, I said, “If I lead this fight, it will not be a single issue campaign.” The NY Times called my staff to
confirm that I’d promised to “lead the fight” against Bork. The president’s spokesman said his boss found it “regrettable” that I had “chosen to politicize the hearings in this kind of partisan fashion.”
Bork was a bona fide scholar.
He had been solicitor general, acting attorney general, professor of law at Yale, and a judge. The way to stop Bork was on a question of his outside-the-mainstream judicial ideology. I thought it was time to avoid personal attacks. [Bork was defeated.]
Disallowed bringing pornography issues into Thomas hearing
The 1991 campaign against Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court was far more personal and extreme than the campaign against Robert Bork had been. Members of the civil rights establishment set the tone by calling Thomas a variety of despicable
names because he disagreed with the prevailing wisdom about affirmative action. Then the feminists had their moment with the belated appearance of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of offensive ribaldry when he was boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission; she was questioned intensely and skeptically by Alan Simpson and several other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. A delegation of feminists visited Joseph Biden, just as Ralph Nader had done four years earlier. "They wanted the
committee to expose the fact that Thomas watched pornographic films," Biden recalled. "But I told them that if he did, it wasn't material. It was private." (The media were happy to provide all the relevant details to a soap opera-loving public.)
Former president wants to suppress vote & subvert elections
Here's the truth. The election of 2020 was the greatest demonstration of democracy in the history of this country. More of you voted in that election than have ever voted in all of American history. Over 150 million Americans went to the polls and voted
that day in a pandemic. Some at great risk to their lives. They should be applauded, not attacked.
Right now in state after state, new laws are being written. Not to protect the vote, but to deny it. Not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it,
not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost. Instead of looking at election results from 2020 and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president
and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections.
It's wrong. It's undemocratic, and frankly, it's un-American.
I did not seek [to bring the 2020 election] fight right to this Capitol a year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation, and I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.
We will make sure the will of the people is heard. That the ballot prevails, not violence. That authority of this nation will always be peacefully transferred. I believe the power of the presidency and the purpose is to unite this nation, not divide it.
To lift us up. Not tear us apart. It's about us, not about me. Deep in the heart of America, burns a flame lit almost 250 years ago of liberty, freedom and equality. This is not the land of kings or dictators or autocrats.
We're a nation of laws of order, not chaos, of peace, not violence. Here in America, the people rule, through the ballot. And their will prevails.
Biden administration officially backs statehood for DC
PROMISE MADE: (National News, 4/21/21) Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden has gone on record saying he supports the movement. "Absolutely, I have for the last 28 years," Mr Biden said when asked by a supporter of the DC statehood
movement whether he would endorse the move.
Twitter posting @JoeBiden (Jun 25, 2020): "DC should be a state. Pass it on."
PROMISE KEPT: (WTOP News, 4/20/21): "The Administration strongly supports H.R. 51, the Washington D.C. Admission
Act. For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress. This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which
our Nation was founded," the White House said in a statement.
ANALYSIS: The bill would have to pass the House AND the Senate, but President Biden has kept his promise insofar as publicly supporting the effort as president.
Make it easier for overseas and federal employees to vote
PROMISE MADE: (St. Anselm College primary debate, 2/7/20): There should be automatic registration, turning 18, you get a driver's license, you automatically are registered. There are 35 states that have come up with a total of 78 laws to
restrict voting just in the last five years.
PROMISE PARTLY KEPT: (NBC News, 3/7/21): Biden's order calls on federal agencies to "consider ways to expand citizens' opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and
participate in, the electoral process," make it easier for federal employees to vote by recommending how to "expand the federal government's policy of granting employees time off to vote" and increase access to the ballot for voters with disabilities,
Native Americans, overseas Americans and eligible federal prisoners.
OnTheIssues ANALYSIS: There is only so much Biden can do by executive order; he has promised to sign H.R. 1--an election reform bill--if it passes the Senate.
Protect the fundamental right to vote, "For the People"
[On H.R.1, "For The People Act"]: In the wake of an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all
across the country, this landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect the fundamental right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy.
H.R. 1 contains a number of provisions to protect the
fundamental right to vote:
H.R. 1 would reform redistricting to curtail the gerrymandering that distorts our democracy, and would modernize our elections and make them more secure.
H.R. 1 would also reform our campaign finance system to amplify
the voices of the public, not the powerful, and establish stronger ethics rules for all three branches of government.
Any country that interferes in US elections will pay a price
Q: On the security of our elections: top intelligence officials confirmed that both Russia and Iran are working to influence this election. What would you do to put an end to this threat?
BIDEN: I asked everyone to take the pledge: Any country, no
matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price. They will pay a price. And it's been overwhelmingly clear this election--I won't even get into the last one--this election, that Russia has been involved, China's been involved to
some degree, and now we learn that Iran is involved. They will pay a price if I'm elected. They're interfering with American sovereignty. That's what's going on right now. They're interfering with American sovereignty. I don't think the President has
said anything to Putin about it. I don't know why he hasn't said a word to Putin about it. His buddy Rudy Giuliani--he's being used as a Russian pawn. He's being fed information that is Russian that is not true. And then what happens? Nothing happens.
Mail voting works for military; should work for civilians
We count the ballots. Some of these ballots in some states can't even be opened until election day. If there's thousands of ballots, it's going to take time to do it. Our military. they've been voting by ballots since the end of the Civil War.
Why is it, for them, somehow not fraudulent? It's the same process. It's honest. No one has established at all that there is fraud related to mail-in ballots.
The fact is, I will accept it, and he will too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that'll be the end of it.
That'll be the end of it. And if it's me, in fact, fine. If it's not me, I'll support the outcome.
His own Homeland Security director, and as well as the FBI director, says that there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are a source of being manipulated and cheating. There are going to be millions of people because of COVID that are going to be
voting by mail-in ballots like he does. This is all about trying to dissuade people from voting because he's trying to scare people into thinking that it's not going to be legitimate.
Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election.
Vote, vote, vote. Vote whatever way is the best way for you. He cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election. When the votes are all counted, that will be accepted. If I win, that will be accepted. If I lose, that'll be
accepted. If in fact he says, he's not sure what he's going to accept, let me tell you something, it doesn't matter, because if we get the votes, it's going to be all over. He's going to go. He can't stay in power. It won't happen.
Five states have done mail-in ballots for a decade or more
BIDEN: Five states have had mail-in ballots for the last decade or more. Five, including two Republican states. And you don't have to solicit the ballot. It's sent to you. It's sent to your home. What they're saying is that it has to be a postmark
by election day. If it doesn't get in until the seventh, eighth, ninth, it still should be counted. He's just afraid of counting the votes.
Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace
, Sep 29, 2020
Americans express their view by who they elect president
TRUMP: Elections have consequences. They had Merrick Garland [as Obama's Supreme Court nominee in early 2016], but the problem is they didn't have the election [victory in 2016] so they were stopped.
BIDEN: The American people have a right to have a
say in who the Supreme Court nominee is, and that say occurs when they vote for United States Senators and when they vote for the President of United States. They're not going to get that chance now [with Amy Coney Barrett nominated last week] because
we're in the middle of an election already. The election has already started. Tens of thousands of people already voted and so the thing that should happen is we should wait.
We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is because that's the only way the American people get to express their view is by who they elect as President and who they elect as Vice President.
Push plan to make voting machinery & process secure
Q: How will you handle Russia's interfering in the election and compromising the voting system of the United States?
BIDEN: One of the things we have to do is make sure that we investigate exactly what involvement there has been in our election and
to protect against it. One of the things we have to do as well is provide the states with the wherewithal to be able to upgrade their [voting] lists, their machinery, and to make sure their encryption is safe for the voting rolls,
and makes it more difficult to have cyber intrusions into anything that's being done. That requires money. There is a plan that's been put together in the Senate, by the Democrats, and I would push that plan. But it requires us to help states
provide for the wherewithal to change the nature of the machinery. And I think we have to be able to be in a position where you have a paper ballot left after what happens with regard to the actual counting and the voting machine.
Early voting, same day registration safeguards elections
Q: What steps would you take to ensure voters do not face uncertainty that their vote will be counted?
BIDEN: I would not throw into question the legitimacy of the election. I would make sure we have early voting, same day registration.
And you're automatically registered once you become 18 years. And go to iwillvote.com to figure out when you're going to vote, where you're going to vote, what your polling place is, so you're ready, plan now.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper
, Sep 17, 2020
Not sure on all-mail voting, but start planning for it
Q: Do you think we have to conduct an all-mail ballot election come the fall [due to the pandemic]?
BIDEN: We may get there. I don't want to go that far ahead. But that is possible. I think we should be looking to all-mail ballots across the board to
begin with because it's an easier way for people to vote. But whether or not that's required across the board in all 50 states and territories, I'm not sure yet. I think we can make that. But we should be beginning to plan that in each of our states.
Source: Meet the Press 2020 Presidential race interview
, Mar 29, 2020
Cannot allow laws restricting black voters to stand
There should be automatic registration, turning 18, you get a driver's license, you automatically are registered. There are 35 states that have come up with a total of 78 laws to restrict voting just in the last five years to try to keep
African Americans from voting, and brown as well, black and brown people from voting. And that will be an enormous priority in my administration as it was in ours.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH
, Feb 7, 2020
Supports laws sanctioning Russia for election interference
Q: What about relations with Russia?
BIDEN: We're talking about Russian interference in the United States, whether there was collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. That's obscured a much larger discussion that should be taking
place about whether or not what Russia is doing in the rest of the world right now and what Russia is doing in Europe right now.
Q: There is bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would put in place sanctions that would snap in place on
Russia if in the future any determination is made that foreign election interference has happened. Do you think this is an appropriate step?
BIDEN: I think it is an appropriate step. I'm sure there are consequences that could flow that are ones we did not anticipate, but were I in the Senate, I'd be supporting that legislation.
History of racism was keeping black Americans from voting
Q: What would you do to ensure that all Americans are able to cast a free and unfettered vote and that that vote be counted?
A: The history of racism has been punctuated with an effort on the part of the powerful to keep black Americans from voting.
It used to be originally slavery, then all the laws relating to poll taxes and now we have not enough polling machines in black neighborhoods, not enough poll workers, old machines, deceptive practices, saying you can and cannot vote, intimidation.
It all comes down to a basic thing. It comes down to the effort to deny you, because of the racist attitudes of so many people, the right to be able to determine your own future. I’ve been deeply involved in the
Voting Rights Act, the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, but we’ve got to move beyond that now. There should be a federal standard and I’m glad to be able to agree with Mike Gravel on something.
As V.P., serves as bipartisan dealmaker with Congress
"When the president asked me what portfolio did I want, I said, 'Base it on what you want of me to help you govern,'" Biden recalled. "'But I want to be the last guy in the room on every major decision. You're president, I'm not, but if it's my
experience you're lookin' for, I want to be the last guy to make the case.'" For the most part, Biden adds, Obama kept the promise.
[On Capitol] Hill, Biden's relationships across the aisle allowed him to play the dealmaker on a slew of essential, if
unloved, last-minute debt-ceiling and budget negotiations. Senate Democrats were skeptical of his role, but Biden was undeniably a player, not least because of Obama's inability--or unwillingness--to cultivate meaningful long-term relationships across
the aisle. Says Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), "If you put him in a room with a lot of these people on the Hill, you'd find a way to focus on what you agree on and have a product. And I just get a completely different feeling with the president."
Source: Politico Mag profile, "Joe Biden in Winter"
, Mar 1, 2014
Voted YES on granting the District of Columbia a seat in Congress.
Cloture vote on the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act:
Considers D.C. a congressional district for purposes of representation in the House.
D.C. shall not be considered a state for representation in the Senate.
Limits D.C. to one Member under any reapportionment.
Increases membership of the House from 435 to 437.
Entitles Utah to one additional Representative until the next census, and modifies the reapportionment formula thereafter.
[Washington DC currently has a "delegate" to the US House, whose vote does not count. Utah had complained that the 2000 census did not count many Utahns on Mormon missions abroad].
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the
Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
Bill S. 1257
; vote number 2007-339
on Sep 18, 2007
Voted NO on requiring photo ID to vote in federal elections.
Vote on Dole Amdt. S.2350, amending SP2350 (via the College Cost Reduction Act): To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in person to present photo identification.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. DOLE. I am proposing a commonsense measure to uphold the integrity of Federal elections. My amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls would go a long way in minimizing potential for voter fraud. When a fraudulent vote is cast and counted, the vote of a legitimate voter is cancelled. This is wrong, and my amendment would help ensure that one of the hallmarks of our democracy, our free and fair elections, is protected. Opinion polls repeatedly confirm that Americans overwhelmingly support this initiative.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. FEINSTEIN. If one would want to suppress the vote in the 2008 election, one would vote for this because this measure goes into effect January 1, 2008. It provides that everybody who votes essentially would have to have a photo ID. If you want to suppress the minority vote, the elderly vote, the poor vote, this is exactly the way to do it. Many of these people do not have driver's licenses. This amendment would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to actually carry out. It goes into effect--surprise--January 1, 2008 [to affect the presidential election]. I urge a "no" vote.
Voted NO on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress.
A motion to table (kill) an amendment to clarify the application of the gift rule to lobbyists. Voting NAY would define employees of lobbying companies as registered lobbyists and therefore subject to the gift ban. Voting YEA would apply the gift ban only to specific people who registered as lobbyists.
Proponents of the amendment say to vote NAY on the tabling motion because:
Using the term "registered lobbyist'' will create a huge loophole. The Ethics Committee treats the actual listed lobbyists as registered lobbyists, but not the organization.
So, for example, a company can give a Senator free tickets to a show or a baseball game, as long as a lobbyist doesn't actually offer or handle them. If the lobbyist's secretary makes the call, that would be permitted.
If these companies can still give gifts, we won't have a real lobbyist gift ban. We won't be able to look the American people in the eye and say, "We just banned gifts from lobbyists,'' because we didn't.
Opponents of the amendment say to vote YEA on the tabling motion because:
I can tolerate not accepting gifts from lobbyists. But this amendment goes a step further which is problematic.
For example, I am a big fan of McDonald's. What about the kids working behind the counter? Would they be considered registered lobbyists because McDonald's has lobbyists? Would I not be able to go to lunch with my longtime friend who owns 12 McDonald's?
Every company in the Fortune 1000 employs a lobbyist, either a private firm or an in-house lobbyist. Under this amendment, every person who works for Exxon, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and countless other businesses that employ lobbyists in Washington would be considered registered lobbyists.
If we want to ban the CEO and chairman of the board of the company from paying for a meal, or the head of a labor union, do that specifically. But this is so broadly developed I think it goes way beyond that.
Voted YES on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.
An amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity. Voting YEA would establish the new office, and voting NAY would keep ethics investigations within the existing Senate Ethics Committee.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
We have heard from the media about the bribes and scandals, but we have heard only silence from the House Ethics Committee. One of the greatest travesties of these scandals is not what Congress did, but what it didn't do.
The American people perceive the entire ethics system--House and Senate--to be broken. We can pass all the ethics reforms we want--gift bans, travel bans, lobbying restrictions--but none of them will make a difference if there isn't a nonpartisan, independent body that will help us enforce those laws.
The Office of Public Integrity established in this amendment would provide a voice that cannot be silenced by political pressures. It would have the power to initiate independent investigations
and bring its findings to the Ethics Committees in a transparent manner.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
The Constitution gave us not only the right but the duty to create our own rules, including the rules concerning our ethics. They are enforced internally by the Senate itself.
The decisions made under this amendment would be no different than right now. The final decision will be made by the Senate Ethics Committee. All this really does is find a way to further publicize that complaints have been made.
We have people accusing us almost daily of having done something wrong and publishing it through blogs and all that. I think we should be very careful in setting up another tool for these bloggers to create more charges against the Senate.
I cannot support an amendment that either replaces the Senate Ethics Committee or adds another layer to our already expensive and time-consuming process. I urge the Senate to defeat this provision.
Voted YES on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.
Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban “soft money” contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
Voted NO on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.
Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
Voted YES on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations.
Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
; vote number 2001-64
on Apr 2, 2001
Voted YES on funding for National Endowment for the Arts.
This table motion would end debate on an amendment aimed at funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the motion to table is a vote for NEA funding. [YES to table means supporting the NEA; NO means defunding the NEA].
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)80; N)16; NV)4
Reference: Motion to table Smith Amdt #1569;
Bill H.R. 2466
; vote number 1999-260
on Aug 5, 1999
Voted YES on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance.
Support of the campaign finance bill proposed by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feingold (D-WI).
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)53; N)47
Reference: Campaign Finance Reform Bill;
Bill S. 25
; vote number 1997-267
on Oct 7, 1997
Voted YES on Approving the presidential line-item veto.
Approval of the presidential line-item veto authority.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)69; N)31
Reference: Conference Report on S. 4;
Bill S. 4
; vote number 1996-56
on Mar 27, 1996
Voted NO on banning more types of Congressional gifts.
To exclude certain items from the Congressional Gift Ban.
Status: Amdt Failed Y)39; N)60; NV)1
Reference: Murkowski Amdt to S. 1061;
Bill S. 1061
; vote number 1995-339
on Jul 28, 1995
Establish the United States Public Service Academy.
Biden co-sponsored establishing the United States Public Service Academy
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. CLINTON: I rise today to introduce legislation that will create an undergraduate institution designed to cultivate a generation of young leaders dedicated to public service. The US Public Service Academy Act (The PSA Act) will form a national academy to serve as an extraordinary example of effective, national public education.
The tragic events of September 11 and the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita underscore how much our Nation depends on strong public institutions and competent civilian leadership at all levels of society. Congress must take a step forward to ensure competent civilian leadership and improve our Nation's ability to respond to future emergencies and to confront daily challenges.
This legislation will create the US Public Service Academy to groom future public servants and build a corps of capable civilian leaders. Modeled after the military service academies, this academy
will provide a four-year, federally-subsidized college education for more than 5,000 students a year in exchange for a five year commitment to public service.
The PSA Act will meet critical national needs as the baby-boomer generation approaches retirement. Already, studies show looming shortages in the Federal civil service, public education, law enforcement, the non-profit sector and other essential areas.
Unfortunately our young people are priced out of public service careers all too often. By providing a service-oriented education at no cost to the student, the PSA Act will tap into the strong desire to serve that already exists among college students while erasing the burden of enormous college debt.
The establishment of a United States Public Service Academy is an innovative way to strengthen and protect America by creating a corps of well-trained, highly-qualified civilian leaders. I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join me today.
Source: United States Public Service Academy Act (S.960 & HR.1671) 07-HR1671 on Mar 23, 2007
Click here for 8 older quotations from Joe Biden on Government Reform.