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Political positions of Joe Biden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joe Biden served as the Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He served in the United States Senate from 1973 until 2009 and made his second run for President of the United States in the 2008 presidential election as a Democrat. Biden was announced as Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's running mate on August 23, 2008, and was elected Vice President on November 4, 2008. On April 25, 2019, Biden announced his third run for President of the United States.[1]

He supported the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement.[2] During the Obama Administration, Biden was a strong advocate for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[3]

Biden announced support for a Public health insurance option that would allow Americans to buy into Medicare.[4][5][6]

Biden has supported campaign finance reform including the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and banning contributions of issue ads and gifts;[7] capital punishment as his 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act created several new capital offenses;[8] deficit spending on fiscal stimulus in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009;[9][10] tax credits for students;[11] carbon emissions cap and trade;[12] the increased infrastructure spending proposed by the Obama administration;[10] mass transit, supporting Amtrak, bus, and subway subsidies for decades;[13] renewable energy subsidies;[12] same-sex marriage;[14] student loan forgiveness;[15] increased taxation of the wealthy;[16] and expanding upon the Affordable Care Act, rather than establishing a Medicare for All system. He supports decriminalizing marijuana on a Federal level and supports a state's right to legalize it on a state level,[17] and prefers the reduced military spending proposed in the Obama administration's fiscal year 2014 budget.[18][19]

Lifetime ratings

Joe Biden's lifetime ratings[20][21][22][23]
Date Organization Advocacy Lifetime rating
2008 Alliance for Retired Americans Retirees 96%
2008 American Civil Liberties Union Civil liberties 86%
2008 American Conservative Union Conservatism 12.67%
1995 American Conservative Union Conservatism 13%
2009 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Unionism 86%
2008 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Unionism 86%
2008 American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Public-sector trade unions 86%
2003 Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Gun violence prevention 95%
2002 Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Gun violence prevention 95%
1988-2008 Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Gun violence prevention 96%
2004 Christian Action Network Christian 12%
2008 Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Fiscal conservatism 22%
2001-2002 Information Technology Industry Council Information and communications technology 73%
2008 League of Conservation Voters Conservationism 83%
1989-2013 NumbersUSA Anti-immigration 21%
2005-2008 NumbersUSA Anti-immigration 21%
1989-2003 NumbersUSA Anti-immigration 17%
1989-2002 NumbersUSA Anti-immigration 22%
1989-2001 NumbersUSA Anti-immigration 22%
1993-2014 The Lugar Center Government operations 58%
2008 United States Chamber of Commerce Business 36%

Social issues

Affirmative action

Biden has supported affirmative action policies.[24]

Capital punishment

Biden supports capital punishment. Biden originally wrote the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 included Title VI, the Federal Death Penalty Act, creating 60 new death penalty offenses under 41 federal capital statutes,[25] for crimes related to acts of terrorism, murder of a federal law enforcement officer, civil rights-related murders, drive-by shootings resulting in death, the use of weapons of mass destruction resulting in death, and carjackings resulting in death. However, he voted against limiting appeals in capital cases and also opposed rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals.


Biden wrote the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which deployed more police officers, increased prison sentences, and built more prisons. The bill helped reduce the crime rate, but critics say that it "created a financial incentive for jailing people and keeping them there for longer periods of time" which had a disproportionate impact on minorities.[26]

Drug law

Biden earned a reputation for being a "drug warrior," leading efforts in the war on drugs.[27] During the 1980s crack epidemic when both Democrats and Republicans were "tough on crime," Biden was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee that passed numerous punitive measures against drug offenders. In 1986, Biden sponsored and co-wrote the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which caused a large disparity between the sentencing of crack cocaine and powder cocaine users. Black drug users use crack more than cocaine, hence they were incarcerated in larger numbers.[28][29] In 1982, he advocated for the creation of a drug czar, a government official overseeing all anti-drug operations. This led to the establishment of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.[27]

He supported increased penalties against those caught selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools.[30] He was the drafter and chief sponsor of the RAVE Act, a law used to crack down on MDMA-fueled raves, which critics called "too broad in scope."[31] Later renamed the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003, the law was additionally controversial as it was passed attached to an unrelated child protection bill, without public hearing or debate in Congress. Critics assert that the law has since been used by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents to intimidate those organizing rallies and fund-raisers to support drug-law reform.[32]

During the 2007 Democratic primary debate at Howard University, Biden acknowledged the consequences of the drug laws he authored and supported in the 1980s. He said there is a need to close the disparity in punishment between crack and powder cocaine users and a "diversion out of the prison system" and into treatment.[30] In 2010, Biden supported the Fair Sentencing Act which aimed to reduce the disparity.[33]

Biden has a history of opposing marijuana legalization and has maintained this position well into the Obama years, unlike many of his Democratic colleagues who have changed their views.[citation needed] As a young senator in 1974, he opposed marijuana legalization in contrast to his other more liberal views.[34] In 2014, while the Obama Administration considered marijuana "no more dangerous than alcohol," Biden preferred to think of the marijuana issue as a law enforcement issue. He said, "I think the idea of focusing significant resources on interdicting or convicting people for smoking marijuana is a waste of our resources," and reaffirmed his position against complete legalization.[35]

As Vice President, Biden actively engaged with Central American leaders on issues of drug cartels, drug trafficking, and migration to the U.S. caused by insecurity and drug violence. (See Central America below.)


Biden received a 91% voting record from the National Education Association (NEA) showing a pro-teacher union voting record. He supports comprehensive sex education, opposes student vouchers, and affirms the Constitutional right to voluntary prayer in school.[36] He voted in favor of Educational Savings Accounts. In regard to the No Child Left Behind Act, Biden stated,

Classrooms are too big; we need smaller classrooms, period. A lot of teachers are going to be retiring. We need a program where we attract the best and brightest students coming out of our colleges to be teachers, and pay them.[37]

He voted in favor of the act in 2001, but has subsequently called his vote a "mistake."[38] He has said that the program is "underfunding" the education system.


Biden has been credited with introducing the first climate change bill in Congress.[39] The 1986 bill was signed into law by President Reagan as an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act in December 1987.[39]

He co-sponsored the "Sense of the Senate" resolution calling on the U.S. to be a part of the United Nations climate negotiations and the "Boxer-Sanders Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act", the most stringent climate bill in the U.S. Senate.[40] He voted "Yes" on a $3.1B for emergency oil assistance for hurricane-hit areas and "No" for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on national security grounds and defunding renewable and solar energy.[41]

Biden supports creating a new treaty on climate change requiring emissions reductions from developing countries, such as Brazil, India, China, and Mexico. He has also stated his support for investment in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as creating a "cap and trade" system. Biden supports the promotion of renewable energy, including biodiesel fuels but not ethanol.

On June 4, 2019, Joe Biden's campaign unveiled a climate policy plan aimed at getting the United States to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Joe Biden also promised he'd re-enter the Paris Agreement on his first day in the White House.[42]

Gun rights

Throughout his term in the Senate, Biden supported various gun control measures.[43]

  • In 1986, he voted for a bill that allowed the sale of firearms through the U.S. Postal Service and which restricted the ability of federal inspectors to scrutinize sales of firearms at gun shows.[44] At the time, the NRA described the legislation as "the law that saved gun rights" in the United States.[44]
  • In 1989 he sponsored a bill which would have banned the AR-15 and eight similar firearms.[45]
  • He voted for the 1993 Brady Bill which established five-day waiting periods for handgun purchases and background checks.[46]
  • In 1994 he argued in favor of banning assault-style weapons and helped pass the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 which banned the manufacture, transfer, or possession of certain firearms, with the exception of those owned prior to its implementation. The bill expired in 2004.[47]
  • He voted for the Closing Gun Show Loophole act of 1999 that would have required people purchasing guns at gun shows to undergo a background check and a three-day waiting period.[43]
  • He voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 which protects firearm manufacturers from lawsuits due to crimes committed with firearms they manufactured.[43]

In 2003, Biden was given a failing grade by the National Rifle Association (NRA) "showing an anti-gun ownership voting record".[43][48]

Homeland security

After the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, a domestic terrorist bomb attack that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Biden drafted anti-terrorist legislation, which was ultimately defeated. He later claimed publicly on several occasions that the USA PATRIOT Act, which eased restrictions on the Executive branch in the surveillance and detention of those suspected of terrorism or facilitating it, was essentially a duplicate of the anti-terrorist legislation he had drafted years earlier.[49] Biden supported the PATRIOT Act but voted to limit wiretapping on the bill. He supports implementing the 9/11 Commission's recommendations to fight terrorists but voted to preserve habeas corpus rights to the alleged terror suspects serving in Guantanamo Bay. In the 1990s, he voted in favor of 36 vetoed military projects and supports efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. He was given a 60% approval rating from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reflecting a mixed voting record on civil rights issues. During a debate on November 15, 2007, Biden clarified the PATRIOT Act's effect and his continued support for it and his opposition to racial profiling.[50]

On the War on Terror, Biden voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 and the Patriot Act of 2001.[51][52]


On September 29, 2006, Biden voted for the Secure Fence Act, which authorized and partially funded the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border.[53][54] Biden supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. He supports guest-worker visas. Biden also supports a path to citizenship.[55]

During his 2007 Presidential run Biden was opposed to Sanctuary cities. In 2007, he was unequivocal when asked at a debate about whether he would allow sanctuary cities to ignore federal law. “No,” he responded. [56][57]

Internet privacy and file sharing

In 2006, in its Technology Issues Voter's Guide, gave Biden a score of 37.5% on his Senate voting record.[58][59] They described him as "Pro-RIAA" and "Pro-FBI" in his file sharing and privacy stances. Biden sponsored a bill that would prohibit recording songs off of Satellite and Internet radio,[60] and signed a letter urging the Justice Department to prosecute file sharers.[citation needed]

Biden also sponsored two bills, the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act (SB 266) and the Violent Crime Control Act (SB 618), both of which contained language seen as effectively banning encryption.[61] Crypto notes Biden wrote that language into the text of SB 266.[62] Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy, has said it was SB 266 that "led [him] to publish PGP electronically for free that year, shortly before the measure was defeated after vigorous protest by civil libertarians and industry groups."[63] He later stated in a Slashdot article that he was not specifically criticizing Biden, that he would consider the Senator's "whole body of work" when considering whether to vote for him on the Democratic ticket in 2008, and that "considering the disastrous erosion in our privacy and civil liberties under the (Bush) administration, I feel positively nostalgic about Biden's quaint little non-binding resolution of 1991".[64]

LGBTQ issues

In 1993, as a United States Senator, Biden voted in favor of 10 U.S.C. §654, a section of a broader federally mandated policy that deemed homosexuality incompatible with military life thereby banning gay Americans from serving in the United States armed forces in any capacity without exception.[65] The law was subsequently modified by President Clinton through the issuance of DOD Directive 1304.26 (subsequently nicknamed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or DADT) which accommodated "closeted" service to the extent that a servicemember's homosexual sexual orientation was neither discovered nor disclosed.[66] The ban was held unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States for violation of First and Fifth Amendment rights.[67] The Obama Administration, in accordance with President Obama's unfavorable view of the law, pushed a legislative repeal of 10 U.S.C. §654 on December 15, 2010.[68][69]

In 1996, Biden voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (1 U.S.C. §7) which prohibited the federal government from recognizing any same-sex marriage, barring individuals in such marriages from equal protection under federal law, and allowing states to do the same.[70] In 2013, Section 3 of DOMA was ruled unconstitutional and partially struck down in United States v. Windsor. The Obama Administration did not defend the law and congratulated Windsor.[71] In 2015, DOMA was ruled unconstitutional in totality in Obergefell v. Hodges.[72]

In a May 2012 Meet the Press interview, Vice President Biden publicly reversed his previous position, stating he was "absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."[73]

Religious faith

In response to a student's question about how his own religious faith affected his philosophy of government at the University of Pittsburgh in November 2011, Biden said,

I find it preposterous that in 2011 we're debating whether or not a man is qualified or worthy of your vote based on whether or not his religion ... is a disqualifying provision. It is not. It is embarrassing and we should be ashamed, anyone who thinks that way.[74]

Women's rights

In 1994, Biden drafted the Violence Against Women Act. This law provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of the violent crime perpetrated against women, increased pre-trial detention of the accused, provided for automatic and mandatory restitution of those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the VAWA on Constitutional grounds in United States v. Morrison.

Biden has said, "I consider the Violence Against Women Act the single most significant legislation that I've crafted during my 35-year tenure in the Senate. Indeed, the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 was the beginning of a historic commitment to women and children victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault. Our nation has been rewarded for this commitment. Since the Act's passage in 1994, domestic violence has dropped by almost 50%."[75] He has also said that the Act "empower[s] women to make changes in their lives, and by training police and prosecutors to arrest and convict abusive husbands instead of telling them to take a walk around the block".[76]

There has been controversy regarding then-Senator Biden's actions during the Anita Hill hearings of 1991. At the time Biden was serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the nomination of Republican judge Clarence Thomas who was nominated by then-President George H. W. Bush. During the nomination process, Judge Thomas was accused of a consistent pattern of sexual harassment.[77] During the hearing, Biden referred to the accusations by Hill as being "he said, she said"[78] and as a "character assassination".[79] In 2017, Biden issued an apology to Anita Hill, stating: "Let’s get something straight here, I believed Anita Hill. I voted against Clarence Thomas... I am so sorry that she had to go through what she went through. Think of the courage that it took for her to come forward.”[80]


Roe v. Wade

According to Jamal Brown, Biden's press secretary, said that when Biden arrived in the Senate in 1973 he thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, but now “firmly believes that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and should not be overturned,”. In 1981, he voted for a failed constitutional amendment allowing states to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 1982, he voted against the same failed constitutional amendment allowing states to overturn Roe v. Wade. He now says he would consider codifying the Roe v. Wade precedent into federal law in case the ruling is overturned by the United States Supreme Court.[81][82] He pledged that he would appoint United States Supreme Court justices who shared his beliefs in upholding Roe v. Wade.[83]

Federal abortion funding

From 1976 to June 5, 2019, Biden supported the Hyde Amendment.[84][85] On June 6, 2019, Biden reversed his support and now supports repealing the Hyde Amendment.[86] In 1981, he voted to end federal funding for abortion for victims of rape and incest.[81] Biden previously supported the Mexico City policy, but now supports repealing it.[82]

Post-viability abortion

In 2003, Biden voted for the "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003".[87] In 2007, he opposed the United States Supreme Court ruling in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart which upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. He defended his opposition, saying he opposed the court's reasoning for the ruling, not the decision itself.[88]

Economic issues


Senator Biden supported the Farm Bill and believes that it is a responsible compromise.

He has strongly supported efforts to combat the problem of invasive species—plants and animals improperly brought to U.S. shores. Biden feels that these non-native species have the potential to be among the largest economic and environmental threats in the 21st century. Non-native species alter vegetation, compete with native species, introduce new diseases, and interfere with maritime commerce. Aware of these dangers, Senator Biden continues supporting programs used to stop importing non-native plants and animals to the U.S.[89]

After learning that Russia will start banning chicken imports from 19 plants in the United States, Biden issued the following statement:

Russia is once again using non-tariff barriers as an excuse to close its markets to American poultry. I am concerned about the effect of this action on Mountaire, a major employer and integral part of our state's agricultural production. Other local poultry processing plants may be targeted! Russia has repeatedly shown that it is not ready to abide by the rules of international trade. Let's not forget this is part of a bigger picture in which Russia has failed to behave as a responsible member in the international community. Until Russia reverses their recent actions—both big and small—its application to join the World Trade Organization should remain on hold. The United States must take immediate and necessary steps—just like we did in 2002—to restore access to this market, which is critical to Delaware's farmers, Delaware's poultry industry and Delaware's economy, which relies heavily on the agricultural industry.[90]


During the 2000s, Biden sponsored bankruptcy legislation, which was sought by MBNA, one of Delaware's largest companies and Biden's largest contributor in the late 1990s,[26] and other credit card issuers.[91] He fought for certain amendments to the bill that would indirectly protect homeowners and forbid anti-abortion felons from using bankruptcy to discharge fines.[91] He also worked to defeat amendments which would have protected members of the military and those who are pushed into bankruptcy by medical debt. Critics expressed concern that the law would force those seeking bankruptcy protection to hire lawyers to process the required paperwork and would make it more difficult for students to execute education-related debt.[26] The overall bill was vetoed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, but then finally passed as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005, with Biden supporting it.[91]


Biden opposes drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and supports governmental funding to find new energy sources as well as upping funding for alternative transportation like Amtrak and mass transit.[92]

While campaigning for president in 2007, Biden said that, if elected, his top priority would be "energy security." He has also been quoted as saying "If I could wave a wand, and the Lord said I could solve one problem, I would solve the energy crisis."[93]

Trade and globalization

Biden was among the Democrats to vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993.[94] He opposed the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) but supports normalizing relations with China, Vietnam, and the Andean nations. He opposes free trade agreements with Oman, Singapore, and Chile.[citation needed]

Biden was given a 42% approval rating from the Cato Institute, showing a mixed record on free trade. He received a 32% approval rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He favors taking burdens off corporations to prevent outsourcing.[vague] He voted in favor of repealing tax subsidies for companies that outsource jobs.[citation needed]


Biden has not endorsed Medicare for All but has announced support for a Public health insurance option that would allow Americans to buy into Medicare.[4][5][6]

Labor unions

Biden was given an 85% lifetime approval rating from AFL–CIO.[95]

Biden was a cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act.[96]


Biden is against the George W. Bush administration's tax cuts and would "take back one year of the tax cuts for Americans who make over a million dollars a year, and put this money in a dedicated Homeland Security and Public Safety Trust Fund to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and invest in law enforcement."[97] Biden supports a balanced budget amendment.

Biden cites high health care and energy costs as two major threats to the prosperity of American businesses. He believes that addressing these issues will improve American economic competitiveness.[98]


Biden opposes the privatization of Social Security and was given an 89% approval rating from the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), reflecting a pro-senior citizen voting record. He voted in support of welfare block grants and supports welfare reform.[99][which?]

Foreign policy

The Council on Foreign Relations reported on Biden's political positions.[100]


Biden favored an American deployment of troops to Darfur.[101] In support of this, Biden said senior U.S. military officials in Europe told him that 2,500 U.S. troops could "radically change the situation on the ground now" (see War in Darfur.)

Biden is opposed to American financing of abstinence-only programs to combat HIV-AIDS in Africa. In 2007, he cosponsored the HIV Prevention Act which would end President George W. Bush's mandate that one-third of all funds be earmarked to abstinence-only programs.[101]

Middle East


As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Biden has been a prominent voice calling for "hard-headed diplomacy" with Iran. In July 2008, Biden should first engage directly with Iran in the context of talks with the Permanent Five Members of the UN Security Council and Germany, and "ultimately country-to-country, just as we did with North Korea." He also has called for the implementation of "coordinated international sanctions" on Iran, adding "we should complement this pressure by presenting a detailed, positive vision for U.S.–Iran relations if Iran does the right thing."[101]

In 2007, Biden voted against a measure to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. He wrote in December 2007 that "War with Iran is not just a bad option. It would be a disaster." Biden threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush if he had started a war with Iran without Congressional approval.[101] In an interview in September 2008, Biden stated that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was a terrorist organization and that the Bush administration already had the power to designate it as one. He stated that he voted against the measure out of concern that the Bush administration would misuse the measure to justify a military attack against Iran.[102]

In early April 2009, Biden told CNN that he believed that Israel would not launch a unilateral strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Biden stated that "I think (Israel) would be ill-advised to do that. And so my level of concern is no different than it was a year ago."[103]


Joe Biden speaking
Joe Biden speaking

In 1990, after Iraq under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Biden voted against the first Gulf War, asking: "What vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?"[104] In 1998, Biden expressed support for the use of force against Iraq and urged a sustained effort to "dethrone" Saddam Hussein over the long haul.[105] In 2002, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he stated that Saddam Hussein was "a long-term threat and a short term threat to our national security" and that the United States has "no choice but to eliminate the threat".[106] He also said, "I think Saddam either has to be separated from his weapons or taken out of power."[107] Biden also supported a failed resolution authorizing military action in Iraq only after the exhaustion of diplomatic efforts,[108] Biden argued that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons.[109] Biden subsequently voted in favor of authorizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[51]

In 2006, about three years into the war in Iraq, Biden believed the original authorization on the use of military force in Iraq in 2002 had been a mistake because President Bush "used his congressional authority unwisely." Biden argued that the 2002 resolution needed revision because Saddam Hussein had since been deposed and executed, and because the weapons of mass destruction that the Iraq regime supposedly had stockpiled — a principal justification by the Bush administration for going to war — were never found. Biden opposed increasing troops in Iraq while favoring the training of Iraqi soldiers to maintain the security of their own country and said U.S. troops should "responsibly draw down" and not stay in Iraq indefinitely.[110]

In September 2007, Biden and Sen. Sam Brownback, (R-KS), introduced a non-binding resolution (originally drafted with Leslie H. Gelb) to the U.S. Senate regarding Iraq's political future. The measure proposed "a decentralized Iraqi government based upon the principles of federalism and advocates for a relatively weak central government with strong Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish regional administrations."[111]

Key points include:

  1. Giving Iraq's major groups a measure of autonomy in their own regions. A central government would be left in charge of interests such as defending the borders and distributing oil revenues.
  2. Guaranteeing Sunnis—who have no oil rights—a proportionate share of oil revenue and reintegrating those who have not fought against Coalition forces.
  3. Increase, not end, reconstruction assistance but insist that Arab states of the Persian Gulf fund it and tie it to the creation of a jobs program and to the protection of minority rights.
  4. Initiate a diplomatic offensive to enlist the support of the major powers and neighboring countries for a political settlement in Iraq and create an Oversight Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.
  5. Begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces in 2007 and withdraw most of them by 2008, leaving a small follow-on force for security and policing actions.

The bill passed the Senate by a 75 to 23 margin. Reception from Iraqi politicians and the divided Iraqi government was mixed. The United Iraqi Alliance denounced the resolution "as a U.S. attempt to meddle in Iraqi sovereignty." The U.S. Embassy in Iraq warned that it "would produce extraordinary suffering and bloodshed." President of Iraq Jalal Talabani, who was Kurdish, supported the resolution.[111] The Iraqi people did not view the resolution favorably. According to a 2007 poll conducted by the BBC, 9% of the Iraqi people believed in a partitioned Iraq, 28% believed in a combination of regional governments and a federal government, and 62% believed in a unified Iraq with a centralized government.[112]

In February 2008, in conversation with Katie Couric, Biden disagreed with President Bush's position on Iraq as the primary war in the War on Terror.[113]

[The Afghanistan-Pakistan border] is where we must, in my view, urgently shift our focus to the real central front on the so-called war on terrorism, using the totality of America's strength... The original sin was starting a war of choice [the intervention in Iraq] before we finished a war of necessity [the war in Afghanistan]. And we're paying a terrible price for diverting our forces and resources to Iraq from Afghanistan.

— Sen. Joe Biden, "A Conversation with Joseph R. Biden"

In a 2016 interview with Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden spoke about changing "the fundamental approach [America] had to the Middle East," and that the lesson learned from Iraq is "the use of force with large standing armies in place was extremely costly, [and] would work until the moment we left."[114]


Biden is a self-described Zionist.[101] During an interview conducted by the U.S. Jewish television cable network Shalom TV, Biden said, "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist."[115]

He is highly supportive of the state of Israel and views Israel as a strategic ally in the Middle East.[116] He stated that "the Arab nations have known that there is no daylight between us and Israel."[117] Regarding support for Israel within the Democratic Party, Biden has stated that the Democrats' support for Israel "comes from our gut, moves through our heart, and ends up in our head. It's almost genetic."[118] In September 2008, Biden stated "A strong America is a strong Israel. I have a 35-year record of supporting Israel, and Israel's security is enhanced the stronger America is."[119]

Joe Biden at the World Economic Forum in Jordan in 2003
Joe Biden at the World Economic Forum in Jordan in 2003

In a speech to several hundred older American Jews at a Florida retirement community, Biden stressed that he and Barack Obama are strongly pro-Israel. Biden stated "I am chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. I give you my word as a Biden, I would not have given up that job to be Barack Obama's vice president if I didn't in my gut and in my heart and in my head know that Barack Obama is exactly where I am on Israel. And he is ... I promise you ... we will make [Israel] more secure." Biden also criticized the presidency of George W. Bush, stating that "By any objective fact, Israel is less secure today in the world than it was eight years ago."[120][121]

During a conference call to members of the Jewish media on September 3, 2008, Biden stated, in regard to a potential Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, that it "is not a question for us to tell the Israelis what they can and cannot do, I have faith in the democracy of Israel. They will arrive at the right decision that they view as being in their own interests." However, Biden stated that additional diplomatic efforts should be made to help avert the potential need for military action.[102]

In September 2008, Biden spoke at the Washington Conference of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). Biden stated that "I've spent 35 years of my career dealing with issues relating to Israel. My support for Israel begins in my stomach, goes to my heart and ends up in my head." Regarding Barack Obama's stance on Israel, Biden stated that "I guarantee you, I would not have joined Barack Obama as his vice president if I had any doubt, even the slightest doubt, that he shares the same commitment to Israel I share." Biden also harshly denied a claim by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) that he once attempted to cut off aid to Israel.[122] NJDC director Ira Forman has praised Biden, stating that "There is no one you could possibly pick who knows the issues, who is committed to Israel's security and knows Israeli leaders, as much as Joe Biden."[123]

During the 2008 vice-presidential debate, Biden stated "no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion."[124]

In November 2010, Biden served as the keynote speaker at the General Assembly (GA) of Jewish Federations of North America, where he stated that "This government will stand with Israel. It's in our own self-interest, beyond it being an absolute moral necessity." He also renewed his support for peace talks with the Palestinians, stating that "There is no substitute for direct face-to-face negotiations leading eventually to states for two people secured—the Jewish State of Israel and the viable independent state of Palestine. That is the only path to the Israeli people's decades-long quest for security, and the only path to the Palestinian people's legitimate aspirations for nationhood."[125]

Alleged statement on Iranian nuclear arms

In early September 2008, Haaretz quoted an un-sourced report from Israel Army Radio which stated that Biden had told Israeli officials in private that Israel "will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran." Biden denied ever making such a statement. David Wade, a Biden spokesman, stated that "This is a lie peddled by partisan opponents of Senators Obama and Biden and we will not tolerate anyone questioning Senator Biden's 35-year record of standing up for the security of Israel." and continued that Biden views a nuclear Iran as a "grave threat to Israel and the United States." Israeli officials later reported that the original story appeared "dubious."[126][127]

American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Regarding the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Biden defended his right to oppose some AIPAC-backed measures. Biden stated that "AIPAC does not speak for the entire American Jewish community. There's other organizations as strong and as consequential." Biden further stated that AIPAC does not speak for Israel. However, Biden added that "I've never disagreed with AIPAC on the objective. Whenever I've had disagreement with AIPAC it has always been a tactical disagreement, not a substantive disagreement." Following this interview, an AIPAC spokesman praised Biden's leadership efforts on several fronts and stated that "We look forward to continuing to work with him in the Senate or in the White House." [102][128]

In September 2008, Biden spoke with AIPAC leaders in a conference call. Following the meeting, an AIPAC spokesman stated that "We had a very warm conversation with Senator Biden today, as we have many times throughout the years, about the importance of the U.S–Israel relationship, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future. We had an opportunity to express our appreciation for his strong leadership in support of the U.S.–Israel relationship, and we were pleased to hear Senator Biden reaffirm his desire to maintain his close relationship with AIPAC as we work together to strengthen the special friendship between the two democracies over many years to come." An adviser to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama stated that "Senator Biden expressed his appreciation for AIPAC's important work supporting Israel's security and the U.S.–Israel relationship, and that he looks forward to continuing to work with them as partners on these issues in the future as he has in the past."[129]

Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Biden with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 2014
Biden with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 2014

Biden has stated he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Biden cosponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 which expressed U.S. support for a two-state solution.[101][130] During the 2008 vice-presidential debate, Biden stated that the Bush administration's policy with regard to the Middle East has been "an abject failure" and pledged that, if elected, Barack Obama and himself "will change this policy with thoughtful, real, live diplomacy that understands that you must back Israel in letting them negotiate, support their negotiation, and stand with them, not insist on policies like this administration has."[124]

In a March 2007 interview, Biden was asked about the failure to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Biden stated that "Israel's a democracy and they make mistakes. But the notion that somehow if Israel just did the right thing, [the peace process] would work ... give me a break." He also stated that "The responsibility rests on those who will not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, will not play fair, will not deal, will not renounce terror."[123]

In May 2009, Biden spoke at an AIPAC conference where he stated that Israel "has to work towards a two-state solution" and called on Israel to "dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement." He also called on the Palestinians to "combat terror and incitement against Israel."[131]

In April 2016, Biden addressed J Street with a rebuke of Netanyahu's leadership in Israel. He said Israeli actions in promoting and expanding settlements, legalization of outposts, and land seizures are moving Israel toward a "one-state reality" and that reality is dangerous. He also said he had opposed Israeli settlements for more than three decades and believed that they are counterproductive to Israel's security. He cited Israeli settlements, as well as Palestinian recourse to the International Criminal Court as "damaging moves that only take us further from the path toward peace". In response to several terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians at the time, Biden called out President Abbas for failing to condemn them. These comments were made while the Obama Administration was negotiating a multi-billion dollar defense deal with Israel, as the U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to the security of its closest Middle Eastern ally.[132][133]


In an event in New Hampshire, Biden spoke about the 2011 intervention in Libya: "NATO got it right. In this case, America spent $2 billion and didn't lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has in the past."[134] Five years later, in an interview with Charlie Rose, Biden stated he was "strongly against going to Libya" due to the instability it would cause within the country. He said, "My question was, 'OK, tell me what happens.' He's gone. What happens? Doesn't the country disintegrate? What happens then? Doesn't it become a place where it becomes a petri dish for the growth of extremism? And it has."[135]


In a 2018 conversation for Foreign Affairs, Biden described Syria as "a classic example of the biggest conundrum that we have to deal with." He sees America's current situation in Syria as having "lost the notion among our European friends that we know what we're doing, that we have a plan." He emphasized the necessity of stabilizing Syria, especially in major cities like Raqqa.[136] Raqqa is in ruins after lengthy battles between ISIL and Kurdish forces, the SDF, with assistance from the U.S.-led coalition.[137] Biden said a multi-billion dollar investment is required to rebuild the city. He believes Iran, not Russia, will be the biggest beneficiaries in the short term, if Syria remains a battlefield. President Bashar al-Assad will also need to be removed from power, otherwise Syria will never have peace or security.[136]

The nonstarter is, for Russia, the idea that Assad stays in power and continues to control means there’s a guarantee that there will never be peace or security in that country, because so many—so many, you know, bottles have been broken here, man. I mean, there’s no way he can put that together.

— Joe Biden, "Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden"

Biden said there is no uniting principle in Syria, unlike Iraq, hence only certain safe harbors can be established in the region to reduce the number of displaced people and deaths.[136]

Saudi Arabia

Biden criticized U.S. involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and Trump administration's policies toward Saudi Arabia.[138]

East Asia


Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping raised a toast at a State Dinner in September 2015
Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping raised a toast at a State Dinner in September 2015

In 2016, Biden described the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an agreement that was as much about geopolitics as economics. Being part of the Obama administration, he supported the agreement in an attempt to "rebalance towards Asia" against a stronger and bolder Chinese foreign policy in the region.[114]

In 2018, Biden said he had spent more time in private meetings with President Xi Jinping than any other world leader. He believes Xi thinks of Russia as "an occasional foil," and neither countries will come together in an alliance, but both can use each other for benefits relative to America.[136]

On June 4, 2019, Biden tweeted that "China’s continuing oppression of its own people, especially the abuse and internment of more than one million Uyghurs, is one of the worst human rights crises in the world today. It can’t be ignored."[138] He expressed support for Hong Kong's protests.[139]

On June 11, 2019, Biden criticized Trump's "damaging" trade war with China.[138]

North Korea

Biden favors open dialogue with North Korea and describes them as a "paper tiger", unable to directly cause harm to America. However, in a June 2007 Democratic debate, he called the situation one of "the three most important things that the next president is going to have to deal with", along with Iran and Iraq.[101]



Biden, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi meeting in Italy in June 2011
Biden, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi meeting in Italy in June 2011
Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, June 7, 2014
Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, June 7, 2014

In 1999, Biden cosponsored a draft resolution condemning Russia's military campaign to crush a Chechen separatist insurgency, the use of indiscriminate force by the Russian army against civilians and violations of the Geneva Convention, and urged a peaceful resolution of the conflict.[140][141]

In 2005, Biden cosponsored a Senate resolution criticizing Russia for failing to uphold its commitments at the 1999 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Summit, which included agreements on a completed Russian military withdrawal from Moldova's breakaway, pro-Russian region of Transnistria. That resolution also expressed disapproval of Russia's demand for the closure of the OSCE Border Monitoring Operation (BMO), which served to observe border crossings between Georgia and the Russian republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia. That bill passed in the Senate.[101]

Biden introduced legislation in July 2008 urging members of the Group of Eight to "work toward a more constructive relationship with Russia," and encouraging Russia to behave according to the G-8's "objectives of protecting global security, economic stability, and democracy." The resolution also called on Russian and U.S. leaders to increase cooperation and funding for the Nunn-Lugar program and other nonproliferation initiatives. It also emphasized the need for a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty. The resolution passed.[101]

Biden has voiced concerns about Russia alleged backsliding on democratic reforms. In August 2008, Biden criticized Russia's military action in Georgia in support of South Ossetian separatists. "By acting disproportionately with a full-scale attack on Georgia and seeking the ouster of Georgia's democratically elected President Mikheil Saakashvili, Moscow is jeopardizing its standing in Europe and the broader international community—and risking very real practical and political consequences," Biden wrote in a Financial Times op-ed. Biden urged Russia to abide by the negotiated cease-fire.[101]

In a 2018 Foreign Affairs op-ed co-written with Michael Carpenter,[note 1] Biden described Russia as a kleptocratic, nationalist-populist state that considers Western democracy its existential threat. He acknowledged that the Kremlin launched coordinated attacks across many domains—military, political, economic, informational—against various Western democratic countries, including cyberattacks on the 2016 United States presidential election and 2017 French presidential election. As a result of Russia's threat, Biden supports a "strong response" with cooperation from America's allies and campaign finance reform that will prohibit foreign donations from flowing into domestic elections.[142]

Western democracies must also address glaring vulnerabilities in their electoral systems, financial sectors, cyber-infrastructure, and media ecosystems. The U.S. campaign finance system, for example, needs to be reformed to deny foreign actors—from Russia and elsewhere—the ability to interfere in American elections. Authorities can no longer turn a blind eye to the secretive bundling of donations that allows foreign money to flow to U.S. organizations (such as “ghost corporations”) that in turn contribute to super PACs and other putatively independent political organizations, such as trade associations and so-called 501(c)(4) groups. Congress must get serious about campaign finance reform now; doing so should be a matter of bipartisan consensus since this vulnerability affects Democrats and Republicans in equal measure.

— Joe Biden, Michael Carpenter, "How to Stand Up to the Kremlin"

He also accused President Trump of "[equivocating] on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election, even after he received briefings from top intelligence officials on precisely how Moscow did it."[143]

At the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Biden reiterated his opposition to Russian interference in elections and their actions against European neighbors, saying, "We have to be explicit in our response and make clear to Russia that there's a price to pay for these transgressions of international norms," and that the U.S. needs to continue to support its NATO allies, as well as Georgia and Ukraine who are not part of NATO, by "establishing virtually continuous air, land and sea presence on NATO's eastern perimeter." He also expressed explicit concern of Russian influence on American politics.[144]

The Americas

Central America

As part of the Obama Administration, Biden supported the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) to combat drug cartels and strengthen law enforcement in Central America. Between 2008 and 2011, the Department of State provided $361.5 million to Central American countries. The State Department stated five main goals to CARSI:

  1. Create safe streets for the citizens in the region.
  2. Disrupt the movement of criminals and contraband within and between the nations of Central America.
  3. Support the development of strong, capable and accountable Central American governments.
  4. Re-establish effective state presence and security in communities at risk.
  5. Foster enhanced levels of security and rule of law coordination and cooperation between the nations of the region.[145]

When Biden met with Central American leaders in Honduras in 2012, he reiterated the Obama Administration's pledge of $107 million in aid for the region. The Administration would work with Congress to provide the funds under CARSI. These initiatives were part of a larger effort for institutional reform in the region to counter drug trafficking.[146][147]

During the 2014 Central American child-migrant crisis, Biden supported a $1 billion economic aid package to affected Central American countries. In an op-ed for The New York Times, he wrote, "the security and prosperity of Central America are inextricably linked with our own."[148] He also supported further institutional reforms to combat corruption in those countries, so they can provide their people with safer living conditions.[149]


Prior to the Cuban thaw, Biden strongly opposed the Fidel Castro and Raul Castro government in Cuba and supported the continuation of the trade embargo, as well as the democratization of the island in the post-Castro era. In 2006, Biden stated, "We should be putting together a plan as to how we are going to play a positive role in moving that country, after the Castros are gone, to—more toward democratization and liberalization in their society."[101] However, Joe Biden's support for the trade embargo ended on December 17, 2014, when then President Barack Obama announced reestablishment of United States–Cuba relations.

See also


  1. ^ Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Senior Director for the Penn Biden center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement


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External links

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