The yr 2020 marks half a century since Joe Biden first entered politics – and in his marketing campaign to defeat President Donald Trump on November 3, the previous United States vp touts that have as key to guiding the nation out of its present crises.

Since his profession started as a New Fortress County councilman in his residence state of Delaware, each the US and Biden have undergone important political shifts.

Al Jazeera examines how a few of Biden’s key coverage positions have developed over his five-decade-long tenure.

Financial system

From anti-bankruptcy laws to agricultural reforms, Biden has been concerned in a variety of US financial insurance policies.

A former chairman of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee, Biden has been recognized to be “pro-free commerce”, voting in favour of North American, Australian and Moroccan free commerce agreements with the US.

However maybe Biden’s best financial function concerned the $800bn American Restoration and Reinvestment Act of 2009, when, as US vp, he was tasked with limiting the wasteful spending of taxpayer {dollars}.

Because the US economic system now works its manner again to pre-pandemic ranges, Biden’s “Construct Again Higher” financial plan goals to boost the minimal wage to $15 an hour, provide 12 weeks of household and medical go away, and make investments $400bn in clear vitality.

The financial plan is woven into Biden’s $2-trillion effort to deal with the local weather disaster, which features a promise to create new “inexperienced” jobs.

As the primary senator credited with introducing local weather change laws in 1986, Biden argues that the US can each move environmental protections and stimulate the economic system.

Prison Justice

Biden’s drafting of the Violent Crime Management and Regulation Enforcement Act of 1994 has developed from an asset to a legal responsibility over the course of his profession.

In an effort to deal with rising crime charges, the invoice offered $9.7bn in funding for prisons and $6.1bn for prevention programmes.

Biden labored intently with the Nationwide Affiliation of Police Organizations to craft the laws, saying later that “you guys sat at that convention desk of mine for a six-month interval, and also you wrote the invoice”.

As soon as the invoice was handed, the violent crime price decreased by 33 p.c, however many consultants additionally level to a rise in biased concentrating on of individuals of color, who’re incarcerated at disproportionate charges within the US.

President Invoice Clinton hugs Joe Biden (centre) after signing the $30bn crime invoice on the South Garden of the White Home on September 13, 1994 [File: Dennis Cook/AP]

Biden defended the laws in a 1993 Senate flooring speech, refuting the concept he was one of many “wacko liberals [who] solely wish to have a look at the causes” of legal behaviour.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not or not they had been disadvantaged as a youth,” he mentioned. “It doesn’t matter whether or not or not they’d no background that enabled them to turn into socialised into the material of society. It doesn’t matter whether or not or not they’re the victims of society … I don’t wish to ask, ‘What made them do that?’ They have to be taken off the road.”

Biden’s involvement within the laws has drawn widespread criticism lately, particularly as a US-wide motion has grown demanding racial justice and an finish to police violence and the mass incarceration of Black folks.

The Democratic presidential candidate has mirrored on the legislation, however not recanted it.

“It labored in some areas, but it surely failed in others,” Biden mentioned in a 2019 speech in South Carolina. “I’ll settle for accountability for the place it went proper, however I can even settle for accountability for what went mistaken.”

I’ll settle for accountability for the place it went proper, however I can even settle for accountability for what went mistaken.

Joe Biden on 1994’s Violent Crime Management and Regulation Enforcement Act

Biden has mentioned he stays proud to have co-sponsored the Violence Towards Girls Act, which was part of the larger invoice and allotted $1.6bn to the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes towards girls. That act additionally allowed victims to sue their aggressors in civil court docket.

In the meantime, regardless of rising calls for to defund the police amid a string of police killings of Black folks, Biden has expressed his opposition to the concept, as a substitute supporting police reform.

“I’ve lengthy been a agency believer within the energy of neighborhood policing – getting cops out of their cruisers and constructing relationships with the folks and the communities they’re there to serve and shield,” Biden mentioned in a videotaped message performed on the June funeral of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minnesota in Could after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck.

Overseas wars

Biden was drafted for the Vietnam Battle throughout legislation faculty, however he failed a bodily to qualify on account of his bronchial asthma. He was essential of the warfare, calling it “awful coverage”.

In 1991, Biden voted towards authorising the primary Gulf Battle, however in 2002, he voted in favour of the US invasion of Iraq.

“I don’t consider this can be a rush to warfare,” Biden mentioned within the Senate that yr, later standing behind then-President George W Bush as he signed the Iraq warfare authorisation. “I consider it’s a march to peace and safety.”

This yr, Biden mentioned in an interview with MSNBC that it had been a “mistake” to belief the “phrase of a president who mentioned he wasn’t going to go to warfare and this [use of force] is a approach to keep away from going to warfare”.

Joe Biden (far proper) appears on as then-US President George W Bush indicators a decision authorising using pressure towards Iraq in 2002 [File: Ron Edmonds/AP]

Throughout his presidency, Trump has lowered the variety of US troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and has promised to cease “infinite wars”.

Biden mentioned he backs Trump’s choice to cut back the US army presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, however has no intention of eradicating US troops completely. He has mentioned he intends to depart about 1,500-2,000 US troopers in Afghanistan: “These without end wars have to finish … however right here’s the issue, we nonetheless have to fret about terrorism,” he instructed US army newspaper Stars and Stripes.


Biden, who served as vp beneath former President Barack Obama for eight years, has additionally needed to tackle the Obama administration’s elimination of greater than three million undocumented immigrants from the US between 2009 and 2016.

Throughout a Democratic major debate final yr, he was pressed on that file, saying he proposed and handed $750m for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras “to have the ability to change the circumstances of why folks fled within the first place”.

Biden has proposed two immigration plans that he says would finish the separation of immigrant kids and oldsters on the US border, reinstate the Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme and reform the asylum system for these escaping life-threatening conditions.

Biden additionally says he plans to reform the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) company, versus abolishing it, as some Democrats are demanding.

Reproductive rights

“In terms of points like abortion … I’m about as liberal as your grandmother,” Biden mentioned in a 1974 interview.

He added then that he believed Roe v Wade, the 1973 US Supreme Court docket case that enshrined a girl’s proper to an abortion, “went too far”. Then, in 1981, Biden voted for an modification that might permit states to overturn the highest court docket’s choice.

As lately as 2019, Biden continued his assist for the Hyde Modification, which restricts using Medicaid {dollars} for abortions. Nonetheless, beneath strain throughout the Democratic presidential major, Biden modified his thoughts, saying he may not assist the modification.

LGBTQ+ rights

In 1996, Biden voted in favour of the Defense of Marriage Act, which outlined marriage because the union of 1 man and one lady and allowed states to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages and restricted equal entry to federal spousal advantages.

In a 2012 interview on the NBC Information programme Meet the Press, Biden recanted his earlier place, saying he was “completely comfy with the truth that males marrying males, girls marrying girls, and heterosexual women and men marrying one other are entitled to the identical rights, all of the civil rights, all of the civil liberties”.

Biden publicly voiced his assist for same-sex marriage and equal entry to spousal advantages for same-sex {couples} in 2012 when serving as vp [Cliff Owen/AP]

Throughout his presidential marketing campaign, Biden has mentioned he helps laws defending members of the LBGTQ+ neighborhood, particularly transgender folks, towards hate crimes and discrimination.

Biden, who has been endorsed by the Human Rights Marketing campaign, one of many nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy teams, in 2017 criticised Trump’s ban on transgender folks within the army, tweeting that “each patriotic American who’s certified to serve in our army ought to have the ability to serve. Full cease”.

Within the closing days of the marketing campaign he instructed the Philadelphia Homosexual Information: “I’ll make enactment of the Equality Act a prime legislative precedence throughout my first 100 days – a precedence that Donald Trump opposes.”

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