Joe Biden's Voting History as a Senator: A Story of Political Evolution

Colin Munro Wood
President Joe Biden walks along the border fence in El Paso with U.S. Border Patrol agents on Jan. 8 |Photo byWhite House press pool

Joe Biden's long political career spans more than four decades, during which he served as a Senator from Delaware for six terms before becoming the United States Vice President in 2009.

Throughout his tenure in the Senate, Biden's voting record on various issues has evolved significantly, reflecting his changing views on some of the country's most critical topics. This article will examine Joe Biden's voting history as a Senator, highlighting some key moments and issues that have defined his political career.


Joe Biden was first elected to the United States Senate in 1972 at 29, making him one of the youngest Senators in history. Over his six terms in office, Biden became known for his foreign policy expertise and tireless advocacy for issues such as civil rights, healthcare, and gun control. However, as is the case with any politician with such a long career, Biden's record in the Senate was not without controversy, and several moments stand out as defining moments in his political evolution.

Early Years in the Senate

In his early years in the Senate, Joe Biden focused primarily on criminal justice and civil rights issues. He was a vocal advocate for busing to desegregate schools and was vital in extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, his work on the Judiciary Committee brought him national attention, particularly during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

The Violence Against Women Act

One of Biden's most significant accomplishments as a Senator was the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. The law provided unprecedented protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including funding for shelters and hotlines and establishing mandatory arrest policies for abusers. The law was reauthorized several times during Biden's tenure in the Senate and has been hailed as one of his most enduring legacies.

The 1994 Crime Bill

Another major piece of legislation that Biden championed was the 1994 Crime Bill, which included stricter sentencing provisions, expanded the death penalty use, and provided funding for new prisons. While the bill was hailed as a victory for law and order, it has since come under intense criticism for contributing to mass incarceration and the disproportionate incarceration of people of color.

Foreign Policy and National Security

As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden played a crucial role in shaping U.S. foreign policy during some of the most critical moments in recent history. He was a vocal critic of the Iraq War and played a crucial role in the withdrawal.

As a long-serving Senator of the United States, Joe Biden has had a long and complex voting history. Throughout his tenure, Biden has been known to change his political stances on various issues, much to the chagrin of some and the praise of others. In this article, we will delve into the voting history of Joe Biden as a Senator, the changes in his political stances, and how they have impacted his political career.

Joe Biden's voting history as a Senator is complex and often controversial. From his stance on civil rights and busing to his support for fracking and mandatory minimum sentences, Biden's voting history has changed over the years. While some view his changing political stances as a sign of growth and evolution, others criticize him for being too wishy-washy on essential issues.

Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, it is essential to understand the nuances of Joe Biden's political history to understand better the man currently holding the highest office in the land.

The 1994 Crime Bill and its aftermath

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, also known as the 1994 Crime Bill, was a significant piece of legislation passed during Biden's time in the Senate. Biden was one of the bill's primary authors and proponents, and he worked closely with President Bill Clinton to pass the bill into law. The bill was controversial for several reasons, including its tough-on-crime measures, funding new prisons, and eliminating specific parole programs. Some critics argued that the bill disproportionately affected people of color and led to an increase in mass incarceration.

In recent years, Biden has expressed regret for some aspects of the 1994 Crime Bill, particularly its impact on Black communities. During his 2020 presidential campaign, he acknowledged that the bill had "contributed to the mass incarceration of Black Americans," He pledged to address the issue if elected.

Foreign policy and international relations

While in the Senate, Biden served on the Foreign Relations Committee and became a leading voice on foreign policy and international relations issues. He was mainly involved in shaping U.S. policy towards Europe, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. Biden strongly supported NATO and worked to strengthen ties between the U.S. and its European allies. He was also a vocal critic of Russian aggression and was vital in shaping U.S. policy towards Russia.

The Affordable Care Act

Biden strongly supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, which was signed into law in 2010. The ACA was a significant piece of healthcare reform legislation that aimed to expand access to healthcare and reduce healthcare costs. Biden played a crucial role in promoting the legislation and helped to shepherd it through Congress.

Changes in Biden's political stances

Throughout his long political career, Biden's positions on specific issues have evolved and shifted. Some have criticized him for being too moderate or changing his positions based on political expediency. However, Biden has argued that his evolution on cert-funding new prisons and s willing to listen to new ideas and adapt to changing circumstances.

Joe Biden's long career in the Senate was marked by several key moments and significant legislative achievements. From his early work on civil rights and consumer protection to his foreign policy and healthcare reform leadership, Biden left his mark on many policy areas. While his record is not without controversy, it is clear that Biden played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of the United States over several decades.


What was Joe Biden's first job in politics?

Joe Biden's first political job was as a county councilman in New Castle County, Delaware.

Was Joe Biden always a Democrat?

Yes, Joe Biden has always been a member of the Democratic Party.

What is the 1994 Crime Bill, and why is it controversial?

The 1994 Crime Bill was a significant legislation that included tough-on-crime measures and increased prison funding. Critics argue that the bill contributed to mass incarceration, particularly of people of color.

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is a significant piece of healthcare reform legislation that aims to expand access to healthcare and reduce healthcare costs.

How has Joe Biden's political stance evolved?

Biden's positions on specific issues have evolved, particularly criminal justice and race. Throughout his career, some criticized him for being too moderate or changing his positions based on political expediency.

Joe Biden's voting history as a senator is a testament to his long and storied political career. He has been involved in many essential votes shaping American policy on various issues throughout his time in the Senate. Biden has supported progressive policies on social and economic problems and maintained a more moderate stance on foreign policy and national security issues. Over time, his positions on specific topics have evolved, reflecting the changing political climate in the United States.

Despite much controversy surrounding his past positions, Joe Biden has maintained his reputation as a politician willing to work across party lines to get things done. His ability to reach across the aisle has made him a valuable asset in the Senate and will likely continue to be an essential part of his political legacy. As the current President of the United States, Biden has the opportunity to continue making history and shaping American policy in the years to come.

More FAQs

What was Joe Biden's position on the Iraq War?

As a Senator, Joe Biden initially favored the Iraq War. However, he later criticized the war and became a vocal opponent of the Bush administration's conflict handling.

Has Joe Biden always been a Democrat?

Yes, Joe Biden has always been a member of the Democratic Party.

What is Joe Biden's stance on climate change?

Joe Biden has addressed climate change as a top priority of his administration. He has pledged to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, implement policies to reduce carbon emissions, and invest in renewable energy.

How has Joe Biden's position on LGBTQ+ rights evolved?

Joe Biden's position on LGBTQ+ rights has evolved. While initially supported the Defense of Marriage Act, he later became a vocal advocate for marriage equality and supported LGBTQ+ rights throughout his essentialist career.

What other important legislation did Joe Biden support during his time in the Senate?

Joe Biden was involved in necessary votes due to his time in the Senate, including the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Apartheid Act, among others.

Indeed, as the current President of the United States, Joe Biden has continued to pursue many of the same policy priorities he championed as a senator, including expanding access to healthcare, promoting social and economic justice, and addressing climate change.

In his first months in office, Biden signed several executive orders to reverse some of the policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. These orders included measures to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, expand access to healthcare, and promote racial equity.

Biden has also proposed several significant pieces of legislation, including the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package to relieve individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan includes provisions for direct payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits, and funding for vaccination efforts and economic recovery initiatives.

Additionally, Biden has proposed a sweeping infrastructure plan that includes investments in clean energy, transportation, and broadband internet access. The program, with a roughly $2 trillion price tag, would also include funding for workforce development and support for small businesses.

Joe Biden's policy priorities as President reflect his longstanding commitment to promoting social and economic justice, addressing climate change, and expanding access to healthcare and other critical services. As his administration unfolds, it will be interesting to see how he navigates the challenges and opportunities of governing in a highly polarized political climate.

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