Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.
Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.
Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States (2021– ). Biden was born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a law degree from Syracuse University.
Joe Biden was elected to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, becoming the fifth youngest senator in U.S. history. He remained a senator until 2009.
Joe Biden served as vice president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 in the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama. In November 2012 Obama and Biden were reelected to a second term, defeating the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Vice President Joe Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on January 12, 2017.
Joe Biden, byname of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., (born November 20, 1942, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.), 46th president of the United States (2021– ) and 47th vice president of the United States (2009–17) in the Democratic administration of Pres. Barack Obama. He previously represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate (1973–2009).
Early life and career in the Senate
Biden, who was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New Castle county, Delaware, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1965 and a law degree from Syracuse University in New York in 1968. During this time he married (1966) Neilia Hunter, and the couple later had three children.
After graduating from law school, Biden returned to Delaware to work as an attorney before quickly turning to politics, serving on the New Castle county council from 1970 to 1972. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, becoming the fifth youngest senator in history. About a month later his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident, and his two sons were seriously injured. Although he contemplated suspending his political career, Biden was persuaded to join the Senate in 1973, and he went on to win reelection six times, becoming Delaware’s longest-serving senator. In 1977 he married Jill Jacobs, an educator, and they later had a daughter. In addition to his role as U.S. senator, Biden also was an adjunct professor (1991–2008) at the Wilmington, Delaware, branch of the Widener University School of Law.
As a senator, Biden focused on foreign relations, criminal justice, and drug policy. He served on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, twice as its chair (2001–03; 2007–09), and on the Committee on the Judiciary, serving as its chair from 1987 to 1995. He was particularly outspoken on issues related to the Kosovo conflict of the late ’90s, urging U.S. action against Serbian forces to protect Kosovars against an offensive by Serbian Pres. Slobodan Milošević. On the Iraq War (2003–11), Biden proposed a partition plan as a way to maintain a united, peaceful Iraq. Biden also was a member of the International Narcotics Control Caucus and was the lead senator in writing the law that established the office of “drug czar,” a position that oversees the national drug-control policy.
Presidential runs and vice presidency
Biden pursued the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination but withdrew after it was revealed that parts of his campaign stump speech had been plagiarized from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without appropriate attribution. His 2008 presidential campaign never gained momentum, and he withdrew from the race after placing fifth in the Iowa Democratic caucus in January of that year. (For coverage of the 2008 election, see United States Presidential Election of 2008.) After Barack Obama amassed enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden emerged as a front-runner to be Obama’s vice presidential running mate. On August 23 Obama officially announced his selection of Biden as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, and on August 27 Obama and Biden secured the Democratic Party’s nomination. On November 4 the Obama-Biden ticket defeated John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, and Biden also easily won reelection to his U.S. Senate seat. He resigned from the Senate post shortly before taking the oath of office as vice president on January 20, 2009. In November 2012 Obama and Biden were reelected for a second term, defeating the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
As vice president, Biden played an active role in the administration, serving as an influential adviser to Obama and a vocal supporter of his initiatives. In addition, he was tasked with notable assignments. He helped avert several budget crises and played a key role in shaping U.S. policy in Iraq. In 2015 his eldest son, Beau, died from brain cancer; Biden recounted the experience in Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (2017). Several months later, Biden—who enjoyed high favourability ratings, partly due to a candour and affable manner that resonated with the public—announced that he would not enter the 2016 presidential election, noting that the family was still grieving. Instead, he campaigned for Hillary Clinton, who ultimately lost the election to Donald Trump.
Biden’s close relationship with Obama was evident when the latter surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction, on January 12, 2017, just days before they left office. When Obama presented the rarely given honour, he referred to Biden as “my brother.” Later that year Biden and his wife established the Biden Foundation, a charitable group involved in various causes.
Presidential election of 2020
Biden remained involved in politics and was a vocal critic of Pres. Donald Trump. Biden himself faced censure when, in 2019, various women accused him of inappropriate physical contact, notably hugging and kissing. Although his response was widely derided—“I’m sorry I didn’t understand more.…I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I’ve never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman”—his popularity remained high. Amid growing speculation that he would run for president in 2020, Biden announced his candidacy in April 2019, joining a crowded Democratic field.
Biden immediately became a front-runner, and he pursued a platform that was considered moderate, especially as compared with such candidates as Bernie Sanders. A poor performance in the party’s first debate in June 2019, however, raised questions about Biden, and his support dipped. After the first three nomination contests in early 2020, Sanders seemed poised to become the party’s nominee. However, worries about Sanders’s electability in the general election galvanized moderate voters, and in South Carolina in late February Biden won a resounding victory. Numerous candidates subsequently dropped out, and by early March it had become a two-man race between Biden and Sanders. As Biden registered more wins, he soon took a commanding lead in delegates. After the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States stalled the campaigns, Sanders dropped out in April, and Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee.
In the ensuing months Biden outlined a platform that included a number of policies that appealed to progressives. He notably supported government aid to low-income communities, ambitious climate change legislation, affordable child care, and the expansion of federal health insurance plans, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which had been enacted during Obama’s presidency. During this time Biden gained a somewhat sizable lead over Trump in nationwide polls, in part due to criticism of the president’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had caused an economic downturn that rivaled the Great Depression. In August 2020 Biden chose Kamala Harris as his running mate—she became the first African American woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket—and later that month, he officially was named the Democratic presidential nominee. Although preelection polling had shown Biden with a significant lead in key battleground states, the actual contest proved to be much closer. Nevertheless, Biden and Harris succeeded in rebuilding the so-called “Blue Wall” through the Midwestern Rust Belt states, and on November 7, four days after the election, Biden secured the 270 electoral votes necessary to capture the presidency. Biden’s eventual electoral vote total was 306 to Trump’s 232; Biden won the popular vote by more than seven million votes.
Trump and several other Republican leaders subsequently challenged the election results, claiming voter fraud. Although a number of lawsuits were filed, no evidence was provided to support the allegations, and the vast majority of the cases were dismissed. During this time, Biden and Harris began the transition to a new administration, announcing an agenda and selecting staff. By early December all states had certified the election results, and the process then moved to Congress for final certification. Amid Trump’s repeated calls for Republicans to overturn the election, a group of Republican congressional members, notably including Senators Josh Hawley (Missouri) and Ted Cruz (Texas), announced that they would challenge the electors of various states. As the proceedings began on January 6, 2021, a large crowd of Trump supporters marched to the U.S. Capitol from a rally near the White House, where Trump had delivered an incendiary speech repeating false allegations of voter fraud by Democrats and urging his supporters to “fight like hell.” Overwhelming Capitol police, the rioters stormed the complex and vandalized and looted the interior, resulting in the deaths of five people, including one Capitol police officer (see United States Capitol attack of 2021). After several hours the building was finally secured, and Biden and Harris were certified as the winners. Two weeks later, amid a massive security presence, Biden was sworn in as president.
The 2020 election was marked by a historically large voter turnout, made possible in part by modifications in voting procedures initiated in many states to ensure that voters could cast their ballots safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Significantly more Democrats voted in the 2020 election than in previous presidential contests, and the Democratic Party not only won the presidential election but also maintained its control of the U.S. House of Representatives and took control of the U.S. Senate from Republicans, though only by the slimmest of margins (the resulting Senate membership was evenly divided between the two parties at 50 senators each, but tie votes could be broken by Vice President Harris, acting in her constitutional role as president of the Senate). In the view of many Democrats, particularly progressives, the party’s simultaneous control of the presidency and both houses of Congress afforded it a rare opportunity to pass transformative legislation that promised to make American society more democratic, equitable, and just.
During the first weeks of his presidency, Biden signed a raft of executive orders, actions, and memoranda, many of which rescinded policies of the Trump administration, particularly in the areas of immigration, health care, and the environment. Notably, on his first day in office, Biden issued executive orders that reentered the United States into the Paris Agreement on climate change and canceled the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
In March 2021 the Biden administration used budget reconciliation (a process that prevents certain budget-related bills in the Senate from being filibustered) to secure passage by Congress, without Republican support, of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, the American Rescue Plan. The law included, among other measures, one-time payments for lower- and middle-income Americans; extended unemployment benefits; an expanded child tax credit; financial aid to state and local governments, schools, and childcare providers; housing assistance; and additional funding for coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution.
Biden supported three significant pieces of voting rights and electoral-reform legislation: the For the People Act, passed by the House in March 2021; the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, passed by the House in August; and the Freedom to Vote Act, introduced in the Senate in September. (The first two bills were later versions of legislation passed by the House in 2019.) All three bills were blocked in the Senate by Republican filibusters, which could be overcome only with the support of at least 60 senators. The bills were designed to prevent states from adopting egregious voter suppression laws, to eliminate partisan and racial gerrymandering, and to make elections more transparent by requiring “dark money” organizations to disclose their donors (see campaign finance; campaign finance laws). The failure of the electoral-reform measures, which Democrats viewed as essential to preserving American democracy, prompted progressive and even some moderate Democrats to urge the elimination of the filibuster, which is not established in the U.S. Constitution and can be ended by the Senate in a simple majority vote.
In August the Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a drastically scaled-back ($550 billion) version of a wide-ranging infrastructure plan announced by Biden in March, its smaller scale made necessary by objections from Republicans and conservative Democrats to spending levels, tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, and several social spending provisions. The bill then languished in the House for months as progressive, moderate, and conservative Democrats debated its provisions, progressives refusing to support it except in combination with a larger social spending bill and conservatives insisting that it be voted on separately. In early November, following important off-year elections in which Democrats suffered several unexpected defeats—signaling a likely loss of the House and Senate to Republicans in the 2022 election—Biden and Democratic House leaders intensified their efforts to reconcile the factions, arguing that some tangible legislative achievement was necessary to retain the support of swing voters. After progressives finally conceded, the infrastructure bill was passed and sent to Biden for his signature.
Navigate this Section
President Biden represented Delaware for 36 years in the U.S. Senate before becoming the 47th Vice President of the United States. As President, Biden will restore America’s leadership and build our communities back better.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the first of four children of Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden and Joseph Robinette Biden, Sr. In 1953, the Biden family moved to Claymont, Delaware. President Biden graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School and served on the New Castle County Council.
Joe Biden’s Family
At age 29, President Biden became one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate. Just weeks after his Senate election, tragedy struck the Biden family when his wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed, and sons Hunter and Beau were critically injured, in an auto accident.
Biden was sworn into the U.S. Senate at his sons’ hospital bedsides and began commuting from Wilmington to Washington every day, first by car, and then by train, in order to be with his family. He would continue to do so throughout his time in the Senate.
Biden married Jill Jacobs in 1977, and in 1980, their family was complete with the birth of Ashley Blazer Biden. A lifelong educator, Jill earned her doctorate in education and returned to teaching as an English professor at a community college in Virginia.
Beau Biden, Attorney General of Delaware and Joe Biden’s eldest son, passed away in 2015 after battling brain cancer with the same integrity, courage, and strength he demonstrated every day of his life. Beau’s fight with cancer inspires the mission of President Biden’s life — ending cancer as we know it.
A young Beau, Ashley, and Hunter Biden
A Leader in the Senate
As a Senator from Delaware for 36 years, President Biden established himself as a leader in facing some of our nation’s most important domestic and international challenges. As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years, Biden is widely recognized for his work writing and spearheading the Violence Against Women Act — the landmark legislation that strengthens penalties for violence against women, creates unprecedented resources for survivors of assault, and changes the national dialogue on domestic and sexual assault.
As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years, Biden played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. He was at the forefront of issues and legislation related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and ending apartheid.
“America is an idea. An idea that is stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the most desperate people on earth, it guarantees that everyone is treated with dignity and gives hate no safe harbor. It instills in every person in this country the belief that no matter where you start in life, there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you work at it. That’s what we believe.”
Joe Biden, April 25, 2019
The 47th Vice President of the United States
As Vice President, Biden continued his leadership on important issues facing the nation and represented our country abroad. Vice President Biden convened sessions of the President’s Cabinet, led interagency efforts, and worked with Congress in his fight to raise the living standards of middle-class Americans, reduce gun violence, address violence against women, and end cancer as we know it.
Biden helped President Obama pass and then oversaw the implementation of the Recovery Act — the biggest economic recovery plan in the history of the nation and our biggest and strongest commitment to clean energy. The President’s plan prevented another Great Depression, created and saved millions of jobs, and led to 75 uninterrupted months of job growth by the end of the administration. And Biden did it all with less than 1% in waste, abuse, or fraud — the most efficient government program in our country’s history.
President Obama and Vice President Biden also secured the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which reduced the number of uninsured Americans by 20 million by the time they left office and banned insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
He served as the point person for U.S. diplomacy throughout the Western Hemisphere, strengthened relationships with our allies both in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and led the effort to bring 150,000 troops home from Iraq.
In a ceremony at the White House, President Obama awarded Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction — the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Barack Obama announces Biden as his vice-presidential running mate in Springfield, Illinois
A New Chapter
After leaving the White House, the Bidens continued their efforts to expand opportunity for every American with the creation of the Biden Foundation, the Biden Cancer Initiative, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
On April 25, 2019, Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Biden’s candidacy was built from the beginning around 3 pillars: the battle for the soul of our nation, the need to rebuild our middle class — the backbone of our country, and a call for unity, to act as One America. It was a message that would only gain more resonance in 2020 as we confront a pandemic, an economic crisis, urgent calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change.
“We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.”
From Scranton to Wilmington to the White House—with thousands of train rides in between.
It all starts in a little house on North Washington Avenue.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden and Joseph Robinette Biden, Sr., and the first of four children.
The Bidens move to Delaware.
When Joe is 10, the Biden family moves to Claymont, Delaware, to look for better work. It becomes the state Joe calls home.
“During my adolescent and college years, men and women were changing the country—Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy—and I was swept up in their eloquence, their conviction, the sheer size of their improbable dreams.”
Joe enrolls at the University of Delaware, where he double majors in history and political science. He goes on to Syracuse University, where he earns his law degree.
A new leader.
Joe starts a family.
Joe marries Neilia Hunter at St. Mary’s of the Lake in Skaneateles, New York. In the years to come, they have three children together—Joseph R. “Beau” Biden, III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi Christina.
The first campaign.
Joe practices law at a firm in Wilmington while also working part-time as a public defender. Later that year, he launches his first-ever campaign for the New Castle County Council, which he won by 2,000 votes.
Joe sticks up for the little guy—and never stops.
As a member of the New Castle County Council, Joe fights against a massive 10-lane highway project that threatened to pave over Wilmington’s neighborhoods and push back on the oil companies building refineries on the Delaware coast.
«We have too often allowed our differences to prevail among us. We have too often allowed ambitious men to play off those differences for political gain. We have too often retreated behind our differences when no one really tried to lead us beyond them.»
Victory turns to tragedy.
At age 29, Joe becomes one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate. Weeks later, tragedy strikes the Biden family when Neilia and Naomi are killed and Hunter and Beau are critically injured in an auto accident.
A young voice in the Senate.
The 120-mile commute.
Joe is sworn into the U.S. Senate at his sons’ hospital bedsides, and begins commuting from Wilmington to Washington every day, first by car and then by train, in order to tuck his sons in bed at night and see them get up in the morning. He will continue to do so throughout his time in the Senate. For five years, Joe raises Beau and Hunter as a single father, with the help of his sister Valerie and his family.
An early voice for campaign finance reform.
Joe first calls for the public financing of campaigns in the early 1970s. In the decades to come, he’ll continue to take action to restore and strengthen our democratic institutions, starting with protecting the right to vote.
«The United States Constitution says We the People. Not We the Donors.»
Joe marries Jill Jacobs.
Beau and Hunter tell their dad that it’s time to ask Jill Jacobs, then a high school English teacher, to marry them. They marry at the United Nations Chapel in New York City in 1977. Jill leaves teaching to become a full-time mom—and in 1980, their family is complete with the birth of Ashley Blazer, named by her brothers. A lifelong educator, Jill will go on to earn her doctorate in education and return to teaching as an English professor at a community college in Virginia.
A leader on arms control.
Joe leads a delegation of senators to meet with Kremlin officials in Moscow to present U.S. conditions for the ratification of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks–SALT II. It is the beginning of his decades-long leadership on nuclear arms control and strategic security negotiations to keep the American people safe, prevent an unchecked nuclear arms race, and establish norms of international conduct. Later, as Vice President, he will be critical to Senate approval of the New START Treaty with Russia, which brings deployed strategic nuclear weapons by the two countries to the lowest level in history.
One of the first climate change bills.
Joe calls for action to address climate change and protect the environment before it was a mainstream issue, introducing the Global Climate Protection Act. Later, as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, he organizes several hearings on climate change and rallies support on a number of non-binding resolutions on the issue, in an attempt to build momentum for action to address climate change.
«Was Joe Biden a climate change pioneer in Congress? History says yes»
A leader in the Senate.
As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years, Joe is widely recognized for his work writing and spearheading the Violence Against Women Act and blocking Jeff Sessions’ and Robert Bork’s nominations to the bench.
Taking on the NRA.
Joe takes on the National Rifle Association and wins—twice. In 1993, he secures the passage of the Brady background check bill, ushering the bill through conference and defeating an NRA-supported filibuster. And in 1994, he champions the passage of bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Addressing the scourge of violence against women.
At a time when gender-based violence is still considered a “family issue,” Joe writes and spearheads the Violence Against Women Act—the landmark legislation that criminalizes violence against women, creates unprecedented resources for survivors of assault, and changes the national dialogue on domestic and sexual assault.
As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years, Senator Biden plays a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. He is at the forefront of issues and legislation related to ending Apartheid, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.
«He’s an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle class. He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America’s cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track.»
A running mate becomes a friend for life.
At a speech in Springfield, Illinois, Barack Obama announces Joe as his vice-presidential running mate. In the months and years to come, they become good friends, and their families grow close.
The 47th Vice President of the United States.
As Vice President, Joe continues his leadership on important issues facing the nation and represents our country abroad—traveling over 1.2 million miles to more than 50 countries. Vice President Biden convenes sessions of the President’s Cabinet, leads interagency efforts, and works with Congress in his fight to raise the living standards of middle-class Americans, reduce gun violence, address violence against women, and end cancer as we know it.
The biggest economic recovery plan in the history of America.
President Obama turns to Joe to first help pass and then oversee the implementation of the Recovery Act—the biggest economic recovery plan in the history of the nation and our biggest and strongest commitment to clean energy. The President’s plan prevents another Great Depression, creates and saves millions of jobs, and leads to 75 uninterrupted months of job growth by the end of the Administration, which has continued until today. And Joe did it all with less than 1% in waste, abuse or fraud—the most efficient government program in our country’s history.
Millions of Americans gain the peace of mind of health insurance.
President Obama and Joe secure the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which will have reduced the number of uninsured Americans by 20 million by the time they leave office and banned insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Joe speaks up for marriage equality.
Vice President Biden vocally supports marriage equality for LGBTQ individuals at a time when most political pundits said it wasn’t a good idea. He later shows the same leadership by expressing early support for the Equality Act.
Four more years.
President Obama and Vice President Biden win reelection by sweeping margins.
«The President and I are going to do everything in our power to honor the memory of your children and your wives with the work we take up here today.»
Taking on the NRA, again.
After 26 first-graders and educators are killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Joe leads an effort to take more than two dozen actions to make our schools and communities safer, including improving the gun background check system and narrowing the gun show loophole.
The Biden family loses a hero.
Beau Biden, Attorney General of Delaware and Joe Biden’s eldest son, passes away after battling brain cancer with the same integrity, courage, and strength he demonstrated every day of his life. Beau’s fight with cancer inspires the mission of Joe’s life—ending cancer as we know it.
A Cancer Moonshot.
In his final State of the Union address, President Obama asks Joe to head up a new national effort to end cancer as we know it—he ends up calling it his “Cancer Moonshot,” with the goal of making a decade’s worth of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in five years.
The highest civilian honor.
In a ceremony at the White House, President Obama awards Joe the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction—the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The Bidens head home.
After leaving the White House, the Bidens take their first Amtrak ride as private citizens in eight years back to their home in Delaware. In the months to come, they will continue their efforts to expand opportunity for every American with the creation of the Biden Foundation, the Biden Cancer Initiative, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
A New Chapter
Joe steps up to ask for the honor of representing his country once again, announcing his candidacy for President of the United States.
That’s Joe’s story—what’s yours?
Together we can make Donald Trump a one term President and defeat Republicans across the country. Donate today:
LET’S DO THIS. TOGETHER.
Support our presidential campaign to elect Joe Biden by signing up to volunteer or making a donation online.