What Joe Biden Has Achieved in 40 Years of Politics

The final debate of the presidential election will take place on Thursday night at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be the last opportunity for President Donald Trump to confront former Vice President Joe Biden on his record in person.

Trump has criticized Biden's political career, saying he "did more in 47 months as president than Joe Biden did in 47 years." Biden entered the Senate in 1973 and his supporters have touted a number of accomplishments since that time.

Ahead of the last debate, here are some of Biden's major achievements during his time in public life as senator and vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Negotiations as Vice President

Biden played a key role in negotiating with Republicans on Capitol Hill after his election as vice president in 2008.

He helped the Obama administration pass several key pieces of legislation, including the 2010 Tax Relief Act, the Budget Control Act of 2011, which dealt with a debt ceiling crisis, and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The 2012 act resolved the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Obamacare and the "Cancer Moonshot"

Biden has previously highlighted his role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare. This was the Obama's signature piece of healthcare legislation, which passed in 2010 with limited bipartisan support and Biden's personal role seems to have been getting his own party on board.

He later helped to launch a "Cancer Moonshot" initiative in 2016 aimed at improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The Lancet Oncology, a medical journal specializing in cancer, gave Biden an unprecedented endorsement on October 1, 2020 for his commitment to healthcare and cancer research.

Career in the Senate

Biden sponsored one of the first climate change bills in the Senate in 1986 and went on to propose curbing greenhouse gas emissions in 2007.

In 2008, he successfully passed the PROTECT Our Children Act, which was aimed at addressing the online exploitation of children.

Biden has played a role in foreign policy, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee three times. He spoke passionately about the need to place sanctions on Apartheid-era South Africa in 1986 and advocated for intervention in Yugoslavia in the 1990s as that country descended into civil war and ethnic cleansing.

He also pushed for former Eastern Bloc countries to join NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union, which many of them did.

The Violence Against Women Act

Biden co-sponsored the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994 along with Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Biden was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

The act passed with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress and following its passage, intimate partner violence against females fell 53 percent up to 2008, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The 1994 Crime Bill

This is perhaps the most controversial aspect of Biden's career. The Democrat has defended the 1994 Crime Bill, which he largely wrote and saw through the Senate, as lowering violent crime. Critics on both the right and the left see it as one of his biggest weaknesses.

In particular, the bill is accused of leading to mass incarceration, or at the very least exacerbating the trend of mass incarceration, and disproportionately affecting African Americans. Biden has said that some aspects of the bill were a mistake.

Senate Judiciary Committee

As ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986, Biden urged then President Ronald Reagan to withdraw Jeff Sessions as a nominee for the federal district court in Alabama amid allegations that Sessions had made racially insensitive comments to staff while he was U.S. attorney in Mobile, Alabama. Sessions was not confirmed but went on to be a U.S. senator and attorney general under Trump.

Biden became chair of the Judiciary Committee in 1987 and served until 1995. He was instrumental in preventing the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. Opposition to Bork centered on his views about the court's decisions on civil rights and abortion. Some conservative critics charge Biden was unfair on Bork and the term "borking," meaning to sabotage a judicial appointee, entered the political lexicon.

During his time as chairman, Biden oversaw the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He's said he regrets his handling of the hearings with Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment.

He also presided over the confirmation hearings of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993. She was just the second woman to ever sit on the court.

 Former Vice President Biden in North Carolina
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden smiles as he arrives at the podium at the Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina during a campaign stop on October 18. Biden has been in national public life since 1973. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images