Joe Biden Position Changes

We are not suggesting that position changes are good or bad. We understand they are important to voters, which is why we have included them. We list the current position as Now X (Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con) and the former position as Formerly Y (Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con).
Now Con

"Randi Kaye: 'The President also said today that former Presidents said to him that they wish that they had built a wall...'

Biden: 'We need border security but that's not the border security we need.'"
Source: CNN, "Biden on Trump's Wall Claim: 'Come On,'" Jan. 6, 2019

Formerly Pro

"I voted for a fence, I voted, unlike most Democrats — and some of you won't like it — I voted for 700 miles of fence [by voting for the Secure Fence Act]. But, let me tell you, we can build a fence 40 stories high, unless you change the dynamic in Mexico and — and you will not like this, and — punish American employers who knowingly violate the law when, in fact, they hire illegals. Unless you do those two things, all the rest is window dressing.

Now, I know I'm not supposed to say it that bluntly, but they're the facts, they're the facts. And so everything else we do is in between here. Everything else we do is at the margins. And the reason why I add that parenthetically, why I believe the fence is needed does not have anything to do with immigration as much as drugs... And let me tell you something folks, people are driving across that border with tons, tons, hear me, tons of everything from byproducts for methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin and it's all coming up through corrupt Mexico."
Source: Brad Warthen, "Joe Biden at Rotary,", Nov. 27, 2006

Back to present position
Now Con

"We need to confront racial and income-based disparities in our justice system and eliminate overly harsh sentencing for non-violent crimes. As president, Biden will... Eliminate the death penalty. Over 160 individuals who’ve been sentenced to death in this country since 1973 have later been exonerated. Because we cannot ensure we get death penalty cases right every time, Biden will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example. These individuals should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole."
Source: Joe Biden, "Justice," (accessed Aug. 26, 2019)

Formerly Pro

"I support the death penalty. The Biden crime bill is the only reason why, if McVeigh is convicted in Oklahoma, he would be put to death. I wrote the law. If he is tried in Federal court without that law having been passed, he could not be put to death. I support the death penalty."
Source: Joe Biden, "Congressional Record - Senate: S 7803,", June 7, 1995

Back to present position
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con

Although Biden has made statements opposing Super PACs, an Oct. 24, 2019 statement from his campaign spokesperson, Kate Bedingfield, indicated either a reversal or softening of his position: "As president, Joe Biden will push to remove private money from our federal elections. He will advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs. Until we have these badly needed reforms, we will see more than a billion dollars in spending by Trump and his allies to re-elect this corrupt president.
Source: John Verhovek and Molly Nagle, "Amid Trump Attacks, Lagging Fundraising, Biden Campaign Drops Discouragement of an outside Super PAC,", Oct. 24, 2019

Formerly Con

"I've said it before and I'll say it again. To speak to the middle class, we need to reject the super PAC system. That's exactly what this campaign is doing."

[Editor's Note: The above tweet included a retweet of an Apr. 27, 2019 tweet from Kate Bedingfield, Biden campaign spokesperson, stating: ".@JoeBiden does not welcome support from super PACs"]
Source: Joe Biden,, Apr. 28, 201995

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Now Pro

"The concept I’m announcing today will align my student debt relief proposal with my forward-looking college tuition proposal. Under this plan, I propose to forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for debt-holders earning up to $125,000, with appropriate phase-outs to avoid a cliff. The federal government would pay the monthly payment in lieu of the borrower until the forgivable portion of the loan was paid off. This benefit would also apply to individuals holding federal student loans for tuition from private HBCUs and MSIs.

This proposal would be in addition to my existing student debt proposals:

  • Immediately cancel a minimum of $10,000 of student debt per person, as proposed by Senator Warren in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
  • Those earning less than $25,000 per year will not have to make monthly payments and will accrue no interest
  • Those earning more than $25,000 per year will pay no more than 5% of discretionary income toward payments
  • After 20 years, the remainder of federal student loans will be forgiven without any tax burden
  • Those who participate in public service will be eligible for additional federal loan forgiveness, including $10,000 per year of forgiveness for up to five years."
Source: Joe Biden, "Joe Biden Outlines New Steps to Ease Economic Burden on Working People,", Apr. 9, 2020
Formerly Not Clearly Pro or Con

"Student debt is something that you should not have to pay back unless, when you graduate, you're making more than 25 to 30 thousand dollars. When that debt gets paid back it should not be at a 10% rate, it should be at 5%. And if you go into public service, the debt could be forgiven."
Source: C-Span, "Joe Biden in Keene, New Hampshire,", Aug. 24, 2019

[Editor's Note: As a senator, Joe Biden supported the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), which exempted student loan debts from discharge in bankruptcy.
Alan Collinge, "Joe Biden Has No Plan for Student Loans,", Aug. 28, 2019
Julia Kagan, "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA),", Apr. 7, 2019
Back to present position
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con

[Editor's Note: In response to a CBS News article about the Trump administration's expansion of work requirements for SNAP (food stamp) benefits, Biden tweeted on Dec. 26, 2019, "Donald Trump is cutting food assistance for 700,000 people, but somehow found $1.4 billion for his sham of a border wall. This administration is morally bankrupt.]
Source: Joe Biden,, Dec. 26, 2019

Formerly Pro

"[S]ince 1987, when I first proposed an overhaul of the welfare system, I have argued that welfare recipients should be required to work… The culture of welfare must be re- placed with the culture of work. The culture of dependence must be replaced with the culture of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.”
Source: Congressional Record, "Senate,”, Aug. 1, 1996

[Editor's Note: As a senator, Joe Biden voted for the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which had the requirement that "recipients must work after two years on assistance, with few exceptions."

Source: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, "The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996,", Sep. 1, 1996]
Back to present position
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con

"The answer is it depends on what it was and will it include Native Americans as well."
Source: Seth McLaughlin, "Joe Biden Wants Reparations for Blacks Expanded to Include Native Americans,", June 10, 2020
Formerly Con

"I do not buy the concept, popular in the ’60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the 'race.' I don't buy that. I don't feel responsible for the sins of my dather and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I'll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago."
Source: Congressional Record - Senate, "Interview with Senator Joe Biden," Oct. 2, 1975 (accessed via "Transcript of Then-Sen. Biden's Interview with The People Paper,", Mar, 7, 2019)

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