Vice President Joe Biden was honored by his former colleagues in the United States Senate Wednesday. The tribute from Republicans and Democrats remembered how Biden overcame adversity personally as well as shaped national policy during his decades in Washington.
Biden was first sent to Washington in 1973 and he’s been here ever since, serving through eight different presidents.
After growing up in Scranton, Biden moved to Delaware, where he eventually earned a law degree. He then became a New Castle County Councilman before hopping from that low perch to the austere United States Senate. But Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware says Biden never lost touch with his roots.
“The greatest honor of my life is to serve in the seat that you held for 36 years, and not just literally this seat in the Senate but also a seat on the 7:15 Amtrak train down from Wilmington every morning,” Coons said. “You logged over 2 million miles on Amtrak and millions more traveling around the world fighting for our country.”
Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Biden for his determination, which he says was on display from a young age when he overcame a debilitating stutter.
“He was teased for it, but he was determined to overcome it and so he did. With hard work, with determination, with the help of his family,” McConnell said. ” It’s classic Joe Biden: he hasn’t stopped talking since.”
The admiration Biden inspired in his colleagues was on display from even before he was sworn into the Senate. Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid recounted how Biden overcame the death of his wife and daughter in a car wreck. Reid says Biden learned from the support his colleagues gave him and never stopped caring for others. He says that’s been on display in his years as vice president.
“He’s been the president’s rock, his confidant and his friend. I’ve been told that, and not by Joe Biden but by the president,” Reid said.
Throughout his decades of service, Biden served as chairman of the powerful Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees. From those perches he met countless heads of state and also ushered through a revolutionary law: The Violence Against Women Act, which Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski told him is still making an impact today.
“Because of you Joe Biden, there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of women alive today because you had the foresight and the fortitude to create this legislation,” Mikulski said.
Biden’s legacy continues to grow. Just this week the Senate passed the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot bill — legislation honoring his late son that seeks to double cancer progress and research.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins may have summed up Biden’s time away from home over the past few decades best. “While Joe Biden changed Washington, Washington never changed him,” she said.
Biden is now saying he has no plans to run for president in 2020, which is coming as a disappointment to many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.