Former Vice President inaccurately claimed on Saturday that he helped convince Republicans to vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act.
Biden, who has a history of embellishing his political accomplishments, made the claim while boasting about his ability to forge bipartisan consensus during a campaign rally in San Antonio, Texas.
The former vice president said:
The fight ahead of us is not about just what we have planned, its about … whose going to take on and get these things passed. We need someone with proven ability to bring people together and do the hard work of getting legislation passed. I’ve done that, I’ve done that before. Finding Republican votes for … Obamacare.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) December 14, 2019
The former vice president’s boast is unfounded. Obamacare passed in March of 2010 on party-line votes in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Although Biden was central to the Obama administration’s ACA lobbying strategy, there is little proof he was able to mobilize his longstanding relationships in Congress behind the measure. In fact, Biden was unable to convince a cadre of liberal Republicans, including then-congressman Mike Castle from his home state of Delaware, to vote in favor.
The only Republican vote Biden can somewhat claim to have gotten is that of late-Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Once a Republican, Specter was courted by Biden to switch parties in April 2009 in order to ensure Democrats had a 60-seat majority in Congress’s upper chamber. The defection was hurried along by Specter’s socially liberal positions and support of then-President Barack Obama’s economic agenda. By taking such stances, Specter had angered Tea Party conservatives across Pennsylvania, making him vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right when up for reelection in 2010.
Even though Biden can take credit for pushing Specter to switch parties, it is unclear how vital the former vice president was in pushing him to support the ACA. As Nate Silver noted in July 2009, the senator had become a reliable Democrat vote after switching parties. In the leadup to the Obamacare vote, Specter was voting with his new party 97 percent of the time.
Saturday was not the only time in recent memory that Biden has embellished part of his political career in his quest for the presidency. In September, the former vice president told voters in Alabama he had “committed” his entire life to “civil rights,” despite having fought efforts to end segregation through forced busing.