Senator Biden on Work-Life Issues

image_obama_thumbDelaware is all a-frenzy with the announcement of our very own Senator Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president. If you’ve seen The News Journal over the several days, you’ve seen the almost front-to-back coverage of Joe. With Barack Obama still fighting to win over many Hillary Clinton’s women supporters, there’s been considerable focus in the media already as to Joe Biden’s record on women’s and work-life balance issues.

We’ve previously posted on Barack Obama’s position on women’s and work-life balance issues. What kind of work-and-family experience has Joe Biden had, both in his personal life and as a policy maker?

The Wall Street Journal’s blog “The Juggle” noted Biden’s personal family tragedy: the 1972 car accident which killed his wife and infant daughter and left his two sons badly injured. To care for them while continuing his political career, he commuted daily by train between Wilmington, Del., and Washington, never securing a Washington residence.

As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, some alleged that he was too easy on Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and too hard on Anita Hill, a former co-worker of Thomas’ who had accused the federal judge of sexual harassment. Some even maintain that “he very self-consciously tried to shore up his support from women voters after the Anita Hill episode.”

Although Biden is perhaps best known for his focus on foreign policy, he has also had a hand in legislation targeting work-and-family issues. According to a cached version of Biden’s senatorial campaign Website (which since this weekend has automatically referred visitors to the Obama-Biden campaign site), the Senator is a co-sponsor of the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with more than 15 employees to offer seven paid sick days a year. In the 1990s, he was the primary sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act and supported the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a family member.