Obama picks Biden

DENVER — Barack Obama picked Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate Aug. 23. Biden is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Political benefits to the Obama campaign of selecting Biden include his reputation for experience in foreign affairs, his record of winning support from some Republicans for progressive legislation, including bills backed by the labor movement, and his abilities as a strong campaigner and debater.

Biden has a liberal voting record. He opposed the Bush tax cuts for the rich and voted against five right-wing Supreme Court nominees — William Rehnquist, Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. In 1987, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he spearheaded the Senate rejection of Bork, Ronald Reagan’s ultra-conservative nominee.

While much of the media focus is on Biden’s experience dealing with matters of foreign policy or the judiciary, the labor movement is interested in his votes on matters of concern to workers.

Biden has a 100 percent AFL-CIO “interim rating” for the current 2008 legislative year.

He voted for unemployment benefit extensions that were filibustered by the Republicans, for the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, in favor of allowing collective bargaining for public safety workers and for improvements in Medicare.