Vice President Joe Biden's pivotal role in passing a 1994 crime bill that, among other things, increased the number of police officers in the country and increased funding for prisons, has been widely noted as a potential problem for Biden if he seeks to pursue the Democratic presidential nomination.
Once held high as one of his greatest accomplishments -- then-Senator Barack Obama, when introducing Biden as his running mate in 2008, noted Biden's role "putting 100,000 cops on the streets, and starting an eight-year drop in crime a cross the country" -- the crime bill is now seen by many in the Democratic electorate as one of the root causes for mass incarceration and racial injustice in America.
Bill Clinton, who signed the bill into law, has publicly rebuked it, saying it "made the problem worse and I want to admit it." Hillary Clinton, who as first lady also campaigned for the bill's passage and touted it afterward, devoted her first major policy speech as a presidential candidate in April to ending the "era of mass incarceration."
Videos of Clinton expressing support for the bill at the time have already made their way onto the Internet, but for Biden the problem could be much worse: there are hours and hours of video on C-SPAN of the then-senator from Delaware leading the debate in favor of the crime bill's passage.
In one speech on the Senate floor, Biden sought to dispel myths being circulated by opponents of the bill it would decrease mandatory minimums and publicly-touted longer jail sentences.
"It was said today by one of my colleagues, who's an able lawyer and a member of the Judicial Committee -- he sincerely thought that the mandatory minimum sentences for selling drugs to children were repealed in this legislation," stated the Delaware senator.
"That is factually not true. Factually not true," he continued. "Not only that was it not repealed, these sentences for selling to minors, under statue that was not touched by the Congress, U.S. Code 18 section 859 and 861, there are existing minimum mandatories, and in addition to that, two sections we added to that continued existing minimum mandatory on page 246 of this legislation, sections 14005 - er 14006, and 14008, we increase the penalties for those who sell or use minors.
"We increase the penalties, increase them," Biden loudly declared.
Biden then sought to get rid of the idea the bill was "not tough."
"And lastly this notion that this is not tough," he said. "There are 60 new death penalties. Brand new, 60. There are 70 additional enhancements of penalties, i.e. you go to jail longer."
"So it is pure misinformation unintentionally delivered by couriers on both sides of the isle to suggest that (A) There's less money for cops, (B) there's less money for prisons and so on. This bill will save people's lives. This bill is necessary. I hope for the Lord we in fact waive the budget point of order and get on with the next filibuster."