Biden: House Republicans "Neanderthals"
September 13th, 2013
09:34 AM ET
5 years ago

Biden: House Republicans "Neanderthals"

Washington (CNN) - Touting the success of the Violence Against Women Act, Vice President Joe Biden described those in Congress who slowed the renewal of the measure as a "Neanderthal crowd."

"I'm going to say something outrageous," Biden said at an event at the vice president's residence in Washington Thursday night to celebrate the 19th anniversary of act, which is designed to protect women from domestic violence.

Biden, who took a leading role in the mid-1990's in drafting the legislation when he was a senator from Delaware, said "surprisingly last year we ran into this sort of Neanderthal crowd," to laughter, adding that "I'm serious, I mean, when you think about it, did you ever think we'd be fighting over 17 years, 18 years later? To reauthorize this."

The act (VAWA) had been swiftly reauthorized in previous years, but House Republicans in the last Congress opposed portions of the Senate reauthorization bill and held up the measure for a year. One of the things they opposed was a part of the bill that would have expanded access to certain visas for non-citizens who were victims of domestic violence.

After last year's election defeats, where the GOP's hopes of recapturing the White House and the Senate were damaged in part by a weak showing with female voters, House Republicans in this year's new Congress supported the reauthorization, after the portion of the measure calling for expanded visa access was dropped.

Biden said having more women in the Senate helped overcome GOP opposition, saying "it makes a difference whether there is women in the Senate," to applause from those in the audience. "No, no, it does. It does man. The bigger the number the better our chances. Because they go and look all the rest of those guys in the eye and say, 'Look. This is important to me'."

The vice president's comments come just days before he heads to Iowa Sunday to headline Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry, a major annual Democratic party gathering which has a rich history of attracting presidential hopefuls. Biden is considering whether he'll make a third run for the Democratic presidential nomination. He launched unsuccessful bids in 1988 and 2008.

Joe Biden courts presidential speculation with Iowa trip

In his comments Thursday evening, the vice president discussed his getting ahead of President Barack Obama in May of last year in supporting same-sex marriage.

As Biden announced federal grants to the first ever LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) victim services institute, he said "I promise I will end this in a second but to make sure victims get services regardless of their sexual orientation. And that was even before I went off script. Certain things I promised I wasn't going to keep my mouth closed on, OK? So I make no apologies for jumping ahead on the issue of uh, um, marriage. But think about it, for the first time we said, hey wait a minute now, you know, this is a violation of the law. You know these were major strides."

Filed under: 2016 • Joe Biden
soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. T.M.Reddy

    I think use of terms like Neanderthal does not make any "Exceptional" – exorbitant terminology.

    September 13, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    The Neanderthal statement is accurate in another sense: the GOP is turning into an evolutionary dead-end, unable to adapt and unwilling to change. Unlike the Neanderthals, the GOP does have a choice on whether or not to go extinct, but its up to them to redefine themselves as something positive, rather than the party that revels in finding all the ways to say " no", and ridicules ,belittles, and investigates anyone who disagrees with them.

    September 13, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Peter The Not So Great

    As a Caveman i take offence at Biden's dare you! Neanderthals are some of the most productive human beings that have ever lived, in fact I think that they are actually the truly SUPERIOR PEOPLE OF OUR RACE! I believe that Neanderthals have much larger brains than normal humans and were actually the real superior gene in human is well known that they did in fact HAVE A LARGER BRAIN CASE!.......thus I take offence that Biden would call the GOP a NEANDERTHAL I AM DEEPLY OFFENDED!

    September 13, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. rs

    Democrats........all of the party.......are subversives.

    Better to have people who are not necessarily the most up to date........than to have subversives who seek to undermine the country,
    Funny Rick. Which party is subverting Voting Rights and Civil Rights? Which one has refused to pass a budget, or pay its bills? Which one has 457 filibusters to its credit in 5 years (MORE than in the rest of American History), and 41 useless votes against the ACA? You want the group undermining America- its the GOP!

    September 13, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. SomeOneElse

    Mr. Biden, your 15 minutes of fame has been over with years ago. Sit down and be quiet – you are an embarrassment.

    September 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Please don't disparage Neanderthals. Some of us have a good portion of our genome from Neanderthal mixing and still present Neanderthal features.

    September 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Andy

    Better Neanderthals than Progressives

    September 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. patNY

    And not a single Republican has ever called Obama by any name other than his given name...riiiiggggghhhhhttttt!

    September 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. dave

    Biden is a joke

    September 13, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Tampa Tim

    When the right wingnuts are willing to shut the government down because they do not like the president, their domestic terrorism is far worse than any damage the al Qaida could do.

    September 13, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Bill M.

    Over the last 70 years the Democrats and Republicans have had virtual lock on American Politics at every level. The nation is in deeper debt than ever, our military personnel is beyond stressed, our technological leadership has eroded along with our manufacturing base, our currency is losing value every year, and the alphabet soup of Federal agencies has (unconstitutionally in my opinion) has been delegated powers of Congress to effect "law" with regulations galore. Neither of these parties is going in the direction America needs to go. In fact, as a result of their shenanigans there is no more America, only the U.S Federal Government lurching from crisis to crisis.

    September 13, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    Actually, to even bring up a science metaphor, especially one that deals with evolution and Neanderthals, only further illustrates what a group of intellectual throwbacks and dead-ends are now controlling the GOP. This is the party that has disavowed its own ideas, and walked away from every substantive discussion of policy in the this country in favor of appeasing people who revel in their lack of intellectual depth, and have turned their collective backs on reality. When thinking people reclaim the GOP from their self-inflicted zombie apocolypse, then maybe we can get some things done again. Man, I miss people like Jack Kemp and Bob Dole.

    September 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. rs

    And not a single Republican has ever called Obama by any name other than his given name...riiiiggggghhhhhttttt!
    Exactly- just like the childhood bully wannbees that they are, Republicans feel entitled to dish it out (lies, disrespect and namecalling), but they sure fuss when anything washes back.

    September 13, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Buddy

    Biden and Obama are demented liars.

    September 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Data Driven


    Of course Bush lied about Yucca; he lied about big things and small. I guess my sticking point is when government representatives call the Chief Executive a liar in public. Consider how Tom is using the Pelosi incident to justify easy equivalences to Corker's hysterical tirade the other day.
    "tom l" is totally lying about Pelosi and he knows it because one day I forced him to admit it. Reid made the remarks, not Nancy Pelosi. While it is never good for politicians to call one another names, I draw a distinction between calling someone a "communist" and calling them out for flip-flopping on a major issue by telling a blatant lie.

    September 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Fred

    Sounds to me like dropping that silly "visa" provision is what got it passed, NOT getting more women into congress. Democrats never miss an opportunity to call their opponents names, though.

    September 13, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Data Driven


    "Please don't disparage Neanderthals"

    LOL, you're right. Neanderthals roamed this earth for tens of thousands of years. They were "winners", evolutionarily speaking. Perhaps GOPhers should feel complimented.

    But most of them don't believe in evolution, so I guess they're insulted. On the other hand, their disbelief in evolution precludes the very existence of Neanderthals in their minds, so ... man, this is getting confusing.

    September 13, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. James L.

    The Republicans must stop all legislation, they will lose the only thing they have accomplished, the dubious distinction of the most do nothing Congress in all of American history!

    September 13, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Mark

    Stop insulting Neanderthals, Joe.

    September 13, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. SmallerGovernmentRob

    Senate vote – 78 -22 (all nays republican)
    From a NY times on the vote.
    "The biggest sticking point is the expansion of tribal court authority, which many Republicans see as an unconstitutional power grab by the tribes that will deprive non-Indians of their fundamental constitutional rights. Social conservatives object to a provision in the Senate bill that clarifies that victims rights and prosecution programs created by the law can be used in cases of domestic abuse involving same-sex couples. "
    I guess it might be a bit of a stretch to expect good ole Joe to point out that the Senate nays were against expanding the scope of the act.
    Once the bill got to the house, the voting was similar, several republicans were voting against expanding the act, not so much against re-authorizing the existing act.
    But it is far to easy for Biden to characterize this as being against the original act.

    September 13, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @Bill M "U.S Federal Government lurching from crisis to crisis."

    Thank you for that flash of the obvious shining through the typical Beevis and Butthead exchange here. Everyone who feels the the DemoPublicanRepubLicrats have had control long enough should pick their favorite third party next election. This is not a pipe dream – more people do this every successive major election in my state. Start small – town, county, state. We will kick them out someday.

    September 13, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Bubba

    I could not disagree more. Neanderthals were quite developed, had strong social groups, and even used tools. The GOP and their knuckledragging Tea friends have yet to show such potential.

    September 13, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Kate

    Actually, I applaud VP Biden for his candor, however I would point out that referring to the Right Wing as Neanderthals is probably an insult to the Neanderthals 😉 They were an, evolutionarily speaking, pretty progressive crowd. That is the antithesis of what the GOPers are in every way!!

    September 13, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Atul C

    Biden " I am going to say something outrageous". It's funny for him to say that. When does he make a sane statement? Democrats have nothing else to say except that it is everyone else' fault, especially GOP lawmakers.

    September 13, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Hector Slagg

    Good Lord,
    You realise Joe could be your next president. Just thought I'd mention that. Scares you, doesn't it?

    September 13, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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