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Joe Biden fought to keep out Vietnamese refugees from the U.S. in 1975.

Joe Biden had voted in favor of a bill that was passed into law that appropriated funds for assistance of refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia.

Joe Biden had voted in favor of a bill that was passed into law that appropriated funds for assistance of refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia.Prior to the US presidential elections, a claim that president-elect Joe Biden had voted against granting aid to Vietnamese refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War in the 1970s during the reign of President Gerald Ford was making rounds.

Archives from the Library of Congress shows that Democrats had majorities in both houses of Congress. Besides supporting a resolution for inducting more to the US, they had also approved funding support for $455 million under the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act in 1975. A remark made by Biden, pertaining to the refugee aid bill has been spun out of context to push the narrative that he was opposed to the US granting aid to Vietnamese refugees: “I feel put upon in being presented an all-or-nothing number. I don’t want to have to vote to buy it all or not at all. I am not sure I can vote for an amount to put American troops in for one-to-six months to get the Vietnamese out. I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.”

A contemporary transcript obtained from the Gerald Ford Presidential Library shows that Biden was responding to a request by the Ford Administration that was primarily for additional military aid and not for refugee evacuation.

In fact, earlier in the discussion he speaks in favor of getting South Vietnamese out of Vietnam. Here is the additional quote: “We should focus on getting them [the South Vietnamese] out. Getting the Vietnamese out and military aid for the GVN [Government of Vietnam] are totally different.”

This makes it clear that Biden was supportive of getting the South Vietnamese out of Vietnam but he did not support additional military aid and wanted an estimate of the number of people to evacuate along with an estimated cost for the evacuation. GovTrack records show Biden had also voted in favor of Senate Resolution 148, aimed at welcoming the refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia into the US. GovTrack records reveal Biden missed the final vote but he had voted yes during an earlier Senate committee review of the bill.

The conference report of the proposal for appropriating funds for refugee assistance, before it became a bill, was rejected by Biden as he felt that the administration had not provided adequate detail for how the funding would be spent, even though Undersecretary of State Philip Habib had promised more details that were not provided.

The final bill was passed into law earmarking $455 million in refugee aid, well above the $250 million in aid that Ford had initially requested in a speech on April 10, 1975.

With respect to the bill and the Senate resolution, the only members of the Senate who voted against these bills were Republicans. After the federal funding was approved for refugees, some Republicans had attempted to cut public aid to refugees.

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