Aug 25, 2012
Partisan politics drives us to look at differences. But during the time Rep. Paul Ryan  served along side then-Sen. Joe Biden  from 1999 to 2008, our VP candidates voted the same way on 52 substantive bills.
Here are the 52 bills which the two candidates both supported:
Major new laws:
- H.R. 4762 (106th): 527 Organization Disclosure bill 
This bill amended campaign finance law to require “527 organizations” to disclose their contributors. This bill came four years before the “swift boat” TV ad run by a 527 organization hurt Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
- H.R. 3162 (107th): Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001
This is the PATRIOT Act, the highly controversial law that gave the executive branch new criminal justice powers following 9/11.
- H.R. 3295 (107th): Help America Vote Act of 2002
Following the controversial close of the 2000 elections and its pregnant chads, this bill gave funding to the states to modernize their elections equipment.
- H.R. 1 (107th): No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
This hallmark law of the Bush presidency tied federal education funding to performance measures, like test scores.
- S. 3 (108th): Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003
This law bans late term abortion. 
- S. 1 (110th): Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007
This law created new lobbying disclosure rules and gift bans in Congress. 
- S. 900 (106th): Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
This 1999 law repealed the financial market regulations that prevented commercial banks and investment banks from being one and the same. The repeal is considered by some to have been a cause of the 2008 market crash.
- H.R. 5140 (110th): Economic Stimulus Act of 2008
This bill, which created tax rebates, was an early response to the credit crisis that lead several months later to the world wide recession.
- H.R. 1424 (110th): Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
This bill created TARP, the program of massive investments in private banks to prevent the financial crises from worsening.
Finance, trade, and related laws:
- S. 2578 (107th): Debt Limit bill 
- H.R. 10 (107th): Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 
- H.R. 3108 (108th): Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004 
- H.R. 4 (109th): Pension Protection Act of 2006 
- H.R. 4040 (110th): Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 
- H.R. 3009 (107th): Trade Act of 2002 
- H.R. 434 (106th): Trade and Development Act of 2000 
- S. 2796 (106th): Water Resources Development Act of 2000 
- H.R. 1308 (108th): Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 
- H.R. 1180 (106th): Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 
- H.R. 4425 (106th): Cerro Grande Fire Assistance Act 
- H.R. 2646 (107th): Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 
- H.R. 1000 (106th): Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century 
- H.R. 2622 (108th): Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 
- H.R. 3 (109th): Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users 
- S. 256 (109th): Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005  (also see H.R. 833 (106th): Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2000  and H.R. 333 (107th): Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2001 )
- H.R. 800 (106th): Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 
- H.R. 1350 (108th): Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 
- H.R. 6 (109th): Energy Policy Act of 2005  (also see H.R. 6 (108th): Energy Policy Act of 2003  and H.R. 4 (107th): Energy Policy Act of 2002 )
- H.R. 4444 (106th): U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 
- H.R. 3167 (107th): Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001 
- H.R. 4759 (108th): United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 
- H.J.Res. 97 (108th): Approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. 
- H.J.Res. 52 (109th): Approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. 
- H.R. 1828 (108th): Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 
- H.R. 2330 (108th): Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 
- H.R. 5682 (109th): Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006 
- H.R. 7081 (110th): United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act 
National security laws:
- S. 2845 (108th): Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 
- H.R. 3210 (107th): Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 
- H.R. 5005 (107th): Homeland Security Act of 2002 
- H.R. 6061 (109th): Secure Fence Act of 2006 
- H.R. 3275 (107th): Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Convention Implementation Act of 2002 
- S. 2271 (109th): USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 
- H.R. 3199 (109th): USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 
- H.R. 1 (110th): Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 
Bills that did not become law (at least not under these bill numbers):
- H.R. 976 (110th): Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 
- H.R. 6331 (110th): Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 
- H.R. 4810 (106th): Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000 
(There were no substantive bills that the candidates both opposed. That’s because it’s unlikely a bill will get a vote in both chambers of Congress unless there is strong support for the bill. That’s the same reason why most of these bills did become law, and why most had bipartisan support.)
There are at least 111 bills in all in which Ryan and Biden voted the same way when you include appropriations/authorizations bills. For the full list, see this spreadsheet on Google Docs . There are, of course, many more bills on which they voted differently, and many more bills that did not come up for a vote in both chambers that they probably would have disagreed on had they had the chance.
For more on Ryan’s record, see my previous post: