Promises Made, Some Promises Kept: Biden Marks 100 Days in Office
President Joe Biden presented a lofty agenda for his first 100 days in office, promising actions on COVID relief, climate change, and immigration. The Biden Administration made strides on key campaign promises, while others are still awaiting action. Where does he stand on his goals, and what do the next 100 days look like for the Biden Administration?
Biden prioritized addressing the pandemic during his first weeks in office. He hit his goal of 100 million vaccine doses administered on day 58 and, at a recent press conference, he increased that goal to 200 million doses in 100 days. The United States is currently averaging over 2.5 million doses a day, and if the pace continues Biden should reach his 200 million dose goal 1 week ahead of schedule. Furthermore, with a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, Biden secured a big win for the start of his presidency. The bill provides, among other benefits, stimulus checks up to $1,400 a person to those who qualify, extended unemployment benefits, and increased tax credits for families.
Biden also took early action to address climate policy and reverse some of the policies President Trump implemented. He rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Paris Climate Accord that President Trump said was unfair to American taxpayers. To quickly fulfill key campaign promises, Biden signed an executive order to stop development of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, causing many Republicans to doubt the President’s bipartisan efforts.
In a continued effort to reverse the Trump Administration’s actions, Biden removed travel restrictions on people from Muslim-majority countries, ended construction of the U.S. Mexico border wall, and started a task force to reunite families separated at the border. Looking ahead, Biden plans on increasing refugee admissions, preserving deportation relief for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and not enforcing a public charge rule that denies green cards to those who qualify for public benefits.
Even though Biden has made significant moves to reverse Trump’s immigration policy, the looming crisis at the border is cause for concern to Democrats and Republicans. The administration is expanding capacity at long-term facilities that hold immigrant children, as the number of unaccompanied minors continues to rise. More than 5,000 kids currently reside in U.S. Border Patrol custody awaiting transfer. Biden also faced opposition from the federal court system when he tried to enforce a 100-day moratorium on most deportations. Biden proposed this pause during his campaign as part of a larger push to review immigration enforcement. However, with the pause being banned by a federal judge, it’s evident that Biden’s immigration priorities will continue to face swift opposition from Republicans.
As congress becomes more partisan, the filibuster has been a key tool in Senate procedures. It’s one of the main tools blocking the Senate from passing Biden’s Democratic agenda. In the past, Biden supported filibuster reform that would force senators to talk the whole time a bill is being held, but at his press conference he opened the door to weaken the filibuster more if Republicans limit discussion of bills. On the campaign trail, Biden opposed ending the filibuster, but his mind changed after securing the Democratic nomination and seeking to appeal to left-wing voters. In July 2020, Biden said his support of filibuster reform depends on whether the Senate can reach bipartisan compromises. It's going to depend on how obstreperous they become,” Biden said of Senate Republicans, “But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.” Now with moderate Democrats Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) both expressing opposition to filibuster abolition, it’s unclear if Biden will get the support he needs to reform the senate rule.
On the campaign trail, Biden released a gun control plan that included universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and incentives for states to adopt “red flag” laws, which allow courts to confiscate guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others. Biden has called for passing extended background check legislation, calling on the Senate to pass two bills that have already passed by the House. After the two mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado, Biden called for a ban on assault weapons. His administration said executive orders are a possibility, but the focus is on legislative action. White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the right-wing narrative that Democrats are seeking to overturn the Second Amendment. She said that the administration's focus is on "common sense measures" to make communities safer.
As of March 25, Biden’s approval rating stands at 54.3%. According to polls by FiveThirtyEight, at this same point in their presidencies, Trump had an approval of 42.1% and former President Obama’s stood at 59%. Biden acknowledged Republicans oppose some parts of his agenda such as gun control, immigration reform and voting rights. "I got elected to solve problems," Biden responded when asked whether he would be blocked from keeping his campaign promises. "There are a lot of problems," he said, but he argued those other issues were "long-term problems'' while he deals with the pandemic and economic state of the country.