President Joe Biden outlined an ambitious plan for his first 100 days in office, pledging decisive action on issues such as climate change, immigration reform, and the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, he will mark his 50th day in office, and his administration is aiming for a big victory: final congressional approval of his huge $1.9 trillion coronavirus help package. The bill provides direct payments to millions of Americans as well as funding to help the White House fulfill some of Biden’s campaign promises, such as reopening schools and increasing vaccination rates.
Biden has made significant progress on a variety of core campaign promises for his first 50 days in office, although others remain unfulfilled. What he has to say about some of his big pledges:
During his first weeks in office, Biden made solving the coronavirus pandemic a top priority, and it has paid off. He could reach his target of 100 million vaccine doses administered in his first 100 days as early as next week. Since Biden’s inauguration, more than 75 million doses have been administered, with an average daily pace of more than 2 million shots.
Biden also took a number of early steps toward fulfilling his climate change promises. On Inauguration Day, he signed an executive order revoking the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit, halting expansion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and ordering a review of Trump-era regulations on the environment, public health, and research. New oil and gas leases on federal lands and offshore waters were suspended by an executive order signed on Jan. 27.
Biden has quickly followed through on top campaign promises, including reversing Trump administration policies on everything from climate change to immigration. The Biden administration quickly rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord, suspended border wall building, lifted travel restrictions on citizens from a number of Muslim-majority countries, and established a task force to reunite families divided at the US-Mexico border.
On immigration, Biden promised to bring a comprehensive reform bill to Congress within his first 100 days, and it was introduced last month, though he has also indicated that a piecemeal approach could be used if appropriate. Biden has signed an executive order instructing the Secretary of Homeland Security to “preserve and fortify” rights for children brought to the United States by their parents.
Biden also took some early steps to follow through with a promise to tighten ethical standards in his administration, including issuing an executive order on Jan. 20 requiring appointees to sign an ethics agreement covering practices such as lobbying and accepting gifts, as well as banning political intervention in the Justice Department.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Other Biden assurances are also being worked out.
By the end of February, Biden’s national COVID-19 plan promised to open 100 new federally funded vaccination centers around the country. So far, the administration has visited about 20 mass vaccination sites that are fully administered by the federal government and staffed by Pentagon-deployed active-duty troops. According to the department, at least 441 vaccination sites are now receiving federal funding. Many of the sites were not new, but with the increased federal funding, nearly all of them were able to increase their capability.
Within his first 100 days in office, Biden promised to revoke the Trump administration’s “public fee” law, which discourages immigrants from using public services, streamline the naturalization process, and overhaul the US asylum system. In early February, he signed an executive order directing the related agencies to review the policies and make recommendations within 60 days.
The administration has taken several steps to overhaul the asylum system, including suspending a Trump-era policy that required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their applications were being reviewed on Biden’s first day in office. But, aside from offering billions of dollars to fix root causes in Central America, Biden has yet to formulate a strategy to handle asylum flows.
The president has also kept pandemic-related powers in place, allowing his administration to deport people at the border without giving them the chance to seek asylum. Biden aides have stated that there are no imminent plans to repeal the authority, which Trump enacted a year ago based on a little-known 1944 public health statute.
Biden has vowed to put an end to the incarceration of migrant families for long periods of time. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week that it would stop using one of these facilities, but two others in Texas will continue to house families for three days or less. To deal with an unprecedented influx of unaccompanied minors at the border, the Biden administration is expanding space at a variety of long-term facilities that house immigrant children.
Within his first 100 days in office, Biden promised to secure enforceable commitments from other countries to reduce pollution in global shipping and aviation, as well as convene a climate world summit to explore fresh and more ambitious promises to combat climate change. On April 22, Earth Day, the United States will host such a summit.
Reopening America’s schools is one of Biden’s main campaign promises that has proved more difficult to carry out, owing to the fact that the decision to return to in-person learning is left to local authorities and teachers’ unions. Biden announced last month that his 100-day mission was to make most elementary schools open five days a week for in-person learning after some back-and-forth about the specifics of his goal.
He directed states to prioritize vaccinating teachers earlier this month, and in March, he declared that federal resources would be directed toward vaccinating teachers. With the passage of the coronavirus relief bill and the distribution of millions in funding to schools to boost safety measures, the Biden administration hopes that teachers will feel more comfortable returning to in-person learning.
According to Burbio, a website that monitors school reopening plans, roughly 47% of kindergarten through 12th grade students have access to in-person school on weekdays.
Apart from an executive order ending private prison contracts, the Biden administration has yet to take concrete steps toward criminal justice reform. Biden promised to establish a police oversight board within his first 100 days in office, but no concrete steps have been taken so far.
Creating a Cabinet-level working group based on promoting union activity and ordering an FBI investigation of problems with gun purchase background checks are two other 100-day pledges that have yet to be implemented.
Any of Biden’s 100-day promises, such as reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and raising corporate taxes, would necessitate legislative intervention. In his first 100 days, Biden vowed to make passage of the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, a top priority. The House has approved the bill, but the Senate has not.
Any of his assurances are contingent on Senate confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet secretaries. Biden has stated that he would instruct his attorney general to make proposals to restructure key Justice Department departments in order to more efficiently enforce the nation’s gun laws. He also promised to appoint his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to lead a task force to develop guidelines for ensuring that housing is a right for all Americans.
Merrick Garland, his attorney general nominee, and Rep. Marcia Fudge, his nominee to head the Housing Department, are both scheduled to be confirmed this week.