WHITE HOUSE

How has the Biden administration been for the first 100 days of government?

During his first months in the White House the President has looked to address the pandemic, racial inequality and the border situation, with mixed results.

How has the Biden administration been for the first 100 days of government?
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

On Friday 30 April President Joe Biden will reach 100 days in the Oval Office, a milestone often used to measure a new president’s immediate impact.

A number of Biden’s self-made targets were related to the first 100 days as he sought to tackle the most pressing issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Speeding up the vaccination roll-out and providing financial support were central to those aims.

The importance of the first 100 days is thought to link back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt who acted swiftly to combat the Great Depression, passing 76 laws in 100 days. Biden came into the White House with an ambitious agenda to change the United States, much of which relate to three key areas: coronavirus, racial equity and immigration.

Biden doubles his initial covid vaccination target

One of the first legislative priorities for Biden was to pass the large-scale relief bill that would form the basis of his immediate response to the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, was signed into law on 11 March after weeks of wrangling in Congress.

Included in the bill was federal funding to improve the speed of the vaccine rollout across the country, providing additional support for hard-to-reach areas. Biden initially set the target of administering 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days but, after reaching that within two months, he doubled it to 200 million. By April 21 Biden was able to announce that they had reached the new target.

Also crucial to the coronavirus recovery is the economic support offered by the American Rescue plan, but there are mixed feelings about a key component. During campaigning for the Georgia runoff elections that gave the Democrats unified power in Washington, Biden promised to send stimulus checks worth $2,000 if they were successful.

However despite Democratic victories that flipped the Senate, the final package included stimulus checks worth just $1,400. This was billed as a ‘top-up’ payment, which would increase January’s $600 payments to the full $2,000. Needless to say, this was not a popular move for many recipients.

Biden pledged to help unify a divided America in election campaigns

The 2020 presidential election campaigns were ran against the background of an ongoing national conversation about racial equity in the United States. The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests put the issue at the top of the agenda like never before.

Former police officer Derek Chauvin became one of few members of law enforcement to be found guilty of murder last week, but evidence suggests that Biden’s involvement in the push for racial equity has been limited. He has not yet passed the SAFE Justice Act or legislation extending the Voting Rights Act. Both of which were promised before he took office.

He has also reportedly dropped plans to implement a national police oversight commission to ensure greater accountability for law enforcement.

Immigration remains an issue as Biden struggles with border solution

Another key focus of the Trump presidency was the US-Mexican border, and the erection of the wall that had been a major part of his successful 2016 campaign. Biden had promise to discontinue construction of the border wall and on his first day in office he revoked the emergency declaration used to fund it. Those first few days also saw Biden end the Trump-era executive order which banned travellers from some majority Muslim country from entering the US.

However the rest of Biden’s border control action has been less clear cut and he has not yet put a complete stop on family separation at the Mexican border. Democrats had repeatedly drawn attention to the cages being used to detain children at border immigration centres but as of 21 March 2021 there were an estimated 15,500 unaccompanied children remain in custody.