By Annah Johnson
The first 100 days of a presidency has been a historical right of passage since Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1933 and passed a whopping 15 pieces of legislation within the coined benchmark. When President Joe Biden was inaugurated this January, he made some heavy promises to the nation that included major legislation and policy changes. The time has come, as of April 30, the president will have met that benchmark with quite a bit to show for.
The framework of his promises before the inauguration included:
- Immigration bill to the senate to allow a pathway to citizenship
- Reversing Trump-era climate change executive orders
- Immediate state assistance responding to COVID-19 crisis
- Affordable healthcare revitalization
- Economic recovery
- Build a COVID-19 response taskforce
- Rejoining the World Health Organization and Paris Climate Agreement
- Administer 200 million vaccines nationwide
Each of the above actions came to fruition to some degree. While not all of Biden’s promises for his first 100 days were carried out to the extent his administration had hoped for, much progress was made and many promises were kept.
On day one, Biden signed 18 executive orders and proclamations mainly targeting the issues of immigration, racial equity and getting the pandemic under control by ramping up vaccine distribution. Since his first day in office, Biden has continued to roll out a staggering number of executive orders, which have been met with some criticism from across the aisle.
Biden’s Build Back Better agenda includes three alliterative phases that will tackle a myriad of issues nationwide in hopes to “rescue, recover and rebuild” the country. The first was signed into law on March 11 as the American Rescue Plan, and detailed funding solutions for another round of stimulus payments, safe school reopenings and offering financial support for small businesses and families. With the American Jobs Plan introduced on March 31 in an effort to “create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China,” the phase concerned with infrastructure and economic stimulation is a work in progress.
“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President,” Biden began the address, noting the historic nature of the female presence within this administration. “No president has ever said those words from this podium … and it’s about time.” Biden continued his introduction reflecting on the state of the nation as he inherited it, in crisis. As a steady theme in his administration, he noted that American unity will have the country “leading the world again.”
He touted the landmark of 220 million vaccinated Americans being reached before his 100 days were finished and noted that the rate of vaccination and the availability of vaccines have allowed the country to collectively save lives. With the pandemic looking to be more under control than when he inherited the role, he reminded the American people that now is not the time to let their guard down as there is still more to be done.
With a growing economy and an end of the pandemic in sight, Biden promoted his American Jobs plan as another investment in the country as a whole, noting the importance of investing in workers as he once again expressed his desire for a $15 federal minimum wage.
“To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children,” Biden said. “That’s why I’ve introduced the American Families Plan tonight.”
This plan covers education, quality affordable childcare and economic security. With notable sections including increased Child and Dependent Care Tax Credits, two years of universal preschool, lowering healthcare costs with insurance premium reductions, and enhanced family and medical leave opportunities while focusing on investing in maternal health.
The plan raised many a college brow, as it aims to provide two years of tuition-free community college, lower college costs for those with financial need at minority-serving institutions and colleges (MSIs), $9 billion to grow the diversity and number of educators, plans to increase retention and completion rates and extending Pell Grants to DREAMers (immigrants granted residency through the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) while giving the grant a hike to $1,400.
“Research shows when a young child goes to school, not daycare, they’re far more likely to graduate from high school, and go to college, or something after high school,” Biden said. “When you add two years of free community college on top of that, you begin to change the dynamic.”
Expanding on his efforts to extend a hand to all types of families and all types of people, Biden covered a full range of environmental and emotional factors that are at play in the success of an individual.
“We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universal toward justice, real justice, and with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways,” Biden said. “The chance to live a real equity: good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass it down through generations…”
Biden explained the need to enact laws to show support and protect the lives of minorities in the wake of hate crimes plaguing the nation. He thanked the Senate for passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, urged for authorization of the Violence Against Women Act and asked Congress to help him pass the Equality Act.
In an all too rare statement to be made from the presidential podium, Biden made a direct call “for all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know your President has your back.”
With the first 100-day landmark nearing a day shy of his address, Biden closed in another message of unity.
“In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore people’s faith in democracy to deliver. We’re vaccinating the nation, we’re creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, we’re delivering real results to people — they can see it, feel in their own lives. Opening doors of opportunity, guaranteeing some more fairness and justice. That’s the essence of America.”