January 20th, 2021 marked a day of celebration for many people—Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Citizens watched as Biden became the oldest sitting president at the age of 77 and as Kamala Harris became the first Black and Asian American vice president. This landmark event signaled the start of a new presidential era after four years under the Trump administration. Biden’s presidential campaign made many promises of change and hope—in his inaugural address, he stated, “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause: the cause of democracy.”
As an incoming president, Biden inherited one of the greatest health crises in U.S. history, the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and an extremely polarizing and toxic political environment. Biden has two main priorities: curbing the spread of COVID-19 and assisting families in financial need. He unveiled a 100-day plan, also focused on undoing many of the changes enacted by former President Trump. The end of February marked a full month of Joe Biden’s term in office. So, how effective has he been so far?
- The First Day
Within the first 24 hours of his time in the oval office, President Biden signed 15 executive orders, which included boosting federal oversight of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as reversing some of the Trump administration’s rules on climate change and immigration. Biden also approved a mandate to require people to wear masks on federal government property and a mandate that halted the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization. Additional orders involved rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and revoking a controversial permit for the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- The Coronavirus Pandemic
President Biden and the rest of the country mourned the now 500,000 lives lost due to the coronavirus. One of the Biden Administration’s main priorities is slowing the spread of COVID-19. Thus, President Biden’s plan is to maintain a large federal oversight over the implementation of economic relief and vaccines. On February 27th, the House approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, promising $1,400 stimulus checks and increased unemployment funds.
- Racism and Immigration
Racial injustice has been an ongoing critical issue in this country. President Biden hopes to set up an initiative in “Identifying Methods to Assess Equity” and “Allocating Federal Resources to Advance Fairness and Opportunity.”
In light of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the riots against police brutality in 2020, Biden intends to tackle systemic racism, problems in the justice system, as well as other racial inequalities that affect the black community and other communities of color. Furthermore, he hopes to curb the rising xenophobia against Asian Americans, another unfortunate consequence of how the Trump administration foised blame for the pandemic. Further details are still–to–be–released for both of these plans.
Biden has also started to reverse the so–called “Muslim ban and the order for the building of the Mexico-US wall, as well as other policies concerning harsh immigration enforcement—all policies that were put in place during the Trump Administration.
- International Relations
President Biden was criticized for his decision to carry out a military airstrike in Eastern Syria on February 26th. His actions created contention among both citizens and members of Congress, who are demanding a debrief regarding the controversial decision. President Biden is also scheduled to discuss future Saudi Arabian-US relations with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia. These two world leaders will discuss Saudi Arabia’s role in the 2018 murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- What to Expect Next
The Biden Administration has two more months to fulfill the promises in its 100–day plan. Biden is committed to seeing the administration of 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his presidency. He is also hoping to launch a campaign to depoliticize mask-wearing, a source of contention in the United States. Overall, Biden’s presidency has been characterized by numerous successes and grave short fallings, perhaps signaling what the next four years will bring. We look forward to seeing what happens next.