President Biden’s First 100 Days: Week 1

A Week-by-Week Comprehensive Series that Analyzes the Actions of President Joe Biden on his First 100 Days in Office

January 20th, 2021-January 29th, 2021

Newly elected President Joseph Biden got right to work shortly after his inaugural ceremony on January 20th, 2021 with the signing of 17 executive documents. President Biden successfully ran his campaign against former President Donald J. Trump on a platform that emphasized beating COVID-19, job creation, and affordable healthcare.

From his first day in office to the ten days following, President Biden signed executive orders and memorandums on hot-topic issues, including COVID-19, climate change, anti-discrimination, immigration, jobs, Native American protections, healthcare, and prison reform.

COVID-19

President Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan began on his first day in office with the launch of the 100 Days Masking Challenge, which calls on all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency. In addition to the masking challenge, President Biden signed the following executive orders to push COVID-19 elimination to the forefront of American politics:

  • The U.S. Government’s Mobilization to Combat COVID-19 is an executive order that organizes the White House and its staff to fight COVID-19. This order will create advisor positions to aid the President in pandemic-related decisions. The President and his advisors’ primary goals under this order are to reduce racial and ethnic disparities regarding the COVID-19 response, the effective production and distribution of supplies, the safe reopening of schools and daycare facilities, and the delivery of vaccines to states.
  • The order on Protection of the Federal Workforce and Mask Requirement emphasizes the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines among federal employees and contractors. This order calls on the leaders of federal agencies to implement policies to help reduce the virus’s spread. 
  • The Establishment of the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board will consist of advisors to the President, including the COVID-19 Response Coordinator. Jeffrey Zients will hold the COVID-19 Response Coordination position. Though an accomplished project manager, Zients has no scientific background. This board will identify possible barriers to pandemic resources, promote federal screening and testing, and work on increasing testing in high-risk areas. 
  • The order on the Improvement and Expansion of Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19 addresses the United States healthcare systems, COVID-19 treatments, and healthcare access. Advancements in treatments for COVID-19 are headed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop studies and trials on potential medicines. Additionally, this order gives the COVID-19 Response Coordinator the power to release recommendations on how hospitals can increase their capacity for overflow caused by COVID-19 patients. 
  • The Promotion of COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requires mask-wearing in airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, ferries, and intercity bus services. This order also impacts international travel. All people entering the United States from another country must do the following: show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, follow CDC guidelines, and isolate or quarantine upon entry into the country.
  • President Biden’s COVID-19 Economic Relief order is part of his campaign promise to Build Back Better, an economic and job recovery initiative for American families who have been hit by unemployment and financial challenges amid the pandemic. The order will provide financial relief to families and individuals. This order serves little value to Americans unless President Biden’s relief plan receives Congressional approval.
  • Through a collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the CDC, President Biden signed a proclamation suspending the entry of citizens coming from various countries with a high-risk for COVID-19 transmission. This suspension will prevent citizens from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Brazil from traveling to the United States as each country has identified new virus variants. 

Additional measures President Biden has taken regarding COVID-19 relief include the reversal of the Trump administration’s request to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) in July of 2020. On his first day in office, President Biden sent a letter to António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to retract President Trump’s previous decision.

Climate Change

President Biden recognizes the global climate crisis we are facing, and he understands his role in reducing the effects of climate change. According to President Biden’s campaign platform, climate change is not only detrimental to our environment, but it poses a serious threat to citizens’ health and it is a national security threat. President Biden is a supporter of transitioning from non-renewable energy sources to renewable sources and emphasizing science-based decision-making. The following policies reflect President Biden’s approach.

  • President Biden’s executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis pushes climate change reversal to one of the administration’s top concerns. The order allows for the re-entry into the Paris Climate Accord, which the United States was previously withdrawn from under the Trump administration in 2015. The agreement is an international treaty that implements policies to reduce greenhouse gasses and global warming. The order also addresses deforestation and conservation initiatives. President Biden’s push for environmentally friendly policies will create thousands of jobs in the renewable energy industry.
  • The newly formed President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology establishes a board of experts to aid President Biden in science and technology-related decisions.
  • The executive order concerning Public Health, the Environment, and the Climate Crisis addresses the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline and the restoration of national monuments, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. President Biden revoked the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline’s previously granted permit, claiming the pipeline is not in the United States’ best interest. The Keystone pipeline is rumored to have cost tens of thousands of jobs, but only 2,000 temporary jobs were affected by this action.

Anti-Discrimination

The United States has a history of systemic inequality and discriminatory policies. Many instances of discrimination can be traced back to slavery, the New Deal, Jim Crow Laws, and redlining. Additionally, African Americans were used as vaccine trial recipients without informed consent, resulting in a low percentage of trust in the COVID-19 vaccine among African Americans. President Biden has spoken on reversing the effects of previous government decisions in regards to discrimination.

  • For the first time since the implementation of redlining districts in the early 1900s, policies are in the works to reverse the adverse effects of discriminatory housing practices. The memorandum signed by President Biden will serve to implement fair housing policies through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • Under the Trump administration, many protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community were revoked. In an attempt to restore the freedoms of people in the LGBTQ+ community, President Biden signed an order to Prevent and Combat Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. This order calls for the review of current policies among federal agencies and organizations to remove discriminatory elements. This order stems from President Biden’s campaign promise to advance LGBTQ+ equality in America.
  • The decennial census is an official count of all citizens in the United States. As stated by the 14th amendment, the census is used to determine state representation and the federal distribution of funding. President Biden signed an order to Ensure a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census. This order means all United States residents are to be counted in the census regardless of citizenship status.
  • President Biden’s order to End Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States comes after President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban. The prohibition of discriminatory bans will prevent prejudiced denial of entry into the country. This action will also expedite the process of receiving a visa to the United States.
  • The order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities focuses on preserving the idea of the American Dream. The American Dream is the widely-held belief that, as an American, the opportunity for success is available for every citizen. The equal opportunity aspect of our country is not as inclusive as it is made out to be. This order will focus on equity for all Americans through domestic policy.
  • The United States Justice System disproportionately targets minority citizens. Once incarcerated, those serving their time in privately owned detention centers do not receive the level of care and respect as those in government-owned detention centers. The Elimination of Private Prisons’ order will reduce inequality and disparity within the United States prison system. The government will no longer grant contracts to privately owned facilities.

Immigration

Immigration is a topic of continuous controversy in American politics. President Joe Biden believes that all Americans, with few exceptions, have an immigrant heritage.

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a program that was enacted under President Barack Obama’s administration. This program allowed qualifying minors to remain in the United States without fear of deportation. Under the Trump administration, many protections granted by DACA were threatened. The order on Preserving and Fortifying DACA will strengthen the immigration program and leave more minors protected from deportation.
  • Before and during his term as President, Donald J. Trump promised to build a new southern border wall. In 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border to receive funding for the wall. On his first day in office, President Biden signed an order to Terminate the Southern Border Emergency, thus ceasing funding to its construction. 
  • The Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities revokes a previous executive order signed by President Trump. The executive order signed in 2017 states that many immigrants coming to the United States are criminals and serve as a threat to our nation. President Trump’s order strengthened immigration laws and decreased funding in areas that did not strictly follow immigration laws. President Biden’s revocation of President Trump’s executive order will ensure immigration policies will align with the American values of protecting our borders and the consideration of humanitarian issues.

Jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the highest unemployment rates in the History of the United States. With nearly 7% of Americans experiencing unemployment, President Biden recognizes the financial crises many citizens are facing. President Biden’s, previously mentioned, Build Back Better economic recovery plan puts the middle class at the focus of job creation.

  • Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers is President Biden’s first attempt at shifting the goods and products used by the government to American made products. This order is intended to increase American job security and shift the product reliance of other countries to the United States.
  • President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce is a revocation of several 2018 and 2019 executive orders that pertained to collective bargaining and the reduction of federal wages. The new order is worker-oriented as its goal is to strengthen collective bargaining and work towards a $15/hour minimum wage for federal workers. If approved, the $15 minimum wage will not apply to all workers, only federal employees.

Healthcare

The United States is one of few developed countries without universal free or affordable healthcare. The first attempt at a more equitable healthcare system in America was proposed by President Obama and called Obamacare under the Affordable Care Act. This act expanded Medicare and lowered healthcare costs for qualifying individuals. The ACA was challenged under the Trump administration, but Biden plans to make the ACA stronger and healthcare more accessible

  • Healthcare for women is less accessible, especially reproductive healthcare and resources. The Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad will support sexual and reproductive health and education among girls and women worldwide. This memorandum will support abortion education and resources as well as preventative measures in terms of contraceptives. Additionally, the Mexico City Policy, which stated that no federal funds should be used to pay for abortions, has been revoked. 
  • Having been part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation under the Obama administration, President Biden plans to Strengthen Medicaid and the ACA. The order calls on all agencies related to the ACA and Medicaid to review policies and regulations to allow for easier enrollment due to the COVID-19 health crisis. 

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