Everything Biden has achieved in his first 50 days as president

Andy Gregory
Thursday 11 March 2021 13:18
news

Joe Biden has now spent 50 days in the Oval Office.

However this milestone has been somewhat overshadowed, falling at the same time as the significantly more sombre one-year anniversary of the World Health Organisation declaring Covid-19 a global pandemic.

As such, Biden will be giving his first major primetime address as the 46th president of the United States on Thursday – exactly a year after Donald Trump did the same, sending White House officials scrambling to clarify a number of his remarks, in a grim foreshadowing of what was to follow.

Twelve months later, new White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she expected Biden to “discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered”, while also “highlighting the role that Americans will play in beating the virus and moving the country toward getting back to normal”.

While much of the focus is naturally on Covid-19 this year, The Associated Press reports that Biden has so far delivered on 16 of his 61 electoral pledges.

With that in mind, indy100 has taken a look at what the Biden administration has achieved in its first 50 days.

A huge Covid relief bill

The Biden Administration’s $1.9trn “American Rescue Plan” has been voted through Congress and is expected to be signed into law by Biden on Friday afternoon.

The bill marks a major win for Biden, and will provide monthly stimulus cheques of up to $1,400 to individuals earning less than $75,000, and boosts to unemployment and food stamp benefits and child tax credits. It is expected to give 90 per cent of households a financial lift.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer sign the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rejoining the Paris Agreement and World Health Organisation

Following his predecessor’s decision to break with these international efforts to preserve global health and limit the destruction of climate breakdown, Biden swiftly announced an about-turn upon entering office.

Vaccinating nearly 100 million Americans

Biden is well on course to meet his pledge to dole out 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days, with that number exceeding 93 million on Wednesday and averaging more than two million jabs a day.

As promised, his administration has also supported the creation of more than 400 community vaccination centres.

And although putting an end to the politicisation of face coverings in America remains a vast and likely insurmountable challenge, Biden has struck a decisive tone on their efficancy, and has mandated their use on federal properties.

Revoking the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit

On his first day in office, Biden revoked the permit for the controversial 1,700-mile Alberta-Texas pipeline – eventually rejected by the Obama administration but reinvigorated under Trump – which was expected to see 800,000 barrels of oil pass from Canada to the US South each day.

Halting development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Biden also contradicted Trump by placing a moratorium on oil and gas leases within Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – an area in part considered sacred by the indigenous Gwich’in people.

Stopping Trump’s border wall

Repealing Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the US-Mexico border, Biden paused construction on his predecessor’s controversial flagship project and ordered plans to redirect the federal funds previously afforded to the project.

Paintings on the US-Mexico border fencing at the Friendship Park seen from Playas de Tijuana

(Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

Ending Trump’s ‘Muslim travel ban’

Biden quickly reversed Trump’s controversial travel ban on those seeking to enter the US from Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya – proposing instead to strengthen data-sharing with other nations and apply stringent vetting measures to entrants to the US.

Ordering a probe into the government’s role in perpetuating systemic racism

In an executive order, Biden has demanded that government departments investigate whether their policies and programmes perpetuate systemic inequalities. The findings, coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget, are due to be delivered to Biden within six months.

Biden has also called upon the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate and put an end to discriminatory housing policies.

Sending Congress an immigration bill

Democrats on 18 February introduced Biden’s sweeping immigration plan to Congress, which proposes an eight-year route to citizenship for some 11 million people living in the US without documentation.

While Biden sought to implement a 100-day moratorium on deportations, this was blocked by a Texas judge. However, the US president has revised immigration criteria to focus on those deemed a threat to security or public health and has ordered his new administration to safeguard the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which offers respite from deportation and work permits to some 640,000 young people who came to the US as children, nicknamed Dreamers.

The DACA programme – and its Dreamers – were previously threatened under Trump, despite judges having largely quashed his administration’s efforts to abolish the scheme.

A move to reunite separated families

In early February, Biden also moved to establish a taskforce to reunite families separated at the US border – one of the most heart-wrenching legacies of the Trump era, during which period court documents suggest some 5,500 children were separated from their parents.

However, his administration drew fierce condemnation from some Democrats as it moved to reopen a so-called “surge facility”, built under Trump and capable of housing up to 700 migrant teenagers who crossed the Mexico border without their parents.

And this week, citing government documents, CBS News reported that the number of children detained in Border Patrol facilities had reached a historic high – with nearly half of the 1,400 children allegedly held in such facilities kept there beyond the legal three-day limit, by which point they should be transferred to shelters.

Introducing an ethics pledge for government employees

Upon taking office, Biden issued an ethics pledge to be taken by government appointees. This pledge related to lobbying and accepting gifts, while also seeking to ensure the independence of the judicial system is upheld.

Moving to strengthen tribal sovereignty

Biden has issued a presidential memorandum ordering all government departments and agencies to “reinvigorate the consultation process with Indian tribes”, adding that respect for tribal sovereignty and self-governance “will be a cornerstone of our engagement with Native American communities”.

Curbing federal use of private prisons

Biden has ordered the Department of Justice not to renew its contracts with for-profit prison operators.

However, experts have suggested this does not go far enough, with Fordham University School of Law professor John Pfaff telling MSNBC that the move “will end up being more symbolic and will have little impact on any issue of racial justice and the system” – merely transferring US inmates, disproportionately people of colour, to public prisons operating with “nearly identical” incentives as their private counterparts.

The order also did not extend to the Department for Homeland Security, which uses private facilities to detain migrants.

More: Barack Obama once resorted to an altercation with a classmate when called a racial slur

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