One Hundred Days, To Make A Change

President Biden did not hesitate to make a change in the current status of America. He signed seventeen executive orders in his first few hours as president. Many of the executive orders signed are expected reversals of Trump policies. Others are to help battle the pandemic, such as a federal mask mandate, setting up a COVID-19 office that reports directly to Biden, and rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO). All these changes are beneficial to stop the spread of COVID-19.


The other executive orders addressed social issues, climate change, and immigration policies. Here are some of the most notable policy changes, as well as some additional big updates: 


One: Launching a federal mask mandate which is a nationwide mask-wearing and social-distancing mandate on federal lands, in federal buildings, and for federal employees and contractors.


Two: Rejoining the WHO, Biden is canceling Trump’s plan on removing the United States from the WHO. As the first demonstration of commitment, President Biden sent Dr. Anthony Fauci to speak at the WHO’s virtual board meeting.


Three: Revoking the presidential permit for the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline that allows transporting of fossil fuels across Canada to the U.S. In addition, the Biden Order re-establishes protections and bans drilling in several national parks. He also is enforcing stricter regulations on emissions and fuel economy standards for vehicles.


Four: Rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, which is an international pact that aims to push all countries on slashing their greenhouse emissions.


Five: Removing the Trump administration’s banning of people from several Muslim countries entering the United States. This order is instructing the State Department to restart the visa processing for countries affected by the ban.


Six: Halting the building of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. President Biden is calling for the immediate end of the national emergency declaration that the Trump administration was using to divert federal funds for the building of the US-Mexico border wall.


Seven: Banning workplace discrimination against  LGBTQ+ people and making it clear that his administration is interpreting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


While many of these executive orders are good steps towards change, one of the most important changes in the new mask-mandate. Jovani Calvillo, ’24, says, “I am extremely pleased about this mandate. I thought it was pretty well thought out, and it is a positive change. Also, this should be in place to protect political figures of America and those people who work around them.”


Meanwhile, others like Ben Salins, ’24, thinks that the Biden-Harris administration could create more change by implementing a new policy to tax the rich, “I think a new policy that could have a positive effect on America is a 1% tax on the rich. The reason for this is that if we do tax the rich more, the government would have more money to fund other things like schools or other such things.”


President Biden signed three more executive orders that could lead to more of a “fair, orderly, humane” immigration system. This will also begin the process of reuniting migrant children separated from their parents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the orders creates a task force to find ways to reunite children in the U.S whose parents were deported without them, which President Biden said was “a moral and a national shame.” 


Biden also plans to build upon the series of Abraham Accords left by the Trump Administration. The Abraham accords are economic agreements between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan. Biden views the agreements as a “positive for security in the region.”


Shifting the focus from immigration and foreign politics, the Biden Administration also confirmed new cabinet members. 


Pete Buttigieg made history by becoming the first openly gay man as Secretary of Transportation. He will have jurisdiction over federal highways, pipelines, air traffic, and railroads while employing approximately 55,000 people. 


Alejandro Mayorkas also became the first Latino head of Homeland Security. In addition to dealing with immigration, Mayorkas faces worries of domestic terror, as seen during the capital riots.


So far there have been seven confirmed cabinet members, and 26 cabinet members waiting for confirmation.


Biden’s most recent town hall meeting took place on February 16, 2021, during which President Biden answered questions from audience members and addressed some major concerns. Here are some key takeaways:


One: At the very beginning of his town hall meeting, Biden began promising that “by the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American.” The pledge is putting pressure on Biden and his administration to begin speeding up the vaccination effort to achieve that pledge. He is also setting another goal to get things back to normal in the United States by Christmas.


Two: President Biden also put an end to the confusion regarding the reopening of schools only one day per week. The confusion was that the Biden-Harris team was only working on reopening schools one day a week, but in actuality, he meant that it would count toward his pledge to open the majority of schools within his first 100 days. Biden blamed the confusion on a “mistake in communication.” He said the goal was five days a week – opposed to a communication mistake that caused rumors to swirl the administration was only working toward one-day-per-week in-person schooling.


Three: President Biden says he’s “tired” of talking about Trump, and disclosing that Trump was the only former U.S. President who is not contacting him to wish him luck with his new job. Biden is refusing on intervening or offering any commentary on his predecessor’s impeachment trial in the Senate, which at the trial, former President Trump was acquitted.


On March 11, 2021, Biden signed the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 economic relief package into law. Congress initially passed the relief package on March 10, Biden had originally expected to sign the bill on March 12 but instead signed a day earlier.


“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, middle class folks, people who built the country, a fighting chance,” Biden said in the Oval Office before signing the legislation.


The plan’s key features include up to $1,400 per person, a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless benefits, an expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child, and $350 billion in state and local aid.


The stimulus payments’ size is scaled down for individuals making more than $75,000 and married couples earning more than $150,000. They are also taking away benefits for those earning $80,000 or more and for couples earning over $160,000. These thresholds are lower than in the previous relief bills, but they will still be one of the biggest benefits enjoyed by those who are in the middle class.


White House Press Secretary Jen Panski told reporters during March 11, 2021, White House briefing that Americans will start seeing stimulus checks in their bank accounts as early as the beginning of March 15. This is faster than the original expectation that the checks would begin to go out at the end of March.


The 46th president came into office with a long to-do list including tackling COVID-19, an impeachment, and many issues within the United States. It has been almost two months since President Biden was inaugurated, and even though he has accomplished many things, he still has much to do.