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In 1933, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed 15 major pieces of legislation and 76 laws during his first 100 days in office. By today’s standards—given, you know, Congress’s inability to pass any laws—those numbers sound mind-blowing. But part of the reason FDR was able to be so productive was because the U.S. was in crisis. He was dealing with the Great Depression, and that sense of emergency allowed him to take swift action with the aim of pulling the country out of economic chaos.
President Joe Biden is also dealing with crises at the beginning of his term. “[Biden] has to address difficult questions few presidents have had to deal with, ranging from an unprecedented pandemic and ensuing economic collapse to hostile opposition in the House, and particularly in the Senate, which has no agenda other than stopping his,” said Michael Gerhardt, the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina, in an email to Cosmopolitan.
Biden and his staff have compared the challenges he’s facing to those of FDR during the Depression, and they’re planning on pushing through legislation that is just as ambitious. But before we take a peek at the president’s plans, let’s clear up some questions.
First of All, Why 100 Days?
Even though the first 100 days is kind of an arbitrary checkpoint in a presidency, it’s been given a lot of weight ever since FDR. “The first 100 days for a president in his first term are always important because he defines his priorities and direction in those days,” said Gerhardt.
“Political time is limited for any president, and very soon, opponents start to position themselves for the midterms and division within a party starts to emerge.…The 100 days has also been an artificial marker—but one which creates a certain amount of momentum and political impetus for moving big bills,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs of Princeton University, to Cosmo. Basically, it’s a time for the president to set the tone for the next four years.
For Biden specifically, Professor Zelizer doesn’t think the first 100 days will be his most important period, which is important to keep in mind. “The most important window would come in the summer and fall—once the vaccine has been rolled out and the surge is over,” said Zelizer. “If Biden can accomplish this, Americans will feel very positive toward the administration,” he added.
Ahead, a breakdown of Biden’s goals for his administration’s first 100 days in office.
President Biden’s Executive Orders and Plans He Will Sign on Day One
Issue a mask mandate
Extend the nationwide restrictions on home evictions and foreclosures
Continue the pause on student loan payments
Rejoin the World Health Organization
Stop federal executions
End the transgender military ban enacted by former president Trump
Overturn the Keystone XL Pipeline permit
Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord
Compose a plan for the U.S. to become an 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050
Put an end to the construction of Trump’s border wall
Make the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program permanent
Send an immigration reform bill to Congress
Repeal the travel ban that Trump placed on majority-Muslim countries
Reverse Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cuts in order to pay for his legislative plans
Needless to say, Biden’s got a big first day planned. As for the remaining 99 days, here’s what the Biden administration is proposing when it comes to COVID-19 relief, the economy, the environment, health care, racial equity, foreign policy, immigration, criminal justice, and more.
Biden’s Plans for COVID-19 Relief
Propose $160 billion in funding for a national vaccination program that will ensure people can get vaccinated for free, regardless of immigration status
Get “100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” by his 100th day in office. Biden also intends to release almost all available coronavirus vaccine vials once he takes office
Create a public health jobs program that will fund approximately 100,000 public health workers to help with vaccine outreach and contact tracing
Increase funds to help stop the COVID-19 spread in prisons
Launch a public education campaign about the COVID-19 vaccine to build trust throughout the country
You can read more about Biden’s plans for dealing with the pandemic here.
Biden’s Plans for the Economy
Send out $1,400 stimulus checks
Extend unemployment insurance programs until the end of September
Add $400 a week to unemployment insurance to help workers
Invest $130 billion to fund schools with the purpose of helping the reopening process
Increase the minimum wage to $15
Offer $440 billion in grants and loans to help small business
Give state and local governments $350 billion in emergency funding
Begin his Build Back Better economic recovery plan that calls for investments in American-made products, health services, and infrastructure updates
Put forward a second economic package in February 2021 focused on job creation, clean energy projects, and education spending
You can read more about Biden’s economic recovery plan here.
Biden’s Plans for the Environment
Increase funding to support communities disproportionately affected by climate change
Propose a $2 trillion clean energy plan that will get the United States to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
Organize a climate crisis world summit to discuss how to take action against climate change
You can read more about Biden’s plans for the environment here.
Biden’s Plans for Health Care, Racial Equity, and Foreign Policy
Propose a new public option plan that builds on the Affordable Care Act
Expand the Voting Rights Act
Combat housing discrimination
Repair bonds with foreign allies
Plan an international summit with world leaders to discuss how to fight corruption and authoritarianism while expanding human rights around the globe
Biden’s Plans for Immigration
Send an immigration reform bill to the Senate that will create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Raise the refugee cap that Trump set at 15,000 people to 125,000 people
Increase government supervision over U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
You can read more about Biden’s plans for immigration here.
Biden’s Plans for Criminal Justice Reform and Gun Control
Institute a national police oversight commission
Push Congress to pass the SAFE Justice Act to reduce the use of mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent offenders
Close loopholes in the gun background check system
Repeal liability protection for gun manufacturers, allowing people to sue members of the gun industry if a gun is used in a crime
What Else Is the Biden Administration Focused On?
While his team hasn’t been clear on a timeline for all the below topics, Biden has noted that the following issues are important to him and his administration:
Supporting the College for All Act, which would get rid of tuition at public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000
Proposing free community college
Advocating for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-focused institutions to be tuition-free
Pushing for a new version of the Violence Against Women Act to be signed into law that includes greater protection for transgender women
Pushing to pass the Equality Act, a law that would give LGBTQ+ Americans more protections
Forgiving $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower
Endorsing the American Family Act (a bill cosponsored by Vice President Kamala Harris), which would offer Americans below a certain income threshold $250 in cash per month per child. (This would lift 4 million children out of poverty.)
To read more about President Biden’s vision for his administration, click here.
How Will Trump’s Impeachment Trial Affect Biden’s First 100 Days?
The Senate impeachment trial is set to start on January 20—right after Biden is sworn in. There has been concern that the trial could delay Biden’s plans. “[The trial] will undoubtedly be used by his opposition to show that Biden’s party is more interested in payback than compromise and moving forward,” Gerhardt told Cosmopolitan. “Keep in mind that Biden, the Speaker, and soon to be Majority Leader Schumer can respond that Trump is responsible for his own troubles as well as the mess that the Biden team has to clean up.”
Biden hopes the Senate will split its days into two parts so the trial won’t derail the beginning of his term. The first half of the day would be focused on confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees and other legislation, and the second half of the day would be focused on the impeachment trial.
What’s the Likelihood of Biden’s Plans Actually Happening?
Now that Democrats hold a super-narrow majority in the Senate, they have control over the House, the Senate, and the presidency. That will make it a little bit easier for Biden to accomplish his agenda—but it won’t all be smooth sailing. However, there are three actions Biden can take to stop his legislation from getting held up in Congress should there be a block of some kind.
This is a document that tells the executive branch to do something. Because these orders aren’t technically legislation, they don’t require Congressional approval and they’re not easy for Congress to overturn. However, if federal courts think a presidential order goes beyond the scope of a president’s power, they can strike them down. Biden’s already planning on signing a number of executive orders on day one.
Ending the Senate Filibuster
A filibuster is when a senator speaks on the floor for a long time—without breaks—to delay voting on an issue. In order to stop a filibuster and pass a bill, you need 60 votes, which is considered a supermajority. That is nearly impossible to get these days, given the fact that the Senate is so divided along party lines.
With their slight majority in the Senate, Democrats could use the “nuclear option,” a procedural move that could end filibusters with a simple majority vote and make it easier for Biden to push his legislation through. Biden said he’d consider ending filibusters, depending on how obstructive the Republican Party is to his agenda, but there’s still another roadblock—Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, is against ending filibusters.
This is a loophole to the filibuster. The budget reconciliation process means if there’s legislation that affects taxes or spending, then the Senate Democrats can pass it with a simple majority. That is how Trump got his tax cuts bill passed in 2017 with Senate Republican support.
But there’s a catch (of course). It can be used only once per budget resolution, aka about once a year—and if it’s not related to taxes or the budget, then it can’t be passed. For example, the Democrats can’t use budget reconciliation on an issue like statehood for D.C.
How much Biden is able to accomplish in his first 100 days with such a divided Congress remains to be seen, but regardless, his first 100 days as president are shaping up to be eventful.
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