After officially publishing 38 executive orders, according to the Federal Register, President Joe Biden has made many changes during his first 100 days. Most of his executive orders pertain to COVID-19 policies and equality. In his inauguration speech, he focused on ending the climate crisis, eliminating racial inequality and LGBTQ+ discrimination, immigration policies and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, as of May 12, approximately 263 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to the American public, more than double of his promised 100 million. Additionally, a total of 334 million vaccines have been distributed nationwide. One incentivization for receiving the vaccine is that the federal government is providing the vaccine “free of charge” to anyone residing in the U.S., regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
To some, stopping the spread of the virus is a pressing matter.
“Overall, as of now, COVID-19 is the most important issue to focus on,” sophomore Sophia Ukeni said, “because of the millions of jobs that it’s taken away from families, minorities especially, and the thousands of citizens of the United States that it’s killed.”
While making progress in terms of vaccinations, Biden emphasized that all executive public health decisions will be made based on science and the recommendations of the CDC and public health officials. Biden promised and intends to fully use the “Defense Production Act” to ramp up production of masks, face shields and other personal protection equipment so that the national supply of personal protective equipment exceeds demand and the nation’s stores and stockpiles are fully replenished.
Biden, along with the CDC, encouraged people to continue to wear masks, but things are changing for those who are vaccinated. While masks are still required on all forms of public transportation and in many businesses, those who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks outdoors, except when in large gatherings.
“Because of the nature of our federal system of government, there is only so much the national government can do related to health policy without a Constitutional amendment,” government teacher Kiley McAbee said. “I think masks have helped, but there’s only so much a federal mask mandate can do without consistent policies state-by-state.”
More regulations regarding travel require anyone entering the U.S. to present a negative COVID-19 test upon traveling into the country. While not required, it is recommended that one self-quarantine for 14 days after entering the country from international travel.
Evaluating President Biden’s first 100 days in office, a Washington Post-ABC News poll published on April 25 revealed that 64 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the pandemic so far.
After his inauguration, one of Biden’s first actions regarding the environment was re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement. Rejoining this accord means that the U.S. pledges to reduce emissions by submitting a nationally determined contribution. An NDC outlines the actions each country will take in the following year to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
“Even though just rejoining [the Paris Agreement] may not necessarily seem like a huge deal, I know that because [America] has rejoined that organization we can start making some change,” sophomore Bridget Wang said.
On his first day in office, the White House reported that Biden also made an “executive order to protect public health and the environment by restoring science to tackle the climate crisis.” The order called for agencies and departments to review all actions made since January 2017 to make sure they are in line with the administration’s new climate initiative.
Biden also established the National Climate Task Force whose job is to head up the Biden-Harris Administration’s approach to the climate crisis. According to the official White House website, the main goal is to “meet the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.”
“I’m personally in favor of more climate regulation, but there’s again only so much progress that can be made without consistent policy across administrations,” McAbee said. “Time will tell if the Biden administration can get their plans through Congress.”
In Biden’s order on tackling the climate crisis, he emphasized the urgency to engage globally in the fight against climate change. Concerning foreign policy and national security, effects on the environment will be taken into consideration. The order also highlights the importance of a “government-wide” approach, meaning that all departments and agencies should work and act with the environment in mind.
Biden also invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate which took place on April 22 and 23. The White House reported that the goal was for America to “rally the rest of the world to step up, mobilize finance, spur transformational innovations, conserve nature, build resilience, strengthen adaptation and drive economic growth for communities.”
CNBC reported that Biden’s $2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill, named The American Jobs Plan, incorporates policies “installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations, funds to build energy-efficient homes,” and “constructing new electric power lines.” According to The Washington Post, 52 percent of Americans approve of the bill, while 35 percent are opposed.
“I think having an infrastructure bill is a good idea if they’re trying to improve the environment and reduce emissions,” freshman Barrow Solomon said. “But I don’t think the Paris accords will have a positive effect because the quotas the countries are expected to meet are too low to make a difference.”
In addition to helping reduce emissions, another goal of the bill is to generate jobs and replace pipes in communities that lack clean water. “It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Jobs modernizing our roads, bridges, highways. Jobs building ports and airports, rail carters, transit lines,” Biden said in his address to congress on April 28. “The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American can drink clean water.”
A few of Biden’s first acts as president included proclamations and orders regarding immigration. One of the orders commissioned the redirection of funds for border wall construction. This also incorporated pausing all work on the wall, though the Biden administration will restart construction to fill in gaps and install technology to secure the border.
“I kept my commitment and sent a comprehensive immigration bill to the United States Congress,” said Biden. “If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high tech border security. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it. There’s over 11 million undocumented folks, the vast majority here over staying Visas. Pass it.”
Biden made another executive order on “restoring faith in our legal immigration systems and strengthening integration and inclusion efforts for new Americans,” according to the White House website. The order requires departments to review regulations, policies and other documents relating to immigration.
“I feel like Biden’s policies toward immigration, especially around children, haven’t improved their situation much during his presidency,” Ukeni said. “I think he’s offering equity but only for citizens.”
BBC reported that as of March 21, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents were holding more than 15,500 unaccompanied children in custody. And The Dallas Morning News reported that as many as 2,300 migrant children, mainly from Central America, are being held at Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center,
“There are a bunch of kids that are all sleeping under tin-foil blankets,” Solomon said. “That shouldn’t be happening.”
The Post-ABC poll showed that 37 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the situation in the U.S.-Mexico border so far.
While he was campaigning for president, promoting and establishing racial equality was a major issue of Biden’s mission statement. Back in January, Biden signed four executive actions in an attempt to address racial discrimination and promote racial equality. These executive actions include initiatives that urge the Department of Justice to end the use of private prisons.
“Private prison systems have been benefiting off the incorporation of racial profiling,” Wang said. “I don’t think anyone should be judged based on their race.”
Additionally, Biden promised to “reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to tribal sovereignty and consultation,” and fight xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Biden also promised to create a safer environment for the LGBTQ+ community, especially the youth. One inclination of Biden fulfilling this promise is when he signed an executive order titled, “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free From Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.” This act ensures that students do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As a nation, a slight majority of Americans approve of how the president has been doing his job during his first 100 days in office. The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 52 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job so far.
“While it may not be fair, the first 100 days is a tradition we’ve had for a long time. I don’t personally think it holds any great significance, but since it’s become traditionally significant to the American people it’s worth giving some attention to,” McAbee said. “Presidents feel a lot of pressure in their first 100 days to get as much of their policy passed as they can, but I don’t believe voters always remember those first days when it comes time to judge the entire term at the ballot box (or after).”