Biden’s first year: so far so good

By Hannah Reid

The first 100 days in office are the most important for the president as this is when they can start to pass legislation through executive orders and fulfil their policy agenda. An executive order is a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and have the force of the law. 

President Joe Biden took the oath of office a year ago and has faced several challenges such as a global pandemic that has crumbled the economy. Vaccination requirements such as all businesses with 100 or more employees ensuring their workers are either vaccinated or tested once a week. Biden also penned an executive order requiring all government employees to be vaccinated with no option to opt out of regular testing. These demands were met with immediate court challenges especially the requirement for large businesses but allowed the mandate for healthcare workers to go in effect nationwide. Then 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving funding from Medicare and Medicaid had to be fully vaccinated which was expanded to include hospitals, home care and dialysis centres. 

 

In his first year in office President Biden has signed seventy-seven executive actions twenty-four of which are direct reversals of Trumps policies. The executive actions include halting funding for the construction of Trump’s border wall, reversing Trump’s travel ban which targeted Muslim countries, imposing a mask mandate on federal property, a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which will include a national vaccination program, increase testing, stimulus payments of up to $1,400 per person for 90% of American households and providing emergency relief and supplies. He also signed law extending the Paycheck Protection Program which is the federal government’s key relief effort when providing aid to small businesses that have suffered due to the pandemic. 

 

Biden justification for the reversal of legislation was to dismantle what he considered “bad policy” that was initiated under the Trump-era. A significant executive order was Biden re-joining the Paris climate agreement after Trump had formally withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement despite America being the second country in the world with high CO2 emissions. Biden has used his power as the head of the federal government to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 through the US government buying clean energy, purchasing electric vehicles and making federal buildings more energy efficient. 

 

Within his first year Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act establishing June 19 as a US federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America which gained widespread support during the Black Lives Matter protests. 

 

A record-breaking increase in homicides and gun violence led to the tightening of restrictions on guns and pistols. Biden’s administration chose to expand checks for types of guns, investments in intervention programs for violence-prone communities and “red flag” legislation for states to pass. Red flag laws are a gun control law that permits police or courts to issue orders to confiscate guns from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves and others.  

Looking ahead some of Biden’s next priorities include curbing the spread of the coronavirus, restoring US credibility in foreign policy and protecting voting rights.