Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed office in 1933, with the country knee-deep in the Great Depression. By his 100th day in office he had passed 15 major bills and began pulling the country out of an economic crisis. Thus, FDR set the precedent of the 100-day clock for subsequent presidency.
Joe Biden’s clock started on January 20, 2021, when he was sworn into office. He didn’t waste any time, by the end of his first day he signed 15 executive orders and two directives. In comparison, after two weeks Obama had signed nine executive orders and Trump had signed eight executive orders– Biden nearly doubled both just in the first day.
Since then he has published 42 executive actions, according to the federal register. These orders range everywhere, from equity in the United States to the environment, and from Immigration policies to Covid-19.
Biden campaigned heavily on the idea that his administration would do a better job at handling Covid-19 than the previous administration. Therefore, it is no surprise that a large portion of Biden’s executive actions focused on Covid-19 relief.
The President started his “Plan to Beat Covid-19” by creating an official Covid-19 response coordinator, establishing a “Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force” and a “Covid-19 Pandemic Testing Board.” As well as calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release guidance on Covid-19 and signing an executive order to accelerate the manufacturing of supplies for vaccination and Personal Protective Equipment and improving collection/analysis of COVID-related data.
All these orders were strategic in giving Americans stability in leadership handling the virus, as well as clear and informative data. These actions were deliberate, especially following public backlash for the previous administration’s lack of an organized task force.
Two of his executive actions, which focused on Covid-19, were reversals of the previous presidency. The first was a proclamation reinstating Covid-19 travel restriction of individuals traveling to the United States from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa. The second reinstated The United States in the World Health Organization.
The Biden campaign also heavily focused on school re-openings. On January 21, he issued another executive order which included a memo for FEMA to reimburse states for the cost of emergency supplies, such as PPE for schools. He also directed the Department of Education and HHS to provide guidance for safely reopening and operating schools.
To re-open schools safely during the height of this pandemic, Biden asked Congress to approve another $170 billion for K-12 schools to reopen in person. Congress only approved $82 billion. According to CNN, Biden viewed Congress’s approval as just a “down payment.”
Another set of orders focused on masks, mainly in de-politicizing wearing a face covering during his first 100 days. Biden passed two executive orders requiring masks and social distancing: one specifically on federal property and the other requiring masks at airports and other forms of public transportation.
The President has also publicized a “100-day masking challenge” asking Americans from every city and state to wear masks for his first 100 days in office. “It’s not a political statement,” Biden said, “it’s a patriotic act.”
Furthermore, immigration has been a significant focus of Biden’s early presidency. Ten of his 31 executive actions thus far have focused on immigration, and nearly all of them were reversals Trump’s executive actions.
On his first day in office, Biden reversed Trump’s “Muslim band”, an executive order made by Trump in 2017 which banned seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days. He also undid Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement and halted construction on the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration funding it.
Nearly two weeks later, Biden reversed Trump’s order that justified the separation of families at the border, as well as creating a task force that will recommend steps to reunite these families. According to the White House, Biden also rescinded the Trump administration’s policies and guidelines that “have effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers,” and he rescinded Trump’s memo requiring immigrants to repay the government if they received public benefits.
On February 4, he withdrew Trump policy that limited refugee admissions and required additional vetting published a memo directing agencies to ensure both LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protections.
Trump implemented these policies utilizing executive action; therefore, Biden was able to terminate them with executive action just as easily.
Additionally, Biden published a memo fortifying the DACA program which protects undocumented people brought into the country as children and extended the deferrals of deportation and work authorizations for Liberians with safety in the United States until June 30, 2022.
Biden is also stepping into office amongst a time where many Americans are speaking out against racial injustice, asking the federal government to intervene. Biden stated on the campaign trail that he would be tackling equity in the United States his first day in office.
On his Inauguration day Biden signed two executive actions which focused on the equity. The first, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Undeserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” dissolved the 1776 Commission. This action also instructs agencies to review methods to ensure racial equity in the federal government and identified methods to assess equity. The second “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” enforces prohibitions on sex discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
The executive order “Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform” outlined a data from the Secretary of Defense in 2016 which stated that openly transgender individuals had no inconsistency with military readiness, therefore, revoking Trumps ban on Transgender individuals in military service.
Biden also put in place and order to reform the incarnation system. The order acknowledges the disproportionate amount of people of color incarcerated in the United States. It also instructs the Attorney General to, “not renew Department of Justice contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities.”
This action stemmed from research done in 2016by Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General which found, “privately operated criminal detention facilities do not maintain the same levels of safety and security for people in the Federal criminal justice system.”
Furthermore, Biden released a memo which implored the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance on how to best deal with the rise of discrimination amongst Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another memo instructed federal agencies to “engage in regular, robust and meaningful consultation with Tribal governments”.
Lastly, the fifth order instructed the Department of Housing and Urban Development look over the Trump administration’s actions on fair housing and then “take the steps necessary” to conform to the Fair Housing Act. Along with these acts, on inauguration day, Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. He also canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and asked agencies to review and reverse Trump’s actions on the environment.
Seven days later Biden signed an executive order “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” This order places the climate crises amongst the most pressing issues in US foreign policy. It also directs a pause on new oil and natural gas leases, as well as establishing a National Climate Task Force and introducing a development of emissions reduction target. He also signed an order reestablishing the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science.
Biden’s overall goal on climate reform in the United states is to make it an “all government” plan. He wants to get to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and to net-zero emissions economy wide by 2050. Far left supporters think he should be doing more for the climate at a faster pace, but thus far Biden has had more focus on climate in his early presidency than any other president in history.
The clock is ticking, and Biden seems to only be signing more and more executive actions as the days count down, hoping to succeed in the 100 day race.