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Promises President Biden kept and broke in his first 100 days

▶ Watch Video: Where Biden stands on key foreign policy promises as he nears 100 days in office

The first 100 days is a somewhat arbitrary, if traditional milestone in a presidency, but it’s one President Biden has embraced and even incorporated into his own goal-setting. 

Mr. Biden took office under difficult circumstances, during a deadly pandemic and as millions of Americans still harbored doubts that he had won the election. He made a number of promises centered on restoring normalcy to American life and rolling back actions taken by his predecessor, including a realignment of U.S. foreign policy priorities. He has kept some promises, such as reentering the Paris climate agreement, broken others, and made some progress but not yet accomplished all of his early goals.

Here’s a status check on the key promises he made.

Establish “police oversight board” in the first 100 days: Not kept 

As a candidate, Mr. Biden pledged in the days after George Floyd’s death to form a national police oversight board in his first 100 days in office, if elected. 

But the White House announced earlier this month it would not create the oversight board. After talking with civil rights groups, the White House said it had concluded the most effective way to address the issues at hand would be to pass the proposed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law. The police reform bill is currently being discussed by Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. 

Increase Trump-era refugee cap: Broken (so far) 

Mr. Biden pledged to do away with Mr. Trump’s record low refugee cap of 15,000 a year. In February, he promised to raise the cap to 62,500, as a kind of down payment on his intent to resettle up to 125,000 refugees in fiscal year 2022. 

But earlier this month, he broke that promise, keeping the refugee cap at 15,000 for now. Facing a backlash, his administration said it would increase that refugee cap in May. But the president has been widely criticized, by progressives and conservative faith-centered groups alike, for failing to increase the cap as promised. Without this pressure, it’s not clear whether the administration would have increased the cap this fiscal year. 

Send immigration bill to Congress to “modernize our immigration system and give nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants a roadmap to citizenship”: Kept promise; legislation stalled

Mr. Biden sent an immigration proposal to Congress on his first day in office, but the tenets of the legislation have hit legislative hurdles, compounded by his administration’s struggle to process the  thousands of migrants and unaccompanied children arriving every week. 

Read more about the legislative push from within Mr. Biden’s own party. 

Repeal Trump-era tax cuts: He’s working on it 

As a candidate, Mr. Biden said he’d fight for the repeal of the 2017 Republican tax cuts, a move that requires Congress. He’s pushing for a hike in the corporate tax rate and taxes on Americans making more than $400,000. But boosting the corporate tax rate from its current rate of 21% to 28% is facing resistance from key Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who has already said he wouldn’t support a corporate tax rate that high. 

Reenter Paris climate accord: Kept 

Ahead of the election, Mr. Biden promised to re-enter the Paris climate accord, the 2016 agreement that former President Trump formally withdrew from last year. 

On his first day in office, Mr. Biden stated his acceptance of the agreement “and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.” On February 19, the U.S. formally re-entered the agreement. 

Convene world climate summit: Kept

As a candidate, Mr. Biden promised to organize a “climate summit” to encourage world leaders to tackle climate change more aggressively, specifically addressing global shipping and aviation emissions. Last week, Mr. Biden and Harris hosted the Leaders Summit on Climate, albeit remotely because of COVID-19, with dozens of world leaders participating.

The U.S.pledged to cut emissions levels at least by half by 2030 and other industrialized nations also made commitments: Canada pledged a 40-45% cut by 2030 and Japan doubled its goal. Other major emitters, like China, did not offer new goals. 

Read more here on the other takeaways from the summit.  

Give 100 million COVID-19 shots in the first 100 days: Kept

President Biden’s original goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days was easily exceeded — 200 million were administered by last week. The president upped his goal from 100 million to 200 million when it became clear he would easily meet the first target. The U.S. was already giving roughly 1 million shots a day when Mr. Biden took office.

Use executive action to address greenhouse gas emissions: Kept but will require more work

President Biden signed multiple executive actions related to climate change in his first 100 days in office. 

He revoked an earlier executive order issued by then-president Trump weakening the government’s commitment to cutting greenhouse gases. 

He also announced a new target for the U.S. to reach a 50% to 52% reduction from 2005 levels in net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030, only nine years away. He made this announcement during the Leaders Summit on Climate he hosted last week. 

Reopen majority of K-8 schools nationwide by day 100: Kept

School decisions are mostly made at the local level, but the Biden administration publicly pressed for a simple majority of K-8 schools to be back in the classroom in some form by the president’s 100th day in office. Even though outside analysis from Burbio indicated a majority of students were already back in the classroom on their first day in office, the White House did not update this goal. In early March, the president pushed for states to prioritize vaccinating teachers and by April around 80% of educators were vaccinated or had an appointment scheduled, according to Education Department data. 

There are still significant pockets of students — about 6% nationwide — who are only learning virtually, according to data from Burbio. About 30% of students nationwide are learning in a hybrid system with the remaining approximately 65% of students back in the classroom full time. 

Repeal transgender military ban enacted by President Trump: Kept

Mr. Biden repealed the Trump-era ban on transgender service in the military, which impacted approximately more than 15,000 people, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin returned to guidance instituted during the Obama administration. The Pentagon in April announced new policies that, in part, will provide medical treatment during gender transition to service members’ self-identified gender. 

On his first day in office, the president also issued an executive order aimed at combating discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. This was another campaign pledge kept — restoring Obama-era guidance for transgender students in schools. 

More gun control: In progress, but little done concretely 

Mr. Biden regularly promised to address “loopholes” in gun purchase checks, but much of that work will require legislation. After the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in March, he called on Congress to pass legislation to close these loopholes.

In early April, he signed targeted executive actions to address “ghost guns” and advocated for the Justice Department to outline “red flag” models that would temporarily stop people in mental anguish from possessing weapons. 

Mr. Biden also asked the Justice Department to issue a rule on stabilizing braces that attach to a pistol and add enough stability to, in essence, transform it into a short-barreled rifle subject to regulation by federal law. The alleged shooter in the March supermarket shooting in Boulder appears to have used a pistol with a brace.  

But one big promise on guns remains distant: the president wants to change the law providing liability protections to gun manufacturers if one of their guns is used in a crime.



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