For the last two years, president-elect Joe Biden has been telling America, as well as the rest of the world, what he plans to do on his first day in office, and the rest after that. Well, today is the day Biden! 20 January 2021 marks ‘go’, and to place one of his campaign statements against Donald Trump into a post-election America, the “battle for the soul of the nation” is about to really begin, and we’re hoping he’s as ready as we are to see it. To recap, what are Biden’s plans for his first few days as president, exactly?
First up, he’s going to address the not-so-tiny elephant in the room: COVID-19. First, Biden is planning on rejoining the World Health Organisation. Unfortunately (in the short term) this does mean an extension of nationwide restrictions, but positively this also includes restrictions on home evictions and foreclosures.
The president has also promised to continue the pause of student loan payments, and there will be a push for passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief plan, which will aim to increase vaccine capabilities, assist families needing direct financial support and provide emergency funds for cash-poor small businesses.
Biden will also be signing an executive order to formulate a plan to achieve 100 per cent clean energy economy and net zero emissions by 2050. This the first action on his long list of climate change improvements, as Trump was undeniably a bit of an unfriendly boy in his presidential times—he took himself and the US out of the Paris climate agreement, which is why Biden is planning on shaking some hands and say ‘sorry but can we be friends again?’.
Environment is also on the top of his list, and an executive order “to conserve 30 per cent of America’s lands and waters by 2030” will be made on his first day in office. Further down Biden’s presidency (but still in its first 100 days) he promises to also organise a “climate world summit” in order to push world leaders to tackle climate change more aggressively, especially when it comes to global shipping and aviation emissions. Biden doesn’t need congressional approval for this to go forward either, and the new president has also promised alongside this to pressure China into stopping the subsidising of coal and “outsourcing” pollution.
A bill will be sent to Congress on his first day in office “for legislative immigration reform that will modernise our immigration system,” as promised in his environmental justice plan. All of Biden’s first day decisions may take a while to eventualise, however, change always takes time to occur.
Although not on his immediate first-day to-fix list, Biden also plans to end the so-called ‘Muslim ban’ on travel, which restricts travel and immigration to the US from places like Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and also recently Eritrea, Nigeria, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania.
Trump’s presidential term resulted in a repeal military ban on transgender rights, but Biden has promised to fix that and instead restore Obama’s guidance for transgender students in schools to align with their safety and gender identity, specifically allowing students to play the sports they pick and use bathrooms according to their own gender identity.
This leads me to America’s hopeful future for education, which Biden highlighted in his victory speech as important. He praised his wife, who is an English professor herself, and added: “For American educators, this is a great day for you all. You are going to have one of your own in the White House.” Jill Biden will also be the first Flotus to have a paid job outside of the White House.
The Equality Act bill is also aiming to be pushed through, which will provide more protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, and Biden has promised that one key effort in updating the ‘Violence Against Women Act’ that Biden as a senator authored in 1994, would be to include greater protection for transgender women.
Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term in 1933, ‘the first 100 days’ have been seen as a vital benchmark as to which the effectiveness of a president is measured against. And after the above list is ticked off, Biden will rely on Congress to approve many of the initiatives that he aims to accomplish in the 100 days after his first. This in itself is no easy task, but here is the rest of Biden’s to-do list which he relies on Congress for the ‘yes, OK Biden you may proceed’.
Biden’s initiative to “Build Back Better” will begin to take shape in February 2021, following an economic plan that was released during the general election. It involves Americans spending money on American made products, health services and infrastructure updates.
In order to pay for many of these to-do list items, Biden has stated that he would fight for the repeal of tax cut laws which Trump secured in 2017, and argued that the tax cuts currently in place favour the wealthier Americans.
Biden has pledged that in his first 100 days he will establish a new police oversight body to address institutional racism, and a bill is also expected to be drawn up to end gun background check ‘loopholes’ and repeal liability protection for gun manufacturers, which would allow US citizens to sue the gun industry if a gun is used in a crime.
The new president has also committed to tackling systemic racism in America, and stated in his victory speech that “At those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African-American community stood up again for me… You’ve always had my back and I’ll have yours.”
Overall, we expect Biden to focus on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, strengthening international relations and improving relationships for the near future, and all we can do is wait and see if Congress approves the rest of his promises.