Accomplishments of a New Administration: Biden’s First Few Days in Office

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Ershai Matambanadzo, Copy Editor

On Jan. 20, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as 46th president and 49th vice president of the United States. With a pandemic, an economic crisis, an impeachment trial, a rise in far-right extremism, and continuing civil unrest, leading America through this pressing chapter in our history poses perhaps the greatest challenge any president has faced since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here is what Biden has accomplished during his first few days in office:

Confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet: Off to a belated start, Biden’s cabinet nominations are slowly making their way through the Senate. After the victories in Georgia, the Democrats now hold the power of the majority party in the Senate, allowing them to progress with cabinet confirmations. Those confirmed so far include Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro “Ali” Mayorkas. 

Day One: Eager to have made monumental progress by the 100-day benchmark and follow through on campaign promises, Biden wasted no time on his first day in office. Using the power of executive order, the president placed a mask mandate on federal property, reengaged with the World Health Organization (WHO), rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, extended eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and extended the student loan pause. He also launched an initiative to advance racial equity, reversed the Muslim Ban, preserved and fortified DACA, and more. In the following days, Biden signed executive orders allowing transgender people to serve in the military, supporting the reopening of schools, ordering the Justice Department to end contracts with private prisons, and more. 

Coronavirus Vaccinations and Economic Policy: On Jan. 14, Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. Titled the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would fund Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccinations within the first 100 days of his presidency. It also proposes $1,4000 stimulus checks, which on top of the already provided $600 would amount to $2,000. The plan extends the boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September. A highlight of the plan aims to increase the minimum wage to $15, a Biden-Harris campaign promise and long-time Democratic policy issue. 

Impeachment: On Jan. 13, in a 232-197 vote, the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump for the second time, citing “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” The House sent the article of impeachment to the Senate for trial on Jan. 25, but in order to prioritize confirming presidential cabinet nominations, the trial will not begin until the week of Feb. 8. A conviction by the Senate would require 17 Republican senators to vote across partisan lines, which is unlikely to happen after a 55-45 vote narrowly defeated a Republican effort to have the article of impeachment against Donald Trump dismissed.