100 Days Later, What Has Biden Actually Done?
Everyone from Elizabeth Warren to Ai-jen Poo to youth organizers weighs in.
On Wednesday night, Biden announced the sweeping, New Deal-like $1.8 trillion American Families Plan — an unprecedented federal investment in education, childcare, and paid family leave — which would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. In that same speech, his first address to Congress, Biden urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act by next month, the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The bill seeks to end certain deadly police techniques at the federal level and improve training, as well as ban no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, end "qualified immunity," and create a national police misconduct registry. He also urged Congress to act on gun legislation in the wake of multiple mass shootings, specifically calling out the Senate Republicans who are stalling the process.
But leaving aside the administration’s proposed future accomplishments, what has Biden accomplished since becoming president? Arguably the biggest win of his administration so far has been the nationwide implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine, which has allowed millions to safely go to work, travel, see family and friends, and, now, take off our masks when outdoors and distanced. The administration facilitated 200 million vaccination shots after first pledging to administer 100 million shots by Biden's 100th day and then gradually upping the goal. The White House now says the U.S. will have enough vaccines for every adult American by the end of May. In the past two weeks, COVID cases have been on the decline in over half of U.S. states.
On economic relief, Biden’s American Rescue Plan has provided $1,400 stimulus checks to qualifying households, extra unemployment assistance, and has delivered $39 billion to states to help childcare providers stay afloat or reopen. While the bill left much to be desired, like a federal $15 minimum wage, economists say it could reduce the U.S. poverty rate by one-third in 2021. Unemployment has hit a low, even though it’s still much higher than in pre-pandemic times. Through his executive powers, Biden has expanded food assistance, extended the federal moratorium on evictions, and continued the suspension of federal student loan payments and interest charges. But not one Senate Republican voted for the COVID relief bill, showing just how partisan things have become.
On immigration, Biden has signed several executive actions to dismantle Trump’s disastrous policies, including overturning the Muslim ban and restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Immigration advocates say that while these policies are a start, they are not enough: ICE is still a threat and Border Patrol can deny entry to asylum-seekers. There are still thousands of unaccompanied migrant children at the border, although the number has dropped during this administration. And advocates are criticizing Biden’s handling of refugee admissions, with the White House recently considering setting the originally proposed refugee cap of 62,500 by May 15, walking back its stance after pushback for keeping the Trump-era limit of 15,000.
The list of major changes goes on, but we wanted to hear what political leaders, advocates, and regular citizens think about how the Biden-Harris administration fared in its first 100 days — and what they believe still needs to be done.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): "If we can pass the American Rescue Plan in under 100 days, the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working families in the modern history of this country, then imagine what we can do in the coming months and year if we come together to move boldly forward. Now is the time to address the long-term structural problems facing our country. Now is the time to address childhood poverty, the childcare crisis, and making public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free. Now is the time to expand Medicare benefits, reduce the Medicare eligibility age, and lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. Now is the time to confront the existential crises of climate change, racial injustice, and income inequality. As we begin to recover from this terrible pandemic, it is clear that the time is now to finally deal with the systemic and existential threats facing us, once and for all. Let’s get it done."
Andrea James, executive director and founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women & Girls: "At the start of the new administration, we called on President Biden to use his power of clemency to release 100 incarcerated women within his first 100 days. As an administration that has expressed deep commitments to racial justice, we were optimistic that President Biden would recognize clemency as a tool in that fight to right the wrongs of our criminal legal system, which disproportionately impacts Black and brown women. Not one incarcerated individual was granted clemency during the first 100 days. President Biden has the power to reunite families and communities with the stroke of a pen, and yet one of our sisters on our list of 100 just died during her 10th year of incarceration. No longer shall our sisters be over-sentenced, mistreated, overlooked, and underserved at the hands of our legal system. A prison will never be the place for women to heal and advance their lives, and we will continue our work until every last one of them is free. We sincerely hope to have support from the Biden administration in this fight."
Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN): "What's clear is that we have a negotiating partner in the White House. Progressives were able to work with President Biden to pass one of the boldest relief packages in history, one that provided direct relief checks to our constituents, will cut child poverty in half, and fund our state and local governments in desperate need of relief. Many of our asks — from repealing the Muslim ban, to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, to reinstating Temporary Protected Status for immigrants, and stronger COVID health and safety standards — were fulfilled early in the administration.
"It’s also clear that there are areas where the administration is going to need outside pressure to do the right thing. We were incredibly disappointed with the initial walk-back of the President’s campaign promise to lift refugee admissions this year, and are grateful that they are reconsidering. I’ve also been disappointed with many of their early foreign policy decisions — whether refusing to hold Saudi Arabia fully accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and their ongoing deadly blockade of Yemen, or their refusal to lift draconian sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, and others.
"We also know that the majority of President Biden and the Democratic Party’s legislative agenda is dead on arrival as long as we allow Mitch McConnell and his caucus to uphold any legislation through the filibuster. It’s simple: The President’s agenda hinges on abolishing the Jim Crow-era filibuster. The sooner we do this, the sooner we can deliver for the American people."
Luz, DACA recipient from Maryland, organizer with United We Dream: "Gen Z organizers like myself helped Democrats win control of the White House and Congress after facing four years of one of the most anti-immigrant administrations in modern history. Even with Trump out of the White House, undocumented communities remain at risk at the hands of ICE and CBP. We're witnessing that right now with the over 300,000 deportations and expulsions that have happened this year, despite Biden's promises to stop deportations.
“President Biden also vowed to deliver a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S. But actions speak louder than words. It's time President Biden and Democrats in Congress go big and go bold and do everything in their power to pass citizenship for millions this year. They can do that now by adding a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth, TPS holders, essential workers, and farmworkers in their infrastructure package."
Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance: "We have real reason to be hopeful. Decades of disinvestment in our care infrastructure have taken an unsustainable toll on working families. This is especially true for domestic workers, many of whom have struggled to take care of their own families as they care and clean for our nation. The commitment made in the American Jobs Plan to expand access to home- and community-based services for the aging and people with disabilities, and improve the quality of jobs for the care workforce, is transformative. The American Families Plan is another transformative step in building a caring economy by creating millions of jobs and allowing more parents and caregivers to rejoin the workforce. This plan signals that we are not just moving from crisis to recovery, but charting a new path for economic transformation for working women, especially Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous women, who continue to be the first to lose income and the last to receive support in times of crisis and stability. We also want to urge Congress and the White House to include citizenship for the millions of undocumented essential workers who kept us safe during the pandemic and need permanent citizenship to live, work, and thrive in the United States."
Sonja Spoo, UltraViolet campaign director, member of the We Demand More Coalition: "If we are to truly build back better, we need the President and Congress to center women in our economic recovery by raising the minimum wage to $15, end the subminimum wage for tipped workers, provide universal paid family and medical leave, continue investment in our care economy, make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent, work to roll back dangerous restrictions on abortion and other reproductive healthcare services, and increase access to care overall."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA): "In President Biden’s first 100 days, tens of millions of Americans received a COVID-19 vaccine, families got more badly needed relief money, and our government trusted science again. But there’s still more to do to recover from this pandemic — and recover equitably — and I’m in that fight all the way. I’m calling on President Biden to create more opportunities for women and people of color by cancelling up to $50,000 of their student loan debt and by investing the billions of dollars needed to make childcare and early education available to every child who needs it — and make it affordable for their mamas and daddies."
Liuba Grechen Shirley, founder and CEO of Vote Mama: "President Biden’s American Families Plan shows an encouraging commitment to centering childcare as a key economic issue. However, we are missing an opportunity to overhaul a system that has been failing families and children for generations. Now is the time for bold, structural change — to invest in childcare as a public good, the way we invest in education, and to ensure childcare workers, largely women of color, are paid on par with early-education teachers."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY): "Over the past year, women have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic. When kids need to stay home sick or to participate in distance learning, it is almost always women who stay home with them. If those women can’t take paid time off, they are forced to make an impossible choice between their family and their paycheck. As a result, millions of women, many of whom are women of color, have been forced out of the workplace. I first introduced the FAMILY Act nearly a decade ago to create a national paid family and medical leave policy, and I am proud and glad to see President Biden has included national paid leave in his American Families Plan. This universal and comprehensive paid leave proposal is one of the most significant steps we can take to improve the economic safety and security of American families."
Rep. Marie Newman (IL): "In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to building on and strengthening the American Jobs Plan to ensure we invest in green, clean infrastructure projects and energy-efficient transportation that will create new union jobs and build a stronger, more sustainable future for generations. We will also continue pushing the administration on a number of progressive policies and reforms, including lifting Donald Trump’s xenophobic refugee cap that has restricted refugees from seeking shelter in our country."
Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL): "We have seen real leadership to lower healthcare costs and help Americans enroll in coverage. The President started by opening a Special Enrollment Period so people without coverage can enroll until August 15, 2021. Then he signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which includes my legislation to lower out-of-pocket premiums. Millions of Americans now qualify for health plans that cost $10 or less per month, and some won’t even have to pay a monthly premium at all. These changes are in place through 2022, and I’m working with the administration to make the lower cost of health plans permanent."
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): "Back at home, I have seen firsthand how the American Rescue Plan is getting shots in arms, students back in the classroom, and Nevadans back to work, paving the way for a real economic recovery. There is a lot of work left to do, and I look forward to continuing to work with the White House to make sure working families in Nevada have the support they need to get through this and come back stronger."
Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA): "As one of the youngest members of Congress, I’ve been incredibly excited to see that from the very beginning, the administration has understood we have to take bold steps to meet this moment. Having started a nonprofit coalition to address childhood poverty before coming to Congress, I’ve been especially proud to work with the White House and my colleagues in Congress on fighting child poverty and supporting our childcare industry. It cannot be overstated how historic and impactful the substantial expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan will be. I’m focused now on ensuring that those investments are around for the long term. I was proud to lead a letter ahead of his address to Congress urging President Biden to make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent and to join Sen. Warren in calling for universal childcare. We have an obligation to not go back to how things were before, which wasn’t working for so many families."
Gabrielle Giffords, former Arizona congresswoman: "In April 2013, I stood in the Rose Garden with then-Vice President Joe Biden, furious and heartbroken over the Senate’s shameful failure to pass background checks legislation following the Sandy Hook massacre. This April, eight years later, I sat in the same place as President Biden announced historic and critical executive actions on gun safety. It’s true that we have a long way to go, but we also must not forget how far we’ve come. I’m thrilled that after four years of White House inaction, we finally have a president who is committed to making lasting change on gun violence prevention. President Biden is one of the most empathetic people I have ever met, someone who truly epitomizes turning pain into purpose. I look forward to continuing to work with him on ending this public health crisis."
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, NextGen America executive director: "We’ve been pleased with the President’s commitments to transformative climate action and COVID relief. We would have liked to see him cancel student debt in his first 100 days, and we will keep pushing the administration to address the debt crisis through executive action while working with Congress on college affordability. We hope that the president also puts pressure on Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster and deliver further transformative change on legislation like the For the People Act."
Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX): "America is back on track thanks to the strong leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. But much more remains to be done, and the next 100 days will be decisive — especially when it comes to addressing our immigration challenges and unwinding Donald Trump's cruel immigration policies that led to so much pain in communities like El Paso — our modern-day Ellis Island."
Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy, New America's Better Life Lab: "As an advocate and expert who has spent more than a decade working to advance comprehensive paid family and medical leave at the federal and state levels, it’s exciting — and smart — that both President Biden and the chairman of Congress’ most powerful committee [Ways and Means], Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), have made national paid leave a centerpiece of their family economic security and economic recovery plans."
Assistant House Speaker Rep. Katherine Clark (MA): "For too long, America has failed to recognize care work for what it is: an essential piece of our economic infrastructure. President Biden’s infrastructure package includes landmark investments in the care economy that will support families and the care workers who keep our entire economy moving forward."
Rep. Terri Sewell (AL): "I am particularly excited about how the American Rescue Plan expands the Child Tax Credit, providing more money to more families sooner. I cannot overstate how transformative this provision will be, affecting almost one million Alabama children and cutting child poverty in the U.S. in half."
Rep. Ro Khanna (CA): "President Biden ran on ending fossil fuel subsidies, and I applaud him for reaffirming that commitment. However, we must still: Repeal the deduction for intangible drilling costs. Repeal the Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) accounting for fossil fuel companies. Repeal the corporate tax exemption for fossil fuel Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). Repeal the excess of percentage over cost depletion. Repeal dual-capacity taxpayer deduction. These repeals must be in the infrastructure package."
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action: "President Biden's actions are already a huge victory for the gun-safety movement, and each of his executive actions will save lives and begin to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic. We echo President Biden’s calls to action: The Senate must build on this momentum by acting, and acting now, to pass background check legislation and enact the first federal gun safety law in 25 years."
Rep. Mondaire Jones (NY): "Expanding the Child Tax Credit shouldn’t be a one-time thing. We need to make it permanent. Pandemic notwithstanding, childcare continues to be unaffordable and out of reach for so many working families in this country. In fact, for far too many families, the cost of childcare is equivalent to a second mortgage or rent payment. That is an extra burden no family should have to face, especially not in the richest nation in the world. So while President Biden’s American Rescue Plan was transformative, our work is far from over."
Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA): "Donald Trump turned his back on our allies in favor of policy driven by fear, and spent his time cozying up to dictators and bad actors. With President Biden as commander-in-chief, it was like flipping a switch. Finally, the United States is sending a message to the world that we are ready to mend the damage of the last four years and return to our position of leading with compassion and collaboration on the international stage. Put simply, we’re earning our leadership role once again. America is back, and we have the Biden administration to thank."
DeAndra Dycus, gun violence survivor and volunteer with the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action: "As a gun violence survivor who addressed the Democratic National Convention this past summer about the importance of tackling gun violence, I’ve been encouraged by the action and empathy we’ve seen from President Biden and Vice President Harris on gun violence. This administration has taken bold steps that I believe will address the gun violence that disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities. I’ve been working to keep other families safe in Indianapolis since a stray bullet left my son a quadriplegic in 2014. In 2021, Indianapolis has been devastated by multiple mass shootings and daily gun violence that has killed and wounded far too many people in our communities. As President Biden has said, we now need the Senate to pass meaningful legislation to save lives and prevent more families from experiencing heartbreak."
Alicia Cleveland, nanny, Atlanta: "During the pandemic, I wasn’t able to continue my full-time nannying business or do any other side work because going to work was a risk to both my clients and my family. Receiving pandemic-related unemployment benefits and stimulus checks throughout this time was a huge relief and allowed me to buy groceries, pay my rent, and pay my bills while I couldn’t go back to work. President Biden’s plans will help domestic workers like myself who work in the childcare industry get back to work and, as a result, allow other families to get back to work. It’s been a long year behind us, but I’m looking forward to what’s ahead."