President Biden's First Weeks in Office
By Sophia Alexandrou
As 46th President of the United States, President Biden has been extremely productive during his first 100 days. Through times of economic uncertainty, a health crisis, and extreme political turmoil, Biden has been under immense pressure following the Trump administration. Since taking office, he has signed over 50 executive orders, many just reversing ones made during the Trump administration, in addition to changes regarding the economy and military. While some of these initiatives have put the United States in a better position, some of them have not.
Earlier this month, Biden reversed a Trump policy that limited the admission of refugees. He pledges to raise the refugee cap from 15,000 (the lowest it has been since 1980) to 125,000. This is an attempt to give the United States a more moral immigration system. In addition, in a series of executive orders, Biden rescinded the Trump administration order to separate families at the border, with the intent of creating a task force to reunite the families that have already beenseparated. This Trump-era order continues to be a destructive force for immigrants entering through the Mexican border. This task force chaired by the Department of Homeland Security secretary plans on identifying the separated parents and children and reunifying them. Biden also signed several executive orders regarding the current climate crisis. One is a policy that is halting any new gas or oil leases on federal land. In addition, the Interior Secretary has launched a “rigorous review” of existing fossil fuel leasing and permits, and the administration plans to double the use of renewable energy by 2030. In addition to other climate initiatives made by the President like re-entering the Paris climate accord, this would put the United States in a far better position regarding the climate than previously.
However, not every decision made by the President has been productive. In his first days, Biden has issued over 30 new oil drilling permits, despite his previous plan to pause oil and gas leasing. Additionally, the Interior Department stated that existing permits are “continuing to be reviewed and approved.” Drilling oil is one of the most harmful causes of climate change and with only about 47 years of it left, immediate and immense action must be taken. In addition, when Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren called on Biden to forgive $50,000 of student loan debt, he only forgave $10,000 claiming in a town hall meeting, “I am prepared to write off the $10,000 debt but not $50 [thousand], because I don't think I have the authority to do it.” However, 17 state attorneys argued against this claim, pointing to the Higher Education Act which was instated in order to provide people with federal financial assistance in school. Biden has also deported hundreds of people, despite promising not to do so in his first 100 days during his campaign.
Given the difficult circumstances Biden was presented with when he took office, he is proving to be a much more capable leader than Trump, repealing several harmful initiatives set in place by the Trump administration. These actions have granted more rights to minority groups like the LGBTQ+ community and immigrants. However, he has also not lived up to several of his campaign promises like his plans to limit the number of oil drilling permits and the raising of the federal minimum wage to $15. Overall, his first month in office has been productive with several initiatives still in the works, such as his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill which is set to pass later this week.