Article, FEATURED STORIES, U.S.
The Current State Of the Biden Administration
The Biden administration has concluded an eventful second week in office, and the country is once again brimming in optimism.
Joe Biden seems to be working to fulfill promises made during his campaign, or during his tumultuous transition period, leading to solid, no-nonsense governing. This has been a welcome sight to most Americans based on his approval rating, which is already higher than at any point of the previous administration.
Let’s go through some of what Biden’s administration has done, as well as reactions from others in Washington.
The Executive Orders
Biden has signed over 30 executive orders in his first two weeks of presidency, by far the most common way changes have been made in the federal government. Many of these orders are meant to reverse the previous administration’s policies.
The orders include items to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, including a move to help mobilize the federal response to the pandemic, requiring wearing masks on federal lands, improving the data collection of cases nationwide, and working on setting the groundwork for economic relief and public safety.
Other executive items focused on major issues addressed during the campaign, such as the climate crisis. Orders will implement an ethics standard for executive branch personnel, reverse the Trump administration ban on transgender members in the military, set a requirement for federal government purchases to be made in America, change the priority of border security and immigration, and work to help improve Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Joe’s Cabinet Appointments
One of the Biden campaign’s tenets was to make his administration the most diverse in American history, a goal that he has easily completed. This includes the confirmation of the first female Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, the first Black Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, the first publicly LGBTQ cabinet appointee, Pete Buttigieg, who will oversee the Secretary of Transportation, and the first immigrant to run the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who is Latino. Still awaiting confirmation is the first Latino head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and the first Native American secretary in the cabinet, Deb Haaland, serving as Secretary of the Interior.
Familiar Faces Making a Return to Biden Administration
Some familiar faces from the Obama administration are in Biden’s cabinet, such as former Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who will now head the department. Still awaiting confirmation include Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court Merrick Garland for Attorney General, former Secretary of Agriculture getting his job back Tom Vilsack, and former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough being put up for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The Biden Administration Stimulus Plan
The trademark legislation that Biden has been working on for two weeks is what he campaigned on during the Georgia special runoffs; the $2,000 stimulus check promise. What has been proposed by the Democrats and passed through the house is a $1.9 trillion package that includes new checks for $1,400 per person, an increase in supplemental federal unemployment of $400 per week, funding for schools to reopen totaling $170 billion, an increase of the federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, $440 billion of municipal funding to helping with lost revenue, and $160 billion to cover public health measures during the pandemic.
Difficulties with the Plan
The plan has hit a few roadblocks that have kept it from passing. Republicans in the Senate have been firmly against the package, with a group of ten Republicans, the number required to pass the plan without budget reconciliation for $600 billion, cutting almost everything out of the plan, including cutting checks down to $1,000. House Democrats have decided they will drop the Republicans and pass the measure anyway.
What His Opponents Have Been Saying
Biden’s traditional opponents in the Republican Party have had plenty to say about the Democratic president. They have been critical of Biden’s use of executive orders. Some, including Lindsey Graham, have also been critical of the appointment of Merrick Garland. This has been the legitimate criticism coming from the Republicans, as most members of the party in Washington have dropped their concerns about the validity of the election they had before the inauguration.
Biden has faced questions from the more progressive members of his own party about many of his actions. One major point of contention is the stimulus package for them, as the $1,400 checks are not the full $2,000 that was promised prior to the Georgia runoffs. There have also been concerns about some of the cabinet’s appointments, with some arguing that cabinet members are too connected to lobbying in their own industries.
Overall, it appears that President Biden is off to a mixed start. While many in his own party believe he is exactly what this country needs, some believe he is not quite enough. On the other hand, those on the other side of the fence believe he may be too progressive, pushing for reforms and changes that they believe are entirely unnecessary or unwanted for the country as a whole.