Biden’s promises for his first 100 days: Kept, broken and incomplete

President Biden smiles as he stands behind a podium on the North Lawn of the White House
President Biden touts his administration’s progress against COVID-19 during remarks on the North Lawn of the White House Tuesday.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

As a candidate and then president-elect, Joe Biden promised decisive action to tackle four national crises — the coronavirus pandemic, the resulting recession, climate change and racial injustice — and outlined dozens of actions he planned to take in his first 100 days in office.

As president, he gave highest priority to the pandemic. After vowing in his inaugural address to “defeat the virus,” Biden has followed through on — and in some cases, surpassed — nearly all of his campaign promises in this area. As he nears his 100th day in office Thursday, a traditional milepost for assessing presidents’ early progress, Biden has won the approval of seven in 10 Americans for his response to COVID-19.

At the White House on Tuesday, Biden touted the “stunning progress” over the past three months, noting the drop in deaths, hospitalizations and cases as millions of Americans have been vaccinated.


Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, pared down by pandemic precautions, in a prime-time appearance Wednesday to promote a bold domestic agenda.

April 28, 2021

He has also delivered on promises related to climate change and the economy. But Biden has taken only small steps so far to address the fourth crisis he identified — racial injustice — even as the nation has continued to be convulsed on his watch by mass shootings and instances of police shootings of unarmed Black men. And he has struggled to get a handle on an immigration system that has been strained further by an influx of migrants seeking asylum, disappointing progressives by keeping some of President Trump’s policies in place.

Biden’s executive actions in many policy areas, however symbolic, fulfilled a number of campaign promises. But those steps are no substitute for more far-reaching laws because the next president can undo them. Finding bipartisan compromises in this narrowly divided Congress won’t be easy, however.

Here is a rundown of the president’s progress on his promises at the 100-day mark:


Coronavirus response and economic relief

100 million COVID-19 vaccinations. Done. This promise was met on the 58th day of Biden’s presidency. Biden then doubled the goal to 200 million shots, which was achieved on day 92.


Expand access to vaccination centers and deploy mobile clinics. Done. When he unveiled his COVID-19 strategy on Jan. 21, Biden vowed to open up 100 vaccination sites run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and to expand access to vaccines through pharmacies, mobile clinics, and by enlisting more medical officials to administer shots. The government followed through, and daily vaccination rates rose steadily.

Economic relief. Done. Congress approved Biden’s $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief package in March. Larger than many expected, among other benefits the package made good on Biden’s promise to deliver $2,000 of direct relief to most Americans by sending them $1,400, following the $600 payments Trump signed into law.

Continue moratorium on federal student loans. Done. Biden extended the freeze on student loan payments for another eight months in an executive order he signed Jan. 22.

Reopen “a majority” of schools. Incomplete. Biden’s coronavirus relief package included billions to help schools with pandemic-related expenses. The president’s promise was vague enough that the White House counted schools opening part time as being open. As of April 7, just 46% of public school students were being offered full-time, in-person learning, according to the Education Department.


Foreign affairs

Biden announced U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
President Biden visits Arlington National Cemetery April 14, after announcing all U.S. troops would exit Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 20 years after the terrorist attacks.
(Andrew Harnik / AP)


Return to Paris climate accord. Done. Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office to begin the 30-day process for the United States to rejoin the five-year-old global pact to reduce carbon emissions. The U.S. officially did so in February.

Return to Iran nuclear deal. Incomplete. Talks are underway with the other countries that are parties to the 2015 agreement, but there has been little progress as Iran has refused to come back into compliance with the terms of the old deal — the one President Trump abruptly disavowed — without the U.S. easing economic sanctions.

Rejoin the World Health Organization. Done. Hours into Biden’s term, the U.S. informed United Nations officials that it would resume contributing to the global health consortium, reversing Trump’s pullout set to take effect in July.

End the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In progress. Biden ordered that U.S. forces be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked America’s longest war. Trump had set a withdrawal date of May 1.



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LA Times Today: President Biden’s immigration plan

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.


Deliver comprehensive immigration bill to Congress. Done. Upon taking office, Biden quickly sent lawmakers his framework for overhauling immigration law, a bill that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants long in the country without documentation. But the legislation is unlikely to progress in a polarized Congress, and Biden has higher priorities.

End Muslim travel ban. Done. On his first day in office, Biden signed an order ending his predecessor’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

• Stop funding for border wall. Done. After promising as a candidate not to build “another foot” of Trump’s border wall, Biden signed an order on Day One pausing all construction and calling for a 60-day review.

Deportation changes. Done. Biden has reversed the Trump order broadening criteria for deportations, returning to the Obama-era policy of giving priority to deporting immigrants who pose a security risk.

Reunite migrant families. Incomplete. Biden established a task force focused on reuniting more than 500 migrant children with their parents after they were separated at the border by Trump-era policy, but lawyers for the families say no deported parents have had reunions with their children.

Raise refugee cap to 125,000. Incomplete. Struggling to control a surge of migrants at the border, Biden has hedged on this promise involving the separate issue of refugee admissions. After announcing it would keep Trump’s 15,000 cap in place because of “humanitarian concerns” — its focus on the chaotic border situation — the White House sought to quell a backlash from Democratic lawmakers and refugee advocates by promising to announce a new cap in May. Meanwhile, it increased the cap to 62,500 this year and to 125,000 in the next fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.


• Rebuild the asylum system. Incomplete. In February, Biden directed officials to craft a new, “humane” asylum system for asylum-seekers and refugees. That has yet to materialize. And while Biden eliminated a Trump-era requirement that asylum-seekers wait in Mexico to wait for their U.S. court dates, he’s maintained Trump’s controversial Title 42, which allows border agents to expel migrants without giving them a chance to apply for asylum to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Reverse Trump’s “public charge rule.” Done. The Homeland Security Department on March 9 announced that it was rescinding this policy, which allowed immigration officials to deny applicants admission or continued residence in the country if they were deemed likely to use public benefits.

Reform Border Patrol policies. Incomplete. Biden requested additional funding, in the immigration bill and budget he sent Congress, for training and investigating misconduct by border agents and immigration officers. But issues persist.


Environment and climate change

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Biden: ‘Can’t wait any longer’ on climate crisis

President Biden announced new actions to combat climate change and take the first step toward a ban on oil leasing on federal land. Even as opponents were claiming the initiatives would cost jobs, Biden emphasized that a comprehensive climate effort would create clean energy jobs nationwide.

Convene climate summit. Done. Biden hosted a two-day virtual summit this month, drawing leaders from 40 countries to commit to more ambitious national commitments to lower carbon emissions ahead of a November summit in Scotland.

Rescind Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. Done. On day one, Biden issued an order blocking the project from going forward.

Ratify amendment to Montreal Protocol to reduce hydrofluorocarbons. Done. Biden issued an order in late January asking the Senate to ratify the 2016 Kigali Amendment, a pact agreed to by 120 countries to eliminate climate-warming HFCs over coming decades.


Reverse Trump environmental rollbacks. Incomplete. On Inauguration Day, Biden ordered a review of more than 100 Trump-era rules on the environment, public health and science. While a few actions (blocking Keystone XL pipeline) were immediate, restoring many of the protections will take time. He has not decided whether to restore the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which Trump slashed in size. Biden did move Monday to lift a Trump rule preventing states from setting their own vehicle emissions standards, enabling California to again set stricter fuel economy rules to curb climate change.

Take steps to conserve 30% of America’s land and water by 2030. Incomplete. Biden issued an order in January officially committing to that goal while ordering a pause in new oil and gas leases on public lands and creating a White House office of environmental justice.


Domestic policies

In his first major gun control measures since taking office, President Joe Biden announced executive actions Thursday aimed at addressing what the White House calls a “gun violence public health epidemic.”

Gun control. Incomplete. Biden has not yet directed the attorney general to propose restructuring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies to better enforce federal gun laws. Following another spate of mass shootings, Biden called on Congress to enact stricter gun laws. This month he signed executive orders to restrict “ghost guns” — firearms that are assembled at home, don’t have serial numbers and are harder to track — and to make it harder for dangerous people to obtain weapons.

Address systemic racism. Incomplete. On Jan. 26, Biden signed four executive orders addressing racial equity: focusing on discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, strengthening tribal relations, reinstating an Obama-era anti-housing discrimination rule and ending the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. But as Republican-led states have passed restrictive voting laws, Biden and congressional Democrats have been unable to move ahead with an update to the Voting Rights Act, to allow federal challenges to states’ changes that could disproportionately prevent voters of color from casting ballots. Given Republicans’ opposition, success is likely only if Senate Democrats do away with the chamber’s filibuster rule that sets a 60-vote threshold.


President Biden listens and stands in the background as Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a podium
President Biden listens as Vice President Kamala Harris speaks after meeting with leaders from Georgia’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community in March.
(Patrick Semansky / AP)

• Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act. Incomplete. Biden, who sponsored the 1994 law, vowed to push Congress to reauthorize it. But there’s no clear bipartisan path for doing so.

• Ease union organizing. Incomplete. While Biden threw his support behind an unsuccessful unionization effort by some Amazon workers in March, he has yet to follow through on a promise to create a Cabinet-level working group to promote union organizing and address economic inequality.

Establish police oversight board. Abandoned. Biden decided to scrap this campaign proposal after both sides — civil rights groups and police unions — agreed that it would be counterproductive.

• End Pentagon transgender ban. Done. Biden in January reversed Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.


Sign Equality Act. Incomplete. Biden pledged that the proposed law, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to bar discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, would be a top legislative priority in his first 100 days. The House passed legislation in February, but it it appears short of the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate.