On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
Any transition from one administration and party to another is likely to illustrate very sharp philosophical contrasts in a multitude of areas, but three to focus on are Coronavirus response, immigration policy, and foreign policy.
President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response was considered to be highly controversial. Back in late January and early February, President Trump issued a travel ban from China. This occurred right at the time Senate Democrats were trying to convict the president on two articles of impeachment. At the time of the travel ban, Mr. Biden called this move by the President racist and xenophobic. This is not the only time that he has criticized the president. Biden has continually said that the Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic was a failure to the American people, and that he promises to do better.
Indeed, Mr. Biden has promised a robust response to the pandemic. President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed has cut or reduced many government regulations relating to vaccine testing. To date, two vaccines have been released with additional pharmaceutical companies prepared to roll out their own inoculations in the coming weeks. Mr. Biden’s two biggest challenges moving forward will be to build public trust in the vaccines and to coordinate the continued rollout as more vaccines become available. President Biden in recent weeks has stated “there is nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months”.
Back in 2015, then candidate Trump promised a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico. This was in response to large surges of immigration at the border during the Obama administration. Border security had been a growing issue for the last several administrations, not just Obama’s. This promise from his campaign was kept for the most part, despite not getting much help from Congress. As of now, over 425 miles of border wall have been built.
While Biden has not said he plans on knocking down President Trump’s wall, he has halted new construction. Throughout Mr. Biden’s campaign, he has made it clear that 11 million undocumented citizens will be granted a path to citizenship. Some experts say that this number could be even higher. According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a steady increase in border crossings since April. The recent surge of border crossings has coincided with Mr. Biden’s promise of amnesty to undocumented immigrants as well as a promised increase for asylum seekers.
The Trump administration has been deeply involved in foreign affairs, especially negotiating trade deals with China, as well as Mexico and Canada. In addition, Trump has placed tariffs on Chinese imports in order to level the playing field for competing U.S. companies. President-elect Biden has not yet stated if we will undo the tariffs under his administration.
Another area of significance is Iran, as Trump pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal signed under President Obama. According to the Financial Times, Mr. Biden is inclined to rejoin the deal. This comes at a time when President Trump has pressured Iran by brokering peace between Israel, the UAE, and several other mid east countries.
Mr. Biden has promised a very progressive agenda and his ability to enact many of these policies was greatly enhanced by the outcome of the two Senate runoff races in Georgia where Democrats Ossoff and Warnack both beat Repbulican incumbents Perdue and Loeffler.
President Biden has signed more executive orders in his first week than Barrack Obama and Donald Trump combined. He has signed executive orders on everything from Covid relief to environmental issues to immigration. Each one of these has been in direct contrast to President Trump’s positions on the respective order. For example, President Biden shut down the Keystone oil pipeline. As a result, at least 1,000 jobs have been lost. Some news outlets project that number to be much higher, although other outlets contend most of those jobs were slated to be temporary. In October, then candidate Biden in a town hall on ABC lamented the use of executive orders when asked specifically about tax increases.
Biden has remained somewhat neutral on the impending impeachment trial of President Trump. The Democrat led House sent one article of impeachment to the Senate that claims President Trump incited the deadly January 6th riot. Unity was a major theme of Biden’s inaugural address. He has not asked Speaker Pelosi or Senate Majority leader Schumer to call off the procedure. During the January 6th rally that featured President Trump, several hundred rally goers breached the Capital building perimeter and a smaller number entered the building before President Trump speech was over. During his speech, President Trump remarked that he knew “everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”.
Sources: Breitbart News, Wall Street Journal, Austin American Statesman