Depending on if you count the frantically busy hours following his Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony (I do), today, April 29, marks President Biden's 100th day in office — an auspicious, if largely arbitrary, demarcation point between what could be considered the hyperactive honeymoon phase of his administration, and the tough slog ahead.
The past three-plus months have been something of a mixed bag for the Biden White House. In places, the administration has sincerely exceeded expectations; he more than doubled his initial goal for COVID vaccine distribution, and the passage of the American Recovery Act is a seismic — albeit imperfect — legislative achievement which, if nothing else, is expected to cut child poverty in half. Conversely, the Biden administration has thus far struggled to adequately address immigration, and has expended minimal energy to date tackling gun violence in America.
But with 100 days down, and more than three years to go before his term is up, the question now turns from "what has he done?" to "what does he do from here on out?" With that in mind, let's cast our minds forward, and take a look at what's on the Biden agenda for the next hundred days.
The American Recovery Plan may already be signed into law, but if the president's first address to a joint session of Congress this week was any indication, the Biden administration is pushing hard to make the ARP the first in a trio of sweeping proposals that could, in aggregate, be the most consequential domestic initiatives in a century.
First, his American Jobs Plan, introduced in March, is a broadly defined, far-reaching infrastructure bill akin in spirit to FDR's New Deal. The proposal would not only update and rebuild the country's stagnant infrastructure systems, but also improve educational structures across America by modernizing schools and expanding community college capacities, among other things.
Biden's American Families Plan, unveiled during his congressional speech Wednesday, is a similarly expansive proposal that would put $1.8 trillion toward a host of longstanding Democratic priorities, such as free child care for children under 5, free community college for two years, expanded paid family and medical leave, and a return to pre-2017 tax rates for the country's ultra-wealthy.
Taken together, the three "plans" — of which only one has been fully signed into law — are a dramatic reassertion of the government's role in the civic arena. But with Democrats at risk to lose both the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, Biden has to rush to ensure his keystone legislative priorities can make it through Congress while there's still a chance. That means the next hundred days will likely see intense lobbying by the White House to its congressional allies, and some of Biden's characteristic attempts at bipartisanship — or at least lip service thereof — before potentially resorting to the ungainly method of passing the bills through the reconciliation process, like he did with his COVID recovery plan. In particular, watch for the administration to pay close attention to Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who have positioned themselves as the party's most stubbornly centrist forces standing in the way of Biden's more progressive initiatives.
With more than 200 million shots of the various coronavirus vaccines now delivered into people's arms, the country has begun to enter a new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic is far from over, the Biden administration has slowly begun working toward returning to some semblance of pre-virus normalcy, with new CDC guidelines on mask-wearing and post-vaccine socializing acting as a catalyst for local governments to cautiously begin the painstakingly careful process of reopening their communities.
With the domestic recovery moving apace, watch for the Biden administration to shift its focus toward the rest of the world, where vaccine distribution has been decidedly more uneven. In particular, the Biden administration will be focusing on India, and that nation's catastrophic coronavirus surge, and will at some point soon be forced to respond to growing pressure to waive patent restrictions on the vaccines, so less-wealthy nations can expand their production of and access to the life-saving medicine.
Russia and China
Speaking of shifting focus toward the rest of the world, this coming summer will likely see the Biden administration working to engage with its chief geopolitical rivals, China and Russia, as the president works to reassert the U.S.'s role on the global stage in the wake of the Trump administration's notable retreat.
While Biden spent the much of his address to Congress repeating hawkish warnings about China as a global adversary, with only a passing reference to Russia, it's entirely likely that he will actually meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin before he has any sort of bilateral summit with China's Xi Jinping. Plans are already reportedly underway for a Biden-Putin meeting in Europe as soon as within the next few months, where Biden will likely bring up Russia's past interference and cyberattacks in the American electoral system, as well as climate change and nuclear weapons, per his brief references to Russia during his speech Wednesday.
As far as China goes, while Biden used his speech to repeatedly rattle his sabers over what he deemed Xi's "deadly [earnestness] on becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world," he was less specific on what competition between the U.S. and China would actually look like in the short term, beyond a general push toward industrial and technological superiority.
To date, one of the more disappointing features of the Biden administration has been the ways it has — and more often, hasn't — addressed immigration, and the U.S.'s various humanitarian failings in how it handles the influx of undocumented immigrants across the country's southern border in particular.
With Republicans consistently attacking Biden on what they've chosen to call a border "crisis," it seems increasingly likely that the White House will work toward pushing a series of discrete, limited actions, rather than the sweeping immigration reform that Biden has pushed in the past.
"If you don't like my plan," Biden urged Republicans during his congressional address, "let's at least pass what we all agree on."
To that end, he has also tasked Vice President Kamala Harris to "lead our diplomatic effort" to stem the tide of migration to the U.S. at its source, which means it's wholly possible we'll see the White House sending Harris on an international tour to some of the nations from which most undocumented migrants to the southern border originate.
All told, the Biden White House is in the midst of juggling a series of crises and initiatives, each of which could stymie an administration on their own. If past is prologue, the next hundred days of his presidency will likely be a mixed bag of muted victories, and frustrating inaction. Either way, with the first hundred days down, things are only getting busier from here on out.