Vaccines to wages: Joe Biden’s focus areas for first 100 days in office

The 46th President of the US is expected to rollout policies to curb COVID-19 and help the US economy tide over the pandemic-induced crisis, re-enter the Paris Climate Accord and overturn Trump’s laws on immigration

Biden

As soon as he is sworn in as the 46th President of the United State, Joe R Biden will have a whirlwind of a day, rolling out executive orders and putting to action all the promises he has made to deliver in the first 100 days of his administration. Taking stock of the COVID-19 situation, reversing policies of predecessor Donald Trump and resetting the US’s notorious immigration policies will be the first on his wish list.

100 million vaccines in 100 days

Biden’s entry to the White House comes at a time when the United States has clocked in over 24 million cases of coronavirus and 4.1 lakh deaths, the highest in the world. His immediate concern would be to get a congressional approval for the $1.9 trillion coronavirus scheme which plans to administer 100 million vaccines by Biden’s 100th day in office.

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The president-elect also plans to employ 100,000 people as part of a national contact-tracing programme which would also conduct free testing of COVID-19. Biden’s plan to contain coronavirus also includes establishment of 10 testing centres in every state and a call to all governors to make wearing of masks mandatory, a feature absent in the Trump administration.

Raising minimum wage

One of the key promises of Biden is to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by providing direct payment of $1,400 to Americans with annual salaries below $75,000 in view of the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic.

Vowing that he will spend “whatever it takes,” to help people and businesses recover, either through direct payments or loans, Biden has also proposed an additional $200 in Social Security payments per month and $10,000 of student loan forgiveness for federal loans.

Re-entering Paris climate accord

Re-entering the Paris Climate Accord, from which the US under Trump withdrew in 2017, is a prominent feature in Biden’s 100-day checklist.

The agreement wanted US to cut down on its greenhouse gases up to 28 per cent by 2025, based on 2005 levels.

The former vice president who is expected to re-join the accord on Day one of his office, may revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a project under which 830,000 barrels of crude oil will be ferried from Alberta, Canada to a pipeline that connects to oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico coast.

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Regulating methane emissions from oil and gas drilling operations will be another step.

Biden, as promised, is also expected to convene an international climate summit involving world leaders of major economics within 100 days of his joining office in a joint bid to phase out the use of hydroflurocarbons.

He is slated to sign an executive order to plan a blueprint to achieve 100 per cent clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2050.

His administration also seeks to invest $ 2 trillion in green energy, in a bid to boost green manufacturing.

Stronger stance on China

The Biden administration will not want to alter the China stance of the previous Trump rule, even though the strategy would list more to the diplomacy side. However, the new ‘spy chief’-designate supports a hardcore policy against China. Biden’s nominee for the post. Avril Haines said China is a ‘challenge’ to the security and prosperity of the US. If she reflects the new president’s view on China, it will be an ‘aggressive stance’ which would deal with the challenges that the country is now facing from Beijing.

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Haines told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing for the post of Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday that ‘America’s approach to China has to evolve.’ “It should essentially meet the reality of the particularly assertive and aggressive China that is being experienced now,” she added.

All the nominees of Biden’s cabinet have vowed to take a tough stand against China. This would include holding China accountable for unfair environment and trade practices and find ways to block import of Chinese products made by forced labour.

Treasury secretary nominee Janet Yellen on Tuesday said that the Biden administration will tackle “China’s abusive, unfair and illegal practices” which undermine the US economy.

The US accuses China of “undercutting American companies” through “policies, including illegal subsidies, dumping of products, theft of intellectual property and barriers to US goods.”

Biden has proposed an international coalition of likeminded countries to take on the aggressions of China.

Policies on immigration and refugees

The Biden administration is all set to overturn his predecessor Trump’s policies on immigration refugees. Calling the ban restricting travel of people from 13 Islamic countries by Trump ‘unconstitutional’, Biden plans its rollback when he assumes office on Wednesday.

The Trump administration had imposed a travel ban of residents from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, North Korea, Myanmar and Nigeria among others, in a bid to prevent “a national of one of these countries who intends to commit terrorist acts…”

On Wednesday Biden is also slated to propose a legislation which seeks to give citizenship to almost 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, over a span of eight years.

Despite Biden’s promises to reverse Trump’s immigration policies, the entry of emigrants (7,000 refugees from Honduras for instance), seeking asylum in the US, may not happen anytime soon, officials have said.

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