Brody’s Corner

Biden’s First Two Weeks in Office

Brody's Corner

Brody Eggert

Joseph R. Biden officially took the presidential oath of office on January 20th, 2021. There was no violence; it was smooth, although President Donald J. Trump was not in attendance. 

Immediately President Biden got to work. As of February 5th, 2021, President Biden had signed 48 executive orders, proclamations, and memorandums (both similar in effect to executive orders), 16 of which were reversals of previous Trump administration policies. In immigration, President Biden has signed nine executive orders, which rescinded fourteen Trump administration directives. Included in those executive orders were a preservation of DACA, an end to the construction of the border wall, an end to the Muslim travel ban, and the creation of a family unification task force. However, Biden’s order suspending deportations was temporarily halted by a Trump-appointed federal judge. On day one, Biden also signed an executive order reinstating two Obama-era environmental actions and reversed (or is in the process of reversing) fifteen Trump administration environmental actions (most of which deregulated the environment and removed ecological protections). President Biden also revoked the ban on transgender people serving the United States Armed Forces and disbanded the 1776 Commission (an advisory board set up by President Trump to promote a “patriotic education”), many historians criticized it as “pseudohistory.” Biden signed 29 executive orders, far more than his recent predecessors. However, whether you view that positively or negatively most likely boils down to your political opinion of President Biden. Biden also rejoined both the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization, both of which were abandoned by the Trump administration.

However, Biden is having less success in the newly Democratic senate. His budget and Covid relief bill were not able to garner a filibuster-proof majority to allow it to pass the Senate; however, a measure known as “budget reconciliation” was placed on the bill by the new Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), meaning it only needs a simple majority to pass. This being said, the Biden administration is still attempting to garner as many votes as possible from Republican senators to make the bill as bipartisan as possible; however, the Republican relief proposal was only $618 billion compared to Biden’s $1.9 trillion. 

Biden is already dealing with significant foreign policy challenges in the East. Russia jailed the prominent Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma), the military overthrew and imprisoned most of the civilian government and shut down the internet, shutting down a primary source for dissent against the new military government. Biden has responded to the arrest of Alexei Navalny by making it “very clear to President Putin in a manner very different from my predecessor that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russian aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens, are over.” Biden’s State Department has also announced an immediate review of the repeal of sanctions placed on Myanmar that has been taking place since the countries transition to democracy since the early 21st century, many of which will likely be reimposed until Myanmar returns to its rightfully elected civilian government. 

According to polling aggregated and adjusted for bias by the website FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s approval rating currently stands at 53.2% (as of February 7th), and his disapproval rating stood at 36.3%. Biden’s approval rating is much higher than Donald Trump’s approval rating at this time of his presidency, which was 44.4% (compared to 38.7% on the last day of his presidency); however, it is much lower than Obama’s approval rating at this time of his presidency which was approximately 61.3%, comparable to most other previous administrations in the early days of their first terms. This relatively low approval rating could be attributed to the high degree of partisanism in our current society. However, the results of severe partisanism on the rest of Biden’s presidency remain to be seen.