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April 30, 2021

The practice of judging a presidency during its first 100 days began almost a century ago during the first term of President Franklin Roosevelt as he attempted to pull the country out of the depths of the Great Depression.

 Facing a crisis of his own, before taking office President Joe Biden made some big promises about what he hoped to accomplish within his first 100 days. With a focus on getting shots in arms and money in pockets, Biden's 100-day agenda reflects what transition officials reported were his priorities -- containing the pandemic, launching an economic recovery, and tackling racial inequality. As his first 100 days in office come to a close, here's a look at how those promises measure up against reality.

 

Vaccines

 PROMISE: Shortly before Biden took office, he set a goal for the US to have 100 million vaccine shots administered within his first 100 days, for an average of 1 million doses per day.

 

REALITY: While some early media coverage expressed skepticism about the feasibility, Biden was ultimately criticized for not aiming high enough with this goal. By Inauguration Day, the country was already on track to achieve the desired level of daily vaccinations without any additional action by the Biden administration.

That being said, the Biden administration did facilitate partnerships with pharmaceutical manufacturers to ramp up vaccine production and increase availability, which likely helped the country maintain a fast pace of vaccinations.

In March, after the US reached 100 million vaccinations, Biden announced he was doubling the goal, aiming for 200 million by the end of April. The US met that new goal on April 21. Though Biden should be commended for this accomplishment and exceeding his initial vaccination goals, the current pace seems unsustainable because many Americans remain wary of receiving the vaccine.

 

School reopening

 PROMISE: In addition to vaccines, a large part of the conversation on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic in the US has focused on how quickly schools can reopen for in-person learning. In December, Biden announced he hoped to get "the majority of our schools ... open by the end of my first 100 days."

However, shortly after he took office, there was confusion over how the administration defined reopening. When pressed about his administration's stance on reopening during a February 16 conference, Biden clarified that by the end of his first 100 days, "the goal will be five days a week" of in-person instruction or close to that for K-8 students in particular.

 

REALITY: Although the administration can take steps to make reopening schools easier and safer, the decision to reopen ultimately belongs to local communities. As of April 20, elementary and middle schools in a little more than half of the 101 largest school districts in the country are offering full five-day-a-week in-person instruction. However, it's worth noting that even if schools are open, some families remain reluctant to send their children back. According to the US Department of Education, closer to one-third of students returned to fully in-person instruction when given the option.

 

 

Economic relief plan

 PROMISE: Biden's agenda for his first 100 days in office included passage of a broad economic aid package responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to those close to the President and outside groups in contact with his top aides.

 

REALITY: Days before his inauguration, Biden unveiled the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and called for Congress to pass it before certain benefits expired on March 14. His proposal included funds for many of the measures in the previous coronavirus relief bills passed under the Trump administration. Despite criticism from Republicans over the bill's price tag and some of its provisions, the House passed it at the end of February. Through a process known as budget reconciliation, the Senate passed the bill without any Republican support after the longest roll call vote in recent Senate history. Biden signed it into law on March 11.

Investment giant Goldman Sachs predicted Biden's stimulus plan might result in the fastest gross domestic product growth in decades.

 

Criminal justice

 PROMISE: Following the death of George Floyd, Biden committed to creating a national police oversight commission in the first 100 days of his presidency if elected.

 

REALITY: This is one promise Biden has not followed through on. Mere weeks before his 100th day, his administration decided to stand down on such a commission, and will instead try to pass police reform through legislation. In the wake of another Black man being shot by police in the US, Biden's Domestic Policy Council director, Susan Rice, released a statement announcing the decision.

"Based on close, respectful consultation with partners in the civil rights community, the administration made the considered judgment that a police commission, at this time, would not be the most effective way to deliver on our top priority in this area, which is to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law," Rice said in the statement.

According to a source familiar with the administration's efforts, the decision was made after conversations with civil rights leaders and police unions and in "close collaboration" with the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.