During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden’s advisers often tracked the promises made in his speeches as a way to formulate their early agenda. Entering office, they viewed the coronavirus as the issue on which his presidency would be most judged, which has guided many of their early decisions and promises — around vaccinations, school reopenings and mask mandates. But he also has a long list of other promises, including climate change, gun control, tax policy and ending foreign wars.
Critics say that some of his early estimates appear to have been set low, so he can over-deliver on key issues early in his presidency. Here’s a look at which promises Biden has met, which he has started to address and which he has altered or abandoned.
On the coronavirus response
Biden’s promise: “My team will be able to get at least 100 million vaccinations done in my first 100 days,” he said on Dec. 8. After that goal was met, he raised the promise on March 25 to 200 million doses in his first 100 days, saying: “I’m setting a second goal, and that is: We will, by my 100th day in office, have administered 200 million shots in people’s arms.”
Biden set his initial goal — 100 million shots in his first 100 days — before taking office and before vaccinations began. Once vaccine distribution began to accelerate, some said his goal was not ambitious enough. After meeting that initial goal on his 58th day in office, Biden raised the promise to 200 million doses. That goal was met on his 92nd day in office. Still, Biden faces hurdles persuading the vaccine-hesitant and reaching herd immunity as new variants have emerged.
On the economy
Biden’s promise: “We need more action, more bipartisanship, and we need to move quickly, we need to move fast,” Biden said in a Jan. 14 speech outlining the American Rescue Plan.
About a week before taking office, Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that included funding for state and local governments, money for vaccinations and school reopenings, and $1,400 in direct payments to individuals. Biden said he was open to compromising with Republicans — and met with 10 GOP senators in his second week in office — but ultimately, the proposal was largely unchanged and was approved without any Republican votes.
On environmental actions
Biden’s promise: “We’re going to reverse Trump’s rollbacks of 100 public health and environmental rules and then forge a path to greater ambition,” Biden said in a July 14 campaign speech.
Biden has made a range of changes to energy and environmental policy, and, according to a Washington Post analysis, has overturned 29 of Trump’s policies and finalized 19 of his own. There are dozens of other policies that remain works in progress. The administration has targeted 71 Trump-era regulatory rollbacks, according to the analysis, and has proposed eight new environmental initiatives that have yet to be finalized.
On foreign policies
Biden’s promise: “It’s long past time we end the forever wars, which have cost us untold blood and treasure. I have long argued that we should bring home the vast majority of our combat troops from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East,” Biden said in a July 11, 2019, speech.
Biden announced on April 14 that all American military forces would withdraw from Afghanistan. He said the process would be completed by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks that drew troops to the region and began the longest war in U.S. history, which is beyond the May 1 exit deadline negotiated by the Trump administration.
Biden’s promise: “On Day One, I’m sending, no matter what the state of this is, to the United States Congress a bill to provide for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, number one, in the United States,” Biden said on MSNBC on May 14. “. . . It’s a gigantic objective of mine to see to it that we make a — that we have an immigration system that’s consistent with our values and who we say we are.”
Biden did unveil a proposal just after taking office, which included many of the priorities he outlined during his campaign. House and Senate Democrats filed more detailed legislation in February, but comprehensive immigration overhaul has been a divisive issue for years, and its prospects remain in doubt. House Democrats in March passed two separate proposals to open a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and to give undocumented agricultural workers a chance to earn legal status. Biden’s immigration focus in his early months as president has been the sharp increase in migrants at the southern border.
On other topics
Biden’s promise: “From the beginning, Vice President-elect Harris and I have sought to build an administration that looks like America,” Biden said on Dec. 30. “Building a diverse team will lead to better outcomes and more effective solutions to address the urgent crises facing our nation.”
Biden achieved a number of historic firsts in his running mate and Cabinet picks, including the first female vice president and treasury secretary, the first openly gay Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate, and the first Native American secretary. Half of his Cabinet members are non-White, and 46 percent are women, according to Inclusive America, which tracks diversity in government. Among the 315 administration positions tracked by the group, 42 percent are people of color and 59 percent are women. He has faced criticism from Asian American and Pacific Islander groups for not appointing an Asian American Cabinet secretary.