US President Joe Biden speaks on the anniversary of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 11, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
In his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, put forward a multitrillion-dollar plan to overhaul the economy and unilaterally reversed course on many of his predecessor’s policies.
Biden took the reins from former President Donald Trump amid the coronavirus pandemic and under a cloud of nationwide social and political unrest.
When he took office Jan. 20, Biden vowed to shepherd the nation through an unprecedented “winter of peril” and set it on a path toward unity.
As he approached his 100th full day on the job, Biden this week declared that America is “leading the world again.”
Here’s a look at what’s happened in Biden’s first 100 days.
A Cabinet that will ‘look like America’
Even before taking office, Biden pledged to build a diverse Cabinet that would “look like America.”
He’s living up to that commitment, according to Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a presidential scholar and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has been tracking Biden’s appointees.
The Biden administration is pacing ahead of recent predecessors with a greater share of Senate-confirmed women and nonwhite appointees at the 100-day mark than former presidents Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush had at their 300-day marks, according to Brookings’ tracker.
The data was last updated on Wednesday and covers confirmations to the 15 departments in the line of presidential succession, and excludes some departments such as U.S. attorneys as well as military appointments.
The high-profile positions that minorities have been appointed to also reflect Biden’s commitment to diversity, Tenpas said.
“It’s not just that the numbers are showing he’s appointed more women and nonwhites, but he’s putting them in positions they’ve never occupied before,” she said.
Biden’s Cabinet includes Lloyd Austin, the country’s first Black Defense secretary; Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay person to hold a Cabinet position; Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary; Janet Yellen, the first woman to head the Treasury Department; and Xavier Becerra, the first Latino secretary of Health and Human Services.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with Cabinet members and immigration advisors in the State Dining Room on March 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Historically, Tenpas said, women and minorities have often been appointed to less-visible positions, such as with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Labor Department.
The first 100 days are typically a preliminary look at administration appointments, Tenpas noted. A president’s second 100-day period is often more productive in terms of Senate confirmations, which will be another opportunity to check in on Biden’s diversity pledge.
200 million shots in arms
Biden took office amid the peak of the Covid crisis, when the country was reporting nearly 200,000 Covid cases and more than 3,000 deaths per day.
He set an initial goal of 100 million vaccine shots administered in 100 days, which drew criticism for being too conservative. The White House reached that mark in 58 days and set a new target of 200 million shots, which was surpassed on day 92.
More than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose, according to Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and Prevention data, and all are now eligible to be vaccinated.
But the pace of daily shots has slid in recent weeks, down to an average of 2.6 million daily reported vaccinations from a peak of 3.4 million in mid-April.
Hottest market performance since the 1950s
The major stock market indexes have soared during Biden’s tenure, with S&P 500 gains during his first 100 days stronger than those of any president going back to at least the 1950s and the Eisenhower administration.
Bolstered by record levels of stimulus, the index has risen by 25% since Election Day, part of a continued rally that began in late March 2020 after the coronavirus crash, and has shown few signs of slowing down since.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 23.9% over that period and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has climbed 26.2%.
The Biden rally hit a blip when news broke on April 22 that the president is planning a capital gains tax hike on the wealthy, with the S&P 500 and Dow closing down nearly a full percentage point each. Stocks quickly recovered their losses, though, and the White House brushed off a question related to investors’ concern about the tax proposal.
“I’ve been doing this long enough not to comment on movements in the stock market,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on April 23, adding “but I did see data, factually, that it went back up this morning.”
The market has been somewhat volatile under Biden, at least by historical standards. The S&P 500 rose or fell by 1% or more on 31 of the days between the Election Day and Biden’s 100th day, compared with five days under Trump’s initial period in the White House.
Big spending, positive ratings
Considering the political moment he stepped into, Biden’s approval rating has so far been strong. But it’s unclear whether his numbers will stay above water, as he and his party gear up for a series of major policy fights that could define the rest of his presidency.
Biden’s approval rating sits at 57% after 100 days, according to Gallup data, making him way more popular than Trump was. But that’s not saying much: Trump’s rating at this point – 41% – was 14 points lower than any other president in Gallup’s history.
The president’s Republican predecessor maintained historically low approval numbers throughout his one term in office, never cracking the 50% threshold, Gallup polling shows.
Compared with other presidents, Biden’s rating is less impressive. He’s ranked third-lowest of any president since Dwight Eisenhower at the 100-day mark, according to Gallup.
Americans tend to give Biden his lowest marks on his handling of China, guns and immigration.
Still, it’s notable that Biden is garnering positive ratings at a time of extreme political polarization. Gallup’s latest survey shows Biden with just 11% approval among Republicans, but he nets 58% approval from independents. At this point in Trump’s presidency, just 37% of independents gave him a thumbs up, Gallup shows.
Biden’s approval appears to be buoyed largely by his administration’s decision to focus intently on Covid from Day 1.
Americans still see the coronavirus as one of the most pressing issues facing the country, and several polls show Biden receiving highest marks for his handling of the pandemic. Biden pushed hard for Congress to pass the $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan, which many more Americans support than oppose.
But there’s also more of an appetite for the sort of big-ticket government spending that the administration has put forward. Fifty-five percent of respondents in a recent NBC News survey, for instance, said the government should do more to solve problems and help meet the peoples’ needs, versus 41% who said it’s doing too much.
Even before the White House detailed Biden’s latest spending plan — a $1.8 trillion package aimed at helping children, students and families — nearly two-thirds of respondents in a Monmouth University poll said they backed the idea.
Experts say it makes sense that Biden’s economic proposals — presented in their loftiest, most ambitious form — seem to resonate with Americans. But those plans are bound to change drastically once lawmakers get ahold of his agenda, and it’s unclear what Congress will be able to pass.
Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, and a razor-thin advantage in the Senate. The filibuster rules in the Senate requires 60 votes for much legislation to be passed, and Democrats’ ability to bypass that hurdle through budget reconciliation can be used only sparingly.
Biden has repeatedly said he seeks bipartisan input, while stressing that inaction on his agenda is not an option. But there’s little indication that Republicans will support anything like Biden’s plans in their current form.
In addition, some moderate-to-conservative-leaning Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are already voicing skepticism about the spending push.