Busy agenda for Biden’s first 100 days

Biden wants to ‘take the muzzle off our experts’ and cancel the process to withdraw the US from WHO

by AFP/ pic by AFP

WASHINGTON • Every candidate in the heat of a US presidential campaign talks up their goals for the first 100 days in office and Joe Biden, the Democrat who challenged President Donald Trump and beat him, has done so for months.

From battling the coronavirus to re-joining the Paris climate agreement and immigration reform, a Biden presidency, he said, would change course on multiple fronts. “We’re going to have an enormous task in repairing the damage he’s done,” Biden said recently of his rival.

Here is a look at how the first 100 days of the Biden presidency might look.

Anti-pandemic Strategy

Biden said he would immediately put a national strategy in place to “get ahead” of the virus and end the pandemic crisis.

That means a nationwide mask mandate and a plan that allows for free and widespread Covid-19 testing, boosting of US medical equipment manufacturing and making any future vaccine “free to everyone, whether or not you’re insured”.

Having accused Trump of undermining his own health experts, Biden has pledged to keep respected White House coronavirus task force member Dr Anthony Fauci on board.

He also said he wants to “take the muzzle off our experts” and cancel the process to withdraw the US from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which Trump initiated in July.

Economic Revitalisation

Effectively reopening the economy is another immediate priority, said Biden.

The Democrat, relying on his experience wooing lawmakers from both political parties, will demand Congress agree on a huge coronavirus relief package to assist struggling families and ravaged small businesses.

In July, Biden unveiled his “Build Back Better” strategy, a US$700 billion (RM2.89 trillion) blueprint to create millions of jobs. Financing would come through tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and on major corporations.

Biden has also pledged to invest heavily in renewable energies.

Rejoining Climate Accord

Biden has long called for comprehensive action to combat climate change in the US, battered by growing numbers of hurricanes and wildfires in recent years.

“The first thing I will do, I will rejoin the Paris accord,” Biden promised during his debut debate against Trump, who exited the landmark global agreement in 2017. “Because with us out, look what’s happening. It’s all falling apart.”

Biden said he would also convene a climate summit of the world’s leading polluters to “persuade” them to make more ambitious pledges to reduce carbon emissions.

Judicial Reform

Biden has promised to quickly appoint a bipartisan national commission that would have 180 days to study the judicial system — which the Democrat said is “getting out of whack” — and propose reforms.

He has said he is “not a fan” of expanding the US Supreme Court beyond its current nine members.

But other Democrats have expressed a clear preference for the move now that Trump’s third nominee to the bench, Amy Coney Barrett, has been confirmed, cementing its six-three conservative majority.

Biden, who authored numerous tough-on-crime bills when he was a senator, is also calling for sweeping criminal justice reform. His plans include creating a grant programme that encourages states to reduce incarceration and crime, ensuring housing for formerly incarcerated individuals and strategies to reduce repeat offending.

‘Pathway to Citizenship’

Biden has promised a substantial set of immigration reforms should he win the White House.

He has announced he would immediately create a federal task force to reunite more than 500 children who were taken from their parents by the Trump administration at the US-Mexico border.

Biden has described the separations as a “criminal” result of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy aimed at deterring migrants from crossing into the US.

He would also rescind the travel bans that prohibit foreign nationals from several majority Muslim countries from entering the US.

He also pledged to let minor children who entered the country with their parents illegally — a group of about 700,000 young people known as Dreamers — to legally stay and take steps toward US citizenship. — AFP