Top takeaways from POLITICO Pro's briefing on Biden's first 100 days

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*This article was originally made available to POLITICO Pro subscribers on 01/22/2021 at 11:35 AM EST

A panel of POLITICO reporters held a video briefing Thursday to discuss what we can expect from President Joe Biden's first 100 days in the White House — from the pandemic and the economic recession, to racial inequities and climate change.

Transition reporters Megan Cassella, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Tyler Pager and Natasha Korecki briefed Pro subscribers on these and other top issues facing Biden's administration.

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Here are the top takeaways from the call:

How does Biden plan to beat the pandemic?

Biden’s first two days in office featured a blitz of executive orders and legislative proposals aimed at tackling Covid-19, and the success of his presidency will hinge more than anything else on his ability to end a still-raging pandemic, Alice noted.

While much of the effort depends on Congress approving funding for testing, vaccinations, school reopenings, economic relief and more, Biden is also doing what he can on his own. That includes invoking the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of vials, syringes and other materials needed for vaccines, mandate testing and quarantine for international travelers, mandate masks in federal spaces, increase workplace safety enforcement and send more FEMA dollars to National Guard troops that are helping states combat the virus.

Biden’s first big test will be his pledges to administer 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his administration and get the majority of schools reopened, but he’s also signaling a dramatic shift in how the government communicates about the pandemic: blunt assessments of the case count and death toll and a bigger platform for scientists and public health officials.


What is Biden’s focus beyond the pandemic?

While curtailing the pandemic remains Biden’s top priority, the president has also moved aggressively to roll back Donald Trump signature policies across other sectors. Many of his early actions are simply rescinding orders made by his predecessor, and the flurry of activity is part of an effort to draw a clear contrast with Trump on key issues.

Biden’s administration has outlined four top priorities for the early days: the pandemic, the economic recession, racial inequities and climate change, and since Biden took office, the White House has devoted each day to a different priority. Biden will continue the thematic rollout of these actions next week.

In the coming week, Biden is expecting to focus on promoting American goods, racial equity, immigration, climate change and healthcare. Next month, the president is likely to prioritize foreign affairs and rebuild alliances he has argued splintered under the Trump administration.


Will Biden’s economic relief plan make it through Congress?

On the Hill, Republicans have largely panned Biden’s $1.9T relief plan, and many are loath to spend that much more money when Congress passed some $4 trillion in relief last year, including $900 billion in December. The general concern is that it is too expensive and comes too soon after their last package.

Democrats are weighing their options on how to move forward, and there is early talk of dividing the bill into smaller pieces and quickly passing the most crucial items — money for vaccine distribution being at the top of the list, Alice noted.

But one concern with that approach is that it would decrease the urgency for passing the entire bill, and some of the other priorities Biden laid out in his plan then may not get the funding he has proposed, Megan explained.


What options do Democrats have?

Democrats are talking about using the budget maneuver known as reconciliation as a way to pass a multi-trillion relief plan through without Republicans’ help, Megan said. Reconciliation would allow Democrats to pass a package with a simple majority, meaning they would not need to get any Republicans on board if the caucus remains united.

But it can be a lengthy process, and intricate congressional rules dictate that some of Biden’s priorities — including his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour — might not be able to be included if the package ultimately passes through reconciliation.


More on Biden's First 100 Days:

Access more in-depth analyses and infographics from POLITICO Pro that will help you stay ahead of new policies and regulations coming from the Biden administration. 

Visit the resource center >>

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