Highs and Lows of Biden’s First Year in Office

 The one-year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration is approaching. In its first year, his administration has faced many challenges, while also claiming many achievements. 

In order to discuss the administration’s first year, it is important to first take into account what state the country was in when Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office: With the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the country and the Jan. 6 insurrection just days prior to the Inauguration, the administration came into office facing significant challenges of uncertainty, controversy, and disunity. 

      A large percentage of the country was left unemployed as a result of the pandemic, and the Biden administration had to come up with a way to help those individuals financially; signing the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief law was one of the first actions Biden took when he entered office. 

      Biden describes the significance of the law and its purpose to CNN in an article titled “Biden Signs Historic $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Law,” stating, “This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, middle class folks, people who built the country, a fighting chance.” 

      As reporter Kate Sullivan shared in the article, key features of the package included a stimulus check of up to $1,400, a federal boost of $300 to weekly jobless benefits, up to $3,600 per child and expansion of child tax credit, $350 billion in state and local aid, and billions of dollars to help K-12 schools get students back in the classroom. Lastly, $14 billion was allotted for the research, development, and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

     Another achievement in the administration’s first year was the successful vaccine rollout. As reported in a CNBC article titled “U.S. Reaches 70% Covid Vaccine Milestone for Adults about a Month Behind Biden’s Goal,” 70% of adults in the U.S. had received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by this past summer. Although this goal was reached a month after Biden’s original July fourth goal, it is still considered by many a remarkable win for the administration. Experts note that 70% of vaccinated adults is a significant step towards achieving herd immunity. The vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have helped those who are fully vaccinated return to normalcy. 

     Another significant achievement for Biden and his administration was the recent passing of the infrastructure bill. Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, which will provide $550 billion worth of new federal investments over the next five years to improve bridges, roads, and the nation’s water and energy systems. Passing this bill was a significant goal of Biden’s. “Even if people do not physically see the results right away in their communities, the bill will reach most Americans,” senior Sophie Ward said. 

     Although the Biden administration has had many achievements in its first year, it was also faced with many challenges. The border crisis has been an ongoing issue for many years, yet the number of refugees at the border has reached high numbers since Biden took office. Worsening economies due to the pandemic have caused the people in the Latin American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Cuba to immigrate to North America. While many immigrants apply for asylum if they feel they are vulnerable to persecution in their country, others are left with no choice but to travel the unprotected U.S.-Mexico border in order to get into the U.S. Many of these immigrants are children who have been separated from their parents. 

      Biden received backlash for the way he handled the border crisis. According to the BBC, Biden attempted to reassure those who were concerned by saying, “The only people we are not going to let sit there on the other side of the Rio Grande by themselves with no help are children.” The border crisis has been a complicated situation for many presidents prior to Biden. Many people expected him to loosen the policies that would allow more immigrants to freely cross into our borders. There are critics on both sides of this issue; many feel Biden is not doing enough to reverse previous policies, and others feel he is doing too much. 

     Another serious challenge the Biden administration was faced with this year was the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Similar to the border crisis, the war with Afghanistan extended for many years, and, in fact, was the longest war in American history. In an act to comply with a plan previously set by the Trump administration, Biden withdrew American troops from Afghanistan on Aug. 31. 

      According to The New York Times, Biden saw the withdrawal as an “extraordinary success.” He defended the decision by saying he no longer saw a valid reason to put U.S. service members in harm’s way to “remake other countries.” The withdrawal was widely viewed as chaotic, resulting in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport that left 13 American soldiers dead. Many Afghans who were allied with the U.S. left feeling as though they were abandoned after they had put their lives at risk for America. The withdrawal came under severe scrutiny as many people believed Biden made the wrong decision by not keeping American troops on the ground in Afghanistan past the established deadline to secure the safe evacuation of Afghanis loyal to America.

     Overall, Biden’s first year in office was accompanied by many achievements and challenges.