5 Major Takeaways from President Joe Biden's First Year in Office
This week marked President Joe Biden's first year in office, a milestone that both supporters and critics are using to measure his progress.
As his first year as president came to a close, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and troubled economy led to Biden's lowest approval rating yet.
"I didn't overpromise … I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen," Biden said during a press conference this week. "The fact of the matter is that we're in a situation where we have made enormous progress. You mentioned the number of deaths from COVID. Well, it was three times that not long ago. It's coming down. Everything is changing. It's getting better," he said.
Here are five takeaways from Biden's first year in office:
1. The Continuation of the COVID-19 Pandemic
"We're working on it," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last month when she answered a question about Biden's campaign promise to "shut down" the pandemic.
Biden had said there would be a "massive" nationwide campaign to guarantee regular, reliable and free COVID-19 testing, but many Americans have not been able to find testing locations with availability or at-home rapid tests in stores.
This week, however, Biden did launch a federal website where Americans can sign up for free COVID-19 tests for their household.
According to reports, deaths and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are near a pandemic high. About 220,000 Americans died during President Donald Trump's term. About 400,000 Americans have died from the virus in Biden's first year.
Biden, however, has been able to push for widespread vaccination. Nearly 67 percent of people over five years old have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and almost 80 million Americans have received a booster shot. Still, Biden is facing criticism over his vaccine mandates.
2. A Struggling Economy
Biden's administration praised the passing of a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which delivered $1,400 checks to most Americans. Still, many have said the rescue plan's efforts did not make enough of an impact.
"People are feeling like they're getting less than they bargained for when they put Biden in office. There's a lot of emotions, and none of them are good," Quentin Wathum-Ocama, president of the Young Democrats of America, told The Associated Press. "I don't know if the right word is 'apoplectic' or 'demoralized.' We're down. We're not seeing the results."
Another campaign promise was to pause federal student debt payments, which Biden has managed to do. It's a much-needed relief for millions of borrowers.
Additionally, according to the White House, about 6 million jobs were created during Biden's first year.
3. Raising the Refugee Cap
Last year, Biden raised the U.S. refugee cap to 62,500, up from Trump's low of 15,000. This year, the cap has been raised again to 125,000. However, the refugee resettlement efforts have been hampered by resettlement infrastructure cuts that happened during the previous administration.
Pending immigration court cases have reached a high of 1.6 million cases.
According to CBS News, there have been 1.7 million migrant apprehensions at the southern border since the fiscal year started in September. Previously, there were only 458,000 crossings, but the lower number is largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan
A major criticism of Biden's first year has been his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. After the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban terrorist group quickly regained control of the country. Biden delivered on the promise to complete the withdrawal, but the situation became controversial after hundreds of people fled to the Kabul international airport, desperately seeking to leave the country. Later in August, a bomb attack killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 other people outside the airport. Many living in the country say they now worry that life under the Taliban will revert to the strict measures, particularly for women and girls, the country faced under the regime a decade ago.
5. Nuclear Talks
Most recently, while discussing the possibility of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, Biden said that it is "not time to give up" on talks with Iran.
"There is some progress being made," he said.
Talks to try to restore the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany started last year. After Iran elected a new president in June, the talks stopped, but they have since reportedly resumed.
The 2015 deal offered Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for agreeing to honor restrictions on its nuclear program.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.