AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Joe Biden is expected to launch an ambitious agenda in his first 100 days in office with key potential impacts on the Lone Star State.
Biden will reportedly take immediate steps to address the health and financial toll imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, but will also likely address immigration reform and climate change.
On his first day in office, he’ll sign 17 executive orders, which includes a national mask mandate. Other initiatives will require action by Congress, which is now controlled by Democrats.
“The first 100 days is like your first drive of a football game,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “You want to set a tone for what’s to come. If you can’t do that in the first 100 days it’s always harder to do later because you run out of political capital pretty fast.”
COVID-19 vaccine rollout
President Biden has committed to administering 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in his first 100 days. He’ll sign an executive order in his first day in office establishing a federal office to coordinate a “unified” response.
An executive order will also reimburse states for using the National Guard for COVID-19.
While now embracing a hub model for vaccine distribution, Texas’ first few weeks of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout were mired in confusion and chaos — with thousands of private health care providers and pharmacies left on their own to coordinate with eligible patients.
“As Health Sub Committee chair, I’m working with this administration trying to improve vaccine distribution, especially to get vaccines to those people that have born more than their fair share out there as essential workers and our seniors to get them the vaccines and to get them quickly,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, a Democrat. “This goal of 100 million immunized in 100 days can be done we just need to put all of our efforts into that.”
COVID-19 financial relief
The Biden administration’s first major legislative effort, requiring approval from Congress, will likely be a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that was unveiled last week. President Biden has expressed support for $1,400 direct payments to Americans. The plan also calls for supplemental unemployment benefits of $400 a week.
There were 43,583 new claims for unemployment benefits in Texas in the first week of the year, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Biden will also sign an executive order to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and extend a pause on federal student loan interest and principal payments until Sept. 30, 2021.
President Biden will sign a presidential memorandum aimed at “preserving and fortifying” protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children who are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The memorandum will also call on Congress to enact legislation to provide permanent status and a path to citizenship for those protected from deportation by DACA, which the Trump administration fought to terminate.
More than 124,000 DACA recipients live in Texas, second-most of any state behind only California.
President Biden will sign an executive order halting the construction of the wall built by the Trump administration along the U.S.-Mexico border.
President Biden will re-enter the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement and roll back environmental actions issued by former President Donald Trump. He wants to transition away from fossil fuels and committed to eliminating subsidies for oil and gas companies.
Michael Webber, the deputy director of the University of Texas Energy Institute, said major oil producers are already investing hundreds of billions of dollars in investments in renewable resources, and the Texas economy is less reliant on oil than it was decades ago.
“A lot of oil companies are saying they have to transition away from oil,” Webber told KXAN in October. “It doesn’t mean that oil doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that these policy statements aren’t relevant. It means they don’t have the same impact as they used to.”
On Wednesday, Biden announced he’ll cancel the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which stretches from Houston to Alberta, Canada.
Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement, saying President Biden is kicking an industry while it’s down.
“I hope this isn’t a preview of what’s to come from the Biden administration, but rather that he’ll work with energy-producing states like Texas to find common ground on an all-of-the-above policy,” Cornyn said.