(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden entered the White House with ambitious goals for the nation’s economy and border, but not every promise crossed the finish line.
Midway through Biden’s first term, a newly Republican-led House could delay any progress he hoped to make on the promises that got him elected.
Friday marks two years since Biden took office with a campaign that promised to restore the nation’s economy and undo border policies put in place by his predecessor.
Biden followed through on some of those promises, while others were pared down or rejected entirely.
Immigration and Asylum
Biden promised to walk back Trump-era border policies and rethink the nation’s approach to immigration and asylum.
Title 42 was among those policies Biden took issue with and vowed to undo. The pandemic-era health care policy that allowed limits on border crossings was slated to end Dec. 21, but its expiration was held up in the Supreme Court. Oral arguments are expected in February.
In what some called a reversal of campaign promises, the Biden administration authorized officials to stop Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans from crossing the border from Mexico without authorization, encouraging them to apply for asylum from home, promising to grant as many as 30,000 immigrants a month from those countries entry into the U.S. for a period of two years.
Critics have said applying for admittance to the U.S. from a home country isn’t always possible for migrants, particularly those fleeing from poverty, political upset or violence.
“Look, we should all recognize that as long as America is the land of freedom and opportunity, people are going to try to come here,” Biden said when he announced the measure. “We can’t stop people from making the journey, but we can require them to come here, and they — that they come here in an orderly way under U.S. law.”
Invest in infrastructure
Signed in November, Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill was a cornerstone of the president’s domestic agenda. Notably, 19 Senate Republicans voted in favor, along with 13 GOP House members.
The law provides added funding for roads and bridges, rails and expansion of broadband internet and included a substantial federal investment in public transit.
Democrats pushed for the bill alongside Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which included more social services, but that measure stalled when it failed to garner support from moderate Democrats.
The infrastructure law is expected to trigger repairs on at least 65,000 miles of roads and 1,500 bridges in addition to committing $65 billion to modernize the nation’s electric grid and address water contamination by replacing lead pipes.
Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, providing $1.9 trillion to help combat COVID-19 and begin to restore the economy.
One-hundred-sixty million checks were distributed to American households as a result of the act, which also expanded food and rental assistance and offered the Child Tax Credit.
Biden also credits the act with helping vaccinate millions and reopen schools.
Democrats had additionally fought for economic relief proposals as part of the Build Back Better Act, but the measure stalled when it failed to gain support from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Ultimately, Manchin supported a scaled-down version of Build Back Better — the Inflation Reduction Act.
Student Debt Relief
The Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan has been met with several legal challenges since it was rolled out in the fall and as of now, its future remains uncertain.
Critics questioned the administration’s legal authority to cancel student loans, specifically whether Biden could use the Higher Education Act to justify executive action, as was originally planned.
The president now says he can relieve some borrowers of as much as $10,000 or $20,000 in student loan debt by instead relying on The Heroes Act. Passed in 2003, the act gives the education secretary the authority to waive debt obligations amid a war or national emergency.
The goal is to provide targeted debt relief to low- and middle-income families. Borrowers would need to earn less than $125,00 per year individually or $250,000 per household to be considered eligible for student debt relief.
The Department of Education is no longer taking applications. The pause on student loan payments has been extended until either the U.S. Department of Education is allowed to move forward with the program or the current litigation surrounding it is resolved.
Burn Pit Bill
Biden vowed to help veterans access certain health care, in part, by adding to the list of conditions that are believed to be linked to burn pits and other toxins.
He went on to sign the PACT Act into law on Aug. 10. The new law expanded health care coverage for veterans who were exposed to the toxic burn pit smoke while serving in the military.
Its passage punctuated a decade of veterans’ advocacy for the legislation, which is considered the largest expansion of care in VA history. The law helps veterans get screened for exposure to toxins such as Agent Orange, which was used for deforestation during the Vietnam War, and burn pits, where everything from trash to human waste and documents were burned on overseas bases.
Nearly $300 billion will be used over the next 10 years to help care for veterans with conditions that resulted from burn pit exposure. The law also classifies an additional 23 respiratory conditions eligible for coverage under the Act.
Veterans have said they will remain cautiously optimistic and see how or if the law delivers on its promises. Since its passage, some have criticized the law for not going far enough, saying the road to treatment remains hard to navigate.