“There’s a lot of talk about disappointments for things we haven’t gotten done—we’re going to get a lot of that done, I might add,” said President Joe Biden Friday to start a speech on the bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed into law in November. “But this is something that we did get done.”
The infrastructure bill along with the American Rescue Plan—a $1.9 trillion COVID relief spending plan that passed along party lines in the spring—represent the two legislative achievements of Biden’s first year in office.
But just this week, the administration has seen its calls for changes to the filibuster rule as a means of passing voting bills shot down by fellow Democrats, and the president’s workplace vaccine mandate executive order was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Also, the president’s “Build Back Better” social spending plan has been shelved in the Senate after being negotiated down to just over half its original size.
“Right now, we’re dealing with the realities of the fact that we have a very slim majority in the Senate and in the House,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a press briefing Jan. 14. “That makes things more challenging than they have been in the past.”
Psaki touted the federal distribution of more than 200 million COVID vaccines nationwide along with 400 million worldwide, a record drop in unemployment to where it sits now at 3.9 percent, and the appointment of judges that “look like America.” She says these accomplishments represent “another way to look at” Biden’s first year.
“An agenda doesn’t wrap up in one year,” Psaki added. “We’re going to continue to fight for every component of [the president’s] agenda and his plans for his presidency that he outlined when he was running for president.”
Biden also brought an end to the war in Afghanistan in his first year, which after 20 years became America’s longest armed conflict. He did receive criticism, however, for a chaotic exit from the war that resulted in the death of 13 Marines, the resettlement of thousands of Afghans in the United States, and the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan.
The administration has also overseen the national inflation rate rise to a 40-year high of 7 percent, as well as record spread of the Omicron variant after running on the promise of “shutting down” the virus.
The administration continues to steer funding toward the distribution of COVID tests and masks as a response to the surge in cases. It also announced this week it is deploying additional medical military personnel to assist at hospitals with staffing shortages.
Recent polls have scored Biden with approval ratings as low as 33 percent.
Psaki announced Friday the president will hold a formal press conference next week.