President Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Today and the next 100 days will be a test of Biden’s ability to unify the country, and a time of great transition from the outgoing Trump administration.
Richard Pineda is director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. He, along with Todd Gillman, Washington bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News who was on site at the inauguration, spoke with Texas Standard about the event and what to expect from Biden in the coming weeks.
Security at the Capitol is tighter than ever:
Gillman says the law enforcement and military presence is greater than he’s ever seen there before – even more so than after 9/11.
“This is beyond anything that any of us has ever experienced. I mean, it’s not a war zone; there’s not gunfire. You don’t feel in danger, but it’s occupied territory in that sense,” Gillman said.
A joyful but somber event:
Gillman says it’s surreal to report on such an event when just two weeks ago at the same location, a violent mob overtook Capitol Police to try to stop the certification of Biden’s win in the November election.
“It’s joyful for the Democrats who are taking over,” Gillman said. “[But] it’s somber for everyone, everyone in Congress who fled for their lives and, you know, hunkered down just two weeks ago. And it is especially somber for the Republicans who have now lost their grip on power.”
What to expert during Biden’s first 100 days:
Pineda says the Biden administration, while experienced, faces a difficult path ahead when it comes to achieving policy goals. Making changes to things like immigration, he says, will require Biden to get public opinion on his side.
“There’s certainly a pathway, given the power the Democrats have in Congress and the tiebreaker in the Senate,” Pineda said. “[But] putting immigration front and center, given its natural controversies, I think that’s going to be a big issue. And I think how the administration handles that is going to be a good indicator of what these 100 days will be like.”
The impeachment will be a major hurdle for Biden:
Gillman says to expect an immediate logjam in Congress because of the upcoming impeachment hearings.
“[It] could slow down this agenda, could slow down confirmations of cabinet secretaries,” he said.
He says Republicans upset about the impeachment will also add to the roadblocks. Gillman says Republicans, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, are “adamant” about “gumming up the works” for Democrats as the impeachment trial gets underway.
“There is a hard core of Republicans in the Senate who are just never, ever, ever going to go along with removal [of former President Trump]. They will inflict pain as Democrats try.”
Biden has one year, at best, to tackle major policy goals:
Pineda says that’s the most time Biden will get to meaningfully address immigration, climate change and more before attention turns to the 2022 midterm elections. He says Biden will have to work hard to court moderate Republicans to achieve his goals.
“The question is, can you get Republicans in line to pass not only some of these these major policies, but can you involve them in the administration in a fruitful way?” Pineda said. “I think it’s one year and then I think the midterms become such a looming deadline that it’s going to have an even bigger effect in terms of how the administration moves.”