This is What a Functioning Government Looks Like!

It is often said that the government’s job is like that of a housewife – essential, valuable, but only noticed when things don’t work- thankless, essentially!


“It doesn’t matter who I vote for,” “They’re all the same,” “Sab chor hain” (Hindi: everyone is a thief), are comments I often hear from otherwise smart, educated, and informed friends. It’s not a coincidence that so many of us feel that way. For the last 40 years, ever since Reagan, members of one political party in the United States have consistently undermined government and governance to such an extent that they have successfully created a widespread cynicism about the enormous role of government in making people’s lives better.


There is a calculated strategy to this: It absolves the politicos of the party from having to actually govern when they are in power, and allows them to get elected by appealing to tribal, xenophobic instincts among their supporters. This week President Biden articulated a thought that many of us in the fight for a fair, progressive country have been asking for years. “What does the GOP stand for?”


This blog post is about reminding us that good governance is important, and good government is possible, and all our efforts to elect progressives around the country and Joe Biden as president have been entirely worth it. I am going to shamelessly steal from Twitter activist WhatBidenHasDone (follow them please!) and list all the accomplishments of this administration. My hope is that you use this list as a pushback to any cynicism you encounter and can proudly advocate for progressivism in the Democratic Party. And should someone point out the “one thing” that matters to them that the Biden administration has not done, rebut with the many, many things that they have and encourage them to join the fight for progressive policies without getting defeatist about it. Whew! Even dedicated activists may not know of some of the items in this list.


It’s a whopping big list, so feel free to search by the topic that is dear to your heart or take a few minutes to see how much the Biden administration has been able to do in the face of relentless obstruction by the Senate GOP. Many of these achievements are by Executive Order, so it is important we fight like crazy this year for a Senate that can codify them into law.


Pandemic Response

· Set 100% FEMA reimbursement to states for COVID costs, retroactively to start of pandemic

· •$47.8B for testing

· •$1.75B for COVID genome sequencing

· •$8.5B to CDC for vaccines

· •$7.6B to state and local health depts

· •$7.6B to community health centers

· $6B to Indian Health Services

· •$17B to the VA, including $1B to forgive veteran medical debt

· •$3B to address mental health and substance abuse

· •Over 500 million vaccine shots administered in a year

· •Established 90,000 free vaccination sites

· Raised federal reimbursement from $23 to $40 per shot for vaccine sites

· •6000 troops deployed for initial vaccination

· •Cash incentives, free rides, and free childcare for initial vaccination drive

· 400 million vaccines donated internationally, 1.2 billion committed

· $2B contribution to COVAX for global vaccinations

· Funded expansion of vaccine manufacturing in India and South Africa

· Implemented vaccine mandate for federal employees, contractors, and employees at healthcare providers that receive Medicare/Medicaid funding.

· Implemented vaccine/test mandate for large businesses (SC struck down)

· Invoked DPA for testing, vaccine, PPE manufacturing

· Federal mask mandate for federal buildings, federal employees, and public transportation

· Implemented test requirement for international travel

· Implemented joint FDA-NIH expedited process to approve at home tests more quickly

· Over 20,000 free federal testing sites

· 8 at home tests per month required to be reimbursed by insurance

· 1B at home tests available for free by mail

· 50M at home tests available free at community health centers

· 25M high quality reusable masks for low-income residents in early 2021

· 400M free N95 masks at pharmacies and health centers

· Military medical teams deployed to help overburdened hospitals

· Rejoined the WHO

Assistance for Pandemic-Affected Americans

· 1.9T American Rescue Plan

· $1400 stimulus checks for adults, children, and adult dependents

· 1 year child tax credit expansion - $3600 0-5, $3000 6-17, removed income reqs and made fully refundable

· One year EITC expansion$350 billion state and local aid

· $130 billion for schools for safe reopening

· $40 billion for higher ed, half of which must go to student aid

· Extended $300 supplemental UI through September 2021

· Expanded eligibility for extended UI to cover new categories

· Made $10,200 in UI from 2020 tax free

· $1B for Head Start

· $24B Childcare stabilization fund

· $15B in low-income childcare grants

· One Year Child and Dependent Care credit expansion

· $46.5B in housing assistance, inc:

· $21.5B rental assistance

· $10B homeowner relief

· $5B for Sec 8 vouchers

· $5B to fight homelessness

· $5B for utilities assistance

· Extended Eviction moratorium through Aug 2021 (SC struck down)

Strengthening the Affordable Care Act

· 2 year ACA tax credit expansion and ending of subsidy cliff – expanded coverage to millions and cut costs for millions more

· 100% COBRA subsidy through Sept 30th, 2021

· 6 month special enrollment period from Feb-Aug 2021

· Required insurers to cover PrEP, an HIV prevention drug, including all clinical visits relating to it

· Extended open enrollment from 45 to 76 days

· New year-round special enrollment period for low income enrollees

· Restored Navigator program to assist with ACA sign up

· Removed separate billing requirement for ACA abortion coverage

· Eliminated regulation that allows states to privatize their exchanges

Protecting Women’s Choice

· Eliminated all Medicaid work requirements

· Permanently removed restriction on access to abortion pills by mail

· Signed the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act to fund increased ALS research and expedite access to experimental treatments

· Rescinded Mexico City Policy (global gag rule) which barred international non-profits from receiving US funding if they provided abortion counseling or referrals

· Allowed states to extend coverage through Medicaid and CHIP to post-partum women for 1 year (up from 60 days)

Progressive Judiciary

· 42 Lifetime Federal judges confirmed – most in 40 years

· 13 Circuit Court judges

· 29 District Court judges

· Named first openly LBGTQ woman to sit on an appeals court, first Muslim American federal judge, and record number of black women and public defenders

Infrastructure

· $1.2T infrastructure law, including $550B in new funding

· $110B for roads and bridges

· $66B for passenger and freight rail

· $39B for public transit, plus $30.5B in public transit funds from ARP

· $65B for grid expansion to build out grid for clean energy transmission

· $50B for climate resiliency

· $21 for environmental remediation, incl. superfund cleanup and capping orphan wells

· $7.5B for electric buses

· $7.5B for electric charging stations

· $55B for water and wastewater, including lead pipe removal

· $65B for Affordable Broadband

· $25B for airports, plus $8B from ARP

· $17B for ports and waterways

· $1B in reconnecting communities

Climate Change

· Rejoined the Paris Climate Accords

· 50% emission reduction goal (2005 levels) by 2030

· EO instructing all federal agencies to implement climate change prevention measures

· Ordered 100% carbon free electricity federal procurement by 2030

· 100% zero emission light vehicle procurement by 2027, all vehicles by 2035

· Net Zero federal building portfolio by 2045, 50% reduction by 2032

· Net Zero federal procurement no later than 2050

· Net zero emissions from federal operations by 2050, 65% reduction by 2030

· Finalized rule slashing the use of hydrofluorocarbons by 85% by 2036 – will slow temp rise by 0.5°C on it’s own.

· Set new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, raising the requirement for 2026 from 43mpg to 55mpg.

· Protected Tongass National Forest, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, from development, mining, and logging

· Revoked Keystone XL permit

· Used the CRA to reverse the Trump administration Methane rule, restoring stronger Obama era standards.

· EPA proposed new methane rule stricter than Obama rule, would reduce 41 million tons of methane emissions by 2035

· Partnered with the EU to create the Global Methane Pledge, which over 100 countries have signed, to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels

· US-EU trade deal to reward clean steel and aluminum and penalize dirty production

· Ended US funding for new coal and fossil fuel projects overseas, and prioritized funding towards clean energy projects

· G7 partnership for “Build Back Better World” – to fund $100s of billions in climate friendly infrastructure in developing countries

· Restoring California’s ability to set stricter climate requirements

· Signed EO on Climate Related Financial Risk that instructs rule making agencies to take climate change related risk into consideration when writing rules and regulations.

· $100M for environmental justice initiatives

· $1.1B for Everglades restoration

· Repealed Federal Architecture EO that made sustainable federal buildings harder to build

· Reversed size cuts and restored protections to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments

LGBTQ Rights and Diversity Protection

· Ended the ban on trans soldiers in the military

· •Reversed Trump admin limits on Bostock ruling and fully enforced it

· •Prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ patients in •healthcare

· •Prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ families in housing under the Fair Housing Act

· Prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ people in the financial system to access loans or credit

· Justice Department declared that Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in education.

· Revoked ban on Federal Diversity Training

· Instructed the VA to review its policies to remove barriers to care for trans veterans

· First Senate confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet Secretary

· First trans person confirmed by the Senate

· Extended birthright citizenship to children of same sex couples born abroad

· State Department allows X gender marker on passport for non-binary Americans

· Banned new contracts with private prisons for criminal prisons

· Justice Department reestablished the use of consent degrees with police departments

· Pattern and Practice investigation into Phoenix, Louisville, and Minneapolis

· Banned chokeholds and limited no-knock raids among federal law enforcement

· Initiative to ban modern day redlining

· Doubled DOJ Civil Rights Division staff

· Increase percentage of federal contract for small disadvantaged businesses from 5% to 15% ($100B in additional contracts over 5 years)

· Signed COVID-19 Hate Crime Act, which made more resources available to support the reporting of hate crimes

· Signed EO for diversity in the federal workplace

· Increased federal employment opportunities for previously incarcerated persons

Criminal Justice and Gun Reform

· Banned ghost guns

· New regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces

· First annual gun trafficking report in 20 years

· New zero tolerance policy for gun dealers who willfully violate the law

· Signed COPS act, ensuring confidentiality for peer counseling for police officers

· Signed Protecting America’s First Responders Act, expediting benefits for officers disabled in the line of duty

· Signed bill making it a crime to harm US law enforcement overseas

Support for Students

· Student loan freeze through April 30th, 2022

· Changed criteria so an additional 1.14M borrowers qualified for the loan pause (retroactively forgave interest and penalties)

· Forgiven $11.5B in student loans for disabled students, students who were defrauded, and PSLF

· Fixed PSLF so that it is much easier for previous payments to apply. Determined that the paused months will apply to PSLF

· Student loan debt forgiveness is tax free through 2025

Immigration Reform

· •Ended Border Wall emergency and cancelled all new border wall construction and contracts

· Repealed Trump’s Muslim Ban

· Set FY 2022 refugee cap to 125,000, the highest in almost 30 years

· Prohibiting ICE from conducting workplace raids

· Family reunification taskforce to reunite separated families. Reunited over 100+ families and gave them status to stay in US

· Granted or extended TPS for Haitians, Venezuelans, Syrians, and Liberians

· Lifted moratorium on green cards and immigrant visas

· Ended use of public charge rule to deny green cards

· Loosened the criteria to qualify for asylum

· Changed ICE enforcement priorities

· Reinitiated the CAM Refugee program for Northern Triangle minors to apply for asylum from their home countries

· $1B+ in public aid and private investment for addressing the root causes of migration

· Ended family detention of immigrants and moved towards other monitoring

· HHS prohibited working with ICE on enforcement for sponsors of unaccompanied minors

· Got rid of harder citizenship test

· Allowed certain visas to be obtained without an in person consulate interview

· Rescinded "metering" policy that limited migrants at ports of entry

International Relations and War Policy

· Ended the War in Afghanistan

· First time in 20 years US not involved in a war

· Ended support for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen

· Airstrikes down 54% in 2021 from 2020.

· Issued policy restricting drone strikes outside of warzones

· Restored $235M in aid to Palestinians

· AUKUS defense pact with Australia and UK

· New rules to counter extremism within the military

· Signed law funding capitol police and Afghan Refugees

Increasing Bureaucratic Efficiency

· EO on improving government experience

· Social Security benefits will be able to be claimed online

· Passports can be renewed online

· Makes it easier for low-income families to apply for benefits

· Increase telehealth options

· WIC recipients can use benefits online

Assistance for Small Businesses and Agriculture

· $7.25B in additional PPP funds

· Signed PPP extension law to extend the program for 2 months

· Changed criteria to make it easier for small and minority businesses to qualify for PPP loans

· $29 Restaurant Recovery Fund to recover lost revenue

· $1.25B Shuttered Venue fund

· $10.4B for agriculture

· Negotiated deal for West Coast Ports to run 24/7 to ease supply chain

· Signed EO to secure and strengthen supply chains

· Investing $1B in small food processors to combat meat prices

Labor Rights

· 30 year bailout of multiemployer pension funds that protects millions of pensions through 2051.

· Pro-labor majority appointed to NLRB

· Established task force to promote unionization

· Restored collective bargaining right for federal employees

· Extended 15% SNAP benefit increase through Sept 30, 2021

Housing

· Restarted the FHA-HFA risk sharing program to finance affordable housing development

· Raised Fannie/Freddie’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit from $1B to $1.7B a year to invest in affordable housing

· $383M CMF grant program for affordable housing production

· Prioritizing owner-occupants and non-profits as purchasers of FHA-insured and Distressed HUD properties, rather than large investors

Disaster Preparation and Prevention

· Paid a 10% retention incentive to permanent federal firefighters and a $1000 bonus to seasonal firefighters

· Transitioned hundreds of federal firefighters from part time to full time and hired hundreds more

· $28.6B in supplemental disaster relief approved for natural disasters

· $8.7B in funding to increase lending to minority communities

· Released $1.3B in Puerto Rico disaster aid previously held up by Trump admin and removed restrictions on $8.2B housing disaster aid

· Forgave $371M in community disaster loans in Puerto Rico

· Released $912M in previously withheld education aid to Puerto Rico


It's a remarkable list of achievements that is sure to grow in the coming months and years, and with our help, Democratic administrations of the future will create an America as envisioned by the founders - a place that respects the law, values everyone regardless of color, origin, or orientation, and creates opportunities for everyone to achieve the American dream.





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