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President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in New Castle, Del. (AP) President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in New Castle, Del. (AP)

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in New Castle, Del. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman January 20, 2021

When Joe Biden campaigned for president, he promised to help the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while tackling some of the country’s biggest challenges.

Biden laid out various plans to rebuild the economy, address systemic racism, combat climate change, provide a pathway to citizenship for certain immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally, and expand Obamacare.

PolitiFact will be tracking his progress, or lack of progress, on the Biden Promise Tracker. 

As we did for Barack Obama and Donald Trump, PolitiFact will report on the status of his campaign promises on a rolling basis over the next four years. We will focus on the top 100 Biden pledges.

SEE THEM ALL: Joe Biden's top 100 campaign promises

Biden can achieve some promises quickly with action on his own, such as rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. Using executive power, for example, Biden could raise the number of refugees allowed in the country from the low levels set by the Trump administration.

But for many promises, Biden is expected to work toward buy-in from Congress, including Republicans. He will need lawmakers for promises that require funding or new laws.

"Joe Biden is not big on acting unilaterally and by executive order," said Niambi M. Carter, Howard University political scientist. "It's not the way he wants to legislate, even though he has that authority and power. He is still a legislator at heart and wants to govern that way."

During the first 100 days, Biden will focus on his pandemic promises, including an effort to administer 100 million shots of the COVID-19 vaccines to 50 million people. He inherited a sluggish vaccine rollout as the number of cases and deaths continued to mount.

Some promises could take years of work and face partisan battles, such as requiring background checks for all gun sales, updating the Voting Rights Act and restoring Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Other promises require substantial investment, such as helping states and local governments avoid budget shortfalls, doubling the value of Pell Grants for college students, and increasing access to affordable housing.

While Biden has a narrow Democratic majority in the House, he will need to appeal to factions within his own party. In the 50-50 split Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris will hold the tie-breaking vote, which means that Biden faces a higher hurdle to gain support from all of his party and from some Republicans for legislation. 

We rate campaign promises based on verifiable outcomes, not on intentions or effort. Our promise meters include ratings of Stalled, In the Works, Compromise, Promise Broken and Promise Kept.

RELATED COVERAGE:

Biden's promises on the economy: a closer look

Biden tackles immigration, hoping to undo Trump-era policies

Biden's COVID-19 challenge: 100 million shots in 100 days. It won't be easy

Editor’s note: This story is being updated with additional Biden Promise Tracker coverage as it is published.

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Our Sources

Telephone interview, Niambi M. Carter, Howard University associate professor of political science, Jan. 14, 2021

PolitiFact, Biden Promise Tracker, January 2021

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PolitiFact’s Biden Promise Tracker: Monitoring 100 of his campaign promises