Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.

The Biden Administration’s 100 Days Progress Report

EF Staff | Fact Sheets

April 29, 2021 marks President Biden’s 100th day in office. In that time, Equity Forward has seen significant and encouraging action in both personnel appointed to the administration and the policy it has implemented. What we are missing, though, is boldness—the kind that moves beyond repair and into advancement.

In line with EF’s core belief that personnel is policy, since election day, we’ve been tracking the political appointees named to key positions across federal agencies. Starting with the basics, in a stark departure from the previous administration, we’ve been encouraged that across the board, the nominees and appointees for these positions are qualified for their roles. Furthermore, their track records on SRHRJ, LGBTQ rights, and other human rights have been positive. We will be waiting for more director-level positions within agencies to be filled with similarly qualified individuals.

When measured against EF’s recommendations, significant progress has been made in policy making, with the majority of our recommendations having been addressed (if not completely—we are still waiting for some specific policy reversals and advancements, as outlined below) through some form of executive and/or agency action over the course of the past 100 days. Undoubtedly, the tall order of repair has begun. That said, EF has concerns about the longstanding damage done by the Trump administration. We hope to see robust initiative from the administration in not just restoring and protecting rights but in advancing them as well. This will include bot      h broad executive policy as well as acute policy changes from offices within agencies from which we’ve yet to see much movement.

PERSONNEL

Following President Biden’s election in November 2020, Equity Forward’s research team has tracked and researched the nominees and appointees to key cabinet and leadership positions that have purview over our main issue areas: abortion, reproductive health and justice, and policies impacting LGBTQ communities. Based on nominees’ and appointees’ histories in these policy areas, we coded them as green, yellow, red, or yet to be determined.

On Inauguration Day, we began publishing in-depth profiles for appointees to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and international-facing agencies (the State Department, USAID, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations) to our relaunched HHS Watch and Global Spotlight campaigns, respectively.

Below is a list of the appointees that have been confirmed and how EF coded them, as well as key positions that had yet to be filled as of Biden’s 100th day in office. We are encouraged that the majority of the appointees we have researched have green records with regard to SRHRJ, LGBTQ rights, and other human rights, and we will continue to apply scrutiny to future appointments.

This fact sheet outlines our 100-days progress report for the Biden administration with regard to its people and policy.

Department of Homeland Security

  • Secretary: Alejandro Mayorkas (confirmed 2/2/21)
    • Green
  • Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Ed Gonzalez (named 4/27/21, Senate has yet to schedule a committee hearing)

Department of Justice

  • Attorney General: Merrick Garland (confirmed 3/10/21)
    • Green
  • Deputy Attorney General: Lisa Monaco (confirmed 4/20/21)
    • Green
  • Associate Attorney General: Vanita Gupta (confirmed 4/21/21)
    • Green
  • Assistant Attorney General for Human Rights: Kristen Clarke (Senate Judiciary held confirmation hearing on 4/14/21, full Senate has yet to confirm)
    • Green

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Secretary: Xavier Becerra (confirmed 3/18/21)
    • Green
  • Deputy Secretary: Andrea Palm (Senate Finance Committee advanced Palm’s nomination on 4/22/21, full Senate has yet to confirm)
    • Green
  • Assistant Secretary for Health: Rachel Levine (confirmed 3/24/21)
    • Green
  • Chair of COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force: Marcella Nunez-Smith (assumed position once appointed, no Senate confirmation required)
    • Green
  • Director, Office of Global Affairs (OGA): Lloyd Pace (assumed position once appointed, no Senate confirmation required)
    • Green
  • Senior Advisor on Human Rights and Gender Equity, OGA: Stephanie Psaki (assumed position once appointed, no Senate confirmation required)
    • Green
  • Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement: Cindy Huang (assumed position once appointed, no Senate confirmation required)
    • Green
  • Director, Food and Drug Administration: Permanent position not filled
    • EF coded Acting FDA Director Janet Woodcock as green, with caution
  • Director, Office for Civil Rights: Permanent position not filled
  • Director/Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, Office for Population Affairs (OPA): Permanent position not filled
  • Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families (ACF): Permanent position not filled

State Department

  • Secretary of State: Antony Blinken (confirmed 1/26/21)
    • Green
  • Deputy Secretary of State: Wendy Sherman (confirmed 4/14/21)
    • Green
  • Under Secretary for Civilian Security: Uzra Zeya (Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced Zeya’s nomination on 4/21/21, full Senate has yet to confirm)
    • Green
  • Director, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Sarah Margon (Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to schedule initial hearing)
  • Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer: Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley
  • Global Women’s Issues Director/Ambassador at Large: Permanent position not filled
  • Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom: Permanent position not filled

USAID

  • Administrator: Samantha Power (confirmed 4/28/21)
    • Green
  • Director/Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Global Health: Permanent position not filled
  • Gender Equality/Women's Empowerment Director: Permanent position not filled
  • Development, Democracy, and Innovation Director/Assistant Administrator: Permanent position not filled
  • Chief Advisor for International Religious Freedom to the Administrator: Permanent position not filled

U.S. Mission to the UN

  • Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (confirmed 2/23/21)
    • Green
  • U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC): Permanent position not filled
    • EF coded Acting ECOSOC Representative and Commission on the Status of Women Delegate Elisabeth Millard as green

POLICY

In October 2020, Equity Forward published its recommendations for the new administration. Since Inauguration Day, we have chronicled policy developments on our transition-tracking timeline. Below, we match our original recommendations with the progress we’ve seen—both explicitly and relatedly addressing our policy asks—as well as a non-exhaustive survey of areas where the Biden administration has yet to make meaningful change.

Science and Evidence Guiding Policy

EF Recommendations

Protect science and evidence over political ideology across federal agencies. Public trust must be restored and safeguarded across federal agencies, from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Each federal agency must strengthen scientific integrity policies and create additional procedures to prevent political interference with advice that should be based on public health evidence. Agencies should also improve transparency and safeguards against conflicts of interest for industry-funded research.

Progress Tracked

  • 1/27/21: Executive order on scientific integrity. In a stark change of direction from his predecessor, President Biden signed an executive order entitled "Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking." The order directs science- and evidence-based decision-making across federal agencies.
  • 3/29/21: White House investigated Trump's attacks on science. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy sent a letter to all federal agencies announcing the creation of a task force to investigate political interference against science during the Trump administration. The task force will investigate federal scientific-integrity policies to prevent the suppression or distortion of scientific findings and "support scientists and researchers of all genders, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds."

Advancing Equity-Driven and Inclusive Health and Human Rights Policies

EF Recommendations

Across federal agencies, restore and enhance data collection and inclusive policy language to advance equity. To enable work that advances health equity, federal agencies should strengthen data collection to allow for analysis based on multiple characteristics and identification of disparities, including by sex assigned at birth, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability status, age, income level, and geographic location. Data collection pertaining to reproductive health care access must also be enhanced. Data points that were eliminated including gender inclusive language and data on access to birth control and abortion must be restored to critical policies and reports across agencies such as the State Department’s human rights reports and the USAID gender equality report. Additional safeguards should be implemented to protect against discriminatory decisions jeopardizing data in the future.

Progress Tracked

  • 3/8/21: Biden created White House Gender Policy Council. President Biden signed an executive order creating a White House Gender Policy Council to advance gender equity and equality in domestic and foreign policy. The council will work to combat barriers in employment, childcare, education, leadership, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The council will also work to "increase access to comprehensive health care, address health disparities, and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights." The council will report directly to the President and involve almost every cabinet secretary. Each federal agency is required to designate a senior official to coordinate with the council. Within the next 200 days, the council must develop a government-wide strategy for advancing gender equity and equality.
  • 3/8/21: HHS invested $250M in COVID-19 vaccine promotion for underserved communities. The Biden administration announced a $250 million investment to promote COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved communities. The HHS Office of Minority Health will distribute the funds as health literacy grants to local governments. The funds are intended to develop public health information campaigns that reach racial and ethnic minorities as well as rural and other vulnerable populations. The program is expected to fund 30 urban projects and 43 rural projects in two years.
  • 3/30/21: State Department released human rights reports including reproductive health addendums. The State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) released its “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” including the announcement of an upcoming addendum that will restore the reports' section on data regarding reproductive health access, which the Trump administration had wiped. The State Department restored inclusive gender language and language referencing "contraception."
  • 4/12/21: FDA lifted ban on telemedicine abortion during the pandemic. Acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock sent a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists informing them that the FDA will lift the in-person dispensing requirement for the mifepristone abortion pill for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing patients to receive the pills via telemedicine and the mail.
  • 4/13/21: Addressing the Black maternal mortality crisis, HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued Medicaid waiver to expand postpartum coverage. The Biden administration announced a number of actions to begin addressing the nation's Black maternal mortality crisis, including from CMS, which approved a Medicaid Section 1115 waiver in Illinois. The move allows the state to extend post-partum coverage to Medicaid-eligible women beyond 60 days and up to 12 months. The Biden administration welcomed other states to do the same.

Not Yet Achieved 

  • USAID’s Gender and Women’s Empowerment Policy enacted under the Trump administration has not yet been repudiated or amended to restore reproductive health data and inclusive references to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • There has been no commitment to inclusive data collection to drive policy across agencies, nor have any safeguards been established against eliminating any such data points in the future.

Civil Rights Offices Protecting Civil Rights for All

EF Recommendations

Ensure HHS’ Office for Civil Rights protects civil rights for all; defund and eliminate its Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. Recent structural changes and rulemaking in the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) were made based on specious rationale and lacked evidence to warrant the actions taken. HHS should rescind the unwarranted rules and reallocate resources to ensure that enforcement priorities reflect the current definition of discrimination as well as evidence about the form and scope of civil rights problems. This includes rescinding harmful refusal-of-care rules; overturning the present administration’s regulation narrowing of the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557 nondiscrimination clause to exclude the definition of discrimination on the basis of abortion, sex stereotyping, and gender identity; and engage in rulemaking using a broad definition of discrimination that aligns with the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County decision. Finally, in recognition of the lack of evidence demonstrating its necessity and in accordance with federal court findings, dissolve OCR’s Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (CRFD).

Progress Tracked

  • 1/20/21: Executive order on LGBTQ discrimination. President Biden signed an executive order implementing the Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that Title VII's sex discrimination protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The executive order applies Bostock's reasoning to federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination.
  • 1/28/21: Executive order on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. President Biden signed an executive order to open a special enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace and to strengthen the Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA, including its birth control benefit, was repeatedly attacked by the Trump administration.
  • 3/26/21: DOJ applied Bostock's discrimination protections to LGBTQ students. The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division published a memo telling federal agencies that LGBTQ students are protected under the education civil rights law known as Title IX. The department based its policy on the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which interpreted the sex discrimination protections in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Not Yet Achieved

  • Eliminating CRFD. The HHS Office for Civil Rights’ Conscience and Religious Freedom Division has yet to be eliminated.

Strengthen Access to Family Planning Services Across the United States

EF Recommendations

Rescind the domestic gag rule; restore and protect the Title X family planning program at HHS. HHS should immediately rescind the domestic gag rule that prevents Title X family planning program grantees from providing ethical, high-quality, evidence-based care. Specifically, this rule change has prohibited providers from making abortion referrals for patients who desire them and requires referrals for prenatal care regardless of whether patients want to continue their pregnancies or not. Furthermore, the Title X grantmaking processes should be restored to their 2016 form in which funding decisions were made by an independent review panel of experts rather than HHS Office of Population Affairs political appointees.

Progress Tracked

  • 1/28/21: Biden directed HHS to rescind domestic gag rule. In an executive order on women's health, President Biden directed HHS to immediately rescind restrictions on the Title X family planning program. These restrictions include the domestic gag rule, which prevents Title X grantees from providing ethical, high-quality, evidence-based care. The rule prohibited providers from making abortion referrals for patients who desired them and required referrals for prenatal care regardless of whether patients want to continue their pregnancies or not.
  • 3/18/21: HHS initiated repeal of domestic gag rule. HHS' Office of Population Affairs announced that the agency will initiate the rulemaking process to repeal the Trump administration's domestic gag rule, which stripped Title X federal funds from family planning clinics that refer patients for abortions. HHS plans to publish its notice of proposed rulemaking no later than April 15 and have the final rule take effect by early fall, allowing clinics to reapply for funding under restored guidelines by the end of 2021.
  • 4/14/21: HHS reversed Title X gag rule. HHS announced a proposed rule revising the Trump administration's 2019 Title X rule changes, which had drastically altered the federal family planning program by barring providers from referring patients for abortion and requiring a physical and financial separation of family planning and abortion services. The Biden administration rule will reimplement the 2000 regulations and restore the program's integrity.

Ensure Federal Research Funding Is Driven by Science, Not Ideology

EF Recommendations

Ensure NIH research funding is based on merit and continues without unwarranted interruptions. To support ethical, high-priority research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists, and well-qualified grantees, NIH must be allowed to ensure an effective, transparent process of reviewing research grants in a manner that promotes scientific rigor and guards against political interference. In 2019, HHS discontinued the funding of future research requiring newly acquired fetal tissue, stating that “promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death” drove the decision. NIH senior-level scientists protested the restrictions and pledged to continue funding existing fetal tissue research. NIH should immediately rescind these restrictions on research using human fetal tissue. Protections should be implemented to avoid political appointees’ interfering with expert NIH’s evidence-based policy and grantmaking decisions.

Progress Tracked

  • 4/16/21: NIH lifted ban on research using fetal tissue, cancels ethics advisory panel. NIH announced that it was reversing Trump administration restrictions on federally funded research using fetal tissue. The notice also cancelled the previous administration's review board—the majority of whom opposed abortion and the use of stem cells and fetal tissue in research—which had rejected funding applications from external researchers.

Protect Immigrants’ Human Rights and Reproductive Freedom

EF Recommendations

Ensure HHS ORR, ICE, and State Department policies protect immigrants’ reproductive health access and respect bodily autonomy; investigate past abuses. The U.S. government has a long history of targeting Black and Brown peoples’ bodies including through medical experimentation and forced hysterectomies. These practices have continued under the current administration, with federal agencies including HHS’ Office for Refugee Resettlement blocking reproductive health services from migrant teenagers in their care; Immigration and Customs Enforcement forcibly sterilizing immigrants who oftentimes do not speak English; and the State Department putting forth xenophobic policies that task border officials with the task of adjudicating pregnancies of people from majority non-White countries. Not only must these policies be reversed immediately in their entirety they must also be investigated and those who participated in abuse and neglect be held accountable.

Progress Tracked

  • 3/12/21: HHS and DHS ended harmful sponsorship policy against unaccompanied children. HHS and DHS issued a joint statement announcing the end of a 2018 agreement that harmed unaccompanied child migrants and their families. The policy made it more difficult for family members to sponsor unaccompanied children placed in HHS' care by threatening arrest and deportation for undocumented sponsors. HHS and DHS have signed a new agreement that promotes the safe and timely transfer of children and maintains safeguards for vetting potential sponsors.

Not Yet Achieved

  • Reverse xenophobic policies. The Trump-era State Department’s racist so-called “birth tourism” policy has yet to be reversed.
  • Federal investigations of federal agencies’ reproductive oppression. DOJ has yet to investigate reports of forced sterilization at the ICE-subcontracted Irwin County detention center in Georgia.
  • Include immigration policy in broader gender strategy plans. The Biden administration should incorporate immigration policy in the foreign policy mandate of the forthcoming national gender strategy alongside trade, development, defense, and diplomacy.

Restore U.S. Foreign Aid and Diplomacy Around Human Rights Including Reproductive Health

EF Recommendations

Rescind the global gag rule and restore reproductive health access through USAID grantmaking. The State Department must immediately rescind the extremist Mexico City Policy, or the global gag rule. The policy, which prohibits NGOs that receive U.S. foreign aid from performing or promoting abortion, has hindered not just access to abortion, birth control, and other family planning services, but also a wide range of health care, including treatment for HIV/AIDS in countries dependent on U.S. aid.

Progress Tracked

  • 1/20/21: United States re-engaged with the WHO. President Biden signed a letter to the United Nations secretary-general affirming the United States' intent to remain a member of the World Health Organization. The letter retracts a previous July 2020 letter that signaled an intention to withdraw.
  • 1/28/21: Repeal of global gag rule, restoration of USAID reproductive health care grants. President Biden signed an executive order on women's health that repealed the global gag rule, otherwise known as the Mexico City Policy. The policy, which prohibits NGOs that receive U.S. foreign aid from performing or promoting abortion, hindered access to reproductive health care, as well as a wide range of health care including treatment for HIV/AIDS, in countries dependent on U.S. aid. The executive order also directed USAID to implement the memorandum in all current and future grants.
  • 1/28/21: Biden directed State Department to restore UNFPA funding. In his order on women's health, President Biden directed the secretary of state to resume funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Secretary Antony Blinken issued a press statement announcing that the State Department will make $32.5 million appropriated by Congress available in 2021 to the UNFPA.
  • 1/28/21: State Department rescinded protecting life in global health assistance policy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a press statement affirming President Biden's executive order on reproductive rights. Blinken announced that in accordance with the repeal of the global gag rule, he had rescinded the previous administration's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy.

Restore U.S. Compliance with International Human Rights Law Including Protections for SRHR and LGBTQ People

EF Recommendations

Disband the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights. The State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights has worked to nationalize, narrow, and reinterpret internationally agreed-upon human rights frameworks. The harmful positions of this commission, which have been espoused throughout the State Department and beyond, include prioritizing religious freedom and property rights at the expense of LGBTQ rights and abortion access, which the commission instead considers to be “divisive political and social controversies.” This commission must be disbanded new administration.

Progress Tracked

  • 1/28/21: Biden directed HHS, State Department to withdraw from Geneva Consensus Declaration. As part of an executive order on women's health, President Biden directed the secretary of state and the HHS secretary to withdraw the United States' cosponsorship and signature from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, which had been released by Trump's HHS and State Department. The declaration brought together 35 countries—many authoritarian and with poor human rights records—to erase abortion and LGBTQ rights as human rights.
  • 2/4/21: Memorandum on promoting LGBTQ rights abroad. President Biden signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to promote the human rights of LGBTQ people around the world. Biden directed agencies to combat criminalization, protect LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers, promote nondiscrimination in foreign aid programs, build coalitions with like-minded countries and organizations, and rescind policies inconsistent with the memorandum.
  • 2/8/21: United States re-engaged with UN Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that President Biden has directed the State Department to re-engage "immediately and robustly" with the United Nations Human Rights Council, which Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018. In his statement, Secretary Blinken affirmed the Council's promotion of fundamental rights, including those of "women, girls, LGBTQI+ persons, and other marginalized communities."
  • 2/24/21: State Department sought election to UN Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States will seek election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the 2022-24 term. In his speech to the UNHRC, Secretary Blinken pledged to fight for human rights at home and abroad, advance gender equality, and "pursue a policy to end violence and discrimination of all kinds, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics."
  • 2/28/21: State Department withdrew U.S. from Geneva Consensus Declaration. Though it was not announced to the public, the State Department confirmed to Equity Forward that it formally withdrew the United States' sponsorship from the Geneva Consensus Declaration through the United Nations in the month of February. The Declaration was joined by various authoritarian countries and excluded reproductive and LGBTQ rights from human rights.
  • 3/30/21: Secretary of State Blinken announced Commission on Unalienable Rights has been disbanded. At a press conference announcing the release of the State Department's annual human rights reports, Secretary Blinken confirmed that the Commission on Unalienable Rights (CUR) had been disbanded and repudiated CUR's views of a human rights-based hierarchy.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

‹ Back To Fact Sheets