This meant delays up and down the federal bureaucracy. In the case of vaccines, it meant the Trump administration had done little to facilitate their distribution before Biden took office, prompting his complaint in late February about “the mess we inherited."
A distribution mess, perhaps, but the Trump administration and Congress had made a huge investment in the development of vaccines. Not only that, but the administration took action to lock in early supplies for the U.S. while many other developed countries still face crucial shortages of doses.
As the number of vaccines manufactured swelled, so did the number that reached Americans arms, with more than 4 million shots administered one day in mid-April. The president became fond of the political trope of underpromising but overdelivering, repeatedly blowing past benchmarks and timelines.
The improved vaccine deployment was a significant early achievement, in part made possible by Biden’s first legislative success: passing a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill into law within two months.
Not a single Republican lawmaker voted for the measure, though the White House was quick to claim that it was a bipartisan bill because it polled well with GOP voters.
Republican opposition to Biden's next cornerstone legislation, a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs program, also initially seemed firm. Yet some Republicans worry they will be left defending politically unpopular decisions — like opposing a corporate tax rate increase — while the Democrats may be able to simply pass the mega-package along party lines.