with Tobi Raji

Good Wednesday morning. Tune into the Washington Post's Special Report this evening on President Biden's address to Congress at 8 p.m. ET.  This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

🚨: “A DC Metropolitan Police officer who was brutally assaulted while defending the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection said Tuesday evening that it's been difficult to watch some elected officials and others ‘whitewash’ the episode in its aftermath,” CNN's Paul LeBlanc and Caroline Kelly report. 

  • “Michael Fanone, who was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the attack, told CNN's Don Lemon on ‘CNN Tonight’ that 'some of the terminology that was used, like 'hugs and kisses,' and 'very fine people,' is like very different from what I experienced and what my co-workers experienced on the 6th.'”
  • “I think it’s dangerous,” Fanone said after Lemon asked him specifically about Trump’s comments last month, our colleague Tim Elfrink reports. “It is very much not the experience I had on the 6th. I experienced a group of individuals who were trying to kill me to accomplish their goal.”

At the White House

HERE WE ARE: What David Axelrod once referred to as “an odd custom, the journalistic equivalent of the Hallmark holiday is here once again. President Biden will hit his 100th day in office on Thursday an artificial milestone that presidents and their administrations have subscribed to since Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency. 

So today, we're going where many journalists have gone before, and taking you on a tour of the triumphs and setbacks that have marked the first 100 days of the Biden administration. 

TL; DR: Biden, who assumed a number of crises when he came into office and has so far issued far fewer tweets and false and misleading claims than his predecessor, has been busy. Since Jan. 20, coronavirus deaths have plunged, vaccinations have soared and a massive stimulus bill was passed. The economy is slowly rebounding, two infrastructure bills are in the works, nuclear negotiations with Iran have picked up again, the U.S. is back in the Paris Climate Accord and U.S. forces will be coming home from Afghanistan. 

Other problems, however, have persisted or reappeared: Biden “faces an immigration crisis at the nation’s southern border, a searing debate over policing reforms in the wake of a guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd and pressure to enact stricter gun controls amid a tide of mass shootings,” our colleague Ashley Parker reports. 

  • For all of the ambition, concerns remain about the administration's impact on communities of color: “Biden’s forceful language on race has yet to be matched with as forceful action,” our colleague Sean Sullivan writes.
  • “As Biden, 78, nears the 100-day mark of his presidency, a stark contrast has emerged between his impassioned and sometimes impulsive rhetoric on issues involving race, which many Democrats view as a refreshing jolt to the national conversation, and a more cautious policy approach on issues they view as key to achieving meaningful change.”
  • “Biden’s early presidency has been jarred by a spate of deadly police shootings of Black people, a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and a pandemic that continues to hit communities of color especially hard. These developments have created greater urgency for Biden to move aggressively in the months ahead, activists said.” 

Reminder: Biden's presidential bid was based on the idea of restoration – “a battle for the soul of the nation,” he called it – not transformation. That changed with the coronavirus pandemic that's killed over half a million Americans and exposed and exacerbated societal inequities. 

As a Democratic primary candidate, Joe Biden told debate viewers he understood that most Americans ‘are looking for results, not a revolution.’ He promised wealthy donors that, in a Biden administration, ‘nothing would fundamentally change.’ And he declared to rallygoers that he saw himself ‘as a bridge, not as anything else,’ to a new generation of Democratic leaders. Then covid changed everything,” Ashley writes. 

  • “Biden’s first 100 days in office reveal a leader who views his mandate in existential terms — waging ‘a battle for the soul of the nation,’ as he has put it, and taking actions that will help set the course of the country for decades to come.” 

So far, a majority of Americans approve of Biden's performance and support his major policy initiatives, and 64 percent of adults approve of his handling of the pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released over the weekend. 

The economy: Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package has also received high marks from voters, and prompted economists to raise “their forecasts for how robust the economy will be in the coming months,” our colleagues Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam report. 

  • Before the election, forecasters anticipated 3.7 percent growth at an annualized rate. Now, that has risen to 7.5 percent after the stimulus passed and the vaccine rollout accelerated, prompting Biden to vow the nation will be ‘closer to normal by the July Fourth holiday.” 
  • The United States added 916,000 jobs in March, the biggest jump in hiring in seven months. An uptick in hiring is a signal that businesses are confident enough about the future to add more employees.”
  • More good news:In perhaps the most telling sign of improvement since Biden took office, there’s been a noticeable decline in the number of American households who say they are behind on rent or did not have enough to eat in the past week.”

The pandemic: “More than half of American adults have received at least one dose of vaccine. Some weeks, the United States has administered more than 3 million shots a day. Daily deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have plummeted to a daily average of about 720, from 4,400 on the day Biden took office,” our colleague Annie Linskey notes. 

But vaccine hesitancy is real: “ … the hard part may be just beginning, as the mission switches from churning out vaccines to getting people to actually get them — especially the reluctant, the remote and the disadvantaged,” Annie reports. 

  • “If the first challenge was logistical, the second is societal. It will require Biden to battle false information, challenge political divisions and overcome prejudices. How well he succeeds could determine the course of his presidency.”

Immigration: This is Biden's soft spot, polling shows, as he struggles with a massive influx at the southern border, our colleague Nick Miroff reports.

  • Trying to enter the U.S. are “a record number of teenagers and children traveling without their parents who need to be sheltered for weeks. Last month, 172,331 migrants were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the highest total in nearly 20 years.”
  • Bipartisan backlash: “Biden’s GOP opponents have blamed him for the influx and criticized his response, and Republican strategists say immigration will be a galvanizing issue for the 2022 midterm elections. Many liberal Democrats and activists are quick to denounce new deterrent measures as a betrayal, limiting Biden’s ability to quickly change course.” 
  • By the numbers:53 percent say they disapprove of the way he has dealt with the immigration situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, a problem that has vexed his administration for much of its first months, per our Dan Balz, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin

Ahem: Sometimes….100-day judgements turn out to predict problems that are more fundamental to the presidency. Jimmy Carter’s early problems with Congress foreshadowed the problems he was to have with the liberal wing of the Democratic party. These problems were so severe that Carter faced a nomination challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy (D. MA) that certainly contributed to the fact that he became a one-term president,” Brookings Institution's Elaine Kamarck writes. 

The data

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT: “During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden’s advisers often tracked the promises made in his speeches as a way to formulate their early agenda. As he entered office, they viewed the coronavirus as the issue on which his presidency would be most judged, which has guided many of their early decisions and promises — around vaccinations, school reopenings and mask mandates. But Biden also has a long list of other promises, including climate change, gun control, tax policy and ending foreign wars,” our colleagues Daniela Santamariña, Matt Viser and Ashlyn Still write. Has he kept those promises?



  • Administer 200 million shots.

Completed in part.

  • Enact a mask mandate.



  • Pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. 

In progress.

  • Repeal Trump tax cuts. 



  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.

In progress.

  • Reverse Trump’s environmental rollbacks.


In progress.

  • Bring troops home from Afghanistan.
  • Rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.



  • Rescind the ban on travel from majority-Muslim countries.

In progress.

  • Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.


  • Complete. Appoint a Cabinet that "looks like America."
  • In progress. Pass the Voting Rights Act.
  • No action. Send legislation on gun control to Congress.

On the Hill

HAPPENING TODAY: Biden will deliver his first joint address to Congress this evening at 9pm. Attendance will be limited and there will be no designated survivor because members of Biden's Cabinet will “be watching from their offices or home, but they will not be joining him for the speech,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. 

The president will sell the second part of his infrastructure package, called the American Families Plan, and call on Congress to pass his immigration proposal, our colleagues report.

  • “The proposal would provide every American with two years of tuition-free community college … and paid family and medical leave for American workers. Among its sweeping agenda items, the plan also calls for devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to fighting child poverty and ensuring affordable child care nationwide,” our colleagues Jeff Stein, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Laura Meckler and Caroline Kitchener report.
  • Pay fors: “Biden has proposed paying for the infrastructure plan by raising the corporate tax rate, which once stood at 35 percent but was lowered to 21 percent during Trump’s presidency," per Jeff, Danielle, Laura and Caroline. Taxes for individuals earning more than $400,000 would rise from 37 to 39.6 percent; capital gains taxes would also increase.
  • Immigration: “Biden will recommit himself to overhauling the immigration system … while signaling openness to Congress passing smaller parts of his agenda that have bipartisan support, including guaranteeing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children," our colleague Marianna Sotomayor reports.
  • Not in the bill: Lowering the Medicare eligibility age and negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs.

ALL EYES ON TIM SCOTT: Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) the Senate's only Black Republican. will deliver the GOP response to Biden’s address tonight, per our colleagues Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane write. He has been working on the “difficult task of negotiating police reform legislation with Democrats."

Here's what to expect:

  • “In a statement last week, Scott said he would be ‘having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families.’"
  • “From my perspective, you know, you figure out who your audience is, you figure out what you want to say, and you try to find a way to say it well,” he said. “And you lean into who you are," Scott told our colleagues.

Global power

‘AMERICA IS BACK’ – SORTA: From  former president Barack Obama’s “Don’t do stupid things” to ex-president Donald Trump’s “America First,” the American pendulum on foreign policy has swung dramatically within the past decade. 

In the first month of his presidency, Biden declared “America is back,” pledging a return to diplomacy. But our colleague Anne Gearan writes that “with global affairs taking a back seat to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the ‘Biden Doctrine’ is still a work in progress.”

  • “As the new president begins significant undertakings — such as withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan, setting an ambitious goal for reducing U.S. carbon pollution and resuming nuclear negotiations with Iran — the outlines of his deliberate approach are filling in” and all eyes are on China.
On Feb. 11, President Biden said his first telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping ran two hours, but he gave few details of the discussion. (The Washington Post)

But Biden’s pivot to Asia ignores the rest of the world. “Biden is downgrading many familiar foreign policy matters as he focuses on China and climate change, including Middle East tensions, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. The new administration has condemned Russian aggression on the Ukraine border but has drawn no red lines publicly,” per Gearan. And “although the Biden administration has made the worsening humanitarian disaster in Yemen a priority, including naming a veteran diplomat as a special envoy, not much has changed.”

  • “Biden has also stepped back from an immediate expansion of refugee admissions and refrained from making a major gesture of U.S. goodwill on protecting the rest of the world from the coronavirus — echoes of the kind of nationalist political arguments that propelled Trump.”

MEANWHILE, AMBASSADOR PICKS ARE ON TAP: “Biden is expected to begin naming his choices for high-profile ambassador postings in May or possibly as soon as this week, revealing winners among a pecking order of Biden friends, donors and aides that spans decades,” our colleagues Tyler Pager and Anne Gearan report

  • But “the process has been complicated by sensitivity to naming candidates other than the coterie of well-connected White people, most of them men, who have been the mainstay of Biden’s political circle.”

Here is a list of potential picks:

  • Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): envoy to the U.N. World Food Program
  • Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel: ambassador to Japan.
  • David Cohen, a Comcast executive who hosted Biden’s first official 2020 presidential fundraising event: ambassador to Canada.
  • Former interior secretary Ken Salazar: ambassador to Mexico.
  • Denise Bauer, who led a women’s support network for Biden: ambassador to France.
  • Mark Gitenstein, Biden’s adviser: ambassador to the European Union.
  • Julie Smith, a former Biden adviser: ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Michael Adler, a major Biden donor: ambassador to Belgium.
  • Former State Department official Thomas R. Nides: ambassador to Israel
  • Veteran diplomat R. Nicholas Burns: ambassador to China.


‘MEDICINE HAS NEVER BEEN IMMUNE TO RACISM’: The latest episode of CNN's History Refocused looks at a practice in medicine called "race correction," a remnant of America's history of slavery.

  • “The argument over race correction has raised questions about the scientific data doctors rely on to treat people of color. It's attracted the attention of Congress and led to a big lawsuit against the NFL,” per CNN's Jacque Smith and Cassie Spodak.