Throughout his campaign for president, and throughout the first several months of his time in office, President Joe Biden was never reluctant to hold back his criticism of former President Donald Trump and his policy prescriptions.
Biden largely campaigned on moving in a new direction, opposite of where Trump had taken the country.
Now, after only a few months in office, Biden appears to be backing off of many of his policy goals, often reverting back to many of the plans and policies Trump had already instituted.
The Border Wall
For example, on Thursday, it was announced that the Biden administration approved the construction of a levee on the southern border wall.
One of President Biden’s first executive orders — a good number of which were aimed at undoing the previous administration’s immigration policies — was to immediately stop all border wall construction.
Specifically, the construction is meant to repair a levee system in order to prevent flooding.
The decision to resume construction “reportedly follows pressure from local residents and politicians to mend the incessant crossing surge,” according to Fox News.
While this certainly qualifies as a resumption of construction at the border wall, the United States Army Corps of Engineers stated that “wall construction remains paused to extent permitted by law” and “this remediation work will not involve expanding border barrier.”
Regardless, this is not the only indicator that the Biden administration is reverting back to its predecessor’s policy decisions after backtracking.
The Keystone XL Pipeline
Another example is the administration’s rhetoric on oil pipelines.
Biden started off his presidency with what was perhaps his administration’s most controversial move thus far when he decided to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline on his very first day in office.
Despite this, roughly four months later, John Kerry — the Biden administration’s climate envoy — admitted that pipelines are more efficient than other means for delivering fuel.
“Isn’t it true the pipelines are more carbon-delivery-efficient than trains, or trucks or other forms of delivery? If you could answer just that limited question,” Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California asked Kerry on Wednesday.
“Yeah, that is true,” Kerry responded. “I think that is true, but it doesn’t mean you necessarily want to be adding another line when there are other alternatives. But is it better than train, and better than that? Yes, it is.”
Foreign Policy with China
Another great example of Biden’s backtracking can be seen in his administration’s relations with China.
During Trump’s tenure, Washington’s relationship with Beijing was much more adversarial. Early on in its first term, the administration even launched a partial trade war with China.
As time went on, Trump doubled down on this approach — the former president banned products made by Chinese-based telecommunications and phone manufacturer Huawei in 2019, imposed sanctions on those responsible for enacting Hong Kong’s national security law the following year and formally declared China’s treatment of its Uighur population, through his then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to be an act of genocide directly before leaving the presidency.
Upon entering office, Biden claimed to be taking America’s foreign policy in a new direction.
“Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy,” Biden claimed in his “America’s Place in the World” speech.
But, in practice, Biden’s administration has adopted largely the same approach as Trump’s by carrying on efforts to denounce Beijing for its refusal to work under the rules and procedures of current international order, continuing Trump-era tariffs and expanding new sanctions and condemnations against the Chinese Communist Party.
The Biden administration may brand itself as wholly different from its predecessor, but these recent moves, among others, suggest that Biden may be realizing that many of Trump’s policies were productive and necessary.