By: Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn
Much ink has been spilled about what President Biden hasn’t done with little regard for the successes that would secure any previous administration’s legacy as being the most productive since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. This administration has secured $132 billion in student loan debt relief for 3.6 million borrowers, including $53.5 billion for public servants and nearly $12 billion for borrowers with disabilities. However, the prevailing narrative centers on the Republicans-led rejection of his targeted student debt relief plan that was upheld by a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.
I’ve heard rumblings that this president has failed the Black community when, in fact, he has invested over $7 billion in HBCUs in 3 short years, produced the lowest Black unemployment rate on record, and begun the earnest work of closing the digital divide for Black families by making broadband accessible and affordable. The November Consumer Price Index revealed that inflation fell to 3.1% — down two-thirds from its peak; that consumers are paying less for essentials such as milk, eggs, and other appliances; and the median gas price has fallen below $3.00. With wages higher than before the pandemic and the creation of 14.1 million jobs, can anyone honestly argue with President Biden’s record?
Despite this incredible record, what will arguably become President Biden’s greatest and most lasting achievements was reached this month with the confirmation of his 160th judge to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. I repeat and italicize for emphasis: 160 judges confirmed for lifetime appointments on the federal bench. This number includes well over 100 women, more Black female appellate judges than all former presidents combined, and roughly 60% being women of color. This number also includes the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson; the first South Asian woman judge; and the first Navajo federal judge.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this milestone. Every president selects judges whose record reflects the values they hold dear. Donald Trump’s Federalist Society-sponsored selections reflected his extremism and penchant for vitriol. Trump’s appointed judges are wreaking havoc today, as evidenced by this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court overturning of affirmative action and Roe v. Wade. We should all take pride in the fact that under President Biden, the daughter of two public school teachers can ascend to the highest court of the land and that a first-generation Chicago native can make history as the first Muslim woman on the federal bench. It’s only fitting that this process made possible another glass-breaking moment: this month, Vice President Harris set the record for breaking the most ties in the Senate by a vice president. The record was previously held by John C. Calhoun, a staunch defender of slavery. How poetic is it that the first woman, the first Black American, and first Asian American to be elected vice president of this great country at the behest of Joe Biden, has set a new standard and brought us into the 21st century?
This is what this country is all about: moving the needle closer toward justice at every possible turn. With President Biden’s legislative successes, from clean energy investments in the Inflation Reduction Act to the manufacturing renaissance made possible by the CHIPS and Science Act, to the historic investments for veterans in the PACT Act, we are laying the foundation for a more secure, stable and successful future for our children and grandchildren. But foundations are worth little without a complete structure. When undergirded by the decisions his judicial nominees are capable of rendering, President Biden is framing structures that will ensure that “the greatness of this country will be accessible and affordable for all Americans” for generations to come.