US President Joe Biden signed seventeen executive orders, memorandums and proclamations hours after his inauguration on Wednesday.
In reversing the Trump administration policies which have caused “greatest damage” to the nation, his first actions as president include tearing down the anti-immigration policies, sweeping aside Trump’s pandemic response, altering his environmental agenda, bolstering the teetering economic recovery and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.
Take a look at what the measures aim to accomplish.
On the Pandemic
Jeffrey D. Zients is appointed as the official COVID-19 response co-ordinator and will report directly to the President. This is done in an effort to “aggressively” gear up the nation’s response to the pandemic. The order also restores the directorate for global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council, a group Trump had disbanded.
Biden reinstating ties with the World Health Organization after the Trump administration, last year, chose to withdraw the nation’s membership and funding. Dr Anthony S. Fauci will be the head of the U.S. delegation to the organization’s executive board. He also starting a 100 days masking challenge where he urged all the Americans to wear masks and also the state and local officials to implement public measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
An executive order concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will protect deportation immigrants brought to the United States as children, often called Dreamers which Trump has sought to end for years. This order also calls on legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for those immigrants.
Another executive order blocks the deportation of Liberians who have been living in the United States. It also revoked the exclusion of noncitizens from the census count and overturned aggressive efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants.
Biden has also ended the Muslim ban which blocked travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim and African countries and has also halted the construction of Trump’s border wall with Mexico.
On Climate Change
Biden has signed a letter to re-enter the United States in the Paris climate accords which the former president has notified the UN that the US would withdraw from the coalition of nearly 200 countries working to move away from planet-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.
He also revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline; reversing the rollbacks to vehicle emissions standards, re-establishing a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses and several others.
On Racial and L.G.B.T. Equality
Biden will end the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission. Biden also revoked Trump’s executive order limiting the ability of federal agencies, contractors and other institutions to hold diversity and inclusion training. Another executive order reinforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require that the federal government does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
His order directs the agencies to review and report on equity in their ranks within 200 days, including a plan on how to remove barriers to opportunities in policies and programs. The order also moves to ensure that Americans of all backgrounds have equal access to federal government resources, benefits and services. It starts a data working group as well as the study of new methods to measure and assess federal equity and diversity efforts.
On the Economy
Mr Biden is moving to extend a federal moratorium on evictions and has asked agencies, including the Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development Departments, to prolong a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages that was enacted in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The extensions all run through at least the end of March.
The President is also moving to continue a pause on federal student loan interest and principal payments through the end of September, although progressive groups and some congressional Democrats have pushed Biden to go much further and cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per person.
On Government Accountability
Following in the footsteps of some of his predecessors, Biden has established ethics rules for those who serve in his administration that aim “to restore and maintain trust in the government.” He has ordered all of his appointees in the executive branch to sign an ethics pledge.
Finally, Biden issued a freeze on all new regulations put in motion by his predecessor to give his administration time to evaluate which ones it wants to move forward. The memorandum is aimed at preventing so-called midnight regulations, policies pushed through unconstrained by electoral considerations. The fast pace often cuts short the opportunity for the public or industry to review the policies.