Sunday, May 9, 2021

The 17 things Joe Biden did on Day One

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Joe Biden signed more than a dozen executive orders in his first hours as president on Wednesday, the first salvos in a coming legislative and regulatory crusade to erase Donald Trump’s legacy from federal law and advance his own agenda.

While many of Biden’s first policy moves are expected reversals of Trump policies, others go further, and his team has signaled that many more actions will be announced in the days ahead. Together, they lay out what the top priorities of his administration will be: ending a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, rescuing an economy battered by Covid-19, and taking steps Democrats have long demanded on immigration, the environment and racial justice.

Yet Biden has also stressed repeatedly that he would rather work with both parties in Congress to accomplish his policy goals rather than act unilaterally, and he has so far avoided many of the steps progressive groups and lawmakers want him to take, including canceling student debt and overriding the patents of drugs developed with public funds.

Here is what Biden did Wednesday, and what it means for the country:

COVID-19


EXECUTIVE ORDER 1:

Require masks on federal property

Biden is ordering a nationwide mask-wearing and social-distancing mandate on federal lands, in federal buildings, and for federal employees and contractors.


EXECUTIVE ORDER 2:

Rejoin the World Health Organization

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden canceled Trump’s move to withdraw the country from the World Health Organization and, in an early show of commitment to the global health body, sent infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci to speak at the WHO’s virtual board meeting Thursday morning.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 3:

Set up a Covid office that reports directly to Biden

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden created a White House Covid-19 response team, led by Jeff Zients, that will coordinate across the federal government and with states on ramping up vaccinations, distributing more masks and gloves, expanding testing capacity, reopening schools and more. This order also reestablishes the National Security Council’s directorate for global health security and biodefense — an office disbanded by the Trump administration.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 4:

Extend foreclosure and eviction moratoriums

Biden directed key agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to extend the current pause on federal evictions and foreclosures through at least the end of March.


EXECUTIVE ORDER 5:

Freeze student debt collection

Biden is immediately directing the Education Department to continue to freeze monthly payments and interest on most federal student loans until “at least” Sept. 30.


CLIMATE

EXECUTIVE ORDER 6:

Rejoin the Paris climate accords

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden signed an order to rejoin the Paris climate accords that President Trump exited last year, sending the United Nations a document that will make the U.S. party to the agreement in 30 days. The international pact aims to push all countries to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 7:

Revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and cancel other Trump administration energy rules

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden revoked the presidential permit for the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline that would have transported fossil fuels from Canada across the United States — a project climate activists have protested for years. The order also directs federal agencies to start reversing and revising other Trump administration rules, including restoring protections and banning drilling in several national parks and national monuments and setting stricter emissions and fuel economy standards for vehicles.

RACIAL JUSTICE

Nix the 1776 Commission

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden terminated the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, a project aimed at promoting a more conservative history curriculum in U.S. schools that existed for only a few months. The group released a report on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that contained several inaccuracies and paragraphs lifted from other published works. This executive order also directs all federal agencies to create an action plan within 200 days to “address unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs.” It also undoes the Trump administration’s policy that prohibited federal contractors and some grant recipients that conduct “any form of race or sex stereotyping,” including diversity training.

IMMIGRATION

EXECUTIVE ORDER 9:

Unwind Trump’s changes to the census

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden signed an order revoking the Trump administration efforts to exclude undocumented immigration from the U.S. census, a change that would have weakened federal representation for diverse areas generally represented by Democrats. The order also ensures that census takers have enough time to obtain an accurate count of the population, reversing the Trump administration’s move to cut the work short.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10:

Strengthen legal protections for “Dreamers”

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden directed the secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the attorney general, to take actions to shore up the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration tried to abolish the program but was stopped by federal courts.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11:

Abolish the “Muslim ban”

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden directed the secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the attorney general, to take actions to shore up the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration tried to abolish the program but was stopped by federal courts.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 12:

Cancel the Trump administration’s interior enforcement rule

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden revoked a Trump executive order that massively expanded immigration officials’ interior enforcement work and broadened the categories of who they should try to detain and deport. His acting DHS secretary then issued a memo pausing deportations for 100 days beginning on Jan. 22.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 13:

Halt construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden declared an immediate termination of the national emergency declaration that the Trump administration used to divert federal funding to building the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and ordered a pause on its construction while the new administration reviews the funding and contracts.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 14:

Extend deportation protections for Liberians

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden signed an order extending the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) designation for Liberians who have been in the United States for many years until June 30, 2022, shielding them from deportation and extending their work authorization until then. Trump had threatened to terminate the program, which would have put the status of about 4,000 Liberians in jeopardy.

LGBT RIGHTS

EXECUTIVE ORDER 15:

Ban workplace discrimination against LGBT employees

Biden signed an executive order making it clear that his administration interprets the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The order also directs federal agencies to make sure existing laws banning sex discrimination also prohibit discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender workers.


GOVERNMENT
EXECUTIVE ORDER 16:

Implement an ethics pledge for all executive branch officialsBiden signed an ethics pledge and ordered every appointee in the executive branch to do so as well. The pledges cover both a ban on political interference with the Justice Department and a ban on all officials using their office for their own personal gain.


EXECUTIVE ORDER 17:

Freeze Trump’s “midnight regulations”

REVERSAL OF TRUMP ORDER
Biden signed an order that will freeze all Trump administration regulations currently in process, blocking them from taking effect while the new administration reviews them.

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