List of Biden’s Executive Orders and Directives - Latest Updates
|President Joe Biden signs documents after his inauguration ceremony. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/AP|
US President Joe Biden unleashed a full-scale assault on his predecessor's legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after taking the oath of office to sweep aside former president Donald Trump's pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, tear down his anti-immigration policies, bolster the sluggish economic recovery and restore federal efforts aimed at promoting diversity, said Businesstimes.
Moving with an urgency not seen from any other modern president, Mr Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Among the steps he took were orders to rejoin the Paris climate accord and end Mr Trump's travel ban on predominantly Muslim and African countries.
Individually, the actions are targeted at what the president views as specific, egregious abuses by Mr Trump during four tumultuous years. Collectively, Mr Biden's assertive use of executive authority was intended to be a hefty and visible down payment on one of his primary goals: to, as his top advisers described it, "reverse the gravest damages" done to the country by Mr Trump.
"We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities," Mr Biden said during his inaugural address at the Capitol, delivered to a crowd shrunken by coronavirus risks and threats of violence. "Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build and much to gain."
In his remarks, he stressed the unity of purpose, urging Americans to "see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors" and pleaded with citizens and leaders to "join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature".
On the Pandemic
|Howard Holland, 82, receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Dallas County mass vaccination site at Fair Park on Jan. 20, 2021, in Dallas. Photo: LM Otero/AP|
Mr. Biden has signed an executive order appointing Jeffrey D. Zients as the official Covid-19 response coordinator who will report to the president, 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 Mr. Trump had disbanded.
Though it is not a national mask mandate, which would most likely fall to a legal challenge, Mr. Biden is requiring social distancing and the wearing of masks on all federal property and by all federal employees. He is also starting a “100 days masking challenge” urging all Americans to wear masks and state and local officials to implement public measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Nytimes.
Mr. Biden is also reinstating ties with the World Health Organization after the Trump administration chose to withdraw the nation’s membership and funding last year. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci will be the head of the U.S. delegation to the organization’s executive board and will jump into the role with a meeting this week.
"This will strengthen our own efforts to get the pandemic under control by improving global health," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during her first White House press briefing Wednesday night.
On Immigration and Visas
With an executive order, Mr. Biden has bolstered the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation immigrants brought to the United States as children, often called Dreamers. Mr. Trump sought for years to end the program, known as DACA. The order also calls on Congress to enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for those immigrants.
Another executive order revokes the Trump administration’s plan to exclude noncitizens from the census count, and another overturns a Trump executive order that pushed aggressive efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants. Yet another order blocks the deportation of Liberians who have been living in the United States.
|Activists listen to speeches at an immigration campaign rally in Los Angeles last month. Photo: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images|
In a blow to one of his predecessor’s earliest actions to limit immigration, Mr. Biden has also ended the so-called Muslim ban, which blocked travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. Mr. Biden has directed the State Department to restart visa processing for individuals from the affected countries and to develop ways to address the harm caused to those who were prevented from coming to the United States because of the ban.
The ban was amended several times in the face of numerous court challenges arguing that Trump did not have the legal authority to issue it and that it unlawfully discriminated against Muslims. The third version of the ban, ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, barred citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea — from obtaining any kind of visas, largely preventing them from entering the US. (Chad was taken off the list of countries subject to the ban in April 2019 after it met the Trump administration’s demands to share information with US authorities that could aid in efforts to vet foreigners.)
Trump expanded the ban last February to include additional restrictions on citizens of six more countries: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. While they could still visit the US, citizens of these countries were, for the most part, barred from settling in the US permanently.
Mr. Biden has also halted the construction of Mr. Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The order includes an “immediate termination” of the national emergency declaration that allowed the Trump administration to redirect billions of dollars to the wall. It says the administration will begin “a close review” of the legality of the effort to divert federal money to fund the wall.
Upon leaving office, Trump had completed 450 miles of construction on the border wall — a physical reminder his efforts to keep out asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants. But despite what he promised in 2016, he didn’t build 1,000 miles of wall and Mexico never paid for it; instead, the more than $15 billion burden fell on taxpayers and was partially transferred from the Pentagon’s budget without congressional approval. And he was only able to construct it by waiving environmental and contracting laws and seizing private land.
On Climate Change
Chief among executive orders that begin to tackle the issue of climate change, Mr. Biden has signed a letter to re-enter the United States in the Paris climate accords, which it will officially rejoin 30 days from now. In 2019, Mr. Trump formally notified the United Nations that the United States would withdraw from the coalition of nearly 200 countries working to move away from planet-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.
In additional executive orders, Mr. Biden began the reversal of a slew of the Trump administration’s environmental policies, including revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline; reversing the rollbacks to vehicle emissions standards; undoing decisions to slash the size of several national monuments; enforcing a temporary moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and re-establishing a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses.
|Motor vehicles drive on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, California on Sept. 17, 2019. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images|
For the United States, rejoining the Paris agreement means finding a way to decarbonize the atmosphere by 2050 and do its part to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. It also represents an opportunity for the United States to be part of a global green economic boom linked with recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The commitments that Biden makes toward the Paris agreement will likely serve as a crystallizing force for climate policy in the United States, said Pat Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at the Vermont Law School.
“The last four years have been an unrelenting assault on our public health and environmental protection on an unprecedented scale,” said Jill Tauber, the vice president of litigation for climate and energy at Earthjustice.
“But while we’ve lost a lot of time, and while certainly there is much damage to undo,” she said, Biden’s order to review the agency rules “is a commitment to do just that—to as swiftly as possible reverse the destructive policies of the Trump administration and also recognizing that that’s not enough.”
On Racial and L.G.B.T. Equality
Mr. Biden will end the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, which released a report on Monday that historians said distorted the role of slavery in the United States, among other history. Mr. Biden also revoked Mr. Trump’s executive order limiting the ability of federal agencies, contractors and other institutions to hold diversity and inclusion training.
The president designated Susan E. Rice, who is the head of his Domestic Policy Council, as the leader of a “robust, interagency” effort requiring all federal agencies to make “rooting out systemic racism” central to their work. 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.
|Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington where the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the first case of LGBT rights since the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.|
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, a policy that reverses action by Mr. Trump’s administration.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the executive order states. “Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.”
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, called it “the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the order “moves us another step toward a day when transgender people can openly live as who they are without being targeted for discrimination.” With it, she said, the legacy of Aimee Stephens, Don Zarda and Gerald Bostock — the LGBTQ plaintiffs in the landmark Bostock case — “grows larger.”
On the Economy
|President Joe Biden takes the oath of office during the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Credit: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images|
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 Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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 by a lame-duck president unconstrained by electoral considerations. The fast pace often cuts short the opportunity for the public or industry to review the policies.
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