U.S. President Joe Biden signed a number of executive orders shortly after being sworn on Wednesday, undoing policies put in place by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, and making his first moves on the pandemic and climate change.
Biden signs stack of executive orders on Day 1
Signing several actions in front of reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon, Biden said there was “no time to waste” in issuing the executive orders, memorandums and directives.
“Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities,” said Biden. “These are just all starting points.”
Aides said the actions the Democratic president signed included a mask mandate on federal property and for federal employees, an order to establish a new White House office coordinating the response to the coronavirus, and halting the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization.
Biden signed a document to begin the process of re-entering the Paris climate accord and issued a sweeping order tackling climate change, including revoking the presidential permit granted to the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline. Canada urged Biden not to cancel Keystone XL pipeline on first day.
Among a raft of orders addressing immigration, Biden revoked Trump’s emergency declaration that helped fund the construction of a border wall and ended a travel ban on some majority-Muslim countries.
The Day One plans were just the start of a flurry of executive actions Biden would take soon after entering office, said his press secretary, Jen Psaki.
“In the coming days and weeks, we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the president’s promises to the American people,” Psaki said.
Further actions would include revoking the ban on military service by transgender Americans and reversing a policy that blocks U.S. funding for programs overseas linked to abortion.
On the economic front, Biden asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend a moratorium on evictions until the end of March, and the Department of Education to suspend student loan payments until the end of September.
Read a full list of Biden’s “America Last” executive orders below.
He has no idea where he’s at or what he’s signing 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/qozPgSx98X
— Art TakingBack 🇺🇸 (@ArtValley818__) January 23, 2021
President Biden reverses Trump policies with the stroke of a pen
1. Freezing President Donald Trump’s pending regulations. In a memorandum written by Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Biden instituted a review of any pending regulation issued by the Trump administration.
2. Rejoining the Paris climate agreement. As the first act he personally undertook in office, Joe Biden signed an executive order rejoining the Paris Agreement, which presents both a constitutional and economic challenge. President Barack Obama signed the agreement in September 2016, and President Donald Trump initiated its three-year withdrawal process in 2017.
The Paris Agreement progressively throttles down each country’s permissible level of carbon emissions, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions, undermining U.S. energy independence and economic growth. A 2016 study by David Kreutzer and a team of economists at the Heritage Foundation found that the climate change agreement would cost 400,000 U.S. jobs, $2.5 trillion in U.S. GDP, and $20,000 in income for a family of four by 2035. The Paris Protocol would also raise household electric bills by 20%, something Obama candidly acknowledged as a consequence of the Obama-Biden energy policy in 2008.
3. Reinstituting critical theory and replacing equality with equity. Biden signed an executive order channeling the power of the federal government into “Advancing Racial Equity.”
Although the order states that “equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy,” the order replaces equality with equity, a term that advocates of critical theory say demands reverse discrimination and government economic programs to benefit minorities. Biden promises to deliver an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda” to fight “systemic racism.”
"Our priority will be Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American owned small businesses, women-owned businesses, and finally having equal access to resources needed to reopen and rebuild." — President-elect Biden pic.twitter.com/pIyDuhf5pH
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 10, 2021
4. Reversing President Trump’s anti-terrorist travel ban. Biden’s “Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States” executive order says the so-called “Muslim Travel Ban” violated U.S. values and “undermined our national security.”
The ban, which focused on terrorism, never applied to all Muslims. There are precious few Muslims in, e.g., North Korea and Venezuela, which were covered by the order.
5. A limited mask mandate. Biden will require masks to be worn by federal workers, contractors, “and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands.”
The efficacy of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors is dubious, as the Cleveland Clinic notes, “If have the option of maintaining a safe distance from anyone you encounter, then a mask likely isn’t necessary.”
6. Establishing a COVID-19 Czar and “strengthening the World Health Organization.” Biden’s executive order establishes a new position of “Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President.”
7. Deprioritizing U.S. victims of criminal aliens. Biden issued an executive order to “reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws” away from compliance with the law and toward what he deems a “humanitarian” policy on the border.
The EO revokes President Trump’s 2017 executive order on “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (Executive Order 13768), which prioritized deporting criminal aliens, attempted to defund sanctuary cities, published a full report documenting all crimes committed by illegal aliens against U.S. citizens, and established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) to serve and “support victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens.”
8. Supercharging federal regulatory power. No aspect of Biden’s reversal of Trump policy is more pronounced than abandoning four years of lighter regulation by unelected bureaucrats. Trump viewed them as a bane; Biden sees them as a boon.
9. Including illegal aliens and other non-citizens in the U.S. Census. Biden’s executive order requires the Census Bureau to include anyone resident inside the United States “for purposes of congressional representation, without regard to whether its residents are in lawful immigration status.”
This effectively gives greater representation – and federal funding – to jurisdictions that flout immigration laws, such as sanctuary cities. If congressional seats were apportioned on the basis of U.S. citizenship, California would lose six congressional seats; New York, Florida, and Texas would each lose one seat; and Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin would each gain one seat.
10. Halting drilling in ANWR and the Keystone XL pipeline in the name of “environmental justice.” Biden’s executive order pledges to “advance environmental justice” and accentuate the feeling of “urgency for combatting climate change and accelerating the transition toward a clean energy economy.”
The order halts the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska. “The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest,” Biden writes. While he admits that “most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders,” he believes the pipeline must be canceled “to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory.”
His order imposes a temporary moratorium on oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), just one day after President Donald Trump issued leases to allow drilling on 400,000 acres. “Our economic future is at risk should this line of attack on our sovereignty and well-being continue,” said Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).
Biden reinstates two Obama-era executive orders barring oil and natural gas drilling in the Bering Sea and reestablishing the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.
11. Threatening conscience rights while establishing the “civil right” of biological males to participate in female sports, and use female showers and restrooms. Biden’s executive order affirms that transgender individuals “should be able to access healthcare,” an indication he intends to roll back protections for people of faith whose religion deems participation in sex reassignment surgeries sinful or immoral.
12. Targeting regulations to favored groups. President Biden’s memorandum “Modernizing Regulatory Review” has two emphases. It focuses on changing the regulatory process to combat “harmful anti-regulatory or deregulatory effects” by assuring government rhetoric “fully accounts for regulatory benefits that are difficult or impossible to quantify” – presumably the SCC, SCN, and SCM mentioned above.
13. Ethics pledge and lobbying ban. All Biden administration appointees must sign an ethics pledge to “not raise the appearance that I have used my Government service for private gain,” a charge that has dogged the Biden family since before Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden as his running mate.
14. Ending construction of the border wall. President Trump’s signature campaign promise, a wall on the southern border “is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security,” according to Biden’s executive order. “It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.” All construction shall end “in no case later than seven days,” on January 28.
15. Deferring student loans. Biden has asked the acting secretary of Education to suspend all student loan collections and allow no further interest to accrue until an unspecified date, a press statement reveals. Officials have presented this in the context of COVID-19 relief. However, Biden’s team has teased the possibility of canceling all student loan debt.
16. Delaying the deportation of Liberians, again. Since 1991, the U.S. has protected refugees from Liberia, which found itself riven by two civil wars (1989-1997 and 1999-2003).
17. Fortify DACA. Biden’s executive order instructs that secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General “to preserve and fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA exempts those who entered the United States illegally at a young age from being deported, if they meet certain criteria.
This is truth, check for yourself, but 80 million voted for Biden…. the inauguration of Biden compared to Trump farewell. Watched more and liked more pic.twitter.com/t1PXvcNViG
— IamTheLtLOne (@JacquelineMcNab) January 23, 2021