Soon after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden got straight down to work signing 17 executive actions on issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic and the environment to LGBTQI+ rights and climate change.
A large part of Biden’s Day 1 agenda involved reversing some of the major foreign policy and national security decisions introduced by the Trump administration. Biden halted the US’ withdrawal from the World Health Organisation and also signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change.
“There’s no time to start like today,” he told reporters at the Oval Office, CNN reported. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.”
Several of his executive moves were also focussed on grappling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and the country’s healthcare infrastructure. With over 24.6 million Covid-19 cases and more than 4.1 lakh deaths so far, the US is presently reporting the highest coronavirus caseload and death toll in the world.
Here is a list of the executive actions Biden has signed so far
To combat Covid-19
# Perhaps the most significant of Biden’s first few executive moves was his decision to reinstate ties with the World Health Organisation (WHO), reversing Trump’s decision to remove the US from the international public health body.
A delegation headed by top US infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci will attend the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board later this week.
# He launched a ‘100 Days Masking’ challenge to encourage Americans to wear face masks as Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to rise steadily across the country. He has also introduced a mask mandate that will make social distancing and wearing face coverings compulsory for everyone in federal buildings and land.
# In another executive order, he restored the directorate for global health security and biodefence at the National Security Council, which Trump had earlier disbanded. To ramp up the country’s response to the pandemic, he also appointed businessman Jeffrey Zients as the official Covid-19 response coordinator. Zients will report directly to the president.
# After Trump pushed to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects ‘Dreamers’ — immigrants brought to the US as children — Biden passed an executive order to “preserve and fortify” DACA further.
# Another executive order has halted the construction of Trump’s infamous wall along the Mexican border. The order also states that the Biden administration will start to look into the legality of diverting federal money to fund the construction of the wall.
# Biden also reversed Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, which prevented travel to the US from a number of predominantly Muslim and African countries.
# He revoked the Trump administration’s plan to prevent the Census from counting undocumented immigrants.
# Another order revoked Trump’s “harsh and extreme immigration enforcement” and directed agencies to introduce fresh immigration policies that were more attuned to the Biden administration’s way of doing things.
To curb climate change
# Biden signed a letter to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change within 30 days. In 2019, Trump withdrew from the coalition of nearly 200 countries working to combat climate change and global warming by reducing green house gas emissions.
# Another executive order reverses Trump’s policies that have harmed the environment, public health or national interest. One of the Trumpian policies blocked by Biden, was the controversial $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline project. Environmentalist have long claimed that building the pipeline would signify a commitment to developing the Alberta oil sands, where oil production is set to double by 2030, and increase North America’s reliance on fossil fuel.
To promote racial and LGBTQI+ equality
# The Biden administration has asked the government to interpret the country’s Civil Rights Act as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, apart from colour, sex, religion and ethnicity.
# Biden revoked the Trump administration’s recent 1776 Commission report, which aimed to promote “patriotic education” in schools but that historians mocked and rejected as political propaganda. Some officials said that through the report, the previous administration attempted to erase America’s history of racial injustice, AP reported.
The order also pushes to embed “equity across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions.”
# Biden also signed an executive order that extended the eviction moratorium for people who have fallen behind on their rent and bills due to unemployment or reduced salaries during the Covid pandemic. The order directs the CDC to extend the moratorium, which was earlier to expire by the end of the month, until March 31 at least.
# Following Biden’s order, the US Department of Education extended the pause on federal student loan payments until September.
Restoring White House ethics
# Biden directed all federal employees to take an ethics pledge with an aim “to restore and maintain trust in the government.”