Politics & Policy

Biden to Issue Executive Order Blitz Aimed at Undoing Trump Legacy

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden attend a COVID-19 memorial event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., January 19, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

President-elect Joe Biden plans to take a slew of executive actions on day one of his presidency aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic and rolling back “the gravest damages of the Trump administration.”

Biden will issue 17 executive orders, memoranda, directives, and letters on Wednesday after he is sworn in that will begin to unwind President Trump’s legacy across race relations, the environment, immigration, foreign policy, and much else.

Regarding the coronavirus response, Biden will issue an executive order requiring masks and social distancing on federal property and by federal employees and contractors as part of his “100 Days Masking Challenge.”

The Biden-Harris Administration will rejoin the World Health Organization, halting the Trump administration’s process of withdrawing the U.S. from the entity. Trump announced over the summer that the U.S. would leave the WHO, accusing it of being controlled by China. The withdrawal was set to go into effect on July 6 of this year.

The new administration will also establish the new position of COVID-19 Response Coordinator, who will report directly to the president and be responsible for coordinating all aspects of the federal response to the pandemic, including vaccine distribution.

Regarding economic relief, Biden will immediately extend the federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31 and extend the current pause on student loan payments and interest for those with federal student loans until at least September 30. Biden will also call on Congress to provide more rental assistance for Americans.

On the environment, Biden will rejoin the Paris climate accord, which will take 30 days to go into effect. Trump announced in 2017 that the U.S. would exit the accord, a decision that took effect in November. Biden will also cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Trump administration green-lit during Trump’s first year in office after the Obama administration nixed the project. Biden will also direct agencies to reverse more than 100 of Trump’s actions on the environment.

Many of Biden’s expected executive actions are designed to reorient federal agencies around racial and gender equity. The Biden administration will rescind the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, a panel established to champion America’s founding ideals in response to the New York Times’s 1619 Project, and will direct federal agencies to review how their policies intersect with racial equity before presenting a plan to address any issues.

In a significant action on immigration, Biden will preserve and fortify the protections provided by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Biden will also require that non-citizens to be included in the Census, which decides the apportionment of congressional districts, a reversal from the Trump administration’s demand for data on who is living in the country illegally and insistence that such residents not be counted.

The new president will reverse the Trump administration’s restrictions on travel for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, a policy the incoming Biden administration says was “rooted in religious animus and xenophobia.” Biden will also reverse a Trump order that demanded stricter, or “harsh and extreme,” immigration enforcement as well as extend deportation deferrals and work authorizations for Liberians who have resided in the U.S. for many years as a safe haven until June of next year.

Along with his other immigration actions, Biden will order an immediate halt of Trump’s signature wall construction effort on the southern border by canceling the national emergency declaration that was used to fund the project.

Biden will also sign an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The administration will also require executive branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge promising that they will not act for personal gain and committing federal employees to upholding the independence of the Justice Department.

Finally, Biden will direct the Office of Management and Budget director to develop recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review and will pause any last-minute regulations the previous administration ordered to be implemented.

“Regulations are an important tool for the federal government to address the crises facing the nation,” the Biden administration said. “The Trump Administration unnecessarily hamstrung this critical tool by creating arbitrary obstacles to regulatory action.”

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