Since he took office just over a week ago, U.S. President Joe Biden has signed around 40 executive actions, orders, memos, and directives. Biden officials say these are only a preview of the items in the new president’s agenda that he plans to push in Congress.
On Jan. 20, only hours after he was formally inaugurated as president, Biden has signed 17 executive actions, tackling a wide range of issues. Some of these issues include the coronavirus pandemic, rescinding Trump policies, and more.
Since then, the president has also approved more than 20 other actions. These include actions that focus on the environment and climate crisis, immigration, and healthcare, among others.
Overall, on his ninth day in office, the president has approved 40 actions.
Executive Actions Are Only a “Preview”
Many criticize Biden for relying on executive orders this early in his administration. GOP members claim that this breaks his promise of working with Congress on pressing U.S. issues.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnel pointed out on Thursday that Biden said “‘you can’t legislate by executive action unless you’re a dictator’” just last October. He, however, pointed out that in Biden’s first week in office, the new president has approved around 30 “unilateral actions.”
However, Biden’s team says these executive actions are just a preview of what the people can expect from his administration.
Additionally, they mentioned that, while Biden signing a lot of presidential actions may seem aggressive, this will not substitute legislative action.
Biden’s Executive Actions
An official from the White House spoke with Fox News and said that these executive actions and decisions are aligned with the issues that Biden said he would prioritize during his campaign. The officials said the slew of activities Biden has done and plan to do intends to fulfill his campaign promises.
However, the president is not working alone. A White House official said Biden is consulting with experts on the areas he wants to act upon. To name a few, the president is working with White House adviser Susan Rice for actions discussing racial justice in equity; with John Kerry and Gina McCarthy for climate and energy actions; and with Dr. Anthony Fauci for actions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reversing Trump Policies
Apart from this, Biden’s decisions have also rescinded some of the policies and actions put in place by former President Donald Trump. Biden ordered to stop the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. He also rescinded the ban on transgender people who want to serve in the Military. The president also rejoined the WHO and the Paris Climate Agreement. He revoked the Muslim travel ban and restored DACA.
Executive Actions Related to COVID-19
Some of Biden’s EOs also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the country’s economy. These orders include an extension of moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures. It also extended the pause enforcing interests and on the principal payments for student loans. He also released an executive order that gives workers who refuse employment due to health risks, the eligibility for unemployment insurance.
The president also signed an order that launches a “masking challenge” that will last for 100 days. He also signed actions that mandate the wearing of masks and social distancing on all federal properties by all federal employees. Biden also signed an order, requiring people to wear masks while on public transportation.
Additionally, Biden released an order that directs the health secretary to provide support on COVID-19 treatment-related research. This includes the possibility of making those treatments more accessible. Biden also established a testing board and a “health equity task force” which will focus on COVID-19.
Travel restrictions have also been reinstated in the country by the president. In particular, this involves the restrictions for non-U.S. citizens who hail from Brazil, South Africa and from European countries.
Biden also approved a memo, instructing agencies to provide support for governors who decide to deploy their National Guard in handling the pandemic. The funds for this effort will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Some of Biden’s executive orders and decisions focus on the environment. This includes the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels and support for innovation and commercialization of “clean energy.”
On Equity and Social Justice
The president also released orders tackling equity and justice. He signed one order that defines “equity” and instructs federal agencies to allocate resources to “empower and invest” in communities made up of people of color and in underserved communities. This order also disallows sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.
With regards to housing policies, the president directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take action in redressing housing policies that discriminate based on race.
Meanwhile, the president also approved an order that stops the Department of Justice from using private prisons. He also reinstated “federal respect” concerning Tribal sovereignty.
The president then released a memorandum that aims to fight xenophobia that targets Asian Americans as well as Pacific Islanders. He also released a memo that extends the Deferred Enforced Departure designations to June 30, 2022 for Liberians who have lived in the country for many years.
Regarding immigration, apart from the aforementioned reinstating of the DACA program, the president also released an order that will pause deportations of illegal immigrants for 100 days.
Executive Actions Related to Healthcare
In terms of healthcare, the president signed actions that will expand the accessibility of people to the Affordable Care Act while the pandemic rages on. It establishes a special enrollment period. This makes it easier for people without insurance to get health coverage during the pandemic. As per the DHHS, they will open a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15.
Biden has also rescinded the Mexico City Policy. The policy barred overseas NGOs from receiving U.S. funding if they promote or offer abortion as a method for family planning.
Additionally, the president approved an order that aims to restore and maintain the people’s trust in government. He instructed executive branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge. This aims to make sure government employees will act in line with the interest of the American people instead of personal gain.