On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed fifteen executive orders (EO), including implementing a national mask mandate. Biden headed to the Oval Office immediately after his inauguration. “I thought there’s no time to wait. Get to work immediately,” he told reporters, sitting at the Resolute Desk and wearing a mask.
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National Mask Mandate
Chief among Biden’s first executive orders concerned a national mask mandate. The EO requires the wearing of face masks inside federal buildings. It also covers land controlled by the federal government, such as national parks. The EO also requires masks during interstate travel on trains, buses, and planes. In particular, the mandate orders that every American should wear a mask when they are around people outside their household. It also asks every governor to make mask-wearing mandatory in their state, and local authorities to support their state’s orders.
A “100 Days Masking Challenge” encourages Americans to wear masks for at least 100 days. In addition, all federal workers and contractors should follow social distancing guidelines. Notably, the EO does not have the authority to change policies in individual cities or states. Instead, Biden will contact state public and health officials and ask for help.
One executive order revoked permits for projects deemed that didn’t fit with the nation’s best interests. Prominent among them is the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial pipeline that travels from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska. Biden revoked the permits for this program and gave instructions to review similar contracts that have environmental impacts.
Republicans are up in arms over this particular EO. Biden’s “policies from day one hurt American workers and our economy,” said Biden’s Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV). “Killing the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoining the Paris agreement will eliminate good-paying jobs,” he added. The House Republican Conference agreed, “The Biden administration has made it clear that on Day One they will immediately cater to the far left instead of working to help all Americans and move our country forward,” their statement read.
Halting funding for one of Trump’s major accomplishments puts an end to the planned wall along the US-Mexico border. The EO will also look into finding a landing place for funds diverted by the Trump administration to fund wall construction. “The Biden administration is going to have a very different approach to regional migration,” said Incoming National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. He added that the new administration will put special emphasis on finding and addressing the root causes of migration in the region. In addition, Biden will also reverse course on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Instead of Trump’s original proposal to end the program, the new EO will now preserve and fortify DACA.
In addition, Biden will issue another executive order that repeals a previous Trump EO directing crackdowns on undocumented aliens. Instead, Biden will ask the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to set new immigration policies. These policies should protect the American people. They must also stay in line with American values and priorities.
Other Executive Orders
Biden also issued a number of EOs that aimed to rejoin the global community. This includes an EO that rejoins the US to the Paris Climate Accord. Another one reverses the US’s planned withdrawal from the World Health Organization. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert, will lead the US delegation.
Yet another dealt with the Muslim travel ban. Biden reversed an earlier order banning travel in certain Muslim countries. Trump said terrorist threats necessitated the ban. However, Sullivan said the policy’s basis is xenophobia and religious animus. Another order dealt with including non-citizens from the national census. There are also orders extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until March 31. These are for this hit by the housing affordability crisis during the pandemic. Another one asked for deferment of student loans payment and interests until September 30.
Watch the CNBC TV news coverage of President Biden’s first day in office, where he signs more than a dozen executive orders:
Agree or Disagree?
Do you agree with the series of executive orders issued by the new President? Are there any in particular that you disagree with strongly? Let us know what you think about Biden’s start in the White House. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.