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31 actions Biden took in his first week to reverse the damage Trump inflicted

Biden has had a jam-packed first week.

By Emily Singer - January 27, 2021
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Joe Biden

President Joe Biden has signed 31 executive orders in the week since taking office on Jan. 20, seeking to make good on some of his biggest campaign promises.

The orders aim to reverse his predecessor Donald Trump’s racist and damaging policies, ease financial burdens workers face amid the coronavirus economic downturn, and make good on a pledge to tackle racial injustice in America.

Biden also signed a series of orders on Wednesday tackling the climate crisis, stating it was long past time to take the issue seriously. “We can’t wait any longer,” he said. “We see it with our own eyes. We feel it. We know it in our bones. And it’s time to act.”

The president of the League of Conservation Voters told the New York Times that the orders mark “the single biggest day for climate action in more than a decade.”

Biden’s fast moving agenda is a rebuke of Senate Republicans, who have made clear they have no plans to work with him to accomplish his goals, bashing the policies the president has laid out as not “unifying” because they are not exactly what the GOP wants.

Many of those same Republicans were silent regarding Trump’s heavy reliance on executive orders during his time in office.

From climate to COVID-19, here are the 31 executive orders Biden has signed so far.

1. Promoting racial equality

In one of his first acts after he was sworn in, Biden signed an executive order that states that it is, “the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

2. Rejoining the Paris climate agreement

On day one, Biden also reversed Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the historic climate pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Before Biden signed the order, the United States was one of just three countries in the world who were not part of the agreement. Syria and Nicaragua are not part of the pact.

3. Rejoining the World Health Organization

Also on his first day in office, Biden reversed Trump’s move to pull U.S. funding from the global organization that works to combat public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola outbreaks, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

4. Ending Trump’s Muslim ban

Travelers from a number of Muslim-majority nations are once again allowed to enter the United States, after Biden revoked the travel ban Trump signed days into his tenure back in 2017.

5. Requiring masks to be worn on federal property

Biden instituted a mask mandate to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump refused to implement mask mandates, and turned mask wearing into a political hot potato, even though public health experts say face coverings are the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus before vaccines are widely distributed.

6. Ensuring an accurate Census count

Biden signed an executive order mandating that the decennial Census count every person in the United States, even undocumented immigrants. Trump previously tried to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted, which would have impacted how congressional districts are apportioned, a move that was rejected by the Supreme Court.

7. Creating a White House COVID-19 response team

Biden created a new position, COVID-19 response coordinator, to streamline the pandemic response across all executive agencies. The person in that role, Jeffrey Zients, will help coordinate the vaccine rollout, ensure the supply chain of items like testing and personal protective equipment, and work to combat “disparities in the response, care, and treatment of COVID-19, including racial and ethnic disparities,” per the executive order.

8. Extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures

Also on his first day in office, Biden extended a foreclosure and eviction moratorium, which prevents people from losing their homes if they have mortgages that are either insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the Office of Native American Programs. The freeze aims to prevent people from becoming homeless amid the coronavirus-fueled economic downturn that’s disproportionately hurt lower income Americans.

9. Freezing student debt payments

Biden extended the freeze on federal student loan payments through Sept. 30, meaning those with federal student debt do not have to make monthly payments.

10. Revoking the Keystone pipeline permit

Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that climate and Native American activists have been fighting for years. That same order, signed on his first day in office, also implemented a moratorium in issuing new oil drilling permits in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

11. Ending Trump’s 1776 Commission

Biden disbanded the Trump-created 1776 Commission intended to whitewash American history and counter the Times’s 1619 Project, which aimed to educate the public about the history of slavery and racism in the United States. Historians panned a report the commission had written, with one historian telling the Associated Press that the report was “a piece of right-wing propaganda” that served as an “insult to the whole enterprise of education.”

12. Strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order affirming that he will not get rid of the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors to remain in the country. The executive order instructs the secretary of Homeland Security to “preserve and fortify” the program, which Trump tried to repeal.

13. Limiting deportation enforcement

Biden signed an order instituting a 100-day moratorium on some deportations to allow his administration to review the Trump-era policies that may have prompted them. The Texas attorney general, a strong Trump ally, has already filed suit against the order, and a Trump appointed federal judge temporarily blocked Biden from implementing the pause in deportations.

14. Ending construction of Trump’s border wall with Mexico

Biden not only paused construction to build Trump’s long promised wall on the southern border, he also terminated the emergency declaration at the border, which Trump used previously to siphon money allocated by Congress for other purposes.

15. Combating workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees

Hours after taking office, Biden declared in an executive order stating that it was the “policy of my Administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,” as well as “fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

16. Revoking Trump’s 11th hour regulations

Biden’s chief of staff Ronald Klain sent a memo on Jan. 20 announcing that any last-minute regulations the Trump administration created that had not yet gone into effect would be blocked pending review.

17. Instating an ethics pledge for executive branch personnel

Biden signed an executive order that bans administration officials from lobbying the government for two years after they leave their jobs, and blocks them from engaging in matters pertaining to their former employers or clients. Trump had his administration officials sign a similar pledge, but revoked it right before he left office.

18. Instituting safe air travel regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Biden signed an executive order mandating masks on public modes of transportation like airplanes, trains, ferries, and buses. He also created a policy requiring that travelers coming to the United States provide proof of a negative coronavirus test.

19. Expanding access to COVID-19 treatments

On his second day in office, Biden signed an executive order directing agencies within his administration, “to accelerate the development of novel therapies to treat COVID-19, and to improve all Americans’ access to quality and affordable [health care].”

20. Ensuring accurate COVID-19 data collection

That same day, Biden also signed an executive order directing the “heads of all executive departments and agencies” to “facilitate the gathering, sharing, and publication of COVID-19-related data.” The Trump administration had been notoriously less transparent with coronavirus data.

21. Ordering a more efficient supply chain for pandemic necessities like personal protective equipment

Biden signed an executive order on his second day in office to make sure that there is a stockpile of necessary items needed during a pandemic like the one the country is facing currently. Trump was criticized for not taking care of the national stockpile ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for being caught off guard when it hit.

22. Creating a task force to fight inequities in treatment for COVID-19

This executive order created the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to “to address the disproportionate and severe impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on communities of color and other underserved populations.”

23. Establishing a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board

Biden created a new board to “coordinate Federal Government efforts to promote COVID-19 diagnostic, screening, and surveillance testing” and work to end testing shortages that plagued the Trump administration.

24. Identifying changes to make workplaces safer during the pandemic

Biden signed an executive order directing the  Occupational Safety and Health Administration to “identify any short-, medium-, and long-term changes that could be made to better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement” including possible mask mandates in workplaces.

25. Assisting schools across the country with safe reopenings

Biden directed his secretary of Education to provide “evidence-based guidance to assist States and elementary and secondary schools in deciding whether and how to reopen, and how to remain open, for in-person learning.” The order also called for collecting data to “understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including data on the status of in-person learning.”

26. Revoking Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military

Biden signed an order allowing openly transgender people to serve in the military, reversing Trump’s bigoted policy banning them from service.

27. Increasing the amount of federal spending for goods made in the United States

Biden signed a Made in All of America executive order that states it is the policy of his administration “to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in the United States.”

28. Banning the Justice Department from renewing contracts with private prisons

As part of his effort to make good on his commitment to tackling injustice, Biden signed an executive order saying his administration will not renew contracts with private prison companies. Biden said private prisons do not help rehabilitate the incarcerated, nor do they “maintain the same levels of safety and security for people in the Federal criminal justice system or for correctional staff.”

29. Banning anti-Asian racism in federal agencies

This executive order was in response to the spate of violence Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have experienced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, after leaders like Trump used racist terms to describe the coronavirus. The order, among other things, directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to issue guidance “describing best practices for advancing cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the context of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 response.”

30. Ordering federal agencies to consult with tribal offices

Biden issued a memo to all federal agencies ordering officials to engage in “regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have Tribal implications.” Biden said he was “committed to honoring Tribal sovereignty and including Tribal voices in policy deliberation that affects Tribal communities.”

31. Ordering a review of Trump-era changes to fair housing policies

Biden ordered a review of the housing policies Trump put into place that sought to combat the diversification of the suburbs. Trump actually campaigned on bringing segregation back to the suburbs, part of a racist effort to appeal to white women voters.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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