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Joe Biden begins to undo Trump's damage: 15 executive orders on day one

Farewell to the racist 1776 Commission, hello again to the World Health Organization.

By Josh Israel - January 20, 2021
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Joe Biden

Hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden will immediately begin cleaning up the mess Donald Trump made over the past four years.

On Wednesday, he will sign 15 executive orders and two directives to reset the federal government’s approach to a wide array of issues.

These are the executive actions the Biden team says the president will sign.

COVID-19 mask mandate

Trump consistently refused to wear a mask or to encourage Americans to do so to curb the spread of the coronavirus, mocking them as “politically correct.” President Biden will order mask use and social distancing on federal property and challenge every American to wear a face mask for the next 100 days.

Returning to the World Health Organization

Trump announced in April that he would stop funding the World Health Organization in the middle of the pandemic, scapegoating it for the coronavirus’ spread and his own botched response. Biden will end the withdrawal process and resume international public health cooperation.

A coordinated COVID-19 response

After intentionally misleading the public and playing down the threat of the coronavirus, Trump lost interest in the crisis and did little to address it. Biden will designate a COVID-19 response coordinator to oversee improved testing, protection, and vaccination.

Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums

Thanks to Trump’s failed response to the pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty. Biden will urge government agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and mortgage foreclosures until at least March 31.

Freezing federal student loans

With the ongoing economic troubles affecting many Americans with educational debt, Biden will also ask for an extension on existing freezes on principal and interest payments on direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30.

Rejoining the Paris climate agreement

Trump, who once dismissed climate change as a hoax “created by and for the Chinese” to hurt American manufacturers, began the formal withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in 2019. The accords aim to significantly limit the rise in global temperatures by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Biden, who campaigned on a promise of taking environmental protection seriously, will immediately rejoin the agreement.

Undoing other anti-environmental actions

Biden will also take a series of actions to undo Trump’s efforts to destroy the planet and climate. These will include beginning the long process of eliminating his pro-polluter regulations, revising fuel economy and emissions standards, protecting public lands, halting the destruction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Ending systemic racism

Trump, who spent much of his term spouting his own racist views, took numerous steps to combat anti-racism education. Biden will order his administration to focus on “advancing racial equity for all” and will eliminate Trump’s racist 1776 Commission, which sought to block schools from teaching kids about America’s true history of slavery and discrimination.

Counting all immigrants

Trump repeatedly tried to find ways to exclude immigrants from the 2020 census and to leave out undocumented people. Biden will ensure an accurate count of the population as required by the Constitution.

Protecting Dreamers

Trump sought for years to eliminate the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offered legal protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the United States as children. The Supreme Court halted his efforts due to a paperwork error. Biden will restore and expand the program as he works to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Ending the Muslim ban

As a candidate in 2015, Trump promised a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.” Once he took office, he banned travel from a number of majority-Muslim countries. Biden will eliminate this racist policy.

Stopping Trump’s extreme immigration enforcement policies

Trump issued an order in 2017 prioritizing the arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Biden will revoke this order, allowing his administration “to set civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people and are in line with our values and priorities.”

Stopping construction of the Trump border wall

Trump’s signature promise during the 2016 presidential campaign was to immediately build a massive wall along the entire U.S.-Mexican border, to be paid for entirely by Mexico. Instead, American taxpayers spent $15 billion to fortify existing fencing and build just 12 new miles of wall. Biden will immediately stop construction.

Protecting Liberian immigrants

Biden will protect Liberian immigrants who have long been in the United States, extending existing protections until June 30, 2022. This extends a decadeslong program Trump sought to wind down.

Fighting anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Trump spent four years systematically rolling back protections for LGBTQ Americans. Biden will reaffirm protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Government ethics reform

Trump broke his promise to “drain the swamp” of government in nearly every way possible. Biden will order every executive branch appointee to adopt and adhere to an ethics pledge.

Fixing the regulatory process

Trump issued orders making it nearly impossible for the government to protect consumers, workers, and the planet through regulations. Biden will repeal those restrictions, while putting on hold all of Trump’s last-minute regulatory actions.

In a press release on Wednesday, his transition team said, “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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