Effective at 12:00 on January 20th, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Giving the new COVID world of lockdowns and social distancing, Biden’s inaugural events and celebrations were kept to a minimum, leaving the fresh President ample time to begin his agenda.
Keeping in tune with tradition, Biden spent his first day as president reversing several of predecessor’s key actions. Because most executive branch directives are signed-in with the swipe of a pen, they can be reversed just as easily.
“Most of the actions hit what the Biden team calls ‘four overlapping and compounding crises’ – the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic damage, climate change and lagging racial equity,” USA Today reported.
On Day 1, while his tenure as president was merely hours old, Biden signed 15 executive orders and 2 directives. These are the first changes made by the Biden administration and a hint of what’s to come:
- A 100 day mask mandate & social distancing requirement on federal property. US mask usage is on-par with other Western nations, with 93% of adults always, often, or sometimes wearing a mask when outside, according to a HealthDay/Harris Poll. 70% of respondents said they “always” wear masks when social distancing was not an option.
- Rejoined the Paris Climate Accords after Trump withdrew the US in 2017 from the nonbinding agreement requesting member countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite exiting the agreement, CO2 emissions under the Trump administration reached a nearly 30 year low.
- Halted the construction of Trump’s border wall along the US/Mexican border. By ending the emergency declaration, Biden cut off funding for the project which launched Trump to the national spotlight in 2015.
- Biden rejoined the World Health Organization after Trump’s July withdrawal following their failure to properly inform the world of the Coronavirus’s human to human transmission and for taking China’s coverups at face value.
- Canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline approved by Trump on his first day in office. The 1,179-mile pipeline would have connected oil pipes between Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and Steele City, Nebraska where oil could then flow down to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline was projected to carry 830,000 barrels a day, if completed, more than doubling the current output of 550,000 barrels a day.
- Extended a moratorium on student loan payments until September 30th.
- Extended a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until March 31st.
- Created a new COVID Response coordinator position. This individual will report directly to President Biden and manage the allocation of testing and vaccine distribution.
- Extend and renew DACA protection on illegal immigrants who entered the US as children. Trump was unable to repeal the Obama-era executive order after the Supreme Court blocked the administration, citing a procedural error in its repeal.
- Narrowed a Trump-era definition of which illegal immigrants would be sought for deportation.
- Extended deportation referrals for Liberians residing in the US until 2022. Biden also extended work authorization for this group.
- Added protections for federal workers against discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity. The Supreme Court read said protections into Title VII of the Civil Rights Act over the summer.
- Biden ended the 1776 Commission, an educational program constructed by Trump in his final days to teach the values, importance, and principles behind America’s founding and founding documents. The first report, found here, was published Monday. It was seen as a reaction to the 1619 project, a New York Times editorial piece which argued America’s founding principles were rooted in racism and our true founding was 1619 when the first slaves from Africa arrived in Jamestown.
- Blocked the Census from excluding illegal immigrants from its tally, as directed by Trump. Critics of the practice believe illegal immigrant populations should not be used to determine Congressional seat districting as they are not legal residents.
- DOJ officials are now required to sign an ethics pledge, stating they will not act in their own self interest and reaffirms the department’s independence.
- End the travel ban to 7 countries deemed to be failed states and “areas of concern,” according to an Obama-era intelligence report. The travel restriction was dubbed a ‘Muslim ban’ by the media, though the order did not specify religion, and dozens of other Muslim-majority countries were left off the list. After some litigation, the ban included 5 Muslim majority countries – Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia – and 2 non-Muslim countries – North Korea, and Venezuela.
- Ordered the OBM to reverse Trump’s regulation reduction directive, which required the department to cut one piece of regulation for every new piece of regulation. Biden also ordered them to review internal racial inequities and address them within 200 days.