President-elect Joe Biden will sign over a dozen executive actions in his first hours as commander-in-chief, immediately halting the travel ban on countries with heightened terror concerns, as well as construction of the border wall.
After being sworn in at noon ET at the US Capitol, the 46th president will make his way to the White House, where he will get right to work in the Oval Office undoing parts of President Donald Trump’s legacy.
Of the 17 executive actions, 15 will be executive orders, meaning they will be published in the Federal Register and are legally binding. Executive actions, by contrast, are more often symbolic efforts to enact change.
Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday evening that the actions would be signed by this afternoon, saying, “He wants to roll up his sleeves and get to work as quickly as possible.”
Biden’s national security adviser nominee, Jake Sullivan, addressed the changes to the federal government’s stance on the border wall and travel ban to reporters on a call Tuesday.
“This ban, which restricted issuance of visas to individuals from many Muslim and African countries, was nothing less than a stain on our nation,” Sullivan said. “It was rooted in xenophobia and religious animus and President-elect Biden has been clear that we will not turn our back on our values with discriminatory bans on entry to the United States.”
Of the border wall, a campaign promise from Trump in 2016, Sullivan said Biden’s executive order would “direct an immediate pause in wall construction projects to allow a close review of the legal basis for the funding, as well as the contract methods being used, and it will determine the best ways to redirect funds that were diverted by the Trump administration to fund wall construction.”
Other actions include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, which Trump withdrew the US from in 2017, as well as the World Health Organization, which Trump withdrew from due to the agency’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden will also sign orders extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and deferrals on student loan payments.
The incoming commander-in-chief is slated to sign orders that will halt construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, count non-citizens in the US census, strengthen workplace discrimination protections based on sex and gender, and call on Congress to grant permanent status to Dreamers as part of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump challenged in court.
In the first hours of his presidency in January 2017, Trump signed a single executive order focused on “minimizing the economic burden” of the Affordable Care Act as his administration began work to repeal it.
Additionally, then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a memo on the president’s first night in office directing an immediate “regulatory freeze,” preventing federal agencies from implementing or issuing any new regulations.
Here are the directives Biden will issue:
“100 Days Masking Challenge”
Biden will sign an executive order requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands and by federal employees and contractors during the first 100 days of the Biden administration. Biden will ask the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and prevention to work with state, local, Native American and territorial governments to adopt similar measures.
Rejoin the World Health Organization
Biden will reverse ex-President Trump’s notice of withdrawal from the WHO, which was to become effective on July 6. On Thursday, Biden will also have Dr. Anthony Fauci address a meeting of the WHO Executive Board as head of the US delegation.
Appoint “COVID-19 response coordinator”
Biden will sign an executive order creating a “COVID-19 response coordinator” who will report directly to him and oversee “all elements of the COVID-19 response across government, including managing efforts to produce, supply, and distribute personal protective equipment, vaccines and tests.” The order will also restore the National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was disbanded in May 2018.
Extend COVID-19 moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures
Biden will call on the CDC to immediately extend the federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31 and will call on Congress to provide rental assistance to cash-strapped tenants. He will also ask various government departments to extend foreclosure moratoriums until at least March 31.
Extend COVID-19 “student loan pause”
Biden will ask the Department of Education to immediately extend its pause on interest and principal payments for direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30.
Rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Biden will sign a document so the US can rejoin the United Nation’s Paris climate accord, from which the US officially withdrew on Nov. 4, making good on a Trump pledge during the 2016 campaign. The document will immediately be sent to the UN and will take effect in 30 days.
Reverse Trump’s environmental actions
Biden will sign an executive order directing all executive departments to review and act upon Trump-era regulations and executive actions deemed “harmful to public health or “damaging to the environment,” including revoking the presidential permit Trump issued in 2017 for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In July, the US Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that required the project to undergo an environmental review. Canada’s TC Energy said work on the pipeline would continue north of the border pending approval in the US.
Advance racial equity
Biden will sign an executive order mandating a review of the “state of equity” within each federal agency and requiring plans within 200 to “address unequal barriers to opportunities” in policies and programs. Biden will also scrap Trump’s “1776 Commission,” which was created to promote “patriotic education” in American schools.
Include non-citizens in the US Census
Biden will sign an executive order reversing Trump’s orders to exclude non-citizens from being counted in the Census and used to apportion seats in Congress. Biden will also grant the Census Bureau enough time for “an accurate population count for each state.”
Protect “Dreamers” from deportation
Biden will sign a presidential memorandum directing his homeland security secretary and attorney general to take “all appropriate actions under law” to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants smuggled into the US as children. Biden’s memo will also call on Congress to pass legislation creating a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers. The planned moves follow a Supreme Court ruling last year that blocked the Trump administration from ending the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy implemented under then-President Barack Obama, but left open the door for it to be canceled in the future.
Reverse the “Muslim Ban”
Biden will sign an executive action ending two Trump proclamations that restrict travelers from 13 countries — including Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea — and order the State Department to resume processing visa applications. Biden will also direct the State Department to “swiftly” come up with plans “to restore fairness and remedy the harms caused by the bans.”
End Trump’s executive order on immigration
Biden will sign an executive order reversing a 2017 Trump order mandating the use of “all available systems and resources” to enforce US immigration laws inside the country. The order also canceled federal funding for state and local governments that offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants, but that measure has largely been blocked by the courts. Biden will call instead for civil enforcement policies “in line with our values and priorities.”
Stop construction of the border wall
Biden will sign a proclamation ending the national emergency declaration that Trump used to secure funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border after Congress balked at paying for it in 2019. The proclamation will also halt the construction of the wall pending a “close review” of Trump’s move and a decision on how to redirect the funding elsewhere.
Extend “deferred enforced departure” for Liberians
Biden will sign a presidential memorandum to extend until June 30, 2022, the “deferred enforcement departure” for Liberians who’ve been in the US since 2002 and also to extend their authorization to work in the country. The protections were initially granted by then-President George W. Bush in 2007 and renewed several times since then.
Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
Biden will sign an executive order mandating that the federal government extend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin — to also cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The order will also direct federal agencies to similarly enforce all anti-discrimination statutes.
Biden will sign an executive order requiring all executive-branch employees to sign pledges to “act in the interest of the American people and not for personal gain.” The pledges will also require administration appointees to “uphold the independence of the Department of Justice.”
Reverse Trump’s regulatory reforms
Biden will sign a presidential memorandum reversing Trump’s executive orders regarding the federal regulatory process, which most notably required that agencies repeal two regulations for every new one they adopt. Biden will also direct the Office of Management and Budget to come up with recommendations to modernize and improve the review process for new federal regulations.
Author: Emily Jacobs
Source: NY Post: Biden to kick off presidency by signing 17 executive actions