By Jesse Watson
President Biden wasted no time in drafting a slew of executive actions, delivering on promises from his campaign and setting the tone for the administration.
President Joe Biden has signed a total of 32 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations in his first week in office, ranging from new pandemic response policies to immigration reform.
This expedited process of drafting unilateral action is unprecedented.
Of President Biden’s executive actions, 22 have been executive orders, seven have been memorandums and three have been proclamations. In comparison, his predecessor, President Donald Trump, signed four executive orders in his first week, and President Barack Obama signed five, according to the American Presidency Project.
President Biden’s actions have been aimed at ushering in a new executive agenda and revoking many of the policies from the previous administration.
A statement from the White House released on Inauguration Day stated, “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.”
Here’s an overview of significant executive actions from the past week and their aims.
Pandemic response and health
One of the first executive orders President Biden signed after his inauguration established the new position of COVID-19 Response Coordinator in the Executive Office of the President.
The COVID-19 Response Coordinator will, “advise and assist the President and executive departments and agencies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” and, “coordinate all elements of the COVID-19 response,” according to the executive order.
The same order also outlines plans for re-entry into the World Health Organization (WHO), reversing the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the organization last year.
Additionally, last Thursday President Biden signed an executive order that aims to accelerate the production and distribution of vaccines and personal protective equipment.
In another reversal of the Trump administration’s actions, President Biden drafted an executive order to rejoin the Paris climate accords sometime next month.
The Paris Agreement’s aims include, “a safe global temperature, increased climate resilience, and financial flows aligned with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate‑resilient development,” according to the order.
The United States originally joined the coalition in early 2016 under President Obama’s leadership, but the Trump administration decided to withdraw in 2019.
In another executive order, President Biden revoked the permit President Trump granted for the Keystone XL pipeline in March of 2019.
The company in charge of the Keystone XL project, TC Energy Corp., told PolitiFact this will lead to 1,000 Americans being laid off and a loss of 10,000 future temporary jobs. However, President Biden’s campaign claimed their clean energy plan will create 10 million jobs.
The order also outlines actions for reducing climate pollution, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and restoring national monuments.
Perhaps one of the biggest overhauls of Trump administration policies was the executive orders President Biden signed relating to immigration reform.
President Trump’s pursuit of constructing a wall on the border of the United States and Mexico was a major point of contention during his four years in office. An executive order signed last Wednesday terminated the border wall plans and outlined departments of the government for funds to be redirected to.
Opposition to President Biden’s immigration reform has manifested in lawsuits attempting to block the president’s actions. Notably, in Texas a federal judge blocked a 100-day deportation moratorium that President Biden had signed.
A presidential proclamation from the same day as the border wall order condemned the actions of the Trump administration in instating a travel ban barring individuals from primarily Muslim countries from entering the United States.
President Biden labeled the travel ban as “a moral blight,” and “just plain wrong.” The proclamation effectively revoked executive orders and proclamations from President Trump that initiated the ban in the first place.
Furthermore, the president issued a memorandum for the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidance which he worked on during his time as vice-president.
To ensure accuracy in the decennial census, President Biden also drafted an executive order to include non-citizens in the census. This action is in response to a memorandum from President Trump which excluded unlawful immigrants from the 2020 census.
In an executive order drafted this past Monday, the president revoked a past memorandum by President Trump which barred transgender individuals from military service.
This follows an executive order signed on President Biden’s first day in office which calls for a review of policies and government actions to combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
President Biden set the tone for his aims in office with an additional executive order signed last Wednesday to advance racial equity and support underserved communities.
“Advancing equity requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes,” Biden said in this executive order. “Executive departments and agencies must recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.”
The eviction moratorium will be extended until at least the end of March, and the student loan pause will continue until the end of September.
President Biden’s expedited use of executive power compared to past presidents shows a reliance on the executive branch’s power. This could be a common theme in the Biden presidency, as the 50-50 power sharing may prove troublesome in passing legislation in Congress.