In his first hours as U.S. president, Joe Biden will aim to strike at the heart of outgoing President Donald Trump’s policy legacy, signing a series of executive actions that reverse many of his predecessor’s orders.

Biden will sign the executive orders and memorandums in the Oval Office in the afternoon and ask agencies to take steps in two additional areas, said incoming press secretary Jen Psaki. 

The orders are intended to address the crises of the pandemic, the economy, climate change and racial inequity, Psaki said.

Biden on Wednesday will end construction on Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, end the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization and revoke the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, aides said Tuesday. The new president will sign the orders almost immediately after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, pivoting quickly from his pared-down inauguration ceremony to enacting his agenda.

The 15 executive actions are an attempt to essentially rewind the last four years of federal policies with striking speed. Only two recent presidents signed executive actions on their first day in office — and each signed just one. But Biden, facing the debilitating coronavirus pandemic, is intent on demonstrating a sense of urgency and competence that he argues has been missing under his predecessor.

“I think the most important thing to say is that tomorrow starts a new day,” said Jeff Zients, Biden’s choice to lead a new White House office that will co-ordinate the federal government’s revamped response to the pandemic.

Indeed, Biden started the day by signalling he would seek a return to the Washington traditions and normalcy his predecessor upended.

As Trump, who declined to attend Biden’s inauguration, departed from Washington Wednesday morning, Biden and his family made their way to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, the historic church where John F. Kennedy’s funeral mass was held. The president-elect was joined by Democratic and Republican congressional leaders for the service, a nod to the bipartisanship he hopes to inspire in the fight against the pandemic.

Biden’s top priority is getting a grip on the pandemic, which reached another grim milestone on Tuesday when the U.S. surpassed 400,000 virus deaths. The coronavirus order includes calls for putting in place a mask mandate on federal property and extending the federal eviction freeze.

It also restores the White House’s National Security Council directorate for global health security and defence to focus on domestic and global biological threats.

However, Biden’s first actions reach well beyond the current health crisis. He intends to order a review of all Trump regulations and executive actions that are deemed damaging to the environment or public health.

He will order federal agencies to prioritize racial equity and review policies that re-enforce systemic racism. He will revoke a Trump order that sought to exclude non-citizens from the census and will order federal employees to take an ethics pledge that commits them to upholding the independence of the Justice Department.

His orders also seek to fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, a signature effort during the Obama administration that provided hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and a pathway to citizenship.

Susan Rice, Biden’s incoming domestic policy adviser, said the new president would also revoke the just-issued report of Trump’s “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education.”

These actions will be followed by dozens more in the next 10 days, aides said, as Biden looks to redirect the country without having to go through a Senate that Democrats control by the narrowest margin.

WATCH | Biden’s inauguration won’t automatically heal politically divided families:

The National

Notably, the opening actions do not include immediate steps to rejoin the Iran nuclear accord, which Trump abandoned and Biden has pledged to re-implement.

Psaki said that while they were not included in Biden’s Day One orders, the new president will in the coming days revoke the Pentagon’s ban on military service by transgender Americans as well as the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans U.S. funding for international organizations that perform or refer women for abortion services.

Psaki said the actions to be taken Wednesday were focused on providing “immediate relief” to Americans.

In another effort to signal a return to pre-Trump times, Psaki said she would hold a news briefing late Wednesday in a symbol of the administration’s commitment to transparency. Trump’s White House had all but abandoned the practice of briefing reporters daily.

Biden will sign the actions during his first visit to the Oval Office in four years. Since then, presidential order actions were often marked by clumsy announcements and confusion.

In their first days in office, Trump’s team was forced to rewrite executive orders by court order and aides took days to figure out how to use the White House intercom to alert press about events.

The repeatedly cancelled plans to hype new building programs — dubbed “Infrastructure week” — became a national punchline. Biden aides, by contrast, are aiming to demonstrate they are prepared for the job right out of the gate.

Biden senior aides, led by deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed and campaign policy chief Stef Feldman, began plotting out the executive action plans in November, just days after Biden won the presidency and drafting began in December.

The final documents were reviewed by career staff at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in recent weeks before Biden’s swearing-in to ensure they would pass legal muster.

Biden’s team was set to begin assuming the reins of power even before the Marine Band finished its rendition of Hail to the Chief after the new president takes the oath of office.

Aides were due to begin entering the White House complex at the stroke of noon — when Biden officially assumes the office — to begin overseeing national security roles. The urgency was hastened by concerns about security around the Inauguration after the U.S. Capitol insurrection earlier this month.

COVID-19 restrictions, along with tight security surrounding the Inauguration were severely curtailing the number of aides in Biden’s West Wing. Aides, one official said, were told to pack snacks to eat in their offices because of pandemic protocols.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

UN: Libya’s Central Bank to undergo much-anticipated audit

CAIRO — The United Nations announced on Monday that Libyan officials are allowing a long-sought external audit of the country’s Central Bank to go ahead, a breakthrough that could pave the way for an end to a crippling oil blockade.…

How Vietnam hopes to open to trade – by opening up its prisons to scrutiny

An inmate grasps a hefty wooden mallet and smashes it through concrete at his feet, working in the shade of a stately white building that his fellow prisoners are constructing in southern Vietnam. Police officers in bold green uniforms usher…

Why a Somali-born fighter is being honoured in Rome

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ismail Einashe looks at how some Italians are revaluating their colonial past in Africa. Rome’s city council voted earlier this month to name a future metro station in the Italian capital in…

Injuries reported after rockets fired from Gaza, as Bahrain & UAE sign peace deal with Tel Aviv at the White House

Rocket warning sirens were activated in southern Israeli cities late on Tuesday as the ceremony to sign a US-brokered deal between Tel Aviv, Bahrain and the UAE was underway in Washington. The sirens were sounded in coastal cities of Ashkelon…