WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden spent his first hours as president, nullifying many of the hallmarks of former President Donald Trump’s tenure and allowing Biden to begin his own path on how the United States will respond to multiple national crises.
Biden signed more than a dozen executive actions Wednesday in the Oval Office just hours after arriving at the White House after being sworn as the 46th president, including steps to join the Paris Agreement on climate change, repeal Trump’s restrictions on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, stop construction of the southern border wall and impose the port of masks on federal properties.
He also took advantage of his first day in office to propose a broad immigration reform bill, a noble legislative task that his administration decided to take on from the start.
On Wednesday evening, Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske signed a memo ordering that the evictions that had been ordered be suspended for 100 days. There are exceptions to the break, which begins on Friday.
The sweeping measures set the tone for an administration that said it would not waste time undoing as many of the Trump administration’s actions as possible and pushing through the policy initiatives Biden pledged to. undertake during the election campaign. Officials in the incoming administration have said Biden will issue additional executive orders and actions soon.
“We’re not going to wait weeks. We’re going to come in and start running,” Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond, the new director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, said in an interview. “I think this is the most important part, showing the American people that we are serious about governance.”
The Trump administration has relied heavily on Executive orders and memoranda to advance his political agenda after struggling to pass legislation through Congress. By bypassing the legislature, Trump has made it easier for his successor to overturn actions with the stroke of a pen, as Biden will do on Wednesday.
Biden’s mask decree requires employees and contractors to wear face coverings in all federal buildings and on federal lands – a departure from Trump’s White House, where masks were a rarity. Biden asks all Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days.
Biden also decided on Wednesday to stop the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization, which officials in the Biden administration say is vital to the global response to the pandemic.
“The pandemic will continue to get worse before it gets better,” Jeffrey Zients, who will be Biden’s coordinator of the Covid-19 response, said on a conference call with reporters. “This is clearly a national emergency, and we will treat it as such.”
Economically, Biden has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal moratorium on evictions until at least the end of March. He also called on the Education Department to extend the suspension of interest and principal payments on direct federal loans at least until the end of September.
Biden took action to stop construction of a border wall, which Trump cited as one of his Key Achievements. He issued a proclamation on Wednesday ending the declaration of national emergency that Trump had used to divert money to building walls.
Biden also began to reverse steps taken by the Trump administration to overturn environmental regulations. Biden has asked the agencies to consider revising fuel economy and emissions standards and revoking the license for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Biden also criticized racial inequalities. He called on federal agencies to review the “state of fairness” in their agencies and come up with plans “to remove unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs,” according to a fact sheet detailing the actions of the executive.
He also instructed the Office of Management and Budget to allocate federal resources more equitably to “empower and invest in communities of color and other underserved communities,” the fact sheet said.
On immigration, Biden introduced legislation to Congress that would provide legal status and a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented migrants, fund border security measures other than a wall, and provide money and assistance to countries with large numbers of immigrants to tackle the root cause of migration, officials in the incoming administration said.
Shortly after leaving office, Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior advisor and architect of his immigration policies, tweeted criticism of Biden’s early movements that was filled with lies.
“It is not clear how all Americans are served by opening up travel from terrorism hotspots, offering a giant amnesty or stopping the installation of security barriers along the southwest border,” he said. -he writes.
Biden’s campaign and transition team worked with Democrats in the House and Senate on the legislation.
The bill would allow undocumented migrants to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes, an official said. the Biden administration. After three years, green card holders who pass additional background checks could apply to become citizens. The policy would only apply to those in the United States at the start of this year.
Rather than continue Trump’s construction of a border wall, the bill would provide funding for new technology to secure the border and more funding and training for border officials. The bill would also increase foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, subject to their ability to reduce the corruption, violence and poverty that drives people to flee their countries of origin, officials said. .
It is a difficult place to start in terms of legislation. Three of Biden’s predecessors – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump – tried unsuccessfully to get through major immigration reform. Progressives pushed Biden to take swift action on immigration, but he will face strong resistance from Republicans in Congress.
Officials in the Biden administration have said the Day 1 moves are just the beginning. Other upcoming actions include rescinding Trump’s ban on members of transgender services and rescinding U.S. policy that blocks funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion-related services.
“President-elect Biden will continue to take action over the next 10 days – and throughout his term – to address the four crises he has described,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “In the days and weeks to come, we will be announcing additional executive actions to address these challenges and deliver on the President-elect’s promises to the American people. “