Biden’s 1st Day Executive Orders


Image courtesy of ABC4

On January 21st, President Joe Biden’s first full day in office, he signed a record 17 new executive orders. Biden was elected during a period of major political, social, and economic unrest in the United States. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with political discourse over the previous Trump administration, left a lot of calls for Biden to take immediate action and put new policy in place within his first couple of days in office.

The tradition of executive orders is long-standing in American political history, but has been noticeably growing in use in the most recent decades. Perhaps most famous for their use by Franklin D. Roosevelt to pass policy during the Great Depression, executive orders are most commonly used to pass policy when Congress may be deadlocked or controlled by the opposing political party. Joe Biden’s historical 17 executive orders within his first 48 hours marks a new turn for Presidents choosing to use executive power. President Trump only issued one executive order during his first two days in office, and President Obama before him only issued two. While a large chunk of Biden’s orders pertain to reversing Trump-era policy instead of creating new policy, many see this as executive overreach and argue that the President alone should not have this much law-making power. Others argue that the pandemic creates a new, urgent need for policy, and that any delay that may come from Congress would ultimately end up costing people their lives.

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Here is an overview of the 17 executive orders signed by President Biden by January 21st:

New Policy:

-Launches a “100 Days Masking Challenge” asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days. Requires masks and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands and by government contractors, and urges states and local governments to do the same.
-Creates the position of Covid-19 Response Coordinator, reporting directly to Biden and managing efforts to produce and distribute vaccines and medical equipment

-Extends the existing nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until at least March 31
-Extends the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for Americans with federal student loans until at least September 30

-Prevents workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity

-Fortifies DACA after Trump’s efforts to undo protections for undocumented people brought into the country as children
-Extends deferrals of deportation and work authorizations for Liberians with a safe haven in the United States until June 30, 2022

Ethics & Regulation:
-Requires executive branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge barring them from acting in personal interest and requiring them to uphold the independence of the Department of Justice

Reversing Trump Administration Policy:

-Stops the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization, with Dr. Anthony Fauci becoming the head of the delegation to the WHO

-Rejoins the Paris climate accord, a process that will take 30 days
-Cancels the Keystone XL pipeline and directs agencies to review and reverse more than 100 Trump actions on the environment

-Rescinds the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, directs agencies to review their actions to ensure racial equity

-Requires non-citizens to be included in the Census and apportionment of congressional representatives

-Reverses the Trump administration’s restrictions on US entry for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries
-Undoes Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement within the United States
-Halts construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it

Ethics & Regulation:
-Freezing recent Trump administration regulations, focused on pushing new government appointees through so-called “midnight appointments”