Just hours after he is sworn into office on Inauguration Day, President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign 17 executive actions in the Oval Office to try to hit the ground running on his top priorities — and to roll back some of President Trump’s initiatives in those areas, a group of his top advisers told reporters.
Biden wants to build momentum on his plans to address the COVID-19 crisis, the economy, racial justice and climate. Among the many measures, he plans to order masks be worn on federal property, will revoke President Trump’s travel ban affecting Muslim-majority nations, extend the ban on evictions and foreclosures as a result of the pandemic, and instruct agencies to conduct a baseline review of systemic inequities in their programs and policies.
“The president-elect has promised to root out systemic racism from our institutions,” said Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, one of the officials who briefed reporters. “This initiative is a first step in that historic work. Delivering on racial justice will require that the administration takes a comprehensive approach to embed equity in every aspect of our policy making.”
The Biden officials said the 17 actions are just the first of many to come over the next several weeks.
Biden plans to take immediate steps to rejoin the World Health Organization. Trump pulled the United States out of the WHO during the pandemic, accusing the organization of being too deferential to China. The incoming officials said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is set to participate in an executive board meeting of the WHO on Thursday, the officials said.
“America’s withdrawal from the international arena has impeded progress on the global response and left us more vulnerable to future pandemics,” said Jeff Zients, the incoming White House coordinator for the coronavirus response.
On climate change, Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement. He will also revoke the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, which has been vehemently opposed by environmentalists for years.
The use of executive actions has become more common in recent presidencies, with major legislation often stalled by congressional gridlock. But the actions can often be fodder for lawsuits and criticism from political opponents — and can be more easily overturned by future administrations.
Below is a partial list of Biden’s planned actions:
- Require the wearing of masks and social distancing in federal buildings and on federal lands by federal employees and contractors.
- Rejoin the World Health Organization
- Ask federal agencies to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through March 31
- Ask Education Department to extend federal student loan payment and interest pause through September 30
- Rejoin the Paris climate agreement
- Revoke the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline
- Place a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Begin to reverse more than 100 actions Trump took to roll back environmental regulations
- Rescind President Trump’s 1776 Commission and revoke Trump’s order limiting diversity training
- Stop on all wall construction at the southern border
- Reverse the Trump order excluding undocumented immigrants from the Census and reapportionment