Biden administration outlines immediate executive order plans on Covid, climate and immigration

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive orders and make further instructions after he is sworn in as US president undoing policies put in place by outgoing president Donald Trump and making his first moves on the pandemic, climate change and racial justic.

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.

Introducing the plans, the Biden-Harris transition team said in a statement:

The president-elect’s day one executive actions will protect workers from Covid-19, including by ensuring that federal employees and contractors wear masks and follow other CDC guidelines, setting an example for employers around the country.

They will provide relief to American workers who have lost their jobs or had their hours or wages slashed through no fault of their own, by extending the pause on student debt and the eviction and foreclosure moratorium.

They will help spur the growth of American manufacturing and supply chains, competitiveness of our industries, and creation of good union jobs by directing agencies to consider revising vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards, methane emissions standards, and appliance and building efficiency standards.

And, they’ll take steps to prevent workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and revoke President Trump’s damaging executive order which limited critical diversity and inclusion training in the workplace.

On Covid the president-elect is proposing to:

  • Launch a “100 Days Masking Challenge” and a mask mandate on federal property and for federal employees.
  • Re-join the World Health Organization reversing the Trump policy to withdraw from the body.
  • Create the position of Covid-19 Response Coordinator reporting directly to the president, and restoring the NSC Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to focus on domestic and global biological threats.
  • Extend the federal eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until at least 31 March, 2021.
  • Extend the student loan pause until at least September 30, 2021.
  • Seek a $1.9 trillion spending proposal aimed at accelerating the distribution of coronavirus vaccines while providing economic relief to millions of Americans hurt by the pandemic.
  • Sign an executive order that helps schools and businesses reopen safely, expands coronavirus testing and establishes clearer public health standards.

On the environment, including a broad heading of “Roll back president Trump’s environmental actions in order to protect public health and the environment and restore science” Biden intends to:

  • Rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change, which will come into effect in thirty days time.
  • Issue a sweeping executive order on the climate crisis that will ask all federal agencies to review Trump policies and address those harmful to health or damaging to the environment.
  • Reimpose methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations repealed by Trump.
  • Using the government procurement system – which spends $500 billion every year – to make federal facilities more reliant on clean energy and purchase zero-emissions vehicles.
  • Ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Cancel the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the United States.

On immigration, the set of actions are:

  • Repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries.
  • Send to Congress a sweeping immigration bill that could legalize millions of immigrants living in the United States without legal permission.
  • Reinstate the DACA program allowing “Dreamers” – people who were brought to the United States illegally as children – to remain in the country.
  • Reverse Trump’s policy that separated immigrant parents from their children at the border, including ending the prosecution of parents for minor immigration violations, and prioritize the reunification of any children still separated from their families.
  • Reverse Trump’s more restrictive asylum policies, such as imposing additional restrictions on anyone traveling through Mexico or Guatemala and attempting to prevent victims of gang and domestic violence from receiving asylum.
  • End Trump’s National Emergency declaration that allowed him to shift federal funds from the Department of Defense to build a wall along the US southern border.
  • Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries severely affected by violence or disaster.

In addition, Biden intends among his first acts:

  • Ask all US agencies to create an action plan to address racial inequality.
  • Order every administration appointee to sign an ethics pledge to ensure that officials act in the interests of the American people and not for personal gain.
  • Issue an executive order to make sure federal anti-discrimination statutes prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.



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