Undoing Trump's policies and other things Biden did his first week as president
A week into his presidency, President Joe Biden has signed over 30 executive orders ranging from reversing Trump-era policy to adjusting the nation’s response to the ongoing pandemic.
The orders ranged in topic from dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to beginning the process for what he hopes will be immigration reform. Many take direct aim at the decisions of former President Donald Trump.
Biden also spoke with foreign leaders like Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to reinstate a relationship between the two countries and speak on shared challenges like tackling climate change and the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are some actions Biden took during his first week as president of the United States.
Biden’s latest executive orders
Prioritizing climate change and the environmental policy
Biden signed a series of executive orders Wednesday to combat climate change. The three orders focus on an array of climate and environmental justice-related measures such as focusing on infrastructure needs and prioritizing scientific research.
The orders elevate climate change as a national security concern and paves the way for the re-establishment of the president’s council of advisors of science and technology.
More: Poll: Americans want Congress to cooperate with Biden, view his agenda positively
Last week, Biden also signed an order to halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is set to pass through the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana and the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The administration also suspended new drilling permits on federal land and waters for 60 days.
On his first day in office, Biden also had the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement, an international treaty focused on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and other environment-related policy, reversing Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the agreement in 2017.
Republicans have denounced Biden’s policies, saying his climate policies are too expensive and can eliminate oil and gas jobs.
On Monday, Biden launched the $700 billion Buy American campaign, which encourages the federal government to buy more American-made products.
This effort, which the president states “will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive”, also calls on the director of the Office of Management and Budget to establish a Made in America office and appoint a made in America director who will head the office.
The administration argues that this effort will further stimulate the U.S. economy, which has struggled during the pandemic. The unemployment rate in the U.S. was 6.7% in December and employers cut about 140,000 jobs, according to the Department of Labor.
Last week, Biden also laid out the foundation to raise the minimum wage to $15 and restored collective bargaining power and worker protections for federal workers.
“It is the policy of the United States to protect, empower, and rebuild the career Federal workforce … The Federal Government should serve as a model employer,” the executive order states.
Another executive order calls on federal agencies and departments to “prioritize actions that provide the greatest relief to individuals, families, and small businesses; and to State, local, tribal, and territorial governments.” Biden specifically asks federal agencies to improve accessibility or reduce unnecessary barriers to programs that can help struggling Americans.
During his first day on the job, the president also signed an executive order to extend the nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until March 31. Additionally, Biden extended the pause on student federal loan payments and interest to Sept. 30.
Shortly after his victory, the president promised Americans he would work to reverse the Trump administration’s strict policies on immigration.
Biden issued several immigration-related executive orders on day one. He reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era program that shielded undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation.
Trump reversed the program in 2017, sending it through layers of litigation. Biden also sent his immigration reform plan to Congress, which outlines a path to permanent residence and citizenship for DACA beneficiaries.
The president's proposal was met with clear opposition from several GOP members of Congress like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McConnell called the plan "a massive proposal for blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement of American laws while creating huge new incentives for people to rush here illegally at the same time," according to NBC.
Undocumented immigrants will now also be counted as a part of the U.S. census, which takes place every 10 years, per another executive order. Biden also revoked an executive order issued by Trump in 2017 that cracked down on communities shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation.
“Immigrants have helped strengthen America’s families, communities, businesses and workforce, and economy, infusing the United States with creativity, energy, and ingenuity,” the president wrote in the executive order.
In addition to targeting policies related to undocumented immigrants, Biden reversed Trump’s policy that forbid refugees and residents from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The order also states the Secretary of State must resume visa processing within the next 45 days.
Biden also terminated the construction of the widely controversial border wall at the U.S.-Mexico southern border and will direct a review of the resources and funds that were redirected to build the wall.
Promoting equity and diversity
Biden tackled the issues of housing discrimination and equity on Tuesday after issuing executive orders directing his administration to address racial bias in housing programs and terminate the government’s use of private prisons.
The president also recently reversed Trump’s transgender ban in the military with an executive order stating all Americans, regardless of gender identity, can serve in the military. Similarly, Biden also extended federal nondiscrimination protections to members of the LGBTQ+ community
“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden wrote.
COVID-19 safety measures
Upon assuming office, Biden began to roll out several COVID-19 safety measures and policy proposals. To date, the United States has seen over 400,000 deaths related to the coronavirus.
Biden’s first measure as president was asking Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency as a part of the “100 Days Masking Challenge.”
Biden also issued an executive order requiring masks and social distancing in all federal buildings and on federal lands. Federal employees and contractors are also required to wear masks. The order also calls on the Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control to work with state, local, tribal and territorial leaders to implement requirements for masking, social distancing and other safety measures.
Additionally, Biden issued another executive order requiring masks on several modes of transportation, including planes, trains, busses and ferries.
The president also reversed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization. The administration also vowed to work with WHO on “COVID-19 health and humanitarian response, and advance global health and health security.”
A day after his assuming office, Biden issued an order calling for the improvement and expansion of access to healthcare and COVID-19 vaccines. To support the development of more treatments, the president is asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the National Institutes of Health to craft a plan to support vaccine studies and research in rural areas.
In another order, Biden called on the heads of all executive departments and agencies to gather, share and publish data on the virus. The president also extended federal support to governors using the National Guard to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.
As the pandemic continues to disrupt the academic and professional lives of thousands of Americans, the president issued two executive orders to ease the transition from online to in-person learning and enforcing the protection of essential workers.
The first order, which states the president’s support for re-opening schools, calls on the Secretary of Education to work with elementary and secondary schools on how to reopen and stay open. The order came as counties across the U.S. are debating reopening schools and the possible implications of doing so.