By now, we all know what a US President’s executive order is thanks to Donald J. Trump.
For the uninitiated, executive orders are kind of like temporary laws, but sometimes, they remain as laws forever.
And within hours of officially taking the US President’s seat, Joe Biden signed a whopping 17 executive orders.
They extend into various areas, including immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and more.
Most of them, of course, counteracting the orders Trump gave when he was in office.
Speaking to reporters, he said that he is going to start his presidency by fulfilling the promises he made to the American people.
And so, without further ado, let us present…
The Executive Orders Joe Biden signed on the first day of presidency.
Covid-19 is America’s most pressing problem right now, with the US still in first place with over 24 million confirmed cases.
One of President Biden’s executive orders regarding the Covid-19 pandemic is to appoint an official Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeffrey D. Zients.
Think of him as the US counterpart of Lawrence Wong, who is co-coordinating Singapore’s response to Covid-19 here.
Zients will be reporting directly to the president and “aggressively” gear up the US’s response to the current pandemic.
The executive order also restores the directorate for global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council, a group that was disbanded by Trump when he was in power.
Other than appointing a team to fight against Covid-19, President Biden also requires mask-wearing and social distancing at all federal properties (read: government facilities).
He is also starting a “100 days mask challenge” which involves everyone wearing a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency.
On the global front, President Biden is hoping to revive the relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Dr Anthony S. Fauci will be the head of the US delegation to the global health body.
This area is interesting, given how it’s Trump’s cornerstone to his presidency.
For one, the great wall of Donald Trump will not be completed anytime soon, or ever.
Biden signed an executive order to immediately terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration which allows his administration to direct billions of dollars to build the wall.
It was added that investigations will start to check the legality of using federal reserves this way.
Another executive order lifted the “Muslim Ban” which stopped travellers from going into the US from several predominantly Muslim and African countries.
The US president directed the State Department to start processing visas for affected individuals from these countries and think of ways to make up for the harm done to those who couldn’t enter the US.
Three other orders, in direct opposition to Trump, were issued.
One put a stop to the deportation of Liberians who’ve been living in the states while another turned over Trump’s orders to aggressively root out and deport immigrants.
The remaining order overturned the Trump administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census.
President Biden has also boosted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme with an order, protecting immigrants who entered the US as children from deportation.
Congress was also called upon to put into place laws providing a permanent status and a path to citizenship for these individuals.
When the US pulled out of the Paris climate accords, the world was left speechless.
Well, be speechless no more because President Biden signed a letter that’ll see the US joining the accords once more, in 30 days’ time.
Other orders signed include reversing (once again) the Trump administration’s environmental policies.
- Taking back the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline
- Reverse the changes to the vehicle emissions standards
- Undo the decisions to downsize several national monuments,
- Temporarily suspend oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Re-establish a group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses
Racial & LBGT Equality
On the equality front, President Biden is equally active.
It was reported that he’ll be ending the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission which allegedly released a report distorting history.
An executive order was also used to revoke Trump’s executive order which limits “federal agencies, contractors and other institutions” from holding training sessions in diversity and inclusion.
Yes, it’s a “law to revoke a law.”
Federal agencies were also asked to review and report on equity within their ranks in 200 days’ time, including a plan on how to make their policies more equal.
An executive order was also issued to reinforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act says that the federal government cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
A federal suspension on evictions has been extended and agencies were asked to extend a suspension on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages.
The extensions will run until the end of March, at the earliest.
The pause on federal student loan interest and principal payments will also be continued until the end of September.
Some people are, however, calling for the president to cancel up to USD 50,000 in student debt per person.
The trust in the US Government has never been lower, what with the riots and claims of a fraud election.
One of President Biden’s orders requires everyone working under him to sign an “ethics pledge” to “restore and maintain trust in the government”.
A freeze was also issued on all the new rules and regulations pushed out by the Trump administration, giving his administration time to go through them and decide which to implement and which to throw away.
How They Affect the World
As Covid-19 has so blatantly shown, the world today is so connected with one another that even though it’s the US President’s actions, the world will feel the aftershock.
For those who aren’t fans of former President Trump, you’ll be glad to know that most of President Biden’s first executive orders are aimed at limiting the damage caused by his predecessor.
With what is looking like a more serious stance against Covid-19, the US might just start seeing Covid-19 numbers drop, restoring them to a new normal.
This means that, with the semi-recovery of one of the world’s biggest economies, world trade and travel will pick up, leading to more countries improving their economies as well.
It doesn’t hurt that the US, one of the biggest and most populous markets in the world, is now caring about the environment again since everyone will suffer equally even if one person doesn’t want to play ball.
And with the WHO possibly getting funding again from a country which used to be one of their biggest contributors, health programmes around the world might just get the funding needed to make things right once more.
All in all, not a bad first day of work, eh? Which makes one wonder what the new US president will do after damage control.
Feature Image: Matt Smith Photographer / Shutterstock.com