Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Yesterday, Joseph R. Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States of America and Kamala Harris as his Vice President. The new President took 17 executive actions last night, quickly dismantling former President Donald Trump’s legacy.
The executive actions included halting the construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, which, according to Pentagon estimates, would end up saving the U.S. $2.6 billion. President Biden also reversed the travel ban targeting majority Muslim and African countries. He has moved to direct the government to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump pulled the U.S. from in 2017, canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, and had agencies review, and possibly reverse, more than 100 actions on the environment taken by Trump’s administration.
The President has also issued an order to dissolve the Trump Administration’s 1776 Commission. Another order grants an extended suspension of student loan payments and interest until October. Biden has also asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies to extend federal eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through March of this year.
In addition to halting the U.S.’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), which the U.S. started to withdraw from this past summer during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the President imposed a mask mandate on federal property and appointed a coronavirus response coordinator, who would oversee the White House’s efforts in the distribution of vaccines and medical supplies. These actions reflect the administration’s first immediate priority of containing the COVID-19 crisis. The White House COVID-19 Response Team established their social media presence, and Biden signed several executive orders aimed at addressing the pandemic.
The White House will spend today, Jan. 21, entirely focusing on the pandemic, and Friday, Jan. 22, working on providing economic relief for the American people.
According to the White House website, the Biden-Harris Administration aims to contain the coronavirus and “provide economic relief, tackle climate change, and advance racial equity and civil rights, as well as immediate actions to reform our immigration system and restore America’s standing in the world.”
On Monday, Jan. 25, the administration will increase requirements for government purchases of goods and services from U.S. companies. The following day, they will focus on equity and working for the elimination of private prisons. Wednesday, Jan. 27, will be dedicated to climate, Thursday, Jan. 28, to healthcare, and Friday, Jan. 29, to immigration.
Biden intends to order a full review of all Trump regulations and executive actions that are seen as damaging to the environment or public health. Steps for increased immigrant and racial equity are also going to be taken by the president and his staff in the coming days and months.
Additionally, the administration will now require non-citizens to be included in the U.S. census, a reversal of one of Trump’s policies. Biden has fortified the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) after the former administration tried to decrease protections for undocumented civilians brought into the U.S. as children and limited the number of arrests and deportations made by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a statement released on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said more actions would be imminent. “In the coming days and weeks, we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the President-elect’s promises to the American people, including revoking the ban on military service by transgender Americans, and reversing the Mexico City policy.”
Harris swore in three new Democratic members of Congress in the afternoon yesterday: Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who won the Georgia Senate runoff races earlier this month, and Alex Padilla, former California secretary of state who was selected by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, to replace her seat in the Senate. These changes give the Democrats a Senate majority.
The Senate confirmed Avril Haines’ nomination as the Director of National Intelligence yesterday night, making her the first cabinet official approved in the Biden presidency. The Senate also confirmed Biden’s nominee for Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says that the Senate’s first “order of business” is to confirm more key Biden officials.
President Biden also swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony from the White House State Dining Room yesterday evening. Psaki relayed all of this progress in the first briefing of the Biden-Harris Administration.
The new administration is rushing to start work on the policies and changes promised in their campaign last year. The president has taken 28 executive actions at time of publication. With changes beginning to occur as early as yesterday, Biden, Harris, the White House Staff, and Congress have planned a multitude of actions and changes to bring about committed change in the country.