The Joe Biden transition team has announced a raft of Executive Orders that the new president will sign during his first days in office. From mask mandates to climate change, Biden appears determined to enact as much of his platform (and more) as possible through Executive tools. It seems Congress will be out of the loop for these monumental actions as it attempts to remove a man from office who has already left
A Busy Week Ahead
A memo released by Ronald Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, outlines what areas will be addressed directly after the Jan. 20 inauguration. “In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address… four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world,” the Klain memo says. Ambitious, indeed.
“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises. President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” the memo states.
The four main “crises” to be dealt with include “the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.”
On his first day, it is reported that Biden will sign Executive Orders that include:
- Issue a mask mandate on federal property and interstate travel.
- Extend a pause on evictions and foreclosures.
- Extend the existing pause on student loan repayments and interest.
- Take action to rejoin the U.N. 2015 Paris climate agreement.
- Reverse Trump’s travel restrictions on foreign nationals deemed a threat to the U.S.
According to Klain, “These actions will change the course of COVID-19, combat climate change, promote racial equity and support other underserved communities, and rebuild our economy in ways that strengthen the backbone of this country: the working men and women who built our nation.”
“Of course, these actions are just the start of our work. Much more will need to be done to fight COVID-19, build our economy back better, combat systemic racism and inequality, and address the existential threat of the climate crisis. But by Feb. 1, America will be moving in the right direction on all four of these challenges — and more — thanks to President-elect Joe Biden’s leadership.”
Ruling by Executive Order
In late 2016, not long after Donald Trump had won the election, outgoing President Barack Obama offered his successor some friendly advice on the subject of using Executive Orders – albeit through an NPR interview. He said:
“Keep in mind, though, that my strong preference has always been to legislate when I can get legislation done. In my first two years, I wasn’t relying on executive powers, because I had big majorities in the Congress, and we were able to get bills done, get bills passed. And even after we lost the majorities in Congress, I bent over backwards consistently to try to find compromise and a legislative solution to some of the big problems that we’ve got.”
Joe Biden has his majorities in both the House and the Senate, and yet he does not appear willing to heed the advice of his former boss. Perhaps the president-elect sees the present situation as too volatile to wait for actual legislation, or perhaps he and other senior Democrats are not quite willing to let go of the Trump impeachment.
Read more from Mark Angelides.