President Biden got straight to work after getting sworn in on Wednesday, January 20. Here’s everything he did on his first day.
President Joe Biden was sworn in during a ceremony like no other in history. Surrounded only by members of Congress, the president made clear during his inaugural speech that his priority was to immediately tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, growing inequality and racism.
“Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once,” Biden said. “We will be judged — you and I — by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.”
The President got straight to work shortly after arriving at the White House, signing a total of 17 executive orders to address the aforementioned issues. Here’s what he achieved on his first day:
To address the COVID-19 pandemic
In order to tackle the virus, President Biden signed several executive orders including one appointing Jeffrey D. Zients as the official COVID-19 response coordinator. In his role, Zients will report directly to the president in an effort to create a national and unified response to the pandemic. In the same order, Biden also reinstated the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the National Security Council, a body which the previous administration had dissolved.
Biden also signed an executive order for the U.S. to rejoin the World Health Organization and appointed Dr. Anthony S. Fauci as the head of the U.S. delegation to the organization’s executive board.
The president also issued a new mask mandate enforcing the mandatory use of masks in all federal buildings, federal land and certain modes of public transportation. He is also urging all Americans to participate in a nationwide “100 Days Masking Challenge” to mask up and social distance for 100 days in an effort to curve the rapid spread of the virus.
Also in the pipeline for this week is a proposal for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief program that would cover vaccines and economic relief for families among others according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
To address climate change
On his first day, President Biden also made several moves to address climate change. He signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement, which the previous administration had abandoned, and issued an order revoking the construction permit on the Keystone XL pipeline. Biden also signed an order addressing several of the previous administration’s harmful regulatory reversals to protect public health and the environment. The order rolls back on vehicle emission standards, reviews the temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and reviews the cutting of boundaries for several national monuments.
To address immigration issues, racism and LGBTQ equality
During her first official press conference, Psaki stated that regarding immigration, the President’s priorities are to “manage the border effectively, keep families together, grow our economy, address the root causes of migration from Central America and ensure that America can remain a refuge for those fleeing prosecutions.”
In order to achieve this, Biden signed an executive order to end the so-called “Muslim Ban” that blocked travel from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. He also issued a proclamation halting further funding or construction of the border wall and also terminated the national emergency that had been used by the previous administration to redirect national funds to the wall.
Biden also signed another executive order fortifying the DACA agreement that provides temporary relief from deportation for all those immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. With this executive order, he also sent a comprehensive immigration proposal to Congress that aims to modernize the country’s immigration system and offer the path to citizenship for over 10 million illegal immigrants.
Another executive order revokes the previous administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census count, overturning a Trump executive order that pushed stricter efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants.
The president also launched a government effort to advance racial equity and root out systemic racism from federal programs and institutions. He revoked a previous executive order that limited federal diversity training and the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, which released a report on Monday that, according to the NY Times, historians said distorted the role of slavery in the United States, among other history.
Biden also appointed Susan E. Rice as head of his Domestic Policy Council and as the leader to a”robust, interagency” effort to root out systemic racism within the system. The new order directs the agencies to review equity in their ranks within 200 days and draft up a plan on how to remove barriers to opportunities in policies and programs. It alspo seeks to ensure equal access to federal government resources, benefits and services for all Americans regardless of their background.
An additional executive order reverses the actions of the previous administration on LGBTQ equality by reinforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; one that require that the federal government does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Other executive orders
Amongst his first 17 executive orders, President Biden also signed one extending the nationwide moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures as well as another one that extended the pause on student loan payments and interests to help alleviate the effects of the economic crisis generated by the pandemic.
Finally, in an effort to strengthen government accountability, Biden also established new ethics rules for those who serve in his administration and ordered all of them to sign an ethics pledge. Additionally, he halted all regulations put in motion by his predecessor to give his administration time to evaluate which ones it wants to move forward.
[Featured image: Screenshot from President Biden’s first remarks and signing of executive orders]