In his first hours in the Oval Office, President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign more than a dozen executive orders to address challenges like the Covid pandemic and the student debt crisis.
Biden’s orders will also work to reverse many of those issued by President Donald Trump, including the so-called Muslim travel ban and the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Senior members of Biden’s policy team said during a press briefing Tuesday evening that Biden will sign the executive orders immediately after his midday inauguration.
Atop the list of 17 orders viewed by CNBC was a “100 Days Masking Challenge” that will require masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands and by federal employees and contractors.
Also included in Biden’s health-oriented orders is a reversal of Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization.
“The pandemic will continue to get worse before it gets better,” said Jeff Zients, leader of the Biden administration’s Covid response. “This is clearly a national emergency and we will treat it as such.”
“We will mobilize a whole-of-government response, partnering with states and localities and officials of both parties,” he added. “To equitably distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible, we need all hands on deck to ramp up getting shots in arms and we’re going to put everyone to work.”
Brian Deese, Biden’s choice to lead the National Economic Council, followed Zients in the briefing, outlining several orders designed to ease the financial burden on households struggling to pay rent and those working to pay off student loans.
Deese said Biden will call upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development, to consider an immediate extension of the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums.
Biden will also ask the Department of Education to extend the pause on interest and principal payments for direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30.
“These emergency measures are important,” Deese said. “There are more than 11 million mortgages guaranteed by the VA, Department of Agriculture and HUD that would be affected by the extension of the foreclosure moratorium.”
On climate change, Biden will on day one return the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement, the landmark accord that sets ambitious goals for countries to reduce their carbon footprints over the next few decades. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2017.
The incoming president will also direct all federal agencies to consider revising vehicle-fuel emissions standards, according to incoming climate advisor Gina McCarthy.
He will ask the Department of the Interior to review the boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. That order will also place a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Susan Rice, Biden’s choice to helm the Domestic Policy Council, will lead the administration’s efforts to advance racial equity as well as work for the advancement of other underserved communities like LGBTQ persons and people with disabilities.
Biden also plans to revoke the Trump administration’s orders to exclude noncitizens from the census and apportionment of congressional representatives.
He will sign another order designed to cement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and call upon Congress to “enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for people who came to this country as children and have lived, worked, and contributed to our country for many years.”
“We will have for the first time an expert team dedicated to equity, broadly defined, and to racial justice,” Rice said. “The order will also direct [the Office of Management and Budget] to begin the work of more equitably allocating federal resources to empower communities that have been underserved.”
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s incoming national security advisor, highlighted orders designed to ease the Trump’s administration’s crackdown on immigrant policing and the construction of the southern border wall.
First, Biden will revoke Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, a set of two presidential proclamations that restricted entry into the U.S. from primarily Muslim and African countries. Sullivan said those proclamations were “rooted in xenophobia” and inconsistent with America’s rich history of diversity and immigration.
Biden will order an immediate halt to construction of the southern border wall, which will “allow a close review of the legality of the funding and contracting methods used, and to determine the best way to redirect funds that were diverted by the prior administration to fund wall construction.”
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