WASHINGTON — Almost directly after taking the oath as President of the United States, Joe Biden on his first day in office is expected to reverse a number of his predecessor’s policies and federal agency standards.
The transition team for the 46th President of the United States announced the moves in the early morning on Inauguration Day with two news releases, one of which outlined nearly 100 actions the Biden administration will ask federal agencies to review and implement.
Some of those agency action requests ask the U.S. Department of the Interior to redesignate critical habitat for the endangered spotted owl. Others are less specific, like two U.S. Department of Energy rule review requests, dealing with household appliance, incandescent lamp and other residential energy standards.
Biden also will sign a combination of executive orders, memoranda and other directives to address of the COVID-19 pandemic, delay drastic climate change and advance racial equality. For example, the president is expected to halt the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization set into motion by former President Donald Trump — critical for the international response to COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will head the U.S. delegation to the World Health Organization’s executive board meetings this week and deliver remarks to that board on Thursday.
On his first day in office, Biden will double down on his campaign commitment to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency. In an executive order that is expected to be issued later today, the president will require masks and physical distancing on federal lands, buildings and by all federal employees.
The president on his first day also is expected to sign an executive order creating the position of COVID-19 response coordinator who will report directly to the president and be responsible for “coordinating all elements of the COVID-19 response across government,” according to a news release. That will include management and supply of the nation’s personal protective equipment, vaccines and tests.
Another campaign promise, rejoining the Paris climate accord, is expected to be fulfilled by Biden on his first day in office. The Scranton native is expected to sign the instrument to rejoin that emissions reduction promise, which will be given to the United Nations later today.
The U.S. will rejoin the commitment officially 30 days after the United Nations receives word.
Reversing a number of other Trump-era policies, the Biden administration will ask agencies to consider revising fuel economy and emissions standards and to shun agency actions from the past four years “that were harmful to public health.” Biden will also restore boundaries of a myriad of national parks opened to oil and gas leases and revoke the presidential permit granted for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The various incarnations of what Trump first called a “Muslim ban” is another policy to be immediately revoked by Biden on Wednesday through executive action. The move is an important step, the release states, to providing relief to families harmed by the Trump administration policy “that is inconsistent with American values.” In its ultimate form following court challenges, the ban restricted U.S. entry for citizens of “high-risk” countries, most of which were Muslim-majority or African nations.
More directly addressing racial divisions in the country, Biden is expected to sign an executive order defining equity as “the consistent and systematic fair, just and impartial treatment of all individuals.” The order will direct every federal agency to review the state of equity within their office and deliver a plan within 200 days to change those “unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs.”
“Everyone across America benefits when we take deliberate steps to become a more just society,” the news release states.
Trump’s 1776 Commission — a group tasked with refuting America’s history of racial injustices through a patriotic education — also will be rescinded on Wednesday. The group released a report of the nation’s interactions with fascism, communism and slavery on Monday, although some materials appear to be copied completely verbatim from other publications.
Another executive order will be issued rescinding a Trump policy restricting diversity and inclusion training.
Biden will halt the emergency declaration that Trump declared last February to fund border-wall construction by diverting nearly $8 billion from a number of different funds including the military construction fund, a Treasury forfeiture fund and the Department of Defense’ counter-drug program.
The termination of construction also will allow a review of the legality of that funding, the release states, along with determining the best redirection of that redirected money. Undocumented immigrants also will be counted in the Census Bureau’s reapportionment count, under another executive order.
If Trump had succeeded in excluding this population from the count — delays kept it from coming to fruition — a number of Democratic states with big immigrant populations could have seen decreases in their representation in Congress and their funding.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the rollback of which the U.S. Supreme Court prevented this June, will be preserved and fortified under the Biden administration. The president is expected to sign a presidential memorandum directing the Homeland Security secretary to work alongside the attorney general to achieve that goal, the release states. The memorandum will also task Congress with creating a permanent path to citizenship.
Biden also is expected to continue the pause on student-loan repayments and restore the eviction and foreclosure moratorium.
— By Jack Rodgers, CNS