After taking office on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a series of executive actions to reverse the policies of Donald Trump administration on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
"There's no time to start like today," Biden said in his first comments to reporters as president. Soon after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, the president signed 15 executive actions and two directives that amount to an attempt to rewind the last four years of federal policies with striking speed.
Here's a look at the orders the president signed on his first day:
- Stops the United States' withdrawal from the World Health Organization, with Dr. Anthony Fauci becoming the head of the delegation to the WHO
- Rejoins the Paris climate accord, a process that will take 30 days
- Cancels the Keystone XL pipeline and directs agencies to review and reverse more than 100 Trump actions on the environment
- Rescinds the Trump administration's 1776 Commission, directs agencies to review their actions to ensure racial equity
- Requires non-citizens to be included in the Census and apportionment of congressional representatives
- Reverses the Trump administration's restrictions on US entry for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries
- Undoes Trump's expansion of immigration enforcement within the United States
- Halts construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it
- Directs OMB director to develop recommendations to modernize regulatory review and undoes Trump's regulatory approval process
Shifting immediate focus on the coronavirus pandemic, among the executive actions signed by Biden on Wednesday, was one requiring masks and physical distancing on federal property and by federal employees.
Biden's order extended the federal eviction freeze to aid those struggling from the pandemic economic fallout, created a new federal office to coordinate a national response to the virus and restored the White House's National Security Council directorate for global health security and defense, an office his predecessor had closed.
President Biden has signed an executive order ending the restrictions on travel and immigration from some predominantly Muslim countries. The measure directs the State Department to resume visa processing for those countries and develop a plan to address people affected, such as those who were denied entry to the US.
The action also orders reviews of other "extreme vetting" practices used by the Trump administration, while directing the US to improve information-sharing with foreign governments to bolster screening of travelers.
Biden targeted Trump's environmental record, calling for a review of all regulations and executive actions that are deemed damaging to the environment or public health, aides said Tuesday as they previewed the moves.
The president has declared his intent to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. His administration submitted a letter to the UN that formally triggers a 30-day process to reenter the Paris climate agreement.
Biden also scrapped the Keystone XL pipeline connecting the Alberta oil sands to coastal refineries in Texas -- a move that threatens to strain ties with Canada.
Advancing Racial Equity
Biden has ordered federal agencies to prioritise racial equity and review policies that reinforce systemic racism. He revoked a Trump order that sought to exclude non-citizens from the census and will order federal employees to take an ethics pledge that commits them to uphold the independence of the Justice Department.
His administration will order all agencies to take all lawful steps to ensure the adoption of the recent US Supreme Court ruling clarifying that LGBTQ people are among those protected from workplace discrimination, news agency Bloomberg reported.
Biden will present to Congress next month an infrastructure-focused "Build Back Better Recovery Plan" -- separate from the $1.9 trillion Covid and economic stimulus package he's seeking, news agency AFP reported.
The package is expected to be similar to the $2 trillion green climate plan Biden outlined during his campaign. It promises "to meet the climate crisis, build a clean energy economy, address environmental injustice, and create millions of good-paying union jobs."
Biden has ordered federal employees to take an ethics pledge that commits them to upholding the independence of the Justice Department. He will implement new ethics rules for political appointees across the administration.
(Input from wires)