Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s executive orders on inauguration day

A series of executive orders signed by President Biden on inauguration day mark a radical departure from the United States’ trajectory under Trump.

The pandemic, the environment, society, climate change, the economy. Joe Biden has started his first term as president of the United States on the 20th of January by signing 17 executive orders. Leaving individual political allegiances aside, the country looks very different from what it did four years ago as it faces this new beginning undoubtedly more divided, inward-looking and internationally isolated.

Executive orders signed by President Joe Biden

The US re-enters the Paris Agreement

The Democratic president decided not to waste any time. Immediately after being inaugurated into the White House, Biden signed a series of executive orders. In a memo sent to senior staffers before the inauguration, incoming chief of staff Ron Klain explained that “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”.

joe biden
US President Joe Biden © Rick Loomis/Getty Images

One of the Biden administration’s first steps was to re-enter the Paris Agreement. The withdrawal procedure was initiated by his predecessor in June 2017 and took effect three years later in November 2020, concomitantly with the presidential elections. In reversing this decision, Biden has lived up to the promise made on the campaign trail; the process of rejoining the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s key treaty will be relatively quick, lasting about a month.

1.9 trillion dollars to relaunch the economy

However, the new administration’s primary concern will be to address the health emergency. Biden takes the nation’s reins as the Covid-19 death toll surpasses 400,000, with over one million new cases being recorded each week. The economy has also been hit hard by the crisis, with approximately ten million jobs lost.

In an attempt to tackle the dire situation, Biden has announced a 1.9-trillion-dollar recovery plan. The stimulus package includes cheques for families, funds to reopen schools and accelerate testing and vaccinations, cash for small businesses, and even food aid for those struggling the most. The ban on evictions and foreclosures will also be extended to help those who are having difficulty making mortgage payments.

Trump’s “Muslim ban” will be no more

On the topic of immigration, one of Biden’s executive orders involves lifting the ban on arrivals from several Muslim-majority countries – the so-called “Muslim ban” – controversially instated by the Trump administration in 2017. The ban was divisive and caused widespread debate throughout the US, even leading to a series of long legal battles.

All in all, the new president resorted to signing 17 executive orders, a tool that avoids legislation being delayed by the process of approval in Congress, especially considering the complex situation in the Senate. The latter chamber’s calendar is looking particularly full in the coming weeks, as the impeachment proceedings levelled against Donald Trump – accused of “wilful incitement of insurrection” after rioters stormed the Capitol on the 6th of January – will likely be especially time-consuming.

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