What Old Trash Did Biden Throw Out Once He Moved Into The White House?
President Joe Biden (bear with us, we'll eventually stop typing that so excitedly) made pretty good use of his first half-day on the job yesterday, taking a whole bunch of garbage policies from the previous administration out to the curb. Biden signed a whole bunch of executive orders to either undo actions taken by the president before him, or to take action against the pandemic that the prior administration hadn't bothered with. So let's take a look at the 15 EOs (and two directives to agencies) that Biden signed yesterday. No, he did not sign one to give you a pony. That's next week, be patient.
Almost all the items on his to-do list for the first day addressed one or more of the four crises Biden said would be the focus of his presidency: The pandemic and the related economic fallout, climate change, and racial justice, including the previous administration's war on immigration, all of which got worse under Donald Trump (we had to name him eventually).
Pandemic And Economic Stuff!
This is one area where most of the executive action is either new or keeps existing aid going. The biggest reversal of a Trump policy was Biden's order restoring the USA's membership in the World Health Organization, which Trump said the US would leave for the sake of letting his supporters know he didn't like China, and so he could say he wouldn't fund no damn globalists. (In reality, the US wouldn't have been fully out until July.) The order also gave Anthony Fauci one more job to do, naming him the head of the US delegation to the WHO. Fauci will get right on that today, speaking to the WHO's annual executive board meetings. The USA will also participate in Covax, a global initiative to help developing nations get access to coronavirus vaccines, which Trump had noped out of because America First.
Biden also signed an order mandating that face masks be worn in all federal buildings and by government contractors. The New York Times notes that's a bit short of the "national mask mandate" Biden had talked about during the campaign, which most likely would have gotten mired in legal challenges. Biden did call for voluntary mask wearing for the next 100 days, urging state and local officials to take infection control seriously. Also, holy cow, finally we're seeing photos of a president wearing a mask in the Oval Office.
Another order created the job of COVID-19 Response Coordinator, to be filled by Jeffrey D. Zients, who will be the point person reporting to Biden on ramping up the national response to the virus. That order also restores the National Security Council's pandemic team (the "directorate for global health security and biodefense"), which Trump had eliminated in 2018 because who needs pandemic experts on the payroll when there's no pandemic?
To help ease the burden of the coronavirus recession, Biden directed the CDC to renew its public health moratorium on evictions through the end of September, and also ordered a whole bunch of other agencies to extend foreclosure protections for home mortgages. (Actual rent assistance is included in the new $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that Biden also sent to Congress yesterday.) In addition, he directed the Education Department to continue the existing interest-free forbearance program for student loan payments until September 30 (but I think borrowers have to ask; don't think it's automatic. (Update: uncertainty added: Maybe it's supposed to be automatic and my automatic payments just kept chugging along? The website makes it sound automatic).
Whole lot of important action here! Biden sent a comprehensive immigration reform bill to Congress, which would include a pathway to citizenship; we'll do a full post on that soon. On top of that, he issued several orders that will start to undo the New Cruelty put in place by Trump and his racist immigration Mephistopheles, Stephen Miller.
Biden signed an order rescinding Trump's Muslim ban, which will once again allow normal travel from seven majority Muslim countries and the two or three non-Muslim nations that were thrown in so Trump could pretend it wasn't really a Muslim travel ban.
In addition, Biden rescinded the 2019 "state of emergency" at the border that Trump used to fund construction of WALL, and while he was at it, announced his administration will look very carefully at whether Trump's WALL-funding shenanigans were legal. (Guess what? They weren't!)
Another order did away with Trump's expansion of who's subject to high-priority deportation proceedings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Trump had made anyone without papers a high priority, regardless of whether whey had committed crimes other than illegally crossing the border. The order directs his administration to completely review Trump's 2017 order and put new guidelines in place.
Biden ordered that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program be fully preserved for now; the immigration bill he sent to Congress would make most of the million or so Dreamers immediately eligible for permanent residency and eventual citizenship. For now, the order would restore DACA to where it was before Donald Trump tried to eliminate it, a move that was blocked by the Supreme Court.
And while it never actually went into effect, Biden killed off Trump's attempt to exclude noncitizens from the Census's population tallies that are used for congressional redistricting.
Also too, in a policy change that goes along with the executive orders, the Department of Homeland Security announced yesterday it will put in place a 100-day moratorium on virtually all deportations while DHS develops new, saner rules. That's a big fucking deal. That moratorium will go into effect Friday.
And DHS is already changing the language it uses: "Alien" is out; now it's "noncitizen." That change would also be formalized across immigration laws and regulations by Biden's immigration reform bill.
With an EO and a letter, Biden committed the USA to rejoining the Paris climate agreement,
from which we hadn't quite completed withdrawing [Update, oops:] which we dropped out of just the day after the election, a process that began when Trump told the planet to drop dead in 2017. The executive order starts the clock for the US to officially rejoin the agreement in 30 days. Biden has made clear that's only a starting point, and will be pushing for reductions in carbon emissions that actually exceed the Paris goals, which we have to since we've lost so much time.
In addition, Biden signed an order that will cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, and which also directs government agencies to review and get rid of more than 100 anti-environment actions under Trump, like the gutting of fuel efficiency standards, the decision to ensmallen several national monuments, and many, many, more. The order will also place a moratorium on oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, which was opened up for energy exploitation in the 2017 tax cut law.
Social Justice Stuff!
As we mentioned yesterday, Biden did away with Donald Trump's stupid white-supremacy history commission, so schools are now free to keep teaching children to hate America and do socialism (which they already were, since states set education policy anyway).
In another order, Biden directed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act will definitely be interpreted to ban discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity, and many sad haters took to the internet to fret that America is over, yet again. That's soon going to be followed by a reversal of Trump's ban on trans folks in the military.
And just to really piss off Trumpers, Biden directed Susan Rice, the head of his Domestic Policy Council, to do Critical Race Theory to the entire Executive Branch. Or as the Times 'splains, Rice will lead a
"robust, interagency" effort requiring all federal agencies to make "rooting out systemic racism" central to their work. His order directs the agencies to review and report on equity in their ranks within 200 days, including a plan on how to remove barriers to opportunities in policies and programs. The order also moves to ensure that Americans of all backgrounds have equal access to federal government resources, benefits and services. It starts a data working group as well as the study of new methods to measure and assess federal equity and diversity efforts.
Let freedom ring, and let Tucker Carlson cry.
Today, Biden's planning to focus on the pandemic, and Friday will be devoted to the economic effects of same. Next week will be a bunch more themed days, with meetings and EOs on reorienting government purchasing to buy both American and Green, climate action, fixing all the shit Trump deregulated, and health care, including the traditional party-change reversal of the GOP ban on funding international family planning that so much as mentions abortion.
Should be fun! Oh yes, and eventually there will again be a White House cat.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.