Biden’s 17 Day-One Executive Actions, Ranked

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

President Biden got to work quickly on Wednesday, signing 17 executive orders/memoranda just hours after being sworn-in.

Let’s rank these bad boys.

1–3) The Three Covid-19 Directives.

(In no particular order:)

Mandating mask wearing and social distancing at all federal buildings, while encouraging Americans to participate in a “100 day masking challenge.”

Rejoining the World Health Organization, which Trump left amid a global pandemic. Dr. Fauci will address the WHO tomorrow.

Creating the Covid-19 Response Coordinator position, which will coordinate the government’s actions in response to the pandemic. The newly created position will help install logistics in overseeing vaccine distribution.

The most important day one directives are of course about Covid-19, the yearlong scourge on the country. It’s the primary cause for the economic downturn, and the previous administration’s botched response to it is most likely why that administration is a previous administration.

More mask-wearing and social distancing will help stop the spread of the virus, and rejoining the WHO and establishing a new coordinator demonstrate that the new regime is actually taking the virus seriously.

4) Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord

Don’t let the immediate crises facing us make you forget about the existential problem of climate change.

Biden initiated the 30 day process of rejoining the global effort to combat climate change. Beyond the benefits of reducing carbon emissions, coming back to the Paris Climate Accord re-positions the United States as a leader in global affairs.

5) Rescinding the 1776 Commission and Pushing for Racial Equality

The 1776 Commission was batshit crazy. The Trump-appointed panel seemed to exist solely to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which taught students about slavery.

The 1776 Commission is (or, technically as of today, was) revisionist history of the tallest magnitude. Some of their biggest findings were shitting on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The second part of the executive order also deals with how resources are allocated federally, with a call to “engage with communities that have been historically under served.” This is a solid step in the right direction, and this executive action alone can sway hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money into grants for specific communities of color.

6) Pausing Student Loan Payments

Biden directed the Department of Education to pause federal student loans until the end of September, at least. This will help get the economy moving again.

7) Extending Eviction/Foreclosure Moratorium

The federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures extends until at least March 31.

8) Ending Trump’s Muslim Ban

Remember this? It is no more. The State Department can now process visa applications from those predominately Muslim countries that the Trump administration temporarily banned.

The order also increases information sharing with certain foreign governments in an attempt to increase vetting and safety.

9) Ending New Border Wall Construction

Biden won’t be tearing down any of Trump’s wall — all 15 miles of it — anytime soon. But the construction of any new barrier is immediately halted.

The already allocated funds will be used elsewhere.

10) Revoking the Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Maybe this should be a tad higher. But the Keystone Pipeline, the costly and polluting project to build a big ass pipeline from Canada to the Gulf, is dead.

Additionally, a hold is placed on all natural gas/oil leasing activity in the Arctic Refuse. Agencies are directed to calculate the emission toll of any new project.

11) Preserving DACA

Defending dreamers, the children of undocumented workers who came to the US young, would normally be higher on the list. However, Trump’s attempt to totally revoke the program failed spectacularly in the courts. With Democrats taking control of the Senate, DACA seemed to be in tact regardless.

But good for Biden. And good for the Dreamers.

12) Ending Family Separation & Other Trump Immigration Policies

Trump’s family separation policy was particularly heinous. But that policy, once discovered, was quickly revoked amid a bipartisan backlash.

But Biden was correct to codify this anyway.

13) Freezing All Trump Regulations

Every president does this, at least the last few anyway. On day one they freeze any pending regulations that the previous administration tried to jam through in the lame duck period.

14) Stopping Workplace Discrimination on Sex/Identity

Once again, would normally be higher. But after the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County last year that such discrimination is indeed unconstitutional, this is a mere formality.

15) Including Non Citizens in Census

The Trump administration tried to count only citizens in the census. Based on the number of undocumented immigrants, the move would have likely cost the Democrats about 7 House seats based on some projections.

The only problem? The constitution — which specifically calls for the counting of all people not just citizens.

When the Trump administration tried to install the new rule, the judicial branch quickly shot it down. Trump finally stopped trying to change the census rules before he left office.

This executive order makes it official.

16) Extending Deportation Protection to Liberians

The Liberian Relief and Fairness Act offered certain Liberians temporary protections, but it was set to run out soon. Biden’s executive order extends those protections for two and a half years, at least.

17) All Appointees Sign an Ethics Pledge.

Who knows how much legal weight this has, but it is refreshing to replace the corrupt grift of the last administration with things like “ethic pledges.” The goal, according to the directive, is to “restore public trust in government.”

After these last four years, a worthy goal!

political science researcher. former valedictorian. reader/writer. host of “Politics Mostly” podcast.

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