Biden to use executive actions to roll back Trump policies on 1st day in office


In his first hours as U.S. president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions the incoming Democratic president will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

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“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “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.”

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain said, including the $1.9 trillion US virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

The next day, Jan. 21, Klain said Biden will sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding COVID-19 testing. The following day will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

In the following week, Klain said, Biden plans to take additional action relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

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Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying that “the legal theory behind them is well founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the president.”

‘Buy American’ directives could impact Canada

Among the measures that will be executed during Biden’s first days in office will include directing the government to favour U.S.-made goods when it makes purchases — a rare point of agreement with Trump policy.

These “Buy American” provisions could impact countries like Canada. Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., told CBC’s Alexander Panetta in December that her team is preparing to formally speak to the Biden administration following the inauguration.

Hillman said her team will employ a similar approach to what they did when renegotiating NAFTA “by underlining the degree to which rules-based, predictable trade was in the interest of Americans.”

“We will recover faster, in a more resilient way and better from this economic downturn by working together,” Hillman said.

She said they also plan on using the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to ameliorate how interconnected trade is between the two countries, especially with regard to the supply chain of essential goods.

“COVID has been very difficult on both of our economies. It would have been significantly worse if we hadn’t been mutually committed to economic support of each other, and maintaining these economic relationships that are vital to our communities,” Hillman said.

But Hillman noted that it’s not yet clear how significantly the “Buy American” directives could affect Canada. “Depending on what happens, this could be large or it could not be large,” she said.

“We have to get a bit of a better idea as to how this policy will be implemented.”



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