President Biden has signed more than three dozen executive orders, actions and directives since he took office just 9 days ago — with Biden officials telling Fox News that the moves are “previews” of the agenda items the president will push in Congress as Republicans rail against the record-making flurry of orders.
Just hours after he took the oath of office last Wednesday, Biden immediately took 17 executive actions—ranging from reversing former President Trump’s policies to restoring Obama-era programs, the coronavirus pandemic and more.
Since then, Biden has taken nearly two dozen additional actions— focused on environmental regulations, the climate crisis, immigration policies, racial justice, healthcare and more.
Biden, by the end of his ninth day at the White House, had signed 40 executive orders, actions, and presidential memorandum — a record.
Biden has taken heat from critics over his early reliance on executive action, with Republicans saying it betrays his vow to work with Congress on to build a consensus on issues.
“As recently as October, now-President Biden said ‘you can’t [legislate] by executive action unless you’re a dictator,’” Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “In one week, he’s signed more than 30 unilateral actions. And working Americans are getting short shrift.”
But a Biden White House ally told Fox News that the president’s actions are just a taste of what is to come.
“The executive actions are previews, and happening in parallel, to what he is pushing in Congress,” the source told Fox News. “These are the things he can do instantly, but show what he is going to pursue, and in some cases, already is pursuing, in Congress.”
And despite the president’s “aggressive” actions in his first 9 days in office, a number of Biden administration officials have maintained that these executive orders and actions are “not a substitute” for legislative action, and have urged Congress to move forward with the president’s proposed bills, including the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”
Meanwhile, a White House official told Fox News that the president’s actions are in line with the “priorities” he laid out over the course of the campaign, saying that the activity from the White House in the first several weeks of his administration are intended to “make good” on those campaign promises and “turn the page” on the last four years of the Trump administration.
A White House official told Fox News the president is “firing away on a number of cylinders to deliver on that.”
But Biden is not working on these executive actions alone.
A White House official told Fox News the president has committed to surrounding himself with experts and individuals with a breadth of knowledge on the areas he is focused on. The official told Fox News the White House has put those people forward in rolling out these new policies and directives.
For example, the official noted that White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice was involved in shaping and introducing the executive actions that would will advance “racial justice and equity,” briefing reporters from the White House, and explaining that building a “more equitable” economy is “essential” to economic growth.
And the official told Fox News that John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, and White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy were involved in the shaping of climate and energy executive orders and actions, which were focused on jobs, “equitable” clean energy and “restoring” scientific integrity across the federal government.
The official also pointed to Dr. Anthony Fauci has also had the ability to “speak his mind” with regard to the coronavirus pandemic — signaling a contrast from his work in the Trump administration.
Biden’s moves have reversed a number of Trump policies.
Biden’s orders have stopped construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; reversed the ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military; reversed Trump’s travel ban on mostly Muslim countries; rejoined the World Health Organization, after Trump withdrew last year amid the pandemic; rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, after Trump withdrew; restored the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in full, which Trump sought to get rid of; rolled back Trump environmental policies, like scrapping the contract for the Keystone XL Pipeline, and more.
The president’s orders have also focused on the coronavirus pandemic, and the effect of it on the U.S. economy. Biden has extended the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for those effected through March 31, and extended the pause on interest and principal payments of federal student loans through Sept. 30.
Biden also signed an executive order giving workers “a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health,” and states that any worker who refuses that offer to work, will still be eligible for unemployment insurance.
Biden also signed an order launching a “100-day masking challenge,” and an order requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal land and by federal employees and contractors. Biden also mandated mask wearing on public transportation, including airports, airplanes, trains and buses.
Biden also signed an order to direct the secretary of health to support research on coronavirus treatments, and to expand access to those treatments. He also signed orders to establish a COVID-19 testing board and a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
Biden also reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions for non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil and much of Europe—a reversal of Trump’s move just days before he left office. The ban also blocks most non-U.S. travelers from entry to the U.S. if traveling from South Africa, due to the new COVID-19 variant discovered there.
The president also signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to support governors’ deployment of their National Guard in their work to prevent the spread of coronavirus—an effort that would be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.)
As for the environment, Biden signed an order that directs federal agencies to “eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure.”
The orders direct federal agencies to procure carbon pollution-free electricity, and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying union jobs and “stimulate clean energy industries,” “requires those purchases to be Made in America,” while “strictly” enforcing wage and benefits guidelines, and “catalyzes” the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Meanwhile, as for equity and justice, Biden also signed orders to “define equity as the consistent and systemic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals,” and directed agencies to “equitably allocate federal resources to empower and invest in communities of color and underserved communities,” while also prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Biden signed a presidential memorandum to direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take steps to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that the administrable says have contributed to wealth inequality for generations.
The memorandum recognized the “central role” the federal government has played implementing housing policies across the United States, from redlining to mortgage discrimination to destructive federal highway construction—all of which, the administration says, have had “racially discriminatory impacts.”
The president also signed an executive order to end the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. The order will direct the attorney general not to renew DOJ contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities.
Biden is also reaffirmed the Federal Government’s Commitment to Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation, in an effort to re-establish “federal respect” for Tribal sovereignty, and strengthen the “nation-to-nation relationship” between the federal government and American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes. Biden’s move is also intended to empower self-determination and advance racial justice for Native communities.
Biden also signed a presidential memorandum to combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and a memo extending the Deferred Enforced Departure designation for Liberians who have been in the U.S. for many years to June 30, 2022. The memo also extended Liberians’ work authorization.
As for immigration, in addition to reaffirming DACA, Biden imposed a 100-day ‘pause’ on deportations of illegal immigrants.
And for healthcare, Biden signed executive orders expanding access to the Affordable Care Act during the coronavirus pandemic. The order creates a special enrollment period on HealthCare.gov, making it easier for the uninsured to obtain health coverage through ObamaCare during the pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services will open a three-month enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15.
Biden also signed an order that immediately rescinded the so-called Mexico City Policy, often referred to by critics as the global gag rule. The policy, reinstated by the Trump administration in 2017, bars international non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or referrals from receiving U.S. funding. Biden called the rule an “attack on women’s health access” on Thursday.
Biden also signed an order to “restore and maintain public trust in government,” and ordered every appointee in the executive branch to sign an “ethics pledge,” to ensure employees act in the interest of the American people and not for personal gain.