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What executive orders will Joe Biden sign first?

In his first days in office, Biden plans to sign a blitz of executive orders targeting the pandemic, the economy, climate change and racial injustice.

What executive orders will Joe Biden sign first?
OLIVIER DOULIERY AFP

Via a memo announced by his Chief of Staff Ron Klain, incoming president Joe Biden has outlined a plan for the first ten days in office to kick start key policies. The move is clearly intended to mark a clean break between the end of the Trump era and the beginning of the Biden one.

America is currently reeling from a health crisis, economic chaos, racial unrest and now insurrectionist violence, and so the news brings hope of momentum and constructive leadership from day one.

Biden’s first day: executive orders ready and waiting to be signed

The quickest way for Biden to go about making some of his signature policy changes (importantly bypassing the process of approval in Congress) is by signing executive orders.

The very first items on the agenda are several executive orders that Biden will sign within the first hours of his presidency on Wednesday, including;

Paris Climate Accord

A US return to the Paris climate agreement - the global pact on cutting carbon emissions. Biden plans to immediately rejoin the Paris climate accords, and to seek to push other countries into lowering their emissions.

Biden has said he would build upon Barack Obama’s efforts to fight climate change. As part of the plan, Biden proposed $2 trillion in clean energy and infrastructure spending and he is also aiming for net zero emissions by 2050.

When Joe Biden won the election in November the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted, “Welcome back America!”

Trump's "Muslim" travel ban

Biden will rescind the controversial travel ban on mostly Muslim-majority countries. Donald Trump, through executive action, instituted a travel ban from Muslim countries such as Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The ban, which Trump has said is in the best interest of national security, included some immigrants, refugees and visa holders from entering the US.

Mask mandate and pandemic evictions pause

Other executive actions for the first hours of Biden’s term include, orders making the wearing of masks on federal property and when travelling interstate mandatory, and calling for an extension to nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures due to the pandemic.

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

Can the executive actions be denied?

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion 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 "DREAMers" program, which allowed children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, was rescinded by Trump in 2017, but Biden is said to be set on ensuring that DACA - the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - would continue to allow these immigrants to live and work in the US without threat of being deported.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump when he first took over in 2016 did the same, but he found many of his orders were challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President,” according to AP’s report.

What happens for the rest of Biden’s first week?

On the new president’s second day in office, Thurdsay, Biden would sign orders related to the covid-19 pandemic, aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic, say the AP.

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