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What is Joe Biden's plan for his first 10 days?

Biden’s Chief of Staff has outlined swift-moving plans on core policies to tackle covid-19, economy, the environment and immigration, among others.

What is Joe Biden's plan for his first 10 days?
JIM WATSON AFP

Announced Saturday by his Chief of Staff Ron Klain, president-elect Joe Biden has now unveiled a plan for he and Kamala Harris’ first ten days in office to kick-start many of their key policies. The move is clearly intended to mark a clean break between the end of the Donald Trump era and the beginning of the Biden one.

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

“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.”

Joe Biden’s first day as 46th President of the United States

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

The memo detailed several executive actions that Biden will be signing within the first hours of his presidency on 20 January, including;

Environment: Keystone XL oil pipeline and Paris climate accords

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.

It is also now being widely reported that the words "Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit" appear on a lengthier briefing note circulated following Klain’s announcement Saturday from the Biden transition team with US stakeholders.

The controversial pipeline has had a turbulent start to life, having been vetoed by Barack Obama in 2015. Trump restarted construction in 2019. Indigenous groups and environmentalists alike have been fighting the project for over ten years.

The pipeline is projected to carry oil nearly 1,200 miles from the Canadian province of Alberta down to Nebraska, where it would join an existing pipeline.

Reverse Trump’s 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.

Coronavirus mask mandate and eviction pause extensions

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.

What other plans does Biden have in his sights?

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, 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.

Biden's early plans: will they all happen?

“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 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 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.