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How many executive orders has Biden signed in his first few weeks?

Since he took office, Biden has signed numerous executive orders and actions dealing with issues such as climate change, health care, immigration and Civil Rights.

How many executive orders has Biden signed in his first few weeks?
SAUL LOEB AFP

Since Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on 20 January, he has been busy signing numerous executive orders, memorandum and actions covering a wide range of issues including Federal Covid-19 response, Civil Rights, workers’ protection, health care, immigration, racism, education, climate change and the economy.

According to the latest update issued by the US Federal Register, of the 45 Executive Orders signed since the start of the New Year, Biden signed 29 between 20 January and 9 February 2021 – the first, Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities was one of several signed on his first day in office. The most recent, Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs To Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration was established just a couple of days ago.

On top of that, in little over three weeks in the Oval Office, Biden has signed 10 memorandum dealing with subjects such as the use of the National Guard during the pandemic, redressing federal government’s discriminatory housing policy and racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Amercians and Pacific islanders in the United States.

Key issues

Out of the 29 executive orders which Biden has signed to date, 15 have concerned the government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic, ensuring adequate protection to workers is provided and Covid-19 Relief Aid. The administration will establish a taskforce within the Department of Health and Human Services which will address, among other topics, “the disproportionate and severe impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on communities of color and other underserved populations”.

Biden’s government has vowed to “act swiftly and aggressively to combat the coronavirus pandemic” by appointing a response coordinator who will be in charge of coordinating the production, supply and distribution of protective equipment, vaccines, testing materials and the expansion of the federal Covid-19 testing programme. Another senior position will be set up to work alongside the response coordinator to supervise the collection, provision and analysis of data, including key equity indicators, relating to the Covid-19 response, as well as sharing that data with State, local, Tribal and territorial authorities.

Travel restrictions entering the United States

To suppress the spread of the new coronavirus variants (B.1.351., B.1.1.7. and B.1.1.28.1.), Biden has temporarily suspended or restricted entry to the United States to immigrants/nonimmigrants/ noncitizens from high-risk countries including the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Republic of Ireland, Brazil and South Africa during a 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the country. The order will remain in place until further notice.

The welfare of frontline workers and civil servants was also dealt with in a separate order with all on-duty or on-site Federal employees, contractors and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal property must wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.

Biden's plans to raise the minimum wage

Part of Executive Order 14003 on Protecting the Federal Workforce includes a section entitled: 'Progress Toward a Living Wage for Federal Employees' and states that the Director of OPM shall provide a report to the President with recommendations to promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for Federal employees.

Eight executive orders focused on immigration, either revoking the efforts of previous president Donald Trump’s to defund “sanctuary cities” and jurisdiction against shielding alien citizens from deportation. Biden declared that constructing a southern border wall is “a waste of money” and will be paused while the “legality of the funding and contracting methods used to construct the wall are assessed”.

The US set to return to the Paris Agreement

Climate change both domestically and abroad was also on the agenda in three executive orders (13990. 14008 and 14013). Biden has promised to put climate change at the centre of foreign policy and national security: “There is little time left to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory” he warned, adding the United States is willing to rejoin the 2015 Paris Agreement which it officially withdrew from on 4 November last year.

Biden’s other executive orders looked at Civil Rights, racial equality and tackling discrimination based on gender identity. Trump’s memorandum from March 2018 which banned transgender people from the serving in the US military was revoked in the second executive order signed by the president. "All transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination”.