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Public Policy Newsletter Article

President Joe Biden Enacts Swift Executive Actions

  • 2021-01-28T16:00:00.000+0000
  • Author: Laure Fabrega

President Joe Biden jump-started his presidency with a series of executive orders related to health care, climate change and immigration, showing he will act on these matters quickly and without waiting for congressional approval. We can expect more executive orders in the coming days.

On January 20, the day of his inauguration, he signed executive orders creating the office of the “COVID-19 response coordinator,” mandating that people wear face masks on federal property, and reversing the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). The orders come as the President seeks to advance a national strategy to address the health crisis. He also extended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and extended student loan forbearance.

Other actions on his first day included rejoining the Paris agreement on climate change, pausing the construction of the border wall with Mexico, repealing the muslin ban, repealing the ban on military service by transgender individuals, rescinding a ban on diversity trainings within federal agencies, and rescinding several more executive orders from the Trump Administration related to climate change and immigration. It is expected that the President will use his executive order authority to reverse more of the past Administration’s policies within his first days in office, including policies affecting the Affordable Care Act, women’s health and Medicaid.

The Biden Administration also instructed agencies to delay for 60 days implementation of rules and guidance documents that haven’t taken effect (with a recommended 30-day comment period), withdraw regulations that have not been published in the Federal Register, and not issue new rules until agency heads or their designees have approved these rules, except for emergency situations relating to health, safety, environmental and national security matters. This is typical when a new Administration takes over.

The next day, on January 21, President Biden signed more orders to address the pandemic, including plans to expand testing through the creation of a Pandemic Test Board, ensure adequate supply and distribution of vaccines, shore up supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), including by invoking the Defense Production Act, support states’ efforts to deploy public health personnel, strengthen the collection of covid-19 data, direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse states at 100 percent for costs related to National Guard personnel and supplies to respond to the pandemic, and make travel safer, including through public health requirements on certain modes of transportation, such as negative COVID-19 tests from passengers boarding a flight to the U.S. On January 25, President Biden signed a “Buy American” executive order directing agencies to strengthen requirements for procuring goods and services from American manufacturers.