President-elect Biden has assured the American people that his very first day in office will be spent signing an array of executive orders. Unlike legislation, such directive from the president do not need approval from Congress and will be effective immediately.
While President Donald Trump's executive orders have primarily centered around stripping certain populations of people of their right to be well (including Muslim immigrants, the LGBT community, and other marginalized groups), Biden calls for a country that centers well-being for all people. Four of the executive orders he has planned for January 20—which cover immigration, the climate, the pandemic, and more—prove as much.
The wellness-forward executive orders Joe Biden will sign as president
1. The United States re-enters the World Health Organization
Trump terminated the United States' relationship with the WHO in May 2020 with the stated purpose of "redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs."
This was immediately met with criticism by politicians and the medical community, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). "Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need," he said. "And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States."
Biden has promised the United States will repair its relationship with WHO and re-up its funding to the organization so that the world is, once again, working together to combat COVID-19. On the official Biden-Harris transition website, the President-elect states his goal to "immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which—while not perfect—is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic."
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2. The United states rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement
"I know that climate change is the challenge that’s going to define our American future—and I know meeting this challenge will be a once-in-a-century opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, and protect our planet for future generations," said Biden in July. In order to follow through on this belief, Biden will recommit America to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change: A global effort combatting climate change and its effect that Trump withdrew the U.S. from officially just last week.
That's not all, though. President-elect Biden has also announced his intentions to expand public transportation throughout America, create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry that champion electric vehicles, and "achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035." And that's just a start.
3. Biden rolls back two harmful immigration policies
The Washington Post reports that Biden plans to repeal the Trump-era ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries. He will also reinstate the program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allowing "dreamers," children brought to the United States illegally, to remain in the country (another policy ended by Trump in 2017).
The latter reinstatement will be vitally important to the lives of many undocumented immigrants because, as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)—a leading anti-hate organization explains why. "The recipients of DACA are young people who have grown up as Americans, identify themselves as Americans, and many speak only English and have no memory of or connection with the country where they were born," says the ADL. "Under current immigration law, most of these young people had no way to gain legal residency even though they have lived in the U.S. most of their lives."
4. Biden institutes new ethics guidelines at the White House
One of Biden's most daring and meaningful moves will be to set new ethics guidelines at the White House with an executive order that will "[direct] that no White House staff or any member of his administration may initiate, encourage, obstruct, or otherwise improperly influence specific [Department of Justice] investigations or prosecutions for any reason; and he will pledge to terminate anyone who tries to do so." With this, Biden seeks to put an end to executive branch agencies wavering from their original mission. Meaning, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will actually protect the environment, the Department of Health and Human Services will help the Affordable Care Act (ACA) function at its best, and so on. Not to mention: The President of the United States will no longer be able to manipulate governmental institutions designed to protect the American people to his own ends.
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