By Dveen Hagopian
Entering office amidst a pandemic, economic recession, climate crisis, and great political divide, President Joe Biden has inherited an influx of great pressures and responsibilities. As expected, all eyes are on him as he tries to lead and unite the country during these trying times. Despite all the current hardships the U.S. is facing, Biden provided a hopeful message for Americans in his inaugural address.
“With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus,” Biden said.
With a total of 22 signed and issued executive orders, Biden has now signed more executive orders in his first week than any past president has done. Many of these orders are designed to look after the health of Americans, such as protecting the federal workforce and protecting worker health and safety. Other notable health efforts include improving and expanding overall access to COVID-19 resources, mandating mask-wearing, ensuring an equitable pandemic recovery, and an order for a sustainable public health supply chain.
Several executive orders include the revision of civil immigration enforcement policies, the revocation of certain executive orders concerning general federal regulations and provisions, preventing discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, advancing racial equity for underserved communities through the federal government, and supporting the reopening of schools and education providers.
It is clear that Biden has decided to focus on varying issues with these orders, and wants to have a very productive first 100 days in office.
Here’s a look at some of his executive orders so far:
Biden issued an Executive Order on January 22 that is designed to provide a sense of economic relief to the struggling families and businesses across America. In it, he directs the government to consider actions to address many Americans’ financial instability. He hopes to support approximately 2 million veterans, tackle the hunger crisis affecting 29 million Americans, efficiently deliver direct payments through a new delivery structure, provide unemployment insurance to those who face unsafe working conditions, and enact an interagency benefit coordination structure.
The president recently announced his plan to increase weekly COVID-19 vaccination distributions throughout the country from 8.6 million to at least 10 million doses, and stated that he will likely soon confirm the purchases of 100 million more Pfizer vaccines, and 10 million more Moderna vaccines.
He also signed an executive order requiring masks in all Federal buildings as well as rejoining the World Health Organization.
In addition to his COVID-19 relief plan, Biden has also introduced an elaborate climate plan that he hopes will play a role in helping solve the climate crisis. On January 27, Biden signed multiple executive orders which consisted of plans to run a clean-burning economy and pause the leasing of oil and gas on federal land. This sustainable switch is designed to decrease pollution and global warming, which are largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The plan also means that about 30 percent of America’s land and water will be conserved within the next 10 years, an all-electric federal vehicle fleet will be enforced, and offshore wind energy will be doubled. President Biden seems to be taking the climate crisis very seriously, and we can likely expect his plan to continue to expand.
Further, Biden recommitted to the Paris Climate Agreement after the Trump administration left in 2017. The Paris Climate Agreement is a legally binding treaty, consisting of 197 countries throughout the world. It aims to limit global warming and pollution across the globe.
Biden also cancelled the construction permit of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which was designed to transport oil from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, and posed a great environmental threat due to the high carbon concentration it entailed.
Biden overturned a number of Trump’s orders, including the highly controversial transgender military ban, which prohibited transgender or transitioning individuals from serving in the military.
He signed two executive orders which both prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation as well as enabling all Americans to serve in the military.
The White House recently released an official statement on the matter, affirming that “President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity.”
Although still very new, Biden’s presidency has already received both extensive praise and criticism. He has undoubtedly already accomplished a number of goals in his brief time in office, and has made it clear that, above all else, he will fight to defend and unite America.
As stated in his presidential inaugural address, Biden’s ultimate message to the American people is that “Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. An American story of decency and dignity. Of love and of healing. Of greatness and of goodness.”