A host of executive orders on Biden's first day in office
Joe Biden’s top aide said on Saturday the incoming US president would sign about a dozen executive orders on his first day in office, as police fearing violence from Trump supporters staged a nationwide security operation ahead of the inauguration.
Biden, who campaigned on a raft of promises to undo President Donald Trump’s legacy even before the novel coronavirus pandemic walloped the nation, will unveil “roughly a dozen” previously promised executive actions on Wednesday, incoming Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said in a memo distributed to reporters.
The actions to be taken on Wednesday include rejoining the Paris climate accords, reversing a travel ban on several majority Muslim countries, extending a pause on federal student loan payments, halting evictions and foreclosures, as well as mandating masks in inter-state travel and on federal property.
Most of the measures are a reversal of policies Trump pursued and do not require congressional action. But Biden will also unveil a long-expected immigration proposal that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants that does require congressional action.
That measure, as well as Biden’s recent proposal for US$1.9 trillion in spending on COVID-19 vaccinations and economic stimulus, face uphill battles in a Congress narrowly controlled by Biden’s fellow Democrats.
As he inherits the White House from Donald Trump, Biden’s plate is overflowing with acute challenges. The US is fast approaching 400,000 dead from the COVID-19 crisis and logging well over a million new cases a week as the coronavirus spreads out of control.
The economy is ailing, with 10 million fewer jobs available compared to the start of the pandemic. And millions of Americans who back Trump refuse to recognize Biden as the legitimate president.
Meanwhile, Washington was under a state of high alert after a mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6. The assault left five people dead, including a police officer.
Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week. Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.