Here are 7 actions Joe Biden has already taken as president
President Joe Biden was sworn into office around noon on Wednesday, and by the end of the day, the course of the U.S. federal government had dramatically shifted.
Because the U.S. system invests so much power and authority in the office of the president, new occupants of the Oval Office have the ability to make many changes quite quickly — even if their most ambitious plans require more work and inter-branch cooperation. Like Donald Trump before him, Biden immediately began taking concrete and symbolic steps to enact his agenda.
Here are just seven of the many immediate actions he's taken:
1. Rejoined the Paris Climate Accord
Trump had pulled the country out of the voluntary agreement to lower carbon emissions. It was part of a global effort to combat climate change that had been crafted under President Barack Obama's leadership. Biden had promised to rejoin the accord, and he did so right out of the gate.
"I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America," he said in a statement.
2. Ended Trump's Muslim ban
One of the first and most inflammatory moves Trump made as president was to issue an order blocking immigrants from a group of mostly Muslim-majority counties. It was clearly an effort to follow through on his campaign promise to ban all Muslim migration to the United States, which in its explicit form would have almost certainly been unconstitutional. However, the conservative Supreme Court upheld the eventual form the ban took.
With a stroke of his pen, Biden reversed the policy. He explained in a proclamation:
[The] previous administration enacted a number of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States -- first from primarily Muslim countries, and later, from largely African countries. Those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.
Beyond contravening our values, these Executive Orders and Proclamations have undermined our national security. They have jeopardized our global network of alliances and partnerships and are a moral blight that has dulled the power of our example the world over. And they have separated loved ones, inflicting pain that will ripple for years to come. They are just plain wrong.
3. New bust
In redecorating the Oval Office, Biden introduced a new bust of a figure representing his commitment to the labor movement: civil rights activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez.
I am smiling ear to ear with a full heart! #organizerswin #SiSePuede @UFWupdates #Unionproud “Behind the Re… https://t.co/XhtDHem3U7— Marisol Garcia (@Marisol Garcia) 1611182127.0
4. Fired Peter Robb
In what may turn out to be one of the more controversial moves of the president's first day in office, Biden moved quickly to remove Trump appointee Peter Robb, who served as the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. Biden gave Robb the option to resign, but he refused.
His term was slated to last until this coming November, but unions, including the Service Employees International Union and Communications Workers of America, have been urging Biden to break with precedent by forcing him out immediately, in order to begin reorienting the agency toward protecting workers.
Robb appears to be the first NLRB general counsel to be forced out in more than half a century. The move angered Republicans and business attorneys who said it threatened the agency's independent status and betrayed Biden's call for unity in his inaugural address.
After Robb refused to go gracefully, it was reported that Biden followed through on his threat:
NEW: White House official confirmed for me that Joe Biden just fired Peter Robb after he refused to resign as NLRB general counsel.— Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson) 1611194062.0
5. Ordered mask-wearing by the federal workforce
The order explained:
It is the policy of my Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures. Such measures include wearing masks when around others, physical distancing, and other related precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Put simply, masks and other public health measures reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when communities make widespread use of such measures, and thus save lives.
Accordingly, to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce, and to ensure the continuity of Government services and activities, on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.
6. Thwarted Trump's census scheme
Under Trump, the Census was ordered to make a count of immigrants in the United States, even though it had been blocked from including a citizenship question on the decennial form. Many argued that the effort was a plot to allow states to exclude immigrants from their population counts for apportionment purposes, which would likely be unconstitutional.
Since the final tallies of the census have been delayed, Biden had the opportunity to stop any such plan in its tracks. He explained:
Both the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and section 2a(a) of title 2, United States Code, require that the apportionment base of each State, for the purpose of the reapportionment of Representatives following the decennial census, include all persons whose usual place of residence was in that State as of the designated census date, regardless of their immigration status. These laws, affirmed by the executive branch's longstanding historical practice, do not permit the exclusion of inhabitants of the United States from the apportionment base solely on the ground that they lack a lawful immigration status. Reflecting this legal background, and the values of equal representation and respect that the Constitution and laws embody, it is the policy of the United States that reapportionment shall be based on the total number of persons residing in the several States, without regard for immigration status. It is likewise essential that the census count be accurate and based on reliable and high‑quality data.
7. Signaled support for D.C.
The new license plate for the presidential limo includes the irreverent motto "Taxation without representation," a nod to the district's subordinate status in the United States due to its lack of statehood. Under Trump, this motto didn't appear on the limo. Biden is sending a signal of support of D.C.'s representation with this move.
“Taxation Without Representation” is back on the Beast. https://t.co/PZYrpANhOS— Ryan J. Reilly (@Ryan J. Reilly) 1611169767.0
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