In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging COVID-19 pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.
The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, without waiting for Congress.
On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.
“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”
“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain said, including on the $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief bill he outlined Thursday. Klain said Biden will also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.
The next day, Thursday, Biden will sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. Friday will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.
In the following week, Klain said, Biden will take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reunions of families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.
Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged or even rejected by courts.
Klain maintained that Biden should not face similar issues, saying, “The legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the president.”