WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will launch a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after being sworn in to wipe out President Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, demolish its anti-immigration policies, reinforce the slow economic recovery and re-establish federal efforts to promote diversity.
Moving with an urgency no other modern president sees, Mr Biden will sign 17 Oval Office decrees, memoranda and proclamations on Wednesday afternoon, according to the president’s senior political advisers.
Individually, the actions target what the new president sees as specific and egregious abuse by Mr. Trump over four tumultuous years. Collectively, his advisers have said that Mr Biden’s assertive use of executive authority was meant to be a significant and visible down payment on one of his main goals as president: for, as they said Tuesday, “reverse the most serious damage” caused to the country by Mr. Trump.
“We don’t have a second to waste in dealing with the crises we face as a nation,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday evening on Twitter after arriving in Washington the day before his inauguration. “That’s why after taking the oath tomorrow, I’m going to get to work.”
Mr. Biden’s actions largely fall into four broad categories that his staff have described as the “converging crises” he will inherit at noon Wednesday: the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change.
In some cases, Mr. Biden plans to unilaterally and immediately rescind the policies and procedures Mr. Trump has put in place. In other cases, the limits of his authority force the new president to lead other members of his administration to take action or even to begin what could be a long process of moving the federal government in a new direction.
“A new day,” Jeff Zients, Mr Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said Tuesday. “A new and different approach to managing the country’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.”
One of Mr Biden’s first actions on Wednesday will be to sign an executive order making Mr Zients the official coordinator of the government’s Covid-19 response, reporting to the president. The order will also re-establish leadership for global health security and biodefense in the National Security Council, a group that Mr. Trump disbanded.
Mr Biden will also sign an executive order that Mr Trump had steadfastly refused to issue during his tenure – imposing a national mandate requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by all employees federal officials, officials said. And it will end Mr. Trump’s efforts to quit the World Health Organization, sending Dr.Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, to attend the annual board meeting. of the group on Thursday.
Aides said many of Mr. Biden’s actions on Wednesday were aimed at overturning Mr. Trump’s toughest immigration policies.
He will sign an executive order revoking the Trump administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census count and a second order to strengthen the deferred action program for child arrivals that protects “dreamers” from the ‘expulsion. Mr. Trump had sought for years to end the program, known as DACA.
Mr Biden will repeal two Trump-era proclamations that banned travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim and African countries, ending one of his predecessor’s early actions to limit immigration. The advisers said Mr Biden would ask the State Department to develop ways to address the harm done to those who have been prevented from traveling to the United States because of the ban.
Another executive order will revoke the enhanced enforcement of immigration violations targeting people already inside the United States. Another will block the deportation of Liberians who lived in the United States. And another will halt construction of Mr. Trump’s border wall – which was designed to prevent immigrants from entering the country – while Mr. Biden’s administration examines the legality of the wall’s funding and its contracts to construction.
“We believe we can take action to immediately reverse elements of Trump’s policy that were deeply inhumane and did not reflect our country’s values,” said Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, “While sending a message, a credible and clear signal that now is not the time to arrive at the southwest border because our ability to cross that border is extremely limited. “
Mr Biden, who takes office after a year of racial upheaval in the country, will act quickly on Wednesday to begin unraveling some of Mr Trump’s policies he sees as contributing to polarization and division, according to his senior adviser in domestic politics. .
Susan Rice, who will head the president’s Home Policy Council, said Mr. Biden would sign a general executive order to compel all federal agencies to make fairness a central factor in their work. The order will, among other things, require them to provide a report within 200 days on how to remove barriers to opportunity in policies and programs.
Mr. Biden will call on federal agencies to conduct reviews aimed at eliminating systemic discrimination in their policies and reversing historic discrimination in the safety net and other federal spending, Rice said. And it will start a working group on federal data collection based on diversity.
“The president-elect has promised to eliminate systemic racism from our institutions,” Rice told reporters on Tuesday. “And this initiative is a first step in this historic work. Achieving racial justice will require the administration to take a comprehensive approach to mainstreaming equity into all aspects of policy development and decision-making. “
Another executive order will require the federal government not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a policy that overrides Mr. Trump administration’s action. Another will overturn a Trump executive order that limited the ability of federal government agencies to use diversity and inclusion training.
And Mr. Biden will overturn Mr. Trump’s 1776 Commission, which on Monday released a report that historians have misrepresented the history of slavery in the United States.
Many of Mr. Trump’s most important actions as president were aimed at limiting environmental regulation and withdrawing from efforts to address climate change. Mr. Biden’s first actions as president will target these policies, officials said.
On Wednesday, he will sign a letter indicating that the United States will join the Paris climate accords, canceling Mr. Trump’s departure from the world organization.
He will then sign an executive order beginning the process of overturning environmental policies under the Trump administration, including rescinding cancellations of vehicle emissions standards; the imposition of a moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; the revocation of the license for the Keystone XL pipeline; and the re-establishment of a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gases.
“The Day 1 Climate Executive Orders will begin to put the United States back on the right foot, a base we need to restore American leadership, by helping to position our nation as the world leader in clean energy and jobs, ”said Gina McCarthy, Mr. Biden’s National Climate Advisor.
As he pledged during the campaign, Biden will also take several steps on Wednesday to help Americans grapple with the continued financial hardships brought on by the pandemic, in some cases reversing policies adopted by his predecessor.
It will extend a federal moratorium on evictions and ask agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, to extend a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages. Extensions would all work until the end of March.
Another order targets Americans with heavy student debt, continuing to pause on federal student loan interest and principal repayments until the end of September.
Progressive groups and some Congressional Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who will become majority leader on Wednesday, had pushed Mr. Biden to act even more aggressively and act on day one to cancel up to $ 50,000 per student debt person. Instead, Biden’s aides renewed his campaign call for Congress to act to write off up to $ 10,000 in individual student debt.
As some of his predecessors have done, Mr Biden will sign an executive order intended to set ethical standards for those who serve in his administration. Aides said he would also order all of his executive appointees to sign an ethical pledge.
Mr Biden will also freeze any new regulations put in place by his predecessor to give his administration time to assess which ones should go ahead – if any.
Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, said the executive actions Mr Biden took on Wednesday would be followed by a steady stream of others almost daily.
“President-elect Biden will continue to act over the next 10 days – and throughout his term – to address the four crises he has referred to,” Psaki said. “In the days and weeks to come, we will be announcing additional executive actions to address these challenges and deliver on the President-elect’s promises to the American people, including the revocation of the ban on military service by transgender Americans.
Jim tankersley contribution to reports.