On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden, Vice President Kamala D. Harris and the rest of the Biden Administration took office and began to institute policy changes based on their progressive agenda. Much of the legislation and executive actions that this administration plans to take counteract the last four years of the Trump presidency.
Biden chose to start off his presidency by issuing a total of seventeen executive orders on his very first day in office. As one of his first executive orders as president, Biden chose to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. On the topic of climate, Biden also decided to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, one of many environmental actions the administration plans to take. His orders also included COVID-19 measures, such as a mask mandate for those on federal property, and he began the process of halting the exit of the U.S. from the World Health Organization.
In addition to measures regarding climate and the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden also chose to address inequities in America, highlighted by the recent Black Lives Matter movement. One of his executive actions directed the rescindment of the 1776 Commission, an act implemented by the Trump administration that blocked the inclusion of a more accurate historical education on the history of slavery in the U.S..
Issues with the U.S. Census and immigration also played a role in Biden’s first executive actions. In an effort to begin reforms of the Census, the president’s order requires that all non-citizens must be included in the Census count to accurately determine the apportionment of representatives for the House of Representatives. Additionally, Biden issued actions advancing immigration and changes to immigration policy, including halting construction of the border wall, reversing the infamous “Muslim travel ban,” and limiting Trump’s efforts to increase immigration enforcement.
Stepping forward from the first day of executive actions, the current administration plans to address issues such as: climate and energy, coalitions, COVID-19, domestic policy, education, faith, foreign policy, healthcare, jobs and the economy, older Americans, veterans and military families, women and the youth.
Climate and Energy
The new administration aims to ensure that, by 2050, the U.S. economy relies solely on clean energy and reaches a level of net-zero emissions. Additionally, it plans on investing in infrastructure to support newfound energy sources and combat the effects of climate change, and work alongside American’s allies to assist in mitigating the effects of climate change. These initiatives also include legal avenues to charge corporations who the administration feels have harmed communities of color in order to advance their energy agendas, as well as support workers in the energy industry as the U.S. moves towards greener energy supplies.
Among their more political and economic-based plans are coalitions that the administration prepares to integrate into their four years of policy and legislature. These coalitions include: immigration reforms, plans to strengthen tribal nations, improvements for racial equity, members of Black America, the empowerment and protection of women, plans for those with disabilities, strengthening partnerships with Central American Allies and commitments to justice and rural America. The administration also has plans for coalitions to improve on LGBTQ+ equality, support for Puerto Rico, the Catholic community, the Asian American & Pacific Islander community, the Indian American community, the Jewish community, the Muslim-American community, the Latino community and the Arab American community.
Biden, who ran primarily on the principle that he would get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, pledges to ensure that testing and care remains available to all Americans, regardless of socioeconomic status. With that, his administration plans to ensure free and widely available testing, protection for frontline workers and reinstate daily press briefings joined at times by medical experts. This also includes, but is not limited to, the elimination of potential economic roadblocks for COVID-19 care, treatments, vaccinations and a revised plan for the distribution of medical services.
While working to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic, the current administration has created initiatives to put an end to gun violence, strengthen the justice system and rural America and invest in housing. With respect to gun violence, Biden plans to institute legislation to ensure that manufacturers of guns remain accountable, ban the manufacturing and sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the U.S and institute regulations on the National Firearms Act, specifically on assault weapons. They also plan to institute a buy-back program in which the federal government purchases assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, reduce stockpiling of weapons, improve on background checks and loopholes in the system and incentivize certain laws and programs.
On the topic of education, the new administration plans to institute policies that support educators and students, strengthen the education workforce, reopen schools safely and support students after graduation. To improve the U.S. education system, the president plans to increase pay and investments in educators, create safe child care facilities, expand on school resources for students, work to ensure educational equity and provide universal pre-kindergarten for young children. In order to reopen schools, the administration wishes to set national safety guidelines that may be enforced by local agencies, allocate emergency funds for both public schools and child care providers, work to ensure quality learning during the pandemic and close the educational equity gap.
As for post-graduation, the administration hopes to fund two years of community colleges or training programs for exceptionally hard-working students, implement new grants for community colleges, invest billions in workforce training and community colleges and overcome barriers that prevent students from pursuing higher education. This would be followed by efforts to make college a reliable way to become a member of the middle class and fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities and Masters of Science in Information Systems programs.
To ensure the freedoms promised by the First Amendment, the administration plans to institute policies that support the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim-American community. Guided by his Catholic faith, the president plans to work on social justice issues that guarantee Americans’ ability to practice their religions freely and without fear of persecution.
As for foreign policy, Biden plans to work on “restoring” the standing of the U.S. as a global superpower, support the immigrant population of the U.S. and strengthen U.S. relations with Central America and the African Diaspora.
One of the main components of Biden’s campaign was healthcare, most notably including the expansion of former President Barack H. Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The new administration also plans to support the caregiving and education workforce of Americain, put an end to the opioid epidemic and provide aid to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Under the ACA, President Biden plans to give all Americans access to affordable health insurance, promote a quality and less complex health system, prevent “abuses of power” by prescription drug companies, ensure that everyone has access to all aspects of health care and support the healthcare system as a whole.
As for the opioid epidemic, the administration plans to use the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and charge corporations that have contributed to the crisis, ban incentives for physicians to prescribe opioids and end tax breaks for advertisements funded by pharmaceutical corporations. The administration also plans to expand treatment for those addicted to opioids, make Medication Assisted Treatment more widely available by 2025 and train first responders on how to properly treat an overdose. To promote a generation that steers clear from opioids, President Biden proposes exploring other, less addictive options for medication, limiting the prescription of opioids, reforming the criminal justice system for drug users and seizing the import of illicit drugs.
Jobs and the Economy
This pandemic has taken a toll on the American economy, with GDP growth falling into percentages that rival numbers seen during the Great Depression. In response to this, Biden’s plan includes efforts to ensure emergency paid leave for families affected by the pandemic and provides assistance to American families and small businesses.
An additional important component of Biden’s plans include initiatives to support caretakers, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, as well as honor older Americans and ensure they can enjoy retirement. In order to support older Americans, Biden plans to continue to “stand up” to pharmaceutical corporations, protect and strengthen Medicare, strengthen the social security system, equalize saving incentives for those in the middle-class and provide assistance for older workers who wish to continue working.
Veterans and Military Families
As a father of a veteran, Biden also made it an important part of his campaign to support veterans and military families. To support veterans, the president plans to further veterans affairs and provide them with quality health care, ensure that there are services to promote veterans’ mental health and well-being, support their transition to civilian lives, improve the management of Veterans Affairs and overall provide veterans with more opportunities.
To foster a nation that protects women, the administration has presented initiatives to empower and protect women. President Biden declared that he would institute efforts to ensure that women hold positions of power in his administration and prioritize issues important to women in the legislature. The president also hopes to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would ensure that women’s rights would become a permanent part of the U.S. Constitution, improve economic security and fight for equal pay and end workplace harassment towards women.
This administration also wishes to support and develop female leaders by expanding access to higher education and training, investing in women-owned small businesses and working to expand the pay and benefits for positions disproportionately occupied by women. Additionally, Biden wishes to promote reproductive health, ensure health care protection for all women and assist women in balancing their work life and families. This administration also plans to end violence against women and empower women worldwide.
Seeking to assist future generations, the Biden administration aims to institute plans that would support students in post-graduate education, support LGBTQ+ equality and support policies to combat issues championed by minors, such as gun violence, student debt and gun violence.
To learn more about the Biden Administration’s plan for legislation and policies, click here.