Today marks one month since President Joseph R. Biden took the Oath of Office on the steps of the Capitol building and became the 46th President of the United States. During his first month in office, Biden has passed legislation regarding different important issues in the country. Here are some of the most influential and high profile executive orders and acts signed by Biden in his first month as president:
In his first month, Biden passed a variety of environmental protections. On Jan. 20, his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order rejoining the Paris Agreement — an international pact aimed at curbing carbon emissions and fighting climate change. In 2017, former President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the agreement, as he believed it caused harm to American taxpayers.
Biden then signed an executive order revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline — a 1,200 mile pipeline expected to carry crude oil from Canada to the U.S. The pipeline, which would pass through indigenous lands, sparked controversy. This order also paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the most significant environmental executive orders signed initiated a plan to combat climate change. The plan called for the country to set a target for carbon emission reductions and directed federal agencies to integrate climate considerations into plans and suspend new oil and gas leases on public lands. The order also created the Office of Domestic Climate Policy and a national climate task force.
COVID-19 and Healthcare
Six days prior to his inauguration, Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion emergency COVID-19 economic relief package in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and save American lives. On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order requiring people to wear masks and social distance on all federal properties. In a separate executive order, Biden also required passengers on any form of public transportation to wear masks.
Biden also signed a memorandum supporting the use of the National Guard by states in response to the pandemic. The deployment of the National Guard by states in response to the pandemic is fully funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
An additional executive order established a COVID-19 testing board, which would coordinate efforts to promote COVID-19 testing and screening. The board would also facilitate the distribution of free COVID-19 tests to Americans without comprehensive health insurance. The board is headed by the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President, Jeff Zientes.
In order to better assess the pandemic, Biden has also enacted executive orders regarding healthcare. He signed an executive order reinforcing Medicaid and the Affordable Healthcare Act, which directed agencies to revise policies that threatened or complicated protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions. Biden also signed another memorandum expanding access to reproductive healthcare. During his presidency, Trump had reinstated a policy that blocked federal funding to foreign organizations that perform abortions, provide abortion counseling or give abortion referrals.
One of the first actions Biden took as president regarded immigration. During his presidency, Trump signed a policy that barred entry to the U.S. for refugees and residents from seven Muslim countries. On his first day, Biden signed a proclamation ending this ban and resuming visa processing for immigrants from these countries.
Another executive order regarding immigration revised immigration enforcement policies. The order reversed a policy made by Trump that cracked down on communities shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation. In the same way, Biden signed another executive order incorporating undocumented immigrants into the U.S. Census count.
Biden also signed two executive orders that strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and diverted funds from the border wall. The orders dealt with two Trump-era policies that threatened immigration status and immigration into the country. With the signing of these executive orders, Biden secured immigration status for thousands of Americans.
One of the most significant executive orders signed by Biden in his first month regarded the transgender military ban. As president, Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military. Biden reversed this ban and ordered the defense secretary to prohibit segregation or discrimination based on gender identity in the military.
Biden also signed another executive order that extended federal nondiscrimination protections to members of the LGBTQ+ community. This order built off the Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, which expanded protections in federal agencies against discrimination based on sex to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Biden signed numerous executive orders surrounding the economy in his first 30 days as president. One of the orders paused all student loan payments in response to economic hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A separate order also assisted veterans with debt; Biden’s order froze all federal debt and overpayment collection from around two million veterans.