During his first 50 days in the Oval Office, Joe Biden has wasted no time in laying out a muscular agenda that takes the US in the opposite direction to the one charted by Donald Trump – and he’s done much of it with just the stroke of a pen.
From the very start of his presidency, right-wing critics began tearing into him for his use of executive orders to kickstart major changes without (at first) submitting legislation. Some have described him as a hypocrite and even an authoritarian for supposedly bypassing Congress to legislate on his own – but the truth is more mundane.
Many of the early orders he's issued are focused on undoing policies that Donald Trump introduced in exactly the same way. And while Mr Biden deployed a remarkable number of orders in just his first days, he will have to issue scores more before he catches up with most other modern presidents.
Here is a list of the executive orders the president has signed so far:
Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government -“Equity” has become part of the Biden administration’s signature lexicon; in this order, it’s defined as “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals” – as opposed to “equality”, which can simply mean “treating everyone the same”. Mr Biden’s first order mandates his administration to identify ways the federal government can “promote equity” by allocating resources and gathering data on social and economic inequities. It also repeals two of Donald Trump’s executive orders, which were designed to “combat race and sex stereotyping” and establish the much-ridiculed 1776 Commission.
Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census – Overturns a Trump order and memorandum that changed the way the Census dealt with undocumented people and then excluded them altogether from being counted.
Organizing and Mobilizing the United States Government To Provide a Unified and Effective Response To Combat COVID-19 and To Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security – Creates the office of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President, who will oversee all aspects of the pandemic response and report directly to Mr Biden
Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation – Orders government agencies to take all steps necessary to ensure they uphold anti-discrimination statutes
Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel – Orders that anyone appointed to an executive agency starting now must sign an ethics pledge banning them from accepting gifts from lobbyists or using the “revolving door” between lobbying and government work
Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis – Orders a review of all federal government actions during the Trump administration that mitigate against environmental protection, public health and conservation. It also revokes the permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which it says “disserves the national interest”
Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing – Orders that everyone in federal buildings and on federal lands must follow CDC guidelines on stopping the spread of Covid-19
Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation – Overturns six Trump orders targeting regulations, including one that ordered executive agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one they introduced
Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities – Revokes one of Mr Trump’s toughest orders on immigration, and obliges the heads of relevant agencies to review any actions taken as a result of it
Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats– Sets out various mandates for federal agencies to improve the way they gather and use data for public health purposes
Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery – Establishes a Health Equity Task Force to “mitigate the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”
Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats – Sets up a new body that will co-ordinate federal testing efforts, as well as “a national contact tracing and COVID-19 public health workforce program” to be known as “the US Public Health Jobs Corps”
Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19– Beefs up the Covid-19 response to better target government assistance and to make sure clinal trials include populations that have previously been left out of them
Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel– Mandates mask-wearing on various forms of public transport and requires that travellers trying to enter the US provide a negative Covid-19 test
Protecting Worker Health and Safety – Orders an immediate effort to keep workers safe from Covid-19 with “science-based guidance”
Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers – Directs the secretaries of education and health and human services to determine how soon it is safe for schools to return to in-person learning, and to support schools, teachers, students and families while the pandemic continues
A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain – Directs several cabinet secretaries to order a review of supplies needed to combat the pandemic, including personal protective equipment and “the resources necessary to effectively produce and distribute tests and vaccines at scale”
Economic Relief Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic – A broad order that directs federal agencies to do all they can to help people and business access programmes designed to help them recover from the pandemic’s economic effects
Protecting the Federal Workforce – Orders the secretary of Labour to revise and upgrade guidance to protect federal workers from Covid-19, and to work with states to make sure all workers are properly protected
Enabling All Qualified Americans To Serve Their Country in Uniform – Revokes a Trump administration order that largely excluded trans people from joining the military and restricted the rights of those already serving
Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America's Workers – Orders federal agencies to ensure they comply with policies prioritising the use of American-produced goods and services
Reforming Our Incarceration System To Eliminate the Use of Privately Operated Criminal Detention Facilities – Prohibits the attorney general from renewing contracts with private prison operators
President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology – Establishes a 26-member body of experts from outside the federal government to provide the best possible advice “on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics”
Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad – A long and detailed order covering broad areas of climate policy, spanning departments from the Treasury to Defense to State. Among other things, it establishes an interagency group to help communities suffering from the loss of fossil fuel-related jobs, and creates a new position, a Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Former secretary of state John Kerry has been appointed the first one.
Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act – Orders the secretary of health and human services to “consider establishing a Special Enrollment Period for uninsured and under-insured Americans to seek coverage” on the federally facilitated health insurance marketplace, noting that groups hit especially hard by the coronavirus are also disproportionately uninsured
Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework To Address the Causes of Migration, To Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and To Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border– This order states a moral position on immigration: “Securing our borders does not require us to ignore the humanity of those who seek to cross them. The opposite is true”
Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans – Stating that “our Nation is enriched socially and economically by the presence of immigrants, and we celebrate with them as they take the important step of becoming United States citizens”, this order mandates the creation of a Task Force on New Americans to help “welcome and support” immigrants, as well as instructing other moves to improve naturalisation processes – and revoking a Trump memorandum on “Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens”
Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families – The headline order to undo the Trump administration’s family separations, which it describes as “a human tragedy”
Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration – Revokes Trump administration orders and memorandums that imposed enhanced vetting on refugee status and visa applications while calling for the rebuilding and expansion of the United States Refugee Admissions Program
Executive Order on Blocking Property with Respect to the Situation in Burma – Imposes sanctions on people involved in the military coup in Myanmar, or in the country's defence sector
Executive Order on the Establishment of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships – Sets up a new White House office that will lead federal efforts to “enlist, equip, enable, empower, and expand the work of community-serving organizations, both faith-based and secular, to the extent permitted by law”
Executive Order on the Revocation of Executive Order 13801 – Rolls back apprenticeship programmes set up by the Trump administration. This is part of a broader effort to “bolster registered apprenticeships” as the Biden administration plans to refire the economy and put Americans who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic back to work
Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains – Orders a wholesale, multi-agency review of the integrity and security of US supply chains for various goods and commodities, including semiconductors and components for high-capacity batteries.
Executive Order on the Revocation of Certain Presidential Actions – Revokes seven actions signed by Donald Trump, among them executive orders covering financial regulation, the welfare system, and the federal response to Covid-19.
Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting – Signed on the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”, when state troopers violently attacked civil rights protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, this order pushes back on Republican-led state-level attempts to make voting and voter registration more difficult. Among other things, it orders government agencies to find new ways to promote voter registration and to ensure that their employees get ample time to vote on election days.
Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity – Orders the Department of Education to review any policy that might undermine the principle that “an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity”. In particular, it begins a review of Trump-era rules on the handling of sexual harassment and assault allegations in educational institutions.
Executive Order on Establishment of the White House Gender Policy Council – Sets up a new body to oversee federal efforts “to advance gender equity and equality”, and sets it the task of delivering “a government-wide strategy for advancing gender equity and equality in the United States and, when applicable, around the world” within 200 days.
This list will be kept updated.
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