President Biden took a series of executive actions on issues including immigration and criminal justice. He also moved to rejoin the Paris climate accord.
President Biden unleashed a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after taking the oath of office to sweep aside President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, tear down his anti-immigration policies, bolster the sluggish economic recovery and restore federal efforts aimed at promoting diversity.
Moving with an urgency not seen from any other modern president, Mr Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Among the steps the president took were ordered to rejoin the Paris climate accord and end Mr Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim and African countries.
Individually, the actions are targeted at what the president views as specific, egregious abuses by Mr Trump during four tumultuous years. Collectively, Mr Biden’s assertive use of executive authority was intended to be a hefty and visible down payment on one of his primary goals: to, as his top advisers described it, “reverse the gravest damages” done to the country by Mr Trump.
“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities,” Mr Biden said during his Inaugural Address at the Capitol, delivered to a crowd shrunken by coronavirus risks and threats of violence. “Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build, and much to gain.”In his remarks, Mr Biden stressed the unity of purpose, urging Americans to “see each other not as adversaries but as neighbours” and pleaded with citizens and leaders to “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”
But his first actions in office were aimed not at compromise and cooperation with his adversaries, but instead suggested a determination to quickly erase much of the Trump agenda. They fell within four broad categories that his aides described as the “converging crises” he inherited at noon Wednesday: the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change.
Moments after Mr Biden’s Inaugural Address, the leader of a conservative advocacy group underscored the divisiveness that remains in Washington, accusing the president of making moves on Day 1 that “will make America less safe, less free, and less prosperous.”
“As the Biden administration begins today, conservatives are prepared to fight back against the destructive policies of the far left,” said Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action.
In some cases, Mr Biden’s actions unilaterally and immediately reversed policies and procedures that Mr Trump had put in place. In other instances, limits on his authority require the president to direct others in his administration to act or even to begin what could be a long process to shift the federal government in a new direction.