Joe won’t be Biden his time on ‘day one’ in the White House

These are the key policies the president-elect could immediately take up arms against

US president-elect Joe Biden with his vice-president-elect Kamala Harris.
US president-elect Joe Biden with his vice-president-elect Kamala Harris.
Image: REUTERS/ KEVIN LAMARQUE

Democrat Joe Biden has been keeping a long wish list of actions he would take if he had a chance to reverse the policies of Republican US president Donald Trump. 

Now that Biden is headed to the White House after winning Tuesday’s election, here is a list of some of the policies the president-elect and his team want to take “on day one” or early in his four-year term in office, slated to start on January 20 2021.

Biden has said his number-one focus is getting the coronavirus under control. He will push for masks to be worn nationwide, a change that health experts say could save thousands of lives, but his legal authority to enforce such a mandate is unclear.

He promises a new public-private partnership called a “pandemic testing board” that would be responsible for boosting production of coronavirus testing kits and lab supplies, as well as coordinating access to those services. He also promised to make Covid-19 testing, treatment and vaccines free for all Americans.

Biden promised to undo many of the tax cuts Trump signed into law for corporations and wealthy individuals as soon as he takes office, though the changes require congressional approval. He vowed to increase enforcement of tax policies already on the books and also to quickly bolster workers’ unionisation rights.

A major plank of Biden’s plan to recover from the coronavirus recession is to force government agencies to buy US-made goods and services to help boost domestic manufacturing. He can do this through spending already authorised by Congress and orders to the agencies soon to be under his control.

Within Biden’s first 100 days, he pledged to work on getting the Equality Act passed, a bill adding vast new anti-discrimination protections based on sexual and gender identity.

He is also expected to issue an executive order promoting diversity and inclusion in the federal government, and create a new White House Council on Gender Equality to co-ordinate policies relating to women.

And while he pursues gun-control legislation, Biden has promised to use his powers “to ban the importation of assault weapons”.

Biden plans to send an immigration bill to Congress on his first day in office that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, a goal sought unsuccessfully by many US presidential administrations of both parties.

Apart from the legislation, Biden intends to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, which grants deportation relief and work permits to roughly 644,000 people living in the US illegally after entering as children, known as “Dreamers”. Trump has reduced protections under the programme.

Biden also promised to halt deportations during his first 100 days in office.

He promised to sign an order creating a task force to reunite more than 500 children who were separated from their families at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration and whose parents have not been located.

Biden plans to rescind Trump’s travel bans, which placed restrictions on travellers from 13 countries, most of them majority-Muslim or African nations.

Biden has said that on his first day he would rescind Trump’s decision to abandon the World Health Organisation, a move widely criticised internationally amid the pandemic, and quickly rejoin the Paris climate accord, a signature achievement of the Obama-Biden administration. The US would also re-enter the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under that administration and nixed by Trump.

He has said that on “day one” he would be on the phone with allies to rebuild US credibility abroad after four years of Trump’s “America First” approach.

Biden has pledged to extend the life of the last US-Russia strategic nuclear arms control treaty and notifying Moscow of his intention to do so would likely be one of his first acts. The New START pact expires 16 days after his inauguration, ending all restraints on deployments of strategic nuclear warheads and the bombers and missiles that carry them, potentially fuelling a new arms race.

Biden would also “immediately” consult with America’s main allies before deciding on the future of US tariffs on China, as well as other policies towards Beijing, advisers have said.

He told Univision “as soon as I’m sworn in” he would grant refugee status, known as Temporary Protected Status, for tens of thousands of Venezuelan nationals in the US after they fled political and economic turmoil at home. Trump had long considered such a move, but never approved it.

In addition to leaving the Paris agreement, Trump reversed a number of other environmental policies under Democratic former president Barack Obama that Biden is set to restore.

Biden will set higher clean-energy targets and ban coal and natural gas leasing on federal lands, while curbing methane emissions from oil and gas production.

He would also establish an environmental and climate justice division within the US Department of Justice that would increase enforcement against polluters.

The Trump administration has weakened consumer protections, relaxing key rules and enforcement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That could change on Biden’s first day.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in a case backed by the Trump administration that the agency’s director could be fired by the president at will, allowing Biden to immediately replace current director Kathy Kraninger and appoint an interim progressive pick in her stead.

With a new director in position, the agency could start overnight to crack down on payday lenders, debt collectors, banks and mortgage firms through tougher supervision and stiffer penalties for wrongdoing, and shelve regulatory initiatives critics say could do more harm to consumers than good.

– Reuters


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