It’s been only a week since Joe Biden was officially sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States and he has already made several monumental changes. You may be wondering, what happens now? Below is an overview of President Biden’s most recent actions and his key future plans. From COVID-19 relief plans to reversing Trump’s executive orders, there is a lot to cover so let’s get started.
Before the inauguration, both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had mentioned the changes they planned to make, especially as it pertained to COVID-19. In his term, Donald Trump decided the best course of action would be to take a back seat while putting most of the responsibility in the hands of the states. Trump also disagreed with most of the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president. Biden and Harris plan to take things in a different direction. On their first day in office, they created a new position of COVID-19 Response Coordinator, a delegate that is responsible for creating and addressing a national response to the virus along with the distribution of the vaccine. Biden also instituted a national mask mandate on federal property and anyone traveling between states. Additionally, he elected to rejoin the World Health Organization and pledged to be as transparent as possible when it comes to distributing the vaccine to ensure a clear line of accountability.
One week before taking office, Biden and Harris also unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package, called the “American Rescue Plan”. This plan aims to address many issues created by the pandemic including helping the unemployed, small business owners, students, and minimum wage workers. The plan involves investing $20 billion in a national vaccination program which would increase testing and vaccine distribution. The program aims to vaccinate 100 million people in Biden’s first 100 days, a goal that Dr. Fauci has claimed to be “absolutely a doable thing.” In September, President Biden stated on CNN, “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work.” In an effort to implore Americans to take the vaccine, Biden and Harris both received vaccines on national television.
Plans for Climate Change
Another issue that was heavily ignored by former President Trump was the issue of climate change. On his website, President Biden stated he plans to “build back better by tackling climate change and creating good union jobs.” He seems to be staying true to his word as he has already signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Also, Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit, arguably one of the biggest climate change contributors, and plans to create new jobs for Americans who worked in the coal mining industry. It doesn’t look like Biden is stopping there as he has promised to reinstate the 100+ environmental regulations that were either weakened or rolled back by President Trump during his administration.
Plans for the Economy
With millions of Americans and industries struggling to keep their head above water in a post-COVID-19 world, Biden has articulated many plans to boost the economy during his administration. With the previously mentioned “American Rescue Plan” put in place, many of the country’s population that has struggled due to the virus will hopefully get back on their feet. The aforementioned plan will provide eligible Americans with an additional stimulus check totaling $1,400, an increase in the federal unemployment aid from $300 to $400 a week, an extension of the 15% increase in food stamp benefits to 3 months longer than first proposed, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and an investment of $15 billion for a new grant program to support small business owners. The minimum wage increase that is over double what it is today has recently received plenty of criticism, but Democrats continue to advocate for its inclusion in the plan.
Plans for Immigration and Racial Justice
Just like most everything else on this list, President Biden’s stance on immigration and racial justice is diametrically opposed to former President Trump’s. Biden became the first President to condemn white supremacy in their inauguration speech in history and has vowed to use his position to support underserved communities.
The “American Rescue Plan” isn’t just for COVID-19 relief and people struggling, but the plan also aims to resolve issues brought up by the Black Lives Matter movement. Research has shown that the pandemic disproportionately affects minority communities. President Biden plans to combat this by providing more assistance to these communities. Biden also plans to launch initiatives to reform the criminal justice system along with expanding health care access for women of color.
When it comes to immigration, Biden plans to reverse many of the policies enacted by Trump’s administration, including the Muslim Ban. The Muslim Ban is a policy that restricted entry of foreign nationals from countries that are predominately Muslim and African including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The president is also protecting the students covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was originally adopted in 2012 when Biden was the Vice President. DACA allows for almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to study, work and live here legally. In 2017, President Trump tried to eliminate this program but was rejected by the Supreme Court who was able to fully restore it. On Biden’s first day in office, he revoked Trump’s executive order to expand immigration enforcement and halted construction on the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
It’s clear, President Biden has been busy in his first week in office, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down any time soon. According to Ron Klain, the White House Chief of Staff “What we’re promising the American people is progress in those 100 days, a lot of hard work, getting things from moving in the wrong direction to moving in the right direction.”