Joe Biden, who said during the campaign he didn’t believe in executive orders, actions and directives as a way of governing, signed 40 of them, in just his first nine days.
In other words, he’s acting like a dictator, criticized by no less the New York Times.
As recently as December, during the campaign, Biden expressed enormous skepticism about misusing executive power as “way beyond the bounds” of a president’s legal authority. He said he would need to get votes in Congress.
“I am not going to violate the Constitution,” Biden said a month ago.
Did he forget already?
This was one the few promises Biden made, with specificity, during the campaign.
Did he mean it? Did he know what he was saying? Does he remember what he said? Does he recall the campaign in any way?
Again, in DECEMBER, Biden decried the use of executive orders: “I’ve spent most of my career arguing against the imperial presidency,” he said. “We got three equal branches of government. I’m confident that there are a number of areas that are of such consequence that they go beyond the partisan boundaries.”
This was a month ago. He has made no explanation for his change of heart. No one on his staff has made an attempt to explain it.
Was Biden faking out the American people a month ago and just playing a role during the campaign – or was he just lying his tookus off?
Biden’s orders have stopped construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; reversed the ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military; reversed Trump’s travel ban on mostly terrorist countries; rejoined the World Health Organization, after Trump withdrew last year amid the pandemic; rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, after Trump withdrew; restored the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in full, which Trump sought to get rid of; rolled back Trump environmental policies, like scrapping the contract for the Keystone XL Pipeline; and reversed Trump’s abortion policy. The president’s orders have also focused on the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the U.S. economy. Biden has extended the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for those affected through March 31, and extended the pause on interest and principal payments of federal student loans through Sept. 30.
Biden also signed an executive order giving workers “a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health,” and states that any worker who refuses that offer to work will still be eligible for unemployment insurance.
He also signed an order launching a “100-day masking challenge,” and an order requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal land and by federal employees and contractors. Biden also mandated mask wearing on public transportation, including airports, airplanes, trains and buses.
Biden also signed an order to direct the secretary of health to support research on coronavirus treatments, and to expand access to those treatments. He signed orders to establish a COVID-19 testing board and a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
Biden also reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions for non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil and much of Europe – a reversal of Trump’s move just days before he left office.
Nine days. It’s historic – not in a nice way.
Biden also signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to support governors’ deployment of their National Guard in their work to prevent the spread of coronavirus – an effort that would be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As for the environment, Biden signed an order that directs federal agencies to “eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, as for equity and justice, Biden also signed orders to “define equity as the consistent and systemic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals,” and directed agencies to “equitably allocate federal resources to empower and invest in communities of color and underserved communities,” while also prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Biden signed a presidential memorandum to direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take steps to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that the administration says have contributed to wealth inequality for generations.
For the record, he also signed an executive order to end the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. The order will direct the attorney general not to renew DOJ contracts with privately operated criminal-detention facilities.
And still there’s more.
Biden also signed a presidential memorandum to combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and a memo extending the Deferred Enforced Departure designation for Liberians who have been in the U.S. for many years to June 30, 2022. The memo also extended Liberians’ work authorization.
As for immigration, in addition to reaffirming DACA, Biden imposed a 100-day “pause” on deportations of illegal immigrants.
And on health care, Biden signed executive orders expanding access to the Affordable Care Act during the coronavirus pandemic. The order creates a special enrollment period on HealthCare.gov, making it easier for the uninsured to obtain health coverage through ObamaCare during the pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services will open a three-month enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15.
Biden also signed an order that immediately rescinded the so-called Mexico City Policy, often referred to by critics as the global gag rule. The policy, reinstated by the Trump administration in 2017, bars international non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or referrals from receiving U.S. funding. On Thursday, Biden called the rule an “attack on women’s health access.”
And lastly – this is so sadly ironic. You may have missed this one. Biden signed an order to “restore and maintain public trust in government,” and ordered every appointee in the executive branch to sign an “ethics pledge” to ensure employees act in the interest of the American people and not for personal gain.
Somehow, I’m not too optimistic about that final order from the “dictator.” Rarely do “ethics” and “government” go well together.
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