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Biden's First Actions As President Include Rejoining Paris Climate Agreement, WHO

Ryan Ford 21 Jan 2021

Before 2020, Inauguration Day was all about pomp and ceremony, a day for the winners of the election to assume their new roles — and to celebrate with balls and galas to glad-hand their supporters and donors.

But things are clearly different after the outbreak of a global pandemic, and that difference was on obvious display during the swearing-in ceremony for incoming President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, which only about a thousand guests, all socially distanced, could attend.

And because of the long shadow cast by 2020, the new president couldn't afford to spend much of Inauguration Day on galas and balls. He had to get down to work.

Mere hours after former President Trump left the White House for the last time, President Biden sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office with a stack of executive actions to sign.

As the White House outlined on Twitter, the new administration sees the nation as "currently facing four converging crises — COVID-19, the resulting economic crisis, climate change, and racial inequity."

The stack of executive actions were intended, at least in part, to address those crises, as well as to reverse some of former President Trump's policies.

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The first executive action Biden signed was intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

That first order made good on a campaign promise to mandate face masks, at least on federal property.

"It's requiring, as I said all along, where I have authority, mandating masks be worn, social distancing be kept on federal property," Biden said, according to MSNBC's Kyle Griffin. The order also included the introduction of a "100 Day Masking Challenge."

Biden wore a mask in the Oval Office as he signed the orders.

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President Biden also chose to reverse former President Trump's attempt to leave the World Health Organization.

The economic fallout from the pandemic was also in Biden's sights on his first day.

As CBS News reported, Biden's executive actions also included a freeze on evictions and foreclosures until at least the end of March and a continued pause on student loan payments until at least the end of September.

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Several of Trump's other policies and actions were reversed by Biden on his first day.

Getty Images | Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Not only did the U.S. rejoin the WHO, but also the Paris climate agreement, a decision that will take 30 days to fully enact.

Biden also reversed Trump's position on the Keystone XL pipeline, effectively ending the cross-border project; ended the so-called "Muslim Ban" that restricted travel between the U.S. and several Muslim-majority nations; stopped construction on the border wall with Mexico; changed arrest priorities for ICE; ordered non-citizens living in the U.S. to be counted in the census; included LGBTQ+ Americans in federal discrimination protections; prioritized racial equity in federal agencies; and called for a review of all of Trump's environmental policies.

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In all, Biden signed 15 executive actions and two directives on his first day as president.

As AP News reported, it's a massive expansion of the use of executive actions on the first day, as only two recent presidents have signed such orders on their first day, and those only signed one.

And, according to advisors, Biden is far from done, with additional actions expected on climate change, public health, a reversal of Trump's ban on military service for transgender Americans, and help with reuniting families separated at the border, USA Today reported.

h/t: CBS News, AP News, USA Today

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