Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States and as a Democrat it feels great to say that. However, it is now time to move beyond the campaign trail and start looking at what Joe Biden wants to implement as soon as he arrives in office.
Joe Biden used the slogan ‘Build Back Better’ throughout his campaign. Now he is trying to turn these promises into actual change. There are two common ways a President can make change. One way that the President can change the law is through Executive Action. This applies only to some changes and the president does not need Congressional approval: it’s entirely up to him. If it is not passed through Executive Action, it means it will instead require Congressional approval. As a Republican majority in the Senate becomes increasingly likely, it is going to be hard for Biden to pass new laws with Congressional approval. Hence, Joe Biden will be focusing his attention on the changes he can make via Executive Action on day one:
1. Covid-19 Task Force
Donald Trump has lacked control throughout the pandemic; the United States now has over 10,000,000 Covid cases. He has struggled to find an appropriate doctor to lead a task force, even going to his own Vice President, Mike Pence, who has no medical experience. Joe Biden is trying to reverse this as he addresses the pandemic. Sources close to the President-Elect have announced that they are planning to create a 12-person Coronavirus task force to help Joe Biden guide the nation through this difficult time. Key members of this committee include former Surgeon-General Dr Vivek Murphy, former Food and Drug Commissioner Dr David Kessler and Yale University professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith.
2. Paris Climate Accord
On November 4th, 2020, the USA officially withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord agreement following President Trump’s Executive Order in 2017. The agreement addresses the threat that climate change poses to humanity and attempts to limit the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius before 2100 via reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The USA generates over 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions; as such it is vital that they participate in the agreement. President Trump, however, vehemently disagreed with the accord and executively decided to withdraw from it. On the other hand, Joe Biden strongly believes the threat of climate change needs to be addressed and hopes to re-join the accord as soon as possible.
3. World Health Organisation
Leaving the World Health Organisation was arguably Trump’s most controversial call. Add a pandemic into the mix, and Trump’s decision clearly did not play to America’s benefit. Joe Biden has consistently listened to scientists and he plans to re-join the World Health Organisation to work with other nations to resolve the pandemic. Especially as the world’s attention shifts to the development of a vaccine, America’s participation in the WHO is increasingly important. Between his task force and re-joining the WHO, Joe Biden is on track to take positive steps towards recovery from the pandemic.
4. Revoking the Muslim Ban
One of President Trump’s first orders of business as Commander-in-Chief was to ban immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries due to the threat of terrorism. While Joe Biden agrees that terrorism is a threat to Americans, he believes that assuming all Muslims are terrorists is intrinsically racist. Consequently, Joe Biden plans to revoke the Muslim ban in its entirety. This would mean that for the first time since 2017, citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya and more would be able to legally enter the country stress free.
5. Reinstate the ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’
One of Trump’s most famous quotes from the past four years is “We will build the wall”. While Biden’s action here doesn’t address that “wall”, it does speak to Hispanic immigrants living in the United States. There is a large population of undocumented immigrants in the United States who came as children and refer to themselves as “The Dreamers”. Donald Trump has suggested deporting these individuals to their birth countries, but Joe Biden wants to pass an Executive Order that would allow these immigrants to stay in the USA. He plans to do this by reinstating the DACA Act.
All these plans can be passed via Executive Action, meaning they could be done on day one. Passing five major actions on a single day, however, is incredibly unlikely. Even if they don’t all pass on January 20th, it is safe to assume that Joe Biden will try and pass the above actions as soon as possible.
The most notable thing missing from this list is a mask mandate. Unfortunately, the President doesn’t have the authority to initiate a national mask mandate in the US. However, Joe Biden has stated that he will push governors to initiate mask mandates in their states and hopes to get everyone wearing masks as we are in Singapore.
Beyond passing key laws, it is also important for Joe Biden to surround himself with an administration that will make him the best President he can be. Trump was notorious for treating his administration like a reality show, firing many throughout his four years in office. However, Joe Biden plans to take a more stable approach alongside Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. The next portion of this article looks at who I think will take up key roles in a Biden/Harris administration:
If this amounts to Joe Biden’s administration, it would be one of the most diverse in history. This administration would have equal numbers of men and women as well as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The administration’s racial diversity stands out even more, with eight members of varied ethnic minorities. The ethnic groups represented in this possible administration would include: Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, South Asian and Asian. This would stand out at any point in time, especially in contrast to a Trump cabinet which has only three women and three non-white members. Finally, it is also important to note that Joe Biden has included two Conservatives (Heidi Heitkamp & Meg Whitman) in his administration to try and unify a divided country. Contrarily, Trump does not have a single liberal in his administration.
All in all, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have big plans for their time in the White House with ideas for immediate Executive Actions and plans to surround themselves with a group of diverse and experienced advisors. It is important to note, however, that it won’t be an easy street for the Democratic President as he will likely face a Republican Senate standing in the way. Personally, I look forward to seeing how Biden’s administration plays out, regardless of any impediments they face.