Biden’s Early Executive Orders Promise Progress

Olivia Allery, staff writer
A photo of the US capitol on the morning of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, provided by Wikimedia Commons.

Last week’s inauguration day served as a new dawn for the United States, signifying the transition of power as new Democratic elect Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Alongside Biden was Vice President Kamala Harris, who was sworn in as the very first Black, South Asian and female vice president in the United States. 

Biden has already gone to work on the first few days in office by signing 30 executive orders, including 17 on his first day. Among Biden’s first executive orders are an act requiring people to wear masks and follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) social distancing guidelines in federal facilities and an act preventing workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Biden has also penned a number of orders that reverse previous actions from the Trump administration, including repealing the Muslim travel ban, re-entering the United States into the Paris climate agreement and repealing the ban preventing transgender people from enlisting in the military.

“He made a LOT of promises on day one, and it is our duty to hold him and his administration accountable,” said John Ruess, a second year Spanish major at Augsburg and organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Minneapolis, in a statement to The Echo. “We as socialists and other fighters for working class people are still assessing how to address this new administration as it takes form, but I think it is important for us to understand why Biden made these first major political acts since taking office.” 

Reuss also pointed out that some of Biden’s actions, such as his denial of the construction at the Keystone XL pipeline, are not as far-reaching as they could be. “This is still not enough,” he said. “We need the constructions of the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines to be halted as well.”

With swift changes in a short amount of time, some see Biden’s early stream of executive orders as being something that could further divide the American public. Andrew Aoki, a political science professor at Augsburg, addresses this, stating “his first few days in office have already offered evidence of the continuing divide, as the Senate struggles to reach agreement on rules and genuine policy disagreements promise to make it hard to act on even urgent matters.”

Milda Hedblom, professor and co-chair of the political science department at Augsburg, further elaborated on this divide, noting the ways in which former President Trump built his campaign on white supremacy, as well as the ways in which Biden has promised to move past this under his administration.

“The nation of the American nightmare has been here since colonial times, but never before has a US president identified himself with these deniers of the American dream,” she said. “That dream was reaffirmed by both the poet and the president on Inauguration Day. Let’s hope that the nation of the American dream can prevail over the nation of the American nightmare. America stepped back from the brink, but it was a narrow escape. For the Proud Boys storming the capitol was Trump’s Rubicon: he failed to cross it and so betrayed them. It turned out that Washington is not Rome, Trump is not Caesar, and the insurrectionists were not a Roman legion.”