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Biden plans immediate orders on immigration, COVID-19, environment
US President-Elect Joe Biden wipes a tear as he speaks at Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard /Reserve Center in New Castle Airport on January 19, 2021, in New Castle, Delaware, before departing for Washington, DC.
AFP/Jim Watson

Biden plans immediate orders on immigration, COVID-19, environment

Paul Handley (Agence France-Presse) - January 20, 2021 - 6:26pm

WASHINGTON, United States —  US President-elect Joe Biden plans to kick off his new administration Wednesday with orders to restore the United States to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, aides said.

Biden will sign 17 orders and actions just hours after being sworn in as US leader to break from policies of departing President Donald Trump and set new paths on immigration, the environment, fighting COVID-19 and the economy, they said.

In first-day moves, he will end Trump's much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, the aides said.

He will also set a mask mandate on federal properties to stem the spread of COVID-19; restore protections of valuable nature reserves removed by Trump; and seek freezes on evictions and protection for millions behind on their mortgages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also plans to send a bill to Congress to revamp immigration policies and give millions of undocumented migrants living inside the country a path to citizenship that the Trump administration denied.

Biden's staff said he wanted to hit the ground running given the deep health and economic challenges facing the country.

Biden "will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward," the aides said in a statement.

"These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden's promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president."

New approach to Covid

Many of the actions will take government policies back to where they were on January 19, 2017 — the final day of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden administration, before Trump entered office and took a wrecking ball to many of their initiatives.

Jeff Zients, the new president's point-man for fighting the pandemic, said Biden would start by establishing an office of Covid-19 response inside the White House.

A 100-day "masking challenge" will be led with a presidential order for wearing masks in all federal properties and activities, setting the standard for private companies, individual states and communities to follow suit, Zients said.

Wednesday "starts a new day, a new, different approach to managing the country's response to Covid-19 crisis," he said.

That includes reversing Trump's decision to leave the World Health Organization.

To underscore Biden's decision, Zients said, leading US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci will lead a delegation to take part in the WHO Executive Board meeting on Thursday.

"America's withdrawal from the international arena has impeded progress on the global response and left us more vulnerable to future pandemics," he said.

Gina McCarthy, the new administration's chief climate advisor, said returning to the 2016 Paris accord was essential to making fighting climate change a central tenet of Biden administration policy.

Biden will reverse Trump decisions to ease emissions and efficiency standards, and rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a large project that would bring relatively high-polluting Canadian oil into the United States.

"The day-one climate executive orders will begin to put the US back on the right footing, a footing we need to restore American leadership, helping to position our nation to be the global leader in clean energy and jobs," said McCarthy.

Other actions by the new president will require a government-wide, proactive equality effort for minority groups, in hiring, contracting, and service. 

"The President-elect has promised to root out systemic racism from our institutions," said Susan Rice, his Domestic Policy Council director.

DONALD TRUMP IMMIGRATION JOE BIDEN NOVEL CORONAVIRUS UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 14, 2021 - 11:51am

US President-elect Joe Biden unveiled plans Thursday for fighting COVID and injecting $1.9 trillion into a battered US economy, but already his ambitious first 100 days agenda is overshadowed by the looming Senate trial of his soon-to-be predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden promised "a new chapter" for the nation on the day after Trump became the first US president to ever be impeached twice, as the incoming Democrat sought to seize the narrative in a primetime address and get Americans looking forward again. — AFP

Photo: Angela Weiss/ AFP

February 14, 2021 - 11:51am

US President Joe Biden said Saturday that despite Donald Trump's acquittal in the US Capitol insurrection trial the charges against him are not in dispute and the attack shows "democracy is fragile."

"While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute," Biden said after the Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial.

"This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant," Biden said in a statement after Trump's trial on charges he incited the mob that overran Congress on January 6.  — AFP

February 5, 2021 - 8:11am

A Democratic-led US House voted Thursday to discipline a congresswoman who embraced QAnon conspiracy theories, capping weeks of mounting turmoil over holding to account a lawmaker whose extremist rhetoric caused a rupture in Republican ranks.

By a modestly bipartisan vote of 230 to 199, Georgia conservative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a fierce supporter of former president Donald Trump, was stripped of her two committee assignments, even hours after she took to the House floor to express regret for spreading misinformation. — AFP

February 3, 2021 - 12:59pm

US President Joe Biden paid his respects Tuesday at a solemn memorial in the Capitol to the policeman who died of injuries he suffered there last month in an attack by Donald Trump's supporters.

With the First Lady at his side, Biden bowed his head and rested his hand on the tabletop bearing the ashes of officer Brian Sicknick, who was given the rare honor of lying in honor at the building housing the United States Congress.

Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher while struggling with the rioters who swarmed through the halls of Congress as they tried to undo Biden's election victory over Trump.

The 42-year-old member of the force that protects the ground of the Congress returned to his office where he collapsed and was taken to the hospital, according to the Capitol Police.

He died the next day, they said, bringing the death toll from the violent attack to five.  — AFP

January 26, 2021 - 9:39am

The US House of Representatives formally presented an article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday accusing Donald Trump of inciting the storming of the Capitol, triggering the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president.

In a solemn procession, the nine House impeachment managers silently walked the article of impeachment through the same ornate halls of Congress overrun by Trump supporters on January 6 and delivered it to the secretary of the Senate.

Trump's Senate trial is to begin the week of February 8. — AFP

January 21, 2021 - 4:21pm

China on Thursday urges a new era of relations between Beijing and Washington, as President Biden's inauguration brought an end to the fractious term of Donald Trump.

"With cooperation from both sides, the better angels in China-US relations will beat the evil forces," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tells a press briefing. —  AFP

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