Newly elected President Joe Biden entered the White House last Wednesday with his executive order pen revved up and a host of presidential edicts prepped and ready for his signature. Incoming presidents, especially of late, have used executive orders as a way to act swiftly on their agenda or to reverse the policies of the previous administration. What is instituted by an executive order is usually erased by the same, unless successfully challenged in the courts.
Biden signed a total of 17 executive orders within minutes of entering the Oval Office for the first time on Wednesday and an additional 10 orders related to the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday. The orders reversed a number of Trump administration policies and covered areas Biden identified as his priorities on the campaign trail, including the coronavirus pandemic and vague topics such as “climate change”.
Biden renewed the U.S. commitment to the disastrous Paris climate agreement, an international accord to reduce carbon emissions, just three years after President Trump withdrew support. Trump argued the deal was unfair to U.S. interests and would result in domestic job losses.
The actions rankled several prominent Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. GOP leadership has argued that Biden’s plan to combat climate change will harm U.S. energy interests and erase thousands of jobs.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Trump ally, warned on Inauguration Day that he would take steps to challenge “federal overreach” on any Biden order he deemed “unconstitutional” and he did.
Biden signed an executive order requiring masks to be worn on federal land and government buildings. Other actions included a withdrawal of federal funding for the Trump-backed border wall and a halt to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. These moves have been projected to lose thousands of American jobs.
Presidents and those they lead in the executive branch often issue edicts, orders and regulations knowing it could take years for the problem to move through the courts. Biden is off to a very rapid start with his 27 plus executive orders (more than any other modern president within the their first week).
As a senator for nearly forty years, hopefully, he will eventually restrain himself from ruling by executive order and instead actually seek to lead by influencing the legislative process the House of Representatives and the Senate).