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In less than two weeks, President Joe Biden has already passed over 30 executive actions. Biden signed 17 executive orders on his first day alone. But what do they mean, and how do they actually affect the country? Here is a quick walkthrough of 10 executive actions from the past few weeks.

Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is an international framework that sets out to mitigate climate change. It seeks to limit global warming, reduce emissions, and accelerate cooperative climate action. Former President Donald Trump removed the United States from the agreement in 2017, and on his first day as president, Biden rejoined.

Removing the travel restrictions from Muslim-majority countries.

Also on his first day, Biden reversed the previous administration’s policy that banned immigration from Muslim-majority countries, otherwise known as the “Muslim ban.” The previous administration was often criticized of xenophobia because of this order.

Mask mandate on federal property.

It is now mandatory to wear a mask and practice social distancing while on federal property. This applies to anything from courthouses to national parks to Capitol buildings. Biden did not pass a nationwide mask mandate, but still highly recommends U.S. citizens abide by COVID-19 guidelines.

Mask mandate on public transportation.

In addition to requiring masks on federal property, Biden signed an order requiring masks on all public transportation. After making these mandates, the president tweeted, “Wearing masks isn’t a partisan issue--it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives.”

Canceling the Keystone Pipeline permit.

The Keystone Pipeline is an oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada that has the capacity to transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil. There have been many debates about funding this pipeline, one of the most impactful being the effect it has on indigenous people. The pipeline would cause potential damage and pollution to sacred sites, and indigenous women are facing higher rates of sexual assault due to the “man camps” around the pipeline. Biden revoked the pipeline’s permit on his first day in office.

Removing funds from the border wall.

One of Trump’s most well-known policies was the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. By January 2021, the wall was around 452 miles long. Biden stopped the funding and construction of the border wall. The previous administration is also facing backlash and litigation from the Supreme Court for potentially misusing funds.

Pausing student loan payments.

After the hardships of the past year, Biden implemented a pause on all federal student loans and required the interest rate to remain 0%. In the White House’s statement, the administration said, “They should not be forced to choose between paying their student loans and putting food on the table.” Student loans are suspended until late September.

Working to safely reopen schools.

Most schools across the nation were closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, and many students haven’t returned since. Biden’s goal is to safely reopen schools in 100 days, using a combination of federal organizations and funding to do so safely. However, the president has faced disagreements about this from people who argue it still isn’t safe to return to in-person learning. Dr. Fauci has stated that this plan to reopen “may not happen” as soon as Biden plans.

Reversing the ban of transgender individuals joining the military.

In 2017, Trump instated a ban on transgender individuals from the U.S. military. Transgender individuals were protected under Title IX under Obama, and will be under Biden, but were not under Trump. Biden reportedly told the defense secretary, “Immediately prohibit involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity.”

Expanding access to public health care.

The “global gag rule”, also known as the “Mexico City policy,” prohibits healthcare clinics from using government funds for abortion. Biden passed a memorandum to repeal this policy which was created under Reagan and reinstated under Trump. He additionally ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate Trump’s removal of funds from Title X’s family planning program.

It has certainly been a busy week for the White House, and Biden has many more goals and plans for his time in office. In these truly historic times, America is more invested than ever in these issues, and we’re awaiting more important decisions to come.

Jordyn is a senior at CU Boulder and the Editor-in-Chief of HCCU. She loves hiking, reading, and playing with her silver lab puppy, and can usually be found exploring restaurants and bookstores around Boulder.
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