Ns News Online Desk: President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed 15 executive orders as he set about to overturn key directives of his predecessor Donald Trump in his first hours working from the Oval Office.
A tired-sounding Biden, 78, signed three orders in front of reporters in the Oval Office. His press secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters at an evening briefing that Biden signed another 12 orders Wednesday.
Biden’s first three orders recommitted the US to the Paris Climate Accord, promoted “racial equity” in healthcare and other areas and required anti-COVID-19 masks be worn in federal buildings.
Psaki said he also signed an order ending President Trump’s 2017 travel ban on a group of predominately Muslim countries including Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Trump said the ban was for security proposes but Psaki called it “the Muslim ban, a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia.”
Psaki said Biden signed orders to halt construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, rejoin the World Health Organization, resurrect a White House global health team, extend a pandemic ban on evictions and foreclosures, halt student loan payments, reverse Trump environmental deregulation and affirm the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation people brought illegally to the US as children.
A press release from the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group said Biden also signed a “wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity” that prohibits discrimination.
Biden was expected to sign up to 17 executive orders right away, most of them overturning directives of his predecessor. He said in the Oval Office that additional orders would come “over the next several days to a week.” “I thought there’s no time to wait. Get to work immediately,” said Biden next to a high stack of executive orders. “There’s no time to start like today.
“I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people. There’s a long way to go, these are just executive actions. They are important but we’re going to need legislation for other things we’re going to do,” Biden told reporters.
He also said that former President Trump left him a “very generous letter” despite skipping the inauguration for a Wednesday morning flight to Florida.