Joe Biden executive actions: the 15 key changes the new president has ordered to dismantle Donald Trump legacy

Immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic are just some of the topics at the top of Biden’s agenda

For the first time in over a decade, the Democrats control all three legislative houses - the Senate, the House of Representatives and The White House.

President Joe Biden has promised change, and lots of it.

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He stated in his Inauguration speech on 20 January: “We'll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibility. Much to do, much to heal, much to restore, much to build and much to gain.”

President Biden has already outlined and directed some key changes (Picture: Reuters)

He has plans to undo various Trumpian policies, following the previous president’s four years in office, stating that Trump’s term caused “The rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront and we will defeat.”

Within hours of taking the presidential oath, like the 45 presidents before him, he had already begun to restore Obama’s legacy, such as rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and signing a further 14 executive orders.

So, what else can we expect from President Biden in his first 100 days in the Oval office?

What changes has Biden already made?

Prior to President Biden’s inauguration, he had already outlined plans to undo some of Trump’s Republican policies - by addressing racial inequalities, the pace of coronavirus vaccinations and making u-turns on climate change.

Within 24 hours of his presidency, he had already signed 15 executive orders.

He has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord - a legally binding treaty signed by all countries involved in the United Nations Framework Convention, which outlines global plans to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, invest in renewable energy innovations and share best practice across countries.

Trump’s withdrawal meant the U.S. was the only internationally recognised country in the world not participating in the agreement.

President Biden also promised to administer 100,000 coronavirus vaccines in his first 100 days, as the US continues to witness fatalities above WW2 levels.

He is also passionate about unity, which he made reference to nine times in his inauguration speech.

As such, he has already undone the ban on travel from majority-Muslim countries and brought to a close the construction of the American-Mexican border wall, which President Trump built to tackle illegal immigration.

However, these are just a few of the many promises and pledges Biden won the election on and his first year is set to be a busy one.

What other policies is Joe Biden likely to tackle imminently?

Prior to his inauguration, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, outlined the key challenges the president will tackle in his first 100 days.

Klain wrote in a public memo that the incoming president’s executive orders "will change the course of Covid-19, combat climate change, promote racial equity and support other underserved communities, and rebuild our economy in ways that strengthen the backbone of this country: the working men and women who built our nation."

Here, we take a look at what this could mean for the US:

Coronavirus

Covid and the severity with which it is dealt is the main priority for Biden, as it has caused over 406,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Biden has condemned Trump’s approach as not being strict enough, giving way to conspiracy theorists and a lack of adherence to lockdowns and safety measures.

The new president is likely to impose greater restrictions, while he rolls out his plan to mass vaccinate the US’s most vulnerable.

He will introduce a $1.9 trillion spending package to vaccinate and provide economic relief from the impact of coronavirus.

This package includes $20 billion for a national vaccination program, $1,400 for stimulus checks and expanding unemployment insurance supplements to $400 a week.

Climate Change

Biden has made clear his plans to tackle climate change, calling it "an existential threat to the health of our planet and to our very survival,” and talking at length about his plans to achieve carbon neutrality throughout his election campaign.

He deems the sceptical approach of Trump to climate change as damaging, reversing the efforts of Obama and other predecessors to lower net carbon emissions.

Trump claimed “There is a cooling, and there's a heating,” suggesting climate change is a necessary and natural part of the ecosystem cycle.

Therefore, as well as Biden immediately rejoining the Paris Agreement, he has also announced ambitious goals to achieve zero net emissions across the US by 2050, with the use of only ‘clean’ energy by 2035.

He has pledged to build 100,000 new charging stations for electric vehicles, and provide grants for businesses to remodel themselves in order to produce vast amounts of electric cars.

Biden has also proposed upgrading millions of homes and creating one million jobs in his climate change ventures.

The Democrat’s election win saw Ellon Musk’s Tesla Motors company rise in stocks so significantly, it made Musk the world’s wealthiest individual.

Immigration

The chants of “Build the Wall” will no longer echo through the rallies of the US president, as Biden puts a stop to Trump’s 2016 election promise to construct a border along the US-Mexico border.

Biden has promised that within his first 100 days, he will introduce an immigration reform bill to Congress. Most notably, this will involve outlining pathways for the 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the US to apply for citizenship.

However, he has also come under fire for his role as vice president when Obama introduced camps along the US-Mexico border which in theory were supposed to seperate children from their parents for a brief period, but in practice led to many lengthier, distressing splits.

How he will tackle this controversial approach, which under Trump became a blanket child-parent segregation policy, is yet to be determined.

Biden is also expected to allow legal residents, relatives of U.S. citizens, refugees and asylum seekers to seek citizenship - something that was banned under Trump.

Housing

Due to the crippling effects of coronavirus on jobs, Biden has outlined a plan to ask Congress to support $30 billion in rental assistance to stop evictions and offer rent relief.

Additionally, he will sign an executive order to stop housing foreclosures and evictions, delaying them until at least March 31, 2021.

According to a Census Bureau survey of households, almost 20 percent of renters are behind on their payments and over 10 percent of homeowners are behind on mortgage payments.

Business

Under Trump, tax reliefs were dramatically changed and arguably served big corporations, while smaller businesses struggled to stay afloat.

In 2017, Trump changed the system from a tiered tax rate of 15%-39% to a flat rate of 21%.

However, it is widely believed that Biden will reintroduce a tiered system and increase corporation tax.

He also plans to relieve tax on businesses earning less than $400,000 per year and introduce a new system of family and child tax benefits for low income families.

The president has also announced plans to provide $1,400 direct payments to businesses struggling due to the pandemic and has pledged to introduce an hourly minimum wage of $15.

What is the process for making changes to legislation in the US?

President Biden has already signed 15 executive orders - signed, written, and published directives that manage operations of the federal government.

Executive orders are not legislation, they do not require approval from Congress, and Congress cannot simply overrule them.

However, in order to make lasting change, Biden will need to win over the support of The Congress - which is made up of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Congress and Federal courts can overrule executive orders which exceed the remit of the president’s authority.

A bill has to be approved by all three houses - voted on in the House of Representatives and the Senate, then signed off by the president.

Once the president has signed it, a bill becomes law.