Biden signs first executive orders on climate, immigration, COVID-19

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden took his oath of office on Wednesday, becoming the 46th president of the United States, and got to work issuing executive orders immediately. He also placed a moratorium on rulemaking for all federal agencies until his administration has had time to review the proposed regulations.

Biden is asking all Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days. His executive order on masks will require employees and contractors to wear face coverings in all federal buildings and on federal lands. The administration will also take steps to stop the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

He directed federal agencies to review, “the state of equity” in their agencies, and deliver plans, “to address unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs.” The Office of Management and Budget was tasked to allocate federal resources more equitably to help “empower and invest in communities of color and other underserved communities.”

Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, asked federal agencies to review fuel economy and emissions standards, and rescinded the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier issued a statement thanking President Biden for his decision, stating that it “honors your treaty with the Lakota Oyate (Great Sioux Nation).”

“This project has scarred our territorial lands with its presence and threatened our people like a dagger to our throats. We have witnessed the invasion of our land and the genocide of our families and this project is an extension of the injustices we have suffered,” Frazier wrote. “It is important for our future generations continue to work with our planet and not against her. When decisions to keep such projects from damaging our environment today are made, we give our children a better opportunity tomorrow.”

Immigration reforms were also on the list, ending the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. Biden presented a plan to offer legal status and a citizenship path for an estimated 11 million undocumented people, allowing them to apply for temporary legal status, with the opportunity to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. After three years, green card holders who pass additional background checks would then be able to apply for citizenship. Funding for the border wall will stop, with money put into new technologies for security.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, echoing similar sentiments made by South Dakota lawmakers Governor Kristi Noem, Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune, and Rep. Dusty Johnson, condemned Biden’s executive order decisions. She wrote in a statement:

“We face significant challenges that require bipartisan responses. Today’s Executive Orders reverse important policies and impose significant economic cost that will imperil our recovery.”

President Biden said there was “no time to start like today,” and declared that “democracy has prevailed.”

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