7 things Joe Biden promised to do his first day in office
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President-elect Joe Biden has peddled "day one" promises throughout his campaign, mostly focused on reversing the work of the Trump administration. Here’s what he said is on his agenda for Jan. 20, Inauguration Day:
1. Send a DACA bill to Congress
In June, the president-elect promised to send a bill to Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for not only the nation’s Dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, but also the 11 million undocumented people currently living in the country. "It’s long overdue," Biden wrote on Twitter.
But in November he loosened that timeline, committing to forging a pathway to citizenship within the first 100 days of his administration.
"Some of it’s gonna depend on the kinda cooperation I can or cannot get from the United States Congress," Biden acknowledged.
On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) that keep migrants in Mexico as their hearings play out. Known as the "Remain-in-Mexico" policy, opponents have claimed it puts migrants in danger, but Trump officials said it has been key in ending "catch-and-release" by which migrants were released into the U.S. instead.
This week, Biden officials acknowledged that rolling back Trump’s immigration policies could take "some time," and to do so all at once would lead to a surge at the border.
Biden himself admitted that "it is going to take probably the next six months."
2. Reverse travel ban
Biden made a number of lofty promises over the summer, including to end Trump’s "vile"’ and "Islamophobic" travel restrictions on 13 majority-Muslim countries, often referred to as the "Muslim ban."
"Today, the House passed the #NoBanAct because no one should be discriminated against or singled out based on the faith they practice. I will end President Trump's Muslim Ban on day one and sign this bill into law," he wrote on Twitter.
The ban initially barred the entry of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Now in its third iteration, the ban affects travelers from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Eritrea, Kyrgystan, Myanmar and Nigeria. It bars select residents from Tanzania and Venezuela.
The administration said the ban affected countries that did not adequately share enough intelligence for the U.S. to properly vet its citizens.
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"The Trump administration’s anti-Muslim bias hurts our economy, betrays our values, and can serve as a powerful terrorist recruiting tool," the Biden campaign website said. "Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure. It is yet another abuse of power by the Trump administration designed to target primarily Black and Brown immigrants. Biden will immediately rescind the ‘Muslim bans.’"
3. Rejoin Paris climate agreement
The president-elect has promised to use executive action to rejoin the Paris climate accords after Trump announced he would withdraw the nation in 2017. Withdrawing had been one of Trump’s campaign promises.
"So we're getting out," Trump said. "The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States."
"The Paris accord will undermine our economy," he said, adding that it "puts us at a permanent disadvantage."
The Paris climate agreement is a pact among nearly 200 nations to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to fight climate change. The U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon, would be required to reduce fossil fuel emissions nearly 30% by 2025.
The U.S. did not formally withdraw from the agreement until this year.
About 189 countries remain committed to the 2015 Paris accord, which aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide "well below" 2 degrees Celsius.
Some opponents of the agreement have noted that countries such as Russia and China were not affected as significantly by the accord as the United States and pointed out the unencouraging results of the Kyoto protocol, raising questions about whether the Paris agreement would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions at all.
"Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will rejoin the Paris agreement on day one and lead the world in the fight against climate change," Biden wrote on Twitter.
Biden already has chosen two climate "czars" in addition to an EPA chief – John Kerry, who will lead the nation’s international efforts on climate, and Gina McCarthy, who will be dedicated to U.S. domestic climate policy.
4. Executive order on masks
"On day one, I’ll sign an executive order to require masks everywhere I can," Biden wrote on Twitter earlier this month.
Biden, acknowledging he didn’t have the authority to require masks in most situations, promised to do so in federal buildings, interstate travel such as planes, trains and buses, and to work with governors and mayors on their own mask mandates.
Most states throughout the country already have some form of a mask mandate to curb the spread of coronavirus.
5. Reverse Trump asylum limitations
Responding to a report that Trump had ended the Flores Agreement, Biden promised on day one to "eliminate President Trump’s decision to limit asylum and undo his executive orders that eliminated Obama-Biden enforcement priorities on national security and public safety."
"It is cruel and abhorrent to strip migrant children of the few protections they have. It's not enough this administration puts children in cages without soap and beds, now it wants to keep them there indefinitely. This isn't who we are," Biden wrote on Twitter.
The courts took care of Biden’s promise on the Flores Agreement, or a policy only allowing migrant children to be detained for 20 days. The Trump administration had sought to keep them with their families but detain them indefinitely. A judge rejected the effort in September 2019.
In July, an appeals court shot down Trump’s "asylum ban," a rule that would require migrants who travel through other countries to seek asylum there first.
6. Move to raise taxes on wealthy
In October 2019, Biden promised to "move to" eliminating the Trump tax cuts. "On day one, Joe Biden will move to: eliminate the Trump tax cut for the super-wealthy, eliminate the unjustified loopholes in our tax code and use that money to invest in America’s future."
Biden has repeatedly promised that he "will not increase taxes on anyone making less than $400,000" annually.
The Democratic plan is to bring the tax rate from 37% to a pre-Trump rate of 39.6% for those at the top of the individual federal income tax brackets. Corporate tax rates would jump as well, from 21% to 28%, and people earning more than $400,000 annually will, as promised, have to pay additional payroll taxes.
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7. Sign executive orders regulating oil and gas
Biden’s campaign website promises that the president-elect on day on will "sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden administration."
These orders will be aimed at requiring "aggressive" methane pollution limits for oil and gas sectors, adding rigorous fuel economy standards and re-implementing the Clean Air Act, conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030 and reinstituting protections on federal land and water.
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