President Franklin D. Roosevelt currently holds the record for most executive orders signed during his first month in office with thirty. President Biden signed 28, as of Feb. 3, in his first two weeks in office, more than doubling the 12 that Trump signed in his first month as president. While many of these executive orders performed simple functions or undid policies from the previous administration, some were more consequential.
In addition, President Biden also halted the support for Saudi Arabian military operations in Yemen which the U.S. has been providing since 2015.
Here are the functions of some of President Biden’s executive orders:
EO 13986 mandates that all residents of a state be counted in apportionment, regardless of their immigration status. This means that when seats are reapportioned for Congress, illegal immigrants will count towards a state’s population for apportionment purposes.
EO 13989 includes a new ethics pledge that all new executive appointees to federal agencies will take, which is aimed at combating corruption. It includes a ban on accepting gifts from lobbyists, and on becoming a lobbyist within two years of the end of service and it also requires appointments to make personnel decisions based upon merit.
EO 13991 instituted a mask mandate for federal workers and people on federal land, and EO 13995 established a COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force. EO 13998 directs heads of various agencies to take action to require that people wear masks while using public transportation.
EO 14003 directs the United States office of Personnel management to work toward a $15 per hour minimum wage for federal employees. EO 14004 prohibits the U.S. military from discriminating against transgender individuals in employment.
“On the basis of this information, the Secretary of Defense concluded in 2016 that permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity, such that transgender service members who could meet the required standards and procedures should be permitted to serve openly,” the order reads. “The Secretary of Defense also concluded that it was appropriate to create a process that would enable service members to take steps to transition gender while serving.”
EO 14006 states that the federal government will not renew any of its contracts with private prisons.
EO 14007 creates the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
“The PCAST shall advise the President on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics,” the executive order says.
One of the president’s more controversial executive orders revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline which was supposed to carry oil between the Texas Gulf Coast and Alberta, Canada. According to Keystone XL President Richard Prior, over 1,000 jobs will be eliminated as a result of the revocation. The executive order by the Biden administration says it aims to “advance environmental justice.” The administration believes that by halting the pipeline will contribute to a reduction in overall climate emissions.
In addition to his executive orders, President Biden signed letters rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and World Health Organization. President Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 and announced that he would withdraw from and stop U.S. funding to the WHO in 2020. Although countries promise to reduce their carbon emissions, the Paris Climate Agreements have no legal authority, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The U.S. had not yet officially withdrawn from the WHO because the withdrawal was not meant to take effect until July, but President Biden stopped that withdrawal.
Another important move by President Biden was to end support for Saudi operations in the war-laden Yemen. This is a reversal of the policies of the previous two administrations, as President Obama began to support the Saudi-led coalition back in 2015 and President Trump used one of his only vetoes in 2019 when the congress voted to end assistance to the civil war in Yemen. The civil war has displaced many and both the insurgency and the counterinsurgency are responsible for war crimes.
“The air strikes conducted by the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, and the indiscriminate use of explosive ordnance, including landmines, by Houthi forces continue to disproportionately affect civilians and civilian infrastructures,” a January 2020 report from the United Nations Security Council stated. “Arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and the torture of detainees continue to be conducted by the Government of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Houthis and the forces affiliated with the United Arab Emirates.”
In order for President Biden to accomplish a substantive policy agenda, he will have to work with congress, which is narrowly divided. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House and the Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President Harris being the tie-breaking vote.
The house plans to pass another $1.9 trillion dollar spending package related to COVID-19 stimulus, which the president supports. The bill will likely include $1,400 checks for Americans making less than a certain income. The president also hopes the Congress can pass a measure raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.