Executive Actions


In his first days in office, President Joe Biden moved to dismantle a slew of Trump-era regulations and make sweeping measures to bolster the nation’s Covid-19 response.

The new president also ordered the establishment a variety of environmental protections and changes to immigration policy.

As he embarks on his first full work week as president, Biden is poised to continue scrapping a number of the Trump administration’s policies, including the controversial transgender military ban.

Here’s a round-up of the measures that the president took in his first day in the Oval Office.

Memorandum freezing approval of rules passed in final days of Trump presidency

According to Biden’s memorandum, all new and pending rules passed in the last days of Trump’s tenure will be reviewed by department and agency heads.

Executive order rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change

Fulfilling one of his top campaign promises, Biden committed to putting the U.S. back in the Paris Agreement on climate change — an international pact aimed at curbing emissions that cause global warming. Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2017, citing costs to American taxpayers.

Executive order to promote racial equity

Biden ordered his government to conduct equity assessments of its agencies and reallocate resources to “advanc[e] equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

Proclamation ending ban on U.S. entry from majority-Muslim countries

Biden’s proclamation reversed Trump’s policy that barred entry to the U.S. for refugees and residents from seven predominantly Muslim countries and orders plans within 45 days for resuming visa processing.

Executive order requiring mask-wearing on federal property

Biden has mandated mask-wearing and social distancing on all federal properties. While the president lacks the authority to institute a nationwide mask mandate, the order also “encourage[s] masking across America.”

Executive order coordinating a government-wide Covid-19 response

With the U.S. surpassing 400,000 COVID-19 deaths earlier this month, Biden’s order created the position of Covid-19 response coordinator, who will advise the president and oversee the distribution of vaccines, tests and other supplies.

Executive order revising immigration enforcement policies

Revoking a Trump-era policy that cracked down on communities shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation, Biden vowed to “protect national and border security” and “address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border.”

Executive order undoing regulatory restrictions on federal agencies

Biden’s order scrapped a batch of Trump-era executive actions that restricted how federal agencies make regulatory changes, including one measure requiring agencies to discard two regulations for every one proposed.

Executive order incorporating undocumented immigrants into census

Undocumented immigrants will be counted in the national decennial population count, according to Biden’s order, which overturned Trump’s attempt to exclude them during the 2020 census.

Executive order refocusing on the climate crisis and canceling the Keystone XL permit

Alongside a variety of actions to “advance environmental justice,” Biden revoked the permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — a 1,200-mile pipeline system projected to carry crude oil from Canada to the U.S. that cuts through Indigenous lands.

The measure also restored several national monuments whose footprints were reduced by Trump and paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Executive order banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation

In a move lauded by LGBTQ advocates, Biden’s order will extend federal nondiscrimination protections to members of the LGBTQ community, building off the landmark Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, last year to expand protections against discrimination based on sex in federal agencies to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as well.

Memorandum revamping regulatory review

In a memorandum, Biden directed the head of the Office of Budget and Management to oversee an effort to “modernize and improve” the regulatory review process.

Executive order mandating ethics pledge for government appointees

On the heels of Trump’s midnight bid to reverse ethics commitments for executive branch employees, Biden signed an order requiring all government appointees to sign an ethics pledge prohibiting the acceptance of gifts from registered lobbyists and lobbying for at least two years after exiting the government.

Proclamation pulling funds from border wall

Biden terminated the construction and funding of the wall at U.S. southern border — a key promise of the Trump administration that has drawn backlash for its environmental impacts and is being litigated at the Supreme Court for the allegedly improper use of funds.

Executive order pausing federal student loan payments

Biden requested an extension of the freeze on federal student loan payments, writing that “[t]oo many Americans are struggling to pay for basic necessities and to provide for their families.”

Memorandum reinstating deferred enforced departure for Liberians

Biden’s memorandum blocked the deportation of Liberian refugees living in the U.S., reinstating the deferment of their enforced departure granted by the Bush and Obama administrations.

Memorandum strengthening Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Biden reaffirmed DACA, an Obama-era program that Trump had long sought to dismantle that shielded undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation.