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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Biden launches presidency with executive orders reversing Trump 'damages'

His first White House business initiates new action on environmental issues, equality and the pandemic while undoing some of the Trump administration's signature policies

President-elect Joe Biden is greeted by former President Barack Obama as he arrives for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2021. AP
President-elect Joe Biden is greeted by former President Barack Obama as he arrives for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2021. AP

Halting construction of the Mexico border wall, ending the ‘Muslim travel ban’ and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement are three of the first moves President-elect Joe Biden is expected take in a series of executive orders to be signed in the first hours of his presidency on Wednesday afternoon.

The list of 17 orders, which reverse some of his predecessor’s most controversial policies, will launch Mr Biden’s progressive plans on climate change and his strategy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, including rejoining the World Health Organisation and implementing a “100 Days Masking Challenge” to address the spread of the virus.

“President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” a fact sheet from his transition team said.

The list of memoranda, executive orders and directives represent initial steps to deliver “immediate relief” for the “converging crises” facing families across America, including the Covid-19 pandemic, economic relief, climate change and advancing racial equality.

Others include ending the Keystone XL pipeline and revoking oil and gas developments at national wildlife monuments, killing a cross-border project that doesn’t “serve the US national interest", the statement said.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, Mr Biden’s new national climate advisor Gina McCarthy said the orders “begin undoing some of the harmful actions that happened in the previous administration’s watch, so that we can move forward in combating the climate crisis.”

The orders also include freezing last-minute regulatory actions taken by the Trump administration, preventing workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and a requirement for non-citizens to be included in the census.

Mr Trump’s final weeks in office have been marred by his refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, resulting in a violent riot at the US Capitol on January 6 when his supporters stormed the building in a bid to overturn the result. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer.

Breaking with convention, Mr Trump chose not to attend his successor’s swearing in ceremony, acknowledging the transfer of power in recorded remarks rather than offering a full concession.

"This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous," the Republican president said. "We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck - a very important word."

As he boarded Air Force One for Florida, waving to the crowd for the final time as president after giving a farewell address at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, senior Republicans arrived at the US Capitol for Mr Biden’s inauguration, including outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mr Trump, who became the first US president to be impeached for a second time for inciting the Capitol riots, will face charges in the Senate after leaving office. Only three US presidents have ever been impeached.

Updated: January 20, 2021 09:01 PM

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