Biden sets to work on reversing Trump policies

Written By: BBC

President Biden quickly signed executive actions on coronavirus, climate change and racial inequality

US President Joe Biden has begun to undo some of Donald Trump’s key policies, hours after being sworn in.

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“There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” he tweeted as he headed to the White House following his inauguration.

President Biden signed 15 executive orders, firstly to boost the federal response to the coronavirus crisis.

Other orders reverse the Trump administration’s stance on climate change and immigration.

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Mr Biden set to work at the Oval Office having been sworn in earlier on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States.

The inauguration was unlike any other due to coronavirus restrictions, with few present to witness the oaths and ceremonies.

Donald Trump – who has still not formally conceded the presidency to Mr Biden – snubbed the event in a departure from longstanding precedent.

“Democracy has prevailed,” President Biden said after taking the oath of office with Chief Justice John Roberts.

Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice-president ahead of Mr Biden. She is the first woman – and the first black and Asian-American person – to serve in the role.

There was extra-tight security for the ceremony at the US Capitol after the building was stormed by violent pro-Trump protesters on 6 January.

Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, together with Ms Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, then walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, greeting friends and supporters.

The inauguration ceremony included musical performances by Lady Gaga – who sang the national anthem – as well as Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

Amanda Gorman, America’s first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, recited her work The Hill We Climb.

A televised evening concert entitled “Celebrating America” was staged at the Lincoln Memorial in the city. Hosted by Tom Hanks, it featured Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Demi Lovato and culminated in a spectacular fireworks display.

What orders has Biden signed?

A series of measures will be enacted to tackle the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the US.

There will be a mandate to wear masks and practise social distancing on all federal government property.

A new office will be set up to co-ordinate the response to the pandemic and the US will halt the process – begun by the Trump administration – of withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The move to re-engage with the WHO was welcomed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who said it was “absolutely critical” for a more co-ordinated global response, his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said.

Mr Biden has also pledged to make the fight against climate change a top priority of his administration.

He signed an executive order beginning the process of rejoining the 2015 Paris climate agreement, from which Mr Trump formally withdrew the US last year.

Mr Biden has also revoked the presidential permit granted to the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, which environmentalists and Native American groups have fought for more than a decade.

Barack Obama vetoed a bill approving construction of the pipeline in 2015 but the decision was overturned by President Trump.

What about Donald Trump?

Mr Trump was the first president not to attend his successor’s inauguration since 1869. He left the White House early on Wednesday, and flew to the nearby Andrews Air Force base.

In his farewell address at the base, he highlighted what he regarded as the successes of his presidency. “What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard,” Mr Trump said.

The 74-year-old then left for his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida, where he arrived later in the morning.

In his last hours as president, Mr Trump granted clemency to more than 140 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon, who had been facing fraud charges.

The political drama surrounding Mr Trump is far from over. The US Senate is expected to put him on trial soon, following his record second impeachment by the House of Representatives for allegedly inciting the Capitol riot.

On Tuesday, the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said the mob had been provoked by Mr Trump and fed lies.

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