After a full day of inaugural events that ended with fireworks, observed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (and their respective spouses), the Biden Administration is moving ahead with its 10-day sprint of executive orders, kicking off Thursday with measures requiring masks and quarantines for travelers and plans to utilize the defense production act to eliminate any further "supply shortages" in critical vaccine materials.
Here's more on that from the FT, which says Biden will sign the DPA order on Thursday.
The Biden administration has identified critical supply shortages of 12 items needed to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and promised to use wartime powers to help solve them. Joe Biden, who took office as president on Wednesday, will on Thursday sign an executive order instructing US government agencies to use the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of several items including coronavirus tests, N95 masks and vaccine syringes. The order is one of several such documents the president is signing as he lays out what he promises will be a more robust and transparent strategy to bringing the pandemic under control.
In addition, Biden is imposing strict new requirements on travelers (and not just on planes), while also enforcing quarantine rules, according to Bloomberg.
While most of Biden's actions are said to be undoing Trump-era policies, at least one of Trump's travel rules, requiring a negative COVID test before flying to the US, is simply being "codified" by Biden.
President Joe Biden will push for additional travel safety during the coronavirus pandemic by requiring people to wear masks in airports and on planes while enforcing quarantines for people who arrive in the U.S. from other countries.
In an executive order he will issue Thursday, his second day in office, Biden will codify an action by former President Donald Trump on Jan. 12 to require a negative Covid-19 test before flying to the U.S. from other nations, according to a Biden administration fact sheet. The order will be coupled with one requiring masks on federal properties that was signed by Biden on Wednesday.
The language of the orders hadn’t been released so it’s difficult to assess how the various provisions will be enforced. All U.S. carriers have some kind of requirement that passengers cover their faces, as do many airports and transit systems.
But the federal mask requirement could put teeth into policies now written and enforced by the airlines, which have limited remedies, such as refusing to allow customers to board future flights.
And it will go beyond airplanes. According to the Biden fact sheet, the administration will require “mask-wearing in airports, on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels, and intercity buses."
Of course, new travel rules on masking from Biden could open Americans to face civil fines or other “charges” if they don’t comply with travel-related masking requirements - which means, in theory, you could be fined for eating that snack they give you on the plane.
The new Biden policy could subject passengers to charges. During the entire pandemic, the Federal Aviation Administration has only filed civil charges against two people related to their refusal to wear masks in cases of alleged threats or assaults on flight attendants.
Hundreds of people have been barred from flying on individual carriers for refusing or getting into disputes with flight attendants and pilots over the issue.
With all the Trump-era policies being displaced, it's hardly a surprise that the Biden Team is already griping to CNN about how the Trump Administration left the federal government with "no strategy" pertaining to vaccine distribution.
"There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch," one source said.
It must be a miracle then that all those millions of doses in the US somehow made it into Americans' arms over the last two months?
CNN also reported that Biden is pushing ahead with plans to reopen the nation's schools within 100 days, even as Teachers' Unions warn that the 100-day target may need to be "a goal rather than a fixed target."
And the orders from Wednesday and Thursday are just the start.
As the new West Wing communications team dribbles out more details of Biden's plans, we're learning Thursday morning that Biden intends to sign as many as 53 separate executive orders during his initial 10-day run, which the Hill sourced to a "document" outlining the administration's plans, which was presumably leaked to several media outlets.
Amusingly enough, the White House press corp tweeted glowingly last night during the administration's first official West Wing press briefing about their desire to come to work eagerly every day (7-365) now that Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki is running the show (as opposed to President Trump's Kayleigh McEnany).
Some of us would be happy to have @PressSec holding WH briefings on weekends too. We’ll be there.— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) January 21, 2021
Well, they're about to get what they wished for. Because according to the Hill, it's going to be an extremely busy January, with Biden signing a suite of EOs every day. Many days will have "themes", similar to the four major themes once proposed by Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain (COVID, racial equality, health care and, of course, immigration, which was one of the themes of the 17 'executive actions' Biden took yesterday.
The document, which was circulated to individuals close to the administration and obtained by the Hill, shows that Biden will take executive action each weekday through the end of January, with each day centered around specific themes such as climate, economic relief, health care and immigration.
The timetable lays out which days Biden is expected to act on anticipated items such as reversing the Mexico City policy, creating a task force to reunite separated migrant families and establishing a policing commission.
Whatever details were on the version of the schedule leaked to the Hill, they might differ from the final drafts of the orders, as Biden's team is still reportedly hashing out the details.
The schedule notes that the specifics of certain executive actions are to be determined, reflecting how the Biden team is still hashing out details as it takes office following delays in the transition after the November election. The themes are expected to extend into February, which has been designated around the idea of “Restoring America’s Place in the World,” according to the document.
On the list of the orders to be signed on Thursday, many will focus on the pandemic, which will be Thursday's overarching theme (if you haven't noticed that already). Friday's theme will focus on economic relief, while Monday's theme will be "Buy American," and most of next week will be dedicated to ripping out Trump-era policies and replacing them with Biden policies.
Thursday’s theme will focus on the pandemic, according to the document. Biden is expected to sign off on executive orders to review the supply chain ahead of any use of the Defense Production Act and to implement public health measures on public transportation, airplanes and trains.
Friday’s theme is economic relief, with two executive orders expected to be signed, according to the document. One will direct agencies to take action on Medicaid, Pell grants and unemployment insurance, while the other will restore collective bargaining rights to federal employees and initiate a rollback of a Trump administration rule on Schedule F.
The theme for Monday is “Buy American,” and Biden will sign one executive order seeking to ensure agencies use U.S. suppliers.
The remainder of next week will be spent signing off on executive orders and reversing Trump-era moves surrounding equity (Jan. 26), climate (Jan. 27), health care (Jan. 28) and immigration (Jan. 29).
Looking further down the road, the Biden team's plans for February are already coming together as well.
February’s actions remain a work in progress, but the early days have been mapped out, and there is likely to be a strong focus on national security matters, according to the schedule reviewed by The Hill.
Biden on Feb. 1 is tentatively expected to sign an executive order aimed at workforce recruiting and retention. The following day, he will sign a “Forever Wars” executive order initiating a review of counterterrorism operations that also reinstates the policy of closing Guantanamo Bay prison, something neither of his predecessors managed to do.
As the president busies himself with the pen-strokes, the Democrats' stimulus carriage is already turning into a pumpkin, as Mitt Romney, already luxuriating in his new role as a critical swing vote, told reporters yesterday that he's not looking for new stimulus in the immediate future.