In the first few days of Joe Biden’s presidency, he has been busy signing off on executive orders in the Oval Office. An executive order is one that a president can push through, enacting policy change without the approval of Congress. The new president’s executive orders are focused on areas of American policy that have been the subject of heated debates.
“I was very pleased to see how many of Biden’s executive orders are focused around helping the dire issues which have plagued Americans and been ignored by the last administration,” said Kylie Horan, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Many of these areas are ones that Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, brought into focus. Some look at the flurry of activity from Biden’s Oval Office as a final goodbye to the Trump presidency. Several of Biden’s executive orders repeal or replace his predecessor’s most damaging policies with his own, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change, which Trump removed the United States from, and signing off on another order that will pull funds from the construction of Trump’s big project and part of his 2016 campaign platform: the border wall.
With the rejoining of the Paris Agreement, the environment and climate are obviously huge focus areas for Biden. Some University students are most excited for Biden’s environmental consciousness, such as Horan and Thomas Dessoye, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts of Science.
“I am most excited about Executive Order 13990 of January 20, 2021: Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” Horan said. “Biden is prioritizing ethical, equitable treatment of all American citizens and prioritizing our planet so we can continue to have a world to improve.”
“President Biden’s executive order to have the US recommit to the Paris Climate Accord is incredibly important… This return to economic and environmental prosperity guarantees hope of a better tomorrow,” Dessoye said.
However, some students worry about Biden’s environmental and tax plans and their effects on the economy.
“Not only will the increased taxes harm Americans, but rising oil prices will lead to families paying more at the gas and grocery store because costs will rise for businesses in every industry,” said Max Sallee, a freshman in the School of Business
After racial tensions flared throughout the Trump presidency, especially over this summer, one of Biden’s big areas of focus with his 30 plus executive orders is racial equity. While the United States is still gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, Biden has already done what top doctors were begging Trump to do for months: enforce a national mask mandate on federal property and coordinate a government-wide COVID-19 response plan. Many see Biden’s flurry of executive orders as a good thing and believe this shows his integrity and honesty, as many of them are consistent with his campaign promises. This has allowed Americans to see that Biden is a man of his word and indicates that he will make good on the campaign promises that propelled him to victory and allowed him to become the forty-sixth president of the United States.
“Most Americans view politicians as incredulous due to their false promises and superficiality, but so far, within the first days, the President has kept his promises,” Dessoye said.
However, others are not swayed by Biden making good on his promises. Some people are worried that the bout of executive orders Biden has been putting out will create a rift between him and his Congress, as executive orders bypass the President’s need for Congressional approval. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have slight Democratic majorities, with the Senate being an even fifty Democrats to fifty Republicans, and the house majority a little more comfortable, with 222 Democrats and 211 Republicans. President Biden will need the support of Congress on his side in order to have a fruitful presidency.
“His flurry of executive orders probably will not create much of a rift… because the Democrats control the legislative branch, and the orders signed by him are all party policy anyway,” Sallee said.
On the other hand, Dessoye said, “Despite supporting Biden’s executive orders on US policy, I believe that some form of a rift will be produced if Congress isn’t allowed to have a say in any of these paramount decisions.”
Regardless of the different interpretations of Biden’s enactment of his executive power, President Biden is definitely starting off his presidency determined and with gusto, and he has over thirty executive orders from within his first few days as President to show for it.