Biden-Harris Launching Racial Equity Initiative On Day One

President-elect Joe Biden is moving into the White House today (Jan. 20). One of his new administration’s top priorities is getting to work with a series of 15 Day One executive orders. Many of the initiatives are designed to address gaps left by his predecessor Donald Trump, or reverse many of his actions.

In a Tuesday evening Zoom press call, several people who will serve as chief aides in the new White House, outlined Biden’s strategy and what he intends to accomplish.

One of the most notable was, a “whole-of-government’ racial equity initiative that is intended to address systemic racism at the federal level. Agencies will review their individual states of equity and deliver an action plan within 200 days to deal with barriers in opportunity. The initiative will be spearheaded by incoming White House Domestic Policy Council head, former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.

“Delivering on racial justice will require that the administration takes a comprehensive approach to embed equity in every aspect of our policymaking and decision-making,” Rice told reporters on the call. 

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In addition, the Office of Management and Budget, will be charged with working to better allocate federal resources to invest in communities of color. Also the council will direct federal agencies to have engagement with communities that have been damaged by government policies in the past.

In other Day One executive orders, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, rescind the ban on entry into the United States from primarily Muslim nations; stop the construction of Trump’s “border wall”; extend federal moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures; protect immigrants affected by DACA; prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation; and revoke the Keystone Pipeline permit.

But the largest undertaking will be the coronavirus response. The new administration will begin by launching a “100 Day Masking Challenge” which will encourage Americans to mask up for 100 days to mitigate the spread of the disease. But Biden will also issue an executive order requiring mask wearing and social distancing in all federal buildings.

America will also re-engage with the World Health Organization (WHO) to be part of a global coordination effort in the fight against coronavirus. Finally, the Biden-Harris administration will create a COVID-19 Response Coordinator who will be in charge of across the board elements of the response.  The executive order will re-establish the NSC Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, an office created during the Obama administration, but dismantled by Trump.

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“President-elect Biden is taking historic action on day one to advance his agenda — including signing 15 executive actions and asking agencies to take steps in an additional two areas,” said Jen Psaki, the incoming White House Press Secretary in a statement. “This compares to four day one executive actions from Biden’s four predecessors in the White House combined.

“As we’ve previously announced, President-elect Biden will continue to take action over the next 10 days — and over his entire time in office — to address the four crises that he’s laid out,” Psaki continued. “In the coming days and weeks we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the President-elect’s promises to the American people, including revoking the ban on military service by transgender Americans, and reversing the Mexico City policy.”

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