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The First 100 Days – Deep Dive – Executive Actions, Controversy, and More

Alas, down does not equal out. We’re plugging away at our deep dive into the Biden administration’s first 100 days. Today, we’ll take a look at the president’s first White House weekend and then dive into the three executive orders he signed on day 6. At this point, the Biden administration has logged 54 executive actions since taking office — and contrary to popular media fodder, 58% of the actions have nothing to do with reversing Trump’s policies. That means, even discarding “reversal” actions, President Biden has still broken records, signing more executive actions in just 11 “business days” than any president in history to this point.

Franklin Roosevelt holds the record for the sheer quantity of executive actions over time (3,721), as well as the average number of actions signed per year. Roosevelt — Frankie, not Teddy — signed an average of 307 orders per year during his 12 years in office (he was president four times, by the way). However, Franklin took office in September 1933 and didn’t sign his first executive order until March 1934, then he signed 30 actions total between March 1st and 31st.

Over the weekend (1/23-1/24) the Bidens settled into their new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The new administration made their first weekend a family affair. According to sources inside The White House, the weekend was full with extended family and included nighttime movie marathons in the theater, snacks prepared by the White House cooks, and the president’s five older grandchildren joining in on the fun.  The Biden pooches, Champ and Major (both German Shepherds), joined the family on Sunday, arriving from Delaware ready to explore their new surroundings. The nation also spent the weekend talking about Larry King’s passing, Biden’s decision to freeze Trumps’ HHS plan to lower insulin costs, and some people took the time to celebrate National Pie Day.

Once the weekend came to a close, it was time for President Biden to warm up his signing hand once again!
As has become our custom, the layout for today’s article includes a list of actions, explanations for each, and a “controversy alert” where warranted. So, without further ado, day six:

CONTROVERSY ALERT

1) Biden signed an order repealing Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

In 2017, after receiving feedback from generals and military advisors, President Trump announced that he would place a ban on transgender service members. In other words, transgender individuals would not be allowed to join nor serve actively in the United States military. Trump’s announcement came after Defense Secretary James Mattis said he would give military chiefs time to determine whether or not allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed forces would affect the military’s “readiness or lethality.” Trump’s decision was presented after lawmakers on Capitol Hill spent much time debating the active practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for medical treatment associated with gender transition. At the time, Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler suggested an amendment that would prevent the Pentagon from spending money on hormone therapy or transition surgery. Her effort was narrowly defeated on the floor, and Trump’s announcement followed relatively soon thereafter.

Obviously, the move sparked outrage from progressives who decried the readiness concerns and budgetary reviews and instead suggested the move  was designed to “humiliate transgender Americans.” As such, President Biden’s repeal of the order received high marks on the left.

Supporter’s of President Biden’s order believe the move is a step in the right direction for equality and civil rights. Critics assert that transgender service members are a liability in terms of both readiness and funding. In terms of readiness, critics cite the fact that some studies have reported that transgender individuals experience psychological distress and attempt suicide at rates many times the national average, which would put an overall mission in jeopardy. When it comes to financial liabilities, military members receive medical care provided by the federal government. Critics claim the increase in ongoing treatment required for transitioning members, particularly joining members, is not only discriminatory against their cisgender counterparts because it is outside typical medical requirements and regulations, but also a budgetary burden.

2) President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday aimed at bolstering federal government purchases from American manufacturers. 

“Buy American” isn’t a new concept. It’s been around for decades, and President Trump seemingly took the order very seriously. It appears the new administration agrees. Each year, the federal government spends around $600 billion on contracts. The president’s order intends to leverage the funds to support U.S. workers and manufacturers. The order also directs the agency in charge of federal procurement to increase the minimum threshold of parts that must be made in America to qualify under the existing “Buy American” law. Not only that, but the order also increases the price preference for domestic products, which is a percentage added to foreign contractors’ offers when determining the lowest cost.

Under the old Buy American Act, at least 50% of the components of any product must come from inside the U.S. to qualify as a domestic good. During his tenure, President Trump issued executive orders that pushed to raise that threshold to 95% for iron and steel products and 55% for other products.

At the time of publication, Biden’s order does not specify the number but does direct his administration to consider allowing the public to comment on the proposition. The order also calls for a system that gives more weight to American components that increase the value of a product.

So far, it appears this order has received little, if any, pushback. Burlington, VT - Ex-VP Biden Vows To Stay Involved, But No ...

CONTROVERSY ALERT

1) Biden signed an order to reinstate Covid-19 travel restrictions for individuals traveling to the United States from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa.

On his first Monday behind the Resolute Desk, President Biden signed an order to reinstate a previously halted travel ban to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and non-Americans coming in from South Africa. The order represents a reinstatement of a ban that President Trump lifted just a few days before leaving office.

Critics of Biden’s choice call the order a political double standard, citing Biden’s tweet in response to Trump’s original travel ban. One day after President Trump announced travel restrictions in response to Covid-19, Biden tweeted, “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.

In June 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a Trump travel ban that primarily affected nationals from Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan and Chad. The ban also included restrictions on citizens from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, North Korea, Tanzania and Venezuela. The ban was put into place as a measure of national security as immigration reform was actively underway.

Supporters say it was justified and allowed immigration agencies to properly vet citizens from countries that do not keep or share intelligence records with the U.S. Of course, Trump’s critics called it racist and xenophobic.

President Biden repealed the ban in the first days of his presidency.  Biden’s supporters praised his choice, calling it a civil/equal rights success. However, when President Biden, mere days later, imposed the aforementioned travel ban of his own  — regardless of the fact that it is considered a covid response — his critics called it hypocrisy.

So far we’ve covered 36 Biden executive actions… we’re more than halfway through the current list of 54. There’s still lots of ground to cover, but we’ll keep chipping away at it all day-by-day. Stay tuned, and thank you for your patience.

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