President Biden has wasted no time establishing his administration’s policies.
As of this morning, our new president has signed nearly as many executive orders as his predecessor signed in a full year (55). So many, in fact, that even the NYT has published articles expressing concern with what many outlets have called an “executive order blitz.” Obviously, the president is currently taking lots of heat from right-wing news outlets over his abundant use of executive action, but now that some of the criticisms have begun to pop up in left-wing media, Biden’s advisors are sure to be on high alert. To be sure, things on The Hill have been so busy that we shan’t gild a single lily in speculation about the President’s tie of the day or cereal of choice. There simply isn’t time. Instead, we’ll commence with the diving straightaway:
Day Three in Office:
President Biden awoke to media praise over his forthcoming food plan and some high marks from environmental groups over his decisions concerning America’s position on greenhouse gas and emissions. But the morning also brought a spattering of somewhat negative feedback in the press concerning the president’s, shall we say dust-up, with a reporter during the prior day’s order-signing remarks.
Biden’s team likely also knew that chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci had publicly refuted Biden’s presser statements regarding vaccine distribution, as well as CNN’s claims that Biden would be “starting from scratch.” Instead, Fauci told reporters “We certainly are not starting from scratch,” as a process had been underway for some time under the Trump administration.
While his team has released no public statement regarding Fauci’s comment, there is little doubt that the president’s highly-praised all-female communications and PR team were already aware of the fallout and forming a response strategy. On Biden’s third day, morning news commentators reviewed possible reasons that the Dow had fallen for the second day in a row and the phrase “regret voting for Biden” had begun trending on Google and social media. As they say, there’s no rest for the weary; an adage that has rung true for every U.S. president in modern history — President Biden, it seems, will be no exception.
During his morning brief, the President likely discussed the fact that that SANA (the Syrian State News Agency) had gone public with a story implicating the United States in an alleged unfolding invasion of Syria. According to the SANA report, a U.S. convoy entered Syria from Iraq via the al-Waleed crossing in order to bring arms and logistical equipment to the bases in Hasakeh and Deir Ezzor provinces. The convoy included around 40 trucks and armored vehicles and was backed from the air by helicopters. SANA also reported that around 200 U.S. troops had arrived in the Hasakeh province via helicopter. Purportedly, these U.S. troops will be headed to nearby oilfields.
Some believe this move may be a re-establishment of forces in the area. That is to say, the undoing of Trump’s previous withdrawal from the area. Others speculate it’s merely a typical troop movement. Syrian news outlets appear split on the topic. Critics have accused President Biden of a back-door move that could result in hostility with Syria.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration likely also learned that the Israeli Air Force had attacked two positions in Syria overnight. According to the news reports, an Iranian missile facility, as well as an Iranian storage facility near the Syrian airport, were attacked. Purportedly the attack came in connection to an Iranian shipment that was offloaded earlier that same night. Syrian antiaircraft returned fire on the Israelis, but missed their targets and instead hit a Syrian civilian’s home.
If these reports are true, the attack was the first Israeli assault on Iranian facilities in Syria since President Biden took office. Many believe that the attack should be seen as a message to the new administration — a message informing the Biden camp that Israel does not intend to further allow Iran to expand its presence in Syria. The administration released no response regarding the movement or difficulties in Syria.
President Biden’s public schedule for the day included his daily brief at 9:45 AM in the Oval Office, followed by lunch with the Vice President at noon. He was scheduled to receive an economic briefing at 2 PM in the State Dining Room and, at 2:45, he delivered remarks on the economy. The president did not take questions during the brief, despite the media’s efforts. Instead, during the live stream, his aides could be heard quickly ushering reporters out of the room, cutting off questions verbally. After that, President Biden signed several more executive orders.
What were those executive orders?
1) President Biden signed an executive order expanding food and assistance programs.
The new executive order seeks to extend the Trump-era 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP). The order will allow states to increase emergency allotments and benefits under another aid program known as the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, which provides students with money for food.
The goal of the order is to help mitigate food insecurities as many families remained in isolation and/or out of school and work. Many families across the United States receive reduced-cost school lunches. For students who rely on reduced or free lunch, school closures have increased food insecurity.
Before the pandemic prompted a necessary change in approach, President Trump had expressed desires to update the SNAP program by incorporating something called America’s Harvest Box, which his administration believed could save the country $129.2 billion in government aid over the course of the next 10 years. The program is supported by the Department of Agriculture and would provide 16.4 million households (approximately 81% of all food stamp recipients) with boxes of nonperishable food items grown by United States farmers. The boxes would replace a portion of the families snap aid money. The measure was under review legislatively when the pandemic struck. However, in light of the shutdowns and other economic distress is caused by Covid-19, the Trump administration, along with the Secretary of Agriculture, chose to provide an emergency benefits increase that represented a 40% increase in overall monthly SNAP benefits to help bolster food security and to improve food purchasing power for millions of Americans.
President Biden’s executive order is an extension of this emergency benefit and is part of his Covid-19 relief plan.
2) President Biden issued an executive order to assist veterans with outstanding debt.
At the beginning of the pandemic, President Trump authorized the cause or freeze of debt collection for veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. President Biden’s order is an extension of the Trump era action. The order will apply to federal debt and overpayment collection for around 2 million veterans. Overpayment collections are the mandatory collection associated with errored payouts to veterans and military members. If a vet is paid more than he/she should be or receives more in disability benefits, etc. than he/she should, repayment is required.
As of now, this order has received little to no pushback and is an example of a bipartisan effort originating from Rep. Chris Pappas, the Democratic representative from New Hampshire. His proposal received the support of the Trump administration and passed as an early measure to fight the economic fallout associated with Covid-19.
3) President Biden signed an executive order to guarantee unemployment insurance for workers who refuse work due to Covid-19.
The president has asked the Department of Labor to clarify rules and to establish that workers will “have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health.” And that the right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health will not inhibit their ability to qualify for unemployment insurance.
According to the administration, the order is designed to prevent Americans from being forced into a job that could put them at risk for contracting coronavirus. Traditionally, unemployment insurance eligibility becomes null if a worker is offered employment but refuses to take the job. President Biden’s order seeks to continue benefits if a worker refuses a job in fear for their health.
Critics of the order believe that the Biden administration is creating a culture of government dependency and, in more extreme views, propagating a socialist mentality. They believe that virtually any employment opportunity could represent a level of health risk (even before Covid-19) – if a worker so chooses. Further, critics believe that a change to the unemployment insurance policy creates a legal loophole for disingenuous workers to take advantage of the system, a problem that is already prolific. The critics assert that there is no way the Department of Labor will be able to prevent dishonesty or vulnerabilities, thereby making the order a risk to the American taxpayer.
4) President Biden issued an executive order to establish a network of delivery teams for the distribution of federal aid.
The purpose of the network will be the distribution of federal aid with the assistance of state and federal agencies. The goal of the network will be to ensure people get their aid and other support more quickly. The order request that the Treasury Department establish tools that will make it easier for Americans to claim direct payments from Covid-19 aid packages that could be applied to future stimulus packages.
Thus far, the order has received little partisan criticism.
4b?) Biden’s signed an order facilitating the delivery of stimulus payments.
Though we did gain access to the details of this order, it’s unclear as to whether or not it’s a stand-alone order or if it is a component of the “delivery teams” order. Nonetheless, the order requested that the Treasury Department consider taking “a series of actions to expand and improve delivery” of coronavirus-related stimulus payments, and consider the creation of online tools for stimulus recipients to claim their checks in a more timely fashion.
5) President Biden also signed an order designed to re-empower federal workers and contractors.
President Trump had previously rolled back specific protections for federal employees. The Trump administration sought to hold unionized government workers accountable by placing limitations on bargaining rights. The goal was to prevent federal workers from taking advantage of their status as government employees. Through his efforts, the employee discipline process became more strict for government employees and union representatives had limited access to office space and less time for collective bargaining. Trump’s order also sought to limit the power of federal policymakers by removing some of their civil service protections, which meant that agency heads could fire and replace federal employees in certain positions if their quality and performance deemed a dismissal necessary.
However, President Biden’s order will revoke Trump’s protocol, returning power to unionized government workers and reinstating civil service protections, and safeguarding government employees from termination by department/agency heads.
Well, that’s it for day three.
Catch up on the first few days HERE.
Days 4 and 5 will be covered in the Day 6 report, as our information indicates that President Biden kept his weekend light. As the order blitz slows down, we hope to catch up on our report of The First 100 Days.