Biden to spend first days sweeping away Trump policies on COVID, climate, immigration, and more. Growing nuclear tensions in Iran first major foreign policy test.
Biden to reverse Trump policies during first days in office
On Trump’s last full day in office, many are already looking ahead to which of President Trump’s policies will be first on Biden’s chopping block. Biden’s first weeks in office will be largely dedicated to reversing some of Trump’s most controversial policies.
One of Biden’s first task will be taking charge of the COVID crisis and vaccine rollout. Biden plans to implement several policies through executive orders in his first days. These will include a mask mandate on all federal property, planes and buses. Rejoining the World Health Organization is also high on the agenda.
Aside from minimizing health impacts, Biden’s team is prioritizing economic recovery. First, the Biden White House will call on Congress to consider a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. Biden will also direct federal agencies to find ways to alleviate financial burdens on working families.
Addressing accelerating climate change is also high on the agenda. Trump’s presidency pointedly deprioritized the fight against climate change, and even banned any mention of it on federal websites. Biden plans to re-enter the Paris climate agreement from which Trump withdrew in 2019. The new administration will also be looking at ways to incentivize firms to reduce their dependence on oil for their energy needs in favor of low-emission options. Insiders also expect a ban on new oil and gas extraction permits on public lands, including recent exploration in the Arctic.
Biden to cancel Keystone XL pipeline on first day
Sources from the incoming Biden administration have told the press that they expect Biden to cancel plans to complete the $8 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline on this first day in office. Controversy has surrounded the project since it began during the Obama administration. The pipeline would carry oil pumped from Canadian tar sands across the US to refineries. Tar sands extraction not only creates more pollution than other methods, it also releases a higher volume of greenhouse gases that hasten climate change.
Much of the planned pipeline also crosses Native American land and waterways that many tribes depend on. Environmentalists and Native American groups have been raising alarm over the threat of spills from the pipeline that could compromise water quality and damage natural ecology.
Mexican President urges Biden to reform immigration policies.
A group of 7000 mostly Honduran migrants is currently making its way on foot across Central America hoping to reach the US-Mexico border. The migrant are fleeing poverty and violence at home, recently made worse by the impact of two hurricanes in November. While many may qualify for asylum status in the US, President-elect Biden has warned the caravan not to come, saying “you won’t get in immediately”.
Currently, the Trump administration enforces a “remain in Mexico” policy, which forces migrants to wait across the border for asylum hearings rather than awaiting them in the US. This has not only increased the burden on Mexico, it has subjected thousands of migrants forced to remain in crime-ridden border towns to violent crime.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has urged President-elect Biden to make changes to US immigration policy. Lopez Obrador hopes that Biden will forge a new pact with Central American countries who are on the front lines of migration from Central and South America. Sources say that Biden is currently eyeing a plan to make undocumented immigrants eligible to embark on a path to citizenship after 8 years in the US. While this is good news for many migrants already here, it has done little to clarify the positions of the thousands making their way to the border each year.
Tensions on the rise with Iran ahead of Biden inauguration
France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves has urged action by the Biden administration to reaffirm the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Le Drian is raising concerns that Iran may be stockpiling uranium and other supplies needed to build a nuclear weapon. Since the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reinstated sanctions, Iran has been steadily increasing its refinement of uranium to pressure other signatories to cushion the blow of the sanctions by increasing aid and trade.
Tensions have only escalated after assassinations of a high-profile Iranian general by the US, and more recently a nuclear scientist, possibly by Israel. In addition to increasing showdowns with US naval forces at sea, Iran has also just held its fifth military drill in two weeks. Iran has also begun work on an underground nuclear facility after two acts of sabotage at other facilities in recent months. An upcoming general election in June, in which hardliners are expected to take Iran’s presidency, means the window for Biden to come to some understanding with Iran is closing fast.climate change, COVID stimulus, executive orders, immigration, international news, Iran tensions, Joe Biden, Mexico, national news, New Albany MS, world news