Joe Biden’s First Executive Actions


Since taking office on January 21, 2021, President Joe Biden has issued several executive actions targeting issues from the coronavirus pandemic to racial justice. Here is a summary of the Biden Administration’s first round of executive actions. Biden has issued three different types of executive actions: order, memorandum, and proclamation. An executive order is a federal directive issued by the president that holds the weight of law. A memorandum is a type of directive issued by the president that manages the actions of an agency within the executive branch. A proclamation is a statement issued by the president that acts as a directive on a policy matter. For more information on executive orders, read the Echoes of History article: 


  1. Executive order: accelerate the production of supplies needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including vaccines and personal protective equipment.
  2. Executive order: acceleration of the production of treatments for the coronavirus and expansion of access to therapies.
  3. Executive order: declaring support for the reopening of schools and calling on the Secretary of Education to work directly with schools on how to reopen and stay open safely. 
  4. Executive order: asking Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue guidelines on COVID-19 for workplaces and to establish an enforcement method for violations of those guidelines.
  5. Executive order: requiring masks on certain modes of transportation. Also requiring international travelers to the U.S. to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before traveling.
  6. Executive order: establishing a COVID-19 testing board to increase test supply as well as increasing manufacturing of tests in the U.S.
  7. Executive order: directing the government to examine and prevent inequities in health care and services for communities of color and other marginalized groups. Establishing a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force within the Department of Health and Human Services.
  8. Executive order: enhancing data collection and sharing among governmental agencies to strengthen the overall public health infrastructure.
  9. Memorandum: directing FEMA to cover states’ costs for the National Guard to assist in pandemic response.
  10. Executive order: creating a COVID-19 response coordinator who will report directly to President Biden.
  11. Proclamation to suspend the entry of noncitizens to the U.S. who were present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa, 14 days prior to their attempted entry. 
  12.  Executive order: promoting assistance from federal agencies to individuals, families and small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Care

  1. Executive order: directing agencies to review any policies that may hinder access to the Affordable Care Act and recommending the opening of a three-month enrollment period for uninsured Americans.
  2. Memorandum: reversing the Trump administration’s “Mexico City Policy” which blocked funding to groups including abortion and family planning services. Also suggesting the reconsideration of policies that impose unreasonable restrictions on the use of Federal funds to a woman’s access to complete medical information. 


  1. Memorandum: extending the deferred deportation of Liberians through the end of June 2022.
  2. Memorandum: to strengthen Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
  3. Proclamation: reversing Trump’s ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries.
  4. Executive order: revoking Trump’s plan to exclude noncitizens from the census.
  5. Executive order: revoking Trump’s 2017 Interior Enforcement Executive Order, which broadened the categories of undocumented immigrants subject for removal.


  1. Executive order: prohibiting workplace discrimination within the federal government based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Extending anti-discrimination statutes to include protections for LGBTQ people.
  2. Executive order: reversing the Trump administration policy to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

Racial Justice 

  1. Memorandum: condemning racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to consider the best way to mitigate language in their coronavirus guidance that could further racism.
  2. Memorandum: directing government agencies to mitigate racial bias in federal housing policies.
  3. Memorandum: recommitting the government to respecting tribal sovereignty.
  4. Executive order: directing every federal agency to review its state of racial equity and deliver an action plan within 200 days addressing any disparities in policies.
  5. Proclamation: declaring a National Day of Unity on Jan. 20, 2021.


  1. Executive order: beginning the phase-out of private prisons by not renewing contracts from the Department of Justice. However, this order does not apply to other federal agencies, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  2. Executive order: closing loopholes that allow companies offshore production while still receiving preferences as if producing domestically.
  3. Executive order: restoring collective bargaining power for federal employees. Also directing the Office of Personnel Management to advise on achieving a $15 minimum wage for federal employees.
  4. Executive order: extending the pause on student loan payments and nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures.
  5. Executive order: creating an equitable data working group to make sure federal data reflects the country’s diverse makeup and direct the Office of Management and Budget to allocate more federal resources to underserved communities. 
  6. Proclamation: ending construction of the U.S.-Mexican border wall. 
  7. Memorandum: directing the Office of Management and Budget to make recommendations to modernize regulatory processes.


  1. Executive order: elevating climate change as a national security concern. 
  2. Executive order: establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
  3. Executive order: canceling the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline (Would move oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and has been criticized by environmental experts). 


Featured image courtesy of: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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