Biden administration begins tackling complex issues hours after inauguration

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Only one day following his Inauguration, President Joe Biden signs 17 executive orders, including a sweeping reform for a mask mandate in federal buildings and public transportation, after speaking about the coronavirus in the State Dinning Room of the White House. Photo courtesy of Alex Brandon of the Associated Press.

In his inaugural address Wednesday, President Joe Biden made a case for national unity while laying out the largest issues his administration will have to tackle. The coronavirus pandemic (and suffering economy), climate change, systematic racism and America’s hold on democracy, here and abroad, were the most pressing, according to the New York Times.  

On his first day in office, Biden signed 17 executive actions, including sweeping reform to make masks mandatory in federal buildings and on public transportation. 

“We must ensure all of our transportation systems — from aviation to public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways and pipelines — are managed safely during this critical period, as we work to defeat the virus,” said Pete Buttgieg, the nominee for transportation secretary. 

““We must ensure all of our transportation systems — from aviation to public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways and pipelines — are managed safely during this critical period, as we work to defeat the virus,”

Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary Nominee

The United States also rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, halted withdrawal from the World Health Organization and repealed what has been called the “Muslim travel ban,” which restricted “nearly all passport holders from several Muslim-majority countrues-including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen-from entering the U.S.,” according to the New York Times. 

Biden also extended Trump-era moratoriums on evictions and student-loan payments. 

President Biden also moved to revoke permits signed under Trump for the Keystone XL pipelines, reports Politico

Some Canadian government officials were frustrated they were cut out of the decision making, as the pipeline crosses through the Canadian border. These officials argued the pipeline has become more environmentally friendly since its proposal in 2008.  

“While we welcome the President’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfill his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.  

Over 1,000 jobs would be lost at Keystone XL. The government of Alberta would need Canada’s federal government to pursue legal options against the U.S., but it looks like the dispute may be drawing to a close. 

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