Biden Signs Record Amount of Executive Orders


Biden signed a record amount of executive orders into action. (Courtesy of Twitter)

After receiving a historic number of votes to become the 46th president of the United States, President Biden has solidified his role in history by signing a greater number of executive orders than days he has been in office. In comparison to his predecessors, Donald Trump signed 12 executive orders, Barack Obama signed 16 and George W. Bush signed seven in their respective first two weeks in office. 


As of Jan. 29, President Biden has signed 40 executive orders and actions with the aim of ending the “America first” era of the previous administration. These actions range from addressing climate change to reversing immigration policy. Although some of his orders are a necessary step forward, others have been counterproductive. Amid Biden’s calls for unity, his flawed approach to delivering on his campaign promises sends a clear message on how he will govern. 


There is no question that the executive order exists in order to ensure that the president’s agenda does not get sequestered by Congress. Perhaps the slew of executive actions would be warranted if Congress were controlled by the opposing party. However, with the Democratic Party having a majority in both the House and Senate, Biden’s aggressive flurry of executive orders detracts from his calls for unity


With just the stroke of a pen, President Biden has left at least 11,000 hard-working Americans wondering where their next paycheck will come from. In a swift decision to deliver on his campaign promises regarding climate change, Biden has become the first president to remove jobs in his first week in office during an already difficult time for the nation. In an executive order that aims to tackle the climate crisis within our borders and abroad, Biden has canceled the contracts for the Keystone XL pipeline. 


The Keystone XL pipeline brings Canadian crude oil into the United States and would have eventually transported 830,000 barrels. The pipeline would have lowered the reliance on shipping via rail or tanker, thereby minimizing the higher CO2 emissions that are associated with these methods of transportation. Completion of the pipeline would have also created 10,000 union jobs while operating under net zero emissions with 100% renewable energy


The president has not yet indicated what will substitute the low cost and energy efficient pipeline, or when that substitute will come. President Biden’s executive decision to cancel the pipeline is shortsighted since a government analysis indicated that the pipeline was the environmentally safest way of transporting energy. 


Although Biden is delivering on his promise of dealing with the climate panic, he has simultaneously stripped thousands of Americans from their jobs due to the prospect of higher gas prices.


President Biden has prioritized rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement, filling the gaps that were left by the previous administration. Biden’s decision to join these organizations reveals his firm stance on heeding science within a global discussion. Whether rejoining such agreements will have any significant impact on the state of the climate crisis is a question that only time can answer. Without a clear alternative in mind for the Keystone XL pipeline or the thousands of Americans that were left jobless, Biden’s orders are untimely. 


Despite Biden’s job-killing executive action, other orders have been more purposeful. Biden has undone some of former President Trump’s immigration policies. Among the most notable, Biden has rectified the intense Trump-era family separation policy along our southern border. Biden’s recent executive orders signal his lenient approach in tending our immigration policy as he decided to alleviate some of Trump’s more stringent policies. Such orders have strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, established a task force to reunite separated undocumented migrant children and reversed the controversial travel ban from certain Muslim majority countries. 


Although President Biden has criticized his predecessor for keeping migrant children in cages that were built under the Obama era, he has yet to address his course of action for them. Regardless of the implications of these orders, Biden has at least remained consistent with his proposed campaign promises. 


Biden’s decision to legislate executively is not unprecedented or dictatorial in any sense. During national times of duress, the executive order exists to expedite the president’s ability to govern. Yet Biden was sworn into office with a Democratic Party majority in Congress to sustain rather than detract from his agenda. 


Moreover, Biden has previously criticized President Trump for his use of executive actions. In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulous, Biden touted his legislative experience with Congress and his ability to compromise with the opposing party. In the interview, Biden bashed Trump by noting that “we are a democracy … if you can’t get the votes … you can’t legislate by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We need a consensus.” 


Albeit, these actions won’t render Biden a dictatorial force, even under his own definition, but they do represent the aggressive stance he will take to advance his agenda. Doing so isn’t always harmful, especially when the country is navigating a pandemic. Biden undoubtedly faces a harsh road ahead with COVID-19 cases spiking and millions of Americans facing unemployment.


Biden has exercised the full extent of his constitutional authority to employ executive orders. However, the timing of some of his orders is questionable. With millions of Americans already struggling as a result of the pandemic, Biden is increasing uncertainty by eliminating more jobs without an alternative in place. 


The term “Biden Lied” was trending on Twitter after his talks of a thorough COVID-19 relief plan were delayed in spite of his multitude of executive actions. President Biden should prioritize navigating the country through the pandemic first, since 60% of small businesses have permanently closed


After all, Biden reaffirmed that there is no “red” or “blue” America in his inaugural address. His initial calls for unity have been muffled by the swarm of executive orders marking his first days in office. President Biden has the opportunity to set a tone of unity by legislating through the Democratic-controlled Congress rather than solely resorting to his executive pen.


Giancarlo Barrezueta, GSB ’24, is an applied accounting and finance major from White Plains, N.Y.