President Joe Biden spent his first day in office signing 17 executive orders to reverse what advisors say caused the "greatest damage" to the United States.

Among the orders, Mr Biden focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, reentering climate change commitments, and putting an end to Donald Trump's infamous border wall.

Here are the major takeaways:

COVID-19

Mr Biden campaigned on tackling the pandemic. His executive order on the issue included appointing Jeffrey Zients as the official COVID-19 response co-ordinator to the President; reinstating ties with the World Health Oganization, which Donald Trump previously severed, and appointing Dr Anthony Fauci to lead the US's delegation to the organization's executive board; introducing mask-wearing and social distancing policies for all federal properties and for all federal employees.

 

Economy

The president announced an extension to moratoriums on housing evictions that will last until March, and extend a pause on student loan debt that will last until September.

Climate

Mr Biden re-entered the the Paris climate accords, after Mr Trump announced the US's withdrawal in 2019. The president also reversed a number of key environmental policies introduced over the last four years, including revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit and reversing rollbacks to car emission standards.

IMMIGRATION

In another executive order, Mr Biden ended the Muslim travel ban; issued an "immediate termination" of construction to Trump's border wall with Mexico and announced a review into the legality of the Trump administration's diversion of federal funds; and moved to provide greater protections for children known as Dreamers through strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (commonly known as DACA) program. The order also reccomends congress introduces legislation to allow Dreamers permanent residency and citizenship.

 

BIDEN'S FIRST DAY IN OFFICE

US President Joe Biden stormed through a marathon first day capped by the signing of a flurry of new executive orders to reverse some of Donald Trump's key policies.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden delivered a rousing call for unity in a speech that contrasted sharply with the dark Inauguration Day address that began Mr Trump's tumultuous four years in office in 2017.

The 46th President was cheered by a sparse and socially-distanced crowd at the US Capitol when he said the American spirit could "rise to the occasion … and master this rare and difficult hour".

"We face a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis. America's role in the world," Mr Biden said.

"Any one of these will be up to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once. Presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've ever had."

Declaring an end to the "un-civil" war that "pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal", Mr Biden called for unity as the "path forward".

 

"Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we're all created equal and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonisation, have long torn us apart," Mr Biden said.

But while it was Mr Biden's day, Mr Trump was not far from the public's consciousness.

Having begun his morning with a historic snub by neither attending his successor's swearing-in nor personally greeting him at the White House, a despondent-looking Mr Trump retreated to his new base in Florida.

With a brief speech to supporters and members of his family before boarding Air Force One, Mr Trump hinted at a political return.

"We will be back in some form," he said, adding that his administration left behind a "foundation to do something really spectacular".

Despite his unconventional exit from the Oval Office, Mr Trump did follow one transition convention: leaving behind a letter for Mr Biden on the Resolute Desk.

Its contents would remain private, Mr Biden said, until Mr Trump agreed that they could be revealed.

 

"The president wrote a very generous letter," Mr Biden said. "Because it was private, I won't talk about it until I talk to him. But it was generous."

In his inaugural address, Mr Biden described it as "a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve" and pledged his "whole soul" was ready to fight for America's future.

Reflecting on the Capitol incursion where "just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the very Capitol's foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries".

"Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, a cause of democracy," he said.

Mr Biden thanked his "predecessors of both parties, for their presence here today", including Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, who attended the address and a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington military cemetery.

This was followed by a "virtual" parade in which Mr Biden and his extended family, including wife Jill, his two children and some of their five grandchildren walked into the White House.

They were followed by Kamala Harris, the first female vice president, and her husband and stepchildren.

Later, during his first Oval Office appearance and welcoming of the new executive staff, he emphasised his plan to govern with decency.

"I'm not joking when I say this: If you're ever working with me and I hear you treat another with disrespect … I promise you I will fire you on the spot," he said to his staff.

Originally published as Biden issues 'immediate termination' of border wall


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