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Biden to reverse Trump policies on COVID, race and climate on day one

Joe Biden plans to sign a series of executive actions to reverse Donald Trump”s policies on issues ranging from climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will include re-joining the World Health Organisation, implementing mask-wearing at the federal level, and revoking the Keystone XL pipeline, a statement posted to the Biden-Harris Transition website said.

This is a change from previous presidents, who signed just one executive action on their first day in office. Some see it as an effort to turn the page and strike at Trump’s policy legacy on day one.

Biden’s predecessor signed one executive action the day of his inauguration that set out procedures to attempt to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“I think the most important thing to say is that [Wednesday] starts a new day,” said Jeff Zients, Biden’s choice to lead a new White House office that will coordinate the federal government’s pandemic response.

But the orders are not just in response to the pandemic and cover a range of issues where the incoming administration has a very different view that the previous one.

Biden plans on extending a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures due to the pandemic, stopping to Trump’s border wall construction, and directing federal agencies to prioritise racial equity.

He will also rejoin the United Nations’ Paris agreement, making the US a member again in 30 days.

He will plan more executive actions in the days to come, in an attempt to avoid going through a Congress where Democrats hold just a slim majority.

Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the actions to be taken on Wednesday were focused on providing “immediate relief” to Americans. Psaki plans to hold a news briefing later in the day.

During the Trump administration, executive orders were at times rewritten by court orders and marked by confusion.

Biden aides, by contrast, are aiming to demonstrate they are up for the job right out of the gate. Senior aides have worked on the plans since November and began drafting them in December.

The final documents were reviewed by career staff at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in recent weeks before Biden’s swearing-in to ensure they would pass legal muster.

Aides are set to enter the White House immediately as Biden assumes the presidency at 12:00 pm ET/6 pm CET.

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