Washington:  President Joe Biden signed a blizzard of executive orders Wednesday on the coronavirus, immigration and climate change - launching a 10-day cascade of directives reversing the policies of his GOP predecessor as Democrats pushed for even more sweeping and prompt legislative action.

The most pressing of his priorities are measures to combat the ongoing deadly coronavirus pandemic. Biden signed executive actions to require masks on all federal grounds and asked agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and on federal student loan payments.

He urged Americans to don face coverings for 100 days while reviving a global health unit in the National Security Council - allowed to go dormant during the Trump administration - to oversee pandemic preparedness and response. Biden also began to reverse several steps taken by former president Donald Trump by embracing the World Health Organization, revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

Biden, who enters the White House during a time of historic crisis, said Wednesday he wants to move quickly to address the country's big, urgent problems with a spirit of unity and national purpose. The pandemic has killed 400,000 Americans, the economy has shed millions of jobs and just two weeks ago, thousands of rioters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election, which Biden won by 7 million votes.

Washington: President Joe Biden signed a blizzard of executive orders Wednesday on the coronavirus, immigration and climate change- launching a 10-day cascade of directives reversing the policies of his GOP predecessor as Democrats pushed for even more sweeping and prompt legislative action.

The most pressing of his priorities are measures to combat the ongoing deadly coronavirus pandemic. Biden signed executive actions to require masks on all federal grounds and asked agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and on federal student loan payments.

He urged Americans to don face coverings for 100 days while reviving a global health unit in the National Security Council - allowed to go dormant during the Trump administration - to oversee pandemic preparedness and response. Biden also began to reverse several steps taken by former president Donald Trump by embracing the World Health Organization,revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

Biden, who enters the White House during a time of historic crisis, said Wednesday he wants to move quickly to address the country's big, urgent problems with a spirit of unity and national purpose. The pandemic has killed 400,000 Americans, the economy has shed millions of jobs and just two weeks ago, thousands of rioters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the November 3 election, which Biden won by 7 million votes.

In his first appearance from the Oval Office, Biden said his administrative actions were "all starting points" as he signed a sampling of the executive orders.

"I think some of the things we're going to be doing are going to be bold and vital," he said in brief remarks. "And there's no time to start like today."

The freshly-inaugurated president's rush to roll back some of Trump's most controversial policies reflected the years of pent-up frustration among Democrats that they had been largely powerless to stop an administration that espoused policies they vehemently opposed.

Acting expeditiously, Democrats said, was particularly vital as the nation continues to battle a once-in-a-century pandemic that continues to kill thousands of Americans a day and batters the fragile economy.

"We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility," Biden said in his inaugural address. "Few periods in our nation's history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we're in now."

But the new White House, as well as its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, are keenly aware that expansive policy changes they want to implement in the first months of Biden's presidency will also require the assent of Congress, and almost certainly the support of some Republicans, particularly in the Senate.

Some of his actions drew swift criticism from GOP lawmakers who had largely endorsed the policies of Trump, if not the former president's rhetoric and style.

"President Trump created the best economy in the world by limiting bureaucratic regulations and President Biden should seek to build on this success instead of diminishing it," said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "Government does not know best, the American people do."

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, stressed that Biden's inaugural address was one of "unity and it's important to govern that way as well."

Most of the 17 directives that Biden signed Wednesday had been signaled previously by Biden or staff members. Taken together with the two legislative plans he has sent to Congress - coronavirus relief and an immigration overhaul - the orders highlight Biden's immediate priorities, while sending a message that his administration plans to re engage on the global stage.

Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, noted that the 15 executive actions and two additional agency directives were far more than the two orders Trump signed on his first day four years ago.

GOP lawmakers were particularly critical of the Biden administration's decision to roll back key energy and climate regulations of his predecessor, arguing that doing so would ultimately cost jobs.


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