Welcome to the first installment of our political news series: WatchDog. Here, we will breakdown some of the important events occurring in our nation’s government each week, especially involving President Biden. To start off, here are some of the news-worthy actions President Biden has made so far:
- Re- joining the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change, with goals to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to industrial levels…countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century” (UNFCCC). Biden’s announcement to re-join the agreement comes after former President Trump left the agreement in June of 2017.
- Executive order to promote racial equity. This entailed a “comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved” (Whitehouse.gov). The order also mentions giving impartial treatment to people who have historically been denied it, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, members of religious minorities, LGBTQ+ persons, and people with disabilities, live in rural areas, and have been affected by persistent inequality or poverty. (Whitehouse.gov).
- An executive order enforcing mask wearing and social distancing on all federal properties. The order also stressed mask wearing for the rest of the population.
- Revision of immigration policies, and reaffirming of DACA. His proposal involved a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, expanded technology on the border, and more refugee resettlement. Funding and construction of the wall between the US and Mexico has also been terminated (Politico). For DACA, Biden reaffirmed the program from the Obama years, which protects people who arrive in the US as children, but are undocumented (NBC).
- Pausing federal student loan payments: This means they will be paused through September 30th. The act was part of the Cares Act back in March, and former President Trump had extended the loan relief for three months or one month at a time. President Biden extended it for eight months. (Forbes).
- Reversing the transgender military ban. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Biden’s order also called an immediate halt to involuntary discharges of transgender troops who were already serving, and for the Pentagon to review the files of any troops forced out under the ban in recent years” (New York Times). The order was one originally imposed by the Trump Administration.
Other news in politics:
- COVID Relief Package: On Tuesday February 2nd, Democrats in the Senate went forward with the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, but without Republican support. According to Politico, this came the day after President Biden met with Senate Republicans, who proposed $618 billion as a counterproposal. If it passes, this will be the first major Democratic victory after winning the majority in the Senate. In addition, “The Senate will pass a budget that instructs committees to write the relief bill, which includes increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and providing $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits through September” (Politico).
- Donald Trump’s Impeachment: The trial process will begin in less than two weeks, and according to CNN, multiple attorneys have left his team. CNN was told by a person familiar with the departing attorneys that Trump still wanted to argue that the election was stolen and there was widespread fraud (CNN).