Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain vowed Saturday that President-elect Joe Biden will take “decisive action” on four different crises affecting the country during his first ten days in office.
In a memo to incoming senior White House staff, Klain identified the four crises as “the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” and promised Biden would take executive actions to address them.
Some of Biden’s Day-One actions will include reversing the Trump administration’s ban on travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, rejoining the Paris Agreement, extending eviction protections, and launching a “100 Day Masking Challenge.” Klain said the so-called challenge will be accompanied by a mask mandate for people on federal property and for people engaging in interstate travel. (Biden announced back in December that he’d require masks on planes, trains, and buses traveling between states).
The Biden administration will also extend a pause on federal student loan payments and interest and prevent interest from accruing for millions of borrowers, a policy first pursued by the Trump administration. The current student loan payment freeze is set to expire at the end of January. It’s not clear how long Biden wants to postpone payments.
Klain said that on the day after the inauguration, Biden will sign executive orders related to COVID-19 testing and also sign orders related to unspecified worker protections and public health standards. Then on January 22, wrote Klain, Biden plans to “direct his cabinet agencies” to take unspecified “economic relief” actions for families.
Other actions Biden plans to take in his first ten days include: Taking “significant early actions to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities,” taking an unspecified action toward “reforming our criminal justice system,” and signing climate change-related executive actions.
The memo was light on details but said more would be available in coming days.
Earlier this week, Biden announced that he wants Congress to pass a $1,400 boost in direct relief stimulus checks and increase the unemployment supplement to $400 per week (up from $300 per week under the Trump administration). He also wants to extend those benefits, which expire in March, until the end of September, reports CNBC.
According to National Review, Biden’s plan for Congress would cost about $1.9 trillion, which would include $400 billion for pandemic management, and $350 billion for state and local governments, as well as tribal governments. The proposal would also increase the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, to $15 per hour.
The Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had not commented on Biden’s relief plan as of Friday afternoon, but that a growing number of Republican senators were voicing opposition to it.
“We cannot simply throw massive spending at this with no accountability to the current and future American taxpayer,” Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) said in a statement.