NATIONAL NEWS

Biden Faces Scrutiny Over Reliance On Executive Orders

Jan 29, 2021, 9:31 AM
U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive actions in the Oval Office of the White House on January 2...
U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive actions in the Oval Office of the White House on January 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden in just over a week has already signed more than three dozen executive orders and directives aimed at addressing the coronavirus pandemic as well as a gamut of other issues including environmental regulations, immigration policies and racial justice.

Biden has also sought to use the orders to erase foundational policy initiatives by former President Donald Trump, such as halting construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender people from serving in the military.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Biden’s early reliance on executive action is at odds with the Democrat’s pledge as a candidate to be a consensus builder. The New York Times editorial board ran an opinion piece headlined “Ease up on the Executive Actions, Joe.”

Biden on Thursday framed his latest executive actions as an effort to “undo the damage Trump has done” by fiat rather than “initiating any new law.” During a brief exchange with reporters in the Oval Office after signing two more executive orders, he noted he was working simultaneously to push his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package through Congress. After being asked by a reporter if he was open to splitting up the relief package, the president responded: “No one requires me to do anything.”

Earlier in the day, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield bristled at the criticism of Biden’s executive orders in a series of tweets, adding, “Of course we are also pursuing our agenda through legislation. It’s why we are working so hard to get the American Rescue Plan passed, for starters.”

In his Senate floor speech Thursday morning, McConnell offered a misleading broadside that Biden as a candidate had declared “you can’t legislate by executive action unless you are a dictator.”

In fact, Biden at an October ABC News town hall had said there are certain “things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator” during an exchange about how quickly he’d push his plan to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

Biden and aides, including top White House economists, have said that they believe executive action is a pale substitute for legislative action. At the same time, they’ve defended the heavy use of executive action at the start of the administration as a necessary stopgap to address the worst public health crisis in more than a century and reverse some of Trump’s policies.

“There are steps, including overturning some of the harmful, detrimental and, yes, immoral actions of the prior administration that he felt he could not wait to overturn, and that’s exactly what he did,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

While Biden has used executive action more frequently out of the gate than recent White House predecessors, he’s not alone in being a heavy user of presidential fiat — or being criticized by the opposition party for doing so.

Bill Clinton had 364 orders over two terms, George W. Bush signed 291 over his eight years in office and Barack Obama issued 276. Trump in his one term signed 220 orders.

McConnell on Thursday scoffed that Biden in his first week in the White House “signed more than 30 unilateral actions and working Americans are getting short shrift.” He similarly criticized Obama for “imposing his will unilaterally” through executive orders and memoranda.

But McConnell was far more understanding of Trump’s decision to use executive orders to get around Congress at various points in the Republican’s presidency.

For example, in August, after coronavirus relief negotiations collapsed, Trump signed a series of executive orders that called for deferring payroll taxes for Americans earning less than $100,000 per year, pausing student loan payments, continuing eviction moratoriums and extending, albeit smaller, enhanced unemployment benefits that had expired.

“Since Democrats have sabotaged backroom talks with absurd demands that would not help working people, I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most,” McConnell said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE: The U.S. Supreme Court is shown on April 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsc...
MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years — a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases.
8 hours ago
Paul Pelosi, husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), arrives for a reception honoring Gr...
Associated Press

Nancy Pelosi’s husband charged with DUI in California

Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, has been charged with driving under the influence by prosecutors in Northern California.
1 day ago
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) leaves the Senate chamber following passage of the Bipartisan Safer Commun...
ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

Senate OKs landmark gun violence bill, House passage is next

The Senate has approved a bipartisan gun violence bill. The vote late Thursday clears the way for expected House passage Friday of what will be Congress’ most far-reaching response in decades to the nation’s run of brutal mass shootings.
1 day ago
Authorities in Florida are investigating the deaths of two cave divers at a wildlife park. The Hern...
Jalen Beckford, CNN

Authorities in Florida are investigating the deaths of two cave divers

Authorities in Florida are investigating the deaths of two cave divers at a wildlife park, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.
1 day ago
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will align in the sky during June. (SDI Productions/Getty ...
Megan Marples and Ashley Strickland, CNN

5 planets take center stage as they align in the night sky

A rare, five-planet alignment will peak on June 24, allowing a spectacular viewing of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as they line up in planetary order.
1 day ago
President Joe Biden speaks about gas prices in the South Court Auditorium at the White House campus...
Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Biden wants a gas tax holiday. Here’s why Gov. Cox and Congress aren’t on board

President Joe Biden waded more forcefully into the debate on Wednesday, pitching a temporary gasoline tax holiday as a prudent step forward.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Biden Faces Scrutiny Over Reliance On Executive Orders