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

(From left) Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are pictured here in 2016's "La La Land." (Dale Robinette/L...
Alli Rosenbloom

Musical adaptation of ‘La La Land’ is dancing its way to Broadway

Get your dancing shoes ready, because "La La Land" is coming to Broadway.
1 day ago
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover debris from a suspected Chinese sur...
Haley Britzky

US Navy releases photos of Chinese spy balloon recovery effort

The U.S. Navy released photos Tuesday of its recovery effort of a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which U.S. fighter jets shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
1 day ago
Powerball's second-largest jackpot — an estimated $1.2 billion — is up for grabs Wednesday. (Ke...
Associated Press

Lucky player in Seattle suburb wins $754.6M Powerball prize

Washington state lottery officials say a single winning ticket for a $754.6 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a department store in a Seattle suburb.
1 day ago
FILE - In this image from video released and partially redacted by the city of Memphis, Tenn., Tyre...
Adrian Sainz, Associated Press

13 Memphis officers could be disciplined in Nichols case

Officials say 13 Memphis officers could end up being disciplined in connection with the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
1 day ago
The near-collision happened at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, seen here from the air. (Kir...
Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Southwest, FedEx jets came within 100 feet of collision at Texas airport, investigators say

A Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came as close as 100 feet from colliding Saturday at the main airport in Texas' capital, and it was a pilot — not air traffic controllers — who averted disaster, a top federal investigator says.
2 days ago
In this handout photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nathan Lee Chasing ...
Rio Yamat, Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Former “Dances With Wolves” actor Nathan Chasing Horse has been formally charged in Nevada with eight felonies and two misdemeanors.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Biden Faces Scrutiny Over Reliance On Executive Orders