President Joe Biden has signed a record 40 executive orders in his first nine days in office, leading many to question his commitment to unity and bipartisanship.
When being asked about this flurry of executive orders on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested that Biden's remarks were being taken out of context, and that he was specifically referring to the idea of advancing tax reform via executive action, not all these other things.
"The executive actions are previews, and happening in parallel, to what he is pushing in Congress," said an unnamed source within the Biden administration. "These are the things he can do instantly, but show what he is going to pursue, and in some cases, already is pursuing, in Congress."
The first 17 orders were signed on Biden's first day in office, smashing the records of previous Presidents on their first days in office. Another 23 have been signed since then, Fox News reports. The full list can be found here.
The executive orders mostly revolve around issues concerning Biden's top four crises, upon which much of his plans are based, these are climate change, racism, the economy, and the ongoing pandemic and healthcare ramifications.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the flurry of executive orders, noting that Biden as recently as October suggested that over reliance on executive orders is the conduct of a "dictator" and that many issues cannot be resolved through the actions of the President alone.
The administration has also argued that the executive orders are necessary to immediately undo the "harmful" effects of the Trump administration.
Such actions include permitting discriminatory critical race theory-inspired training in the federal government, halting the construction of the border wall with Mexico, rejoining the World Health Organization, and recommitting to the Paris Climate Agreement.
The Biden administration has seen some setbacks though, with their effort to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants being temporarily curtailed by a federal judge after the state of Texas launched a lawsuit.
Among the most controversial moves of the administration, however, was the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, a move which costed thousands of high-paying union jobs in both Canada and the United States, mostly in red states.
Another controversial climate change policy was a directive by the Department of Interior to temporarily cease handing out permits for oil and gas extraction on federal land and waters, immediately sparking the ire of a Native American tribe which has its right to extract oil and gas from certain sites of federal land protected by treaty.
Biden later issued an executive order advancing a similar policy which held exemptions for Native American tribes, but nonetheless sparked frustration from players in the fossil fuel industry who argue that the policy would cause gas prices to rise for Americans and increase reliance on fossil fuel imports. Critics argue that this will become especially apparent when the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end as international fossil fuel demand recovers.
The President has also signed a number of executive orders regarding equity, a concept whereby people are discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, and other innate traits in order to establish equality of outcome. The concept is distinct from traditional notions of equality, which seeks to treat everyone the same regardless of their innate traits so as to provide equal opportunity for success.
One executive order from the Biden administration involves the creation of a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The existence of "health inequities" was invoked by the Centre for Disease Control in December as a justification for a proposed formula for vaccine distribution whereby essential workers, who are disproportionately non-white, would be vaccinated first.
According to the CDC's own estimates, more people would die as a result of this policy than if they were to vaccinate the elderly first. However, pointing to the fact that the elderly are disproportionately white, the CDC suggested that a more equitable distribution of the vaccine was in order.
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