Inauguration Day and the days that follow always serve as a reminder about how temporary a President’s executive actions are.
Since taking office not even two days ago, President Joe Biden has issued 25 presidential actions. The second action was a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies. They are to withdraw regulations that have not been published in the Federal Register and those published but haven’t taken effect; they are to delay implementation for sixty days.
Later in the day came an executive order revoking several executive orders issued by President Trump.
This action is expected. Every President does something like this upon taking office.
It seems as though much of a President’s first term (or only term) when their predecessor is from the opposing party is undoing everything that President did through executive order and his administration did through the regulatory process. Executive orders revoked, regulations changed (though that is a lengthier process under the Administrative Procedures Act).
And it is cheered by both sides when the President from their party does it and booed by both sides when the President from the opposing party does it.
It’s so dysfunctional, and yet the Administrative State rolls on.
Many of President Biden’s executive orders, thus far, are related to COVID-19. There are 11 in total.
Some of the other actions that President Biden has taken to reverse what President Trump accomplished by executive action:
- Ordered the federal government to advance racial equity and support to underserved communities.
- Lifted the entry ban that Trump instituted.
- He revoked President Trump’s order prohibiting federal grants to sanctuary cities.
- Began the process to review and rescind environmental regulations and policies implemented by the Trump Administration.
- Ended the national emergency declared by President Trump to fund construction of a wall on the southern border.
- President Biden reinstated the safe haven policy toward Liberians.
- He reinstated DACA.
President Biden also reentered the Paris Climate Accord. He’s committed to revoking any regulation targeting abortion providers. We can expect a number of the rules that came out of President Trump’s order protecting religious liberty will be reversed as well.
In addition to this, President Biden issued an order that the federal government will enforce prohibitions on sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One could blame the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling for this, but it was the Obama Administration policy. It is just making a comeback. We can probably expect another “Dear Colleague” letter sent to public schools coercing them into allowing biological boys the ability to use girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, and to participate in girls’ sports (and vice versa).
The Administrative State rolls on.
Unfortunately, Americans both on the left and right have come to rely on executive action as Congress is continually gridlocked.
I don’t think gridlock in Congress is necessarily a bad thing, and I’ll welcome it if it prevents some of the worst impulses of the Biden Administration and House Democrats.
While President Biden signed an executive order related to sexual orientation and gender identity, I hope the Equality Act will die in the Senate. While Biden reentered the Paris Climate Accord, I hope that the Senate will not ratify it.
However, I’m on the record supporting DACA, but I believe that should come through Congress, not the executive branch. I think Congress needs to address immigration reform, so it’s no longer a political football.
Ultimately, little of what a President does or doesn’t do will have a lasting impact. President Obama’s primary legislative achievement was Obamacare. President Trump’s will be the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. President Trump made a mark on the federal judiciary that will last for years. If President Trump wanted to do anything that lasted in terms of deregulation or shrinking the Administrative State, he needed to work with Congress.
We can’t depend on executive action, it never lasts, but the bloated Administrative State remains ready to chur out the new administration’s preferred regulations.
Unfortunately, we can’t depend on Congress to address this because most of the bills they pass empower the Administrative State (by giving departments too much latitude on how laws are enforced) and help grow it (by creating new departments).
If bills were passed to repeal executive departments, require deregulation (REINS Act), and sunset laws after a certain period of time, would a President sign it? I have my doubts.
So the Administrative State rolls on.