President Joe Biden took a series of executive actions on Jan. 20, his first day in office, to address the CCP virus pandemic and the related economic fallout.
Biden signed an executive order creating the position of White House coordinator of the COVID-19 response and created a directorate of the National Security Council dedicated to global health security and biodefense. The president also signed an order mandating masks on federal property.
In response to a request from Biden, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for millions of Americans. The Department of Education, in response to another Biden request, extended the pause on federal student loan payments.
Biden’s transition team had previewed all the actions ahead of the inauguration.
“Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, and we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far, and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities. We’re going to rebuild our economy as well,” Biden said in the Oval Office before signing the series of executive orders.
The USDA extended the moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures through March 31, 2021.
“USDA recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis in the United States. Today, 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments,” the USDA said in a statement.
Under the existing pandemic relief measures, lenders help impacted borrowers by providing forbearance of up to 180 days on loan payments. At the end of the initial extension, the forbearance may be extended for another 180 days.
The acting secretary of education, at Biden’s request, paused federal student loan payments and collections and maintained the interest rate at zero percent.
“Too many Americans are struggling to pay for basic necessities and to provide for their families. They should not be forced to choose between paying their student loans and putting food on the table,” the Department of Education said in a statement.
Biden established the position of coordinator of the COVID-19 response, to be filled by former Obama administration official and transition co-chair Jeff Zients. In the Trump administration, Vice President Mike Pence played the same role.
“The COVID-19 Response Coordinator shall report directly to the President; advise and assist the President and executive departments and agencies (agencies) in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic; coordinate all elements of the COVID-19 response,” the executive order states.
The president also directed the National Security Council (NSC) to convene a committee “to advise the President on the global response to and recovery from COVID-19.”
The order established the NSC Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense, the senior director of which is “responsible for monitoring current and emerging biological threats.”