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Democratic nominee Joe Biden is planning to use executive power to enact sweeping changes across a range of issues during the first days of his presidency, according to one of his top aides.
Stef Feldman, who serves as Biden’s national policy director, made the claim during a Zoom briefing hosted by Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service last week.
According to the Washington Examiner, during the briefing, Feldman indicated that Biden is planning to “make big, bold changes through executive action, not just on policing and climate like we talked about previously, but in healthcare and education, on gun violence, on a range of issues.”
“There’s really a lot you can do through guidance and executive action,” she added.
Why does it matter?
The comments come as a cloud of uncertainty remains surrounding Biden’s intention to use executive orders to accomplish policy objectives.
Leaked audio from a recent closed-door meeting between the former vice president and civil rights leaders showed a defiant Biden rejecting the type of flippant use of executive authority pushed by his “progressive friends.” During the meeting, Biden pushed back against suggestions that he use executive orders to accomplish objectives like instituting a national database on police misconduct or banning assault weapons.
Though at the same time he said he was “not going to hesitate” to use executive authority to “undo every single damn thing” that President Trump has done over the last four years.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with other progressive lawmakers, has been urging Biden to circumvent Congress and cancel $50,000 of federal student loan debt for every borrower, and this week, Schumer told reporters that Biden is “considering” the proposal.
The mixed messaging coming from Biden and his policy director suggests that either there is a degree of miscommunication within Biden’s team or that the team’s approach to use of executive authority is evolving.
Despite what Biden told civil rights leaders, it is largely expected that his administration would attempt to bypass Congress where possible to push through Democratic policy objectives, especially if Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate.
Given the expectation, industries such as the gun industry are readying aggressive action to counter any controversial executive orders.
“I’m going to be pretty busy,” a top gun lobbyist reportedly told the Examiner.