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Biden’s First Orders and What They Mean for US Manufacturing

Biden’s First Orders and What They Mean for US Manufacturing

Upon entering office, President Biden quickly set to work undoing executive actions taken by his predecessor, President Trump, and issuing new ones reflecting his own priorities. During his first week as President, Biden signed executive orders on topics as varied as COVID-19, supply chains, and climate change. Here are five of Biden’s early-term executive actions with potential impact on the manufacturing sector.

Biden’s “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” is aimed squarely at President Trump’s own executive orders concerning greenhouse gas emissions, fuel standards, pollutants, and protected federal lands. It directs members of the executive branch to review decisions made during Trump’s presidency contrary to Biden’s policy, which refers to climate change as a “crisis.”

The executive order also officially revoked the March 2019 permit President Trump issued allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to continue. The pipeline was the subject of protest from Native American and environmentalist activists, who objected to the pipeline being constructed. Biden’s order says the pipeline is “against the national interest” considering its impact on climate change.

President Biden signed three executive orders directly related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One of those orders established a new position for a federal Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response, who will report directly to President Biden and manage national moves to improve production and distribution of vaccines as well as medical equipment.

Signed January 21, Biden’s second day in office, the Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain directs the members of Biden’s cabinet to review the availability of PPE and if it’s being produced in enough quantities to effectively combat the virus and invoke the Defense Production Act to boost production in cases where there’s not enough supplies.

The order continues by directing the cabinet to report back to President Biden within 180 days on how best to rebuild domestic manufacturing capability to make emergency medical supplies in the United States, in order to bolster “a long term capability” notably absent during the first period of the coronavirus outbreak.

The first phase of the pandemic was marked by notably tight medical supplies, including masks, hospital gowns, ventilators, gloves, sanitary wipes, and more. The issue was compounded by historical offshoring, as companies ran into skyrocketing demand in the U.S.A. as well as abroad, even while some of their factories for producing the needed goods were forced to close production. In one example, 3M, a source for medical-grade masks, manufactured many of them in China, the country hit by the virus first.

January 21 also saw Biden pass an executive order directing the Secretary of Labor and the head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to review and revise workplace safety measures related to the ongoing COVID pandemic for both essential and nonessential workers.

On January 25, Biden signed the “Executive Order on Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers.” According to Biden, the order will make sure the federal government purchases more materials from American manufacturers by closing loopholes and making it harder for companies to receive waivers for foreign-made goods.

The order will also make any such waivers for goods—which are given for goods that can’t be sourced domestically—are posted publicly.

Biden touted the order as “the first steps” in his “Build Back Better Recovery Plan,” which he says will invest “hundreds of billions of dollars” in improving infrastructure with “American products and materials.”

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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