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Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Details: Biden will direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to examine how previous administrations undermined fair housing policies and laws, according to senior officials.

  • Another executive order directs the attorney general not to renew Justice Department contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities. Domestic policy czar Susan Rice confirmed at a press briefing that the order does not apply to private immigration facilities, which fall under the Department of Homeland Security.
  • One executive order calls for "re-establishing federal respect for tribal sovereignty" following years of tension between tribal governments and former President Trump.
  • Biden also ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to examine how Trump's rhetoric about COVID-19 may have led to discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The intrigue: The Biden administration signaled the executive orders are a preview of what's to come on its racial equity agenda as it prepares legislative proposals to fight discrimination and poverty.

The bottom line: Biden's early moves on racial equity are a major shift in tone from Trump, who often praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, denounced research of slavery and racial justice, and ordered agencies to end diversity training.

Go deeper

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.