Biden revokes Trump executive order for sculpture garden of ‘American Heroes’

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • President Biden revoked Trump’s executive order for a sculpture garden of “American Heroes.”
  • Trump felt that a garden would blunt attempts to “erase our heroes, values and entire way of life.”
  • Biden has issued a slew of executive orders since taking office in January.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden on Friday revoked several key executive orders issued by former President Donald Trump, notably the sculpture garden of “American Heroes” that the former president proposed on Independence Day last year in a nod to culturally conservative voters.

Biden scrapped Trump’s vision of a “National Garden of American Heroes,” which would have included statues of “historically significant Americans” and rose out of what many Republicans felt was an attempt to tear down monuments during the racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

Trump’s now-revoked order decried “dangerous anti-American extremism” and emphasized that the garden would be “America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life.”

The garden was slated to include a vast array of historical and cultural figures, from Crispus Attucks and Neil Armstrong to Amelia Earhart and Whitney Houston. Other figures that were set to be featured in the garden included Christopher Columbus, Harriet Tubman, former President Ronald Reagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among others.

Existing statues of Columbus were targeted by protestors across the country last year, much to the ire of many conservatives.

Read more: How Marjorie Taylor Green became the Voldemort of Congress. Few lawmakers even want to say her name.

Biden also rescinded an order issued last June that directed the Department of Justice to prioritize prosecutions for individuals who vandalized federal monuments.

“These statues are silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal,” the now-rescinded order read. “They preserve the memory of our American story and stir in us a spirit of responsibility for the chapters yet unwritten. These works of art call forth gratitude for the accomplishments and sacrifices of our exceptional fellow citizens who, despite their flaws, placed their virtues, their talents, and their lives in the service of our Nation.”

Trump’s orders came during a summer that was defined by protests against the legacy of discrimination against Black Americans in the United States.

The Black Lives Matter movement was elevated to national prominence for much of the year, and its push to address racial inequities throughout the country became a rallying cry for conservatives who disagreed with the premise of systemic racism.

Trump, who was vehemently opposed to the toppling or removal of Confederate monuments while in office, decried such actions as an erasure of American history.

Biden has issued over 40 executive orders since assuming the presidency in January, from halting the Keystone XL pipeline project to canceling two of Trump’s actions on refugees.

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Biden will create a task force to support strengthening unions and their membership

Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • President Joe Biden is creating a task force to strengthen unions and their membership.
  • The task force will look into existing and new policies to strengthen worker power.
  • The rate of unionization has fallen in the past 40 years, and Amazon workers recently led a failed union drive.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is creating a task force to help promote and strengthen union membership through an executive order today.

According to the White House, the task force – which will be chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh serving as vice chair – will focus on helping to bolster union membership and worker organizing and bargaining.

The task force will examine both existing policies and the need for new ones, and report back recommendations within 180 days. The group will also include Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

“Since 1935, when the National Labor Relations Act was enacted, the policy of the federal government has been to encourage worker organizing and collective bargaining, not to merely allow or tolerate them,” the White House release said. “In the 86 years since the Act was passed, the federal government has never fully implemented this policy.”

The main focuses of the task force include setting up the federal government as a “model employer,” helping to bolster worker organizing – especially by increasing power for marginalized workers, and those in industries where organizing is difficult – as well as generally upping the number of workers in unions.

Union membership has fallen

A report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-leaning think tank, found that the number of workers who are represented by a union declined by 444,000 from 2019 to 2020.

However, the rate of unionization – the share of workers represented by one – actually increased in 2020, to 12.1% from 11.6%. The report attributes that to the power that unions give their workers, potentially resulting in those unionized workers having more of a say in how their workplaces functioned during the pandemic and its economic impact. And industries that are less unionized – the report cites leisure and hospitality – also saw the most job losses.

On the whole, according to EPI, the unionization rate is highest for Black workers, coming in at 13.9%. Throughout the pandemic, both that rate and the number of Black workers represented by a union increased.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that “Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 84 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($958 versus $1,144).”

However, in a historical context, unionization rates are still very low. EPI said 2020’s rate is still below half of what it was 40 years ago. Amazon workers had a recent high-profile union loss, as workers in a Bessemer, Alabama warehouse voted against forming a union. That unit would’ve been the first union for the company.

“Amazon didn’t win – our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union,” the company said in a statement after the vote, over which the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has filed official objections.

But with Biden’s task force, union membership could see a boost. The president has also backed a labor-rights bill called the PRO Act.

“As America works to recover from the devastating challenges of deadly pandemic, an economic crisis, and reckoning on race that reveals deep disparities, we need to summon a new wave of worker power to create an economy that works for everyone,” Biden said in a March statement on the bill.

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White House official calls Trump administration’s rhetoric on race ‘dangerous’ as Biden halts DOJ contracts with private prisons

biden doj executive order racial justice
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

  • President Joe Biden issued four executive orders on Tuesday.
  • One of them will order the DOJ to halt any new contracts with private prisons.
  • A senior official called the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies on race “dangerous.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a series of executive actions announced on Tuesday, President Joe Biden will halt any new contracts between the Department of Justice and private prisons.

Three other orders on racial justice address housing discrimination, a recommitment to “tribal sovereignty” for Native Americans, and a memorandum directing the Department of Health and Human Services along with the DOJ to help prevent xenophobia against Asian Americans.

The new administration also came down harshly on the Trump regime’s legacy.

A senior official told reporters on a conference call that racial tensions and xenophobia were exacerbated by the “offensive and dangerous” tone set by leadership in the Trump administration.

The new executive actions from President Biden were framed as part of a broader initiative in a news release from the White House.

Susan Rice, Biden’s director of the of the Domestic Policy Council, said at an on-camera briefing early Tuesday afternoon that private prisons were the main focus of this order, while private detention centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “may or may not” be addressed later on.

Rice said private prisons used by DOJ were found to be “less safe, less secure, and arguably less humane.”

 

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President-elect Joe Biden plans to issue an executive order canceling the Keystone XL pipeline permit, report says

FILE PHOTO: People protest against President Donald Trump's executive order fast-tracking the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People protest against President Donald Trump’s executive order fast-tracking the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines in Los Angeles.

  • President-elect Joe Biden will issue an executive order on his first day in office to rescind the Keystone XL pipeline project.
  • The Keystone XL is part of a multi-phase construction project aimed at creating a direct oil pipeline to the US from the oil sands of Alberta.
  • President Barack Obama had previously rejected the project because of the environmental threat the pipeline would create to native species and lands.
  • President Donald Trump fought during his term to get the project in gear, but had little success in countering US court rulings on it. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden plans on canceling the controversial Keystone XL pipeline permit via executive order on his first day of office, sources told CBC News

According to CBC, the order was part of a larger planned list of executive actions meant to reverse some of President Donald Trump’s key policies. They include re-joining the Paris Climate Accord and reversing the Muslim travel ban Trump instituted in his first days in office. Biden also plans on instituting a 100-day mask-wearing mandate. 

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said in the memo released over the weekend seen by the AP. “President-elect Biden will take action – not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration – but also to start moving our country forward.”

Insider has reached out to the Biden transition team for further comment.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has been in development for more than ten years, and was approved by the Canadian National Energy Board in 2010. As planned, it would be a 1,179-mile pipeline running from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, carrying more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day. 

But the project failed to get off the ground during President Barack Obama’s administration. Obama balked at the plan, arguing that the environmental devastation the pipeline would cause would be too high a price to pay.

Read more: At one end of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, there is a scene you must see to believe

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action on climate change,” Obama said in 2015. “Frankly, approving that project would have undercut that global leadership, and that is the biggest risk we face: not acting.”

When Trump entered office in 2017, he almost immediately revived conversation around the pipeline, fast-tracking the project because he said it would create nearly 30,000 US jobs, a number the Washington Post disputed at the time, and ABC News noted that the vast majority of those roles would be temporary.
 

Environmental lobbyists were able to successfully stanch the project for several years, and by 2020, enthusiasm for the project had begun to wane. In June 2020, Trump took the Keystone XL case to the Supreme Court to dispute a lower court ruling that prevented work on the pipeline to continue because of the environmental damage it was causing. The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower courts. 

Read more: Keystone XL does not make sense. 

The reported rescission of the Keystone XL permit is among several climate change-related changes Biden’s team plans to make in the early days of his administration. 

Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, said in a statement posted to Twitter he was concerned that rescinding the permit would “kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-US relationship, and undermine US national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he would press for a continuation of the pipeline project with the new administration.

“It has been a long position of mine that we need to get our resources to new markets safely and securely, and that’s why I’ve always advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline,” Trudeau said in a May 2020 press conference.

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