Biden Transition News, What to Expect in Week One


President-elect Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 20. The incoming administration has made clear they plan to be active beginning Day 1.  

On January 16, the Biden transition released a memo outlining some of the major actions the incoming administration expects to take in the first ten days. This memo synthesizes that information with others collected over time to provide an outline of major action from the executive branch we expect to see over the opening days of the administration. 

Regulatory Freeze

On the afternoon of Wednesday, January 20, we expect the Biden administration to issue a “regulatory freeze” memo instructing agencies to stop work on developing regulations and policy, as well as holding implementation of regulations that might have been finalized but have not yet taken effect.  

This move is customary for incoming administrations. However, the Biden administration could choose to put its own nuanced twist in how its implemented. 

The implementation delay will provide the incoming administration with the opportunity to revisit most of the regulations issued by the Trump administration over the past month, and perhaps earlier. Any regulations that have been finalized must be amended through formal rulemaking. However, the incoming administration will have significant wiggle room to delay implementation to allow for changes. 

Inauguration Day

The Biden administration intends to issue “roughly a dozen” executive actions on Inauguration Day. Expected policies:

  • Immigration reform – Biden is expected to unveil a sweeping legislative proposal for immigration reform, which (reports indicate) would include an eight-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The legislative proposal is expected to have three pillars: 1) addressing the root causes of migration; 2) border management; and 3) the path to citizenship. The legislation is expected to address beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and other citizens with temporary protected status, expand refugee admissions, and enhance border enforcement with technology.  

The legislation is not expected to expand the number of available H-1B visas or H2-B visas. However, the legislation would exempt doctoral graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields from visa limits.  

    • Family reunification – Biden will sign an executive order instructing federal agencies to reunite migrant families that had been separated at the border. 
    • Extend pause on student loan repayment – Biden will instruct the Department of Education to extend the current pause on student loan repayments and interest for consumers with federal student loans.


  • Re-join the Paris Agreement – Under the Obama administration, the United States participated in developing the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change. The Trump administration withdrew the United States from the agreement. President-elect Biden will rejoin the United States to the agreement. 
  • Reverse the “Muslim Ban” – The Trump administration attempted to restrict visitation to the United States from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Federal courts intervened on multiple occasions; leading the administration to reissue the policy multiple times. The Supreme Court upheld the most recent version of the policy. President-elect Biden will reverse the decision on Inauguration Day. 
  • 100 Day Masking Challenge – To address the continued spread of COVID-19, President-elect Biden will issue a mask mandate on federal property and inter-state travel. The order likely will promote the use of masks in other manners as well. 
  • Extend restrictions on evictions and foreclosures – President-elect Biden will extend the current restrictions on evictions and foreclosures put in place by the Trump administration. 
  • Revoke permit for Keystone pipeline – The Trump administration issued a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in January 2017. The Biden administration will rescind the permit. 
  • Rescind Trump Administration Executive Order on the Affordable Care Act – In 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to federal agencies instructing them to identify ways to alleviate the burdens of the Affordable Care Act on stakeholders, including consumers and providers. President-elect Biden is expected to rescind the Order. 


January 21

Expected policies:

  • COVID-19 – Biden is expected to take a number of executive actions focused on the COVID-19 response. Issues to be addressed:
  • Re-opening schools and businesses
  • Expanding testing
  • Protecting workers 
  • Establishing clear public health standards

January 22

President-elect Biden will direct federal agencies to take “immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis.”


Week 1 (January 25 – February 1)

Expected policies:

  • Buy American – President-elect Biden is expected to pursue a “buy American” agenda, rhetorically continuing a theme from the Trump administration. Rhetoric aside, we have limited information on how those policies will be different – or similar – to what the previous administration pursued. 
  • Access to health care – President-elect Biden will direct federal agencies to begin implementing his health care access agenda. Biden’s platform focused on using the Affordable Care Act as the foundation for expanding health care and expanding coverage through the public option. Look for Biden to direct federal agencies to repeal a number of actions taken by the Trump administration over the past month. 
  • Immigration reform – Biden is expected to outline his vision for immigration reform, building on the legislative proposal sent to the Congress, and directing federal agencies to move forward with other changes.  
  • Criminal justice reform – President-elect Biden spoke supportively of the Black Lives Matter movement over the course of his campaign, a stark contrast to President Trump’s focus on “law and order.” Biden will direct federal agencies to begin implementing his agenda for criminal justice reform. 
  • Climate change – President-elect Biden spoke regularly about climate change during his campaign, again providing clear contrast with President Trump’s “all of the above” approach to energy and support for fossil fuels. Biden is expected to direct federal agencies to begin implementing his climate agenda.