How Biden’s first 100 days will affect Georgia

President-elect Joe Biden plans to issue a sweep of executive orders and push an expansive legislative agenda after he takes office Wednesday, wielding narrow Democratic majorities in Congress thanks to Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs as he races to reverse Republican Donald Trump’s policies.

In the opening days of his administration, Biden intends to immediately roll back some of Trump’s most divisive decisions with directives to rejoin the Paris climate accord that his predecessor broke, enforce a mask mandate on federal property and nix a travel ban involving a handful of majority-Muslim countries.

With the help of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, whose victories this month flipped control of the U.S. Senate, Biden also aims to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, expand voting rights rules under a measure named for John Lewis and secure his confirmations for Cabinet positions.

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And Biden will launch his first 100 days in office even as the Senate still grapples with his predecessor. The Senate, split 50-50 once Ossoff and Warnock are sworn in Wednesday, plans to conduct a second impeachment trial of Trump on charges he incited the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Facing a still-raging pandemic and ongoing economic turmoil, Biden won’t have much wiggle room. Washington has been transformed into a fortress amid the threat of domestic attacks, and state and federal officials have struggled to effectively distribute the coronavirus vaccine.

Biden will also have to thread narrow Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, and sidelined, fractious Republicans are eager to unite against any hints that Biden and his allies are overplaying their political hands.

The incoming president aims to move with urgency to “reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration,” his top aide, Ron Klain, said in a memo that laid out a blueprint for executive and congressional action in the first 100 days of the administration.

Here’s a look at what to expect:

Coronavirus

After months of demanding a more robust stimulus package, Biden last week proposed a $1.9 trillion plan that Democrats had been clamoring to pass. He talked of a “crisis of deep human suffering in plain sight,” adding “there is no time to waste.”

He also plans to issue a mask mandate for federal property and interstate travel, such as airplanes, and set a goal of administering 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his presidency.

More than 11,000 Georgians have died from the disease contracted by hundreds of thousands in the state.

Economy

As part of Biden’s plan to reverse the economic downturn, his coronavirus relief package includes additional direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans and a revival of a $400 weekly boost in unemployment benefits. He’s also calling for $350 billion to help states and local governments cover funding shortfalls and $35 billion in small-business lending programs.

And during the general election, he promised a “Build Back Better” platform that would spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure projects and bolstering the nation’s health care network. He also called for increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

To finance the spending, Biden said he would roll back the 2017 tax cuts signed into law by Trump and raise taxes on wealthier Americans.

Voting rights

With a new majority in place, Senate Democrats have already signaled they will move quickly to pass new voting measures. Similar legislation was approved in the House during the last congressional session, only to be blocked from the Senate floor by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

These are the types of new voter protections that Biden had pledged to support. The package is likely to be named after Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights icon who died in July.

Biden as a candidate also pledged to offer incentives to states to automatically restore voting rights for people with felony records once they completed their sentences, and he said he would empower the Department of Justice to act as a protector of voting rights.

Immigration

Biden plans to unveil legislation Wednesday that offers a path to citizenship for about 11 million immigrants now living in the U.S. without legal status, which could also include a fast track for so-called “Dreamers” who have lived in the country since they were children.

More than 21,000 Georgians have participated in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established during the Obama administration, according to federal officials, and many have no memories of the country in which they were born.

The legislation is also expected to promote new foreign aid for Central American countries that are the source of much of the migration, as well as new penalties for those smuggling people and drugs across the U.S. border.

Environment

One of Trump’s first acts in office was to pull out of the Paris climate accord, an international agreement that aims to curb climate change. One of Biden’s first moves when he’s sworn into the presidency is to rejoin the pact, which was signed with support from then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other local leaders.

Biden also plans to organize a “world summit” devoted to slowing climate change and to pressure China to eliminate subsidies on coal and other fossil fuels. And he’s set to terminate the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that stretches from the prairies of Canada to Texas.


Biden’s inauguration gets a Georgia touch

Cities across Georgia, including Atlanta, will light their buildings Tuesday night to honor those who died of COVID-19 as part of a ceremony leading into Joe Biden’s swearing in. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said both City Hall and the canopy at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will be lit up amber.

South Fulton firefighter Andrea Hall will lead the Pledge of Allegiance during Wednesday’s swearing-in. Hall, the first Black woman to make the rank of captain in her department, is also president of the local union.

Later in the afternoon, there will be a virtual “Parade Across America” that features a 12-year-old trumpeter from Decatur. Jason Zgonc gained notoriety this summer when he played his instrument for hospital workers during the coronavirus pandemic. His performance will include a virtual duet with the trumpeter from the New York Philharmonic who inspired his outreach.

Guide to the AJC’s inauguration coverage

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has two reporters on the ground in Washington to document the events of this historic weekend, including the swearing-in of Georgia’s newest U.S. senators: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Four years ago, we had eight staffers in Washington for the inauguration of Donald Trump, but the unprecedented lockdown of the U.S. Capitol and the coronavirus pandemic have greatly limited access and the inaugural events themselves.

Still, our Washington correspondent, Tia Mitchell, and senior political reporter Greg Bluestein will be there to bring you live coverage, with an emphasis on Georgia connections. In Atlanta, Patricia Murphy and others will be following Georgians who are marking the day.

Check ajc.com for updates.

You can follow Mitchell on Facebook and on Twitter at @ajconwashington, Bluestein on Facebook and on Twitter at @bluestein, and Murphy at @1PatriciaMurphy .

And if you are hosting or attending virtual events or celebrating in other ways, please let us know. Please send photos, videos or your thoughts on the inauguration to patricia.murphy@ajc.com