Joe Biden

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Biden Revokes Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline from being built. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order aimed at accomplishing this.


The pipeline, which would link Canadian oil fields to the U.S. Gulf Coast, was first proposed in 2010. President Obama blocked the approval of the pipeline’s crossing of the U.S.-Canadian border in 2015, but President Trump reversed this decision in 2017 by approving a permit to proceed with construction across the border. One of President Biden's first actions in office was to revoke this cross-border permit.


The Canadian company constructing the pipeline, TC Energy, announced a halt to work on the pipeline and the layoff of 1,000 employees the day after the president's actions. It remains to be seen if TC Energy will pursue legal action over this.


Supporters of the pipeline say it will provide affordable energy to the U.S., giving consumers a financial windfall. They also point to the jobs it will create both during its construction and operation. Opponents, however, say most of these jobs will be temporary. They also argue that the pipeline will only increase the U.S.’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels, and that the pipeline itself will disturb important natural habitats.


Do you support President Biden's efforts to stop construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Biden Imposes Mask Mandate on Federal Property

Joe Biden took office as president today and fulfilled one of his campaign promises to require the use of face coverings on federal property. The order also encompasses those who are traveling cross-border on trains and airlines.


Under the executive order, individuals in federal buildings and on federal land must wear face masks. Travelers on trains and airplanes must also wear masks. He also asked Americans to commit to wearing masks for 100 days. While airlines have policies to require face coverings, this has not been a federal mandate.


The president and those who support this policy see it as part of a wider effort to combat the coronavirus. They contend that face coverings help slow the spread of the virus. Opponents still question the efficacy of masks, saying that people should have the freedom to choose whether they wear masks or not.


Some have pushed President Biden to require a nationwide mask mandate. However, many legal experts have concluded the president does not have the authority to do this. However, a narrower mandate that pertains only to federal facilities is on sound legal ground.


Do you support mandatory mask wearing in federal facilities?

Biden Urged to Forgive Student Loan Debt

When they ran for president, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren make forgiving student loan debt a major piece of their campaign platforms. Now they, along with other members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, are urging Joe Biden to cancel student debt once he becomes president.


Under Warren's plan, the president would immediately begin canceling up to $50,000 in debt for 42 million Americans. This would cover about 95% of those who have borrowed money from the federal government. Others have suggested other ideas, such as focusing on borrowers who have incomes under $100,000. 


While student loan debt forgiveness is not a new idea, those supporting it now argue that it would help stimulate the economy. They contend that borrowers would see an immediate economic boost from seeing their debt wiped away. Historically, debt forgiveness proponents argue that student loan debt is crushing middle class families and holding them back from achieving the American Dream.


Critics say these views are wrong. They note that any student loan debt plan will be an expensive taxpayer giveaway to people who can afford to pay the money they borrowed, since they have an education that should lead to higher-paid work. They point out that people with higher incomes will benefit far more than those with lower incomes. In addition, they dismiss the economic stimulus arguments, contending that this idea would be one of the least efficient ways to provide more money to the economy.


Sen. Warren has promoted the idea that the Secretary of Education can unilaterally forgive student loan debt. Others disagree, saying that such a move requires an act of Congress. 


Do you support the federal government forgiving student loan debt?

Biden Could Pursue Gun Control upon Inauguration

When Joe Biden takes office on January 20, many progressives are pushing him to enact a variety of policies that break with the Trump Administration's actions over the past four years. One high-profile area where Biden will likely act is on gun laws. His proposals to place more federal restrictions on gun ownership will meet sharp opposition from Republicans in Congress, however.


 During his time in the U.S. Senate and as vice president, Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of gun control. During the 2020 campaign, he outlined a variety of proposals that he says would help stem gun violence. These include:

  • Ban online sales of guns and gun parts
  • Ban the sale of certain types of semi-automatic guns known as "assault weapons"
  • Ban the sale of high-capacity magazines
  • Mandate a background check for all transfers of guns, including those between private individuals
  • Repeal a federal law that prevents gun manufacturers from being sued for the misuse of their products
  • Prohibit individuals from purchasing multiple guns in a month
  • Require gun owners to lock up their guns, report them if stolen, and be held legally liable if minors have access to them


Biden contends that these ideas are necessary to reduce murder and suicide rates. He and his supporters argue that these stricter laws will deter crime while still preserving firearm access to those who want them for hunting. Opponents, however, point out that there is little evidence that gun control laws actually reduce crime rates. They note that many criminals already evade current gun laws so these new proposals would simply infringe upon the rights of legitimate gun owners.


To enact these proposals, however, Congress must act. The last time a major gun control package passed Congress was in the mid-1990s. If Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate, none of these proposals is likely to even come to a vote in that chamber. As president, Biden can pursue some gun control measures through executive orders, but his ability to do so is limited.


Do you think the federal government should impose new restrictions on gun ownership?

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