The new Administration hit the ground running last week and surprised many this month by issuing a series of rapid-fire, far-reaching executive actions. President Biden has wasted no time in cementing an early vision for the next four years; an omni-present executive branch that will use its authority to circumvent congress to achieve its policy goals, particularly when it comes to energy and environmental policy. Despite his previously stated stance against former President Trump’s heavy reliance on unilateral action, Biden began his first two weeks in office by shattering previous records; the Economist noted on January 22 that Biden had signed more executive orders in two days than Trump had in two months, and NBC News lists 40 executive actions to-date. Of the 40, 32 are technically executive orders. The others are proclamations or memoranda, having essentially the same effect. The most controversial of these orders as it relates to the industry is an indefinite leasing moratorium on federal lands in federal waters, which IADC and other industry members quickly pushed back on.
Committee assignments are rolling out in the House and lawmakers are beginning to introduce new legislation that they will try to work for the next two years. Several bills on the energy front have already been introduced that aim to ameliorate the effects of the Administration’s leasing moratorium, including from Rep. Cheney and Rep. Crenshaw, and large swathes of House members have released letters and statements pushing back on the Administration’s actions. Additionally, the House this month voted on another round of articles of impeachment for former President Donald Trump, having sent those to the Senate for consideration and trial.
Following tense negotiations, Minority Leader McConnell and Majority Leader Schumer have worked out an agreement regarding Senate rules in the 50-50 configuration, and appear ready to begin legislative business for the 117th Congress. One of its first moves will be to oversee a speedy impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Its other main focus in the early days of the new Administration is to hold hearings and votes to confirm. President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees.