2020 Democratic Candidates Make Promises For Day 1

On their first day as president, many candidates plan to do something about Trump's climate change and immigration policies.

Presidential candidates often make promises about what they’d do on “day one” in the White House, highlighting their priorities and suggesting they’d immediately fix something. Several Democrats running in 2020 have said they would act quickly to reverse the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Others have promised to use their executive power to start fighting climate change.

Here’s what HuffPost found out about the first day plans of the 11 leading candidates (defined as those polling at 1% or more in Real Clear Politics’ polling aggregate). All of them have qualified for the second presidential debate this week:

Former Vice President Joe Biden

During his first day in office, Biden would be focused on tax reform and climate change. He has said he would act swiftly to:

Eliminate the tax cuts implemented under the Trump administration.

Close $400 billion to $500 billion worth of tax loopholes that he said have no redeeming social value ― and then “put that money to good use.”

Sign a series of climate-focused executive orders that would surpass the environmental efforts of the Obama administration and put the U.S. on track to “achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050.”

Rejoin the Paris climate agreement, invest in infrastructure that can withstand the effects of climate change and “use every tool at his disposal” to advance renewable energy and biofuels.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Warren told Vox that on her first day in office, she’d be doing what a president can do solo: “Look at the tools in the toolbox. … What are the ones that a president can do — I love this word — by herself?” Her plan for day one includes the following actions:

Sign a set of executive orders that put a total stop to new fossil fuel leases, such as those for mining in national parks and drilling on federal land and offshore. The orders would also set up a program to create jobs repairing the infrastructure of national parks.

Implement the “Equal Opportunity Executive Order” she proposed in July. It would help close the pay gap for women of color by boosting wages under federal contracts and creating programs that enable those women to become leaders in the federal workforce.

Pick a secretary of education who had been a public school teacher and an Environmental Protection Agency administrator who wasn’t a coal lobbyist. Warren has also committed to appointing government regulators who will work to unwind anti-competitive mergers.

Reverse course on the Trump administration’s immigration agenda by revoking the so-called Muslim ban and immediately expanding protections for immigrants. She has also promised to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, improve protections for Dreamers and their families, and revive the use of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure programs.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sanders’ presidential platform lists 24 issues that he is focusing on, but so far he has made only one promise about his first day in office. “On Day One, we take out our executive order pen and we rescind every damn thing that Trump has done,” Sanders said during the first Democratic debate.

Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden on June 27, the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate leading up to the 2020 election.
Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden on June 27, the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate leading up to the 2020 election.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

Day one of a Harris presidency would be spent repealing Trump administration initiatives and reinstating Obama-era policies, including these steps:

Reverse Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

End the Trump administration’s immigration agenda by reversing the Muslim ban; canceling the policy of family separations at the border; expanding the DACA program to protect over 6 million immigrants from deportation; using executive action to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers; and restoring temporary protected status for some groups and extending it to others.

Repeal Trump-era restrictions on reproductive rights, like the domestic and global gag rules that prevents health care providers that receive U.S. federal funding from performing or even mentioning abortion, the contraception rule that would allow employer-provided health plans to refuse to cover birth control on the grounds of religious belief, and the “conscience” rule that would allow health care professionals to refuse to treat patients on the basis of moral or religious beliefs.

Repeal Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Harris has said benefits the 1%.

Reinstate Obama-era executive actions that prevent federal, housing and medical discrimination against LGBTQ people, as well as President Barack Obama’s restrictions on lobbyists serving in executive branch positions.

Hold corporations accountable for pay discrimination by requiring them to obtain an “Equal Pay Certification.”

Reenter the Paris climate agreement.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg has said he would begin by creating a task force to find additional ways to increase minority entrepreneurship. It would have to report back to him within the first 100 days and it would be part of the larger “Walker-Lewis Initiative” laid out on his website. Task force members would be appointed by Buttigieg, and the group would be chaired by the secretary of commerce as well as a prominent minority business leader.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)

O’Rourke would start his tenure in the Oval Office by using his executive authority to combat climate change and reform the immigration system. He has promised to:

Reenter the Paris climate agreement and cut pollution in order to improve “the quality of our air, our water, and our public health right away.”

Rescind the Trump administration’s executive orders that “seek to maximize detention and deportation.” O’Rourke has promised to sign an executive order that would stop the inhumane treatment of migrant children at the border, reunite separated families, revoke Trump-era travel bans, reform the U.S. asylum system, and end the fear of deportation for Dreamers and those with temporary protected status.

Start pushing a comprehensive plan to improve veteran services.

Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke on June 26, the first night of the first Democratic presidential debate.
Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke on June 26, the first night of the first Democratic presidential debate.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

If elected, Booker hopes to implement sweeping immigration reform via executive order, support reproductive rights and improve gun violence protections ― an issue he said is personal to him. Booker has promised that on day one of his administration he would:

Require all the detention facilities under the Department of Homeland Security to meet the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards.

Increase accountability and transparency at detention facilities by allowing independent experts to access and monitor Customs and Border Protection facilities, require detention facilities to undergo random checks, and improve the inspection process. Booker also said he would require investigations of all deaths of immigrants in federal custody and ensure the reports were published.

Create a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom that would address “all barriers to full reproductive autonomy.” The office’s duties would include coordinating access to reproductive health care and advancing abortion rights.

End the global and domestic gag rules on abortion.

Take executive action that would close loopholes for gun sales, crack down on illegal dealers and gun manufacturers, and invest in communities that are heavily impacted by gun violence.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

Klobuchar has a plan for what the first 100 days of her administration would look like. “The urgent problems our country is facing require immediate action,” she said in a June statement. She said her “ambitious, optimistic agenda” would start with these steps:

Work with the Senate and the American Bar Association to nominate a “full slate of well-qualified judges” to fill judicial vacancies.

Rejoin the Paris climate agreement. Klobuchar has also promised to bring back Obama-era clean power rules and gas mileage standards on days two and three of her time in office.

No First Day Promises So Far

Businessman Andrew Yang

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro

This post was updated with additional day one promises from Warren.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article identified Kamala Harris as a representative. She is a senator.

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