We’re just two days into what has been a historic presidential transition and already there’s significant legal changes taking place as well as some key legislative policies on the horizon. While Biden’s stance was known on pivotal topics going into election day, now that inauguration is here we have a clearer view on what specific changes to expect in the near future.
The LexBlog community has utilized blogging as a way to share timely updates and provide essential legal insight on some of the pertinent information regarding this transition and the policy change to follow. They’re also a great demonstration of blogging done right—being proactive and relatable to a target audience.
Providing coverage of key topics such as the American Rescue Plan or the U.S. Citizenship Act make for great blog posts while simultaneously boosting a blog’s credibility and authority.
While most blogs tackle policy and legislative change by sector—which we’ll dig into deeper in a minute— GreenbergTraurig‘s Robert Mangas offers a look at what’s in store the first ten days of the new administration. Notable changes include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, extending restrictions on evictions and foreclosures, and taking the first steps to expand access to health care.
Expansion of COVID response
Some of the most substantial changes are expected to come in the COVID-19 response and relief category. Jackson Lewis‘ Tara Burke provides a succinct post on the president’s plan at Disability, Leave & Health Management Blog. Biden’s proposal calls for a national vaccination program, expanded testing, and direct payments to individuals.
Garen Dodge and Susan Gross Sholinsky of Epstein Becker & Green break things down a little further when it comes to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Workforce Bulletin. A good blog post is easy to scan, and this one does just that by discussing the stimulus plan in sections. They also mention how this plan will hold up in Congress: “President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 American Rescue Plan is the opening salvo in a COVID-19 relief debate that may well consume Congress over the next several months, even though the Democrats control both houses. The non-COVID-19 provisions are likely to face particular scrutiny.”
The FFCRA expired at the end of 2020, making it voluntary for employers moving forward. However—as Jon Hyman explains at Ohio Employer Law Blog—an important part of the plan calls for an expansion of the FFCRA. This would extend it through September and expand total leave entitlement to 14 weeks, lift the 500-employee coverage cap, among other changes.
Changes employers should take note of
Employment law changes have been expected as soon as Biden was named the president-elect. Michael Frantz of Frantz Ward touches on Biden’s agenda from his campaign platform and predicts how that will manifest in feasible change: “A far more employee/union friendly administration will dramatically change the playing field on the labor front.”
In an unexpected move, Biden went ahead with firing NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb after he refused to step down. Daniel Pasternak of Squire Patton Boggs comments on the mixed opinions behind this move at Employment Law Worldview: “Although President Biden’s campaign promised sweeping changes to the nation’s labor laws and policy, the precipitous firing of General Counsel Robb was nonetheless an unexpected, and rather shocking, move.”
A big change in the employment sector stirring up a lot of debate and controversy is the idea of a federal $15 minimum wage. Jon Hyman’s second post dedicated toward covering specifics of the American Rescue Plan provides a summary of wage changes and then poses five relevant questions many employers are probably wondering as well.
FMLA Insights founder Jeff Nowak of Littler points out the high level points employers should take note of from the American Rescue Plan: “[Biden] intends to broaden leave obligations for a host of new employers and sweeten the amount of leave available to employees.” His post is easily scannable and offers a link to the Biden team’s fact sheet for those seeking more information.
Big changes to the immigration process
Biden is wasting no time—day one he has already sent the U.S. Citizenship Act to Congress. GreenbergTraurig’s Laura Reiff puts key details from the legislation into context for business immigration. She crafts a bulleted list to provide a summary of the administration’s wish list while also detailing what was left out: “The complex issue of non-immigrant visas such as H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and any new visa category for the future flow of workers has not been addressed by the Biden proposal and will need to be part of the debate.”
Much of the change taking place involves reversing old orders, Grace Shie and Timothy D’Arduini of Mayer Brown discuss at The Mobile Workforce. This includes “putting an end to the prohibition on arrivals from several predominantly Muslim countries and African countries, defunding construction of the southern border wall, revoking the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from Census counts.”
Harris Bricken‘s Akshat Divatia has been authoring a series of detailed blog posts discussing the Biden administration’s potential impact on immigration policy: “Comprehensive immigration proposals are long overdue and will rightly grab all the headlines. Equally important, however, is the behind-the-scenes task of making the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) more efficient after four years of political activism.”
With the Georgia runoffs ending favorably for Democrats, they now retain control of both the House and the Senate. This majority will make it easier for proposed legislation to pass, but it’s a slim margin and politically divisive policy might still get held up in the Senate. The differences between the Trump and the Biden administrations are far-reaching, meaning even more ambitious legislation—and executive orders—can be expected in the coming weeks.