Biden’s Executive Orders Could Impact Small Biz

January 27, 2021

In his first week in the White House, President Joe Biden has issued more than two dozen Executive Orders (EOs) and Presidential Memorandums on a wide array of issues, primarily reversing former-President Trump’s various actions throughout his administration. A handful of these could have a direct impact on small business.

Federal Regulations

Revoke Trump Rules on Regulatory Restraint

Biden revoked six Trump EOs that restricted federal agencies’ rulemaking abilities, including two requirements initially praised by NSBA: a requirement that any proposed new federal regulation must include the proposed elimination of two other regulations; and the establishment of a zero-growth regulatory financial cost cap.


Revamp Regulatory Review

Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) to work with executive departments and agencies to “modernize and improve” the regulatory review process and ensure any cost-benefit analysis ensures regulations do not inappropriately burden disadvantaged, vulnerable, or marginalized communities. This order also directs OMB to consider how Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) can be more engaged in the process. Unfortunately, there is no mention in the order of the disproportionate burden small businesses face when it comes to federal regulations.


Workplace Safety

One of Biden’s EOs directs the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop guidance for employers to promote workplace safety as it relates to COVID-19, namely mask-wearing, and identify changes that would better protect workers. The order does direct OSHA to focus efforts on violations that put the largest number of workers at risk, though it doesn’t specifically exempt small businesses.


Economic Relief

Biden signed a broad EO focused on economic relief, and directs all federal agencies and departments to identify actions that can be taken to provide additional relief – this EO does spell out small business.


Unemployment Insurance

This EO would guarantee unemployment insurance for workers who refuse work due to Covid-19. Typically, worker’s can’t qualify for unemployment if they refuse “suitable work,” however the pandemic allowed states and local governments to determine what that looked like. Under the new EO, Biden aims to develop a national standard, however workers will still have the responsibility of proving that a workspace constitutes a danger to their health.


Buy American

Biden has directed executive departments and agencies to strengthen their purchasing requirements for made-in-America products and services through greater transparency of purchasing and requiring any waivers to be handled by senior agency staff.


Minimum Wage

President Biden targets the federal workplace to start his efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, which will be driven by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).