President Joe Biden on Friday put the kibosh on his predecessor’s planned “National Garden of American Heroes” and revoked former President Donald Trump’s executive orders aimed at social media companies’ moderation policies and branding American foreign aid.
In an executive order of his own, Biden abolished the Trump-formed task force to create the new monument, which the former president proposed last year. It was to have featured sculptures of dozens of American historical figures, including presidents, athletes and pop culture icons, envisioned by Trump as “a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.”
Trump himself curated the list of 30-plus, which included Davy Crockett, Billy Graham, Whitney Houston, Harriet Tubman and Antonin Scalia, among others, but no site was selected and the garden was never funded by Congress.
Trump repeatedly condemned the desecration and toppling of historic statues by demonstrators during protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
“We will raise the next generation of American patriots,” Trump said during a speech last July at Mount Rushmore where he announced his idea for the garden. “We will write the next thrilling chapter of the American adventure. And we will teach our children to know that they live in a land of legends, that nothing can stop them, and that no one can hold them down.”
Trump’s executive order establishing the garden said priority should be given to monuments to former presidents, to individuals and events relating to the European discovery of North America, the founding of the United States, and the abolition of slavery.
“None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying,” the now-cancelled order stated.
Other Trump executive actions revoked
Biden’s order also revoked Trump’s May 2020 order calling for the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate social media companies for labelling or removing posts or entire accounts in what Trump claimed was a restriction on free speech. That order came before Trump himself was removed from platforms like Twitter and Facebook after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
The president also ended Trump’s December 2020 order to brand all US foreign aid with a single “logo that embodies the values and generosity of the American people”.
Also revoked was Trump’s June 2020 order that called for the federal government to “prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under Federal law” acts of vandalism and destruction to statues on federal property. That order came in response to the defacement of statues — particularly those honouring the Confederacy — during nationwide protests against racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
Biden also took aim at a Trump proclamation that required immigrants to prove they would be covered by certain health insurance plans within 30 days of entering the US or prove they could cover medical costs.
“My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Biden said in revoking that proclamation. “We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans.”