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Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris face multiple crises, and the White House states that the administration’s initial priorities include “actions to control the COVID-19 pandemic, provide economic relief, tackle climate change, and advance racial equity and civil rights, as well as immediate actions to reform our immigration system and restore America’s standing in the world.”
These tasks won’t be easy. Biden has started reversing Trump’s executive orders and directed his administration to revisit Trump-era regulations. But the Senate is already lagging at confirming nominees to Biden’s cabinet and other top posts—Biden’s inauguration heralded the first time in decades that a new president did not have a defense secretary in place. Meanwhile, an exodus of experienced civil servants over the past 4 years left federal agencies depleted, and it will take time to rebuild their ranks. Additionally, although Democrats technically control Congress, margins are slim, and passing major legislation will require bipartisan cooperation.
Already this year, C&EN has delivered its annual World Chemical Outlook and dug deep into what we’ve learned from COVID-19 and how it may affect science going forward. Read on to learn what the Biden-Harris administration may mean for chemistry, chemists, and their communities, including advancing new materials for climate change, controlling pollution at industrial fence lines, developing a workforce from around the globe, regulating genetically modified animals, and more.