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Biden has economic levers to pull even without the Senate.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will take office in January with a weak economy weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans still unemployed and businesses struggling and closing as winter bears down.

Addressing that economic challenge and following through on his campaign’s tax and spending promises could be complicated if Republicans maintain control of the Senate.

But as President Trump has demonstrated time and again, Mr. Biden has the power to pull some levers unilaterally, without congressional approval, and could influence the federal government’s economic policymaking machinery through an array of executive actions, regulations and personnel changes.

“There’s a tremendous amount that can be done without Congress,” said Felicia Wong, who serves as an adviser on the Biden transition board but who was speaking in her capacity as head of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank.

  • For economic stimulus, among actions he could take include using executive authority to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour, directing his education secretary to forgive student loans to a certain amount and repurposing unspent funds from the previous stimulus legislation.

  • The Biden administration could act on its own to raise taxes in a few areas, largely by changing regulations governing how Mr. Trump’s 2017 tax law is carried out.

  • On trade, Mr. Biden faces several decisions in the short term, including whether to continue with Mr. Trump’s ban on TikTok and WeChat, the social media apps, and whether to retain America’s tariffs on Chinese goods and foreign metals. He does not need congressional approval to deal with these and other outstanding trade issues.

  • A new crew of officials will have leeway to undo changes to financial regulation, but much like the slow drip of deregulation under the Trump administration, any changes from the Fed and its fellow regulatory agencies are likely to be small and steady.

  • The new administration could exert huge influence over consumer protections, including those involving debt collection, payday lending and foreclosure abuse.

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