I have made the executive decision–so to speak– of shifting the First Sixty Days series to a First Hundred Days series, as everything that can be said retrospectively about the Trump administration thus far will only be enhanced with continued analysis of what is occurring in the present. That said, following my post about the Cabinet, today seems as good a day as any to continue the series by analyzing President Trump’s key executive actions to this point. Note that I have excluded some of the less important orders for the sake of disseminating the most important information.
- Executive Order 13765: Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal (January 20th, 2017): this act, designed to deregulate the Affordable Care Act’s enforcement as part of Trump’s campaign promise to “Repeal and Replace” the ACA has since been shelved along with the would-be replacement American Health Care Act, which was withdrawn from the House of Representatives prior to a vote. Status: FAILED
- Executive Order 13766: Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017): President Trump signed this act in conjunction with mandates to begin work on projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline in order to expedite project review process– a key factor in evaluating whether or not an infrastructure project will cause undue harm to the environment– and to mandate that the materials and equipment used in the construction of such projects will be U.S. made. Status: INTACT
- Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (January 25, 2017): this order mandates the construction of the wall on the border of the United States and Mexico, as promised by President Trump during his campaign, and orders the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents. However, as the funds for such a project must be allocated by the legislative branch, this order is more a declaration of intent than an executive mandate. This order also resulted, unsurprisingly, in increased strain in diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico, causing Mexican President Enrique Nieto to cancel a planned trip to meet with President Trump. Status: PENDING
- Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (January 25, 2017): this order states that sanctuary jurisdictions, including sanctuary cities will be ineligible for federal grants, with the exception of those declared by the Attorney General or Secretary of State for immediately necessary law enforcement purposes, while ordering the hiring of 10,000 immigration officers. This order has been met with strong resistance both from city leaders–who point to statistical increases in public safety when city law enforcement does not act as immigration enforcement beyond the necessity of the law–and from the American Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom City initiative. While the Trump Administration continues to stand by the order, promises of legal resistance build daily, and it remains to be seen on which side the judicial rulings will fall. Status: PENDING
- Executive Order 13769: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (January 27, 2017): this order–correctly labelled a Muslim Ban–suspended the U.S. Refugee Admission Program, and suspended entry of persons from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. This act led to an immediate and appropriate outcry of legal organizations across the country as its wording violated the Constitution and its enforcement led to myriad human rights violations. After the detention of over 700 travelers and the “temporary” revocation of over 50,000 visas, a ruling in the case of Washington v. Trump enacted a temporary restraining order, which was later upheld in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Department of Homeland security has since ceased to enforce this act. Status: FAILED
- Executive Order 13770: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees (January 28, 2017): this bill places a lifetime ban on Executive administration officials lobbying for foreign governments, and a five year ban on general lobbying. There is also a provision in which appointees cannot act on partisan issues for their former employers for the first two years following appointment. Irony aside, it would be difficult to argue with the substantive contents of this order. Status: INTACT
- Executive Order 13771: Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (January 30, 2017): effectively, this order states that for every new regulation introduced, two existing regulations must be evaluated for removal. There… really are no words for this one. Governmental regulation cannot be a game of mathematics, full stop. It appears that this order is being enacted, if tentatively, but the effects remain to be seen. Status: PENDING
- Executive Order 13774: Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers (February 9, 2017): directed at the Department of Justice, this order grants additional authority to direct federal resources to the pursuit of individuals who have committed crimes against law enforcement. Largely deemed unnecessary and tone-deaf in light of significantly more prevalent violence perpetrated by law enforcement officers against persons of color, this order nonetheless has remained, though its effects are difficult to measure thus far. Status: INTACT
- Executive Order 13775: Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice (February 9, 2017): with this order, President Trump ensured that in the event Attorney General Jeff Sessions was unable to perform his duties–for example, his recusal from all investigations pertaining to Russian interference in the election–he can ensure his preference for his successor. As of now, that successor would be Dana Boente, a US Attorney in the state of Virginia who also served as acting Attorney General following the firing of Sally Yates and prior to the confirmation of Jeff Sessions. Status: INTACT
- Executive Order 13778: Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule (February 28, 2017): with this act, President Trump ordered federal agencies to evaluate whether legislating enacted under President Obama extending environmental protection to smaller U.S. bodies of water should remain in place. President Trump’s climate change denial is apparent with this act, as is his seeming indifference to the effects of environmental deregulation in the immediate future. While the explicit boundaries of the Clean Water act have been under debate since its initial enactment almost half a century ago, the consequences of this executive order are fairly well accepted by scientists around the world. Expect this act to see some significant resistance both in court and in the public sector. Status: PENDING
- Executive Order 13779: The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (February 28, 2017): following intense criticism that President Trump’s budget proposal–well accepted as a piece of agenda setting rather than a legitimate attempt to set the budget, which is controlled by the legislative branch–would significantly harm Historically Black Colleges and Universities, this act paid lip service to HBCUs without making any significant impact, as the order leaves control of directing funds to HBCUs to the Department of Education. This order is clearly more an effort on the part of the President to ensure he can point to its writing and declare himself an ally to the Black community than to actually act as one. Status: INTACT (though impotent)
- Executive Order 13780: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (March 6, 2017): dubbed the “Muslim Ban 2.0,” this order was designed to replace the initial travel ban with few changes other than the choice to omit Iraq from the list of banned countries and to cease interference with existing visas. That said, this order was placed on a temporary hold by federal judges in both Hawaii and Maryland before it could even be enacted. A final ruling is still to be announced, but given that the first ban was ruled unconstitutional, do not be surprised if this one is as well. Status: PENDING
- Executive Order 13781: Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch (March 13, 2017): Trump’s addition to a long history of presidential attempts to restructure the Executive branch, he focused this order on bureaucratic redundancy and used it more as a declaration of general intent than, as declared, a “comprehensive plan.” Also, with the (in)efficacy of former presidents’ efforts to do the same, do not expect this order to bring about any substantive changes. Status: PENDING
- Executive Order 13783: Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth (March 28, 2017): do not be fooled by the seemingly-innocuous, populist title of this order. With this act, President Trump significantly rolls back environmental protection policies enacted by President Obama’s administration. One of the goals of the act is to “make coal competitive again,” while institutionalizing the denial of climate change and allowing for increasing carbon dioxide emissions on a near-immeasurable scale. This bill does not come as any surprise, with Scott Pruitt–head of the Environmental Protection Agency–recently declaring his belief that carbon emissions have no effect on the climate, but its harm cannot be understated. Pruitt’s predilection for “alternative facts” aside, the scientific community has been settled on this for years. This is an order that could have wide-reaching effects for generations to come, and will also be difficult to combat in court. Thankfully, state agencies will still retain a measure of control over regulations within their borders, so we will have to wait and see exactly how much influence this order will be able to exert. Status: PENDING
So here we are. It is also worth noting that in his first ten days, President Trump signed twenty executive actions (including Executive Orders, memoranda, signing statements, proclamations, and national security directives). This number exceeds any modern first-term president, including President Obama’s 18, which resulted in the Republican party labelling him the “Imperial President.” As for President Trump’s orders, the GOP has been, naturally, silent.
Stay tuned in the next couple of days for an in-depth look into the House Intelligence Committee hearings, Devin Nunes’ actions, and more.
— This is the ALF, signing off.