Current Executive Order Total: 17
Current Memoranda Total: 17
Current Pace for Year One: 114.9
In the early days of a presidential administration there’s a lot of hurly-burly activity to keep tabs on. There are presidential cabinet nominees, potential Supreme Court appointments, daily briefings, Congressional meetings, executive orders and presidential memoranda.
The latter two have arguably been the biggest headline grabbers in the first month-plus of Donald Trump’s presidency, as the 45th President has issued 30 thus far (17 orders and 17 memoranda). It started with an attack on the Affordable Care Act, weakening the mandate for everyone to buy insurance in what looks like a prelude to a total repeal. Since then, Trump has issued other executive actions that deal with federal hiring, abortions, TPP, the Dakota and Keystone XL Pipelines, extreme vetting of refugees from “terrorist countries” (which was challenged in court and then revised), creating task forces to reduce violent crime and reviewing parts of the Clean Water Act. The current administration’s executive order pace—as of now is 114.9 in the first year—though that number is fluid and will wax and wane.
In the past such orders and memoranda have helped to free slaves, desegregate schools and end deportation of so-called DREAMers.
To aid in this endeavor, we’ll have this post: a running “Trump Tracker” that will be updated anytime the President issues a new executive order or memorandum. We’ll note what number the order is, what it is and what it actually means. So anytime there’s talk of a new executive order, stop by Paste and we’ll break it down for you.
Executive Order #17
What It Is: An executive order aimed at “reorganizing the executive branch” and intended to “make it less wasteful and more productive.” In signing the order, President Trump said of his cabinet that: “we want to empower them to make their agencies as lean and effective as possible and they know how to do it. Today there is duplication and redundancy everywhere. Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted.”
What It Means: President Trump’s order requires agencies to identify wasteful spending and program redundancies. Also, the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will receive input from federal agencies and the public about whether or not a governmental program is better suited for the state or local government or the private sector. The move’s of apiece with other Trump orders and executive actions aimed at governmental waste. It comes as many government agency positions and cabinet spots are still unfilled, including top state department jobs. And Trump himself cannot fully reorganize executive agencies, he will need Congressional support.
Executive Order #16
What It Is: A revised executive order of the extreme vetting and travel ban the administration rolled out on Jan. 27, 2017. The new order excludes Iraq because the country is increasing cooperation with the U.S. on vetting and the order also excludes Green card holders from the travel ban. Individuals with valid visas will also be exempt.
What It Means: The Trump administration learned its lesson from the judicial defeats the previous EO suffered. This new EO is constructed to withstand legal scrutiny and will not take effect until March 16, which might help to stem the criticism of hasty construction that the original ban faced.
Executive Order #15
What It Is: An executive order that shifts the federal authority on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to the White House
What It Means: The move, according to Trump, is intended to “promote excellence and innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” by taking the federal initiative on HBCUs away from the Department of Education. However, budgeting and administration of the initiative will still be left to the Dept. of Education. And, critics argue that the EO is somewhat toothless because it doesn’t address increased federal funding of HBCUs or pell grants which, according to Best Colleges, some 84% of African American students have used to finance their higher education.
Executive Order #14
What It Is: An executive order that reviews the Waters of the U.S. Rule and Clean Water Act of 1972 which is the U.S.’s primary federal law governing water pollution. The Act works to restore the integrity of the country’s water sources and works with public facilities to improve wastewater treatment.
What It Means: As with other recent orders and statements from President Trump, this move signals that the administration is continuously working to gut what they believe are burdensome regulations from the EPA. The particular source of conflict for this EO is a 2015 Obama rule that reinterpreted the Clean Water Act to include protection for smaller rivers and streams. At the signing, Trump said: “A few years ago, the EPA decided that ‘navigable waters’ can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land, or anyplace else that they decide — right? It was a massive power grab.”
Executive Order #13
What It Is: An executive order that establishes regulatory reform officers to implement regulatory policies and cut those that unduly burden businesses.
What It Means: Regulatory task forces will attempt to identify regulations that: “eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation; are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective; impose costs that exceed benefits; create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies or are inconsistent with Treasury guidelines.” President Trump signed the order with CEOs from 3M, ADM, Dow Chemical and Lockheed alongside him in a move that’s yet another signal from the administration that regulations (particularly environmental ones) will be given the old heave-ho. According to Trump, regulations must pass this simple test: “Does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers? If the answer is no, we will be getting rid of it.”
Executive Order #12
What It Is: An order that changes the order of succession in the Department of Justice, it lays out who takes over if the attorney general dies, resigns or is incapable of ably performing the job.
What It Means: The order comes two weeks after Sally Yates was fired for refusing to enforce the controversial travel ban. Since there are currently no other confirmed top Justice Department officials (outside of Jeff Sessions), Dana Boente (who replaced Yates) will continue to be second in command.
Executive Orders #9-11
What They Are: A series of interrelated orders that focus on crime and violence against police officers. One would “break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth,” one would create a task force to reduce violent crime, and a third would instruct Attorney Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to come up with a plan to stop violence against police officers.
What They Mean: The Trump administration’s been making a big deal about violent crime and the murder rate recently, despite the fact that the murder rate is much lower than it was in the earlier 1990s. Additionally, the concern for law enforcement deaths is understandable but somewhat misplaced, as death totals have been trending downward and a majority of them in the 2010s have been traffic-related.
Executive Order #8
What It Is: An order directing the Secretary of the Treasury to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank Regulatory Law.
What It Means: The Trump administration is looking to cut as many financial regulations as is feasible and Dodd-Frank, which was passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, is the economic beast of burden in the eyes of many conservatives. Along with the review, Obama’s Fiduciary Rule (which requires financial advisers to work in their clients’ best interests) is being stopped (Memo #12).
Executive Order #7
What It Is: An executive order that expands regulatory review and aims to cut two existing regulations for each new regulation proposed. With the order, federal agencies would put forward the rules they want dropped and the White House would review them. And the order would give a $0 budget for new regulations in 2017, with that number set each year.
What It Means: The move is one intended to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to reduce regulations and cut corporate taxes. Considering Trump’s criticism of EPA regulatory practices, the order could most affect that particular agency, though consumer protections may also be at risk with the new order.
Executive Order #6
What It Is: An executive order that strengthens restrictions on lobbying. Employees of the executive branch, including those now in the White House, are barred from lobbying the agency where they worked for five years.
What It Means: The order is not far removed from what past presidents such as Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have done. In fact, the language of the Trump executive order is remarkably similar to that of the Obama and Clinton orders. However, the order doesn’t seem to be as concerned with executive branch employees taking jobs in the private sector. Under the new rules, such employees can take private sector jobs and lobby the administration as long as they are not officially registered as lobbyists. In the past, such a move was banned for two years.
Executive Order #5
What It Is: Calls for extreme vetting of refugees from “terrorist countries” who are attempting to seek asylum in the United States. Visa applicants from countries with terrorist concerns would also be blocked. As a motivation for signing the order, Trump said: “We are not admitting into the country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”
What It Means: The Trump administration is effectively offering a slightly broader version of the December 2015 “Muslim ban,” though when Trump signed the order he did talk about “Islamic terrorists,” so there is a discernible religious bent to the order. And those countries affected by the visa block, such as: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, are Muslim countries.
Executive Order #4
What It Is: A directive for the Secretary of Homeland Security to prioritize particular undocumented immigrants (including those with criminal convictions and those who have only been charged) for deportation. The order would also: hire 10,000 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, prohibit federal money from going to so-called “sanctuary cities,” reinstate a 2014 program which enabled state and local law enforcement to perform duties of immigration agents, sanction countries that do not take back deported undocumented immigrants, create a list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities and establish an “Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens,” which would extend services to families of victims of “removable aliens.”
What It Means: Order 4 is similar to Order 3, but focuses more on getting rid of undocumented immigrants who are here already, rather than focusing on stopping more immigrants from getting in. Together, the two orders signal that the Trump administration will indeed make immigration one of its top priorities.
Executive Order #3
What It Is: A directive for the Secretary of Homeland Security to: begin the process of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, find federal funding for such a project, create border detention centers, add 5,000 Border Patrol agents to the current work force, cease “catch and release” programs, determine all aid and assistance to the Mexican government over the past five years, and allow state and local law enforcement to perform duties of immigration officers.
What It Means: The Trump administration will look for federal funding of the potential wall where possible and will also attempt to force Mexico to pay for certain parts by threatening to take away assistance.
Executive Order #2
What It Is: Expedites environmental reviews and approvals for “high priority infrastructure” projects.
What It Means: Effectively this works to ease “regulatory burden” for domestic manufacturers in order to speed up the process
Executive Order #1
What It Is: An order minimizing the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal.
What It Means: There could now be less enforcement of the mandate for everyone to buy insurance, which would create instability in the exchanges.
Presidential Memorandum #17
What It Is: A message to Congress about the continuation of the South Sudanese national emergency declaration.
What It Means: The message informs Congress that the national emergency mentioned in Memo 16 will continue beyond April 3, 2017.
Presidential Memorandum #16
What It Is: A notice about continuation of the South Sudan national emergency initially declared on April 3, 2014. The South Sudanese Civil War has been raging in the Northeast African country since 2013, just two years after its independence from Sudan, and has been a focus of U.S. national security in Africa.
What It Means: The extension of this national security emergency would, in part, work to effect the transfer of assets for individuals who are deemed to be threatening the peace process in South Sudan.
Presidential Memorandum #15
What It Is: A delegation of functions and authorities vested in the President by section 3132 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 to the Secretary of State.
What It Means: This is a sort-of addendum to the aforementioned National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes Department of Energy national security programs, works to combat Russian cyber propaganda and puts more of a focus on cyber command.
Presidential Memorandum #14
What It Is: Text of a letter from President Donald Trump’s White House to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The letter chiefly concerns appropriations requests for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, in it President Trump asks for $30 billion for the Department of Defense to “rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces and accelerate the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” and $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to fund “urgent border protection activities.
What It Means: The requests for additional funding to DoD and DHS interlock with other Trump administration intentions and declarations to bolster national security while reducing the flow of funds to other governmental sectors.
Presidential Memorandum #13
What It Is: A memo detailing how the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security will work to enact and enforce the travel ban imposed by EO 16.
What It Means: The Trump administration made sure to further include the aforementioned cabinet members because the previous EO travel ban was criticized, in part, for not looping them in.
Presidential Memorandum #12
What It Is: The Obama-era Fiduciary Rule is being reviewed and reconsidered by the Department of Labor to see if it “adversely affects the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice.
What It Means: Along with the Dodd-Frank Review (Order #8), Obama’s Fiduciary Rule, which states that financial agents must act in the best interests of their clients, is being looked at. Like Dodd-Frank, the rule came in place after the 2008 financial crisis.
Presidential Memoranda #10-11
What It Is: Memos that allow the White House chief strategist a place in National Security Council meetings, limit the roles of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence and work to create a strategy for defeating ISIS.
What It Means: Effectively, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon will be able to attend whatever meetings he wants and the chairman and director will attend when issues related to their areas of expertise arrive.
Presidential Memorandum #9
What It Is: Calls for a “great rebuilding” of the nation’s military, in particular: “New planes, new ships, new resources, new tools for our men and women in uniform.”
What It Means: Such a memo goes hand-in-hand with Memo #2, which partly deals with not freezing hires of military employees. Between such orders, and the idea to bring back CIA black site prisons, defense has shown to be a top concern of the Trump administration.
Presidential Memoranda #5-8
What They Are: An interrelated set of memos that: streamline permitting and regulatory burden for domestic manufacturers in order to speed up the process, expedite environmental review and approval of high-priority infrastructure projects, accelerate the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects, and state that pipelines intended for usage in United States should be built in the country.
What They Mean: Until the Trump administration can do an infrastructure bill with Congress, it will be making its own deals early and often. Such deals fit in with Trump’s “America First” energy policy, but do potentially put the administration at odds with the promise to “conserve natural habitats” and “preserve natural resources.” Also, the pipeline orders signal that the DAPL fight may well be back on.
Presidential Memorandum #4
What It Is: An order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy,” which is a ban on federal funding to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion.
What It Means: The policy, implemented by President Reagan in 1984 while at a UN meeting in Mexico City, has gone in and out of effect based on the ruling executive party. The policy doesn’t affect services within the United States, but does limit access and funding in international communities.
Presidential Memorandum #3
What It Is: A memo to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated under the Obama administration.
What It Means:
TPP is dead. The move will not have an immediately discernible impact on the American economy, but signals that the Trump administration might well take a more protectionist approach on economic issues.
Presidential Memorandum #2
What It Is: A federal government hiring freeze for all new and existing positions, except for military, national security and public safety jobs.
What It Means: The order intends to curb governmental growth and aims to ultimately reduce federal workforce size, but could force federal agencies to use more contractors, which would drive prices up. The action specifically applies to the civilian workforce in the executive branch, which totals some 1.36 million people, according to a 2014 Office of Personal Management report.
Presidential Memorandum #1
What It Is: Communicates to department heads the president’s plan for managing the Federal regulatory process.
What It Means: Effectively a bit of housekeeping from Reince Preibus that lays out reviews and communication between departments.
Check back in with Paste’s tracker to get the latest updates on executive orders.