Current Presidential Memorandum Total: 12
Current Pace for Year One: 199.09
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 already been grabbing headlines in the first few days of Donald Trump’s presidency, as the 45th President has issued 24 thus far (12 orders and 12 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” and creating task forces to reduce violent crime. The current administration’s executive order pace—as of now is 199 in the first year—though it will likely recede below that projected total.
Still, it’s important and beneficial to keep tabs on such orders considering that, in the past, they’ve 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 #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 #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.