Though the office of the president has been gaining power for decades, President Trump still need Congress to govern. Except for executive actions.
Below is a running list of Trump's executive orders, memoranda and proclamations, with the most recent actions listed first.
Crackdown on Crime
Feb 9, 2017 (by Mrinalini Krishna)
Executive Order 13773, "Enforcing Federal Law With Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking"
This order is aimed at striking down illegal activities conducted by drug cartels, criminal gangs and racketeers by mandating stricter enforcement of existing laws and calling for enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies within the U.S. as well as international agencies.
The order directs the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence to co-chair the Threat Mitigation Working Group (TMWG), a group set up under the Obama administration, to allow for more efficient inter-agency communication and allocation of resources for the purpose of going after illicit groups and their activities.
The co-chairs for the TMWG have also been directed to report to the President within 120 days to submit a report on the penetration of such criminal organizations in the United States and the progress made to combat them.
Executive Order 13774, "Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers"
This order aims to boost the enforcement of current laws and proposes to review the option of pursuing more legislation to prevent crime against law enforcement officials at all levels of the government.
Through this order, the Attorney General has been made responsible for coming up with prosecution strategies for people who have committed a crime against law enforcement officers, coordinating multi-level prosecution across tiers of the government, and evaluating if current laws are adequate in this regard.
The Attorney General also been asked to evaluate grant funding programs and to review if current laws are adequate for the protection of officers and then report to the president with his findings.
Executive Order 13775, "Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice"
This order establishes the hierarchy of succession in case the Attorney General dies or becomes incapable of carrying out his duties.
As per this law, in such an event the following is the sequence in which the acting Attorney General would be appointed:
a) United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia;
b) United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and
c) United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Trump fired the acting Attorney General Sally Yates on January 31, and replaced her with Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern District of Virginia.
This order revokes a previous one signed by President Obama on January 13, 2017 that would give the job to the Attorney General from D.C., Northern District of Illinois and Central District of California, in that order.
Executive Order 13776, “Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety”
Donald Trump was very vocal about the crime rates in the U.S. on the campaign trail and as president he has decided to work towards reducing crime. Through this order, he nominated the Attorney General to create a "Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety" to look into strategies to control crime, examine gaps in existing laws and evaluate adequacy of crime statistics. The order further directs this task force to deliver a report to the president after a year.
Feb 3, 2017 (by Mrinalini Krishna)
Executive Order 13772, "Core Principles for Regulating United States Financial System"
Trump’s fresh salvo is aimed at financial market regulations. In what is seen as a rollback of the Dodd-Frank Act, Trump laid out six principles that he believes should guide financial regulation:
- Empowering Americans to make independent and informed financial decisions
- Preventing taxpayer-funded bailouts
- Analyzing the impact of factors such as systemic risks, market failures and information asymmetry in order to create vibrant markets
- Making American companies competitive in both domestic and foreign markets
- Advancing American interests in international regulatory negotiations
- Rationalizing the federal financial regulatory framework and increasing public accountability
The order also directs the Treasury Secretary to examine existing laws, regulations and frameworks in the context of the criteria mentioned above and report to Trump within 120 days with what action needs to be taken.
Dodd-Frank was passed two years after the 2008 financial crisis to insulate investors as well as the whole financial ecosystem from future shocks. It received almost no Republican support at the time. The law mandates more detailed disclosure and higher capital provisioning by large financial institutions. It also prevents them from engaging in certain risky activities. Critics have said it places an undue burden on banks, making it difficult to turn a profit and thus reducing lending. Regional and community banks have been especially critical of the law, which they say saddles them with unnecessary costs.
Dismantling Dodd-Frank was one of Trump's many campaign promises. "Dodd-Frank has made it impossible for bankers to function," he told Reuters in May 2016. "It makes it very hard for bankers to loan money for people to create jobs, for people with businesses to create jobs. And that has to stop."
Senate Republicans, who number 52, would need 60 votes to actually repeal the law, though they may be able use budgetary measures to end portions of it with a simple majority, as they did with a provision regulating oil companies on February 3.
FR Doc 2017-02656, "Fiduciary Duty Rule: Memorandum for the Secretary of Labor"
Trump also signed a memo instructing the Department of Labor to review the fiduciary rule, which is slated to go into effect in April. If it determines that the rule "may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice," or increase litigation and costs associated with retirement services, the memo authorizes the department to revise or repeal the rule.
The rule would hold many financial advisers to the fiduciary standard of care, meaning that they must provide advice that is in their clients' best financial interest. Currently most advisers are held to the suitability standard, meaning that they can recommend "suitable" products that may cost their clients more. The Obama administration called the rule a "huge win for the middle class," but critics have pointed out that the rule would prevent advisers from earning commissions from fund providers and others in exchange for recommending their products to clients. The loss of that income could in turn lead advisers to charge their clients higher fees.
Jan 30, 2017
Executive Order 13771, "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs"
In the first step to fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump ordered that for every new regulation an executive agency produces, the agency must identify two regulations to be eliminated. Regulations related to the military, national security and foreign affairs are exempt from the order. For fiscal 2017, which ends on September 30, 2017, the "total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero." Achieving zero cost may be difficult, since the process for unwinding rules can be as onerous as the process for creating them, requiring the solicitation of public comments and other potentially costly steps.
Bannon Gets a Seat
Jan 28, 2017
FR Doc 2017-02381, "Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council: Memorandum for the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury…"
In a memo, Trump shook up the attendance list for National Security Council's Principals Committee, inviting the chief strategist – a role currently held by Steve Bannon – to attend all such meetings. Bush did not allow his senior advisor Karl Rove to attend these meetings. Obama invited David Axelrod to a few; Axelrod says he was a silent participant. The Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff, who were regular attendees during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, will now be invited only "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."
The decision has attracted criticism based on the perception that political considerations could color national security decision-making. Meanwhile Bannon himself is a controversial figure. The former head of Breitbart is considered to be the intellectual leader of the alt-right, a diffuse far-right movement that encompasses white nationalism. Under his leadership, the site frequently published exaggerated claims meant to inspire fear of Muslims and other minority groups, while portraying anti-Muslim sentiment as insignificant.
Defeat ISIL – I Mean ISIS
Jan 28, 2017
FR Doc 2017-02386, "Plan To Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: Memorandum for the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury…"
Writing that "there can be no accommodation with" the self-proclaimed "caliphate" variously known as the Islamic State (IS), Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Daesh, Trump instructed the Department of Defense and a number of other agencies to develop, within 30 days, a plan to defeat the terrorist group.
The plan is to include strategies to cut off ISIS' financial support and to delegitimize it through cyber strategies and diplomacy. It also solicits recommendations for changing the U.S.'s rules of engagement, suggesting that the administration could act on Trump's assertion that "torture works." The document refers to "ISIS," the name that is commonly used in media and conversation, in a departure from the Obama administration's preferred "Daesh" or "ISIL."
Drain the Swamp
Jan 28, 2017
Executive Order 13770, "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees"
Trump mandated that every appointee in every executive agency sign a pledge fulfilling aspects of his "drain the swamp" push to put a wedge between government service and the lobbying industry, which he sees as enjoying too cozy a relationship. The "ethics pledge" includes an agreement not to lobby the agency a government employee has worked for within five years of leaving that agency. Under Obama, employees had to wait until the end of the administration; in other words, the ban will be longer for some employees, but shorter for others.
The order also bans lobbying any agency for as long as the administration remains in power. It bars accepting gifts from lobbyists for the duration of the appointee's service and permanently prohibits working for a foreign government or political party.
If an appointee was a lobbyist during the two years prior to their joining the government, they are not allowed to perform work related to the issues they lobbied for or against. Prior to the order, those who had lobbied agencies during the prior two years were not allowed to work at those agencies at all. The new provision may affect the matters Trump's nominee for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) CEO Rex Tillerson, can participate in, assuming he is approved by the Senate.
Critics have pointed out that Trump's order does not address "shadow lobbying," a term referring activities that do not meet the strict definition of lobbying, because some Obama administration restrictions were more strict.
Build Up the Military
Jan 27, 2017
FR Doc 2017-02282, "Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces: Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget"
In a little-noticed memorandum to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Trump ordered a 30-day review of military readiness and gave the Pentagon 60 days to present a plan to modernize the armed forces based on its findings. The order also instructs the Department of Defense to coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget to determine appropriate funding for fiscal 2018, which begins in October. While the funds for a buildup would need to be approved by Congress, Trump should have relatively little trouble gaining approval for defense spending from fellow Republicans.
U.S. military spending peaked in the third quarter of 2011 at a seasonally adjusted $851.5 billion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It was $732.0 billion in the final quarter of 2016, slightly above its level when Obama took office ($719.7 billion). The U.S. is by far the largest defense spender in the world, but some observers have worried that the military's focus on counterinsurgency since 9/11 has weakened its readiness to fight a state-on-state war.
The Seven-Country Ban
Jan 27, 2017
Executive Order 13769, "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States"
Trump did not, as he'd promised in December 2015, institute a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," but he did issue an executive order blocking entry by immigrants and non-immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria for 90 days, during which time the Department of Homeland Security will conduct a review of visa-issuing procedures. Following that review, the list of affected countries may change or expand.
The order suspended the U.S.'s refugee program for 120 days so that a similar review of its procedures can be carried out. Trump repeatedly promised to carry out "extreme vetting" of asylum seekers during the campaign. Syrian refugees will be barred from entering the country indefinitely, and the total number of refugees admitted in fiscal 2017 will be capped at 50,000 (the Obama administration's goal had been 110,000). The order prioritized "refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality."
Airports across the country immediately began enforcing the order after it was issued on Friday afternoon, sparking protests in several major cities. Judges in four states issued rulings blocking deportations, beginning with a judge in Brooklyn on Saturday. While prospective entrants are not being deported, however, they are not being admitted to the country either. Early reports gave conflicting numbers of people who were being detained in airports such as New York's JFK. At first, even green card holders were detained; chief of staff Reince Priebus told NBC on Sunday that the order did not apply to permanent residents, and at least some have been released.
The order allows for exception on a case-by-case basis. It also instructs the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to develop a public database tracking the number of foreign nationals in the U.S. who have been charged with, convicted of, or deported due to terrorist offenses. The database will also track honor killings by foreign nationals.
Shout-Out to Betsy
Jan 25, 2017
Proclamation 9571"National School Choice Week, 2017"
The week was nearly over by the time (Thursday, January 26) Trump posted a proclamation to the White House website declaring January 22 to 28 "National School Choice Week." Betsy DeVos, his nominee for Secretary of Education, is awaiting Senate confirmation. She is a vocal advocate for charter schools, which are privately run using public funds; supporters call this policy "school choice," while detractors prefer "privatization."
States such as Massachusetts have had some success as a result of introducing charter schools, but DeVos' home state of Michigan, where she has lobbied for school choice for years, is not one of them. The state came 47th in 2015 in terms of reading and math scores, according to the Urban Institute. In Detroit, charter school students underperform their peers at public schools on standardized tests, despite the fact that in 2009, Detroit public schools earned the worst scores of any urban area in the country.
Build the Wall
Jan 25, 2017
Executive Order 13767 "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements"
Trump ordered the "immediate" construction of a physical wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and instructed Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to identify and allocate "all sources of Federal funds" for the purpose. He also ordered the construction of new detention centers. In a suggestion that he intends to follow through on his promise to make Mexico pay for the wall, he instructed the head of every executive department to detail all federal aid to Mexico over the last five years, including humanitarian aid.
He called for strict enforcement of immigration law, stressing the need for deportations, including of children "when appropriate." He ordered an end to "catch and release" and "asylum abuse," saying that parole should only be granted for "urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit." He called for 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents to be hired, granting an exception to the hiring freeze he mandated on January 23.
Executive Order 13768 "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States"
Trump's second order mandated aggressive interior enforcement of immigration laws "against all removable aliens." As promised, he ordered Homeland Security to prioritize those convicted of criminal offenses for deportation, but he also singled out immigrants who "have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits" for removal. The order did not name specific benefits – whether public schools count, for example – or define what constitutes abuse.
In the vein of public benefits, Trump accused "sanctuary jurisdictions" of willfully breaking federal law and doing "immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic." He ordered the attorney general – his nominee Jeff Sessions is awaiting Senate confirmation – to cut off federal money to these cities, with the exception of law enforcement.
The order also empowers state and local law enforcement agencies to serve as immigration officers. It singles out countries that refuse to accept deportees and creates a public database detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, whom it exempts from Privacy Act protections. It also orders the collection of data on the immigration status of prisoners at the federal, state and local level and sets up an "Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens" within Immigration and Customs Enforcement to support such victims.
Jan 24, 2017
FR Doc 2017-02044 "Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies"
Trump ordered agencies to support the expansion of manufacturing in the U.S. by expediting reviews and permitting and reducing regulations. He instructed the Secretary of Commerce – his nominee Wilbur Ross is awaiting Senate approval – to coordinate with other agency heads to solicit comments from "stakeholders" regarding the impact of federal regulation. He asked the Department of Commerce to produce a plan to reduce regulation within 60 days.
Executive Order 13766 "Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects"
Trump mandated a 30-day process for identifying high-priority infrastructure projects, which will benefit from expedited environmental reviews. The order specifically named improvements to the electrical grid and telecommunications systems, as well as repairs and upgrades to ports, airports, bridges, highways and pipelines. Trump also signed separate orders expediting the construction of two specific pipelines.
FR Doc 2017-02032 "Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline: Memorandum for the Secretary of the Army"
In a memo, Trump instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite approvals for and finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The controversial project that has drawn national attention for sparking protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where activists argue that the pipeline is a threat to the water supply. In December, the Army Corps refused to grant a crucial permit to the mostly-completed project, drawing criticism from Republican lawmakers.
Rick Perry, Trump's nominee for Secretary of Energy, served on the board of Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (ETP), which is building the Dakota Access Pipeline, but resigned after accepting the nomination.
FR Doc 2017-02035 "Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline: Memorandum for the Secretary of State] the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of the Interior"
In a memo, Trump cleared the way for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration rejected in 2015. The pipeline has been touted as a job-creator by Republicans and denounced as an environment-killer by Democrats, though its importance in both areas has probably been exaggerated. The pipeline is being constructed by TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP, TSX: TRP).
FR Doc 2017-02031 "Construction of American Pipelines: Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce"
In a memo, Trump ordered the Secretary of Commerce to develop a plan to ensure that pipelines are constructed from domestically manufactured materials. It spelled out a strict definition for this requirement: for iron and steel products, the entire process, "from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings," must occur in the U.S.
Jan 23, 2017
FR Doc 2017-01842 "Hiring Freeze: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies"
Making good on a campaign promise, Trump ordered the federal government to stop hiring new personnel. The military was exempted from the order, as were political appointments. According to a Politico report on January 19, only 4% of the administration's approximately 4,000 hires had been made; 1,000 of those would need Senate confirmation. Anticipating criticism that the freeze would lead to increased reliance on expensive contractors, the order forbade hiring these as a workaround. According to New York University professor Paul Light, the number of federal contractors doubled from 1999 to 2010. The order gives agencies leeway to make hires necessary for "national security or public safety," as well as allowing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to grant exemptions.
Jan 23, 2017
FR Doc 2017-01845 "Withdrawal of the United States From the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement: Memorandum for the United States Trade Representative"
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade deal that had been signed by all parties, was ready for Congressional approval. It was never going to get it. By the time the primaries were underway, the deal – which would have set up controversial "investor-state dispute settlement" tribunals that detractors characterized as threats to national sovereignty – had few friends left. Even Hillary Clinton, who had promoted it as the commercial leg of the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia," abandoned it early in the campaign. In other words, Trump's executive memorandum taking the U.S. out of the agreement was almost entirely symbolic. Australia's prime minister continues to suggest that the other 11 countries go forward with the agreement, but few are likely to find it appealing without enhanced access to the U.S. market.
China, meanwhile, has proposed a 16-country alternative, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. China was excluded from TPP in a bid by the Obama administration to "write the rules" of 21st-century trade, before the world's second-largest economy did.
Opening Salvo on Abortion
Jan 23, 2017
FR Doc 2017-01843 "The Mexico City Policy: Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development"
Within a couple days of becoming president, Bill Clinton killed it. George W. Bush restored it within a couple of days of his inauguration. Barack Obama killed it on January 23, 2009, and exactly eight years later, Trump brought it back: the "Mexico City policy" or, to its detractors, the "global gag rule." This obscure political football, first enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984, bars foreign NGOs that receive federal funding from providing or promoting abortion services. Since the U.S. is already prohibited from providing foreign aid for such services, these NGOs cannot use money from any source to "mention or provide information about abortion, or even refer for abortion services," as a statement from Planned Parenthood put it.
No Thanks, Obama
Jan 20, 2017
FR Doc 2017–01766 "Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies; Regulatory Freeze Pending Review"
This memo was signed by chief of staff Reince Priebus, not Trump, but the administration thought it was important enough – unlike the "National Day of Patriotic Devotion" proclamation – to throw up on the White House's website. It instructed agencies to stop publishing Obama-era regulations in the Federal Register, the central repository for federal rules, laws and regulations. To the extent possible, it told agencies to withdraw regulations that have been published but not gone into effect. It made exceptions for "critical health, safety, financial, or national security matters."
Happy Trump Day
Jan 20, 2017
Proclamation 9570 "National Day of Patriotic Devotion"
First Blow to Obamacare
Jan 20, 2017
Executive Order 13765 "Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal"
Trump's first executive order explicitly signaled his intention to "seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," more commonly known as Obamacare. In the meantime, it instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services – Trump's nominee, Tom Price, is awaiting Senate confirmation – and other agency heads to "exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications."
That seems to boil down to blocking all implementation that costs anything, "to the maximum extent permitted by law." In a press conference on January 23, press secretary Sean Spicer did not answer a reporter's question about whether the administration would enforce the individual mandate, which penalizes those who do not obtain health insurance. It appears possible that the administration will simply let the law lapse in the hope that it can be repealed before court challenges make them enforce its provisions.
The order also instructed agencies to provide greater leeway to states in implementing the law and to encourage an "open market in interstate commerce" in health services and insurance, two Trump campaign promises.