President Donald Trump’s first months in office were filled with a flurry of action, and he’s just getting started.
The 45th president signed 90 executive actions in his first 100 days, with far-reaching effects on Americans’ lives.
There are technically three types of executive actions. Each has different authority and effects, with executive orders holding the most prestige:
- Executive orders are assigned numbers and published in the federal register, similar to laws passed by Congress, and typically direct members of the executive branch to follow a new policy or directive. Trump issued 32 orders.
- Presidential memoranda do not have to be published or numbered (though they can be) and usually delegate tasks that Congress has already assigned the president to members of the executive branch. Trump issued 28 memoranda.
- Finally, while some proclamations — like President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — have carried enormous weight, most are ceremonial observances of federal holidays or awareness months. Trump issued 30 proclamations.
Scholars have typically used the number of executive orders per term to measure how much presidents have exercised their power. George Washington signed eight his entire time in office, according to the American Presidency Project, while FDR signed more than 3,700.
In his two terms, President Barack Obama issued 277 executive orders, a total number on par with his modern predecessors, but the lowest per year average (35) in 120 years. Trump signed 32 executive orders in 100 days.
Here’s a quick guide to the executive actions Trump made in his first 100 days, what they do, and how Americans reacted to them:
Executive Order, April 29: Renegotiating trade agreements
In his last order on his 100th day in office, Trump started making moves to fulfill one of his top campaign promises, directing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to review all the US’s trade agreements.
If a deal “harms the United States economy, United States businesses, United States intellectual property rights and innovation rate, or the American people,” the Trump administration will renegotiate it, the order says.
In the days leading up to the order, rumors swirled that Trump was going to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada, and Mexico. But he said he spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and decided to renegotiate the trade deal that has existed since 1993 instead of completely abandoning it.
Corporate America reportedly went into “all hands on deck” mode to save NAFTA, having their CEOs call the highest-ranking Trump administration officials they could reach. Members of Trump’s Cabinet and the Republican party are split on whether it’s a “bad deal” or not. Democrats generally want to keep US trade agreement in place.
Executive Order, April 29: The Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy
This order, also signed on the 100th day, established the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, with the goals of stimulating manufacturing in the US, decreasing the trade deficit, and propose policies to create jobs and boost the economy.
Trump appointed National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro to lead the new office, which will act as a liaison between the White House and the Department of Commerce. After the announcement, Navarro told NPR he wants the US to renegotiate trade agreements like NAFTA, and get US factory jobs back — two promises Trump made repeatedly on the campaign trail.
Economic experts warn that trade policies Trump and Navarro have proposed could spark a trade war, and that considerably more American manufacturing jobs have disappeared because of automation, not trade agreements.
8 presidential proclamations, April 28: Designating days, weeks, and months
Signing a batch of ceremonial proclamations for the month of May at once, Trump designated the following:
May 1, 2017: Loyalty Day, to “stand strong against the threats of terrorism and lawlessness.”
April 30-May 6, 2017:
- Small-Business Week, to “affirm our commitment to removing government barriers to the success of American small businesses.”
- National Charter Schools Week, to “recommit ourselves to empowering students and giving parents their rightful freedom over their children’s education.”
- National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, to “remind” Americans to maintain “a healthy and active lifestyle.”
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, to “recognize the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that enrich our Nation.”
- National Foster Care Month, to “celebrate those who have opened their homes and their hearts to children in need.”
- Jewish American Heritage Month, to “celebrate our Nation’s strong American Jewish heritage.”
- Older Americans Month, to ensure “older Americans are not neglected or abused, receive the best healthcare available, live in suitable homes, have adequate income and economic opportunities, and enjoy freedom and independence in their golden years.”
Read the text of each proclamation in the links above.
Executive Order, April 28: Exploring offshore energy prospects
Trump ordered his administration, led by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to review where the US could allow offshore energy development, revoking rules put into place after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and putting Arctic drilling back on the table.
Environmental groups, Democrats in Congress, and many residents of coastal states oppose offshore drilling, and experts conclude doing so wouldn’t make the US energy independent. Fans of the order include many Republicans and oil companies.
While the order mainly focuses on oil drilling, it also says offshore energy activities could include “wind, oil, natural gas, methane hydrates, and any other sources that the Secretary of Commerce deems appropriate.” The nation’s first offshore wind farm opened in Rhode Island in December 2016.
Executive Order, April 27: Protecting whistleblowers at the VA
This order is intended to protect whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and establishes the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
2 presidential memoranda, April 20 and 27: Steel and aluminum dumping
Trump’s memo outlined an investigation his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was conducting to evaluate how steel “dumping,” the practice where other countries sell products at a lower price than they sell at in the US, was affecting American manufacturers, and what the federal government could do to prevent the practice.
US steelmakers, which have been hit lately with dumping from China especially, applauded the effort.
Trump signed a nearly identical order for aluminum imports on April 27.
Executive Order, April 26: Reviewing the federal government’s power in education
Under Obama, the Department of Education used its authority to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice in schools, or to compel colleges to address sexual assault on campus. With this order, Trump said, the role of the federal government will likely be less hands-on, leaving states to make more of their own decisions.
Executive Order, April 26: Reviewing Obama’s actions to protect national lands
Obama designated or expanded 554 million acres of land as protected national monuments — more than any other president. Environmentalists lauded his legacy, and have lambasted Trump for undoing many of Obama’s greatest environmental achievements.
This order directed Trump’s Secretary of the Interior to review any national monument designations made since 1996 that are over 100,000 acres, leaving many of Obama’s moves in question going forward.
Many liberals, environmental groups, tribes, and scientists are against the action, while many conservatives, and proponents of using natural resources are for it.
Executive Order, April 25: Agriculture and Rural Prosperity
This order established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, made up of many Cabinet and top executive branch officials, in order to “identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life.”
In 180 days, the task force should submit a report to the president on barriers or regulations to change in order to improve life in rural America. Farmers joined Trump for the order signing at the White House, and farm-lobbying groups applauded the move.
Presidential proclamation, April 21: National Volunteer Week
Trump proclaimed April 23-29, 2017 National Volunteer Week, to highlight the importance of giving back.
Executive Order, April 21: Review tax regulations
This order aims to simplify the tax code, explaining that “numerous tax regulations issued over the last several years have effectively increased tax burdens, impeded economic growth, and saddled American businesses with onerous fines, complicated forms, and frustration.”
Trump directed the Treasury Department to review existing tax regulations, and submit a report in 150 days outlining which ones cost taxpayers too much money, are too complex, or exceed the IRS’ authority.
This is an issue Trump and Democrats could see eye-to-eye on. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bill to simplify taxes.
2 presidential memoranda, April 21: Dodd-Frank rollback
Trump signed two memos directing his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to judiciously apply the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the landmark legislation passed after the 2008 financial crisis intended to keep banks from getting “too big to fail.”
Trump has called Dodd-Frank “horrendous” and said he plans to “do a number” on the post-crisis reforms that aim to rein in Wall Street. Speaking with uncharacteristic candor, Federal Reserve vice chairman Stanley Fischer warned Trump not to rollback the law.
“The strength of the financial system is absolutely essential to the ability of the economy to continue to grow at a reasonable rate,” Fischer said April 21, “and taking actions which remove the changes that were made to strengthen the structure of the financial system is very dangerous.”
Presidential memorandum, April 20: Reporting sanctions on foreign persons
The defense spending bill and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act requirethe president to submit a report to Congress every year outlining who the US sanctions, what the penalties were, and why they were imposed. In this memo, Trump was doing just that.
Executive Order, April 18: ‘Buy American, Hire American’
At a tools manufacturer in Wisconsin, Trump signed an order directing federal agencies to review and propose changes to the popular, but controversial H-1B visa program meant to attract skilled foreign labor.
Critics say it’s used by companies to hire cheap, foreign workers in place of Americans, while proponents — including many in the tech industry — say it provides much-needed skilled workers to sectors where companies have struggled to hire Americans.
Trump’s “Buy American, hire American” order also directs federal agencies to maximize the American products they purchase, particularly calling out “steel, iron, aluminum, and cement.”
Presidential proclamation, April 14: National Park Week
The president also donated his first quarter salary to the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. Critics were quick to point out that Trump’s $78,333.32 donation could hardly make up for the nearly $2 billion his federal budget proposes cutting from the Interior Department this year.
Presidential memorandum, April 12: Delegating terrorist report request
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directs the president to review “known instances since 2011 in which a person has traveled or attempted to travel to a conflict zone in Iraq or Syria from the United States to join or provide material support or resources to a terrorist organization,” and submit a report to Congress.
Trump delegated this responsibility to FBI Director James Comey.
Presidential memorandum, April 11: Signing letter on including Montenegro in NATO
At the end of March, the US Senate voted to include Montenegro’s in NATO, 97 to 2. While Trump called the alliance “obsolete” as recently as January, he said he no longer feels that way, and didn’t veto the small southern European country’s inclusion.
The president has called on members of NATO to pay their fair share, saying the US carries too much financial responsibility for the military stronghold. The addition of Montenegro is likely to irk Russia, however, as it means one more country looks to West instead of staying under the influence of the Kremlin.
Presidential memorandum, April 8: Notifying Congress of the US Syria strike
This memo formally informed Congress of Trump’s order to launch a salvo of 59 cruise missiles on Shayrat airfield and nearby military infrastructure controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday, in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the northwestern part of the country on April 4.
Some lawmakers slammed Trump for not getting congressional or UN approval before ordering the strike, as the president’s legal authority for doing so is unclear.
“I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive,” Trump said in the memo. “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution.”
5 presidential proclamations, April 3-7: Honoring and drawing awareness
Trump proclaimed various days and weeks in April were in honor of five different causes:
- April 2-8, 2017: National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
- Honoring the Memory of John Glenn
- April 7, 2017: Education and Sharing Day
- April 14, 2017: Pan American Day; April 9-15, 2017: Pan American Week
- April 9, 2017: National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
Read the full text of each proclamation in the links above.
Presidential memorandum, April 3: Principles for reforming the draft
In the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress called on the president to outline his principles for reforming the draft. So in his order, Trump told Congress that the US military should recruit a diverse pool of citizens, and offer them training opportunities that will benefit the armed forces as well as their future employment, in order to “prepare to mitigate an unpredictable global security and national emergency environment.”
2 Executive Orders, March 31: Lowering the trade deficit and collecting import duties
Ahead of Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he signed two orders focused on an issue he decried during the campaign: the US trade deficit.
The first order directs the executive branch to produce a country-by-country, product-by-product report on trade deficits in 90 days, in order to figure out how to reduce the $500 billion trade deficit the US had in 2016.
Business Insider’s Pedro Nicolaci da Costa wrote that the order’s plan for a “90-day ‘investigation’ into why the US had trade deficits with specific countries, [was] a quixotic exercise most economists say shows a deep lack of understanding of the workings of international trade.”
The second order seeks to strengthen the US response to its trade laws preventing counterfeit or illegal imports, citing “$2.3 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties” that the government hasn’t collected.
“On a typical day, CBP screens more than 74,000 truck, rail, and sea cargo containers at 328 U.S. ports of entry — with imported goods worth approximately $6.3 billion,” a Department of Homeland Security press release on the order wrote. “In Fiscal Year 2016, CBP seized more than 31,500 of counterfeit shipments and collected more $40 billion in duties, taxes, and fees, making CBP the U.S. government’s second largest source of revenue.”
Executive Orders, March 31 and February 9: Changing the DOJ order of succession
On February 9, Trump signed an order establishing a line of succession to lead the US Department of Justice if the attorney general, deputy attorney general, or associate attorney general die, resign, or are otherwise unable to carry on their duties. In order, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and then the US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri will be next in line.
The action reverses an order Obama signed days before leaving office. After Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his first travel ban, he appointed Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general in her place. This order elevates his position in the order of succession.
On March 31, Trump signed another order reversing this order. The new order of succession after the AG, deputy AG, and associate AG are as follows: US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and then the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the DOJ probe into Trump’s associates contacts with Russian operatives, the order of succession will determine who will oversee that investigation. Trump will have to fill the North Carolina post soon, the Palmer Report points out, possibly allowing the president to influence who leads the Russia investigation.
6 presidential proclamations, March 31: Sexual assault awareness and others
Trump proclaimed April 2, 2017 World Autism Awareness Day, and that the month of April 2017 was in honor of five different causes:
- Cancer Control Month
- National Child Abuse Prevention Month
- National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
- National Financial Capability Month
- National Donate Life Month
Many criticized Trump’s National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, in particular, because multiple woman came forward during the campaign and accused Trump of sexual misconduct in the past. He also bragged on a 2005 tape that surfaced in October 2016that he could “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
Read the full text of each proclamation in the links above.
Executive Order, March 29: Combating the opioid crisis
This order established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, is supposed to report to the president strategies to address the epidemic, which is now killing 30,000 Americans a year.
But many experts said the president’s action is “underwhelming.”
“These people don’t need another damn commission,” an anonymous former Obama administration official who worked on the issue told Politico. “We know what we need to do. … It’s not rocket science.” Business Insider’s Erin Brodwin outlined some strategies that scientists think will work.
Executive Order, March 28: Dismantling Obama’s climate change protections
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to bring back coal mining jobs and dismantle Obama’s environmental policy, declaring climate change a “hoax.” While coal jobs are unlikely to come back in droves, this executive order makes good on the second promise, directing federal agencies to rescind any existing regulations that “unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources.”
It also rescinds four of Obama’s executive actions, two of his reports, and tells the Environmental Protection Agency to review his landmark Clean Power Plan that would have capped power plant emissions. Since many of Obama’s actions were complex, however, it may take Trump a while to reverse them.
Democrats, environmentalists, and protesters demonstrating outside the White House after Trump signed the order decried the action, declaring it would lead to runaway climate change, while many Republican congressmen applauded the action for promoting energy independence.
Executive Order, March 27: Revoking Obama’s fair pay and safe workplaces orders
In 2014, Obama signed an executive order requiring federal government contracts over $500,000 had to go to companies that hadn’t violated labor laws. He signed two more orders making minor clarifications to that original order later that year and in 2016.
Trump’s new order revoking those three orders, and directed federal agencies to review any procedural changes they made because of the orders. When companies bid for federal contracts, they’ll no longer have to disclose if they’ve violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Protection Act, or the National Labor Relations Act.
Presidential memorandum, March 27: Establishing the White House Office of American Innovation
Trump established the White House Office of American Innovation, choosing his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to lead it. The office will aim to overhaul government functions with ideas from industry.
Business titans Gary Cohn (National Economic Council director), Dina Powell (senior counselor to the president for economic initiatives and deputy national security adviser), Chris Liddell (assistant to the president for strategic initiatives), and Reed Cordish (assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives) will also be on the team.
Presidential proclamation, March 24: Greek Independence Day
Trump declared March 25, 2017, as Greek Independence Day.
“American patriots built our Republic on the ancient Greeks’ groundbreaking idea that the people should decide their political fates,” the president wrote in the proclamation.
2 presidential memoranda, March 23: Declaring an emergency in South Sudan
Trump signed two memoranda declaring a national emergency in South Sudan, and notifying Congress that he did so, extending the emergency Obama declared in 2014. One million people there are on the brink of dying from a lack of food.
United Nations officials have called the famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia the “world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 70 years.”
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said that the president’s proposed budget would “spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home” and “absolutely” cut programs like those that would aid those starving in South Sudan.
Trump delegated presidential powers in the National Defense Authorization Act to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The law doles out funding “for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths.”
Presidential proclamation, March 17: National Poison Prevention Week
Trump proclaimed March 19 through March 25, 2017 National Poison Prevention Week in order to encourage Americans to safeguard their homes and protect children from ingesting common household items that may poison them.
Presidential memorandum, March 16: A letter to the House of Representatives outlining Trump’s proposed budget
Trump sent his first budget to the House of Representatives, requesting an additional $30 billion for the Department of Defense to fight ISIS and $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to protect the US border.
To offset the massive defense money, Trump proposes slashing funding for several key federal agencies, dropping budgets for the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency by almost a third.
Several noteworthy Republican lawmakers signaled they didn’t approve of Trump’s first budget, and Democrats across the board decried the deep spending cuts.
Executive Order, March 13: Reorganizing the executive branch
With the written aim of improving the efficiency of the federal government, Trump signed an order to shake up the executive branch, and “eliminate or reorganize unnecessary or redundant federal agencies” identified in a 180-day review.
It directs Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to review agency head’s proposed plans to reorganize or shrink their departments, and submit a plan to Trump by September 2017 outlining how to streamline the government.
Historians expressed skepticism that Trump would be able to effectively shrink the government, since many past presidents have tried and failed to do so. Critics argued that Trump could use the order to dismantle federal agencies that he or his Cabinet members don’t like.
Presidential proclamation, March 6: National Consumer Protection Week
March 5 through March 11, 2017 was National Consumer Protection Week, Trump proclaimed, which “reminds us of the importance of empowering consumers by helping them to more capably identify and report cyber scams, monitor their online privacy and security, and make well-informed decisions.”
Executive Order, March 6: A new travel ban
Trump’s second go at his controversial travel order bans people from Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya from entering the US for 90 days, and bars all refugees from coming into the country for 120 days, starting March 16.
Existing visa holders will not be subjected to the ban, and religious minorities will no longer get preferential treatment — two details critics took particular issue with in the first ban. The new order removed Iraq from the list of countries, and changed excluding just Syrian refugees to preventing all refugees from entering the US.
Democrats denounced the new order, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying the “watered-down ban is still a ban,” and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez saying “Trump’s obsession with religious discrimination is disgusting, un-American, and outright dangerous.”
UPDATE 3/15: US District Judge Derrick Watson put an emergency halt on the revised travelban the day before it would have taken effect, after several states and refugee groups sued in court. Trump vowed to appeal the decision and take the order all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Presidential Memorandum, March 6: Guidance for agencies to implement the new travel ban
This memo instructs the State Department, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security how to implement Trump’s new travel ban.
It directs the three department heads to enhance the vetting of visa applicants and other immigrants trying to enter the US as they see fit, to release how many visa applicants there were by country, and to submit a report in 180 days detailing the long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program.
3 Presidential proclamations, March 1: National months for women, the American Red Cross, and Irish-Americans
The president proclaimed March 2017 Women’s History Month, American Red Cross Month, and Irish-American Heritage Month.
Executive Order, February 28: Promoting Historically Black Colleges and Universities
This order established the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which will aim to increase private funding of these schools, encourage more students to attend them, and identify ways the executive branch can help these institutions succeed.
Students at some HBCU protested the meeting their leaders attended to witness Trump signing the order, expressing their disapproval of the president in general, and questioning whether the action was “truly a seat at the table” or merely “a photo op.”
Executive Order, February 28: Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ rule
The order directed federal agencies to revise the Clean Water Rule, a major regulation Obama issued in 2015 to clarify what areas are federally protected under the Clean Water Act.
Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt called the rule “the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen,” in 2015, and led a multi-state lawsuit against it while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.
David J. Cooper, an ecologist at Colorado State University, cautioned that repealing the rule wouldn’t settle the confusion about what the federal government can protect under the Clean Water Act, or where.
Executive Order, February 24: Enforcing regulatory reform
This order creates Regulator Reform Officers within each federal agency who will comb through existing regulations and recommend which ones the administration should repeal. It directs the officers to focus on eliminating regulations that prevent job creation, are outdated, unnecessary, or cost too much.
The act doubles down on Trump’s plan to cut government regulations he says are hampering businesses, but opponents insist are necessary to protect people and the environment. Leaders of 137 nonprofit groups sent a letter to the White House on February 28 telling the president that “Americans did not vote to be exposed to more health, safety, environmental and financial dangers.”
Executive Order, February 9: Combating criminal organizations
The order is intended to “thwart” criminal organizations, including “criminal gangs, cartels, racketeering organizations, and other groups engaged in illicit activities.”
The action directs law enforcement to apprehend and prosecute citizens, and deport non-citizens involved in criminal activities including “the illegal smuggling and trafficking of humans, drugs or other substances, wildlife, and weapons,” “corruption, cybercrime, fraud, financial crimes, and intellectual-property theft,” and money laundering
The Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence will co-chair a Threat Mitigation Working Group that will identify ways that local, state, federal, and international law enforcement can work together in order to eradicate organized crime.
It also instructs the co-chairs to present the president with a report within 120 days outlining the penetration of criminal organizations into the United States, and recommendations for how to eradicate them.
Executive Order, February 9: Reducing crime
Following up on his promise to restore “law and order” in America, Trump signed an executive order intended to reduce violent crime in the US, and “comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.”
The action directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to assemble a task force in order to identify new strategies and laws to reduce crime, and to evaluate how well crime data is being collected and leveraged across the country.
Trump has come under fire recently for claiming the national murder rate was at an all-time high, when it has in fact dropped to one of the lowest rates ever, with 2015 merely experiencing a slight uptick from the previous year.
Executive Order, February 9: Protecting law enforcement
The order seeks to create new laws that will protect law enforcement, and increase the penalties for crimes committed against them.
It also directs the attorney general to review existing federal grant funding programs to law enforcement agencies, and recommend changes to the programs if they don’t adequately protect law enforcement.
The action is likely in response to multiple high-profile police killings over the past year, including a sniper attack that killed five Dallas police officers in July.
Executive Order, February 3: Reviewing Wall Street regulations
Trump signed two actions on Friday that could end up rewriting regulations in the financial industry that Obama and Congress put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.
The executive order sets “Core Principles” of financial regulation declaring that Trump’s administration seeks to empower Americans to make their own financial decisions, prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts, and reduce regulations on Wall Street so US companies can compete globally.
It also directs the Secretary of Treasury to review existing regulations on the financial system, determine whether the Core Principles are being met, and report back to the President in 120 days.
Experts worry that loosening regulations could roll back the Obama administration’s landmark consumer protection reform bill, Dodd-Frank, aimed at reducing risk in the financial system. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive darling from Massachusetts, led the charge decrying the actions.
Presidential Memorandum, February 3: Reviewing the fiduciary duty rule
The memorandum directs the Labor Secretary to review the “fiduciary rule,” another Obama-era law intended to protect Americans’ retirement money from conflicted advice from financial advisers that has long drawn rebuke from Wall Streeters and was scheduled to go into effect in April.
If the secretary finds the rule conflicts with the administration’s Core Principles, adversely affects the retirement industry, or causes increased litigation, then he should recommend revising or repealing the rule.
Democratic lawmakers and 38-million-member retiree nonprofit AARP came out against the action. Read more about Wall Street’s response to the memorandum here »
Presidential proclamation, February 2: American Heart Month
This ceremonial proclamation invited Americans to wear red on Friday, February 3, 2017 for National Wear Red Day, and followed Congress’ request in 1963 for presidents to annually declare February American Heart Month. The goal is to remember those who have died from heart disease and to improve its prevention, detection, and treatment.
Executive Order, January 30: For every new regulation proposed, repeal two existing ones
The order states that for every one regulation the executive branch proposes, two must be identified to repeal. It also caps the spending on new regulations for 2017 at $0.
Some environmental groups expressed concern that the order could undo regulations put in place to protect natural resources.
Executive Order, January 28: Drain the swamp
The order requires appointees to every executive agency to sign an ethics pledge saying they will never lobby a foreign government and that they won’t do any other lobbying for five years after they leave government.
But it also loosened some ethics restrictions that Obama put in place, decreasing the number of years executive branch employees had to wait since they had last been lobbyists from two years to one.
2 presidential memoranda, January 28 and April 4: Reorganizing the National and Homeland Security Councils
Trump removed the nation’s top military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, the interagency forum that deals with policy issues affecting national security.
The executive measure established Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, as a regular attendee, and disinvited the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence to attend only when necessary.
Top Republican lawmakers and national security experts roundly criticized the move, expressing their skepticism that Bannon should be present and alarm that the Joint Chiefs of Staff sometimes wouldn’t be.
UPDATE 4/4: Trump signed another memo on April 4 removing Bannon from the NSC, and superseding this first memo. The White House didn’t publish the new memo on its presidential actions page; it is only viewable through the federal register.
Presidential Memorandum, January 28: Defeating ISIS
Making a point to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” (something Trump criticized Obama for on the campaign trail), Trump directed his administration “to develop a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS,” drafted within 30 days.
Executive Order, January 27: Immigration ban
In Trump’s most controversial executive action yet, he temporarily barred people from majority-Muslim Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, and Syrians from entering until he decides otherwise.
Federal judges in several states declared the order unconstitutional, releasing hundreds of people who were stuck at US airports in limbo. The White House continues to defend the action, insisting it was “not about religion” but about “protecting our own citizens and border.”
Tens of thousands of people protested the action in cities and airports across the US, company executives came out against the order, and top Republicans split with their president to criticize Trump’s approach.
Presidential Memorandum, January 27: ‘Rebuilding’ the military
This action directed Secretary of Defense James Mattis to conduct a readiness review of the US military and Ballistic Missile Defense System, and submit his recommendations to “rebuild” the armed forces.
Presidential proclamation, January 26: National School Choice Week
Trump proclaimed January 22 through January 28, 2017 as National School Choice Week.
The ceremonial move aimed to encourage people to demand school-voucher programs and charter schools, of which Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos is a vocal supporter. Meanwhile, opponents argue that the programs weaken public schools and fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.
Executive Order, January 25: Build the wall
Trump outlined his intentions to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, one of his main campaign promises.
The order also directs the immediate detainment and deportation of illegal immigrants, and requires state and federal agencies tally up how much foreign aid they are sending to Mexico within 30 days, and tells the US Customs and Border Protection to hire 5,000 additional border patrol agents.
While Trump has claimed Mexico will pay for the wall, his administration has since softened this pledge, indicating US taxpayers will have to foot the bill, at least at first.
Executive Order, January 25: Cutting funding for sanctuary cities
Trump called “sanctuary cities” to comply with federal immigration law or have their federal funding pulled.
The order has prompted a mixture of resistance and support from local lawmakers and police departments in the sanctuary cities, which typically refuse to honor federal requests to detain people on suspicion of violating immigration law even if they were arrested on unrelated charges. The city of San Francisco is already suing Trump, claiming the order is unconstitutional.
Executive Order, January 24: Expediting environmental review for infrastructure projects
The order allows governors or heads of federal agencies to request an infrastructure project be considered “high-priority” so it can be fast-tracked for environmental review.
Trump signed the order as a package infrastructure deal, along with three memoranda on oil pipelines.
3 Presidential Memoranda, January 24: Approving pipelines
Trump signed three separate memoranda set to expand oil pipelines in the United States, a move immediately decried by Native American tribes, Democrats, and activists.
The first two direct agencies to immediately review and approve construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the third requires all pipeline materials be built in the US.
While pipeline proponents argue that they transport oil and gas more safely than trains or trucks can, environmentalists say pipelines threaten the contamination of drinking water.
Presidential Memorandum, January 24: Reduce regulations for US manufacturing
Trump directed his Secretary of Commerce to review how federal regulations affect US manufacturers, with the goal of figuring out how to reduce them as much as possible.
Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Reinstating the ‘Mexico City policy’
The move reinstated a global gag rule that bans American non-governmental organizations working abroad from discussing abortion.
Democratic and Republican presidents have taken turns reinstating it and getting rid of it since Ronald Reagan created the gag order in 1984. The rule, while widely expected, dismayed women’s rights and reproductive health advocates, but encouraged antiabortion activists.
Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Hiring Freeze
Trump froze all hiring in the executive branch excluding the military, directing no vacancies be filled, in an effort to cut government spending and bloat.
Union leaders called the action “harmful and counterproductive,” saying it would “disrupt government programs and services that benefit everyone.”
UPDATE 4/12: The hiring freeze is lifted, but budget director Mick Mulvaney says many jobs will stay unfilled because the Trump administration wants to reduce the federal workforce. The AP reported that the federal government added 2,000 workers in February and January, despite the freeze.
Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Out of the TPP
This action signaled Trump’s intent to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would lower tariffs for 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, including Japan and Mexico but excluding China.
Results were mixed. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was “glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone,” while Republican Sen. John McCain said withdrawing was a “serious mistake.”
One of Trump’s top campaign promises was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
His first official act in office was declaring his intention to do so. Congressional Republicans have been working to do just that since their term started January 3, though there was dissent among Republicans over whether or not to complete the repeal process before a replacement plan is finalized and strident Democratic resistance to any repeal of the ACA.
UPDATE 3/28: House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill to repeal and replace the ACA, officially called the American Health Care Act, on March 24 after Republicans didn’t have enough votes to pass it. But some members of the GOP are still working on a way to dismantle Obamacare.
Presidential Memorandum, January 20: Reince’s regulatory freeze
Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus signed this action, directing agency heads not to send new regulations to the Office of the Federal Register until the administration has leaders in place to approve them.
Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed a similar memorandum when he took office in 2009, but as Bloomberg notes, Priebus changed the language from a suggestion to a directive.
The action is partly carried out to make sure the new administration wants to implement any pending regulations the old one was considering. Environmentalists worried if this could mean Trump is about to undo many of Obama’s energy regulations.
Presidential proclamation, January 20: National Day of Patriotic Devotion
Trump’s very first entry into the Federal Register is a proclamation he signed on Inauguration Day declaring January 20, 2017 as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion” in order to “renew the duties of Government to the people.”
The rest of the order is quite poetic:
“A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.
Freedom is the birthright of all Americans, and to preserve that freedom we must maintain faith in our sacred values and heritage.
Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people. There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it.
There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”