A running list of what the Republican-dominated federal government is up to.
This post will be continuously updated throughout 2017 as President Donald Trump signs executive orders and makes bills into laws. Read more about this project here.
Executive Order 14: Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda
What It Will Do: This is another attack on federal regulation, building on Trump's executive order in January mandating a "one-in, two-out" rule for new regulations. This new order requires that federal agencies create a Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) position within 60 days to make sure they are complying with other regulation-slashing measures. They should also all create Regulatory Reform Task Forces, which will usually be led by the RRO. The RRTFs are tasked with reviewing old regulations and flagging them for modification or elimination if they are deemed outmoded, ineffective, or inefficient—a task regulators are already supposed to be fulfilling but which critics claim they are being lazy about. Rules to be slated for the axe under the "one-in, two-out" rule are to be prioritized. Agencies will issue regular reports—the first within 90 days of the order—to demonstrate their progress on this matter.
Who It Will Affect: As with the one-in-two-out rule, it's possible this order could fail to achieve much of substance, since it doesn't actually mandate that regulations flagged for removal should be removed; that process is often incredibly complex and difficult in practice. Efforts to streamline regulations would probably be welcomed by observers across the political spectrum. But Trump's conviction that up to three-fourths of all regulations are bunk and his overall rhetoric, repeated during the order's signing, suggest that he hopes to use this order more like a wood chipper than a scalpel. It's yet another bold-sounding affirmation of his simplistic anti-regulation crusade; we'll see if it has an impact.
For More: Read about how Republicans are gutting rules and helping big business.
HJ Res. 38: Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Department of the Interior Known as the Stream Protection Rule
What It Will Do: This nullifies a 2,000-plus-page December rule implemented after years of review by the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). The rule intended to update vague language in the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forest from environmental degradation due to mining by better defining degradation, more aggressively monitoring mines, and creating buffers between mining operations and forests and streams. Basically this legislation is a reversal of an environmental regulation enacted in the waning days of the Obama administration.
Who It Will Affect: If you listen to the mining industry, blocking this ruling will help to save 78,000 coal-mining jobs and up to 200,000 more related energy-industry jobs and avoid needless environmental regulations and bureaucratic bloat. If you believe the OSMRE's painstaking analyses of the rule's impact, it will expose vast tracts of wilderness to potential contamination, cost the American people millions in climate and ecological damage, and have a negligible impact on coal-mining jobs, coal prices, or industry revenues. (The coal industry is on the decline, regardless of what the government does.) On a political level, the mechanism used to nullify this rule—the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to axe recently implemented federal regulations with a simple majority vote and has only been used once before in 2001—indicates that America is in for a congressional crusade against regulations from the late Obama era.
For More: Read about environmental activists fighting the coal industry in West Virginia.
HJ Res 41: Providing for Congressional Disapproval Under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of a Rule Submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission Relating to "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers"
What It Will Do: This nullifies another Obama-era rule—this one issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in July. The rule was mandated in a bipartisan amendment to Dodd-Frank, the post-financial crisis overhaul of US financial regulations, which basically demanded that US companies file reports on their deals with foreign governments for access to natural resources in an attempt detect and deter the suspicious business they've often been investigated for. Now they won't have to.
Who It Will Affect: According to the petroleum and resource-extraction industry, this will prevent a costly burden being imposed on them. According to people generally suspicious of that industry, axing that rule will make an already murky and suspect area of the economy even shadier. It also defies a trend of Western nations demanding more transparency from these companies.
For More: A guide to the ABCs of the financial industry
Executive Order 13: Providing An Order of Succession within The Department of Justice
What It Will Do: This revokes one of Obama's last executive orders, issued on January 13, which itself switched up the order of succession for the attorney general. Trump's order leaves in place the current status quo for Jeff Sessions's first few potential replacements in the event of his death, removal, or resignation: the deputy attorney general, the associate attorney general, and anyone else the attorney general should designate. But it specifies that after these individuals Sessions should be succeeded by, in this order: Dana Boente, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (who served as acting attorney general after Trump ousted Obama appointee Sally Yates over her refusal to defend his travel ban); Zachary Fardon, the US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Tammy Dickinson, the US attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Who It Will Affect: If nothing happens to Sessions anytime soon, this won't matter at all. It may just be an extreme precaution, since Sessions's immediate successors have yet to be appointed or designated, to make sure that people Trump approves of would fill his post in case of any eventuality.
Executive Order 12: On a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety
What It Will Do: This instructs new attorney general Jeff Sessions to form a task force with the somewhat vague purpose of reducing illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime by identifying deficient policies, legislation, or crime-data resources and coming up with new initiatives. These will be presented to the president in at least one annual report.
Who It Will Affect: Right now, this just gives Sessions one more thing to do in his first days in office. It seems to mostly be a way of demonstrating how tough on crime Trump plans to be.
Executive Order 11: Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers
What It Will Do: This tells the attorney general to review existing laws regarding crimes against law enforcement and figure out how to better prosecute them. Sessions is also instructed to review and reconsider Department of Justice grants available for improving law enforcement safety and to consider new legislation on the issue, including potentially defining new violent crimes for prosecution or creating mandatory minimum sentences for existing crimes.
Who It Will Affect: Again, right now, this mostly puts some work on Sessions's plate. In the past, Trump has talked about making killing a police officer a death penalty crime, but something that radical would require Congress to pass a law. But it does show Trump wants to pursue pro-cop policies generally.
Executive Order 10: Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking
What It Will Do: This order places the attorney general, secretary of homeland security, director of national intelligence, and whoever else they deem necessary to involve in charge of the Threat Mitigation Working Group, created in 2011 by Barack Obama to identify transnational organized criminal (TOC) groups, like international drug cartels, that pose a threat to America. The group is tasked with figuring out how to improve information sharing between and support for various law enforcement and other federal agencies to better address TOC activities in the US. The order tasks them with reporting to the president within 120 days on their ideas and strategies, and once a year thereafter on their progress; they will also have to issue public reports every quarter on convictions related to TOCs.
Who It Will Affect: Yet again, this order only really immediately makes work for a few individuals in the federal government. The broader impact on society will largely depend on the ideas they generate—if any of them are substantive—months or even years out from today.
Presidential Memorandum 12: [Delaying And Investigating the Impact of] the "Fiduciary Duty Rule"
What It Will Do: Quick primer: All but a few of the financial service advisors (FSAs) in the nation are not by nature bound by fiduciary duties. That means they have to recommend you appropriate financial services, like retirement plans, but not the best ones for you. They can push products that give them the biggest commission, even if it's more expensive or less effective than other options, and they don't even need to tell you, for example, that the mutual funds they want you to invest in also give them money. A 2015 Obama administration study found that this was costing Americans $17 billion a year in unnecessary retirement account expenses. So in April 2016, the administration initiated work on the "fiduciary rule," set to go into effect this April, to bind FSAs offering 401(k) or individual retirement accounts to fiduciary duties. Naturally, some business interests disagree with this rule, saying that it will impose compliance costs on them. So they've sued to block the rule; a decision on that case is expected within the month. This memorandum instructs the Department of Labor to review it to see if it is consistent with his administration's goals. Specifically it asks the department to check whether the rule would disrupt retirement service markets or restrict Americans' access to these services. If so, the department is supposed to propose the revocation or revision of the rule.
Who It Will Affect: Since the rule wasn't even in effect yet and was already on the judicial chopping block, functionally no one. But if the Trump administration eventually strikes down this rule, financial advisors will remain free to act in ways contrary to their clients' best interests—meaning you should be very careful when dealing with people who want to manage your money.
For More: Read some bad news about how Wall Street handles retirement accounts.
Executive Order 9: On Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System
What It Will Do: Although this made a lot of splashy headlines about Trump's reported intent to dismantle core elements of 2010's Dodd-Frank Act, the Wall Street reforms designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse, this order actually does very little. It tells the Treasury to chat with the heads of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and, within 120 days, report back on what "existing laws, treaties, regulations, guidance, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, and other Government policies" promote the administration's financial regulatory priorities, what is inhibiting them, and what might be done to better facilitate the administration's priorities. This is incredibly vague code for, "We're just taking a quick gander at what we might want to do with respect to Dodd-Frank and other financial regulations." Some of the elements of this regulatory infrastructure Trump can affect by executive action, or inaction in a failure to enforce it. Some of it he'd have to work with Congress to restructure, though.
Who It Will Affect: No matter how vague the meat of this order is, the signaled intention to cut financial regulations has led to a small spike in Wall Street stock prices. And the task will consume a fair amount of bandwidth in the Treasury Department. But the effects on the wider population will depend on just what it recommends and what Trump decides and is able to change in America's financial infrastructure. The most dramatic outcome would be Trump attempts to gut regulations and make it easier for big banks to engage in risky, self-serving behaviors, readily inviting a new 2008—which Trump's team may not think is really a risk at all.
For More: Read about how Trump's economic plan is going to benefit Wall Street.
Proclamation 4: [Proclaiming] February as American Heart Month
What It Will Do: In late 1963, a joint congressional resolution urged the president to issue an annual proclamation declaring February as American Heart Month to honor the lives lost to heart disease and resolve to improve its prevention, detection and treatment. Since then, February has been American Heart Month. For a while, February 3 has been National Wear Red Day, which is specifically to show support for women with heart disease. Trump is continuing both those traditions.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone who likes that there's to be a month all about hearts.
Proclamation 3: National African American History Month, 2017
What It Will Do: This is a routine proclamation following a long presidential history of calling for the annual recognition and deeper exploration of the often-neglected contributions of African Americans to the development of America. This year, Trump name-dropped the works of Katherine Johnson, Madam C.J. Walker, and Robert Smalls—twice. He also used the order to focus on education, stressing the right of African American children like all other Americans to "quality educational opportunities."
Who It Will Affect: As with any presidential proclamation on a holiday or month of observation, this affects anyone who chooses to observe it but has little more force than that.
HR 72: GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017
What It Will Do: A fairly uncontroversial bill, this affirms that the Government Accountability Office—the federal government's internal auditor—has the right to obtain whatever agency records it deems necessary for an investigation. To enforce this, the GAO is empowered to take civil actions against recalcitrant agencies. (It is also empowered to access databases of recent federal hires, though that may be a mostly moot point as long as Trump's federal hiring freeze is in place.) Finally, it requires that agencies planning to act on GAO recommendations submit their plans to relevant congressional committees and the GAO for review.
Who It Will Affect: This is pretty inside-baseball stuff that will mostly affect the GAO and the agencies it looks into.
Executive Order 7: Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs
What It Will Do: Trump, like many Republicans, believes there is an incredible amount of redundancy, overlap, and pointlessness in federal regulations. So now whenever a federal agency (exempting the military and national security) recommends a regulation, it cannot (unless granted an exemption in case of an emergency) institute it until it has identified two relations under its purview for elimination. Notably, nothing in the language of the order guarantees that those identified regulations will actually be cut. Given how many regulations are put in place by law and the discretionary power agencies have, that makes the one-in-two-out provision arguably toothless. The order also imposes an annual cap on the cost of new regulations—for the rest of fiscal year 2017 that cap will be $0. But the order does not specify how cost will be evaluated and instead just calls for relevant agencies to figure out how to evaluate them. It does not appear, from the text of the order, that the Trump administration is willing to weigh the benefits of a regulation against its immediate costs, which may make pure cost evaluations misleading and stymie useful regulations.
Who It Will Affect: Trump claims this order will make it far easier for small businesses to open and expand. If it actually does get rid of some regulations, then that's probably true. Yet while there may well be a number of redundant or obsolete regulations that could use pruning, the flaws in this order and limitations of law may lead to a lot of busy work for agencies and roadblocks to useful regulations. Even if the order were not so squidgy and fraught, it'd still be a hacksaw approach to a scalpel issue. Mostly, the order formalizes the anti-regulation, pro-business stance of the Trump administration. It may slow regulation just by creating further logjams for federal agencies now capped at their current size and capacity.
For More: Here's How Republicans Plan to Kill Net Neutrality, Climate, and Labor Rules.
Presidential Memorandum 11: [Regarding the Development of a] Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
What It Will Do: This instructs relevant agencies to come up with a draft plan within 30 days for defeating ISIS. (So much for Trump already having that great secret plan to defeat ISIS ready to go.) It also requests the military to reconsider its rules of engagement and identify any restrictions that go beyond international law for how aggressively it might act.
Who It Will Affect: Until a plan is developed, this just sends defense and military personnel scurrying to produce some fresh documents. (Obviously, the US was already engaged in plenty of anti-ISIS operations, which will continue.) However, the language of the memorandum, combined Trump's ominous "maybe we'll have another chance" to take Iraq's oil comment a few days back, seem to indicate that he could be eyeing a much more aggressive intervention in Iraq and Syria.
For More: Watch the VICE News Tonight segment about ISIS's expansion to Afghanistan.
Presidential Memorandum 10: [Regarding the] Organization of the National Security Council and Homeland Security
What It Will Do: With several esoteric tweaks to meeting structures and protocols, Trump reshuffled the internal workings of the National Security Council and Homeland Security. Wonks have described the move as mainly a reversion to the Bush-era administration with a few adjustments—notably icing out government agencies with an environmental focus. But hidden within the guts of the memorandum is a provision to give Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist (and alt-right media tycoon) Stephen Bannon seats in regular National Security Council meetings, while downgrading the status of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and director of national intelligence. Granted a regular seat at meetings by Bush and Obama, they now will only attend meetings where their "responsibilities and expertise" are relevant.
Who It Will Affect: In the short-term, this is entirely insider baseball, relevant only to officials in the agencies involved. But the elevation of Bannon, who reportedly had a major hand in drafting the first wave of executive orders, has drawn a lot of attention—as it represents another sign of his power in the Trump White House. As for what that means, only time will tell.
For More: Read about Bannon's roots in right-wing politics.
Executive Order 6: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees
What It Will Do: The order stipulates that former registered lobbyists appointed to government posts should not within two years do anything related to their old lobbying activities. Those leaving the administration should not become registered lobbyists interacting with the agencies they were once involved with for five years—and not lobby any covered executive branch official for the duration of the Trump administration. No former executive appointee can become a registered lobbyist for a foreign nation for life. No member of the administration should accept gifts from registered lobbyists. Violations can lead to further limits on future lobbying and perhaps to a lawsuit as well, as the oath is construed as contractual. Trump or anyone he designates can dispense waivers to parts of or the whole oath, though.
Who It Will Affect: The pledge in some ways expands on a 2009 Obama order, which, while using similar language on gifts and lobbying covered branches for the duration of the administration, only barred former officials from contact with their old agencies for two years and did not mention or a lifetime foreign lobbying ban. However critics have pointed out that the Obama-era rule more aggressively locked ex-lobbyists out of agencies they'd once lobbied and in some respects seems to go softer on non-Cabinet-level appointees. As in the Obama era, loopholes and waivers may lessen the impact of the order. And some speculate this will just give a jolt to the field of shadow lobbying, in which people arguably skirt the edges of what is officially considered lobbying and do not register their activities to circumvent such pledges.
Presidential Memorandum 9: Rebuilding the US Armed Forces
What It Will Do: The order instructs the Pentagon to review its capabilities and empowers Secretary of Defense James Mattis, alongside the Office of Management and Budget, to review various aspects of military readiness. It's clearly intended to be a precursor to increasing the military budget—though Congress is the branch of government in charge of the budget. It also seems to ask the Pentagon to develop a national security strategy, which is odd, experts told Defense News, because that's not usually the Pentagon's purview. (This could be another example of a poorly worded executive action.)
Who It Will Affect: The military, who may see more resources directed their way—pending congressional action—and in any case will have to figure out exactly what Trump wants them to do. If military spending does end up being increased, taxpayers will foot the bill one way or another.
For More: Read about the largest military agency you've never heard of.
Executive Order 5: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
What It Will Do: This far-reaching order appears to be Trump's way of fulfilling his campaign promise of establishing "extreme vetting" of refugees and also temporarily halts all immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. It stops all refugee inflow for 120 days; after that, the Department of State and other government agencies will devise unspecified new and better vetting procedures for refugees. (It's worth noting that vetting for refugees is already robust.) Syrian refugees are blocked from coming to the US indefinitely because Trump believes they are "detrimental to the interests of the United States." The total number of refugees set to come to the US in 2017 is revised downward from 110,000 to 50,000. Citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan (and maybe Libya, Yemen and Somalia) are prohibited from entering the US for 90 days—after that, they can only come if their governments share information with the US about those prospective visitors, which some of those countries are unlikely to do for a variety of reasons. It also orders the government to "prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution," which appears to be a nod to Trump's desire to continue to bring in Christian refugees from Syria. To top it all off, it requires relevant authorities to, once every 180 days, gather and publish information on the number of foreign nationals in America who have been convicted of terroristic offenses, the number and types of gender-based acts of violence committed by foreigners in the nation, and the number of foreigners radicalized in America. The stated justification for all of this is that citizens of these countries could be potential terrorists and the Trump administration is working to prevent another 9/11—but the 9/11 terrorists were citizens of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon, which are not prevented from entering the US by this order.
Who It Will Affect: Refugees, of course, will now have to endure greater danger since they will be barred from the US at least temporarily—Syrian refugees especially are now in limbo. But regular citizens of countries like Iran who have family or friends in the US will also suffer, as they are now separated from their loved ones. In particular, many Iranians have ties to the US and have trips planned to America; the famous Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti had already announced that she was canceling her appearance at the Academy Awards even before Trump signed the order. In addition, citizens of these countries who permanently live in the US are now unsure if they can visit their homelands and then return to America. All in all, it is an immediate and sudden disruption to the lives of many thousands of ordinary people. Trump and his allies insist that this will make the US safer, but refugees have not historically been a threat to Americans—and critics say it will only encourage further terrorist attacks. The order has been widely criticized for being a "Muslim ban" by another name, and CAIR plans to sue the government in protest. Many see this perceived Islamophobia as playing into ISIS's hands, since the terrorist group will now be able to further portray the US government as being anti-Muslim—a "clash of civilizations" narrative that is also endorsed by many in the Trump administration. It remains to be seen what new vetting procedures are put in place or in what ways they will be stricter than the old ones.
Update: The New York Times reports that two refugees from Iraq—including a man who had worked for the US military—were detained at New York City's J.F.K. Airport. They had been on their way to America before the order was signed.
Update: After some confusion, the administration now says that this order doesn't apply to green-card holders.
For More: Read about how refugees have been placed in an impossible position.
Proclamation 2: National School Choice Week 2017
What It Will Do: Just a week after he declared his own inauguration a day of patriotism, Trump has unilaterally declared another one-off commemoration. He is inviting parents to "evaluate educational opportunities available for their children" and lawmakers to consider measures to "expand school choice for millions of additional students." Unfortunately for those who would have liked to think about this stuff, even as he declared it into existence, National School Choice Week was already almost over. It retroactively started on January 22 and runs through January 28.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone who wants to think about the cause of school choice.
For More: Read about New Orleans's experiment in charter schools.
Executive Order 4: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (Including Advancing the Construction of a Large Physical Barrier on the Southern Border)
What It Will Do: Yes, this is the famous wall. As some have speculated for a while, the Trump administration is saying the 2006 Secure Fence Act (and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act) gives the Department of Homeland Security to build whatever infrastructure it deems necessarily to control the borders. Although Trump will need Congressional approval to fully fund the project, which will cost between $8 and $25 billion (the order calls for the creation and proposal of a firm budget), the order instructs the relevant authorities to assess what existing appropriations can be diverted to the project ASAP. It also calls for planning, designing, and building the wall to begin "immediately," and authorizes border control forces to enter federal lands—which may help them to circumvent some environmental concerns around the wall. In a kicker, Trump also instructs relevant agencies to report to him within 60 days with a breakdown of all federal aid money or assistance the government of Mexico has received from the US each year for the past five years. That could be the beginning of an attempt to force Mexico to pay for the wall, as Trump promised. More broadly, it directs relevant agencies to "deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation's southern border, to prevent illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely." That means 5,000 border patrol agents will be added, state and local law enforcement officers will be authorized to act as immigration officers, and new detention centers we be opened. It also discards the Bush and Obama era "catch-and-release" policy in favor of aggressive, pervasive, and expedited prosecution and removal. Trump promised more draconian policies on undocumented immigration; here they are.
Who It Will Affect: When construction starts on the wall,a few construction jobs could result. But the effects it will have on border communities will be far longer-lasting than that—landowners could have their property seized through eminent domain, the habitats of wildlife would be destroyed, and, of course, ladder sales will likely spike. More border officers (and deputized law enforcement officers) will likely mean more deportations of undocumented immigrants; how America's overburdened and underfunded immigration courts will hold up remains to be seen.
For More: Watch the VICE News report on how ineffective the existing border wall is.
Executive Order 3: Enabling Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
What It Will Do: This instructs relevant authorities to review the streams of federal money moving toward "sanctuary cities"—municipalities that, to varying degrees, don't cooperate with immigration officials in their deportation efforts—and how those funds can be severed in a bid to force compliance with federal immigration policies. (The Secretary of Homeland Security is empowered to define sanctuary cities as he sees fit.) Weekly reports will be issued to the public listing criminal acts committed by aliens and detailing jurisdictions that ignored or "failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens." It also empowers agencies to act with as much legal force as possible to penalize and remove aliens, and eliminates the Priority Enforcement program in favor of restoring the old Secure Communities program. Relevant authorities are told to prioritize deportation of, in this order: criminal offenders, those charged with criminal offenses, those that could be charged, those who have misrepresented themselves, those who have abused public benefits programs, those who have not complied with orders for removal, or anyone else deemed a threat. That's a lot of potential deportees. The Department of Justice is instructed to provide resources for their prosecution. There's even more: It establishes an office for advocacy for the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, which will issue quarterly reports. It also calls for the collection of the immigration status of all incarcerated individuals, and indicates that the government will penalize any foreign nations if they refuse to take back citizens deported from America.
Who It Will Affect: As "sanctuary city" is an imprecise and partially informal term, it is not clear what criteria the Trump administration will use or whether any streams of federal funding will be off limits for cuts. However, at least 165 jurisdictions are likely in the defunding crosshairs; one report figured that Denver alone could stand to lose up to $175 million in federal funds if it does not comply. Individual jurisdictions will have to decide whether to give up federal money or let the feds deport undocumented immigrants, potentially breaking up families and disrupting communities. Some mayors in liberal cities have vowed their towns will remain sanctuaries and have promised to help undocumented immigrants. Beefing up internal immigration enforcement more broadly will also likely lead to a spike in deportations. This will flavor a number of impending negotiations with other nations as well—especially those soon to come with Mexico.
For More: Read about how one small town in Iowa is helping undocumented immigrants.
Presidential Memorandum 8: To Advance the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline
What It Will Do: First proposed in 2008, the Keystone XL pipeline was supposed to more efficiently transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of Canadian oil into the United States. In November 2015, John Kerry's State Department killed the project —which had by then become a major target of protests from climate activists—deciding that it would not lead to a meaningful increase in jobs or a decrease in gas costs. But as many suspected, Trump wants to bring Keystone back. This order invites the company behind the pipeline, TransCanada Corporation, to resubmit the project application for review and instructs the State Department to rapidly review it—reportedly within the space of 60 days, to the extent that is possible.
Who It Will Affect: Assuming the intention is to approve Keystone, the order is a boon to TransCanada—which has seen a stock-price boost already. Environmentalists will likely organize to block the pipeline, as will many landowners in Nebraska who don't like the idea of the pipeline invading their backyards. The project, if it gets built, may give a few thousand people short-term construction jobs, but it might negatively impact climate change.
For More: Read About a Recent Leak in an Existing TransCanada Pipeline.
Presidential Memorandum 7: To Advance the Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline
What It Will Do: The Dakota Access pipeline is the one that was supposed to cut across the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and was met by massive resistance. Eventually, the Army Corps of Engineers decided not to grant an easement to the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, blocking the pipeline. The corps then launched an environmental review, leading to the consideration of alternate routes. Trump's new order instructs the corps to complete its review and approve a route for the pipeline as quickly as the law permits. In other words, the fight is back on.
Who It Will Affect: The corps will have to decide how to follow these instructions, but the Standing Rock Sioux were already gearing up to block the pipeline again. Lawsuits, protests, and confrontations are likely to result. (Even if the pipeline gets built, it likely will have a negligible impact on job creation, energy security, and gas costs. Standing Rock residents are concerned that it will pollute the water they rely on.)
For More: Read about the veterans who came to Standing Rock.
Presidential Memorandum 6: To Promote the Use of Domestic Materials in the Upgrade or Construction of Domestic Pipelines
What It Will Do: This just tells the secretary of commerce to, within 180 days, develop a plan to make sure that domestic materials (specifically iron and steel) are, as often as possible, used—well it's all in the title. In the short term, it's a symbolic show of support for US manufacturing from the Trump administration.
Who It Will Affect: If Commerce can come up with an enforceable and practical plan, then this is likely good news for steel and other US manufacturers. Even then, the effect on America's waning steel industry is contingent on the materialization of pipeline projects.
For More: Read about the Standing Rock water protectors.
Executive Order 2: Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects
What It Will Do: Basically, Trump's just telling the individuals in charge of reviewing the environmental impact of infrastructure projects to speed up as much as they can on projects deemed especially important. Given how much of the current process is enshrined in law, it's not clear how the bodies involved can speed things up. It is a signal of the Trump administration's commitment to lessening what it sees as unnecessary, burdensome regulations.
Who It Will Affect: For now, the order will send some bureaucrats scurrying about. Until they decide what's in their power to do, though, there will be no wider impact.
Presidential Memorandum 5: To Expedite the Permit and Review Process for Domestic Manufacturing Projects
What It Will Do: Similar to the last order, Trump here just tells the folks reviewing wider projects to hustle, to the extent that the law permits, when it comes to giving people an answer on whether they can break ground. It does so in part by calling on relevant authorities to reach out to potential manufacturers and seek public comment on how people would like to see the regulatory process streamlined (i.e. what regulations people want to see cut or reduced), then to issue a report on what can be done or pushed for.
Who It Will Affect: See above.
Update: The following items were initially reported by some outlets to be executive orders, but are listed as memoranda on the White House website. This post has been edited to reflect that.
Presidential Memorandum 4: Regarding Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement
What It Will Do: Since TTP wasn't yet in effect and was unlikely to be ratified by Congress, in practical terms, this did very little. Still, this officially kills a free trade deal that's been in the works for the better part of a decade between the US and 11 other major economies along the Pacific Rim. (Given widespread opposition to the deal, and Hillary Clinton's campaign-season flip-flop against it, even if Trump weren't in office, the TPP would likely have died.)
Who It Will Affect: In the short-term, since the TPP was not in force, this affects no one. TPP opponents argued that killing the deal will help keep jobs in America in the long-term by maintaining standing international economic barriers to offshoring, while proponents said lost jobs could have been offset by new jobs brought to America by the deal, and that missing out on new export markets, cheaper imports, and better security for American intellectual property will leave us on the whole poorer as a nation than we could have been. There's also the argument that ending TPP will give China, which was conspicuously boxed out of the deal, a freer hand to dominate and write the rules for the future of regional trade. Since trade deals are impossibly complex—this one involved thousands of provisions—and usually don't reveal their full effects until years after their enactment (and even then they're opaque), the domestic effect of striking down the deal will remain unclear.
For More: Read the perspective of one internet freedom activist on why TPP's death was a good thing.
Presidential Memorandum 3: Regarding the [Federal] Hiring Freeze
What It Will Do: This executive action imposes an indefinite moratorium on hiring new staffers at federal agencies, except those involved in national security functions. During the campaign, Trump promised to do this as a means of reducing corruption by shrinking the federal government by attrition. (Supposedly that would make corruption harder to hide.) Past hiring freezes have been proposed or enacted to cut down on state spending. .
Update: The Office of Management and Budget has clarified that anyone hired on or before 22 January and with at least a 22 February start date will still be brought on. For other recent hires, it leaves some leeway to agencies to make the decision on whether to still bring them on. It also stressed that there will be exceptions to the hiring freeze for national and public security.
Update II: Hiring outside contractors to circumvent the freeze is expressly forbidden.
Who It Will Affect: If you had your heart set on a job with the federal government or were in the process of being hired for a position, this is pretty painful for you. If you're an average citizen, this probably has no immediate effect on your life—or it won't until you notice, for instance, that the National Parks have a shortage of staff.
For More: Read some of the promises Trump made during the campaign.
Presidential Memorandum 2: Reinstituting the "Mexico City" Policy
What It Will Do: The Mexico City Policy, known among some pro-choice communities as the Global Gag Rule, prohibits nongovernmental organizations outside of America that receive US federal funding through aid programs from offering abortions or even talking to women or policymakers about abortions. This strict ban applies even to organizations that do not use the US funding they receive to pursue abortion-related activities. First enacted by Reagan in 1984 at a conference in Mexico City (hence the name), it's been axed by every Democrat and restored by every Republican after the White House changes hands.
Who It Will Affect: This doesn't apply to organizations inside American borders, but it forces some groups to either change the way they operate overseas or else just refuse funding from the US. Past studies of the MCP/GGR have indicated that the rule often results in overall decreased access to women's healthcare in nations receiving US aid. It has also historically increased numbers of increasingly unsafe abortions in sub-Saharan Africa, and it can have a chilling effect on public discourse on abortion in other nations as well.
For More: Read about how some women are preparing to fight Trump's anti-abortion agenda.
Executive Order 1: Minimizing the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal
What It Will Do: Trump's first executive order was a bold move to gut Obamacare in broad yet vague ways. The brief order empowers all relevant federal agencies to "waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay" the enforcement of key rules under their jurisdiction relating to the Affordable Care Act that those agencies believe impose financial or regulatory burdens on them or individuals. It also directs agencies to encourage a "free and open market in interstate commerce" when it comes to insurance and care, and provide as much flexibility to individual states as possible.
Who It Will Affect: The order is vaguely worded, and a lot of Obamacare's requirements are written into law, which a president can't simply change at will. But some observers speculated that it could lead to less enforcement of the mandate for everyone to buy insurance—if fewer healthy people buy insurance, the markets for insurance could become less stable.
For More: Read about what the end of Obamacare could mean for you.
Senate Bill 81: A bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces
What It Will Do: The first law Trump signed as president just does what it says on the tin. Trump had nominated retired General James "Mad Dog" Mattis as his secretary of defense, but Mattis had he only left the Marine Corps in 2013—by law, members of the military have to be seven years removed from service before they can become secretary of defense. So Congress waived the requirement, just this once, and voila.
Who It Will Affect: This means Mattis will join Trump's cabinet—he was confirmed, nearly unanimously, by the Senate the same day the president signed this bill. Mattis disagrees with Trump on a lot of issues, and some are hoping he'll be a check on Trump's impulses.
For More: Watch the VICE News Tonight video about Mattis's nomination.
Proclamation 1: Declaring a National Day of Patriotism
What It Will Do: Although Congress has to pass a bill to create a new federal holiday, the president can unilaterally proclaim a day to be special for whatever reason—last year, Barack Obama declared several days of prayer and remembrance in honor of the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
Update: It wasn't clear when this day would when Trump made this proclamation, but it turns out that it was January 20, so you already missed it.
Who It Will Affect: You won't get the day off of work, but you can be patriotic on this day if you like.
For More: Read about Trump's first few hours of document signing.
Presidential Memorandum 1: [Regarding Regulatory Processes] for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
What It Will Do: This vaguely titled action, communicated in a memo from White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, requires all new agency rules and regulations to be submitted to the Trump appointee now heading up the agency or department they pertain to for review. Previously submitted regulations not yet incorporated into the Federal Register—the repository of these rules—have to be withdrawn for review. And those incorporated but not yet enacted need to be suspended for 60 days for review. In short, every late Obama-era regulation needs to be frozen and pulled for review by a Trump appointee who will either axe or keep it.
Who Will It Affect: This is a fairly routine bit of business—the Obama administration did something similar in 2009. Update: Initial reports indicate that federal agencies have responded to this order in a broad and cautious manner, perhaps pulling or freezing more regulations than they need to.