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.
Proclamation 11: [Declaring] Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy, 2017
What It Will Do: Yet another perfunctory annual presidential holiday proclamation, this action commemorates the 196th anniversary of Greek independence. As in past years, Trump's text hypes up an oversimplified historic parallels between and lines from ancient Greek to modern American democracy, broadly praises general democratic ideals and the modern state of Greece, and calls on Americans to observe the country's independence day as we deem it appropriate.
Who It Will Affect: As with most of these proclamations, anyone who cares to observe the day could do so. That's about it.
Presidential Memoranda 16 and 17: Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to South Sudan
What It Will Do: These actions continue an executive order Barack Obama signed in 2014, which declared the crisis in South Sudan a national emergency and attempted to seize or intercept US-based or –transiting assets of and ban travel to America by those deemed to be complicit in the nation's misfortunes. (South Sudan entered a full-on civil war in December 2013, which has killed at least 50,000 citizens, displaced over a quarter of the population, abetted humanitarian disasters like an ongoing famine, and destabilized the wider region.) Actions such as this require that the sitting president re-declare a national emergency within 90 days of the anniversary of its initial declaration every year, or else their conditions lapse.
Who It Will Affect: In theory, this action continues to apply pressure to at least some relevant actors in South Sudan's ongoing crisis, needling them and the nation towards peace. In practice, the order it continues certainly hasn't made a visible dent in the deep-seated and ongoing conflict in the nation.
For More: Read more about the crisis in South Sudan
S 422: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017
What It Will Do: A fairly uncontroversial bipartisan measure, this 146-page bill authorizes a $19.5 billion budget for NASA in 2018 and guides how that money should be spent. That's a $200 million boost over the agency's previous budget, and a direct contravention of Trump's preliminary budget proposal, released less than a week earlier, which called for the agency's budget to be slashed to $19.1 billion. Although it is the first NASA authorization since 2010, it mostly reaffirms support for ongoing projects or missions, like America's involvement in the International Space Station or work on the James Webb Space Telescope. Notably, it contains a provision, the TREAT Astronauts Act, empowering NASA to provide healthcare for astronauts for medical issues related to their service and to study the effects on the human body of long-term space missions. While the bill clearly shows strong Congressional support for manned space exploration and Mars it is eerily silent on the issue of earth sciences research. This just reiterates the fact that this Congress is big on the spectacle of American greatness, it's not so hot on climate research.
Who It Will Affect: Although this bill authorizes and guides spending, it is not an appropriations measure, so it doesn't actually proffer the cash to do any of this. (Womp womp.) That will have to wait for the rest of the budget process to play itself out, which could be a long slog. And as this because this bill is also largely a continuation of previous policies given a Trump-era gloss, the pomp and ceremony surrounding its signing far outstripped its practical effects. More than anything, it shows that not all of Trump's proposed budget cuts will become reality.
For More: Read an interview with the guy responsible for dressing astronauts
Presidential Memorandum 15: The Delegation of Authority under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017
What It Will Do: A fairly limited and presently mysterious action, this delegates President Trump's duties under Section 3132 of the law mentioned in the title to the secretary of state. The section in question is entitled "Updated Plan for Verification and Monitoring of Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material" and requires the president to submit a plan to relevant congressional committees on the verification and monitoring of the potential for proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials within 90 days of the law's enactment. That means the report is theoretically due on March 22.
Who It Will Affect: This puts more responsibility onto Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—although how much and with how little notice relative to the delivery date for this report remains unknown as of publication. Regardless, it seems like a weird ask for a department whose budget the president just proposed slashing by almost a third and which therefore faces diminished capacity.
Proclamation 9: National Poison Prevention Week, 2017
What It Will Do: This is another perfunctory proclamation. Ever since the early 1960s, when politicians latched onto the shocking prevalence of accidental poisoning, Congress has authorized presidents to observe a National Poison Prevention Week every third week of March. It reflects on the fact that, while awareness over the past few decades has drastically reduced incidents of and death from accidental poisonings, society can do more to cut down on these tragedies. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration has issued a planner for incorporating poisoning prevention into everyday life and details a few awareness-raising and tool-providing events.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone who actually pays attention to this proclamation can make good use of the materials provided by poison prevention agencies and groups to reduce the risk of tragic accidents for themselves or others in their lives. But most people will just ignore it.
Presidential Memorandum 14: A Letter from the President to The Speaker of the House of Representatives
What It Will Do: This memorandum is really just a letter amendment to a long-expected supplemental spending request. So the action itself doesn't really do much. The request it introduces asks Congress to appropriate $30 billion extra dollars for the Department of Defense and $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2017. (The 2017 budget was never finalized, and the government is currently running on a "continuing resolution," perpetuating the previous year's funding levels for a while.) This is separate from the $54 billion DoD spending boost proposed in Trump's initial 2018 budget plan, although the memorandum likewise suggests paying for this funding by slashing other discretionary domestic spending.
Who It Will Affect: If Congress decides to take up the supplemental budget and passes it as is, the DoD would get a $24.9 billion boost to its base budget for general upgrades and a $5.1 billion bump to a fund for overseas operations to scale up anti-Islamic State actions and Afghanistan security actions. Homeland Security would get $1.5 billion for Trump's infamous border wall and more funds for general border security, immigration agent hiring, and immigrant detention facilities. But Congress has no obligation to adopt Trump's proposal
For More: Read about Trump's budget proposal
HR 609: To Designate The Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Center in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, As The "Abie Abraham VA Clinic"
What It Will Do: Exactly and exclusively what it says in the title.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone familiar with the life and works of Abraham—a Bataan Death March survivor who volunteered to disinter and identify the bodies of those who died in that brutal war crime and subsequently documented the events in historical works and devoted himself to veterans' issues—this will be a welcome gesture. But that's about the extent of it.
Executive Order 17: A Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch
What It Will Do: This order, despite its grandiose title, is an exceptionally short and simple document. It directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop a plan for improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the federal government. The Director is directed to focus on cutting "unnecessary" agencies or some of their components or programs; the order specifies that "unnecessary" means anything adjudicators believe could be better handled by states or private firms, anything redundant, anything that's not sufficiently cost-efficient, and anything that wouldn't cost too much to merge or shut down. Every executive agency head is required to submit a plan for reorganizing itself within 180 days of the order. The Director will then solicit public comment for an unspecified number of days. Another 180 days after this comment period concludes, the Director is expected to submit a full plan to the president detailing administrative or legislative actions needed to make it a reality.
Who It Will Affect: The order creates a lot of work for OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, who is currently up to his eyes in American Health Care Act shenanigans, and the heads of some 440 agencies. But beyond that it is, for now, mostly more signaling of the administration's stated commitment to shrinking government. America already has waste-fighting programs—a 2010 law requiring an annual accounting of pointless or duplicate government spending has already saved taxpayers tends of billions, so it's unclear how much the OMB will find to slice. And no matter what they find, most real changes will have to be cleared through Congress.
For More: Read about how much money the government has spent in Afghanistan
Proclamation 8: Proclaiming March 5 Through March 11, 2017, As National Consumer Protection Week
What It Will Do: This is yet another routine action—an annual week dedicated to helping people better manage their money and make informed decisions in the market. This year, the White House has decided to focus on helping consumers learn to secure their privacy and information in the digital sphere against cybercrimes like fraud or identity theft. As VICE News points out, this is a bit ironic given that the Trump administration has rolled back or opposed not just general consumer protection rules in favor of business interests, but also at least one regulation geared toward improving consumer cybersecurity. So this perfunctory announcement, in the Trump team's hands, actually serves to shift the onus of consumer protection onto consumers, who must educate and protect themselves—and by omission seemingly reinforces the current administration's aggressively pro-big-business policies.
Who It Will Affect: Unlike most of Trump's proclamations, which just encourage people to think about a subject for a spell, this week features educational campaigns and resource distribution on personal cybersecurity. You can learn more about said resources here.
For More: Read about the mixed messages Trump is sending on consumer protection.
Executive Order 16: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
What It Will Do: This is the long-awaited replacement to the "travel ban" that the courts suspended last month. First and foremost, this order is meant to cover the Trump administration's collective ass, providing more justification for the most controversial policy the president has put forth so far. Before revoking the previous iteration of the order, Trump explains that the seven nations previously banned from travel were designated as conflict zones, state sponsors of terror, or subject to a revocation of visa waiver programs in past government actions. He also cites legislators' concerns about visa and refugee vetting procedures and notes that the FBI is investigating 300 people who entered the US as refugees as counterterror targets (officials reportedly declined to any specify details on these investigation). But after all that throat-clearing, here's what the order actually does:
-It temporarily bans travel to the US from six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—all Muslim-majority nations that have either undergone significant conflict or (in Iran and Sudan's cases) are antagonists of the US. This ban would be in place for 90 days.
-Notably, Iraq was named in the original list of banned countries but was removed from this revised list. According to the order, this is because Iraq supposedly has improved its collaboration with the US and is working to provide sufficient documentation to prove travelers from the nation are not a threat to America. (This seems to at least try to demonstrate that the ban is about security, not a bid at indefinite nationality-based lockdowns.)
-Unlike the old order, under the new order religious minorities are not singled out for preferential treatment by the refugee program.
-The US refugee program is again frozen for 120 days while vetting procedures undergo a vague review, and thereafter capped indefinitely at 50,000 entries per year—down from 110,000 per year at the end of the Obama era. The order resolves to give states and localities as much say as is legally possible in accepting refugee placement.
-This new order does not come into effect until 12:01 AM EST on March 16, rather than triggering itself immediately like the old order did—this will likely avoid the chaos of the last order, though that's left unsaid.
-The new order instructs the departments of State and Homeland Security and the National Intelligence agency to conduct a worldwide review of what the US needs from each nation to ensure visitors pose no threat. They are asked to issue a report on this within 20 days after the order comes into effect, inform nations of new requirements within 50 days thereafter (the requirements might differ by nation), and from there provide information on non-compliance to the president, who can declare travel restrictions on any nation of concern. Reports on the implementation of these measures are to be issued by the relevant agencies in 90, 120, and 150 days after the order comes into effect. These federal bodies are also required to create baseline procedures to vet travelers as potential fraudulent entries or terror risks, and to report on progress towards creating those baselines 60, 100, and 200 days after the order comes into effect.
-Relevant agencies are instructed to compile reports on all foreign nationals charged with or convicted of terrorism-related acts, the number of foreign nationals radicalized after coming to the US, and the number of gender-based violent incidents like "honor killings" perpetrated by foreign nationals in the US. The first report, to be issued 180 days after the order comes into effect, will include every incident from 9/11 onwards, and subsequent reports will be publicized every 180 days.
-Finally, the order also encourages the expedited completion of nationwide biometric entry scan systems, with reports on progress to be issued in 100, 200, and 365 days after the order goes into effect and then every 180 days after that until they are operation. It expands the US consular fellows program to increase America's diplomatic capacity—which can be seen a potential move to increase America's visa review capacity. Relevant agencies are also instructed to review visa reciprocity agreements and adjust our visa procedures with other nations to reach true reciprocity.
Who It Will Affect: Largely, this order has the same effect as the old one, making life harder for citizens of the six countries who want to travel to the US, as well as thousands of refugees. It's less harsh than the previous order, however, andmay reverse the 60,000 visa revocations under the previous order's disastrous rollout. Those with visas issued before 16 March, lawful permanent residents, those let into the country for any reason after the order goes into effect, people with dual nationalities traveling on unrestricted nations' passports, diplomats and treaty negotiators, and previously accepted refugees or asylum grantees are all exempted from new restrictions. Case-by-case waivers can also be issued for banned country residents; the order cites those who have previously visited and wish to return for work or school, those with strong contacts to the US or family here, those with American business contacts they need to meet with, those employed by American firms, and those who are citizens of a banned country but who reside in Canada and apply for a visa from there. Also, there's no longer an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
The order will likely still face legal challenges from a host of groups, perhaps even before it goes into effect. It may satisfy some critics who wanted to reduce refugee admissions but object to the original order's sudden cruelty—but it will still be staunchly opposed by immigrants who have come from the banned countries, and those who think the US has an obligation to accept more refugees.
For More: Read about how the ban hurts the Iranian American community.
Presidential Memorandum 13: Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits, Ensuring Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States, and Increasing Transparency Among Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and for the American People
What It Will Do: This action is basically a companion to the new travel ban. It calls for more stringent and rigorous vetting of foreign nationals for security concerns before they enter the US. The departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State are urged to implement whatever new protocols or procedures they can under existing law that they feel would improve screening. They, alongside other relevant agencies, are also empowered to issue new rules, regulations, and guidances to strengthen old or new enforcement provisions. Homeland Security and State are also instructed to issue monthlyreports on the number and type of visas issued, disaggregated by country, alongside any other information they deem important to the American people; the first report (at the end of April 2017) will detail all visas issued from the day of the memorandum's issuance onwards. Reports are also to be issued every 90 days on any changes in existing visa-holders' or immigrants' status or benefits. Other relevant agencies are instructed to issue a report within 180 days on the long-term costs of hosting refugees in America at the federal, state, and local levels and recommendations on how to reduce those costs. Another report is to be issued on the comparative costs of hosting refugees long-term in their nation of first asylum—where the landed immediately after fleeing their homelands.
Who It Will Affect: Basically this seems to be a directive that will make it harder to enter the country or stay in by changing visas statuses and provide ammunition to those on the anti-immigration right who want to trumpet the costs of refugees without noting the benefits.
Proclamation 7: Proclaiming March 2017 as Women's History Month
What It Will Do: Presidents have proclaimed March as Women's History Month every year since 1987. This proclamation reaffirms America's commitment to promoting women's full access in all aspects of life in the nation and to advancing women's issues around the world. Interestingly, while the National Women's History Project chose this year to focus on women in American labor and business history, Trump chose to name-drop a mix of entertainers, civil rights leaders, and career trailblazers in his proclamation—but didn't do much to recognize women involved in labor rights advocacy.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone who wants to pause to reflect on women's history in March.
Proclamation 6: Proclaiming March 2017 as American Red Cross Month
What It Will Do: Presidents have recognized American Red Cross Month every year since World War II. Trump specifically commended the organization for its role in provisioning America's blood donation supply, educating Americans in life-saving techniques, and its direct role over the past year in responding to dozens of humanitarian incidents.
Who It Will Affect: If you've been meaning to donate to, take a class with, or otherwise get involved with the Red Cross, this might give you a little nudge to do so.
Proclamation 5: Proclaiming March 2017 as Irish American Heritage Month
What It Will Do: Presidents have recognized Irish-American Heritage Month every year for over a quarter-century now. Trump's proclamation acknowledges the role of Irish Americans in the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the foundation and operation of old cottage industrial and blue-collar industries, and the creation of a distinctive American culture. He also uses some bootstrap language about the Irish providing an example of people pulling themselves out of poverty.
Who It Will Affect: Ideally, stopping to think about Irish-American history ought to force Trump to take a long, hard look at his own views and policies on immigration. On the other hand, it won't.
Executive Order 15: To Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
What It Will Do: Out of context, this order seems to do a lot. It establishes a White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with a director designated by Trump to work with government agencies, philanthropic organizations, educational associations, and other groups to help HBCUs. It also directs some government agencies to find ways to strengthen HBCUs and orders the formation of committee of relevant stakeholders. But most of this infrastructure was already in place under a 2010 executive order "Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities," which this order nullifies and replaces. So really, this order mostly makes tweaks to some of these administrative bodies that serve HBCs. It also singles out more specific priorities, like improving educational infrastructure and stabilizing HBCU finances.
Who It Will Affect: This order falls far short of the priorities HBCUs identified in their dealings with the Trump administration in December. But it's still likely to benefit HBCUs overall. These institutions had a notoriously fraught relationship with the Obama administration, which was seen as less than optimally receptive to their needs and requests. Some individuals involved in HBCU advocacy say they have been surprised by Trump and his team's receptiveness and have high hopes. However, strong doubts remain in other corners about just what of substance will come out of these institutions under the Trump regime, especially in light of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos's botched interpretation of HBCUs' history as supporting her school choice agenda. It's worth noting that this order is clearly linked to Black History Month and is probably a relatively safe political play at improving Trump's miserable reputation in many black communities.
For more: Read about the young black Republican-leaning voters who didn't support Trump
Executive Order 14: Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the United States" Rule
What It Will Do: In 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency instituted a new rule adjusting the definition of waterways over which they have jurisdiction under the 1972 Clean Water Act to protect them from environmental degradation. That redefinition was based upon decisions in three Supreme Court rulings, the agencies' expert interpretations of how various waterways affect each other's health, and a lengthy consideration of public comment and stakeholder reviews. This order strikes back at that rule, requiring the Administrator of the EPA and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to review the rule and decide how to revise or revoke it—and any relevant orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies enforcing it. The order also calls for future rules and actions to use a much narrower definition of which waters can fall under federal control. This will likely significantly reduce the scope of future water control and anti-pollution measures' effects.
Who It Will Affect: The process of reviewing and revising or revoking a federal agency rule is extremely arduous, and environmental groups and other stakeholders will fight any changes tooth and nail, so it's unclear if any actual changes will result. Still, this action conveys Trump's continued hostility to environmental regulations, which his administration views as needlessly complex and anti-business.
HJRes 40: Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of The Rule Submitted by The Social Security Administration Relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007
What It Will Do: This is the 115th Congress's third application of the Congressional Review Act, axing an Obama-era rule. That rule, phrased as a realization of the provisions of a 2007 law, essentially prohibited people who 1. receive disability payments from the Social Security Administration and 2. have been judged to need someone to handle their financial affairs because they are mentally ill or disabled from owning guns, although it also created an avenue to appeal that prohibition on a case-by-case basis.
Who It Will Affect: Functionally this just maintains the status quo—the rule wasn't in effect yet. But since the CRA limits agencies' abilities to make similar rules in the future, it will make it much more difficult to keep guns out of the hands of the severely mentally ill in the future. It's a victory for the gun rights lobby, which continues to push to make guns available to everyone with little to no restrictions, and which has inordinate sway over Congress. But it's worth noting that this rule was also opposed by some disability advocacy groups and the ACLU, who say that gun control measures targeting the mentally ill just stigmatize a vulnerable population, and that there are better ways to reduce gun violence.
For More: Read a disability advocate's take on the rule
HR 321: Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act
What It Will Do: The bill spends a fair amount of time recognizing the value of existing NASA programs aimed at mentoring girls and young women and inspiring them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It then instructs the NASA administrator to explore how to continue bringing women into STEM fields through these programs. It also instructs the administrator to issue a report to two Congressional committees within 90 days on how to develop more mentorship and engagement between K-12 STEM students and science-y folks, with special focus on how to bring retired astronauts and other experts into mentorship programs.
Who It Will Affect: Hopefully this will bolster some uncontroversial and definitively beneficial NASA programs, helping to close the persistent gender gap in STEM fields. It's not an earth-shattering law, but it's a nice symbolic move could have some real impact on the lives of young women.
For More: Read about the continued difficulties faced by women in STEM fields
HR 255: Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act
What It Will Do: The bill starts by recognizing the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math professions and the low rate with which women with STEM degrees end up in STEM jobs. It then tweaks a couple bits of grammar and adds a new paragraph to the 1980 Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act to encourage entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women and to help women with STEM training pursue careers in the commercial world and not just the laboratory.
Who It Will Affect: This bill is more an official recognition of reality and statement of the will and intent of Congress than anything with an immediate and substantive impact. Depending on how agencies choose to implement its tweaks to the SEEO Act, it could portend some real benefits in closing the nation's eternal STEM training and employment gap. But the specifics remain to be seen.
Executive Order 13: 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 12: 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 11: 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 10: 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 9: 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 8: 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.