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 24: Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America
What It Will Do: This order creates an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which will be administered by the Department of Agriculture and chaired by that department's secretary. The task force will include representatives from more than 20 departments and agencies and will spend six months coming up with ways to improve life for rural America. Any recommendations are to be harmonized with Trump's January 30, February 28, and March 28 executive orders on limiting the enactment of new regulations, all of which focus on limiting government regulation and empowering resource extraction and use by private firms or individuals. The order also axes a 2011 executive order, under which Barack Obama created the White House Rural Council, a similar body.
Who It Will Affect: This order rolled out in conjunction with the confirmation of former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as Trump's new Secretary of Agriculture. It's a flashy project for him to kick off with, and a signal to rural Americans that team Trump supposedly stands behind them. Phasing out the White House Rural Council is ostensibly just a bid at avoiding task duplication, but depending on what comes out of the new task force, it could also represent a substantive change in stylistic approach or the amount of bandwidth devoted to rural American issues. But for now, this is just another order that asks for a report.
Presidential Proclamation 24: [Proclaiming] Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, 2017
What It Will Do: This proclamation declares the week starting April 23 as a period when the US and its citizens recognize and honor the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution. America has been doing this every year around the time of the anniversary of the Allies' liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. The action enumerates all of the groups targeted by the Holocaust in clear detail, in language that was seemingly heavily inspired by if not basically lifted from the Holocaust Museum's "Introduction to the Holocaust" page.
Who It Will Affect: This period of remembrance is usually marked by ceremonies at locations across the country, including since 1993 an annual address by the US president. The Trump administration has seemingly placed special focus on this year's period of remembrance, and the media is paying special attention to Trump's April 22 video address and April 25 speech on the subject.
This focus stems from team Trump's miserable record when it comes to Jewish relations. On the campaign trail, Trump received support from vitriolic bigots with clear anti-Semitic views like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke; some Trump supporters used anti-Semitic insults against his perceived antagonists. Trump's statement on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, failed to mention the Jewish people explicitly, inspiring consternation from Jewish groups across the nation. Trump has been criticized for not acting fast or firmly enough in response to a spate of anti-Semitic incidents across the nation. Then there was the whole fiasco when, earlier this, Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to compare Syrian President Bashar Assad to Adolf Hitler by claiming the latter had not used chemical weapons against his own people, then flubbed his way through a series of stumbling and boneheaded apologies creeping his way toward an official recognition of historic reality. If nothing else, week will give Trump a chance to prove that these mistakes were errors and not some sort of anti-Semitic worldview.
Presidential Proclamation 23: [Proclaiming] April 23 through April 29, 2017, as National Volunteer Week
What It Will Do: This has been a routine presidential proclamation, issued every year since 1974 to honor service groups and the volunteers who donate their time domestically and abroad.
Who It Will Affect: The proclamation itself has no advice on how to observe the commemorative week, save to maybe pay your respects to a volunteer or two. But many service organizations organize special events around this week; keep an eye out for those and maybe participate in a little community-minded volunteerism if you feel so inclined.
Executive Order 23: Identifying and Reducing Tax Regulatory Burdens
What It Will Do: Rehashing a Trump campaign and administration refrain that the current tax system is unnecessarily burdensome, this order initiates a Department of Treasury review, to be conducted with advice from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget, of all tax regulations issued or initiated since the start of 2016. The review is intended to identify any regulations that create undue burdens or complexity or exceed the IRS's authority within 60 days. A report is to be submitted to the president on how to mitigate these burdens within 150 days; within another 180 days, a report on actions taken to suspend, delay, rescind, or modify these relations is to be issued if they have not all been addressed.
Who It Will Affect: Although the administration talks as if its actions on tax reform are meant to simplify returns for individuals, most of the major tax rules issued in the timeframe specified here focused on increasing regulations on multinational corporations. Specifically, this order will likely review rules that:
- Make it harder for US corporations to make deals that allow them to be treated as foreign companies to avoid US corporate income tax while keeping their headquarters and operations in the US.
- Prevent wealthy families from understating the value of their estates when a family member dies.
- Clarify the difference between business loans and equity investments by shareholders, venture capitalists, or the like.
- Restrict the way corporations can manipulate and report their income from foreign subsidies to protect earnings from US taxes.
- Define how real-estate investment trusts are taxed.
While this order has been marketed as a populist no-brainer, the result of the review will likely be policies that benefit the wealthy and large corporate interests, further contrasting Trump's for-the-people tax and finance messaging with his actions.
Presidential Memorandum 25: For the Secretary of the Treasury [Regarding the Financial Stability Oversight Council]
What It Will Do: This orders the Department of Treasury to initiate a 180-day review of the process by which the FSOC, a body created by the 2009 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, determines and designates that a financial institution is "systematically important" to the American economy—a.k.a. "too big to fail." This review will, among other things, question whether the FSOC's process is sufficiently transparent, provides due process to entities under review, or creates an expectation in institutions that the federal government will shield them from bankruptcy. It will also consider whether the FSOC's process is consistent with Trump's ninth executive order, "On Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System."
Who It Will Affect: This is yet another signal of Trump's stated dedication to challenging the Dodd-Frank fiscal regulatory regime and reasserts the administration's belief that the law may do more harm than good. This contributes to the mixed signals Trump has sent and continues to send about cracking down on Wall Street.
Presidential Memorandum 24: For the Secretary of the Treasury [Regarding the Orderly Liquidation Authority]
What It Will Do: This orders another Department of Treasury review of a Dodd-Frank creation, a system under which the Treasury can take over financial companies if they are in danger of failing and taking chunks of the broader economy with them. The order accuses this system of possibly encouraging financial risk-taking and potentially wasting taxpayer dollars on private business matters (although taxpayer funds are supposed to be recouped). Within 180 days, the Treasury is ordered to issue a report on the process, its potential costs and shortcomings, and its consistency with Trump's earlier order. The review should make recommendations on how to reform the process if needed.
Who It Will Affect: Again, this doesn't have much immediate impact but could demonstrate Trump's willingness to go after Dodd-Frank.
Presidential Memorandum 23: For the Secretary of Commerce [On Steel Imports and Threats to National Security]
What It Will Do: This initiates a Department of Commerce study to determine whether current steel import levels and dynamics have a notable effect on national security. The memorandum draws upon the Trade Enforcement Act of 1962 (TEA), which allows emergency tariffs or other trade measures to address imbalances construed as security issues. The text takes care to clearly frame American metal and manufacturing industries as vital to economic and strategic security and to show that the administration already believes global steel markets are particularly warped.
Who It Will Affect: The exact impacts of this action depend on the findings of Commerce's report and its recommendations. The 1962 TEA is a rarely utilized tool, and the last time it came into play, in 2001, a Commerce report found no security grounds on which to act against imports of iron ore and semi-finished steel products. Given that defense eats up only about 0.3 percent of America's annual steel output, chances for a strategic argument on trade actions may seem slim. But considering the disposition of the current Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross (a.k.a. "Mr. Protectionism"), who has hinted America might need more steel for a sudden military buildup or some such thing, there's a good chance that the report will initiate some substantive tariff regime. This promise of action to come, another sign of delivery on Trump's pro-rustbelt campaign pledges, almost immediately spiked up steel shares upward by up to 10 percent.
Although the administration insists this action is not specifically targeted at China, any tariffs would likely primarily target that nation's steel industry, which currently produces about half of the world's steel and supplies a quarter of the US market, in some cases with clearly artificially price-deflated materials. Trump has also indicated he might wish to use the threat of trade actions to leverage China into action against North Korea.
Issuing massive new protections against Chinese steel also would likely not bring back as many steel manufacturing jobs as hoped, many having been lost to automation and new materials and efficient techniques in the manufacturing world. It could however, by eliminating low-cost steel, have downstream negative effects on the construction and manufacturing industries, which dwarf American steel, and on consumers.
S.J. Res. 30: A Joint Resolution Providing for the Reappointment of Steve Case as a Citizen Regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution
What It Will Do: This measure allows AOL co-founder and all-around techie businessman Steve Case to serve a second term on the Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents. The Board was created by law in 1846 to manage the nation's premiere cultural institution and is staffed by the chief justice and vice president, three senators and House representatives each, and nine citizens nominated by the Board and approved by Congress, who meet a few times a year to make major managerial decisions. Citizen regents can serve for two consecutive terms; Case's first term began in 2011 and was set to expire on April 25, 2017.
Who It Will Affect: Minimally, anyone who interacts with the Smithsonian and its ventures. Mostly, Steve Case.
S.J. Res. 35: A Joint Resolution Providing for the Appointment of Michael Govan as a Citizen Regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution
What It Will Do: This measure approves of the Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents' (see above) nomination of Los Angeles Country Museum of Art Director Michael Govan to replace theoretical physicist and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson as one of nine citizen regents on the Board once her second term is up on May 5, 2017, or as soon as Trump signs this resolution. Jackson has served on the Board since 2005.
Who It Will Affect: Minimally, anyone who interacts with the Smithsonian and its ventures. Mostly, Michael Govan and Shirley Ann Jackson.
S.J. Res. 36: A Joint Resolution Providing for the Appointment of Roger W. Ferguson as a Citizen Regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution
What It Will Do: This measure approves of the Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents' (see above) nomination of financial services executive Roger W. Ferguson to replace developer Robert P. Kogod as one of nine citizen regents on the Board once his second term is up on May 5, 2017, or as soon as Trump signs this resolution. Kogod has served on the Board since 2005.
Who It Will Affect: Minimally, anyone who interacts with the Smithsonian and its ventures. Mostly, Roger W. Ferguson and Robert P. Kogod.
H.R. 353: Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017
What It Will Do: A relatively uncontroversial 65-page bill with bipartisan support, this measure outlines a host of initiatives to improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) meteorological services. It advances projects like developing a plan for improving weather research, issuing annual reports on weather modeling processes, exchanging technology with and potentially buying data from private sector weather services, and completing a NOAA weather satellite system. Such initiatives aim to enhance NOAA's ability to provide timely and reliable forecasts up to two or more years ahead of time and to better alert citizens of weather events—especially severe events. The act authorizes $170 million in funding for these programs.
Who It Will Affect: Pretty much everyone benefits from more accurate and long-term weather predictions, in mundane ways and profound ones—like reducing crop loss for farmers or increasing disaster preparedness for city planners. This bill was initially proposed in the last session of Congress, but failed to pass before 2017. However, that was indicative of nitty-gritty sticking points rather than any real overarching hostility. The only caveat is that, as with the NASA funding authorization act signed into law on March 21, this is a guideline for how money should be spent—a plan—rather than an appropriations bill, so it doesn't actually pony up the cash to follow through on these laudable goals.
S. 544: A Bill to Amend Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to Modify the Termination Date for the Veterans Choice Program, and for Other Purposes
What It Will Do: This brief measure extends the shelf life of the Veterans Choice Program. Created in 2014, it allows veterans who live more than 40 miles from a Veterans Affairs healthcare facility, whose facilities lack certain specialists, or who have waited more than 30 days for treatment, to be matched with private providers. It was a stopgap measure intended to buy the Department of Veterans Affairs time to address chronic problems with long wait times at its own (government-run) facilities, which were stung by scandal. The stopgap measure was set to expire on August 7, but this extension will allow it to continue until its cash allotment runs out—which is expected to happen sometime early next year. The measure also contains a few provisions to improve medical record sharing, communications between the VA and private doctors, and payment protocols to the private sector, addressing issues providers and patients have raised with the Veterans Choice system.
Who It Will Affect: The measure should, for another year at least, help provide numerous veterans with care—and speed the provision of said care. That's something almost everyone can get behind. It will also give the VA more time to get its medical services house in order.
For More: America Has Been Screwing Over Its Veterans Since the Revolutionary War
Executive Order 22: Buy American and Hire American
What It Will Do: This order directs all federal agencies to submit reports within 150 days assessing implementation of existing "Buy American" laws and regulations, and to develop potential new policies to maximize federal use of American materials. The order immediately specifies that waivers on buying American, which can usually be issued for substantial cost-savings to the benefit of taxpayers or difficulty of procurement in the US, should be (alongside a general review of their usage) weighed against the possibility that foreign goods are cheaper due to trade cheating. The order also instructs various federal departments to create a report on the impact of free trade agreements on "Buy American" policies; under US law, some foreign products subject to such agreements be treated as American if there is no substantive import barrier on them or their American counterparts. Within 220 days, the Commerce Department is instructed to create a final report in consultation with State, the Office of Management and Budget, and the US Trade Representative, and present it to the president. This process is to be repeated annually for at least three years—longer if Commerce wills it.
The text of the order points towards a special protective focus on American aluminum, cement, iron, and (above all else) steel. It also calls upon the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State to generally review rules and guidances to ensure US workers are protected against foreign worker competition. It specifically calls for potential reforms to ensure the approximately 85,000 temporary H-1B worker visas issued each year go to the highest-skilled and –paid applicants rather than to individuals whose abilities overlap with American workers whose salaries they might undercut.
Who It Will Affect: The Trump administration claims that this order will promote economic growth and security, create jobs with fair wages, empower the middle class, and support manufacturing in America. But it actually doesn't do anything all that substantive. It just initiates a series of reviews that would at most strengthen or mildly expand existing programs over the course of years. ("Buy American" laws have been on the books since 1933. President Barack Obama even added to them in the 2009 stimulus package.) Some recommendations to increase "Buy American" compliance could prove impossible as well. After all, those related to trade agreements may require scrapping entire free trade deals. While Trump has suggested he'd do just that in the past, and did abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership before it was completed, he has seemingly moderated his stance towards limited renegotiations of other deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Some may find the order ironic, given the Trump family's use of foreign manufacturing and materials in some of its own products and reliance on foreign workers at facilities like Mar-a-Lago. That resort uses a different visa program, the H-2B regime, which receives no specific treatment in this order. But overall this is likely to prove a less-than-outrageous move, politically speaking, for an administration struggling amid repeated policy failures.
Still, the order quickly inspired criticism from construction groups and infrastructure wonks who point out that overzealously pursuing "Buy American" laws, especially on steel, could significantly inflate the cost of overhauling American infrastructure. And while many believe the H-1B visa program needs reform, if improperly handled, such changes could also limit the ability of small tech companies to obtain skilled labor to compete with tech giants, thereby limiting innovation.
For More: Trump's Government Isn't Going to Be Friendly to Legal Immigration Either
Presidential Proclamation 22: [Proclaiming] April 15 through April 23, 2017, as National Park Week
What It Will Do: Another standard presidential duty, this kicks off an annual holiday that president's observe by officially sanctioning the National Parks Service's tradition of waiving entry fees to the nation's 59 National Parks and welcoming all to partake in them freely. Trump's text hits all the boilerplate talking points of the annual commemoration, lauding the beauty of America's frontiers and the nation's history as a leader in conservation. He also claims that his administration will prioritize the protection of and public access to our natural wonders and hypes the stunt earlier this month in which he donated his first quarterly presidential paycheck to the NPS's American Battlefield Protection Program as proof of his conservation bona fides.
Who It Will Affect: As always, this is a great holiday for nature lovers, who can use it as a solid excuse to engage with the National Park system. But the sentiments involved in the holiday will strike many as especially hollow coming from Trump. Many of the bills he has signed and executive actions he has issued explicitly roll back federal environmental protections in the name of industry interests—hardly a focus on conservation. He's also proposed slashing the budget for the Department of the Interior, which oversees the parks system, by 12 percent, an amount likely to seriously damage preservation efforts. His salary donation (which subtly stressed a focus on military history over nature when it comes to preservation) was an empty, cynical stunt, offsetting just 0.005 percent of his proposed cuts. Using this proclamation to promote Trump's dedication to nature is a farce and a stark reminder that he stands in firm contrast to the history of conservation this commemoration typically seeks to recognize.
For More: A Conversation with the Rogue National Park Service Twitter Account
H.J. Res. 67: Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Department of Labor Relating to Savings Arrangements Established by Qualified State Political Subdivisions for Non-Governmental Employees
What It Will Do: Yet another application of the Congressional Review Act, this measure eliminates a late Obama-era rule from December. This is a bit wonky, but in essence the rule aims to make it easier for cities and counties to create retirement savings programs for private-sector workers who don't receive retirement benefits from their employers. That rule was in turn an extension of another rule making it easier for states to create similar programs. (As of this writing, that state-level rule still stands.
Who It Will Affect: Republicans who backed this measure argue that it will maintain incentives for employers to provide retirement benefits, prevent confusion in the retirement services market, and keep the state out of a sector it has no business participating in. But that's little solace to the 55 million Americans who don't get a retirement account or pension through their jobs—especially the millions who were set to receive coverage in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle that were working on programs under this rule. Fortunately, many more will still likely achieve coverage through state-level plans so long as that related rule holds strong.
H.J. Res. 43: Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of the Final Rule Submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services Relating to Compliance with Title X Requirements by Project Recipients in Selecting Subrecipients
What It Will Do: This usage of the Congressional Review Act eliminates a late Obama-era rule, this one also from December. The rule stated that states couldn't refuse to provide Title X family planning funding—a program created in 1970 to ensure services like sexually transmitted infection screenings and contraceptives were available to low-income individuals—to any recipient unless they were not able to provide qualified care. In practice, this was an attempt to prevent states from denying Title X funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups not because of the quality of their care but because they provide abortions. (Title X money cannot be used for abortions, but over a dozen states seemingly believe abortion providers should not have access to money for other less controversial family planning services.)
Who It Will Affect: This is one of the most significant uses of the CRA by Republicans, and one of the most aggressive manifestations of their anti-abortion agenda. It's immediate effect will be to enable states to choke off funding for vital services that millions of low-income Americans rely on for non-abortion healthcare and family planning.
For More: Read about how the law treats pregnant women
Presidential Memorandum 22: Delegation of Authority under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017
What It Will Do: This action just shrugs off responsibility for a report the president's office is legally supposed to submit to Congress around this time of year. That report is intended to document known instances of Americans traveling to conflict zones in Iraq or Syria to support terrorists and note major routes of concern. This memorandum shifts the report from Trump's office to the Director of the FBI.
Who It Will Affect: This shifts some responsibility from Trump onto FBI Director James Comey. It's a slightly weird ask considering Trump's recent oblique snipes at Comey and his agency. This is also an issue Trump supposedly cares about, so distancing his office from the report seems a tad odd. But ultimately, this is a pretty minor matter.
Presidential Memorandum 21: A Letter from the President to the President of the Senate [Concerning Montenegro's Membership in NATO]
What It Will Do: This is basically the cover letter that came with Trump's Tuesday signature of a treaty providing American assent to Montenegro's bid to become the 29th member of NATO. It just reassures the Senate that Montenegro's addition to NATO will not increase America's share of military spending on the organization nor detract from its military focus or obligations outside of the NATO region.
Who It Will Affect: The mechanics of NATO don't have a huge impact on everyday American lives in peacetime. Montenegrins will be ecstatic; they've been trying to cozy up to NATO almost since the moment of their independence 11 years ago. Russia, however, will likely be a bit miffed at Trump as they've generally opposed NATO expansion into the Balkans.
For More: Read this explainer on Trump and NATO
Presidential Memorandum 20: A Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate [Regarding the 6 April 2017 Missile Strikes on Syria's Shayrat Military Airfield]
What It Will Do: This measure fulfills a presidential duty to inform Congress of Trump's exercise of executive war powers—in this case, the recent missile strikes on a Syrian airfield. It explicitly states that this strike, because it was intended to dissuade chemical weapons usage or proliferation, improves regional security and thus serves the national interest.
Who It Will Affect: This just reasserts the claimed legality of such a strike under US statutes and makes clear that Trump may consider further actions in Syria.
For more: Read what a Syrian asylum seeker thinks of the missile strike
Presidential Proclamation 21: [Proclaiming] April 14, 2017, as Pan American Day and April 9 Through April 15, 2017, as Pan American Week
What It Will Do: This is another routine action, commemorating a holiday observed in several states in the Americas since 1930 at the behest of the governing board of the Organization of American States (then the Pan American Union). It marks the anniversary of the First International Conference of American States and dialogue amongst the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Trump used this year's proclamation to stress the importance of improving border security and fighting international crime through dialogue with other American nations.
Who It Will Affect: Trump's choice of focus in this year's proclamation may strike many other celebrating nations as uncomfortable, given his hostility towards nations like Mexico over these issues he now claims will be improved through comity and conversation. The president's nationalism in general does not gel well with a day of international identity and collaboration. But like all proclamations, this one is pretty meaningless.
Presidential Proclamation 22: [Proclaiming] April 9, 2016, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
What It Will Do: Another regular presidential duty, this day of observance has been declared annually since 1987 to honor the sacrifices and allegiances of more than half a million Americans captured and held as prisoners of war since the American Civil War. This year Trump's proclamation focuses on commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March.
Who It Will Affect: This routine proclamation also sounds odd coming from the Trump administration, considering the president's campaign-trail mockery of Senator John McCain, who endured five and a half years of torture while imprisoned during the Vietnam War. Anyone who can get past that awkwardness can commemorate former POWs as they see fit.
Presidential Proclamation 20: [Proclaiming] April 7, 2017, As Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A.
What It Will Do: This is a routine action carried out by presidents annually since 1978. It honors the life and works of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), who helped to accelerate and more widely disseminate Jewish teaching and outreach throughout the latter half of the 20th century as the leader of the Brooklyn-based Lubavitcher movement. (Because it is tied to Schneerson's birthday on the Jewish calendar, 11 Nisaan, the Julian date of the proclamation wanders around.) More broadly, the day usually serves to respect the role of families, schools, and religious and civic institutions in fostering values in children.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone who knows and respects the work of Rabbi Schneerson will appreciate this commemoration, and can celebrate it as they see fit.
Presidential Proclamation 19: Honoring the Memory of John Glenn
What It Will Do: This action instructs all federal, military, and naval facilities and grounds to fly their flags at half staff on April 6, the day of the late John Glenn's internment.
Who It Will Affect: All who knew and appreciated Glenn, the iconic astronaut who became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962 and the oldest astronaut to go to space in 1998, will appreciate this measure of respect. The former fighter pilot and senator from Ohio died in December at the age of 95.
For More: Read Motherboard's obituary
HR 1228: To Provide for the Appointment of Members of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to Replace Members Whose Terms Expire during 2017, and for Other Purposes
What It Will Do: A fairly routine measure, this allows members of the body mentioned in the title (a bipartisan board that enforces the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995) to continue serving past their current terms until their replacements can be named. It also outlines the terms for their replacements.
HJ Res 69: Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of the Final Rule of the Department of the Interior Relating to "Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska"
What It Will Do: Yet another application of the Congressional Review Act, this measure nullifies a late Obama-era rule that came into effect in September. This rule dealt with the hunting of predators that eat species like caribou or moose on federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. Among other things, it banned predator control on the 16 federal refuges in the state (about 76 million acres of land), and limited the circumstances in which bear cubs, wolves, or coyotes could be killed. Now that rule is scrapped.
Who It Will Affect: Republicans have painted the nullification of this rule as a win for states' rights—namely the right of Alaskans to determine how they use land in their own state. Their rhetoric has also indicated they believe this will benefit subsistence hunters and indigenous communities. (This rule explicitly made exceptions for indigenous traditional practices.) Critics of the move that it will empower Alaska to enact unscientific policies ramping up the killing of predators.
For More: Read Motherboard's report on this bill
HJ Res 83: Disapproving of the Rule Submitted by the Department of Labor Relating to "Clarification of Employer's Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness"
What It Will Do: Another utilization of the Congressional Review Act, this nullifies a late Obama-era rule enacted in December and put into effect earlier this year. That rule sought to shore up a long-standing Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy of fining or citing employers with more than a certain number of employees if they failed to make and maintain reports of work-related illness, injury, or death within five years of an incident. The policy had been challenged by a 2012 legal case that limited the agency's ability to penalize companies for inadequate record-keeping to within six months of a violation. This new rule tweaked and clarified the old policy's language to address existing legal concerns.
Who It Will Affect: Proponents of the rule's nullification argue that it was yet another example of federal overreach which did nothing to help worker safety but instead created an undue bureaucratic burden on companies, who can now thrive and focus their energies on actual safety issues. Opponents of this measure argue that OSHA has limited staff and cannot detect all violations of record-keeping responsibilities within six months, which will make it harder to enforce good record-keeping, in turn dampening their ability to detect company- or industry-level patterns of worker risk and respond to them accordingly.
S.J. Res. 34: A Joint Resolution Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of The Rule Submitted by the Federal Communications Commission Relating to "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services"
What It Will Do: Another application of the Congressional Review Act, this measure nullifies a late Obama-era rule, this one set to go into effect at the end of 2017. This rule required that internet service providers (ISPs) supply customers with clear and accurate privacy notifications; obtain customers' consent to share their data (including browser and app usage history) with other parties; and notify customers, law enforcement, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of data breaches. It also bars ISPs from making services contingent on surrendering privacy rights and obfuscating that special deals are require the abdication of the same.
However the rule is not totally novel—it was just needed because in 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assumed authority over ISPs from the FTC, meaning that FTC rules no longer applied and new FCC rules were needed. This new FCC rule set was in many ways similar to the FTC rule. Still, this new rule would have notably put a higher barrier on the sale of consumer browsing and app usage data, requiring users to opt into that arrangement at an ISP's request rather than opt out of it as per the FTC rules.
Who It Will Affect: Because this rule set was not in force yet (and ISPs have largely been operating on a pledge to abide by old FTC standards until a new rule evolves or the old rules come back in force), this measure has no immediate effect. However it sends a strong signal about the government's consumer privacy priorities to all of America's internet users. THe Republicans who pushed this measure through insist that ISPs should be returned to the FTC's rule framework, claiming that body is both better equipped to police privacy and that it is unfair to treat ISPs differently than other internet-based companies that traffic in consumer data.
Critics point out that ISPs are not like other internet-based companies. They have a bird's-eye view of our entire internet traffic history that can reveal intimate details even through metadata, and that consumers (especially those who can't pick from multiple ISP providers) have few tools to fight back against this sort of monitoring of data, save adopting aggressive personal privacy protocols. That could be a serious issue as ISPs look to increase their data trafficking practices; it could even give them an unfair advantage over their competitors. Critics also note that switching back to an FTC rules framework will be difficult thanks to a 2016 court ruling stating that companies with both phone and ISP services (like many ISP providers) cannot be regulated by the FTC.
For More: Read about how this rule will allow more of your personal data to be sold to corporations
Presidential Memorandum 19: For the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service
What It Will Do: This memorandum is actually just the cover sheet for a document entitled "Principles for Reforming the Military Selective Services Process," the text of which does not accompany the public copies of this action. That report was ordered produced by the president's office in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which (confusingly) was enacted in December 2016. It specifies that the report should focus on methods to increase participation in military, national, and public services (especially that related to national security).
Presidential Proclamation 18: [Proclaiming] April 2 through April 8, 2017, As National Crime Victims' Rights Week
What It Will Do: This action creates a one-off week in which Trump says his government will recommit itself to law and order governance and empowering the victims of crimes. He flaunts his developing Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE) initiative as a symbol of this devotion, rehashing not only his inaugural's "American Carnage" tone but his conviction that governance is all about security and that immigration leads to insecurity and financial loss. He also includes some conspiratorial language about how the media and special interest groups have silenced the voices of victims of immigrant crime in the past and how he will stop this. However the proclamation stops short of detailing any new moves team Trump will take to recognize and support the victims of crime at large or how citizens can observe the week.
Executive Order 21: Regarding the Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits
What It Will Do: Ostensibly the first step in a long-term strategy to radically rewrite American trade policies and deals with other nations, this order instructs the secretary of commerce and the US trade representative to author the report named in its title within 90 days. The report will focus on analyzing America's standing with over a dozen trade partners with whom the US had a deficit in 2016, searching for any practices that could be considered cheating or intellectual property theft and any imbalances in current deals. (In other words, anything that its authors determine might go against the interests of America.) It will also examine particular imports or types of trade practices that may be detrimental to American interests.
Who It Will Affect: It's unclear whether the report will yield any new insights, as numerous federal institutions already issue regular analyses of American trade. This report may just be a more comprehensive and concentrated shot of information. The report indicates the Trump administration's conviction that America's trade deals flat-out do not work (a far from foregone conclusion). This has spooked some observers, who believe it could signal the start of an impending trade war as Trump takes his signature hacksaw approach to a complex issue. This will also complicate Trump's relationship with China: Despite the administration's assertions that this order is not focused on China, it's the source of the vast majority of America's trade deficit, engages in some suspect practices (which previous administrations have called out), and is a favorite rhetorical punching bag for Trump.
Executive Order 22: Providing an Order of Succession within the Department of Justice
What It Will Do: This order basically negates Trump's 12th executive order, which itself supplanted a late Obama-era decision on the line of succession for the US attorney general in the event that the deputy and associate attorneys general and any other designated successors are not able to serve. This order leaves the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia first in line in that eventuality, but replaces the US attorneys for the Northern District of Illinois and Western District of Missouri with the US attorneys for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Northern District of Texas. It is unclear why team Trump wanted to make this wonky move.
Executive Order 23: Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Laws
What It Will Do: Trump's second overhyped trade-related order in one day, this measure also represents a call to consider a course of action rather than an actual action. It instructs Homeland Security, the Treasury, the Department Commerce, and the US trade representative to develop a plan within 90 days to fight "dumping," the practice of foreign companies unloading goods at low prices in another country. It also orders the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to develop a plan within 90 days to better enforce measures against pirated or counterfeited materials entering the American trade stream. Federal legal authorities are also instructed to come up with recommendations on how to better prosecute significant trade law offenses in the near future.
Who It Will Affect: Although this order is a little more concrete than the day's previous trade-related order, it is still just talk right now. These measures are less likely to spark concerns of a trade war at least, as they mostly concern enforcing laws already on the books. However, given how tiny a slice of US trade these violations account for, cracking down on them likely will not have a notable effect on American trade or the wider economy. This order will likely needle China, complicating relations between the two countries.
HR 1362: To Name the Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa, the Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin VA Clinic
What It Will Do: Exactly what the bill's title says.
Who It Will Affect: This rapid act to memorialize one of American Samoa's most prominent modern politicians, who died in February, will likely be appreciated by many of his constituents and colleagues. Hunkin served as the territory's representative in Congress for 13 straight terms (1988 to 2014) before losing to a challenger, and previously served served as the territory's attorney general and lieutenant governor for several years. He was one of the first to enlist in the territory's freshly established Army Reserve unit in 1980.
HJ Res 42: Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Department of Labor Relating to Drug Testing of Unemployment Compensation Applicants
What It Will Do: The eighth application of the CRA, this measure nullifies a rule finalized in August by the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. The rule was developed in reaction to a 2012 law amending the Social Security Act; the point was to define which jobs regularly require drug tests (as this was not specified in the text of the law), further clarifying limits on the categories of people seeking unemployment benefits that states could test themselves.
Who It Will Affect: Republicans claim this rule, shot down on party lines, overreached in limiting states' rights to determine their own lists of jobs that regularly require drug testing. So we won't know for sure who is affected until states redefine their interpretations of the law. This will likely lead to more people being drug tested for unemployment benefits, a longstanding policy goal of Republicans. (There's a lack of hard evidence that this would be beneficial, and would likely make it harder for some people to get back to work.) The revocation of this rule has been rigorously opposed by civil rights and labor organizations, which see the inevitable expansion of drug testing for unemployed individuals as an arbitrary stigmatization of poor people.
For More: Read VICE News's report on this law
Presidential Proclamation 12: [Proclaiming] April 2017 As Cancer Control Month
What It Will Do: As with many proclamations, this is a routine presidential action (dating back to the 1930s) meant to honor those who've been killed by cancer, celebrate survivors, and recommit the nation to providing care and finding a cure. (It's light on specifics on that last point, though.) It highlights both American advances in cancer treatment and the continued suffering the disease causes.
Presidential Proclamation 13: [Proclaiming] April 2017 As National Child Abuse Prevention Month
What It Will Do: Another routine action (dating back to the 1980s), this one renews the government's commitment to stopping child abuse by raising awareness of the issue and publicizing steps to safeguard children by reporting concerns and providing families at risk of abuse with help. It honors families, foster and adoptive parents, child protective workers, and other community members who can play a role in family life. It also contains a whole lot of language about the primacy of the family as a social unit that must be preserved.
Presidential Proclamation 14: [Proclaiming] April 2017 As National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
What It Will Do: A routine proclamation from 2001 onwards, this action aims to highlight the issue in its title and to reaffirm federal dedication to providing prevention and victim support services. Trump uses the text here to trumpet a task force he convened under the US attorney general on reducing crime as a substantive measure towards these ends. He also calls for more community and youth engagement to change social norms that condone sexual assault.
Who It Will Affect: Coming from a man who's been accused of assaulting over a dozen women and who has bragged about grabbing women "by the pussy" in the past, this routine action will come off as bitterly ironic to many. Trump's attempt to paint this as a law and order issue he's already tackling seems especially vapid and tacky in that context. But at the very least, those who don't already think about this issue can use actual resources other organizations put out for this month every year to educate themselves.
Presidential Proclamation 15: [Proclaiming] April 2017 As National Financial Capability Month
What It Will Do: This action aims to highlight the reality that the majority of American households don't have savings for emergencies or college tuition. A third of Americans lack retirement savings while others with them worry they will not be sufficient to support them later on. It's a real issue that deserves pointing out. But the rest of the proclamation emphasizes how Trump's other executive orders will supposedly somehow empower Americans to save for retirement and build wealth. It also stresses the belief that educating people on how to save is the key and a sufficient tactic for improving this chronic financial instability.
Who It Will Affect: To anyone struggling to save, the notion that they just need to learn tricks and make more of an effort will likely be insulting. But anyone who wants to search out more tips and tricks or who needed a nudge to consider these issues can do so this month.
Presidential Proclamation 16: [Proclaiming] April 2017 As National Donate Life Month
What It Will Do: A routine proclamation for the past 14 years, this action seeks to raise awareness of America's organ and tissue donor systems and the amount of good a single donor can do.
Presidential Proclamation 17: [Proclaiming] April 2, 2017 As World Autism Awareness Day
What It Will Do: This action seeks to highlight current knowledge on the causes of and the search for treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and to help people get education on how to identify ASDs early in a child's life. It commits the US government to the search for a cure to autism.
Who It Will Affect: This is one of Trump's more substantive and worrying proclamations to date. It's uncomfortable in part because it sets the federal government on the pathologizing side of a debate on whether to view autism as a "disease or difference." But more so, it highlights Trump's longstanding lean toward the anti-vaccination movement based on widely discredited reports that vaccinations have been linked to a spike in autism diagnoses. This suggests that those who do not see autism as a disease in need of a cure, but rather a different mode of engaging with the world that society needs to work with are in for a rough four years (at least). Those who believe in evidence-based scientific approaches are also in for a rough ride under the Trump regime. But we knew that already.
SJ Res 1: A Joint Resolution Approving the Location of a Memorial to Commemorate and Honor the Members of the Armed Forces Who Served on Active Duty in Support of Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield
What It Will Do: A Desert Storm and Desert Shield service memorial has been in the works for about seven years now; its development was initiated by the private sector and it will be funded through some $25 million in private donations and funds. Legislation authorizing the creation of the memorial on federal lands (in Washington, DC) passed through Congress in 2015. This new measure just approves, as a matter of procedure, the ultimate choice for its placement within the city—near the national mall.
Who It Will Affect: This measure moves a long-sought goal of recognition of those veterans one step closer to reality. These operations (in 1990 and 1991) are too often treated as a historical footnote—a prelude to modern American military entanglements in the Middle East. Remembering this conflict is a reminder of America's historic commitment to intervening on behalf of friends and allies (like Kuwait during its occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraq) and role in forming international defensive coalitions (like the 33-nation coalition that collaborated in these operations) in an era of increasing discord and isolationism.
Executive Order 20: Establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis
What It Will Do: This is Trump's attempt to make good on one of his core campaign promises: tackling the opioid epidemic that is killing thousands yearly and has ravaged many of his core constituencies especially badly. He's chosen to tackle it via government's favorite mechanism: a commission, which will apparently be answerable to presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. The commission is tasked with studying federal spending on addiction treatment and overdose reversal, reviewing best treatments in addiction prevention and services, and reviewing federal programs for their scope and effectiveness. The upshot is that it will issue a report by October, then likely be disbanded.
Who It Will Affect: Trump has been praised for taking a public health–based focus in the order, indicating he wants to avoid law-and-order crackdown solutions. His pick of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—who has personal experience with the epidemic and has passed some of the strongest evidence-based, public-health-focused opioid-related laws in the nation—has also been praised.
But beyond that, many observers were disappointed by the move, which they read as weak medicine at best and a cynical bid at rebranding prior findings under the Trump banner for good optics while possibly actually making the crisis worse. These critics note that the commission is likely to waste half a year rehashing issues already comprehensively reviewed in a November 2016 surgeon general's report and March 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on prescription opioid access. Experts believe there is already broad consensus on the need for more funding for treatment services—an acceleration of the late Obama-era unlocking of over $1 billion in funding for such services, rather than an effort to re-invent the wheel on best practices.
Skeptics point out that Trump's budget proposals have actually focused on stripping funding from agencies vital to providing health services and resources while his healthcare repeal and replacement bill would have taken away treatment services from millions. Additionally, they say, Trump seems preoccupied with using his border wall and crackdown as a key anti-drug addiction tactic (although this would not affect the flow of many opioids even if the wall did succeed in limiting traffickers), while neglecting to appoint key drug control and treatment officials in federal agencies.
For More: Read about the struggles of addicts in Appalachia
S 305: Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017
What It Will Do: This act literally just amends a line of the US Code to encourage the display of the American flag on National Vietnam War Veterans Day—March 29.
Who It Will Affect: Anyone who needed a nudge to put out a respectful flag once a year, I suppose.
Executive Order 19: Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth
What It Will Do: This is a doozy of an order, packing a number of long awaited Trumpian environmental initiatives into a single far-reaching action.
It starts with a general call for federal agencies to review any policies that could burden the development of domestic energy resources (namely coal, natural gas, nuclear energy materials, and oil) and within 180 days submit a plan to suspend, revise, or revoke them. (This follows a number of other efforts by Trump and his Congress to slash regulations.)
Then comes an entire section ordering the EPA to review the 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP), an ambitious Obama-era initiative aimed at reducing power plant emissions by 32 percent by 2030, and several related rules—the idea being, again, to work to strip regulations. Five other rules are also slated for review, all of which govern oil and natural gas production and the resulting on- or off-site waste and emissions. Trump seems to want to make it easier for energy companies to extract resources from federal lands and operate less-than-green power plants.
Trump can't unilaterally revoke rules, but he can take back Obama's actions. In this order, Trump rescinded a 2013 order urging government bodies to help the nation prepare for the effects of climate change. He also stuck down three memoranda and two executive reports from the Obama administration that were intended to lay out a roadmap to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and push the country to work on preparing for climate change. Also gutted was a guidance on how federal agencies should factor greenhouse gas emissions into their projects and actions. Trump also disassembled a federal body convened under Obama that had issued reports on how to price carbon emissions in calculating the cost of federal initiatives. Trump is, as much as possible, telling the federal government not to worry about climate change.
Finally, this order scraps a Department of the Interior order from 2016 geared toward reevaluating and eventually retooling the program for leasing federal lands out for coal extraction; he seemed especially interested in ending the moratorium on new coal leases. Basically, Trump is looking to make it easier to mine federal lands for coal.
The new order notably does not withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, as many environmental advocates had feared it might. But the other aspects of this order mean that it will be very difficult, or impossible, for America to meet its goals under that agreement, functionally voiding it.
Who It Will Affect: Trump and his allies claim this order will effectively balance environmental concerns against the need to achieve job and energy security in America—with a focus on ostensibly reviving tens of thousands of jobs in coal country by ending a supposed Obama-era "war on coal." (He signed the order while surrounded by coal miners.) They also bill it as an effort to give states the ability to manage their own resources. While this action may open up a few mining operations along seams in places like Idaho and Wyoming and extend the life of coal-fired power plants, though, critics (and even some within the mining industry) argue that coal will still struggle to compete with cheaper and more efficient fuels. But Trump promised to bring back mining jobs, and this is his attempt to do that.
The blow to the CPP drew a great deal of media attention, but it has been stalled in the courts since 2016 and was never fully implemented, so the effects of its review will be minimal. That goes for just about every regulation put under review in this order, even those already in full effect, as that process is incredibly time-consuming and can easily be held up by court actions or sustained outcry from the public or advocacy groups. However, the bid to neuter these rules is a clear indication that team Trump will focus on the costs rather than the benefits of environmental actions moving forward. It also backs up a reality the administration has hedged on and danced around for some time: It's full of myopic climate science deniers.
Trump's backtracking on guidelines for evaluating the cost of carbon and considering climate change's effects in government projects could have a real and immediate impact on, for example, a long-term viable infrastructure plan. It could also put Trump into conflict with individuals like Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has openly stated that climate change should be considered when making decisions.
For More: How Trump's climate denialism shaped
HJ Res 37: Disapproving The Rule Submitted by The Department of Defense, The General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Relating to The Federal Acquisition Regulation
What It Will Do: This is the fourth Trump-era application of the Congressional Review Act to invalidate an Obama-era rule (and just the fifth time the CRA has ever been used). That rule hadn't come into effect yet, but it would have required all major government contractors to disclose any contested or confirmed violations of certain federal or state labor laws over the previous three years (not counting any before the rule came into effect). Although sometimes erroneously labeled as a "blacklisting rule," this regulation would have meant that these violations would simply be taken into account by the agency hiring contractors.
Who It Will Affect: As the rule was not yet enacted in full, its nullification technically affects no one. According to the rule's opponents, its implementation would have imposed unnecessarily upon businesses by creating a regulatory barrier versus just enforcing existing labor laws. Others would call the rule a way to incentivize companies that want to do business with the government to follow the law. Either way, this is another pro-business measure pushed through by Republicans.
Executive Order 18: The Revocation of Federal Contracting Executive Orders
What It Will Do: This action revokes two Obama executive orders and a section from a third. The first of those orders laid the groundwork for the Obama-era rule that Trump and Congress nullified via the House Joint Resolution 37 (see above). Essentially, this was Trump scorching the earth for any requirement that potential federal contractors provide details on contested or confirmed worker's rights violations, beyond the limitations on new rules similar to the one eliminated by the CRA.
Who It Will Affect: Pretty much the same people affected by HJ Res. 37.
HJ Res 44: Disapproving The Rule Submitted by the Department of The Interior Relating to Bureau of Land Management Regulations That Establish The Procedures Used to Prepare, Revise, or Amend Land Use Plans Pursuant to The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976
What It Will Do: The fifth Trump-era application of the Congressional Review Act, this measure nullifies an Obama-era rule put on the books in December. At the most basic level, this rule (dubbed "Planning 2.0") was an attempt, launched in May 2014, to update regulations untouched for around three decades. Specifically, the Bureau of Land Management sought to respond to critiques that their process for coming up with plans to sustainably manage and utilize public lands was slow, opaque, and unresponsive. This involved making it easier for the public to submit information and review and comment upon developing plans earlier and throughout the planning process. It would have also made it easier to plan on the "landscape level," rather than by political borders; it would have moved ultimate decision-making authority away from state and local levels and towards the federal level to facilitate decision-making on plans involving more than one state. But that rule is now scrapped.
Who It Will Affect: Republican ideologues (especially in the West, where there is more publicly-owned land) will see this as a win for local governments against what they pained as an overreaching federal land grab. The resource extraction industry is also praising this decision by Trump, since it will presumably make it easier for them to operate on federal land. However, it will also make it much more difficult for the government to coordinate large-scale land planning initiatives, which primarily affects environmental initiatives. (Think protecting threatened species whose habitats expand across jurisdictions).
HJ Res 57: Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of the Rule Submitted by the Department of Education Relating to Accountability and State Plans under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
What It Will Do: The sixth application of the Congressional Review Act in the Trump era, this nullifies a late Obama-era rule and put into implementation earlier this year. This rule was developed to guide and clarify the implementation of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act. A relatively popular bipartisan bill and the biggest overhaul of US primary and secondary education policy since 2001's No Child Left Behind Act, ESSA changed the rules for evaluating struggling schools and how to intervene with them, balancing basic federal standards against local and state flexibility. The rule sought to pin down some specifics in this process, like pushing school evaluations to weight student achievement above other factors, mandating that schools publish facility report cards, and requiring a critical mass of students take assessment-relevant tests.
Who It Will Affect: In the short term, many worry this revocation will screw over some states and localities whose ESSA compliance plans are due in April and may have to be reworked in light of this. Democrats and a number of education and other interest groups (including the US Chamber of Commerce) argue Trump's order will make it easy for states to mask or avoid dealing with poorly performing schools. It's not too hard to read this, given the bipartisan support of the ESSA and the fairly innocuous language of the rules, as one of the most aggressive applications of the CRA so far.
Presidential Memorandum 18: On the White House Office of American Innovation
What It Will Do: This action creates a new executive body under the aegis of the White House: the Office of American Innovation (OAI), to be headed by the president's senior advisor along with just under a dozen other presidential advisors and assistants, acting in consultation with the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The OAI is given the broad task of identifying policies and other plans to improve government operations and services, the quality of life for American citizens, job creation, and general innovation and wellbeing in the nation. The OAI is specifically tasked with culling what it considers the best-proven ideas from the government, private sector, and other "thought leaders."
Who It Will Affect: This seems to be a move to consolidate policy decisions into Trump's inner circle—in a way that looks borderline nepotistic, as the OAI will be run by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who will reportedly consult not just with business and tech leaders but with his wife Ivanka. It's hard to tell who it will effect or to what extent until Kushner and his team start to take actions. Initial reports suggest he may "reimagine" Veterans Affairs, seek to tackle opioid addiction in America, try to modernize tech and data infrastructure in federal agencies, rewrite worker training programs, and undertake transformative infrastructure policies. But how many projects the OAI will pursue, in what manner, and just how effectively or successfully, remains to be seen.
HJ Res 58: Providing for Congressional Disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of the Rule Submitted by the Department of Education Relating to Teacher Preparation Issues
What It Will Do: A stunning seventh application of the Congressional Review Act in the Trump era, this resolution nullifies another late Obama-era rule. This rule was in large part a reaction to Government Accountability Office findings that some states weren't overseeing teacher training programs as required under the 1965 Higher Education Act. Accordingly, the rule sought to better define what indicators states should use to assess these programs. Ideally that data would also be better disseminated, with the goal of improving information about what teacher training programs were effective. It also sought to bar students at low-quality programs from receiving federal TEACH grants.
Who It Will Affect: From the regulators' perspective, this measure—especially the CRA provisions that block substantially similar rules in the future without express Congressional approval—will make it much tougher for anyone to identify underperforming teacher training programs and will ultimately be detrimental to the quality of teachers in the country. From the perspective of conservatives and some higher education organizations, this prevents the federal government from taking control of education away from states and localities. It also prevents what opponents painted as a need-based grant system for teachers from being tied to the quality of an institution, which they claimed would have created year-to-year uncertainty for students in need of aid.
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.
HJ Res 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.