Trump’s executive actions
President Trump used his first week in office to take a number of executive actions. To help understand what these mean, here’s a breakdown of what executive actions are and what orders Trump has made.
What is an executive order? Executive orders are a type of executive action that have the force of law and are used to bypass Congress in order to direct government officials or agencies. There is no direct language in the Constitution that allows the president to issue executive orders, but Article II, where it grants the president “executive power,” is often cited as why they are permitted.
Congress cannot overturn executive orders. It can try to pass bills that would make it more difficult for the order to be implemented, but the president always has the option to veto the bill. The orders are subject to judicial review and can be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Presidential memoranda and proclamations are other examples of executive actions the president can take, but they all have “similar purposes,” said Columbia political science professor Robert Shapiro. Executive action also includes decisions the president makes as the commander in chief and in dealings with foreign governments.
Orders are the only actions required to be numbered and published in the Federal Register, but memoranda may also be recorded in the register. Both, along with proclamations, also are recorded on the White House website.
The difference between orders and memoranda is the most unclear. Legally, there is little difference between the two.
Executive orders don’t expire when a president’s term is over, but a new president can issue an executive order to override the previous executive order. This is what Trump already has done to some of Obama’s executive orders.
Trump has issued both orders and memoranda in his first days in the Oval Office. Here’s a look at his major actions.
Temporary ban on refugees: The president signed an executive order on Friday that will keep refugees from entering the country for four months and suspends the Syrian refugee program until further notice. The order, which Trump said will “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” also limits entry for at least 90 days from Syria and other Muslim-majority countries, but did not list the countries by name. Military readiness: During a ceremony at the Pentagon, Trump also signed a directive to beef up the U.S. military. The administration will develop “a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform,” Trump said Friday.
Building the U.S.-Mexico border wall: Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to start construction of a wall along the nation’s border with Mexico, fulfilling a campaign promise. In an interview with ABC News, the president said planning for the wall started immediately and construction could begin within months.
Sanctuary states/cities funding: The president also signed an executive order Wednesday that strips federal grant money from “sanctuary” states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants and often refuse to cooperate with federal authorities.
Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines: Trump signed two presidential memoranda Tuesday to move ahead with plans for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Trans-Pacific Partnership: The president withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership with a presidential memorandum Jan. 23.
Mexico City Policy: Trump restored the socalled Mexico City Policy, which Obama had revoked in 2009. The policy prohibits federal funding for international organizations that promote or provide abortions.
Federal hiring freeze: Trump issued a hiring freeze for the executive branch in a memorandum Jan. 23. It does not include the military.
Affordable Care Act: On his first day in office, Trump signed an order instructing federal agencies to ease regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature healthcare law. It called for agencies “to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden.” But its impact is not entirely clear, Shapiro said.
“It’s symbolic at the moment,” Shapiro said of the order. Essentially, it gives Trump and his intended secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, discretion where the law allows, but changes to the policy will need to be passed by Congress.