January 26, 2017
Since President Trump was sworn into office on January 20, the Trump Administration has taken several steps to follow through on campaign promises including withdrawing from or renegotiating trade deals, cutting down on government waste, and slashing Obama-era regulations. A brief summary of the developments that have taken place is as follows.
In early January, Congress began work to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Senate on January 12, and the House on January 13 adopted S. Con Res 3., which allows both chambers to begin work writing repeal legislation. By using budget reconciliation Republicans can bypass the 60 votes that would have been necessary in the Senate. Congress had originally set January 27, as the soft deadline for relevant committees in the House and Senate to send reconciliation legislation to repeal the health care law to their respective Budget committees. However, with the deadline quickly approaching, leadership in the House and Senate has signaled the legislation will likely not come to committee until February. Within hours of being sworn in, President Trump issued an executive order “ Minimizing the economic burden of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal”. The order gives federal agencies the authority to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any parts of the act that places a burden on the states. While the order doesn’t identify any specific changes, it grants the executive branch leeway in how it handles the law and gives significant discretion to the secretary of Health and Human Services, which Georgia Congressman Tom Price is up for.
In a move to start redefining the United States’ role in the global economy, President Trump signed an executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on January 23. The agreement is known as one of President Obama’s signature trade deals. The president is said to begin individual negotiations with the countries in the partnership in the coming months. The withdrawal from TPP follows sharp campaign rhetoric that referred to the deal as a “potential disaster.” While the executive order formally kills the agreement, it was already highly unlikely the deal would pass through Congress.
In addition to the bevy of executive action we’ve seen since Inauguration Day, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a memorandum in the evening of Friday, January 20 directing all executive departments and agencies to freeze new or pending regulations until the Trump administration appointees are able to review them – much as presidential Chiefs of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Andrew Card did for Presidents Obama and Bush. The memo asks agencies to withdraw any regulations that have not been published in the Federal Register and not to send any new regulations to the Federal Register. Those regulations that have been finished but have not taken effect may also be temporarily postponed for 60 days or longer.
Though it may be argued that such a memo is a fairly standard procedure for a new administration, it allows President Trump to weigh in and alter many of the early stage regulations that he criticized during his campaign. Furthermore, this freeze could go on for some time, posing significant consequences to businesses that rely on regulatory certainty. Considering Congressional Republicans willingness to invoke the Congressional Review Act of 1996, however, rules enacted as long ago as last May could be vulnerable to congressional repeal.
At the time of President Trump’s inauguration, a number of Obama administration regulations from the Transportation Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and Agriculture Department, among others, had not crossed the finished line. Those could be vulnerable to being frozen by the Priebus memo. As a result, rules on pipeline safety, overtime pay, oil trains and more could be suppressed by President Donald Trump’s first action. Here’s a brief overview of what items have been caught in the freeze in a few key agencies: