Trump Has Already Signed 78 Executive Actions and What Each One Does

President Donald Trump signs the executive order halting immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

BusinessInsider

President Donald Trump's first months in office have been filled with a flurry of action, and he's just getting started.

The 45th president has signed 78 executive actions so far, with far-reaching effects on Americans' lives.

There are technically three types of executive actions, which each have different authority and effects, with executive orders holding the most prestige:
  • Executive orders are assigned numbers and published in the federal register, similar to laws passed by Congress, and typically direct members of the executive branch to follow a new policy or directive. Trump has issued 30 orders.
  • Presidential memoranda do not have to be published or numbered (though they can be), and usually delegate tasks that Congress has already assigned the president to members of the executive branch. Trump has issued 27 memoranda.
  • Finally, while some proclamations — like President Abraham Lincoln's emancipation proclamation — have carried enormous weight, most are ceremonial observances of federal holidays or awareness months. Trump has issued 21 proclamations.
Scholars have typically used the number of executive orders per term to measure how much presidents have exercised their power. George Washington only signed eight his entire time in office, according to the American Presidency Project, while FDR penned over 3,700.
In his two terms, President Barack Obama issued 277 executive orders, a total number on par with his modern predecessors, but the lowest per year average (35) in 120 years. Trump, so far, has signed 30 executive orders in 99 days.

Here's a quick guide to the executive actions Trump has made so far, what they do, and how Americans have reacted to them:

Executive Order, April 28: Exploring offshore energy prospects
Executive Order, April 28: Exploring offshore energy prospects
President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 28, 2017, before signing an Executive Order directing the Interior Department to begin review of restrictive drilling policies for the outer-continental shelf. From left are, Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the president, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Trump ordered his administration, led by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to review where the US could allow offshore energy development, revoking rules put into place after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and putting Arctic drilling back on the table.
Environmental groups, Democrats in Congress, and many residents of coastal states oppose offshore drilling, and experts conclude doing so wouldn't make the US energy independent. Fans of the order include many Republicans and oil companies.
While the order mainly focuses on oil drilling, it also says offshore energy activities could include "wind, oil, natural gas, methane hydrates, and any other sources that the Secretary of Commerce deems appropriate." The nation's first offshore wind farm opened in Rhode Island in December 2016.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, April 27: Protecting whistleblowers at the VA
Executive Order, April 27: Protecting whistleblowers at the VA
President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on improving accountability and whistleblower protection at the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington on April 27, 2017.REUTERS/Carlos Barria

This order is intended to protect whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and establishes the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
Intending to alleviate the issues that have plagued the VA health system for years, Trump promised this order would help veterans get the care they need.
Read the ful text of the order here »

2 presidential memoranda, April 20 and 27: Steel and aluminum dumping
2 presidential memoranda, April 20 and 27: Steel and aluminum dumping
Trump and his Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross meet with representatives of Harley-Davidson at the White House on February 2, 2017.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Trump's memo outlined an investigation his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was conducting to evaluate how steel "dumping," the practice where other countries sell products at a lower price than they sell at in the US, was affecting American manufacturers, and what the federal government could do to prevent the practice.
US steelmakers, which have been hit lately with dumping from China especially, applauded the effort.
Read the full text of the memo here »
Trump signed a nearly identical order for aluminum imports on April 27.
Read the full text of that memo here »

Executive Order, April 26: Reviewing the federal government's power in education
Executive Order, April 26: Reviewing the federal government's power in education
Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos meet with parents and teachers at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida.Thomson Reuters
Trump's order directs Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review the federal government's role in education, and determine whether states should have more say — power she already has.
Under Obama, the Department of Education used its authority to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice in schools, or to compel colleges to address sexual assault on campus. With this order, Trump said, the role of the federal government will likely be less hands-on, leaving states to make more of their own decisions.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, April 26: Reviewing Obama's actions to protect national lands
Executive Order, April 26: Reviewing Obama's actions to protect national lands
Donald Trump.Getty Images

Obama designated or expanded 554 million acres of land as protected national monuments — more than any other president. Environmentalists lauded his legacy, and have lambasted Trump for undoing many of Obama's greatest environmental achievements.
This order directed Trump's Secretary of the Interior to review any national monument designations made since 1996 that are over 100,000 acres, leaving many of Obama's moves in question going forward.
Many liberals, environmental groups, tribes, and scientists are against the action, while many conservatives, and proponents of using natural resources are for it.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, April 25: Agriculture and Rural Prosperity
Executive Order, April 25: Agriculture and Rural Prosperity
Trump's Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was sworn in on April 25, 2017.AP

This order established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, made up of many Cabinet and top executive branch officials, in order to "identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life."
In 180 days, the task force should submit a report to the president on barriers or regulations to change in order to improve life in rural America. Farmers joined Trump for the order signing at the White House, and farm-lobbying groups applauded the move.

Read the full text of the order here »

Presidential proclamation, April 21: National Volunteer Week
Presidential proclamation, April 21: National Volunteer Week
Volunteers pack food for the elderly at Meals on Wheels. Trump proposed cutting federal funding for the program in his budget.Wikimedia Commons

Trump proclaimed April 23-29, 2017 National Volunteer Week, to highlight the importance of giving back.

Read the full text of the proclamation here »

Executive Order, April 21: Review tax regulations
Executive Order, April 21: Review tax regulations
Trump displays his financial services executive order during the signing ceremony at the Treasury Department in Washington on April 21, 2017.Thomson Reuters

This order aims to simplify the tax code, explaining that "numerous tax regulations issued over the last several years have effectively increased tax burdens, impeded economic growth, and saddled American businesses with onerous fines, complicated forms, and frustration."
Trump directed the Treasury Department to review existing tax regulations, and submit a report in 150 days outlining which ones cost taxpayers too much money, are too complex, or exceed the IRS' authority.
This is an issue Trump and Democrats could see eye-to-eye on. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bill to simplify taxes.

Read the full text of the order here »

2 presidential memoranda, April 21: Dodd-Frank rollback
2 presidential memoranda, April 21: Dodd-Frank rollback
Federal Reserve vice chairman Stanley Fischer.Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Trump signed two memos directing his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to judiciously apply the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the landmark legislation passed after the 2008 financial crisis intended to keep banks from getting "too big to fail."
The memos doubled down on Trump's orders on February 3 announcing his intent to review Dodd-Frank and other Wall Street regulations, a move many Democrats decried.
Trump has called Dodd-Frank "horrendous" and said he plans to "do a number" on the post-crisis reforms that aim to rein in Wall Street. Speaking with uncharacteristic candor, Federal Reserve vice chairman Stanley Fischer warned Trump not to rollback the law.
"The strength of the financial system is absolutely essential to the ability of the economy to continue to grow at a reasonable rate," Fischer said April 21, "and taking actions which remove the changes that were made to strengthen the structure of the financial system is very dangerous."

Read the text of the first memo here »
And the second one here »

Presidential memorandum, April 20: Reporting sanctions on foreign persons
Presidential memorandum, April 20: Reporting sanctions on foreign persons
Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the sanctions against 271 Syrians on April 24, 2017.Reuters
The defense spending bill and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act require the president to submit a report to Congress every year outlining who the US sanctions, what the penalties were, and why they were imposed. In this memo, Trump was doing just that.
After the April chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in Syria, for example, Trump imposed sanctions on 271 people linked to the country's non-conventional weapon use.

Read the full text of the memo here »

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