On his third day in office, U.S. President Donald Trump delivered on some “Day 1” promises using new legal authorities that offer a preview of some stinging Republican resets ahead.
Now vested with the legal tools to fulfil some campaign vows, Trump signed off on three executive orders Monday that would pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, restore a Republican abortion policy, and put a hiring freeze on federal government employees.
The new Republican-controlled Congress has already initiated steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the signature health law signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. The newly inaugurated president’s aides have said executive orders are also being drawn up to reverse the Obama administration’s restrictions on carbon emissions and unwind immigration policies.
The three memoranda issued on Monday were among his first official acts in office, and were among a raft of pledges his campaign made about actions to take “on Day 1” as president.
“Great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said from the Oval Office around noon, showing reporters the document he signed to cancel TPP.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Trump said of the sweeping Asian trade deal championed by Obama as a means of strengthening a U.S. trade position in the region, but blasted by Trump as a “a potential disaster” for American workers.
Flanked by his senior adviser Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus and Vice-President Mike Pence, Trump also made good on a conservative pledge to tighten up what he has criticized as a bloated bureaucratic system by signing the order to freeze federal hiring and end automatic pay raises.
“It prevents filling vacant positions and creating new positions, except when necessary when meeting national and public security responsibilities,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in a briefing, adding that it “ensures that American taxpayers get effective and efficient government.”
The military is exempt from that order.
Trump’s third executive order reinstates the so-called Mexico City policy, which will bar federal funds from going toward non-governmental organizations overseas that either advocate or perform abortion services. This reverses a policy that Obama had overturned in the first few days of his administration in 2009.
More rollbacks are coming as Trump attempts to reframe legislation into his administration’s new agenda. Trump’s aides had discussed a “First Day Project” to identify as many as 25 executive orders the new president could choose to sign, the New Yorker reported.
Warning to business leaders
On Monday morning, he hosted a White House breakfast with a dozen American business leaders in the Roosevelt Room, where he reiterated the “America First” theme from his inaugural address. Manufacturing in America and buying American-made products are key priorities.
The meeting took a stern, protectionist tone when the president warned CEOs that a “substantial border tax” would hit companies that move their manufacturing out of the country.
‘All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people in the United States.’ — U.S. President Donald Trump
“We want to start making our products again, we don’t want to bring them in, we want to make them here,” he told the roomful of executives, which included Dell’s Michael Dell and Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson. “All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people in the United States.”
During the meeting, Trump also promised “massive” tax cuts for businesses and middle-class families in the range of “15 to 25 per cent,” as well as a pledge to reduce industrial regulations by 75 per cent without compromising worker safety.
Trump’s team is also considering an executive order to renounce the Paris Agreement on climate change and to impose a five-year ban on people becoming lobbyists after leaving his administration.
Trump’s packed Monday included a lunch appointment with Pence at noon, then a meeting with union leaders and workers before a bicameral leadership reception at 5 p.m. at the White House. He was scheduled to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan for dinner at 6 p.m.
Senate panel approves secretary of state pick
In an 11-10 vote Monday afternoon, the Senate foreign relations committee voted to endorse the nomination of Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state. The vote was split along party lines. The vote effectively guarantees Tillerson’s confirmation in a full Senate vote.
Prominent Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham had both expressed concern about Tillerson’s confirmation, but said they would reluctantly vote “yes” on the floor.
Trump’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, was sworn in as director late Monday by a vote of 66-32.
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