executive orders
January 27, 2021

President Biden on Wednesday turned his attention to climate issues, signing executive orders that seek to halt new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters, conserve 30 percent of federal lands and waters by 2030, and find ways to double wind production by the same year.

John Kerry, the first-ever United States Climate Envoy, championed the actions, reiterating his belief that the climate crisis is "existential" and "failure, literally, is not an option." While briefing reporters, Kerry was asked about potential job losses in the fossil fuel industry, and whether he had a message for workers who believe they are witnessing the end of their livelihoods.

Kerry explained that those workers "have been fed a false narrative" by the Trump administration about the shift to clean energy, which he said will not come "at their expense." He added that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the solar and wind energy industries were growing swiftly, while coal plants have been closing over the last few decades. "The same people can do those jobs. But the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice," he said, also pointing out the health risks associated with coal mining.

Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) weren't buying the reassurance, suggesting that Kerry's statement lacked empathy, although he didn't explicitly refute the notion that an industry transition may be feasible for fossil fuel workers. Tim O'Donnell

January 26, 2021

President Biden signed four more executive orders on Tuesday, this round focusing on improving racial equity in the United States.

The actions, reports Bloomberg, include directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to "review and change policies from the Trump administration that undermined protections under the Fair Housing Act" and directing the attorney general not to renew contracts with private prisons. The other two are aimed at empowering self-determination for Native American tribes and stemming xenophobia against Asian Americans.

Biden explained that he was compelled to act following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis last year. "What many Americans didn't see, or had simply refused to see, couldn't be ignored any longer," he said. "Those eight minutes and 46 seconds that took George Floyd's life opened the eyes of millions of Americans and millions of people all over the world." Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2021

President Biden on Monday officially reversed, via executive order, a ban on transgender people serving in the United States military. Former President Trump announced the restrictions in 2017, and Biden was widely expected to repeal them once in office.

On Twitter, Biden called the ban "discriminatory," writing that "America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride." An official statement from the White House echoed that sentiment, saying "an inclusive force is a more effective force."

The news was warmly received by several Democratic lawmakers, as well as former Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), though it was questioned by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who suggested the move puts a dent in Biden's promise to unify the country.

Several people, however, pointed out a 2019 Gallup poll that showed lifting the ban was favored by 71 percent of people in the U.S. Tim O'Donnell

January 24, 2021

President Biden is expected to lift restrictions on transgender service members in the military as early as Monday, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

This would reverse a ban former President Donald Trump announced via tweet in 2017, which blindsided former Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Pentagon has said there are about 9,000 service members who identify as transgender, with independent estimates putting the number closer to 16,000, the Journal reports.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) if he would support lifting restrictions on transgender service, and Austin indicated that he would. "I truly believe ... that if you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve," he said. "And, you can expect that I will support that throughout." Catherine Garcia

May 14, 2019

After a year of delays, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week prohibiting American firms from purchasing and using telecommunications equipment from foreign companies that present a national security risk, three U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

While the order will not list the names of any specific companies or countries, the goal is to set Trump up so he can ban U.S. businesses from buying equipment from China's Huawei, the world's third-largest maker of smartphones, Reuters reports. U.S. officials say Huawei equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, an allegation the company denies.

The order cites the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which authorizes the president to regulate commerce in the event of an unusual and extraordinary threat, officials told Reuters. Last year, Trump signed a measure banning the U.S. government from using equipment from two Chinese companies: Huawei and ZTE Corp. Catherine Garcia

April 10, 2019

While in Texas on Wednesday, President Trump signed two executive orders that will make it easier for companies to build oil and gas pipelines.

At the same time, the orders make it more difficult for state agencies to intercede in the projects. Oil and gas companies have been complaining about delays in building pipelines, and Trump said his orders "will fix this, dramatically accelerating energy infrastructure approvals." He blamed "special interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies, and radical activists" for the delays.

One of the orders requires the Department of Transportation to change its policies so liquified natural gas can be shipped by rail and tanker truck, and also "seeks to limit shareholder ballot initiatives designed to alter companies' policies on environmental and social issues," The Washington Post reports. The second order says that the president is the only person responsible for approving or rejecting pipelines and other infrastructure that cross international boundaries; previously, this fell on the secretary of state.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) called this a "dangerous attack" on the government, and said his state will challenge Trump. "No amount of politicking will change the facts — states have full authority under the Clean Water Act to protect our waters and ensure the health and safety of our people," he said in a statement. "Washington will not allow this or any presidential administration to block us from discharging that authority lawfully and effectively." Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2018

On Thursday night, President Trump signed an executive order calling for an inspection of the United States Postal Service's pricing, policies, and workforce costs.

A task force, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or his designee, will review the U.S. Postal Service's business practices, Bloomberg reports. Over the last 10 years, with more customers paying their bills online and sending emails rather than letters, and with federally mandated pension payments, the Postal Service has reportedly lost more than $65 billion. "The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout," the order states.

Trump has tweeted he thinks Amazon is "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy," and claims "only fools, or worse" believe the U.S. Postal Service is making any money delivering packages for Amazon on Sundays. Trump has claimed that USPS loses "$1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon," but the Postal Service is not allowed to charge shippers less than its delivery costs, and e-commerce-linked package delivery is actually a financial bright spot for the USPS. Catherine Garcia

November 6, 2017

The Trump administration has apparently given an executive order eliminating ObamaCare's individual mandate to the Office of Management and Budget, the Washington Examiner reports. President Trump is reportedly waiting to sign such an order to see if the GOP will first include repeal of the mandate in its tax reform bill.

The individual mandate is the portion of ObamaCare that requires individuals to purchase health care or face a fine. Though Trump could not literally undo the mandate via executive order, he could expand ObamaCare's "hardship exemptions," which offer a set of conditions, like bankruptcy or natural disaster, that would allow customers to not be penalized for not having coverage. A broader list of hardship exemptions would effectively curtail the individual mandate.

The executive order now awaits approval, as Trump has held off on signing it after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pushed to include the individual mandate's repeal in the GOP tax bill. The White House declined to comment on the Washington Examiner's report, saying that the administration "does not get ahead of potential executive orders until they're ready to be announced."

Last week, Trump tweeted his support for including a repeal of the "unfair and unpopular" mandate in the Republican tax bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said over the weekend that the repeal of the individual mandate was "one of the things being discussed" as House Republicans finalize their bill. An unnamed GOP senator told the Washington Examiner said repeal could be incorporated because the revenue it would generate "pays for so many tax cuts."

Still, some Republicans have warned that including a mandate repeal could make it harder to pass tax reform. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Politico's Seung Min Kim: "I would prefer to stay out of the health-care process because it's tough enough to do a tax bill." Kelly O'Meara Morales

Update 2:25 p.m. ET: The Washington Examiner updated their story to reflect the White House's response. "The long-standing issues with the mandate would be best resolved legislatively," an unnamed White House official told the Examiner, adding that no executive order is waiting at the OMB. The Republican senator who originally spoke to the Examiner stood by his account.

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