Track-Trump 100 DAYS in REFLECTION

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    Immigration


    Immigration was by far the most active policy category on our tracker in the first 100 days. Reports suggest this is a driving issue for a number of President Trump’s inner circle, most critically Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The executive commands significant policymaking discretion in this arena: how it prioritizes populations for deportation, how asylum seekers are handled at the border, the frequency and intensity of immigration enforcement raids. And regardless of what the administration achieves in terms of actual policy, rhetoric and posturing are sure to have a psychological impact on the decision making process of undocumented immigrants navigating the system. In fact, illegal border crossings have dropped significantly in the past few months alone.

    But the story of the Trump administration’s immigration policy is incomplete without examining ways in which institutions have stalled nearly all of administration’s core initiatives. The travel ban was enjoined almost immediately and faces uphill battles in the ninth and fourth circuits; its fate will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. Similarly, Trump’s executive order seeking to deny federal funds from sanctuary cities has been enjoined by a district court in California is scheduled to be considered by the court of appeals. Finally, Candidate Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall is dependent on a divided Congress for full funding. So far, Customs and Border Protection have allocated a mere $20 million of the required $20 billion for the project.

    TRADE


    Trade was a major talking point on the campaign trail. Candidate Trump assailed foundational trade agreements like NAFTA. True to form, President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership within the first few days of taking office.

    Taken as a whole, however, the administration’s trade policy in the first 100 days reflects a certain reticence and a pronounced disagreement among top advisors. President Trump reversed his position on labeling China a currency manipulator, citing the importance of keeping China at the table in security talks with North Korea. The administration has been hot and cold with a proposed withdrawal from NAFTA. Charitably interpreted, they mean to bring Canada and Mexico “to the table” to renegotiate the deal. A more critical take is that the both administration and President Trump himself are divided on this point.

    ENERGY & CLIMATE


    The thrust of the Trump administration’s energy and climate policy has been the revocation of rules and regulations seen by the administration as cumbersome or anti-business. Federal restrictions on projects like the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines have been lifted. Under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, bills nullifying Obama-era environmental regulations have been signed. While it remains to be seen whether the administration will choose to remain Paris Climate Agreement, observers wonder if the dismantling of initiatives like the Clean Power Plan will make meeting Paris emission targets impossible to begin with.

    FEDERAL GOVERNMENT


    Candidate Trump promised to nominate a conservative Supreme Court Justice whose jurisprudence would resemble that of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Candidate Trump also promised to “drain the swamp.” While President Trump certainly fulfilled the first pledge with the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the rest of the President’s promises to reform the federal government remain in limbo.

    An early presidential memorandum instituted a blanket federal government hiring freeze with the stated goal of reducing the federal workforce “through attrition.” Following negative press reports, the director of the Office of Management and Budget quietly ended the freeze two months later. Early in President Trump’s term, White House staff were made to sign ethics pledges restricting them from lobby activities. Subsequent reporting, however, has revealed that employees are being granted waivers on a case-by-case basis, blurring the lines between “policy” and “guidelines.”

    ECONOMIC POLICY


    Candidate Trump promised to dramatically simplify and reduce taxes and to make major investments in out-of-date infrastructure. The administration suggested it would release a tax plan on April 26th. Rather than a bill, the administration presented a one-page press release with stated goals for hypothetical tax reform. Our tracker accordingly registers related pledges as “inactive.” No specific proposals for infrastructure investment have been presented.

    EDUCATION


    None of candidate Trump’s pledges related to education policy, including ending Common Core and signing school choice legislation, have been acted upon.

    HEALTHCARE


    Candidate Trump’s core healthcare pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare was stalled when the replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, failed to gain requisite support in the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would potentially address several campaign promises, including the ability to purchase insurance across state lines and allowing states to manage Medicaid funds. The President also signed an extension of a law signed by President Obama, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which allows veterans who qualify for VA services to be reimbursed for using certain outside providers.

    SAFETY


    President Trump signed several executive orders and presidential memoranda related to law enforcement and public safety. These orders created a promised task force on violent crime, asked for a review of existing laws related to violence against police officers, and instructed the Secretary of Defense to produce a review of current military infrastructure and equipment needs. Beyond the realm of specific promises, Attorney General has worked to reorient the priorities of the Justice Department from upholding civil liberties to cracking down on crime.

    OTHER REFLECTIONS

    CONFIRMATIONS


    President Trump’s confirmation process continues to lag relative to President Obama’s. After 100 days, all of President Trump’s cabinet nominees have been confirmed. However, the administration is responsible for nominating 556 key positions, including most of the deputy and under-secretaries of the Cabinet-level agencies. To date, the administration has nominated 68 people, while the Obama administration had nominated 118.

    MAJOR LEGISLATION


    While direct comparisons between Presidents can be difficult, one useful frame of reference is to consider what an administration is able to accomplish legislatively. Passing significant legislation can require tremendous effort and political capital on the part of a new administration. “Significant legislation” in this context refers to bills that are clearly intended to have a real impact on the lives of most Americans and that provide the funding for what they intend to accomplish. This excludes extending current programs, nominating individuals to certain positions, or repealing regulations. For example, while a large stimulus package is significant, a bill to rename a post office in Illinois is not. Below we will consider the major legislative accomplishments in the first 100 days of the Trump and Obama presidencies.


    None. All legislation extended programs, repealed regulation, or nominated/named individuals to positions. While the Trump administration tried several times to pass the American Health Care Act, which would significantly alter the current health insurance marketplace, it never received a floor vote in the House or Senate.


    President Obama had 5 pieces of legislation that would be considered significant under this criteria. They included the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 combatting wage discrimination; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or “stimulus package” to promote economic recovery after the financial meltdown of 2008; an Omnibus Appropriations Act to fund the government; the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which combined 159 previously considered pieces of legislation to designate over 2 million acres of land as national wilderness, monuments, forests, and rivers; and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, creating five new national service organizations and expanding the existing AmeriCorps program.

    GOING FORWARD:


    President Trump has run into legal trouble, both related to his campaign and to several of the executive orders that he has signed. The implementation of his order mandating the cooperation of local police in “sanctuary cities” with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials has been delayed due to an injunction. Federal judges in Washington and Hawaii respectively have halted the implementation of both the original and revised versions of a travel ban focused on Muslim-majority countries. These lawsuits will continue to work their way through the appeals process, and it is very possible that some may end up on the Supreme Court’s docket.

    Legislatively, the next priority for the Trump administration will be funding the federal government. While the House and Senate have passed a continuing resolution extending current funding levels to May 5, they will need to pass either an appropriations bill for 2017 or another continuing resolution by that date to avoid a government shutdown.

    Thus far, much of the legislation that has been passed and signed into law by President Trump has been under the auspices of the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to repeal federal regulations within 60 days of those rules being reported to Congress. However, that deadline has passed, and no new legislation can be introduced that would extend back to regulations issued Obama’s tenure. Now that this avenue has been exhausted, Congress and the administration may begin looking for alternative ways to overturn previously-instituted regulations.

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