President Donald Trump has set out to upend some of President Barack Obama’s regulations, which he says circumvented Congress in the first place and cost American businesses and the economy billions of dollars.
Without any major legislative accomplishments to point to despite the advantage of a Republican-controlled Congress, Trump on Monday is giving a speech highlighting his own directives to agencies, which have been ordered to cut two regulations for every new one imposed.
There’s plenty for him to talk about, including dozens of executive orders and other scaling-back on a range of issues, from immigration policy to campus sexual assault.
Executive orders are less enduring than legislation because a president can overturn a predecessor’s policy. Obama reversed some of President George W. Bush’s executive orders, and Trump’s will be reviewed by his successor.
Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, estimated that Trump’s regulations will save about $300 million annually, but she did not explain how Office of Management and Budget analysts came up with that number.
Critics of the effort say regulations exist to ensure safety and fairness in the workplace and elsewhere. Public Citizen, a watchdog group, says the rollback of government guidelines are Trump and the Republican Party’s “craven attempt at self-enrichment and payback to corporate donors. In fact, robust regulation and enforcement are essential to economic prosperity.”
Some of the major changes Trump has made since taking office in January:
The latest Obama policy to fall is the program shielding from deportation hundreds of thousands of young people brought into the country as children and living here illegally. The Trump administration in September said the government would stop issuing new work permits while lawmakers debate whether the protections should be enshrined in law. In explaining his decision, Trump accused Obama of making “an end run around Congress” to protect those commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” Obama retorted that Trump’s action was a “cruel” and “self-defeating” decision tinged with politics. Democratic leaders and Trump said they have reached a deal to protect the immigrants, but Congress has since turned its focus to overhauling the tax code.
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT
Trump has vowed to pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement through which nearly 200 countries have committed to combat global warming by reducing polluting emissions. He’s scrapped an Obama administration policy that let national parks ban the sale of bottled water to fight littering. He’s moved to rip up Obama’s Clean Power Plan, regulations that sought to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants. His executive order on regulatory reform has been cited by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as a reason to delay or roll back a raft of Obama-era environmental regulations, from cleaning up water pollution from coal mines to blunting limits on emissions of toxic mercury from power plant smokestacks. The EPA is not among the 10 agencies expected to hold public briefings after Trump’s speech on Monday.
The Trump administration in September scrapped Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assault, replacing it with new instructions that allow universities to require higher standards of evidence when handling complaints. His administration also annulled Obama’s accountability rules that were used to identify and help troubled schools and to evaluate teachers.
Trump’s Education Department has lifted the Obama-era guidance to schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. The president also tweeted out word that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve openly in the military, reversing an Obama administration provision and sending the Pentagon scrambling to draft new rules. In the meantime, any transgender troops now serving in the military can re-enlist in the next several months, the Pentagon said in September.
His initial executive order temporarily banning travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries and suspending the U.S. refugee program hit roadblocks in the courts. On his second attempt, the Supreme Court allowed only a sharply scaled-back version of the order to go forward pending arguments scheduled for October. When that order expired on Sept. 24, Trump signed a measure imposing new restrictions on travelers from citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea. The Supreme Court then canceled the arguments and gave both sides time to explain whether the matter was now moot.
MILITARY HARDWARE FOR POLICE
In an executive order signed in August, Trump told state and local police they could once again have access to grenade launchers, armored vehicles, bayonets and other gear cast off from the U.S. military. Obama had sharply curtailed the Pentagon program in 2015 amid an outcry over police use of military equipment in confronting protesters after several police killings of black men.